RA To English Translations

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy 26 Comments

Even though I’m a strong advocate of open an honest communication–especially when it comes to my rheumatoid arthritis–sometimes I’m struck by the huge distance between the words that come out of my mouth, and what I’m really thinking or feeling.

And it’s not that I feel guilty about this…sometimes, giving non-specific answers just seems like the best and easiest thing to do. Take, for example, this question: “How are you feeling?”

How I answer this question depends not only upon how I’m actually feeling, but also upon who I’m speaking with. There are times when this question is being used as a generic greeting, so I respond with an equally generic response. “I’m doing okay, and you?” But if I’m asked by someone who really wants to know how I’m feeling, I try to provide a little more information and truth in my answer. “I’m okay, but my left knee is really acting up” or “I’m having a rough day.”

Which got me to thinking the other day: wouldn’t it be nice to have an RA to English translator, to do the work for us when we just don’t feel like filling in all the blanks? For example, when I say that I’m having a really good day, this rarely means that I’m anywhere close to being pain-free…it just means that my overall pain levels are lower than usual.
Such a translator could also prove very helpful with another common example of “social discourse: all of the suggestions that we are subjected to, usually while at social events. (You know what I’m talking about.) “I too used to have what you have, but I started taking bee pollen once a week and I was completely cured!” and so on, and so on!

I used to get upset at some of these comments. I used to feel the need to educate these people about the truth of my disease. But not anymore. Once again, there might be someone who is really interesting in sharing some insightful information…and I respond accordingly…but experience has shown me that a majority of these individuals don’t really care about what I’m going through; they’re solely interested in passing on something trivial that they heard a few days before.

So I smile, tell them that I’d love to hear more about whatever they have to say, and then feign the sudden need to answer my phone/go to the bathroom/check on something in the kitchen/etc. If I were to translate what I’m really thinking at such a moment, it wouldn’t be too–let’s just say–family friendly!

I posted one of my “RA to English Translations” (shown above) on Twitter earlier this week, and in response got some great translations such as the following two from Stephanie and Brandy. And I chuckled, because there have been multiple times in the past when I’ve said these words, and meant the exact same thing.
So I’d like to close this post by asking, what’s your favorite RA to English translation?

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

Comments 26

  1. Ronie

    Oh I wish I had thought of this. Reminds me of the translator the monkey wore on the “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs” movie!!! I love it!

  2. harrumphosaurus

    “I’m fine.” = “Everything hurts, but if I say it out loud I might cry.”

    “I’m awesome!” = “I washed my hair, took out the trash, AND did my own laundry!”

    “I just need a little nap.” = “I just hit the wall/ran out of spoons. If you don’t get me home to lie down within half an hour, I’m going to sleep until dinner tomorrow night.”

  3. Kimberly

    I have to give this thought— When I am having a good day, and someone asks…I say “Today is a Good day”… when I am having a bad day, I am usually sleeping and not communicating…

  4. Mary

    Goodness me, I didn’t realise it was getting so late = darling, I’m so tired I feel like I want to throw up, now stop perpetuating this interminable conversation, stand up, and help me get the smeg out of here and into the car. NOW.

  5. Patty

    “Hi, how are you?”
    RA translation (usually): ask me how I am, too, so I can talk about myself..”

    This dilemma used to anger me terribly, because the person speaking was relativly healthy, walking normally, etc and I knew I was in pain and needing to sit down (or lie down).
    As the years went by, I realized we all need to share our experience.

  6. Kat

    “Are you alright with that?” (Referring to anything heavy) Me: Um..ok. Translation: I actually need some help!

  7. Thrive With RA™

    Call me an “RA Newb,” but I find myself opening up to all conversations and inquiries about RA in general or how I’m doing. I find them to be often “teaching moments” — I’m never preachy, condescending or aggressive, and do my best to be polite and helpful in my response. I find those that don’t care, usually don’t care to ask, either. If they sincerely ask me how I’m feeling, I am always candid — always offering a positive remark, even when giving a less-than-optimal update on how I’m feeling. What I mean by that, is that I always include at least one thing — usually more than one thing — that is going WELL in my life, if I give a less-than-optimal update on my health. Most often I find the people that I talk to are receptive and compassionate. I also find that often those that inquire that were not really that interested to begin with, end up actually engaging in the conversation, walking away glad they asked after all.

    I enjoy RA PR, and if I can be a “walking — perhaps sometimes limping — billboard” of awareness in a positive way, I will continue to do so. 🙂

  8. Paula

    Great post RA Guy, thanks! When asked how I am my response from now on will be, “I’m still sucking it in and blowing it out”.

  9. Bengta

    FATIGUE: “I can’t get going today”, “I’m so tired I could fall over”, or “I just can’t keep my eyes open”.

  10. Robin

    English to RA
    Acting bitchy to everyone I see –> I’m not feeling well, and it doesn’t occur to me to tell anyone so they’d know why.

  11. Nadine

    I experimented and replaced “i’m fine” with “i feel like crap” when having a bad day. Most people still replied “that’s good”and stopping 5 paces looking shame faced later.

  12. PuffDaddy

    “How are you?”… “Ooooooof” (Partly swollen with scattered curses and a chance of agony..)

  13. bioburden

    This post is awesome 😀 Here are some of mine,

    I’m really fatigued = I only took a shower and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even get dressed afterwards.

    My hands have turned into paws = My hands are so swollen and painful that I can’t even wipe my own a**.

    I’m not feeling good = My whole body is flared up and I can’t even get out of bed without crying.

  14. Scott S

    The type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes had a similar dictionary of terms I called “Diabetes Vernacular” http://goo.gl/6E9Ni that was specific terminology many of us use day to day. I believe most chronic diseases have similar terms that are used widely to describe many things that the outside world may not understand, yet would be understood by anyone who lives with a condition. I am finding many similarities!

  15. Tina Thomas

    I am hanging in there. It means I have made it through the day but just by a thread! About to take major meds and lay on ice or heat until I “have” to get up and do it again tomorrow.

  16. Kate

    When somebody asks how you are you and respond with “I’m okay, bit of pain and inflammation but other than that I’m fine” translation – I feel absolutely awful but going on about it isn’t going to help anyone.
    Also, when a non RA sufferer replies with something along the lines of “oh yeah I know how you feel I have a bit of arthritis in my hands” And you want to scream at them that is NOT the same!

    Love reading everyone’s comments, it’s nice knowing other people feel the same x

  17. Post
    RA Guy

    @bioburden, I totally know that feeling of starting (and finishing) my day with a bath/shower, being so exhausted that I can’t even get dressed, and then just crawling back into bed and going back to sleep! (And I thought it was just me…)

  18. ginaRClark

    When people ask how I am I reply “always looking up” while I think to myself *because I’m usually laying down.*

  19. Terry

    When I am in the grips of a flare or just an elevated state of pain, I tend to shut everyone out and keep to myself. I still do my job at work (I don’t ask for any special treatment), but people at work have learned that if I am quite, back off.
    See, you can teach old dogs new tricks. lol Great post by the way.

  20. MissyB

    English: “oh,you’re limping!, are you okay?” RA translation in replay “this, at least i’m walking!”

  21. Clare

    Are you ok? (I really should ask)

    ‘Not so great today’ (In constant pain but getting by)

    ‘Oh dear, have a nice cup of tea and you’ll feel better’

    ‘Great Thanks’ (last time I checked ‘tea’ wasnt used in the treatment of RA but thanks for the suggestion).

    And also I get the fact that most people you speak to have some form of Arthitis (in my little finger) or knows someones brothers auntys cousins who has RA and they do just fine and you would punch them in the face if your wrists didnt hurt so bad!!

  22. Bonita McElhannon

    Most frustrating to me is, “yeah, i think I have that too, sometimes my (fill in the blank) hurts.

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