“RA Guy’s website about living with rheumatoid arthritis is without a doubt the best RA website on the Internet. His posts about his personal journey through life with RA are thoughtful, life affirming, inspirational and down-to-earth. They’re also reliably factual about the disease and the drugs that treat it. He’s an excellent writer with a seemingly endless supply of post ideas. He inspired me to start writing a blog about RA–and I know that he’s inspired many others. He’s also given so many people with RA hope and made us smile even as we face sometimes awful, intractable pain and disability. There are lots of good RA and other autoimmune disease bloggers out there, but I can’t think of anyone else who blogs with RA Guy’s talent and all-out sincerity.” -Anonymous
Earlier this week, I received an email from a health website informing me that my blog had been nominated for an award. To the person who took time out of their busy schedule to write and submit the kind words that are shown above, I want to say thank you. Your comments really meant a lot to me.
I have just written a response letter to this company, however, asking that my blog not be included in this awards program. Why, you might be asking? First of all, when it comes to this wonderful community that has been established online, I’m not a big fan of standing in the spotlight. When I first started blogging, I used my anonymous superhero identity as a way of being able to open up–in every aspect–about what it’s like to live with rheumatoid arthritis. Now that I’ve become comfortable with sharing all of these different aspects of my life, I continue to maintain this anonymity…not because I’m worried about people knowing who I am…but because I don’t want my efforts to be about me, as a person. I want them to be about *each* and *every* one of us who lives with chronic and debilitating conditions.
But most importantly, I have decided not to participate in this contest because even if I were to win such an award, it would never live up to what I feel is the biggest prize of all: receiving messages from people who tell me that after years of struggling with their disease, after years of not being able to smile because of the pain, that they’ve finally been able to laugh, they’ve been able to feel a sense of hope, after stumbling upon my blog. I know what it’s like to be at that point where hope has disappeared. I’ve also been fortunate enough to know what it’s like to see the return of this hope; a hope that keeps growing stronger and stronger with each new day.
Just a few days ago, I received an email from a young gal which said that finding me and my work has definitely been the highlight of her flare up. These words really meant a lot to me. You see, I try to project confidence as often as I can…but many times, I find myself more confused than ever. During these moments, when the challenges of living with RA seem too difficult to overcome, writing down my thoughts and sharing them here on my blog has probably been the one thing that has helped me the most. So, it’s nice to know that others are being helped as well.
In the end, I don’t really think that my blog is about me. It’s about us…all of us, who together continue to figure out how to laugh and cry during the ups and downs of living with chronic illness. All of us, who share both the good and the bad. It’s about those moments of connection, when–without explanation–we truly understand one another. People often comment that what I wrote is *exactly* what they were thinking; and for me this proves that it is as much about your thoughts as it is about my words. This is about all of us, sharing together. For this reason, I respectfully withdraw my nomination.
The truth of the matter is, we are *all* winners.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!