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Roll out the bunting and buy us a china gift – JIA and I are celebrating 20 years of marital bliss. And I really mean bliss, because despite all my bitchin’ and whinin’ and moanin’, I’m pleased I’ve got it. Well, sort of.

There is also another reason to celebrate this week, as it is National Arthritis Week. I know you may be surprised that I want to celebrate such a thing – but let me explain.

Having JIA has changed the path of my life. If I didn’t have it, I would undoubtedly be doing something different now – this other mystery life may be amazing, but I don’t know and I’m not going to spend my life pining for something I could have had. For better or worse, I have JIA and I am happy about it.

If I had not suddenly ended up with JIA 20 years ago, I probably would have gone to Canada for my second year of university. At the time when I couldn’t go because I was ill, I was crushed. Like, literally crying every night thinking “Why meee? Whyyyy? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?”. But if I had gone to Canada I wouldn’t have started writing for the student newspaper at Lancaster.

SCAN (the newspaper) provided a multitude of services to me, as well as being a welcome distraction from the crushing blow I had been dealt over That Summer. It’s something to put on the CV in a space which would otherwise be filled by ‘drinking too much’; it created most of the drama that kept me entertained in my last two years at university; perhaps worryingly, it was the sole source of my university love life. It also turns out that I’m not bad at this writing malarkey, and if I hadn’t done SCAN I wouldn’t be doing my journalism masters now. Without arthritis, I never would have had any of this.

Without arthritis I would have had nothing to blog about, and without this blog I wouldn’t have been ‘spotted’ by an exciting new project (to be announced soon); I wouldn’t have become a youth information volunteer with Arthritis Care; I would have had a big empty space on my university applications between graduation and now.

Without my flare up in 2009, I would never have lost all my university-first-year weight and would probably still be a big fat fatty.

I think it has made me confident, and independent, and not scared all the time. I think it’s given me a reasonably high pain threshold. It’s given me a bad-ass scar on my elbow and a ‘sexy’ wiggle in my walk.

If I didn’t have arthritis, I probably wouldn’t be so feisty and angry – some may see these as flaws, but I personally just think I’m not a pushover. I don’t think I would be as receptive to other people’s problems as I am. I don’t think I would think about others as much as I do (because I’m a totally selfless human being, you know?).

I’m not a brave little soldier. Everyone has bad stuff to deal with in their lives, it just comes along at different times. I’m just lucky I got my arthritis when I was young enough to make a point of challenging it and making my life better in spite of it. (Cringe!)

Last year I promised I wouldn’t ask you for money again until the next National Arthritis Week, and I haven’t! Hmm, doesn’t time fly?

Anyway, if you’re feeling generous (hopefully), moved (unlikely), or grateful for this blog (ha!), please donate to Arthritis Research UK. Your donation will help fund important research into the cause of JIA.

Also, if you search hard enough on the Joint Effort Pledge section you can see my pledge. But don’t look at me, I’m shy.

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One thought on “A marriage of convenience

  1. beautifully, truthful and heart-warming blog from a very brave and selfless young lady… well written and from the heart, not a bit of self-pity in sight. We could all learn something from this lovely young lady. God bless.

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