The White Lie

“Did you hurt your knee?”

If you live with JRA you have inevitably heard this question and have been faced with the dilemma of telling the complicated whole truth or just a white lie. As a child in middle school, the occasional mean 6th grader would ask “why do you walk funny?” I would just ignore them because explaining the truth would take far too long to sustain a 12 year old’s attention span. However, the comments and questions don’t stop as you graduate high school.

Recently, my right knee has been slightly stiffer than usual, causing me to occasionally limp. As I was walking into work a co-worker, who I barely know by name, asked if I had hurt my knee. He was probably just trying to be nice, initiate some casual conversation and voice his concern. However, I barely know his first name and I only see him once a week for a few hours in passing. I decided it would be much easier to tell a white lie. “Oh, I hurt it skiing.” Then delve into the complicated past of my JRA. He responded, “Oh yeah, I’ve had some knee injuries.” We connected over our mutual “injuries” and the conversation moved on.

Sometimes I feel guilty about telling these white lies, but I know it will save the inevitable follow-up questions. “Oh, you’re too young for that.” Or my favorite. “My dogs has Arthritis too.” Yes, that’s exactly the same thing… Occasionally, I will take the opportunity to educate people about JRA to help build awareness and advocacy, but some times you just want to to get through the day without having to explain your life story to everyone you meet. Sometimes you just want to be able to blend in without the questions. Sometimes telling a little white lie is what it takes.


3 thoughts on “The White Lie

  1. Oh, do I get this! Like you, I've opted to tell a white lie about why I'm limping or wearing a wrist brace. It's just so much easier than telling people I have RA and getting the usual responses: “You're too young!” or “Oh, I have that, too. Tylenol does the trick.” I don't like having to explain the difference between RA and OA–and I really don't like causing the eyes of the person who asked so innocently to glaze over. I also don't like to make them uncomfortable, forcing them to come up with sympathetic responses that I'm uncomfortable with, myself.

    Sometimes it's hard to live in a culture that expects everyone to be well–or at least, fixable–with a progressive and incurable disease. Our culture expects us to suck it up and get better, and if we don't (or can't), we're viewed as weak, lazy, whiners, hypochondriacs, etc. It would be nice if this could change, but it hasn't in my almost-28 years of having RA, so I don't really expect it will.

    Thanks for writing this thoughtful post. I'm actually not as curmudgeonly as I sound. ;o)


  2. I can only perceive what it's like to live a life with an ailment such as JRA. More so, I can only sense how that can break down parts and points in our bodies, such as the knee. However, it's in our capacity to suggest various cures for that stuff, or ways to cope with its lingering effects, so it doesn't debilitate us completely or just make us keep still. Anyway, I hope that the progress of your condition is doing great and that you are faring better. Thanks for sharing that! Take care!

    Agnes Lawson @ Pain Relief Experts


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