Sunday, March 31, 2013

Those Lucky Arthritis People

Arthritis people have a lot of nerve calling themselves crippled. They sure don’t look crippled to me. They all look happy and clean and upright and smiley.


I know this because there’s a glossy magazine called Arthritis Today put out by the Arthritis Foundation.  It has a lot of articles about stuff like diet and exercise for arthritis people.  And the arthritis people on the cover are always happy and clean and upright and smiley. Here’s a sample:


I’ve known a lot of arthritis people. Hell, I’m married to one. And I’m confused because most of them don’t look like all those people on the cover of Arthritis Today. A lot of times their fingers are gnarled and spooley and thin as twigs. They can’t turn their heads because their neck vertebrae are fused. Some ride around in wheelchairs and scooters. They really do look crippled.


But nobody looks like that on the cover of Arthritis Today. I don’t know why that is. It must mean that the arthritis people have either been a) cured or b) re-branded.


Either way, those arthritis people are some lucky cripples. Some people are trapped in crippling conditions that are so grim and hopeless that their image is beyond polishing. They’re a long way from having their own lifestyle magazine. For instance, there’s no magazine called Paranoid Schizophrenia Today. I checked because you never know. But there isn’t. If there was, the articles would be like “How to Jog Away Those Pesky Paranoid Delusions.”


The world isn’t ready for a magazine like that. And some crippling conditions will never have their own lifestyle magazine just because they’re too damn hard to pronounce. Like for instance, there’s Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease. There’s no lifestyle magazine called Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease Today. I checked because you never know. But there isn’t. I’m sure glad I don’t have that damn disease. It’s hopeless. You can’t even make a decent acronym out of it. There are a ton of diseases out there clamoring for attention and it’s hard to get a jump on the competition. You need more than just a sad story. Everyone has a sad story. You need an easy-to-remember acronym, like AIDS. If possible, the acronym should be catchy like a jingle. Some diseases have managed to get noticed without an acronym, like PTSD. PTSD doesn’t work as an acronym because it makes people laugh. It sounds like you’re trying to get someone’s attention by whispering.


But maybe it’s not so weird. Maybe the arthritis people are like every other population. There are a dozen or so magazine cover models and there’s everybody else.