Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pain with shape and colour...

I saw the brochure, I am Brave, on a shelf at the Arthritis Society. The art on the cover was done by Callah, 5. Intrigued, I picked it up.

The brochure gives a disturbing, intimate view of living with arthritis: the pain of swollen joints, the ache of affected bones; the stomach illness, headaches, kidney and liver problems from the medication; the embarrassment of crawling to breakfast, too stiff to walk; the frustration of not being able to finish more than two innings of baseball. Did I mention the arthritis patients who wrote and illustrated this brochure were all children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

One boy, Devin, 13, was diagnosed with the disease when he was only 2-and-a-half-years-old. He lived with pain and stiffness and medicine induced illness for years. But Devin is now on a new drug — a drug that could stop working at any time — but Devin doesn't dwell on that fact; he is too busy living in the present, savouring every day he lives almost pain-free. Did you catch that? Devin celebrates because he is almost, nearly, very close to but not completely, pain-free.

I'm retired but my wife isn't. She works for the Arthritis Society and I've been volunteered to do tele-recruiting to find new volunteer canvassers for the annual door-to-door campaign.

Unfortunately, many of the folk I call do not understand the importance of my calls. I don't fault them. Like them, I'm often rude to cold callers. And, until recently, I had never read the little booklet, I Am Brave.

I fully understand when someone says brusquely, “Don't call again!” And hangs up with a loud CLICK! Having now made hundreds of cold calls, I actually appreciate, “I'm not interested. Thank-you. Good-bye.” I even like, the brief but still polite responses like, “Nuh tanks.” CLICK!

I'm embarrassed and ashamed because I know those people. Those people are me. I've used all those responses to cold callers. The next time my telephone rings, and I don't know the caller, I will at least hear them out. And, if they are looking for a canvasser, I'm retired, I might even say, “O.K.”

It is the least I can do for Callah, 5, Devin, 13, Laurence, 13, Melanie, 10, Elizabeth, 8, Dax, 10, Rebecca, 11, Melissa, 9, Charlee, 7, Madeleine, 6, Tricia, 13, and Bailey, 5, who said, “I think my pain is a big red monster . . . ”

Please, let's help Bailey fight his monster, give this September to the Arthritis Society or, better yet, become a volunteer and canvass your neighbourhood. Click here to make an on-line donation.


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