I never liked taking medication. I have harrowing childhood memories of my mother chasing me around the house with a vile cough syrup in her hand, and what I perceived as a giant spoon. Despite my protestations, I would swallow that dreadful-tasting fake cherry fluid with a whole lot of fuss, making sure she saw, and heard, every disgusted face, and sound, and witnessed the horrible aftereffects of what that medicine did to her only daughter. A trifle dramatic perhaps, but for several years after, I did everything I could to avoid taking cough syrup. This stubborn theory eventually evolved to include every type of medication. I turned to the natural world – I used hot water bottles to conquer cramps; I burned a calming lavender infusion to deal with headaches; I swore by my grandmother’s holy grail of hot toddies when colds or nasty viruses infested my body; and then RA sleazed her way into my life, resurrecting the image of my mother chasing me around the house with cough syrup.
I was beset with a whole new world of medication that I now had to take every day, not just when symptoms appeared. My medicine cabinet embodied the image of old lady RA standing there with a giant spoon, a bottle of cough syrup and a wicked grin. I actually grimaced the first time I swallowed my new medication. I had to retrain my stubborn child’s mind to accept this treatment, despite the fact that my temperament wanted to resist it. Through the course of my disease, I’ve heard about countless remedies that could cure my arthritis – anything from herbal formulas, to purified water and super foods. There’s a remedy for every ailment out there; with all these treatments, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your body. Humans are not built the same way and we all have our own unique response to different elements – what works for one person, may not work for another. When nature’s best intentions (and my imperfect stubborn will) weren’t strong enough to fight the burning footprints of old lady RA, I put my trust in the treatment recommended by my specialist; and so far he has not steered me wrong.
When I was a kid, I thought I was superhuman and I didn’t need those awful cough syrups – but I have now developed a new tolerance and understanding with my medications. They fight to prevent irreversible joint damage in my body and with that knowledge I take my medicine with a spoonful of sugar knowing the outcome will be a whole lot sweeter.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.