Harnessing Humor to Cope With Rheumatoid Arthritis

A diagnosis of RA at 27 was tough to take for this young outdoorsman. How finding the funny in his situation helped him get through difficult days. 

Kristina Mastrocola
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When cyclist, bike mechanic and all-around outdoorsman Jason Goodman was diagnosed with RA in 2007, he was 27 years old. “People thought it was weird at my age,” he recalls. “It was very surprising to them—and of course, it was surprising to me, too. I went from leading hiking groups to not being able to open a peanut butter jar.”

Fatigue was one of the first symptoms to take its toll on him, and there was one incident in particular that crystallized the new challenges RA was presenting. “I remember walking to a friend’s house—a walk that would normally take me 10 minutes. It took me half an hour,” he says. “I had a minor freak-out and almost started crying right there on the pavement.”

While Jason’s supportive network of friends meant he never had to explain why he felt tired or achy, RA did force the Seattleite to find some coping methods. His strategy? Humor. “I just had to laugh at myself and at the absurdity of it,” he says. Example? When he couldn’t get up off the couch while staying at a friend’s house, he joked that couch-surfing wasn’t his kind of sport anyway. Seeing humor in a tough situation put everyone else around Jason at ease, and he credits the positive outlook, as well as his treatment, for his full remission today.

April 2013