Embracing Life With RA Without Limits

Rheumatoid arthritis can’t stop a woman on a mission to help others!

Paula Dranov
Reviewed by
John Varga, MD
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“I drive seniors to their doctor appointments, to the drugstore and on other errands,” Debbie explains. One day last fall, her local volunteer organization arranged for her to pick up a 68-year-old gentleman and take him to a doctor appointment. “Right away, he started to quiz me about the Civil War—he’s a real buff,” says Debbie. When they pulled up to the doctor’s office, the man asked Debbie a question for her to think about until he returned to the car: “Which U.S. president,” he asked, “was buried more than 10 times?”

“As soon as he got out of the car, I got on my cell phone and started calling all my friends to see if any of them knew,” Debbie recalls. No one could help. The president who first came to her mind was Abraham Lincoln, so when her passenger returned to the car, she guessed Lincoln. She was right. (Lincoln’s coffin was moved 17 times, partly because of a plot to steal his body and partly because of numerous reconstructions of his tomb.)

The next time she was scheduled to drive this man to an appointment, Debbie sat down at her computer the night before to check out Civil War trivia. “Then I phoned him and told him that this time, I’d have some questions for him,” she says with a laugh. “He was touched that I remembered his hobby and said that coming up with Civil War questions for him was the coolest thing anyone had done for him in a long time.” 

Nurturing the spirit
As active as she is, Debbie admits that RA occasionally slows her down with soreness and fatigue. “But I push myself, and I think it makes me feel better,” she adds. “Going out and helping someone else certainly makes me feel better mentally. Volunteering,” she concludes, “has nurtured my spirit.” 

It also often makes her laugh. “One woman told me she was 86. I told her, ‘You don’t look it.’  Then she asked me how old I was. When I told her I was 55, she said ‘You don’t look it.’ And then I reminded her that when she’d first gotten in the car, she had told me that she was legally blind! We both had a good laugh about that.”

To find out more about Hand in Hand for RA and Creaky Joints, visit www.handinhandforra.com or www.creakyjoints.org

April 2013