I've understood that people are not supposed to experience pain for a long time. I knew the concept at the age of eight, and understood completely by age ten. I know that sounds a bit impossible, but I've had arthritis since I was a baby and I grew up in pain. I didn't know that wasn't right. It's not that I wasn't in pain, it's that I assumed everyone felt the same. When no one else complained or talked about it, I assumed I wasn't supposed to either. Despite being stiff and limping, no one really asked me if I was in pain. I just thought it was completely normal until I flared when I was eight. All of a sudden, it was okay if I didn't want to run about like the others. The adults would tell the children, "Elizabeth's hips hurt," and I would get to sit and play my own games. It was amazing, but I didn't truly think my pain was out of the ordinary until I got a bit older.
To this day, I still forget. I still assume everyone on the bus home is in a lot of pain too. I still assume everyone is stiff in the morning. I still assume everyone can relate. I can't help but imagine that everyone else has chronic pain, because that's all I know.
Once when I was in Disney World with family, we were riding a bus back to the hotel. It was very crowded and my family was standing on the ride. A man offered my aunt and small cousin a seat. I thought it was very noble of him because after a long day of walking, I assumed it was very painful to stand. My aunt said she was happy to stand, and I thought she had gone mad. What about all the walking we had done today? Wasn't her child in a lot of pain? Then it occurred to me that although they were tired and sore too, it was different. I was putting myself in their place and giving them my pain. I thought it was amazing how in that situation, three people were willing to stand after a very long day of walking. It blew me away because I was in a wheelchair for part of the day but still felt horrible.
Many people are pain free for years before developing arthritis. I never had that experience. I think I'm all the luckier for it though, because I can't imagine what it's like not to have pain. I can't be sad about how it was 'before.' I'm lucky because I can't imagine or assume anyone has it easier than me.