Caroline stopped scrubbing the sink and asked, “Why are you limping?”
I leaned against the counter and handed Jenna my bag. “My ankles are swollen,” I replied using my right quadriceps to slightly raise my foot and show her the angry red joint. “They both hurt but I can’t even stand on this one.”
A wince overspread my face as I lowered my toe back to the floor.
“Let me help,” Jenna said.
“You’re too young to have arthritis,” Caroline said as Jenna supported me while I hopped over to a chair.
“What?” I ejaculated and bumped my ankle. “Damn!”
“You’re too young. My mother has arthritis. You’re just a kid.”
“Rheumatoid arthritis attacks young women,” Jenna told her. “Your mother probably has osteoarthritis.”
“Do you hear yourself? Attack! Why would your body attack you?” Caroline lit a cigarette then put the kettle on to make another cup of coffee.
Jenna helped me rest my feet on another chair then replied, “That’s what actually happens with autoimmune diseases. The body attacks itself.”
“It doesn’t make sense that your body would attack you,” Caroline said. “You’re body is made to be whole.”
Lord? I silently pleaded.
“And this is a fallen world,” I replied aloud. “There’s illness and accidents and death.”
Caroline thumbed through a paperback book that no longer had a cover. Looking up at me she said, “Every day you should repeat, ‘My mind and body are in perfect balance. I’m a harmonious being.'”
Jenna’s mouth opened. I shuddered.
“That’s how you’ll heal your body,” Caroline.
I huffed out a loud breath.
“W-W-What good is that?” Jenna sputtered. “She needs a doctor.”
“I’m never sick,” Caroline said.
Another huff escaped. “You had the flu last month?” I said in a shrill voice. “You were so sick, I took care of you and the girls.”
“That’s not sick, sick,” Caroline replied. “Nothing like rheumatoid arthritis.”
Please? I mutely begged my Friend.
“Affirmations are words. Good words,” I said. “But you actually have to do something to reap the benefits.”
“You think you’re so smart,” Caroline said. “I know some things.”
Again, my head shook of it’s own accord.
“What makes you so rigid?” Caroline asked., her nose wrinkled as if she smelled something distasteful.
Another loud sigh escaped.
“Reciting some magic words won’t make this go away,” I said. “Eating better, more dance classes, more sleep, following my doctor’s instructions — those work. Positive thoughts help me feel better but they’re not magic.”
“Then you’ll just be sick,” Caroline retorted.
My head shook again.
“I’ll help you upstairs.” Jenna said.