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Jane Fonda A 'Wreck' Laughs NYT Magazine — So Are 19 Million of Us Suffering Arthritis

In Health, Media on April 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm
Legendary Hollywood actress Jane Fonda (C) fla...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

File this one under insensitive lazy journalism.

Nineteen million Americans, (including me), suffer from arthritis, including Jane Fonda’s type, osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that can lead us to the altar of knee and hip replacement decades before we want it in order to walk across a room pain-free. Due to an osteoarthritis flare-up in my left hip, I’ve been unable to exercise since January (and I am far from Fonda’s age of 72), due to the pain, swelling and lack of mobility from this incurable disease.

Making fun of cripples? Nice work if you can get it!

Deborah Solomon, who clearly thought she was being funny in her New York Times Magazine interview this past weekend:

This interview is for our special Wellness issue, by the way.
I like that word, because, look, I’m fit and healthy. Do I hurt all over? You betcha. I have a new hip; I have a new knee. I had the knee done in June, and I had my hip done three years ago.

You sound like a wreck!
I’m 72. And when you have osteoarthritis, that happens.

Do you think exercise damaged your joints?
Oh, no, absolutely not. I have genetic osteoarthritis. My brother has it; my father had it. It’s genetic. The pain doesn’t define me.

What if we all wind up with titanium joints because we exercised too much?
No, some people can run and do impactful things until they are into their 80s, but I have this problem.

From the CDC website, easily found with a quick click of the mouse, where Solomon might have found…hmmm…a few facts and maybe even ginned up a little empathy:

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 19 million adults. The CDC Arthritis Program is working to improve the quality of life for people affected by arthritis and other rheumatic conditions by working with states and other partners to increase awareness about appropriate arthritis self management activities and expanding the reach of programs proven to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.

  1. Three years ago, my doctors thought I had rheumatoid arthritis. It turned out to be just (just?!) fibromyalgia, which is no less painful, but thankfully not degenerative. While I understand the interviewer’s attempt to be light-hearted, it failed completely. Anyone with a disease like this lives in pain, and it’s not amusing. Some days you feel okay, but other days, yeah, you’re a wreck. I doubt Ms. Fonda needed to be reminded of that!

  2. Suzanna, exactly my point, thanks.

    You and I know the agony of physical pain *we didn’t create* through some dumb-ass weekend warrior behavior. Chronic pain is exhausting and gulping painkillers not a great option when you need to to lucid to work and/or drive. I also wrote to the NYT public editor and asked it they also thought cancer a laugh riot.

  3. I had a Birmingham Hip installed in 2007 @ age 50 (a procedure that I highly recommend for the right patients that is not difficult to recover from). I like what Jane said: ” The pain doesn’t define me.” OA and RA (which I have both) are real painful and make it difficult to move around. The biggest challenge is overcoming the psychic obstacles. As the saying goes:”Other people have real problems”

  4. Leon, thanks for this. I’m sorry to hear you’ve got so many issues with pain — it’s very draining, mentally and physically. I’ve finally been able to walk, and walk fast, thanks to 6 weeks on steroids, which has reduced the pain and inflammation, which you know well are linked. I hope to postpone the hip replacement for a few years; we’ll see how that goes. At least I’ve got a good orthopod.

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