how to handle this public situation....?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 4/8/2008 9:25 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi again!  OK, here is my delimma...I carry a fat pen with me cause on the days my hands hurt, it is easier to grip, as I am sure most of you know.  When cashiers or someone who needs me to sign something go to hand me a pen, I have mine in hand (most of the time--sometimes I have to dig for it in the bottomless pit of my purse.)  Anyway, they always look at me like I am purposely disrespecting them by not taking their pen.  I feel like I need to explain, but then since I am only 32 and my arthritis isn't visable to the common eye, they just nod like I am crazy.  I just stopped saying anything, but I still feel self concious.  How do you all deal with public circumstances where the pain gets in the way?  Thanks!

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Date Joined Nov 2003
Total Posts : 7122
   Posted 4/8/2008 9:55 AM (GMT -7)   
I need a fat pen to write also. Additionally, I am on immunosuppressants. Due to being immunosuppressed I actively avoid situations where germs could easily pass to me. A public pen is a perfect example of a germ magnet.

My fingers are visibly mishapen so it's easy to hold up one hand, smile, and say, "thanks for the offer (of the pen) but I need to use my special pen - arthritis." Most respond favorably.

Since you don't have visible problem, you can simply do as you do now. Or you can use those occasions to do a little public awareness teaching. A simple statement said with a smile might relieve the tension/feeling of self-consciousness. I tend to make jokes about things so I might say, "Arthritis is not just a baby boomer problem!" I bet you can think of something cute and disarming to say.
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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 4/8/2008 12:42 PM (GMT -7)   
Ides, that is a great suggestion. I am just still kind of new to this. You guys are always so helpful. You know, I never thought of the immunosuppressant thing. I realized I got sick a lot when I first started the MTX, and I knew it was cause of the meds, but I never really thought about the pen thing. I will be much more careful with that stuff too! Thanks!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1331
   Posted 4/8/2008 1:45 PM (GMT -7)   
I guess I never gave it much thought...sometimes the person will put a pen on the counter but I just use my own more because I'm a germ o phobe! and on Enbrel and MTX , and I never even think to offer an explanation and the person never looks offended, they probably could care less that I don't use their pen :-)

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 4/9/2008 5:49 AM (GMT -7)   
Maybe I am just too sensitive about it and reading what isn't there? I know some people have looked at me weird when I pull out my own pen, but oh well. I guess I should just let it roll, huh? Thanks.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 3042
   Posted 4/10/2008 2:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I would not worry what ppl think about carring a fat pen. I carry a fat pen and always used it. I don't care what ppl think it helps me.
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 4/10/2008 4:31 PM (GMT -7)   
At work they buy bic stick pens by the dozens. Even as a consultant I can have as many as I want- I buy my own pens which I am not allowed to sign documents with (all docs must be signed in black ball point I use fatter barrelled liquid ink pens because of the ease with which I can hold them and move it across the page) so when someone approaches me to have me sign something I put down my pen and take theirs. No one asks about it anymore its just my idiocyncracy.

New Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 5/31/2008 10:57 AM (GMT -7)   
I can understand what you are going through in a sense. My 22 year old daughter has had JRA since she was 13. A few years ago when she was on Enbrel and Methotrexate she got deathly ill with pneumonia and almost died. She hasn't been the same since as far as germs are concerned. She is extremely concerned about germs ALL the time. When we go somewhere she also brings her own pen and it is a fat one also. And as soon as she comes home she heads straight to the shower and will wash what she was wearing. If someone comes over she will wipe down the house after they leave. She does kind of go overboard and I worry about that but she is very stubborn but on the other hand I can understand; I have mixed emotions about it and have expressed them to her. Some germs are ok but of course we really don't want germs ; if that makes sense; especially her since her immune system is deprived.

Oh and as far as what the public or what the other people think about you and others having your own pen go......what does it really matter; after awhile it gets tiring having to explain and wondering why you have to explain yourself to others. I don't mean to sound mean or rude about it but more and more it seems people with disabilities (even arthritis) are questioned or looked at funny as if they don't have a disability because you can't see their pain as if everyone with a disability has to be always in a wheelchair or missing a limb if you get my gist. I hope that I am making sense.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 80
   Posted 6/3/2008 6:03 AM (GMT -7)   
I always prefer to use my own pen and don't give it a thought. The cashier really doesn't care. It sounds like you're extra sensitive about a condition you have. Don't be. We live with our imperfections every day and we must put ourselves first. Others aren't that aware and probably don't care. Only we are really aware of our differences. And we can't let "what we think others are thinking" bother us. We have to do what is best for us and not allow ourselves to be too self conscious of what others might think. If we wear oxygen ,walk with a cane or whatever, we're doing what we need to do. Try to relax. And use your own pen.
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