Sometimes I feel like the little mermaid. No, not Ariel from the animated movie. Fairy tales as told by Disney and collegues are meant for children. They all end happily ever after and the bad guys have to do community service. But fairy tales as told or written a long time ago were not for the tenderhearted. There may sometimes be a knight in shining armour saving the princess. But little Red Riding Hood (as told by Perrault, seventeenth century) gets eaten and that is it. No bold forester in sight. The eyes of Cinderella’s stepsisters (The Grimm Brothers, nineteenth century) are picked out by doves at the closing wedding. And Snow White’s stepmother (also the Grimms) was forced to dance at the wedding in red-hot iron shoes until she dropped down dead. Litterally. What misery.
The little mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen, nineteenth century) wants to marry her prince. She has a witch turn her fishtail into two legs. In return she lets the witch cut out her tongue and loses her voice. Every step she subsequently takes with her two new feet, feels like walking upon sharp knives.
And that’s how I feel sometimes, in pain with every step. My feet are affected by reumatoid arthritis. Princes or knights do not help, but luckily there is medical science that does research on what causes my affliction. My rheumatologist can prescribe me appropriate medication. My orthopeadic technician makes me customized shoes. The little mermaid didn’t have all that. But sometimes my body and my feet still hurt and I say ‘ouch’ with every step. Mostly I say that quietly, inside, like the little mermaid would have done. But sometimes I cry out like Snow White’s stepmother must have done because of her painfully hot feet.
Fortunately, my prospects are better than hers. I faithfully take my medication and do my excercises to keep supple. That’s the best way I know how to keep the arthritis tolerable. By the way, the little mermaid didn’t even get her prince in the end. He marries some other girl. Never mind the princes, just give me my pills and medical science. I’m happy real life is no fairy tale.
(Written November 2018, translated May 2019)