BG: After over a year of mysterious, painful symptoms and numerous doctor's appointments and tests, I was finally recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Arthritis (either rheumatoid or psoriatic - not sure which yet). Quite a few people knew I was having issues so when they ask for updates I let them know what the diagnosis is. I generally just tell people it's rheumatoid arthritis, since most people have heard of that. /BG
Come to find out that although people have heard of rheumatoid arthritis, many of them don't really know what it is. A number of people, upon being told of my diagnosis, have said stuff like, "Oh yeah, I've got some arthritis in my hands" and nodded knowingly. Several have suggested remedies for osteoarthritis and I've had a couple of comments about having so many doctor's appointments and it ended up being "just arthritis."
Now, while osteoarthritis can be a debilitating pain in the posterior (and I've got some of that, too) it's not the same type of thing as rheumatoid arthritis. In my case, for example, my bladder and areas of my GI tract are being affected in addition to numerous joints and it's had a serious impact on my energy level.
When people pretty clearly don't understand the diagnosis, do I explain? Or should I reserve explanations for people who need to know that this illness is having an impact on the way I function (e.g., co-workers I work closely with)?
And if explaining is advisable, any suggestions on how to go about it without
a) making the person feel ignorant, or
b) sounding like I'm saying "My diagnosis is worse than than everyone else's! Neener neener neener!"
Note: Talking about medical problems is par for the course where I work. We're in the health care business and most of us are interested in that sort of stuff.