Michelle Gonzalez

Michelle Gonzalez

Real Profiles of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Photos © Michelle Gonzalez


Michelle Gonzalez




Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

How long have you lived with RA?

34 + years (Diagnosed in 1975 with JRA, at the age of 2 but probably had it since birth.)

What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?

Don’t let anyone else set your limits. You can set your own limitations-YOU are in control. Do a lot of research, reach out to blog sites, RA groups and maybe a local chapter. If you don’t like your treatment plan, work with you doctor. It is you body and you know it best. What may work for some, certainly doesn’t work for others. Communication with your doctor is essential; just because he prescribes something doesn’t mean it’s meant for you. Be your own advocate!

Do you use any mobility aids?

No, but I have after recovering from surgery. I used a sock aid, a platform walker, crutches and those reachers/grabbers….to be honest, I still use my reacher-I’m only 5’5 I still need to use it to grab things that are out of reach or sometimes I use it to kill spiders that are out of reach, lol!

How has living with RA helped to improve your life?

I have developed and incredible sense of empathy, compassion and loyalty towards others. If I see someone in pain, I am the first one there to help them. If I see someone who needs assistance-I will offer mine. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on-I’ll give them mine. I am most thankful for those qualities.

This disease takes SO much away from you but it has also given me so much strength, and courage for one person I feel like I could conquer the world if I needed to. I have the drive and determination to get through anything. Without RA I don’t know if I could do that.

Do you have any visible signs of RA?

Oh absolutely! I have hip replacement scars (right and left sides) swan neck deformities in my wrists, deformed ankles, swollen fingers, hands and elbows.

Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?

If you are having a bad day, talk to a good friend, relive fun memories or cry it out. Just remember to take it one day at a time. It may take awhile but sooner or later-you will begin to feel better. I know I am stronger for having RA and I know I fight a good fight everyday but we all get knocked down, it’s up to us to pick ourselves back up again.

Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?

Two tablespoons of Tart Cherry juice concentrate daily, Calcium, Vitamin D, the occassional massage and acupunture treatment as well as Humira, Imuran and Mobic.

Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?

I am the type of person that if you told me I couldn’t do something, I would do it anyways out of spite. That’s the determination in me. I have had RA for 34 years but I refuse to let RA have anymore of me then it already does.

If I do, RA wins….and I am not a quitter nor will I be defeated.


One More Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog!

Adventures of La Coja

I am a young woman with rheumatoid arthritis living and working in Mexico. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2007 and like every young person looked forward to what i saw as an ideal future. However, when my disease came out of remission in late 2006, my life took a totally different direction.

In place of the impressive job and swanky apartment I wanted, I ended up unable to work and living with my parents. I traded in my beloved nightly martini for cocktails of drugs. As I began to lose the ability to walk well in 2008, I came to the realization that disability requires creativity. I received a total hip replacement in May 2009 and decided to make a move.

There undoubtedly will be some obstacles and the not so occasional mistake made. However, Id rather live by my own rules than dictated limitations. I hope my story will be a resource of ideas, truth, and hope to others who are also trying to make their own rules.

Thanks to Synovial Syntax for sharing this link with me via Twitter.


Real Profiles Of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Elizabeth Riggs


Elizabeth at Turtle Rock recently posted her own Real Profile of Rheumatoid Arthritis – be sure to take a look!

Read More: http://turtlemom3.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/real-profile-of-rheumatoid-arthritis/

If you look around while you are at her blog, you will find some great information on service dogs, PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services) of South Carolina, and ADI (Assistance Dog International). Elizabeth also writes the blog Living With the Woof, which details her adventures with Emmy – a black labrador retriever mobility assistant.

1 Comment

Thank You, Arthritis Today!

Dear Editor of Arthritis Today,

Arthritis Today Oct 2009Two months ago to the day, I wrote an Open Letter To Arthritis Today in which I asked your publication to please provide more visibility of men living with arthritis. I had just reviewed the archive issues that were available on the Arthritis Foundation website, and was unable to find a man on the cover – even though men comprise 41% of the general arthritis population in the United States.

Within a matter of hours, you responded with “Be sure to check out the cover of our next issue (available mid- to late October). I think you’ll like it.” [Response From Arthritis Today] Your quick response sounded promising, and I could not wait to see what was in store for the upcoming issue of Arthritis Today.

Yesterday, I decided to visit the Arthritis Today website in order to see if any information was available on the November-December 2009 issue. I was happy to see not only a man – but a man living with rheumatoid arthritis – on the cover!

Matthew C. Iseman (born January 22, 1971 in Denver, Colorado, USA) is a U.S. comedian, actor, and television host, who began his career as a physician. He was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2002, at age 31.

More Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Iseman

Thank you so much for starting to provide more visibility of men living with rheumatoid arthritis. I look forward to similar features that your publication might publish in the future!


Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy


Justice Department To Stop Pursuit Of Medical Marijuana Use

People who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it should not face federal prosecution, provided they act according to state law, the Justice Department said on Monday in a directive with far-reaching political and legal implications.

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/us/20cannabis.html?_r=1&hp

Amen. Now I just hope that more states start to legalize medicinal marijuana.