Michelle Gonzalez

Michelle Gonzalez

RA Guy Real Profiles of RA 20 Comments

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.

Comments 20

  1. Post
    RA Guy

    Michelle, when I started working on your profile last night I was really moved when I saw that we were both the same age. While I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis for a handful of years, you have been living with it almost your entire life. In every photo you sent me, you have the biggest smile that a person could possibly have – you really are an inspiration in how to choose ‘living with RA’ over ‘suffering with RA’. Thank you for sharing your story and photos with us.

  2. Karen

    Blessings to you Michelle. What a beautiful, courageous young woman you are. RA Guy is right, you are an inspiration and I for one will do my best to take your lead.

    I send you my best wishes and love


  3. Leslie

    Michelle and RA guy…all three of us are 36…just young chickens 😀 Michelle, what a truly inspiring, brave, awesome lady you are! I was just diagnosed with RA last year and it’s great to meet other people my age who are going through the same thing. My daughter’s friend who is 12 was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 3…she is doing really well and has been on mtx for a while. I know a neuropsychologist who is in her 40s and was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 11….she has been through so much and always has such a bright smile on her face like you. Keep the strength! do you have a blog?

  4. Sara

    Michelle is one of those people that I am so glad I met, and would never have met had it not been for RA. You are one of the most vivacious people I know and seem to have unending support and empathy for those of us who are new to the RA world.

    RA Guy- what a great idea- I love this!

  5. Rebecca

    Michelle has been given more than her share of pain and difficulties, but she keeps moving forward. I can’t remember the last time I’ve met anyone with as much strength and fortitude as her!

  6. Michelle

    Thanks everyone for your kind words; reading them makes me want to fight harder! This disease is brutal and it will knock you down but remember we all have one another.

    I have had such the privilage of meeting some amazing people because of RA. They are now my life long friends and I am thankful for that because I didn’t have that when I was younger. Sara and Rebecca I heart you guys!

    RA Guy thank you for doing this! Seeing the pictures again brings up so many memories…

    My love, hope, strength and courage to you all.

  7. Danielle


    You inspire me and I don’t even have RA, but….. my father does and I share the stories with him. I’ve known you for many of years and seen you fight this, even your first hip replacement and you were so strong and you fought, you never gave up and you still do not give up.

    I love ya girl, keep smilin’ and showing that strength to everyone and that you can fight RA don’t let it get the best of you!!!


  8. Chelsea

    My fingers aren’t that swollen, but I share those ugly wrists with ya girl! Do you think you will need to get surgery on your wrists at some point?

  9. Michelle

    I had a partial wrist fusion on my right wrist and that sucker hurt….my left one will have to wait till I can’t stand the pain anymore. It’s ugly but it’s functional 😉

    Please share this site with you Father and let me know if I can be of any help. I’m there for you. Always.

    Much love…Michelle

  10. Tami


    I love your attitude and you remind me that there is still plenty of fight left in this 49 year old body. Thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit with us!

  11. Tiffany

    I “met” Michelle after she ordered an autoimmune arthritis charity bracelet and we began talking via email almost daily ever since! Michelle, you know you are my right hand man with Buckle Me Up! and your spirit and desire to help others always shines through. One good thing about RA is without out, we would never even know each other. Thanks for sharing your story with the world, you are an inspiration!

  12. Tracy

    Hi cuz omg u made me really think. I know u have been fighting w ra all of your life, and I have been fighting my ms for 7yrs or so now. There r days with my pain I don’t know how I do it and then I stop and think of u and everything u have been thru and still going thru. Then I get stronger from u. Thank you so much cuz!!!! U r a great person and I love u for who u r..We will fight together forever!!!Love u ! Love your cuz Tracy

  13. RA Mom

    Michelle, what a truly beautiful person you are–inside & out! Thank you for sharing your pictures and your story. You are an inspiration!! God Bless…RA Guy’s Mom

  14. Michelle

    Thanks everyone for your kind and thoughtful words. I appreciate the time you have taken to read about me and my fight with Rheumatoid Arthritis. We know RA is a struggle not just personally, but physically and emotionally too which is what makes us stronger.

    RA Guy thank you again for doing this! I can’t thank you enough. You are a true Superhero and one I am glad to have crossed paths with 🙂

    Tiffany & friends, I can’t wait to see what 2010 brings for us and the RA community.

    “One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this.”

    Gentle hugs all,

  15. Carla Anderson

    Great story. I love your positive attitude!
    I have had RA for about 26 yrs I think…..I don’t really think about it so I kind of lost track.
    I have been on alomost every drug available and have been bed ridden at times. I have been blessed that I have only had surgery on my feet….My hands are deformed but I dont rreally notice it until someone asks about it.
    I am now on Orencia and take a natural supplenet to control my RA….
    It is so great to be able to talk to other people who have RA because You get it!

    Blessings to mt RA Friends,

  16. Pamela Taylor (Zoern)

    heh-It’s been a long time. I think about you a lot and always wondered how you were doing. I’m on FB now-hope you find me-I’d like to catch up!!!

  17. Chelsea

    Hi Michelle,
    don’t know if you’re still following this post, but I’ll try anyway. How come you only did a partial fusion? What part do they not fuse? I’m looking into it right now, wondering when to do it. Will have to visit with surgeon again to get lots of specific questions answered but he’s of the school to fuse rather than total joint replacement. I am hard on my wrists and hear it’s better to fuse under that situation. Has your pain improved at all?

  18. Cammie

    Hello Michelle,
    Gentle hugs to you. I am relatively new to RA being diagnosed only a few years ago. You are truly an inspiration to me as I am sure you are to many others. Thanks for sharing your RA story/journey. You are one of many now in my RA book of Superheroes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *