Michelle Gonzalez

RA Guy Real Profiles of RA

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.