Chronicling my journey living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): looking back at what brought me here, processing the here and now, and considering the future.
“I started having shoulder pain in the mornings in the winter of 1991 – not something I gave much thought, chalking it up to usual aches and pains of being a on the junior high school volleyball team. And then volleyball season ended, and my shoulders and wrists still hurt. Off to my family doctor I went and some physio was prescribed, ultrasound on my wrists. The first time I heard arthritis mentioned was by the tech performing the treatment and of course, I said I was too young. And I was, wasn’t I?
My GP wasn’t sure so he sent me to an internist who tested me to no avail for 3-4 months. Finally, after a trip to a lupus and chronic disease conference for teenagers in search of some answers, I felt confident that I didn’t have lupus (thank God) but was convinced that his course of treatment – or lack thereof – was not doing me any favours. At the time I was on 8 aspirin a day, and then had to take medication for the minor ulcer developing in my 16 year old stomach. The ironies of taking medication for my medication.
At my appointment a few weeks after I got back from the conference, I demanded a referral to Sick Kids in Toronto (I lived in Brampton at the time). Picture a 16 year old demanding a referral for treatment. My mom sat beside me in silent support. With a bit of time and experience with the medical field, I have learned that all doctors are not created equal, and he didn’t have a clue. It was an early lesson on being your own health care advocate.”