Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Cathy Kramer
Chicago, Illinois, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Educate yourself and then figure out a path that is right for YOU. Find not only friends in the RA community, but also outside it, that support the path you have chosen for yourself. Find health professionals that support your choices. Don’t be afraid of meltdowns. Be good to yourself. Try new things. Listen to your body. Don’t stop moving!
Do you use any mobility aids?
I don’t use mobility aids, however, I generally have someone near me and have LOTS of help.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
Life with rheumatoid arthritis is not easy. Each day is a mystery as to how I will feel. However, living with RA has given me the gift of finding my own personal strength. I have learned that some days I need to let go of the control I want to have over RA and by doing so I actually gain more control over me. I know my strengths and have built on my weaknesses. I have learned to ask for help and how to accept it. I have learned to share my needs. I have met the most amazing people. Some may say that RA has taken a lot from me, but I like to think that in the process of dealing with RA, I have received more than it has taken and for that I am thankful.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I have been very fortunate in that I don’t have any visible signs of RA except a limp that comes and goes. I do have some concerns about my knee and we will have to see where it is when all the swelling finally leaves, but so far so good.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
Each day I remind myself of all the good in my life – there is a lot. I remind myself that “my body is healing” and I believe it. I cry when I need to and don’t feel guilty about it. Most importantly, I surround myself with positive/supportive people.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
I have been medication free for almost two years. This is the path that feels right for ME. I believe in alternative medicine. I am currently using probiotics, digestive enzymes, homeopathy, fish oil/hemp oil, detoxing my body, and following The Body Ecology Diet.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am a proud momma to 13 year old Alexander and 11 year old Sophia. I have also been married to my best friend Steve for the last 21 years. Together my family and I enjoy life with our three year old border collie, bike riding, homeschooling, TV/movies, nature, and more.
Individually I am somewhat of a natural girl – I love natural hair color, cosmetics that are safe on our skin, whole foods, farmers markets, natural remedies, rainstorms, watching people, and more. I am a daughter, sister and friend. I enjoy teaching English as a Second Language to adults, organizing events for our homeschooling group, spending time with friends, reading in quiet places, time alone, and exercising (yoga, bike riding, light weights, walking).
I think of myself as a positive person and allow that to guide me through the rough days and the easy days.
Cathy blogs regularly at The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo.