What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor/rheumatologist questions. Find local or online support groups that help with dealing with pain/depression. Check sites like arthritis.org or, of course, rheumatoidarthritisguy.com for facts and other people who have RA. No one understands better than they do! RA tests your courage and emotional strength in many ways, so don’t give up on yourself. This isn’t the end of a long wonderful life and you are the strongest you can be at this time.
Do you use any mobility aids?
No aids yet!
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
Living with RA has helped me realize that I CAN do things I’ve always wanted to do. I still swim, hang out with friends, and go on vacation. Also, some days I feel like I am stronger because I can cope with my arthritis in a mature way. Some people wouldn’t think that RA can help you in a positive way, but it really can.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I have purple blotches on my legs and dark bags under my eyes. I also occasionally have visible swelling of my knees and fingers.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
When it comes to feelings and mood and my RA, it’s like a rollercoaster. Some days I feel great about myself but other days I feel as if nothing is going right and I am always in pain. The #1 thing that always can help me through a depression stage is music. Usually I’ll listen to the kind of music to fit my mood. Like if I am angry, I’ll listen to loud rock music. Or, if I’m sad or depressed about my pain, I’ll listen to inspirational music. I remember when I was going through a tough time a while ago with school and everything was so messed up it seemed, and the only song I listened to for 3 days straight was “No Boundaries” by Kris Allen. It really helped me realize that I could make it through the bad days. Music really helps me cope with a lot of things, not just my arthritis pain. I’m glad to have such an awesome therapy method.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Right now for my RA I am not on any medications. I was put on Methotrexate and Folic Acid a couple of years ago for my RA. I was doing exceptionally well and my arthritis was also doing great, so I was taken off. Now though, since the pain has returned, we concluded that I was just in a remission. As for my pain, I have another condition called RND, which has to do with my nerves. Most of the pain is in my nerves and muscles now, which I only take OTC drugs for that pain.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am a huge animal lover. I have 3 cats, a bunny, and my grandparents have the cutest dog. All of my life I have been around animals and have always had a knack for getting them to trust me. Hopefully someday I can have a job that deals with animals along with my dream of becoming a journalist. I can also be found on Facebook.