Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Tamara Vasquez
24 years young!
Alvin, Texas, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
I have lived with RA for 6 yrs now.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
The most important advice is follow the doctors orders. Do not miss your appointments, because the longer you wait to get treatment the worse your condition and damage will get. I was so hard headed about following the doctors orders and sticking with the appointments because I had not accepted it. I was always healthy and to all of sudden be told you can’t do this and you cant do that, take this medication with food and take this one once a week or twice a day was just ridiculous but I wish I would have followed the orders sooner because who knows, I might have been in control of my RA by now.
Do you use any mobility aids?
Before I had my 7 month old, I would wear ankle braces on both my ankles, I had a knee brace on my right knee and I also wore a wrist brace on both my wrists. Now, and I don’t know why and neither does my rheumatologist, I only wear a wrist brace on my right wrist. My right hand is the only thing that gives me a whole lot of problems. My ankles, knees and left hand no longer hurt but they still swell every once in while.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
It made me such a strong person, I can withstand any other pain, cut, fracture,sprain, surgery etc, other than my flare ups. Not only did it made my physically stronger, it has made me emotionally, and mentally stronger. I was depressed at the beginning of this RA journey but i have overcome that and accepted that fact that yes I do have a disease but its a great conversation starter. People seem to be amazed that someone my age has this “old people” disease and fills me with joy when I explain to them that RA knows no age and I share with them the facts. They leave with something new. I amaze myself at the fact that I DO NOT allow this disease to control me or my family’s life. I spend a great deal of time with my children doing activities that we all love because who knows maybe one day I will not be able to but I will do everything in my power to prevent that.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
In my right hand you can start to see a little deformity in my fingers but it’s not too much and I’m hoping that we are slowing down the damage. My MRI showed there was great damage to my cartilages and quite a bit of bone loss. You can definitely tell that my hand is constantly swollen.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
Some of my absolute favorite are spending time with my kids. Just joking around with them, playing games and just laughing. My family never quit on me, no matter how hard headed I was, they never quit and they are still here for me. I also see a counseling therapist who has helped me deal with my emotions especially when i have a flare up and get so overwhelmed with the fact that I can not button my pants or brush my hair. I have what I call “me time”, this is when I spend time just by myself or with a friend getting pampered for example pedicure,manicure, movie or anything that is just plain relaxing.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
I was taking Celebrex but wasnt working anymore. So I’m back on Prednisone and Lodine for now but I am waiting on my insurance to approve Enbrel.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am 24 year old divorced mother of two beautiful boys.I am a fabulous RA Gal who switched from wearing heels everyday to flats because my ankles swell or I am in pain but i make it look good! I work full time and a mother full time. I am a daughter, mother, aunt, sister, cousin, granddaughter and ex wife(but happily free) and I am a friend. I will NEVER allow rheumatoid arthritis to control my life or control me. I love my life and anything and everyone in it. I live to the fullest, love unconditionally and I laugh because I AM HAPPY! I may be in the worst pain imaginable but I smile everyday!
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