Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Briana Edwards
Briana J Edwards
AKA: Gimp-opotomus, BamBri (usually joined with “get up Bambri!” said like Bambi’s dad in the Disney film…..my dad thinks he’s so clever), Lefty, and plenty more.
Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
How long have you lived with RA?
Probably for 2 years or more. At least that’s when I noticed that something just wasn’t right. I just got diagnosed in March of this year tho.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Finding a supportive group of people who honestly care about you has been very important for me. I also think it’s a good idea to talk to your family and try to have them understand why you need so much help and why you’re always so tired. Your family can be the one you were born into but it can also be the one you choose to be part of. I was lucky enough to be born into a very large family but I am also very grateful for my family of friends. Having so many people who really want to help makes it a lot easier to beat this stupid frustrating painful unfair RA.
Do you use any mobility aids?
So far I’ve only needed a knee brace since starting treatment. I used a walker for a few months before I was diagnosed. Well it’s more I’m too stubborn to use it when I need it.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
It forced me to move back home with my family which got me out of a bad relationship. It’s also made me realize just how strong my inner superhero is even if my RA-self is falling apart.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
Slight deformities of my wrists and fingers. My elbows and knees no longer straighten so my posture is pretty bad.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
Wow…umm. Mostly I try to cry it out. I’ve always been one to bottle up my emotions and be strong and not let things bother me but then I would tend to have major breakdowns. I’ve found that crying it out helps me. I still hide in the shower to do it tho. I’ve had enough pity. Not to mention when I cry then my mom cries and then I cry because I made her cry and it just becomes one big mess. I also like to get lost in a really good book. I like fantasy books because I’d rather be thinking about flying on a dragon than thinking “how long can I hold it before I struggle to get up and go bathroom?”
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
10mg Prednisone, Methotrexate, Plaquenil, and Folic Acid. I go to physical therapy twice a week. I see my chiropractor at least once a week and I get a therapeutic massage at least once a month. Chiropractic care and massage therapy have been wonderful tools to help me.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I have nine siblings. They drive me crazy but I love them all. I am still learning how to define this new me but so far I kind of like being the left-handed, quick-witted, adorably quirky misfit that also just happens to be living with RA.