Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Katie Rix
Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
How long have you lived with RA?
I was diagnosed in 2008 when I was 18.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
No matter how bad things seem right now it’s really not the end of the world, there are so many amazing treatments available. It can take time to find the right treatment for you and for the treatments to begin to work and to see the results, so although it is difficult you have to be patient.
It is totally natural to want to find out as much as you can about the disease but do NOT believe everything you read on the internet because you will come across horror stories and frightening thoughts that probably don’t even apply to you. Try to make sure you have as much rest and sleep as you possibly can, the fatigue caused can have as much an effect as the RA itself. Try and be patient when explaining to others exactly how serious RA is and what it involves and how it affects your life because RA is often considered to be an “unseen” disease it can be difficult for people to understand how serious, painful and debilitating the disease is. I had no idea what arthritis really involved before I was diagnosed. If I’m honest I thought it was only for people in their seventies.
Do you use any mobility aids?
I have an electric tin opener but I couldn’t use a handheld one before the arthritis struck haha! I sometimes use wrist supports.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
I have definitely turned into a “glass have full” kind of person and I try to see the positive in everything. I’m a lot more tolerant and understanding towards other people now. It’s also made me thankful for what I already have, my family, my boyfriend and my friends.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I often have swelling in my joints, especially my wrists and have nodules on my fingers which come and go.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
Looking at photos from a really happy time such as holidays and birthdays and websites like his are also good and remind me that I’m not the only person in the world with RA and that there are people who are much worse off than I am.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Hydrocloroquine sulphate, humira, methotrexate and folic acid.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
RA is a huge part of my life but it doesn’t control everything I do. I’m only just 22 and I still do everything I want to. I have just completed my degree in English Literature and I am deciding what to do next.
Already this summer I have been to Turkey and a festival with my boyfriend, had an amazing time in Ibiza with my friends and I still go out, get drunk and fall over. Yes, I probably feel worse than most the day after but that’s something I can deal with. Next summer my friends are planning on volunteering in Asia… Don’t let rheumatoid arthritis slow you down!