I was showing symptoms of RA around 16 and blew it off thinking it was just pain. Finally went to the doctor and was told I didn’t have it. Got a second opinion, and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 17. I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis for 2 years.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Take a deep breath…and relax. Start your research. Grab a close friend or family member. Start looking up what our disease is. What it all entails so you know how and when to do what you need to do. Don’t freak out when you google “images” of rheumatoid arthritis. Remember….BREATHE. Once you start understanding it all…start looking at it alone and get used to the fact that it is who you are. I am still learning things about RA that I have not yet found.
Do you use any mobility aids?
I work with therapy puddy once a day doing exercises. It loosens up my hands. I need to invest in a jar opener and a new can opener. Hands are soon to be in splints at night time. I play softball at the collegiate level which is a daily challenge. I have to wear a wrist brace to hold my joint together and for support.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
Living with RA has helped me become a better being all around. It makes you step back and look at life at a different perspective. You have to adapt to your life and live in the moment. You have to be thankful for the things you can do and try again tomorrow for the things you cannot do today. Just try again again and again. Never give up. I am living with an autoimmune disease and playing college softball. I feel as if I am an accomplished human. When I see someone in pain I am the first to jump up and help, I know what pain is. Not just pain, pain. But pain that you can’t even express. Being able to do the things you can do…it makes you thankful for the things you can do.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
My fingers are cricked and don’t bend all the way close. My knuckles are bigger than the average person. Depending on the day, flare ups in my knees are noticeable.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
I play the piano and when my hands feel like giving me a treat, they let my fingers run up and down that keyboard like no ones business. Because I play a college sport, I have to PUSH myself daily. I never give up or say “no, I don’t feel like it today.” I have to or I wouldn’t be able to do what I love EVERYDAY. Push yourself, and you’ll be happier.
Blogging does WONDERS. Follow people, join a group. Do something. Meet people who have the same problems as you. When you complain to mom or dad about how bad your hips are hurting, they don’t and will never understand the amount of agonizing pain you are truly in. Talk to someone who has been there and done that. They can help you cope and get rid of the flare. ADVICE IS THE KEY!!
Overall, do something you have lost the ability to do, and DO IT. ENJOY it and be THANKFUL for it. (Even if it’s only one day every other week.)
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am a sophomore in college. I am a college athlete playing softball. I am a daughter, a sister, grand daughter, niece, cousin, a god mother, a friend, teammate, musician, and I am a fighter against Rheumatoid Arthritis. I will not let RA bring me down or take the game away from me. I will play until I cannot play anymore. RA cannot take something from you unless you let it. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.