Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Megan G.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
How long have you lived with RA?
Diagnosed at 16, in 1991, so 20 years.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Listen to your doctor and listen to your gut feeling. Your doctor knows RA, and you know yourself. Advocate for yourself. If something isn’t working with your meds or a test result doesn’t make sense, ask and ask again. Take the meds your doctor prescribes, and then determine if they work for you. Life is too short to live in significant pain. Find support in your community or the Blogging community. You are not alone, and there are others out there offering support and understanding. Talk to your family and friends. Let them in. Help them understand your struggles and let them know when and how they can help. Ask for help. I’m still trying to improve in this area. Talk to your manager at work. My experience is that it has only been positive and helpful.
Do you use any mobility aids?
I occasionally use both working and resting wrist splints and I haveused a cane (a long time ago), but recently it is looking pretty attractive.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
Some days, I can’t see that it has improved my life. Other days, I know that I am a stronger person. I don’t take things lying down. I am a fighter. I am not afraid to ask questions of my doctors and treat them as equals. I am more empathetic. I am a better planner. I am less fearful of the unknown. I am more patient with myself and others. I am more humble. I know myself well.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
A six inch scar on my left shoulder from my joint replacement from 2009. Soon to be scar on on my right shoulder to match. Two-one inch scars on my right knee from an arthroscopic synovectomy in 1999. Prednisone “hump” on the back of my neck. Ulnar drift in both hands.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
I walk on the Trans Canada trail and listen to music. I sing at the top of my lungs when driving. I blog – which has been one of the biggest outlets for me recently. I talk issues over with my husband and or family and friends. My Yoga practice has helped, but I seem to be able to do less and less of it due to my shoulders.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Meds: Actemra – about to start, Prednisone, alternate day low dose. Diclofenac, daily. Actonel, monthly to prevent bone loss.
Pills: Multi-vitamin, daily. Vitamin D & E, daily.
Other Treatments: Massage therapy. Acupuncture (at times). Naturopathic Doctor, with some success.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am married to a wonderfully supportive husband. He has been known to put my hair in a pony tail and help me get dressed when I can’t manage alone. I am a mom of two funny and beautiful children, ages 4 and 6. They have a world view that is very simple, showing me that life doesn’t need to be complicated. I have amazing parents. They are here for me, all the time, no questions. I blog about my RA life (Sticks & Stones) as a therapeutic and documentation exercise, and to connect with the online RA community.