Real Profiles of Rheumatoid ArthritisPhotos © Amanda Gibson
Lauderdale, Minnesota, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
I was diagnosed 15 years ago, but the onset of symptoms was much younger. It could have been as early as age 2.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
It can seem overwhelming, and you might want to focus on the things you’re “losing” from your life. Try not to do that! Instead, take delight in the things you CAN do. Any day that you can tie your shoes or cook your food or open a soda bottle are days that you should feel like a superhero!
Do you use any mobility aids?
I don’t have any currently, but I’ve been looking into getting a cane to help with flare-ups. I’ve been falling down a lot more.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
As I said above, I try to take delight in the small things. It keeps me positive and upbeat. It makes me fight harder to keep the freedoms I have.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I have swan-necking in my hands, and my feet are hammertoed. I have scars from two different surgeries – a right wrist row carpectomy and a total joint replacement in my jaw.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
When I feel down, I don’t keep it in. I turn to my friends and loved ones for comfort. They know that it’s hard on me, and they definitely try to keep me from despairing too much.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
I take Enbrel and Methotrexate, as well as Advil for the pain and stiffness. I try to walk as much as possible. Swimming and massages are great too! I’ve also started float tanking, where you lie in super-salinized water. It feels amazing!
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?