Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
I was diagnosed at the age of 7; so almost 20 years now!
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
I am a “take charge” kind of girl; so take a deep breath; look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you look exactly the same as you did an hour ago, a day ago, a week ago, before you were diagnosed. Make some phone calls; talk to doctors, talk to patients; it’ll help you get some perspective on what to expect.
Do you use any mobility aids?
I do not.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
I have met so many great people whom I never would have met. Having RA has pushed me out of my comfort zone to attend functions, or to get up and speak in front of strangers to help spread awareness.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I don’t have a huge range of motion in my neck; I can’t straighten all of my fingers all of the way. Is fatigue a sign? I’d say yes; I get told I look tired a lot.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
I have some of the greatest friends and family! Sometimes having a good cry can work wonders. Other times taking a night to myself, to realize how lucky I am to be where I am helps me feel better the next day.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
I take Celebrex and Folic Acid everyday. I take 8 tablets of Methotrexate one day a week, every 7 weeks I have a 2 hour infusion of Remicade.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
Getting involved with the Arthritis Foundation has changed my life.I have learned so much about the disease and it has helped me feel like I am contributing to find a cure. I always try to speak with parents of kids who have been recently diagnosed; my parents always made decisions with me, never for me. Feeling like I had some sort of a say made me feel better when I felt I couldn’t control my own body.