Krystle Smith

Krystle Smith

Real Profiles of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Photos © Krystle Smith

Name?

Krystle Smith

Age?
26

Location?

Massillon, Ohio, United States

How long have you lived with RA?

I’ve been battling RA for 25 years. I was one of the youngest patients to ever be diagnosed in the northern Ohio area (at 9 months old). Luckily, I’ve had an amazing support system to stand beside me through all the trials and hard times that have been sent my way because of RA.

What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?

The best advice I ever received was to try to stay as active and as positive as possible, even when it feels completely impossible. My parents always tried to provide me with as normal of a childhood as possible, and although I knew I was different from other kids my age I never felt out of place. However, there were many times when I felt alone and would question God’s reasoning behind all my health complications. Connecting with other RA warriors has been a great help for me. I no longer feel alone and love talking to people who actually understand. I would tell anyone who has been newly diagnosed to keep that positive attitude and connect with other people who have the disease because unfortunately, most people don’t understand the disease unless they have personally dealt with it. I’ve tried many times to explain what is happening to my body to my friends, but some of them just don’t get it. Hearing the word “arthritis” is completely deceiving when it comes to RA. I don’t think anyone realizes just how much of a person’s life the disease impacts.

Do you use any mobility aids?

When I was younger, my biggest problem joints were my knees and wrists. My knees were locked at 90 degree angles and my family was told I would never walk again. I slept in leg braces every night and fortunately I am able to walk.

How has living with RA helped to improve your life?

Although sometimes I feel like my younger years were stolen from me, I try to stay appreciative of the things I do have and the things that I can do. I know that for me, this has litereally been a lifetime illness but God has a reason and a plan for me-I hope I can figure out exactly what that is sooner than later.

Do you have any visible signs of RA?

I have visible contractions of my wrists and they are stuck in one position. This makes it very difficult to do simple things like open bottles, to cut vegetables. As I’ve gotten older my neck, back and elbows have become more and more bothersome.

Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?

I try to count my blessings and remind myself that things could always be worse-but having an understanding support system has made the biggest difference in coping with RA.

Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?

My current treatment consists of Enbrel injections, plaquenil, steroids & lots of vitamins to boost my immune system & treatment really takes a toll on my body. Because I haven’t seen much improvement, my meds will be changing once again.

Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?

I have days where I literally cannot turn my head. I was also told I have visible bone thinning (osteoarthritis) now on top of everything else.

4 Comments
4 comments
  1. Amber says:

    I’m 25 and in Maryland and know exactly what you are talking about. I feel like it’s gotten hard to lift my arms to put my hair in a ponytail. I am not able to tolerate heels when I go out and sometimes it’s hard because friends find it hard to understand. But, it’s okay I am always in prayer :)

  2. Larry Fries says:

    It is becomming easier to handle this disease the more I read profiles such as yours. I am 51 and was diagnosed last summer. You are so right that people just do not understand RA unless they have it. As wierd as this may seem, I am glad I have RA instead of what they were first looking at. ALS. I had no pain but muscle weekness and fatigue for about a year. So being diagnosed with RA is a blessing. My prayers are with you and all who suffer from RA.

    Larry

  3. Janet says:

    Have you ever tried an elimination diet? It has worked wonders for me. Everybody is different so even if you get a book and they tell you to eliminate “this, this and this” it may be wrong and it is actually something like figs or artichokes that bother you. If you start with a basic meal plan for one week – breakfast = quinoa with some chopped pear and nuts, lunch = large salad (no dressing, maybe a bit of olive oil) dinner = salmon with rice and steamed veggies, snacks = walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds (all nuts seeds raw) and journal everything then start adding more foods. Be strict about keeping out gluten (wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye), dairy, soy, sugar, peanuts, cashews, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, egglplant, potatoes), citrus for three weeks and then try one out. I would excluded gluten and dairy longer even.
    I went from from barely being able to stand two years ago, not lift being able to lift a plate, could not turn a door handle with one hand, not close my hands, having a knee that looked like a grapefruit was under my skin. This was being on medication. Today, I rock climb and do HIIT workouts – in my 40s. I am as strong as when I was in my late teens. I eat higher protein, lower carb. I take no medication at all now, just supplements.
    The lifestyle is hard and I always fall off but I always get back on because the benefits are so worth it. It allows me to be in control of my disease. I stay clear of gluten at all costs – always. My worst trigger and the one I cheated with most at the beginning.
    I just wish more people would try this, it has been my lifesaver.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>