Colorado, United States
How long have you lived with RA?
I received the diagnosis in March 2012, but I think I’d been living with the symptoms for at least a couple years before that. It’s amazing what you can ignore when there’s not a name for it!
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Limit your time researching stuff online – it can take over your life and send you into a panic! That being said, I’ve found some RA blogs – Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy included! – very helpful, inspirational and supportive. Just be sure to choose ones that help you to be positive. Also, stay strong and work with your doctors. Don’t be afraid to delve into alternative therapies. As my rheumatologist has told me, I promise you, it will get better than this.
Do you use any mobility aids?
Not really. I have a pretty handy kitchen grip that help with opening jars.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
This question is inspiring because when I first saw it, my mind drew a blank – there are so many reasons it hasn’t! But then, I was flooded with the reality that this disease has brought a lot of positives with it. This may seem strange, but I am a much healthier person now that I am living with RA. My diet has improved significantly and I make much more of an effort to limit stress and rest when I need to. I drink less too (thanks methotrexate…).
Another important improvement is that I’m more appreciative and grateful than I was pre-RA. I am also way kinder to myself. I don’t beat myself up over an unproductive day or missed workout as much as I used to. There are so many things to be grateful for: family, friends, nature, good movies, cupcakes, whatever makes you happy! Why waste time comparing yourself to others or being so hard on yourself? Finally, I feel like I’m more empathetic to the struggles of other people.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
I got steroid shots in my wrist because of several rheumatoid nodules, so the skin there is a bit discolored. My hands and feet can be red and swollen.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
I still like to set big goals because they make me feel less limited. With my rheumatologist’s blessing, I’m keeping my pre-diagnosis goal of running a marathon before my 30th birthday. Hopefully my RA will cooperate, but regardless, the goal and the vision of running through the finish line makes me feel strong and hopeful.
On bad days, a good movie, comfy clothes, and supportive company go a really long way.
I cope by reading other people’s RA blogs and books; It makes me feel less alone knowing other people are struggling with the same disease I am. I write my own blog to get my emotions out without burdening my friends and family (and hopefully educating/supporting others in the process!) — myradlife.wordpress.com.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Each week I’m doing 8 methotrexate and 1 self injection of Enbrel. I’ve also adjusted my diet – no gluten, limited dairy, caffeine and refined sugar, lots of anti-inflammatory foods and supplements including turmeric and fish oil. I am playing with acupuncture – verdict’s still out though.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I just want to say that the online RA community has been so inspiring to me! I want to thank all of you for being so open and supportive.
Update: P.S. I wanted to mention that I did indeed cross that marathon finish line before my 30th birthday. It was hard, but felt so good to do. Despite more RA pains lately, I’m beginning training for my second marathon now.