Sometimes in life, challenges occur that inspire us to rise above them. So with humility and a strength we didn’t know we possessed, we must accept the challenges for what they are, roll with the punches, and keep our eyes on what’s really important. So this is me, rising above, accepting the challenge of battling a life long fight with rheumatoid arthritis. This is my story, a combination of the raw feelings that I experience as I deal with the pains and weaknesses that try to bring me down, and the happy times when I feel like any common, healthy 20 year old.
Inspiration behind this blog: Like so many others, I have passions that overwhelm me and inspire me to write about them. A few of my passions include: God, displaying love to those who mean the most to me, the ability to encourage, and music. However, I never would have thought that a sore pinky would lead to the diagnosis that would rock my world-not in a good way. I do not ask for or desire sympathy, I do not want you to feel sorry for me, I do not desire attention. This is MY way of expressing my feelings about my daily struggle with a disease that does not care about who I am. If it could talk, it would put me down, degrade me, humiliate me, but lucky for me I’m the one that does the talking. In order to battle this disease, I have an army of faithful supporters who have my back. A huge thanks to my family who is sensitive to my needs on my worst of days, to my friends who always offer an encouraging word of advice, to my boyfriend who is always willing to listen and care for me, but most importantly I thank God who constantly reminds me that He is ultimately in control of ALL things and will take care of me. I truly hope you feel blessed by my blogs as I share with you details of my life that I normally keep hidden.
What exactly is rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA for short is an auto-immune disease that attacks both the good and bad cells in the immune system. It causes inflammation/redness of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can also attack your organs. The cause is unknown-though many studies have been done that suggest otherwise, and unfortunately like so many other diseases and cancers, there is no cure. There are different levels of RA, and it can arise at any age. Normally, the older population feels the most effects from all types of arthritis, but there are those, like myself who get diagnosed at a much younger age. (for a further explanation visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheumatoid_arthritis).
My story with RA: Thinking back, I suppose the first signs that I can remember started late 2008. It was during Christmas, and my right pinky looked like it had been jammed-yet I had never actually done a thing to hurt my pinky. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get blood work done that would determine if I had any type of arthritis. I remember that summer, as I was planning my college to-do list, that large joints in my body started to ache. The kind of ache that was dull, persistent and annoying-similar to the after effects of an intense workout. I figured it wasn’t a “big deal” and that a nice warm bath, massage, and a few lazy days would cure me of these pains. I vividly remember being in New Orleans, in a hotel room with my friend Cassie when my cell phone rang. It had been my mother and she told me that the blood work came back positive for having arthritis. I can recall the tears that followed the phone call, the fear, the uneasiness as I was away from home. Then the not so memorable times at college when my ankle would swell so you couldn’t see the ankle bone, dropping to a weight of 99 pounds, feeling as if not a single person could ever know what I was experiencing. My knees would ache as I walked to class, I could barely carry my laptop and bag to class without being exhausted. The times when I would take a nap after every class because I had no energy otherwise. Feeling ill, feeling nauseous, feeling hopeless. Flash forward to now. Overall, my fight in 2011 was much more tolerable than 2010. After seeing my brother become diagnosed with Lupus-another auto-immune disease within these past few months, I immediately jumped on the idea of finding a Rheumatologist for myself. My initial appt. on Jan. 4th of this year was simply a reassurance that I was indeed correctly diagnosed with RA, but also I found out about my right wrist. They did their normal testings and blood work, and requested that they x-ray my hands/wrists. My right wrist, from a few years of damage is almost bone on bone. Bone on bone means that the cartilage has been worn away, cartilage=cushion. No wonder it hurts so bad! My Dr. also explained that an x-ray of non-arthritic hands would display bright white finger bones, mine however in some areas looked gray-signs of weakening of the bones from RA. My next appt. is scheduled for this Thursday, the 19th. I believe I will be put on several different medications, and I will certainly keep you updated as I find out what my blood work has to say about my condition.
A few pictures that sum up my journey thus far with RA…
Jeremiah 29:11- One of my favorite verses that means A LOT to me.
” For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and hope.” (NLT)