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The Challenge

18 Jan

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…

Unhappy Ankles-2009

I weighed a little over 100 lbs in this picture- June 2010

Curving fingers-July 2011

Swollen Right Knee- Jan. 2012

Comparison-Jan. 2012

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)

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19 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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19 responses to “The Challenge

  1. collegegirlcooking

    January 18, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Wow you are such an amazing person! I had no idea that you had RA. It’s amazing how much we assume we are the only person in the world who has ever suffered when in reality everyone has hardships. I really enjoyed reading this blog and look forward to future entries. Super good luck with your treatment ❤

     
    • thebeliever.

      January 18, 2012 at 7:54 PM

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read it! Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot, truly. I’ve visited your blog numerous times and will certainly follow you now that I finally have an account. I was unaware of the battle you are fighting too. Yeah, I dread the appt. because who wants to be put on meds. for the rest of their life, right?! But, it’s going to benefit me, I know!

       
  2. Pat

    January 18, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    I know you can live with this disease! I walked to kindergarten and eventually graduated from high school with a girl who had RA that entire time. She became a very successful paralegal. Her entire body was affected from the time I knew her. There have been so many advances in the past 53 years that you will benefit from. You have a tough fight ahead of you but you are a winner!

     
    • thebeliever.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:11 PM

      Pat, I agree it is really the ONLY attitude an RA fighter can have. Thanks for sharing the story of your friend who has been successful despite her RA. I appreciate the encouragement!

       
  3. mkrawr

    January 18, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Love the blog, I am also a young RA sufferer… Currently waiting to see a rheumatologist myself, my appointment isnt unitl APRIL tho 😦 … A little nervous, but also hopeful that its a step towards getting my RA under better control!
    And love the positive attitudes! Let’s all kick RA’s butt this yr!
    Good Luck with your treatment!

     
    • beccadistel

      January 18, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      Well thank you for taking the time to read it! How long have you had RA? Oh golly, that seems so far away, I sure hope you keep fighting the pains away until then! I am nervous too, and quite frankly, it’s okay to be nervous. This disease has an ability to stir up emotions far to often. Let’s, and keep in touch cause I’d love to hear how you are doing! God bless, same to you!

       
  4. mkrawr

    January 18, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    I started having problems about 12 months ago in my hands, but was only diagnosed a a few months ago (I had a doctor that with every new symptom I presented with responded with “it’s stress” funnily enough the only thing stressing me was my arising health issues and his nonchalance to something that was taking over my life…) So yeah bout 12 months really. However, I suffered with juvenile arthritis from the time I was 8/9 til I was in my late teens also tho… So I guess you could say we’re old acquaintances!
    You’re right about the emotional side of it too, I had a really rough time coming to terms with it when initially diagnosed which seemed bizarre to some of the people in my life cos I had dealt with juvenile arthritis so well and for so long when I was younger, and because of that I was always told that I would almost certainly have some sort of arthritis “later in life” but it’s different actually facing it, and managing it…but you do what you’ve got and soldier on, as you know!

     
    • beccadistel

      January 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      Dr.’s have such good intentions…well let’s just say most do, but what a shame that the Dr. set aside your pains that are oh so real and filled you with lies. Perhaps the Dr. really just didn’t think you had it, but clearly we know our bodies and the pains we experience better than anyone. I’ve noticed that when my stress is through the roof, my flare ups & aches follow suit. You certainly have been through a lot, wow, JRA and now adult RA-possibly. Keep your positive attitude, know that your mind is a powerful tool in fighting this disease. Stay strong, even when others don’t believe you. Thanks for sharing your story.

       
  5. mkrawr

    January 18, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    … And you also don’t expect “later in life” to mean 23!!

     
  6. Monica Price

    January 19, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Wonderful blog Becca! You have great strength in your journey! You are such an amazing woman and I hope your doctor can guide you through this with more comfort!

     
    • beccadistel

      January 19, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Monica, thanks for reading my blog & for the encouraging words! I certainly have faith that the Dr. will treat me correctly, though I understand it may take a few tries to get the correct combination!

       
  7. Kirsten Coffman

    January 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Praying for you, sweetie! Beautifully written. What a blessing to see how God has chosen to use you. You are and will be such an inspiration to others. I hope that you don’t mind if I “follow” your blog. Besides just being a beautiful gal, you are also very talented!! Thinking of you! XOXO!

     
    • beccadistel

      January 19, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      Hi Kristen, thank you so very much for the numerous kind words! I would love for you to follow along, I am leaving this blog and the ideas that I come up with in God’s hands and know that He will use this however He wants. I would write it even if it helped one person. I appreciate your prayers so much! XO, miss you & the family!

       
  8. tsdanforth

    February 4, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Great Blog Kristen! We should try to figure a way to link-up on the Ride to Alaska for Juvenile Arthritis! I am trying to spread the word, off to a slow start…

     
    • beccadistel

      February 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Thank you! Though I must say, my name is Becca 🙂 I finally realized that I need to hit the reply button on comments instead of just commenting on my blog. What is the ride to Alaska for JRA about?

       
  9. TNAM

    February 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Hello Becca,
    Thank you for linking your story on http://www.TheNewAmericanMedia.com
    Arthritis runs in my family and I’m certainly aware of how difficult mundane tasks can become when it’s hard to grip items or walk.
    We hope you will continue to link each new post on our site so our readers can follow your journey & gain insight from your new stories.
    Great to read about your positive attitude, & wish you the best.
    Brian
    http://www.TheNewAmericanMedia.com

     
    • Becca

      February 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Hi Brian,
      Thank you for taking the time to view my blog! I am more than happy to continue to link my stories onto your website!
      It saddens me to know that arthritis has plagued a few of your family members. I will continue to link each post, and appreciate this opportunity!
      Much thanks.

       

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