Fight for the more than 50 million Americans with arthritis – the nation's number one cause of disability.

 

Fight for the more than 50 million Americans with arthritis – the nation's number one cause of disability.

 

Fight For Fifty Stories

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profile for Faith S (Age 60) Faith S (Age 60)Southfield, MIThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis in my entire spine from the top in my neck to last in what feels like my tailbone. I get flare-ups in both knees, hips, elbows, usually only one shoulder. The spine is the worst. My doctors' and specialists' Rx's help to reduce swelling & pain, also otc. Who I fight for: I fight for my kitty cats, I fight thru the pain to take care of them.



I have osteoarthritis in my entire spine from the top in my neck to last in what feels like my tailbone. I get flare-ups in both knees, hips, elbows, usually only one shoulder. The spine is the worst. My doctors' and specialists' Rx's help to reduce swelling & pain, also otc. Who I fight for: I fight for my kitty cats, I fight thru the pain to take care of them.









profile for Amanda B Amanda BFredericksburg , TXI fight forMy son Ethan

My son Ethan was diagnosed with Uveitis at the age of 8. Every test that doctors performed looking for a cause came up negative, and the uveitis was labeled idopathic. He was immediately started on oral steroids to try to control the inflammation. Soon after other immunosuppressive drugs and biologics were attempted as well, but to no avail. Ethan's Arthritis did not show up until he was 11...

My son Ethan was diagnosed with Uveitis at the age of 8. Every test that doctors performed looking for a cause came up negative, and the uveitis was labeled idopathic. He was immediately started on oral steroids to try to control the inflammation. Soon after other immunosuppressive drugs and biologics were attempted as well, but to no avail. Ethan's Arthritis did not show up until he was 11 years old. It started in his knees, and required a brace to correct a contracture along with physical therapy. Stronger intravenous biologics were tried, and have controlled the joint inflammation, but the inflammation in his eyes remains. He has a port now to make his infusions easier. He is now 12 years old. We are hoping a different biologic he starts this week will get the uveitis under control and save his precious vision. Ethan's parathyroid glands have also been destroyed by his immune system and he will have to take calcium supplements for the rest of his life. The damage to the parathyroid glands has caused him to have multiple kidney stones as well. Ethan has been through so much at such a young age. But he is a fighter. I hope others will learn about JIA and the struggles that children like Ethan face on a daily basis.

profile for Nicole F Nicole FOrland park , ILThis ismy fight

For ten years now I have suffered from psoriatic arthritis, after lifestyle changes, and all the medicines, I can not walk at age 23. My arthritis spread rapidly making me unable to walk and do daily functions without assistance. In two weeks, I will be traveling to the Mayo Clinic to seek answers. We all just need a little hope sometimes, I sure know I do!

profile for Mary T Mary TSeverna Park, MDThis ismy fight

I was a brand new mother when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Nearly every joint in my body ached, was hot and swollen, and the fatigue was debilitating. I couldn't open jars or doors and frequently went down the stairs on my bottom. Of course, I needed help caring for my newborn, let alone holding her. I can remember flare ups that were so bad my ribs hurt if I breathed too deeply....

I was a brand new mother when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Nearly every joint in my body ached, was hot and swollen, and the fatigue was debilitating. I couldn't open jars or doors and frequently went down the stairs on my bottom. Of course, I needed help caring for my newborn, let alone holding her. I can remember flare ups that were so bad my ribs hurt if I breathed too deeply.

The comments from "well meaning" people about just staying active, keeping busy and exercising were constant. I became anemic and had trouble getting pregnant with my second child, both blamed on the RA. I was also diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Apparently, it's not unusual for people with one autoimmune disease to develop other autoimmune diseases.

I have been taking drugs for many years and am now working, though part time. The fatigue is still a big problem and I plan my activities carefully, knowing I can do things now but may pay for it later. I thank God for my family and friends who have always been understanding, helpful and supportive of me.

profile for Nan S Nan SPhoenix, AZThis ismy fight

This may be the 27th day of Arthritis Awareness month, but it is the first day I can post my story as an arthritis survivor. You see, today my rheumatologist added inflammatory polyarthritis to my list of conditions. It didn’t come as a surprise, nor was it accompanied by tears but rather expectation, acceptance and a comment of “that’s good” from one of my family members.

It...

This may be the 27th day of Arthritis Awareness month, but it is the first day I can post my story as an arthritis survivor. You see, today my rheumatologist added inflammatory polyarthritis to my list of conditions. It didn’t come as a surprise, nor was it accompanied by tears but rather expectation, acceptance and a comment of “that’s good” from one of my family members.

It may sound odd to many that a disease that destroys your joints would be received in such a way, except those who know the oftentimes struggle of diagnosing such painful and debilitating conditions, they can fully identify. For a year and two months my joints have been in intense, oftentimes unbearable pain. My fingers have at times swollen to twice their size, so the wrinkles and lines that cover them fully disappear. For the past month a cane has been my constant companion and many steps are taken with tear filled eyes and bitten lips to keep cries from emitting. My morning stiffness is at times an all-day stiffness, much in the way that morning sickness is an oxymoron among expectant mothers who know it is certainly not constrained to only one time of day.

This diagnosis means that my rheumatologist and I are one step closer to getting my condition under control. I am now taking a DMARD (Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drug) in addition to my twice daily oral prescription NSAID and topical NSAID prescription gel that I rub liberally on my joints, oftentimes multiple times a day. Hopefully it will mean that I will need fewer steroid packs and shots as well. I don’t know what the future will hold, but even though I am at the start of my journey I already feel like a survivor having made it this far.

profile for Dottie V Dottie VCotter, ARThis ismy fight

I have worked since I was 13. One day I woke up and couldn't hold my coffee cup. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I also had canker sores in my mouth continually for two years beforehand. Now, I am in a drug study for the RA, which is very aggressive (the RA) I can't work anymore, and driving is becoming difficult to to. When I wear shoes, my feet get bruised. My hands and feet...

I have worked since I was 13. One day I woke up and couldn't hold my coffee cup. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I also had canker sores in my mouth continually for two years beforehand. Now, I am in a drug study for the RA, which is very aggressive (the RA) I can't work anymore, and driving is becoming difficult to to. When I wear shoes, my feet get bruised. My hands and feet ALWAYS hurt. That never goes away. I have to cancel plans because I'm often too exhausted to leave the house. I feel so bad for my husband and family as I know they are worried. I just want to die. There will be no pain then. I mean, who wouldn't choose death over this living hell we have every single day. It's sure not "life"

profile for Ivy M Ivy MPark Forest, ILThis ismy fight

Long story short....No one in my family has had to have a joint replacement due to arthritis. My Mom has had arthritis however, she was also hit by a car some years ago and had to have her Knees replaced. I kickboxed in my 20s and 30s which after seeing several Ortho specialist I was told that my hip socket didn't have enough groove , it was more straight/boxed than curved. So the repetitive...

Long story short....No one in my family has had to have a joint replacement due to arthritis. My Mom has had arthritis however, she was also hit by a car some years ago and had to have her Knees replaced. I kickboxed in my 20s and 30s which after seeing several Ortho specialist I was told that my hip socket didn't have enough groove , it was more straight/boxed than curved. So the repetitive kicking destroyed the cartilage in both hip joints. Over the years I thought I was over working my hip flexors, the pain would come and go...by 42 it came and never left and I was diagnosed with Hip OA...with little to no cartilage left in my hip joints....bone on bone...my life style drastically changed after that...the pain, therapy, pain meds, OTC medication, gel injections, steroid injections...nothing worked. So I had the right hip replaced last year July and am having the second one done June 2017. The first replacement post surgery was horrific, however, I'm with a pain management team that are going to make sure I'm as pain free as possible so I can heal faster. I cant say enough how I can't wait to get my LIFE back. I'm practically immobile now...Anyone that tell me that they are suffering from arthritis.....I always say go see a doctor. I have an awesome doctor so I'm in good hands and although I'm not looking forward to post surgery pain...I'm keeping my eyes on the prize...my new life...I plan to advocate for Arthritis for the rest of my life.

profile for Elda G Elda GSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 58. I am now 63 and have tried several medications with little success. I am currently receiving two injections monthly. I am not getting better. I feel tired and run down. My hands hurt all the time. When I have flare ups it's hard to just get out of bed. I have had one knee replacement and am holding off having the other knee replacement...

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 58. I am now 63 and have tried several medications with little success. I am currently receiving two injections monthly. I am not getting better. I feel tired and run down. My hands hurt all the time. When I have flare ups it's hard to just get out of bed. I have had one knee replacement and am holding off having the other knee replacement by receiving injections to the knee. I walk very slow. I try to stay positive as I have three beautiful, successful, daughters and grandchildren I adore.

profile for Karen H Karen HWestminster, COThis ismy fight

I have been battling osteoarthritis for nearly 2 decades. I have had both ankles fused in 3 places, my shoulder repaired, and now I am facing 2 shoulder replacements. I have lost my wonderful career as a wedding/event photographer because of this awful disease. I am in pain daily, and some days it seems are just focused on pain management. Still I persist. Please keep fighting for an end to...

I have been battling osteoarthritis for nearly 2 decades. I have had both ankles fused in 3 places, my shoulder repaired, and now I am facing 2 shoulder replacements. I have lost my wonderful career as a wedding/event photographer because of this awful disease. I am in pain daily, and some days it seems are just focused on pain management. Still I persist. Please keep fighting for an end to this affliction.

profile for Noreen H Noreen HLoves Park, ILThis ismy fight

For most of my life, I've struggled with joint pain and fatigue. Raising my three active boys and working full-time was a challenge. In my 30's I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but joint pain worsened. Found out in my 40's that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis. I eventually, had to stop my favorite activities--hiking, biking, jewelry making, knitting. In my early 50's, I...

For most of my life, I've struggled with joint pain and fatigue. Raising my three active boys and working full-time was a challenge. In my 30's I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but joint pain worsened. Found out in my 40's that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis. I eventually, had to stop my favorite activities--hiking, biking, jewelry making, knitting. In my early 50's, I had to stop working because the pain and fatigue were overwhelming. I loved dancing and had to stop that too. I get out of bed everyday and try to do gentle yoga, take walks, and eat healthier because I have two beautiful grandchildren that deserve my focus and attention. I hope my children and grandchildren never know this pain and fatigue.

profile for Debbie M Debbie MLynwood , ILThis ismy fight

I am 53 years old got RA when I was 30. Always wondered when I was pregnant with my children my RA went away completely!!!! There must be a cure!!!!

profile for Julia B Julia BMilwaukee, WIThis ismy fight

January 4th, 2015, a Sunday and my hands were greatly swollen, a surprise I did not expect. Now to look for a Dr. I did find a very good Dr. who is specialized in Rheumatoid Arthritis. After diagnosis of Polymyalgia-Rhuemantica and beginning of meds my world greatly changed. I knew I had arthritis : back, knees, feet, etc. but I did not know about how it can attack your whole body. On top...

January 4th, 2015, a Sunday and my hands were greatly swollen, a surprise I did not expect. Now to look for a Dr. I did find a very good Dr. who is specialized in Rheumatoid Arthritis. After diagnosis of Polymyalgia-Rhuemantica and beginning of meds my world greatly changed. I knew I had arthritis : back, knees, feet, etc. but I did not know about how it can attack your whole body. On top of arthritis I have Diabetes. My body is fighting two major diseases at the same time.

Today through Education, Great Drs. Medicine, eating healthier, and exercise (water) I am much better.

Education: internet, pamphlets. magazines, support group, friends and family with arthritis.

LOW carb. diet and eat and drink what God has provided...not man made foods.
WATER EXERCISE: This helps my balance, joints, and rearranges my body. It is good for pain too.

My trigger for a bad day is the weather; barametric pressure rising and falling, can some days wipe me out. Then I pick up a good book and read and rest.

profile for Michele  C Michele CLebanon , TNThis ismy fight

My illness started about six years ago. I was an avid runner and triathlete. While training for a marathon, I noticed that I kept getting these strange rashes in me. It also seemed like I was extremely tired and never quite recovered . I knew I didn't feel right but just kept going. Later that year I started having stomach problems and thyroid issues. Then the dizziness came. After falling...

My illness started about six years ago. I was an avid runner and triathlete. While training for a marathon, I noticed that I kept getting these strange rashes in me. It also seemed like I was extremely tired and never quite recovered . I knew I didn't feel right but just kept going. Later that year I started having stomach problems and thyroid issues. Then the dizziness came. After falling several times, I went to the doctor. They initially said a thyroid autoimmune condition and fibromyalgia. My health and joints kept getting worse. I was constantly sick. I knew there had to be something they could do. I found another doctor that listened! They diagnosed me with lupus and now ra. I'm not in remission yet but realize there are things that will help flares. Avoid stress, get enough sleep, also avoid sugar and processed food. I think what the key was to get a diagnosis was my journal. I kept a log of my symptoms and pictures of my joints and rashes.
There is also another problem many with autoimmune diseases share. That is depression. Loss of self and pain can be very devistating . It's important to surround yourself self with people who will support you and to never give up!

profile for KAYLIE C KAYLIE CADDISON, TXI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter woke up one Saturday morning with a knee as big as a baseball bat and very red. At first she said it didn't hurt and I asked her if she feel or hit it which she said no. I then called my mom, which was the only other person she'd been with and asked the same questions. She hadn't fallen or gotten hurt in any way. A few hours later was when she said it started hurting. the next day her...

My daughter woke up one Saturday morning with a knee as big as a baseball bat and very red. At first she said it didn't hurt and I asked her if she feel or hit it which she said no. I then called my mom, which was the only other person she'd been with and asked the same questions. She hadn't fallen or gotten hurt in any way. A few hours later was when she said it started hurting. the next day her knee and swollen even bigger and she was whining in pain and limping. I could not watch this anymore. On Monday we went to the doctor's office and they said it looked like a viral infection-build up of fluid on her knee. They took some blood work and said to give her OTC pain medication for the pain until the blood work could come back to confirm. Only when it came back, she was negative for an infection, which lead the doctor to say it may be arthritis and we needed to see a specialist. Two days later we had the referral and drove 4 hours to see the closest specialist. After several weeks it was determined that my 1 year old 3 weeks before her 2nd birthday has arthritis in her Left knee and right ankle. They ended up giving her a steroid shot under her kneecap, I will never forget the pain of hearing her scream down the hallway. Thankfully, she is almost 5 now and has been in remission for 2 years, but we live knowing any day it could come back, she has lost some mobility in her knee and will always have this with her. I hate knowing she's okay now but as she grows and gets older this will only get worse.

profile for Nancy B Nancy BCamas, WAThis ismy fight

In November of 2007, I began experiencing levels of pain I had never experienced before. My joints felt like I had been running a marathon, every day, for months. After a series of tests I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and took medication. Living with the daily, constant pain of chronic inflammation caused me to feel so exhausted.

In 2009, I began to learn how diet and...

In November of 2007, I began experiencing levels of pain I had never experienced before. My joints felt like I had been running a marathon, every day, for months. After a series of tests I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and took medication. Living with the daily, constant pain of chronic inflammation caused me to feel so exhausted.

In 2009, I began to learn how diet and nutrition can relieve RA symptoms. Taking charge of my diet removed the powerless feeling I had. I began a journey of eliminating foods known to trigger inflammation and began introducing foods that reduce inflammation.

Gradually, over time, I felt empowered by controlling what I purchased in stores, stocked in my de-flaming kitchen, and what was available to eat in my house. I learned how to take any favorite recipe and convert into a delicious de-flaming recipe.

Fast forward to 2017. I have been in remission and off of medication for over six years. I have educated myself on how to harness the healing power of food as a natural alternative to medication. I am 63 years old and wake up feeling motivated every morning and accomplish all of my daily tasks without joint pain. My fight every year is to have my RA blood test markers in the bottom third or half of clinically normal range. I have experienced victory for over six years.

info about Nancy B
profile for Penny T Penny TColorado Springs, COThis ismy fight

I thought I had the flu. I was diagnosed with RA in Dec 2000, just after our 25th anniversary. My appointment with the Rheumatologist wasn't till Feb. In Jan 2001 it hit hard - every joint locked. I was scared! Thought I was too young - my Grandmother had it, but I was only 40! We started with two types of medication. Then 7 years on one medication until I got a major infection and was...

I thought I had the flu. I was diagnosed with RA in Dec 2000, just after our 25th anniversary. My appointment with the Rheumatologist wasn't till Feb. In Jan 2001 it hit hard - every joint locked. I was scared! Thought I was too young - my Grandmother had it, but I was only 40! We started with two types of medication. Then 7 years on one medication until I got a major infection and was hospitalized. I gave up playing church organ, tried to do crafts sewing and gardening. Learn to alternate days and rest. missed a lot of church and activities. Was tired of being fussed over and taken care of. My husband and daughter caution me not to over do.

I am now on a different medication, and feeling mostly like myself. I have returned to church organ and sewing. I hope to learn what exercise I can do and get rid of the excess weight I have accumulated. I want to be an more active Gramma to my twin Grandchildren.

profile for Vicki B Vicki BNew Port Richey, FLThis ismy fight

I was on the side of the road at age 5 and a car came on the wrong side of the road came off the road and hit me. After my cast came off my ankles knees and fingers began to swell and become very painful. My organs became inflamed and I broke out in sores all over my body. Doctors could not diagnose me so my RA Doc sent me to the National Institute Of Health in Bethesda MD. I lived there on and...

I was on the side of the road at age 5 and a car came on the wrong side of the road came off the road and hit me. After my cast came off my ankles knees and fingers began to swell and become very painful. My organs became inflamed and I broke out in sores all over my body. Doctors could not diagnose me so my RA Doc sent me to the National Institute Of Health in Bethesda MD. I lived there on and off until age 12. They sent me home diagnosing me with RA.

After age 17 I went to RA Doc and he diagnosed me with Misconnective Tissue Disease. With RA, Systemic Lupus and Scleroderma. I am now 60 years of age and I have 13 artificial joints. I have recently gone through all the biologics and currently taking other medication to get by until New biologics comes out. I have learned several things I would like to pass on.

One if a doctor does not listen to you get another doctor. You know your body best. Two educate yourself so you will have the knowledge to interview your doctor as he is interviewing you. Keep active as much as you can. Know that you will loose friends because you can't keep up with them but keep seeking out new friends and you WILL find a true friend that understands your battle.

You must become a resilient person because it is a life if loss. You will always be loosing your ability to do things. Know it is ok to grieve your losses but just for a short time. You must spring back into the fight. You are stronger than you realize. Don't let others dictate to you what you can and cannot do. You alone determine that for yourself. Make no apologies for the meds you take or anything else you need to do to live as close to a normal life as you can. And last but not least I pray a lot. God understands my suffering like no one else has ever been able to and by reading His word and following his direction for my life I have found unconditional love and peace with my struggle. I will pray for all of you to smile more than you cry and to always remember what a difference a day can make. Some days I have prayed to die but the next day all is well and I am so glad I am alive to experience all the good in my life. Keep up the fight y'all!

profile for Maria R Maria RHumble, TXThis ismy fight

I am 43, living with R/A the last 6 years. I woke up one day with lots of pain in my hands. went to more than 12 doctors and no one could find the problem. They just kept prescribing medication for inflammation and pain. Within 1 year my fingers started deforming to the point 2 fingers on my left were completely bent in to my palm unable to open and one finger on my right. It was very...

I am 43, living with R/A the last 6 years. I woke up one day with lots of pain in my hands. went to more than 12 doctors and no one could find the problem. They just kept prescribing medication for inflammation and pain. Within 1 year my fingers started deforming to the point 2 fingers on my left were completely bent in to my palm unable to open and one finger on my right. It was very depressing not knowing what was going on. Driving was a challenge along with others not being able to use all my fingers. One day I was referred to a RA doctor who ordered an MRI, something no other doctor I saw asked for. They all ordered blood work and for a weird reason the RA would not show up in my blood. Anyway he discovered I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and very aggressive. With my luck that doctor retires two months after my diagnosis, I was very upset because it took so long to find someone finally and now had to find another specialist. The only good thing was that he got me on the right medication and referred me to a surgeon to release the tendons on my fingers so I could have my normal hand back. I had surgery 5 years ago and my fingers are now again starting to deform again. This is very depressing for me as I consider myself still young and having an Executive assistant position, it scares me to think that one day I will not be able to use my hands. I don't want to have surgery again. It was very painful and considering its only been 5 years and my fingers are deforming again, what is the point. I have tried many anti inflammatory medications and on my 2nd injection medication and still don't feel comfortable or pain free. My children keep me motivated, are very helpful and understanding, true blessing! The struggles with this disease have been very difficult but I stay positive and make my days the best that I can everyday!

profile for Janet S Janet SPalm Harbor, FLThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis is in all my joints but especially my back. I just visited my surgeon and says he needs to go into my spine to relieve some of the pressure from the arthritis to the area in my lower back that is causing pain when I walk. The pain is so bad some days I barely can get out of my bed. I am no longer able to walk my son's dog or even get down on the floor to play with her. I can...

I have osteoarthritis is in all my joints but especially my back. I just visited my surgeon and says he needs to go into my spine to relieve some of the pressure from the arthritis to the area in my lower back that is causing pain when I walk. The pain is so bad some days I barely can get out of my bed. I am no longer able to walk my son's dog or even get down on the floor to play with her. I can not go out onto the grass in the back yard and even play ball with her. There are days and sometimes even whole weeks when I do not leave my apartment. I was always so active during the time my kids were growing up that it is depressing to be so limited in movement. I am no longer able to work as a nurse helping others. Now I need the help. I can no longer dance or even climb stairs to go to see a movie in a movie theater.

profile for Jody G Jody GNew Bern, NCThis ismy fight

My struggles are many-everyday it seems there's something new- some new pain or feeling or no feeling. I am 48 yrs old. I was diagnosed in my mid twenties during my last pregnancy. After the baby was born, my treatment started. For me, it was a God send. But it didn't last long, as it was pulled off the market. Then it began, trial and error with medications, doctors , home remedies. Twenty some...

My struggles are many-everyday it seems there's something new- some new pain or feeling or no feeling. I am 48 yrs old. I was diagnosed in my mid twenties during my last pregnancy. After the baby was born, my treatment started. For me, it was a God send. But it didn't last long, as it was pulled off the market. Then it began, trial and error with medications, doctors , home remedies. Twenty some years later, the struggles are the same. Medications don't always follow thru-your body adjust to them, then the effectiveness is over. Dr's are a dime a dozen, but finding a dr that is concerned, willing to listen and try to help, actually cares- those are far and few. Pushing thru daily life is hard enough but with a disease, it's harder. Fortunately my hubby is great and supports me in everything I do. I also have Fibromyalgia, so the struggles are so real....

profile for Robin M Robin MBaton Rouge, LAThis ismy fight

At the time I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, just after my 21st birthday, I had no idea people my age could get arthritis. I didn't know there were so many different forms, or how bad some of them could be. I was facing the last semester of college with the added burden of excruciating pain, stiffness, killer fatigue and a constant low-grade fever. Many of my professors were skeptical...

At the time I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, just after my 21st birthday, I had no idea people my age could get arthritis. I didn't know there were so many different forms, or how bad some of them could be. I was facing the last semester of college with the added burden of excruciating pain, stiffness, killer fatigue and a constant low-grade fever. Many of my professors were skeptical when I asked for accommodations for my illness. When I graduated and started looking for a job, I learned that RA was a major barrier to receiving health benefits at work.

My lifeline during that time was the Arthritis Foundation, and specifically, the magazine Arthritis Today. It was such a help to read about people going through all the same weird, awful, even comical things I was struggling with. I also have that spark of hope that people are researching these diseases right now and looking for better treatments, and even cures.

I am now almost 48 years old and still working full-time in spite of many hardships. I've had both knees and both hips replaced, and I've battled a major infection in one hip (and won). My brother and close friends are a huge support, as are my amazing boss and coworkers. This weekend I will participate in our local Walk to Cure Arthritis in a racing wheelchair, pushed by two of those coworkers.

I still have that spark of hope, but I sometimes fear that medical research is no longer a priority for the federal government as budget cuts put pressure on every agency. This is why information and advocacy are so important, and the AF helps me with those things, as it always has. Thank you for that, and thank you to all the people who have supported my fight for almost 30 years!

info about Robin M
profile for Cynthia S Cynthia SGrand Rapids, MIThis ismy fight

I was 23 years old and just gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Two weeks later I couldn't walk in the evening trying to sleep just rolling over was excruciating. I went to the emergency room numerous times . It was the most scariest thing and people thought I was crazy . It took a couple of months but was confirmed I had RA.

In the year of 1983 I was told to rest 8 hrs a day I was...

I was 23 years old and just gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Two weeks later I couldn't walk in the evening trying to sleep just rolling over was excruciating. I went to the emergency room numerous times . It was the most scariest thing and people thought I was crazy . It took a couple of months but was confirmed I had RA.

In the year of 1983 I was told to rest 8 hrs a day I was taking OTC pain medication. Than I took another kind and it ate my stomach . Three years I stopped I played Softball ,bowled and pretty much was normal until 2012 . I'm not saying I didn't have flares or other odd things happen in that time I had 3 kids but was blessed that it was in remission or not active . It started again in my feet ,hands,knees,hips just everywhere.

I landed a new job hoping just to make it to retirement. The last year and a half I've had many flares on fmla all the time I'm looking at disability now. The Roller Coaster Ride has now become hard to handle and reality is setting in . I'm on 4 medications in flares and taking medication which is crazy for me I can't sleep up for days feel really great . Than the down . I started a new medication had 7 months of being pain free and felt great until February . I.

Back to square one watching my body deforming is hard . I'm looking at surgery on my hand but may not last . The decisions that we need to make the tiredness the pain . Looking at options of diet anything that may help . The hardest part is dealing with people who see you one day normal than I'm in bed for days or just in the tub which is great . Barely being able to move . They don't understand at all . I wish this on no one . Reading and finding groups which is one great thing of the internet makes you realize your not alone. My moods are up and down . I put my faith in God . I also know it could be worse . I'm starting to realize taking a day at a time and doing what I can . I'm having a hard time adjusting and am petrified of losing everything I've worked for. Acceptance never but reality hits. I'm proud I've made it this far . Please find a cure . The ups and downs I feel my Dr don't even have answers as this disease does what it wants when it wants . Am I crazy no but this makes me think I am . Finding humor , strength and appreciating your family gives me joy. The pain is the worst . I would like to let everyone know your not alone and I pray a cure is found until than keep fighting .

profile for Lisa B Lisa BChicago, ILThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 1 1/2 years old, 57 years ago. I have never known a life that did not include arthritis. I am fortunate that with excellent medical care, my own diligence, and a lot of luck, I am in good shape arthritis-wise. Because I don't usually look like I have arthritis, people don't believe me when I say that I do.

When I was...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 1 1/2 years old, 57 years ago. I have never known a life that did not include arthritis. I am fortunate that with excellent medical care, my own diligence, and a lot of luck, I am in good shape arthritis-wise. Because I don't usually look like I have arthritis, people don't believe me when I say that I do.

When I was young and went to the rheumatologist, I was always surprised that the receptionist remembered my name. I then realized that I was one of the few young people who came to that office. Not a great way to be known.

I am glad that there are lots of support for kids that have arthritis. Either it wasn't available when I was growing up or I didn't know about it. It was very difficult to be the one kid who couldn't do all of the sports at school; I wish that I would have known others who were going through the same thing that I was.

profile for Carisa T Carisa TLake Stevens, WAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with moderate to sever RA in May 2013 when I was 37. I am a mother of two girls both 9 and 13. I could barely walk down my stairs when I was diagnosed and have permanent bone damage in my feet. My grandmother had RA and was permanently in a wheelchair in her 40's and died in her 50's due to cancer. I've been doing injections for 4 years and have no RA symptoms. I hope to go...

I was diagnosed with moderate to sever RA in May 2013 when I was 37. I am a mother of two girls both 9 and 13. I could barely walk down my stairs when I was diagnosed and have permanent bone damage in my feet. My grandmother had RA and was permanently in a wheelchair in her 40's and died in her 50's due to cancer. I've been doing injections for 4 years and have no RA symptoms. I hope to go into remission soon.

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profile for Marcia R Marcia RStillwater, MNThis ismy fight

When I was 19 years old, one morning I woke up unable to bend my right arm. Within weeks, all of the joints on my right-hand side were swelled and hurt. Initially, I was misdiagnosed with Anklylosing Spondylitis and feared my back would fuse in one place. Ten years later, I was correctly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately, my right hip had already sustained cartilage damage. ...

When I was 19 years old, one morning I woke up unable to bend my right arm. Within weeks, all of the joints on my right-hand side were swelled and hurt. Initially, I was misdiagnosed with Anklylosing Spondylitis and feared my back would fuse in one place. Ten years later, I was correctly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately, my right hip had already sustained cartilage damage. Over the following 10 years, I would be diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, Osteoporosis (7 broken ribs over a 10 year span caused by just sneezing, breathing or turning), and Osteoarthritis (ranging from degeneration of various joints to an ankle stress fracture and a back fracture.)

My friends and I have a walking team, Marcia’s Fabulous Friends. We have participated in the Walk to Cure Arthritis, JAM, and Walk to Cure Juvenile Arthritis every year since 2005. For several years, I along with my friends and family members of my walk team, run a hot dog/hamburger/brat wagon for a three-day weekend each summer to raise awareness and money at a Cub Foods in Minneapolis. It is the most rewarding three-day experience that I have each year; getting the word out to the community about what the Arthritis Foundation does and the people that they help.

I now keep my arthritis in check with a balance of medication, exercise and knowledge. After 37 years, I am more positive about dealing with my autoimmune diseases. We all have something to deal with in life. Arthritis just happens to be my something. I have always said that I was put on this earth for a reason. I believe mine is to help educate others in the various autoimmune diseases and the aspects of living with the disease. But more importantly, what others can do to help find a cure.

info about Marcia R
profile for Alberta D Alberta DKING OF PRUSSIA, PAThis ismy fight

My battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis started approximately seven years ago. It felt like every joint in my body was hurting. regular pain medication was not helping the pain. I finally saw a rheumatologist that my primary doctor recommended. It did take time to get the pain under control. I took many different types of medication until I found a combination that is working for me. It is helping a...

My battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis started approximately seven years ago. It felt like every joint in my body was hurting. regular pain medication was not helping the pain. I finally saw a rheumatologist that my primary doctor recommended. It did take time to get the pain under control. I took many different types of medication until I found a combination that is working for me. It is helping a lot. I retired two years ago and that has helped my health some. I still experience discomfort but I try to be smart about my activities. I did have to have cataract surgery in both eyes due to the use of steroids. That led to retina detachment. I am now being treated for glaucoma. I also have peripheral vascular disease and gastropareses and hyper-tension. I am thankful for those who share in the fight to make life better for arthritis sufferers. I am thankful for my family and the Arthritis Foundation.

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profile for Micheale  C Micheale CDurham, NCThis ismy fight

I'm fighting for a cure! I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 36 with a 4 & 8 year-old. They don't remember life before my diagnosis. RA and Fibromyalgia brought me to my knees. I had to give up on my career and academic goals, but more importantly, I couldn't be the mom I really wanted for my kids. Seven years ago, I decided I had had enough and wasn't going to live the rest of my...

I'm fighting for a cure! I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 36 with a 4 & 8 year-old. They don't remember life before my diagnosis. RA and Fibromyalgia brought me to my knees. I had to give up on my career and academic goals, but more importantly, I couldn't be the mom I really wanted for my kids. Seven years ago, I decided I had had enough and wasn't going to live the rest of my life as a victim. With the love and support of my parents and kids, I got into an Arthritis Rehab program at Duke University Medical Center, started practicing yoga, eating healthy, and made major changes in my life, including a divorce. Over the next 3-4 years, I lost the 60 lbs I'd gained in the early years after my diagnosis and more importantly, I was NO LONGER IN PAIN!!! I'm more grateful than words can say to be in remission from RA. I'm back in graduate school at age 52 and am healthier than I was before my diagnosis. I'm living proof that REMISSION is a reality.

profile for Lisa L Lisa LUpton, WYThis ismy fight

My pain started when I was 13 years old. My knees would keep me up at night with the pain. My hands were extremely painful too. A doctor at that time just said it was arthritis. I was prescribed daily medication. I don't remember it helping too much.

I was very active and limber, being a cheerleader, a member of my high school gymnastics team and the high school golf team. I didn't...

My pain started when I was 13 years old. My knees would keep me up at night with the pain. My hands were extremely painful too. A doctor at that time just said it was arthritis. I was prescribed daily medication. I don't remember it helping too much.

I was very active and limber, being a cheerleader, a member of my high school gymnastics team and the high school golf team. I didn't let it limit my activities. In my 30s I saw my first rheumatoid doctor and I showed no signs of arthritis in my rheumatoid blood tests, so she said it was osteoarthritis and hyper-mobility syndrome.

I had my first total knee replacement 4 years ago and the second 2 years ago. I've had spine surgery also. I'm 55 now and I have finally been diagnosed with sero-negative rheumatoid. I've tried several of the dmard drugs but with little success. I've been on new medication for a few months and am seeing improvement in my pain and stiffness. I'm sleeping better and feel like I may be able to manage now. I own and publish a weekly newspaper and I feel like I can keep going for few years more. Two years ago, I don't think I felt like continuing the business. I thought it was time to sell. I want to keep active for my grandchildren and not limited by my RA.

profile for Sue S Sue SCARY, NCThis ismy fight

I've had RA for 5 years now, and it has changed every single thing in my life. I am 62, and had been healthy as a horse my whole life-- never even got colds. Then overnight, from what seemed out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with this chronic, painful, disabling disease.

I admit that it's been the hardest thing I've ever had to experience. I realize I knew absolutely nothing about...

I've had RA for 5 years now, and it has changed every single thing in my life. I am 62, and had been healthy as a horse my whole life-- never even got colds. Then overnight, from what seemed out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with this chronic, painful, disabling disease.

I admit that it's been the hardest thing I've ever had to experience. I realize I knew absolutely nothing about RA until I got it. It's difficult because most people don't have any idea what I deal with--even those closest to me. I live with a kind, generous man who tries to understand, and my siblings are loving and supportive, but they don't really know what I'm dealing with.

It's a very solitary illness--there is never a minute of life where you aren't conscious of it. Every single movement brings pain, all day long, and even while you are sleeping at night there is pain. I wake up and immediately brace myself for the pain that will begin as I get out of bed. It doesn't dissipate at all, all day long.

There are many physical things I've been robbed of at this point--my hands don't work, my knees are in constant pain. The medical treatments are difficult, with frightening side effects, and don't really provide relief. And doctors, although well-intentioned, don't really know what we experience either. I think the only ones who understand are those of us who actually have RA.

I never, ever imagined myself as a person who would live life in chronic pain. I cherish every moment when I can still move and try not to worry about what might be ahead. It is a terrible disease that robs one of life's joy. I don't normally tell people how I feel, because I feel as if I would be considered constantly negative--I never feel good any more! So I remain quiet about it and struggle silently. Every once in a while I break down and sob by myself. It's a very difficult road to be on. My heart goes out to all my fellow RA sufferers.

profile for Laura D Laura DAddison, ILI fight forMy daughter

My daughter, Molly, is 16 years old and has been fighting RA for 13 years as she was only 3 when the high fevers started. They were followed by salmon spots and of course, joint inflammation and pain. For many years, nothing worked and only large doses of steroids helped which has caused another slue of health issues that just keep seeming to have the domino effect as she suffers from...

My daughter, Molly, is 16 years old and has been fighting RA for 13 years as she was only 3 when the high fevers started. They were followed by salmon spots and of course, joint inflammation and pain. For many years, nothing worked and only large doses of steroids helped which has caused another slue of health issues that just keep seeming to have the domino effect as she suffers from cataracts, short stature, scoliosis etc. We have tried soo many medications and she has even participated in a drug trail which also failed.

The good news is that her current cocktail of medications are keeping her arthritis controlled at least for the time being and we have been very blessed to have an awesome rheumatologist who has fought very hard along with our family to provide the best care available. We are also fortunate to have access to a children's hospital not too extremely far away.

Through it all, Molly is an awesome teenager, getting straight A's in high school and gets up everyday and gives it her all. She also has a lot of fatigue at times, especially on days when she goes to the hospital for her treatments.

I'll continue to fight for her, advocate for the arthritis foundation, and fundraise in hopes that a cure can be found and more medications developed. I also hope to see the day when insurance companies don't require extreme testing and/or mandate which medications are used.

profile for Dr. Dorrie C Dr. Dorrie CValley Forge, PAThis ismy fight

I have juvenile arthritis which has spread to all my major joints. I have six joint replacements. I raised two kids as a disabled singe mother on public assistance while working part time, in addition I have a son with autism.

My family and in-laws thought I should be "independent." The last 20 years I lost my health and home, also children.

I am retired school psychologist...

I have juvenile arthritis which has spread to all my major joints. I have six joint replacements. I raised two kids as a disabled singe mother on public assistance while working part time, in addition I have a son with autism.

My family and in-laws thought I should be "independent." The last 20 years I lost my health and home, also children.

I am retired school psychologist and I now do social media psychology I won a few awards, but housing is impossible to afford.

I depend on medicaid because I worked part-time while my son needed many support services for Autism.

I have been discriminated against, forced out of my home. I find that it has been a living hell and I felt trapped many times and my weight was blamed and I suffered from misdiagnosis.

There's more support if you are dying rather than surviving to live. Poverty is often a destiny with disability, it shouldn't be a predetermined assumption. It's horrible to be vital then determined worthless because you are on "entitlements." and people do not want to help sustain human beings across the lifespan.

People call me "needy." How can you not be needy with a mobility disability and have no money.

No meds help completely and people assume you are addicted to narcotics. I would rather be addicted to narcotics than a prisoner in one's body. There's little compassion and people run into all the time and children strollers cause me to fall.

Only the elderly are disabled. They walk better than I do.

It's been very difficult and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

info about Dr. Dorrie C
profile for Mary W Mary WLakewood, OHThis ismy fight

When you're 45 and the doctor says "This shouldn't be progressing so fast" and recommends a specialist, it's scary. Especially when you've made the decision to quit your job and go to college. It was determined to be "just" osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, but my knees, hands, and feet were deforming, and the pain of going up and down the stairs to leave my apartment made me virtually housebound...

When you're 45 and the doctor says "This shouldn't be progressing so fast" and recommends a specialist, it's scary. Especially when you've made the decision to quit your job and go to college. It was determined to be "just" osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, but my knees, hands, and feet were deforming, and the pain of going up and down the stairs to leave my apartment made me virtually housebound in bad weather. Since I live in a place where the weather changes often, but defaults to grey and damp, my joints ache often.

Medication helps, but the kind that eliminates pain also makes me a zombie. I'd rather be in some pain with my wits intact. The pain stops me from hiking with the grandkids, going on roller coasters, and doing as much as I'd like to in the garden. But with medication and exercise, I'm still vertical and mobile, and for mow, that's good enough.

profile for Elizabeth R Elizabeth RFitchburg, MAThis ismy fight

I am 67 and have been fighting chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis for 11years, plus I also have Chroniic Osteoarthritis in my spine and Chronic Fibromyalgia. The treatment for Fibromyalgia is the only one that I am responding well.

I have tried many treatments my Rheumatologist has prescribed and still trying new ones. I have even used natural crimes that sometimes help a little. My...

I am 67 and have been fighting chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis for 11years, plus I also have Chroniic Osteoarthritis in my spine and Chronic Fibromyalgia. The treatment for Fibromyalgia is the only one that I am responding well.

I have tried many treatments my Rheumatologist has prescribed and still trying new ones. I have even used natural crimes that sometimes help a little. My pain is constant, 24/7/365, and my RA is progressing. Exercising is a major challenge but I stretch and move as much as my pain and stiffness allows. Have gone to Physical Therapy.

I wish there were treatments that could work. I always pray for a Cure. Not just for me, but for family and friends who suffer like me....and for everyone who suffers.

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profile for Michelle K Michelle KAtlanta, GAI fight forMy son, Yoni

My son was diagnosed with systemic arthritis when he was 4-years-old. He decided early on that he could sit and be in pain, or her could go out and do what he wanted and be in pain--because the pain would always be there. He is the toughest kid I know.

He loves to skateboard, play hockey, and make things in his maker-space. He doesn't show his pain in public, but I am there when he...

My son was diagnosed with systemic arthritis when he was 4-years-old. He decided early on that he could sit and be in pain, or her could go out and do what he wanted and be in pain--because the pain would always be there. He is the toughest kid I know.

He loves to skateboard, play hockey, and make things in his maker-space. He doesn't show his pain in public, but I am there when he can't take it any more.

This year, he missed the second-half of 6th grade while he got both his hips replaced--the first in January, and the second at the end of April.

Throughout the every-2-week infusions, physical therapy, pain-management, and endless doctors appointments--he keeps his humor, his resolve, and his strength.

I fight for him, and all the kids like him.

profile for Felicia F Felicia FCordele , GAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2014. I had my left hip replaced in September of that year. The pain was so severe in my groin area where at times I was not able to walk or put pressure on my left leg. Well eventually I begin to have the same symptoms in my right groin. So in January of 2017, I had to have my right hip replaced while at that time, I was diagnosed with avascular necrosion...

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2014. I had my left hip replaced in September of that year. The pain was so severe in my groin area where at times I was not able to walk or put pressure on my left leg. Well eventually I begin to have the same symptoms in my right groin. So in January of 2017, I had to have my right hip replaced while at that time, I was diagnosed with avascular necrosion of the hips. During this time, I begin to have pain in my right knee and a lot of swelling. Eventually my orthopaedic doctor told me that I had some arthritis in my knee as well as some wear and tear. The daily struggle of dealing with my osteoarthritis is tough and the pain can be unbearable. But at the age of 43, I refuse to let it bring down my job. I will forever fight for arthritis.

profile for Jennifer S Jennifer SWoodstock, GAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in May 2011 at 29 years old. My diagnosis did not come easy. I started having severe pain in feet about 6 months prior. The pain was so bad, I could hardly walk without holding onto something. I went to numerous doctors who said it was plantar fasciitis. They would give me steroids and the pain would quickly go away but the moment I stopped the...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in May 2011 at 29 years old. My diagnosis did not come easy. I started having severe pain in feet about 6 months prior. The pain was so bad, I could hardly walk without holding onto something. I went to numerous doctors who said it was plantar fasciitis. They would give me steroids and the pain would quickly go away but the moment I stopped the medication, the pain immediately returned. I tried this cycle numerous times and then finally ended up in physical therapy. After months of PT and cortisone shots in my feet, the doctors recommended surgery on both feet. A week before my scheduled surgery, my dad unexpectedly passed away. My world crashed around me. My best friend and biggest supporter was no longer here. I was devastated and cancelled my surgery. I could not imagine having to put that burden on my mom to care for me after the loss of my dad.

I hid the pain the best I could, trying to convince my family, friends and myself that I was getting better. The pain progressed from my feet to my arms. I could not lay my arms on the bed at night without crying in pain. I could no longer keep the secret and had to go back to the dr. This time I went to my primary care who immediately suggested I see a Rheumatologist. I made the appointment and within weeks, I had the definite and final diagnosis of RA.

Again, my world was shattered. How could I be 29 and have this?
I went through denial, shame, embarrassment, fear - essentially every emotion possible. After many long conversations with my Dr, we found the best course of treatment and medications for me.

For the past 6 years, I have been lucky to have one of the best Rheumatologists who encourages and supports me. She has taught me how to accept this disease and not be defined by it. Believe me, it has taken 6 years for me to finally embrace this. I am now an advocate for the Atlanta Arthritis Foundation and try to make sure my voice is heard for a cure.

I do not let this disease slow me down any. I continue to work everyday with a smile and perform my job at my best ability. I volunteer for multiple organizations and am actively involved in my community. Outside of work, I spend most of time with my nieces and nephews (all under the age of 7) who I absolutely adore! I am definitely tired after our play dates and like to blame that on the fatigue from the arthritis but really think it is more along the lines of them just wearing me out. I have learned so much about my self while working through this diagnosis. I have learned strength (be stronger than the diagnosis), acceptance (I am an RA warrior), determination (I will not stop until there is a cure), passion (passion to stay involved with a cause that will make a difference), compassion (thinking of all those that understand my pain and journey) and forgiveness (especially for those who do not understand this disease). I would not have been able to come this far in my journey without the outpouring of support from my family, friends and co-workers. They all are my biggest cheerleaders!

RA is not the end of my journey, it is just a detour for me but my journey will still be great!

profile for Carmen D Carmen DPhiladelphia, PAThis ismy fight

I fight for 50. I struggle every day for a good few years with Osteoarthiritis.The Dr's have offered me different med's for pain.But nothing makes me feel better or take the pain away.Physical Therapy chiropratic care. Even needles in my back.I have been told to lose weight. I just do not know what to do.

profile for William M William MMilwaukee, WII fight forMy Mother-in-law

Jean has arthritis and difficulty with the simplest tasks. Long retired to Knoxville Te. My wife and I visit her a few times a year. My job is fixing things, no-matter what. One visit Jean asked me to look at her cars instrument panel, Warning lights were illuminated. A quick check reveled a loose gas cap caused a sensor to activated the lights. the dealer reset the alarm codes. Problem solves....

Jean has arthritis and difficulty with the simplest tasks. Long retired to Knoxville Te. My wife and I visit her a few times a year. My job is fixing things, no-matter what. One visit Jean asked me to look at her cars instrument panel, Warning lights were illuminated. A quick check reveled a loose gas cap caused a sensor to activated the lights. the dealer reset the alarm codes. Problem solves. Not so fast, Jean said the arthritis in her fingers made opening and closing the cap impossible. She would ask strangers for help. Or just leave it loose. This made us very nervous. After some thought, PVC piping, and several attempts I fashioned a crude snap-on tool designed to change the hands postilion. She was able to open and close the cap. After some convincing, redesigns,and testing, I have marketed it. Jean got the 1st one.

profile for Tiffany R Tiffany RWood River, ILThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis 5 years ago. It was a long road to get to my diagnosis. In my experience, most doctors I went to either had no answers. I finally found a specialist who was familiar with the disease. She quickly did tests and put me on a biologic. I felt so relived, not that I had this lifelong battle to fight but that I finally had answers. I have since had to go onto...

I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis 5 years ago. It was a long road to get to my diagnosis. In my experience, most doctors I went to either had no answers. I finally found a specialist who was familiar with the disease. She quickly did tests and put me on a biologic. I felt so relived, not that I had this lifelong battle to fight but that I finally had answers. I have since had to go onto the next step of medication, which for me is infusions. I fight for me and all those like me, so maybe the next person does not have to wait so long for a diagnosis. Maybe, they will not end up with the irreversible damage that I have. I fight for education and research.

profile for Laurie T Laurie TKent, WAThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis pretty much in all of my joints. The latest is in my feet and at times it feels like they are just going to crumble. I also have cervical spinal stenosis, 2 surgeries for that. So getting again is getting increasingly difficult. But I'm stubborn and keep plugging along. I'm not working now because of the surgeries and mobility issues, so I've kind of isolated myself. But I...

I have osteoarthritis pretty much in all of my joints. The latest is in my feet and at times it feels like they are just going to crumble. I also have cervical spinal stenosis, 2 surgeries for that. So getting again is getting increasingly difficult. But I'm stubborn and keep plugging along. I'm not working now because of the surgeries and mobility issues, so I've kind of isolated myself. But I try to get out for walks daily, at least to the mail box and back some days more plus I have exercises that I do in the house. Thankfully I have a very understanding and supportive husband who helps me on a daily basis.

profile for Barbara C Barbara CCAPAC, MIThis ismy fight

I have been fighting constant fatigue & pain for the last 3 yrs. I have osteoarthritis. First it was in my hands, then my left knee, now in my right shoulder and neck. MRI also shows spinal stenosis which is arthritis of the spine. Some days are good so I work around the house vacuuming , and doing all the other house hold chores. During the summer months I love working outside in the flower...

I have been fighting constant fatigue & pain for the last 3 yrs. I have osteoarthritis. First it was in my hands, then my left knee, now in my right shoulder and neck. MRI also shows spinal stenosis which is arthritis of the spine. Some days are good so I work around the house vacuuming , and doing all the other house hold chores. During the summer months I love working outside in the flower beds, mowing the lawn and just generally making my home look pretty. If I do work a day or two I pay dearly with pain for the next two or three.

My husband is disabled and I do everything, some days it's just so hard. I wake up in the morning and my shoulder really hurts. I have been on pain pills for the last 2 years. Even my Dr. doesn't understand why I need them. Without the pills I would have to pay someone to do all the house chores as well as the outdoor work.

I also have to help my husband. Sometimes I'm so tired that all I want to do is sleep. My fingers have started to deform. They are crooked and the bones stick out in weird ways.

I just wish people would understand that this a painful condition. It limits your ability to do so many things that everyone takes for granted.

profile for Gladys  G Gladys GAlbany , NYThis ismy fight

It was in 2011 during my final semester of graduate school that I began to experience re-occurring pain in my hands. In 2007 I had was diagnosed with bilateral tendinitis and had surgery on my right wrist and now I was diagnosed as having carpal tunnel. In August of 2012 I had surgery (wrist carpal tunnel release) and shortly thereafter the pain in my hands re-occurred.

Finally...

It was in 2011 during my final semester of graduate school that I began to experience re-occurring pain in my hands. In 2007 I had was diagnosed with bilateral tendinitis and had surgery on my right wrist and now I was diagnosed as having carpal tunnel. In August of 2012 I had surgery (wrist carpal tunnel release) and shortly thereafter the pain in my hands re-occurred.

Finally after two years of suffering the worst pain I have ever experience in my hands, I was finally referred to a Rheumatologist in January 2014. Since my diagnosis I have been prescribed many different types of medication. The side effects of the medications I have been prescribed have created many challenges.

In 2016, I interviewed for a job with New York State Department of Labor. When asked why I have been unemployed since 2011, I was honest and shared information regarding my struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and I was told that I would not be able to perform the duties of the position. I earned a Master’s degree in Social Work and Rheumatoid Arthritis has rendered me unemployable.

In 2007 I resigned from my position as an Office Manager to complete my educational goals. I earned an Associates in applied Science in 1993, Bachelor of Arts 2009 and Master in Social Work in 2011. In 2012 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and applied for Social Security Disability in 2013 and was denied benefits. Unfortunately because I have not paid into the Social Security Systems in 5 years, I am no longer eligible. However, I worked and paid into the system since I graduated from high school in 1974.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is often underestimated because in my opinion it is classified as a form of arthritis rather than an auto-immune disease. As a result of the disease RA being underestimated as a simple form of arthritis, many members of our society view the disease as something that can be cured by taking as simple remedies as OTC anti-inflammatory medication, herbal cures such as cinnamon, and other non-inflammatory methods. As an individual who suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I am appalled when I discussed this disease with people who respond, “Oh I have Arthritis too.” I find these remarks totally inappropriate because the disease is so much more severe than a milder form of Arthritis.

The Degenerative Arthritis I experience, can be stabilized by taking OTC anti-inflammatory medication, however RA cannot be stabilized with over the counter medications. People who suffer with RA do not receive the compassion from the public which is so desperately needed because I feel its severity is minimized with the label arthritis. The public needs to be more aware of the auto-immune aspect of the disease. I feel that it is more associated with a form of Leukemia than Arthritis because both diseases are associated with white blood cells; RA should be classified as such. As long as people who suffer with RA are viewed as people with arthritis we will never receive the compassion we so desperately deserve. RA is a horrible disease and should be viewed as such and I feel that the disease is underestimated do to the lack of education regarding the severity (auto-immune) aspect of the disease.

profile for Donna  H Donna HRego park , NYThis ismy fight

I have had ra for more than 25 years. Have had 20 surgeries. I also have fibromyalgia. Sjogrens, raynards. Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis. Diabetes, and high blood pressure. I haven't been able to work since 2002.

profile for Laurel P Laurel PAuburn, GAThis ismy fight

Hello! My name is Laurel and I am 21. I have two types of juvenile arthritis, psoriatic and idiopathic, that affect my hands, feet, knees, hips, and skin. I was diagnosed when I was 13 after being misdiagnosed for 5 years. I tried several medications before we finally found one that worked, Remicade, a form of chemotherapy. In middle school, when I was first diagnosed, kids would make fun of my...

Hello! My name is Laurel and I am 21. I have two types of juvenile arthritis, psoriatic and idiopathic, that affect my hands, feet, knees, hips, and skin. I was diagnosed when I was 13 after being misdiagnosed for 5 years. I tried several medications before we finally found one that worked, Remicade, a form of chemotherapy. In middle school, when I was first diagnosed, kids would make fun of my disfigured feet and hands. They would also tease me for the bumps on my skin caused by my psoriatic arthritis. Many people, including students, teachers, friends, and even family, did not understand what my body was going through. Some days I feel comfortable enough to get up and go for walks, but other days I cannot even get out of my bed. I get major swelling and inflammation which can make it difficult for me to bend my fingers, wrists, ankles, or knees. On top of that, juvenile arthritis is also considered to be an autoimmune disease and I often get very sick from colds, infections, bacterias, etc. Unfortunately, my white blood cells are unable to defend my body and are usually attacking my own white blood cells. I am currently pregnant and have been unmedicated since January 2015, and my arthritis has started to even make my spine swell from the inflammation. All of these things cause me to be very fatigued, lethargic, and pained, and I get frequent flare ups. The only time I feel like people understand is when I am talking to someone else who has arthritis. I am 21 and I cannot cut up my own food or button most of the buttons on my clothes because of my arthritis. Arthritis sucks! #arthritisawareness2017

profile for Alma Z Alma ZJohnston, IAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JRA at age 10 and also with glaucoma and uveitis at age 7. I am tired and achy every single day. No matter how much sleep I get, I am tired. I am now 23 years old and am in nursing school. When I graduate I aspire to care for patients with the same kindness and empathy that I have received throughout my surgeries, infusions and countless doctor's appointments. Sometimes all...

I was diagnosed with JRA at age 10 and also with glaucoma and uveitis at age 7. I am tired and achy every single day. No matter how much sleep I get, I am tired. I am now 23 years old and am in nursing school. When I graduate I aspire to care for patients with the same kindness and empathy that I have received throughout my surgeries, infusions and countless doctor's appointments. Sometimes all I want to do is stay in bed and sleep the day away, but I get up, go to work, go to class, and take care pf my patients. I know what it's like to be a patient and be scared. My entire childhood was full of doctor's appointments and medications. My RA has tested my patience and limited my energy but it also made me who I am today. I wish for everyone who doesn't have RA to be mindful of what we go through on a daily basis. It is not only physically draining, but also very much mentally draining. I pray for happiness for all my fellow RA friends! It may be hard today, but it'll get better! The sun will shine ud83dude0a

profile for Chris A Chris APittsburgh, PAThis ismy fight

I'm 64 years old and have had rheumatoid arthritis for 32 years. It showed up when my last child was born as an emergency C-section. Caring for a 4 year old and a newborn was almost impossible. After two knee Replacements and one hip replacement I am now enjoying watching three grandchildren and a great nephew. I also work 2 days a week. Keeping active has given me most of my comfort.

profile for Connie S Connie SDanville, VAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA at age 38. I have lived with chronic back pain and fatigue since I was in my 20's.

People say, "you're too young for that" when I share that I have RA.

Some people are sympathetic, but don't completely understand what it's like to be 46 and unable to do things that I want to do with my family. I don't like to admit that I can't do things. I don't...

I was diagnosed with RA at age 38. I have lived with chronic back pain and fatigue since I was in my 20's.

People say, "you're too young for that" when I share that I have RA.

Some people are sympathetic, but don't completely understand what it's like to be 46 and unable to do things that I want to do with my family. I don't like to admit that I can't do things. I don't like asking for extra help with things. I feel guilty that I rely on my husband to do so many things around the house. Things I should be able to, but just don't have the energy, or things that are too painful.

I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I just want to be normal. I know there are lots of people whose pain and joint damage are far worse than mine. It especially breaks my heart to think about the children who suffer with Juvenile RA. At least I had a chance to enjoy doing things when I was young that are not physically possible for some of the kids who are affected.

I love playing with my grandchildren. I hope the day never comes that I have to tell them I can't play. Sometimes I have to tell them I need to rest a little, or I can't sit in the floor very long. I want them to remember having fun with me.

I wish there was more that doctors were able to do for RA, other than just use medication to slow the progression. I am thankful for the Rheumatologists and other researchers who strive daily to give those of us with auto-immune disorders the best life they can.

profile for Dawn D Dawn DCentennial, COThis ismy fight

I am a very active Coloradan who skis in the winter and races sailboats in the summer. I was diagnosed with RA at age 36 and am now 56 and doing great.

I had had foot pain for a few years and had seen different podiatrists and was misdiagnosed with different conditions. I nearly had foot surgery. It wasn't until my knees started hurting after skiing that I knew something more...

I am a very active Coloradan who skis in the winter and races sailboats in the summer. I was diagnosed with RA at age 36 and am now 56 and doing great.

I had had foot pain for a few years and had seen different podiatrists and was misdiagnosed with different conditions. I nearly had foot surgery. It wasn't until my knees started hurting after skiing that I knew something more serious was going on. My primary care doctor accurately diagnosed me with RA and I was fortunate to have a recommendation to a great Rheumatologist by a friend who also has RA. The doctor put me on stronger medications than my primary care doctor had which got the disease under control. There are times when I overdo things and the RA bites back at me, especially my feet and hands, but this doesn't happen too often. I try to take the minimum amount of drugs to keep symptoms under control.

Two things that I think are critical for managing arthritis: 1) get a correct and early diagnosis, and 2) find a great Rheumatologist.

info about Dawn D
profile for Doris P Doris PRockaway, NJThis ismy fight

In 2008 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while in my seventies. I was sound asleep around 3:30AM when the autoimmune disorder attacked my body. Pain, swelling, and redness seemed to be attacking all my joints which made walking nearly impossible. My husband awakened to find me sitting on our living room sofa in extreme pain and unable to move. He phoned our Primary Care doctor...

In 2008 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while in my seventies. I was sound asleep around 3:30AM when the autoimmune disorder attacked my body. Pain, swelling, and redness seemed to be attacking all my joints which made walking nearly impossible. My husband awakened to find me sitting on our living room sofa in extreme pain and unable to move. He phoned our Primary Care doctor around 8:00AM, and he examined me that very day. He recommended I see an orthopedic specialist who fortunately saw me the next day on an emergency basis because of my extreme pain. He put me on a medication regimen to alleviate pain.

After doing blood work and ex-rays, he felt the results indicated that I might have any one of a litany of autoimmune diseases and recommended a rheumatologist. She saw me two days later and after doing a highly specialized blood test informed me that my markers pointed to rheumatoid arthritis. At first, she prescribed two types of pills which I took for several months. When I had an adverse reaction to my medication, she removed it from my meds and gave me a video on a new medication which contained users sharing their personal stories on how the medicine helped them get back into life. Without my previous medication, there wasn't much improvement in my condition.

After seeing the video and discussing it with both my husband and rheumatologist, I decided to take it. I have been using medication since 2008, and it has kept the disease under control. Shortly after taking the first few injections, I returned to yoga and my daily exercise routine which consists of walking and lifting free-weights. My husband and I got back to dancing at least twice a month. Although I had to modify how much activity I do in any given day, I am totally back into life. I even decided to take piano lessons, a life long dream of mine. Great exercise for hands and fingers. What bothers me most about RA is that there are times when fatigue forces me to curtail activities. I have learned how to rest between activities, and that works. Because my numbers have improved, my rheumatologist has recommended I inject my medication every 18 days......not every two weeks. What good news!

When first diagnosed, I admit I was dismayed, but I have since learned to look at it as if I'm in a battle and the enemy is RA. I gathered all my forces (yoga, walking, lifting weights, writing articles, sketching, dancing, playing piano) and went to battle. I made up my mind that RA will NOT win the war. I see my rheumatologist regularly, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy weight helps greatly, and I am certain that seeing a doctor as soon as possible has made all the difference in my return to good health. So, to all those suffering with RA or any other autoimmune disorder, please don't put off seeing a physician. Having RA or any other autoimmune disorder doesn't mean you have to stop living. If I can do it, so can you. Hang on to hope, and dig into your inner reserves. Learn as much as you can about RA, go for regular check-ups, and have regular blood work done. Remember, you're not alone. Join the battle to beat down RA and the other autoimmune disorders.

profile for Jennifer B Jennifer BKenosha, WIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2007 at age 41. I was working and in graduate school to become certified as a special education teacher. I had been dealing with pain, stiffness, and fatigue for years and previously been diagnosed with lupus. I continued to work and go to school while my doctor tried a series of medications that were increasingly expensive. I injected myself with new...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2007 at age 41. I was working and in graduate school to become certified as a special education teacher. I had been dealing with pain, stiffness, and fatigue for years and previously been diagnosed with lupus. I continued to work and go to school while my doctor tried a series of medications that were increasingly expensive. I injected myself with new medication. My hair started thinning, I became extremely sensitive to sunlight, and I began using a cane. I finished school and was teaching special education when I started falling. I began infusions of a biological drug, after a fight with my insurance company to cover it. The following school year I was transferred to a school that was all on one floor. I knew I was in trouble early on, because I had difficulty doing the extensive standing and walking. In October 2009, I was infected with H1N1 flu. The medications I was taking for my RA were immunosuppressants, and I developed pneumonia. I was off work 3 weeks.
It was clear when I returned to work I was too weak, and the first week of November I met with my principal and HR. I was let go due to my disability, and put on short-term disability. After 3 months, I applied for a receive long-term disability benefits from my insurance through the school district. I had to start paying COBRA rates for my health insurance. I applied for Social Security Disability in April 2010. While waiting to be approved (I was denied twice, and eventually had a hearing in 2012. I was approved and the judge was frustrated, saying it should have been approved early in the process.) I went through my 401k and pension money, paying for medications and insurance.
Since getting on SSDI and Medicare, I have had 3 surgeries, multiple flares, and switched medications. I see a pain specialist, and my medical expenses keep going up. Last year I paid $10,000 in out of pocket medical expenses as my medicare, supplement and Part D premiums keep increasing, as do my co-pays. I use a cane or walker, depending on the day, and spend much of my time in doctors offices. My liver is enlarged from the meds. My quality of life is poor, and I fear cuts to Medicaid and Social Security. I live in a first floor apartment with some adaptive equipment, but have begun the search for a fully handicapped accessible unit and am finding I need to get on waiting lists. This could happen to anyone. I worked hard, I am highly educated. I am grateful for my supportive family and church community. I never expected to be poor.

profile for Catherine H Catherine HSan Francisco, CAThis ismy fight

Being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 8 was tough. I fought so many things that most kids take for granted - like walking and participating in daily life.

Almost 35 years into my struggle, the serious nature of this chronic, systemic autoimmune condition has reared its head in some scary ways over the last couple years, affecting both my heart and my lungs and...

Being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 8 was tough. I fought so many things that most kids take for granted - like walking and participating in daily life.

Almost 35 years into my struggle, the serious nature of this chronic, systemic autoimmune condition has reared its head in some scary ways over the last couple years, affecting both my heart and my lungs and requiring multiple hospital stays and procedures over the last couple years

But I don't let it get me down. I have Arthritis, but it doesn't define who I am. I am a sister, an aunt, a friend, an athlete, an artist and oh so many more things than just a patient

I stay positive because of the amazing work organizations like the Arthritis Foundation do not only in terms of research, but in the community they build of patients who can support each other through the rough times.

This organization has been amazing resource for me throughout my entire life - from helping me navigate a childhood with chronic illness, allowing me to be with kids like me every year at camp, to helping me through these rough patches with a community of support and love.

profile for Jodi P Jodi PSouth Jordan, UTThis ismy fight

I have been married for 2 years to my best friend and love of my life. Together we have 5 fabulous children ages 8 to 18 and live in South Jordan, Utah. I am a mom, I work from home and I work in the lab as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. I love to learn new things, especially about how the body works and how to improve health. I love being with my family. We spend a lot of time together...

I have been married for 2 years to my best friend and love of my life. Together we have 5 fabulous children ages 8 to 18 and live in South Jordan, Utah. I am a mom, I work from home and I work in the lab as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. I love to learn new things, especially about how the body works and how to improve health. I love being with my family. We spend a lot of time together and my husband and I make it a priority to have a weekly date. We enjoy being outdoors, hiking in the mountains or playing in the backyard. I also like to curl up with a good book. I also have severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Why do I run? Simply stated I run because I can. I have spent my adult life battling rheumatoid arthritis; a chronic, painful, debilitating disease that at one point literally had me begging my doctor to cut my feet off for relief. The idea of running seemed like an impossible dream to me a few years ago. I love that I have regained mobility and that I am capable of running. When my feet hit the pavement and carry me forward it is absolutely amazing to me. Beyond that, I run for me. Running gives me the opportunity to let go of the burdens and worries of everyday life. It kept me sane when health issues threatened the quality of life of one of my children. Running is cleansing and therapeutic. On a long run the physical exertion allows me to let go of whatever burdens & stress I am carrying and it is just me and my body. I do have to say that I enjoy longer distance runs more than short runs. It takes at least three miles for running to be fun. At that point, the endorphins start to kick in and the sense of self empowerment- the feeling of knowing that I can do this starts to build. Running gives me the belief and confidence that I can overcome and conquer the obstacles of life and I love that! There are so many different answers I can give as to why I run but I like the simple answer “because I can” best.

profile for Donna D Donna DWest Chester, OHThis ismy fight

It is hard for others to understand what it takes sometimes to get out of bed. On top of the arthritis I also have Fibro. Some days are better than others. I am slower walking and not able to enjoy the activities that I used to such as zumba. I keep pushing myself some days then I regret it for 2 or 3 days after. I have arthritis in my knees, shoulder, and back and wish my family would take the...

It is hard for others to understand what it takes sometimes to get out of bed. On top of the arthritis I also have Fibro. Some days are better than others. I am slower walking and not able to enjoy the activities that I used to such as zumba. I keep pushing myself some days then I regret it for 2 or 3 days after. I have arthritis in my knees, shoulder, and back and wish my family would take the time to understand what I am going through.

profile for Susan F Susan FChattanooga , TNThis ismy fight

My story begins in November 2009 when I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. I look back at the years prior to my diagnosis and I can see how the arthritis was taking hold of me. I had to file for Social Security Disability in 2010 after I was unable to perform the duties of my job any longer.

The arthritis has affected my feet, hands, knees, hips, back and elbows....

My story begins in November 2009 when I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. I look back at the years prior to my diagnosis and I can see how the arthritis was taking hold of me. I had to file for Social Security Disability in 2010 after I was unable to perform the duties of my job any longer.

The arthritis has affected my feet, hands, knees, hips, back and elbows. I've had both knees replaced and several surgeries on both feet. I get infusions once a month but sometimes it doesn't help me. I take drugs once a week and pain medication during each day so that I can function. I don't feel like doing much anymore due to fatigue and pain.

My friends and family don't understand because I look fine on the outside. Resources like psoriatic-arthritis.com and the arthritis foundation have been a big help in educating me about arthritis. I am able to live a happy, fulfilled life but it's different from the one I had envisioned for myself prior to psoriatic arthritis.

profile for Sydney H Sydney HFlorence, ALThis ismy fight

I have diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago but my story starts two years before my diagnosis. I thought my joint pain and fatigue was just a combination of stress and getting older. Over two years it got so bad that I couldn't close my hands to make a fist and had trouble walking. I finally had to admit that this wasn't normal. That's when I was diagnosed with RA and started on...

I have diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago but my story starts two years before my diagnosis. I thought my joint pain and fatigue was just a combination of stress and getting older. Over two years it got so bad that I couldn't close my hands to make a fist and had trouble walking. I finally had to admit that this wasn't normal. That's when I was diagnosed with RA and started on medications.

It was a scary time for me. There were many days when I would cry going to and from work because I felt so bad. I still have those days from time to time. There were days when I could barely get out of the car or get out of bed. My medications are powerful so I worried a lot about side effects.

It has now been two years since that diagnosis. One thing I learned is that finding the right combination and strength of medications takes time. I was lucky. It only took a year and a half. Now I don't have as much energy as a healthy person but most days I am only barely aware of any pain or stiffness. My medications allow me to continue working and living a full life.

I hope my medications continue to work for a long time. However, these are expensive medications and I worry if they will be covered when my insurance changes. I worry about the political climate and its effect on insurance prices and coverage. I also hope awareness of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms increases so others don't have to wait as long as I did for a diagnosis.

profile for Shirley F Shirley FRoseville, CAThis ismy fight

"In thePerseverance Story Presence of Chronic Pain" Or, "How I Became the Bionic Woman"
By Shirley F.

I was born, a chubby-cheeked little girl, in 1943. I then spent my first 17 years growing up on a farm in Kansas doing continual hard physical work... where I first learned perseverance! My father had undiagnosed Bi-Polar disease and the violence he inflicted was my first...

"In thePerseverance Story Presence of Chronic Pain" Or, "How I Became the Bionic Woman"
By Shirley F.

I was born, a chubby-cheeked little girl, in 1943. I then spent my first 17 years growing up on a farm in Kansas doing continual hard physical work... where I first learned perseverance! My father had undiagnosed Bi-Polar disease and the violence he inflicted was my first introduction to physical pain. Pain and I, as you shall see, were to become well-acquainted. And perseverance became a daily practice as I strove to survive, and to thrive, in the presence of pain.

Just a little early personal history - after I graduated high school at the top of my class, I became a Registered Nurse. I married in 1967 and almost immediately moved to live in England which has a cold, wet climate. My oldest son was born in 1968, my second son in 1970, and I was preggers with my daughter (born in 1972) when I developed my debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis. My last child and 3rd son was born post-diagnosis in 1973.

My children needed to be taken care of and I never considered shirking that responsibility! Even though I often felt trapped- I found the resilience to cope with the RA! I was prescribed drugs from onset, unfortunately with no information given about the harmful effects of the steroid on bone metabolism.

And so it began.

I moved with my husband and 4 children to Michigan in 1975. In a nearby town, I found a very caring rheumatologist. I continued with multiple pain and anti-inflammatory medicines. None of it helped enough for me to ever experience any remission. I tried lots of land based Physical Therapy which was often very painful: torture. NOTHING relieved the constant pain. Doctors had great hesitancy to prescribe stronger meds because of fears regarding possible addiction. I experienced multiple steroid injections into my hands and knees to deal with RA flares.

To my joy and relief, I discovered that there is no pain while exercising in water!!! Water is our friend. This was very appealing and encouraging news after all of my years of constant pain. I also took and then TAUGHT a Self-Help for Arthritis course. Lots of helpful ideas in this course blew some fresh air my way for the first time in years.

I had wanted to be a nurse from the age 6. I felt a deep loss and grieved as I struggled to realize and accept I now had physical limits that kept me from living my dream. I could no longer do CPR (a requirement for RNs.) I decided to train as a volunteer for Hospice. Through this experience, I learned new helpful things about pain management and a holistic approach to living and dying.

I had both knees scoped in early 1986... this only helped short-term, and now I was having intermittent nerve pain from lack of cartilage in both knees. In spite of this, I finally found a way to reinstate my nursing license and tried to work in an office part-time. Shortly after beginning work at the office, I found out I had a badly impaired right hip and needed hip replacement surgery. Now I was having constant nerve pain: the cartilage cushion had disintegrated and I had bone-on-bone friction....Agony... Persevere.

In Autumn 1986, using research I had done, I had developed a therapeutic water exercise class! I began to teach it at a special needs school which had an indoor heated pool. I found the exercise and time in the pool the BEST pain relief I had EVER experienced. This became a refuge and a respite from the pain; on land, I was using a cane full time.

The orthopedic surgeon was very reluctant to do the hip replacement. It was a very rare event in 1987 to replace a hip in a 43 year old. He gave me a very helpful, if stern, lecture about keeping my weight at a good level and the need to exercise faithfully. My options were the surgery or a wheelchair. I had a lot of RA involvement with (1) fixed wrists, and (2) elbow and hand contractures: and, these things considered, pushing myself about in a wheelchair was not an option.

Desparate for relief from the incessant pain I had the operation in January 1987. Three weeks post op, I was back in the pool leading the water class. With winter's arrival, I began dealing with a lot of snow/ice there in Michigan. I realized the winter weather was a severe deterrent to my activity! Off I went and shopped determinedly for a hot tub configured properly so I could do Range Of Motion exercises.

The cold, cold winter and all that it brings motivated me to relocate: I moved to Arizona for a warmer, drier climate in August 1988. I found I immediately needed my left hip replaced. Welcome to my October 1988?! Bullhead City Arizona, where I lived, was building a new outdoor community pool. I found out how I could have direct input about the need for ramped access to the pool! Fabulous! (Stay tuned: this comes into play later).

A new hospice was being started in the town. and I began by volunteering, and then was hired to work part-time. Once again, in 1990, I had both knees scoped. Some temporary relief. On with the show.

My right ankle became very painful and self-fused in 1991. I was using a cane full time again. My orthopedic surgeon in Las Vegas wanted to do a mechanical fusion. I refused this, listened to my inner knowing that I had already had both hips replaced... and my knees would soon need replacing! Walking stiff legged would have an awful negative effect on my gait and body alignment.

I found a doctor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He had worked with the University of Iowa to develop an ankle implant. I flew up to meet him in May 1992... and went back in July to have the implant! Recovery required no weight bearing for 9 weeks. I could not use crutches (see above for hand and wrist problems!) so I was in a wheel chair (with help!) for 9 weeks. I stayed in Sioux Falls for 9 days. The fabulous advice I have gleaned and followed regarding weight maintenance and water exercise means I have not had to be back to see him... Gooooo, Me! I have had follow up x-rays taken to check progress of implant. 24 years later, and I am happy to report that ALL IS WELL with my ankle.

One of my nurse friends at hospice took out my stitches from the ankle surgery. I then found and purchased a wet vest which keeps the body upright in the water. A friend had an old wheelchair which was used to roll me into the pool via the very ramp I had recommended! Wooo hooo! I could go into the deep end of the pool and exercise without endangering the ankle implant. That winter, I returned to using my hot tub at home.

Watch out. Get ready. And Brace Yourself! Autumn 1995 began my "Year of Hell"! First: I had my right knee replaced in Oct 1995 and.... here we go AGAIN: left knee replaced in January 1996. I had endured 10 years of unrelenting nerve pain (Insert silent screaming here). Upon discharge after 2nd knee replacement, I stood by the car at the hospital and spoke out loud, shedding a few uncharacteristic tears: "Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, I am free at last!!!!" I borrowed the quote of Dr. Martin Luther King.

I had waited a long time for this moment! My joints were replaced! I held a lot of hope for a better physical experience from that point forward. I had become... a BIONIC WOMAN! (Play theme song here)

Uh oh. Within the month after the left knee surgery, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. Add emotional heartache and angst to my plate! He had never been able to accept my limits. The divorce effort began. The hospice where I was working part-time was bought by a larger company in September of 1996...and now I was downsized out of my position. Four major traumas in that one year of time.

In January 1997 I moved to Tucson with the hope of working in a hospice there. After 5 months with no job opening, I decided to spend the summer in Fargo, North Dakota volunteering in the flood relief effort. In September I went to Midland Texas... again searching for a hospice job. No job developed for me in Texas, so I moved to Modesto, California, where my oldest son lived. My divorce was finalized in March, 1998.

At this point, finally, I decided I had to apply for disability. I had not found a job that was possible with my physical limits. I had only worked full time for 3 years so my disability income was small and I had to live very frugally, first renting a 1 bedroom apartment and then a 2 bedroom condo when my daughter came to live with me. I found a fleeting moment of happiness when I was hired part time to work in a hospice in 2000. Once again, I found little understanding or acceptance of my limits. The stress of this situation was so great I had to resign in 2002. More loss. More grief. More anger. And press on. I persevere.

After leaving the last hospice position, I trained to be a life coach! I thoroughly enjoyed my small coaching clientele. For about 6 years, I did this work, assisting mostly others with limitations; I had empathy and understanding of their issues, and found great satisfaction in encouraging them too, to persevere!

In 2010 I moved to Roseville, California to a 55 & over apartment complex. Here there is an outdoor pool/hot tub for summer use. Still going strong!

I believe my continuing motivation to persevere is a gift of the Holy Spirit: I live in the assurance that He empowers my desire to be a good steward of my body. The water therapy is absolutely holistic for me (3x/week is minimum for maintenance). While in the big pool, I spend my time praying and speaking Bible verses to myself. This has a spiritual, emotional and mental benefit for me. I am never bored as prayer needs change all the time! My intention is to persevere with water therapy as long as I am alive...As per this point in my water therapy, I am thirty years and holding!

I also currently belong to a health club where physical therapists do pool therapy. I start with 15 minutes in the hot tub to warm up, then spend 1 hour in the big pool. This is followed by another 15 minutes in the hot tub. Then I rest on a lounger for 30 minutes to cool down. Years of steroids have thinned my skin, so I bruise easily and need to be completely cool before I shower to prevent easy bruising from simple things like drying off with my towel.

I am 5 ft 4" tall and weigh 132 pounds (I pay rigorous, continuous attention to my diet!) I live by myself, drive a car, and most people do not realize there is anything wrong with me. I am often asked by other physical therapy clients why I am at the pool. I don't look sick. Press on!!!!

When I travel, I have learned to call ahead about accommodations for the disabled and access to a pool and whirlpool. I have educated myself about the Americans with Disabilities Act and know that there is very little correct public awareness of the law. Now, I do what I can for needed advocacy. I have been able to effect changes with some handicapped parking issues and levered handles on doors and showers.
Every step is a BIG step! Literally (and figuratively!) And so I "get up tomorrow, do it all again". Walk on. Persevere. Walk on!

profile for Diann T Diann THouston, TXThis ismy fight

I had been an active runner and tennis player but I began to notice swelling in my knees when I was diagnosed with arthritis. I was diagnosed as having osteoarthritis in 1996.

I went through physical therapy, had arthroscopic surgery, and after that at least 3 rounds of injections in my knees to relieve the pain. Anything that I carried weighing close to 5 pounds or more would cause...

I had been an active runner and tennis player but I began to notice swelling in my knees when I was diagnosed with arthritis. I was diagnosed as having osteoarthritis in 1996.

I went through physical therapy, had arthroscopic surgery, and after that at least 3 rounds of injections in my knees to relieve the pain. Anything that I carried weighing close to 5 pounds or more would cause pain in my knees. I could not push a shopping cart filled with groceries. The weight of my vacuum was such that I could no longer push it around the house. My mother in law, who was living with us, thought that I was just lazy, because she saw me laying down a lot. It was that I was always in pain.

In 2008, at 57 I went to see an orthopedic surgeon about knee replacement. After seeing the MRI's and reviewing my history, he agreed that I had suffered long enough and agreed to do bilateral knee replacement. This was one of the BEST decisions that I have made. I no longer take pain medication, I move a LOT more and wear sensible heels.

My family says that I have bionic knees because I walk about 30 miles a week. I am able to walk my dogs, grocery shop and participate in 5 K walks and stand on my feet for long periods of time.

I still suffer with arthritis in my hands. But I try to limit the amount of typing that I do to prevent flare ups.

info about Diann T
profile for Amanda H Amanda HHouston, TXThis ismy fight

After several months of doctors appointments and a variety of testing, I was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 12. 20 years later I'm managing RA and living life to the fullest! Life hasn't always been easy, but I've learned that I can do anything I put my mind to.

I've been teaching for 10 years and am inspiring people that no matter what obstacle comes in your life you can overcome...

After several months of doctors appointments and a variety of testing, I was diagnosed with JRA at the age of 12. 20 years later I'm managing RA and living life to the fullest! Life hasn't always been easy, but I've learned that I can do anything I put my mind to.

I've been teaching for 10 years and am inspiring people that no matter what obstacle comes in your life you can overcome it. Find a support group, give back, and never be afraid to share your story.

profile for Diane  K Diane Kclute, TXThis ismy fight

I was at my job and tried to stand and was unable to walk. It was the beginning of a tough journey. My hands were hurting so bad that I was unable to sleep. At that time, I already had 11 orthopedic surgeries including one knee replacement.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with several types of arthritis including rheumatoid. My treatment is monthly therapy. I retired early to graft my...

I was at my job and tried to stand and was unable to walk. It was the beginning of a tough journey. My hands were hurting so bad that I was unable to sleep. At that time, I already had 11 orthopedic surgeries including one knee replacement.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with several types of arthritis including rheumatoid. My treatment is monthly therapy. I retired early to graft my hand and replace my other knee.

I am still surprised at the lack of knowledge about arthritis when it affects so many individuals. Examples include "I work with a gal who has it, it seems no big deal, why are you making a big deal about it." Exhaustion is common, but friends will say things like you can rest for an hour and be up and running. Running where? A third one that frustrates me the most is the ability to walk as quickly as the general public. I interviewed for a job which I could have done well and the manager asked me if I could get around the plant.

So awareness of the general public could help.

profile for Heather T Heather TBrewer, MEI fight forMy daughter Avary

Avary became very ill before her 5th birthday. It was a long and scary time trying to figure out what was causing her to be in so much pain and unable to do normal everyday activities. She is 7 now and has been doing well on meds up until now. Thankful for our pediatric rheumatologist!!! We need a cure!

profile for Joe  F Joe FSherman Oaks, CAThis ismy fight

Was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in a hip approximately five years ago. Had successful replacement. The other hip is "as good as the day you were born," according to doctor. So I got lucky there.

Back and knee acting up, and I thought replacement of the latter would be forthcoming. However, further diagnosis indicates "Pseudo Gout" condition, and knee replacement would not solver...

Was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in a hip approximately five years ago. Had successful replacement. The other hip is "as good as the day you were born," according to doctor. So I got lucky there.

Back and knee acting up, and I thought replacement of the latter would be forthcoming. However, further diagnosis indicates "Pseudo Gout" condition, and knee replacement would not solver the problem. I have no discomfort in back.

profile for Vanessa B Vanessa BSan Juan Capistrano, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA when I was 18 years old and have been in treatment ever since. My entire body is affected by this disease but mainly in my feet and my hands. Everyday when I wake up the first thing I do is I thank God for my wonderful husband, my beautiful family and my friends. Living with this disease has been hard for me because I love to run!!! There are good days as well as bad but I...

I was diagnosed with RA when I was 18 years old and have been in treatment ever since. My entire body is affected by this disease but mainly in my feet and my hands. Everyday when I wake up the first thing I do is I thank God for my wonderful husband, my beautiful family and my friends. Living with this disease has been hard for me because I love to run!!! There are good days as well as bad but I will never stop doing what makes me happy and that is what fighting RA is all about!

profile for Kathy K Kathy KNew York, NYThis ismy fight

I have suffered with RA since I was 35 years old. My story I'm sure is very similar to others, and the main message I would like to share is that it really is a silent disease. I am a fairly private person, and try not to complain. I put on a grave face most of the time, but this is a whole new level of PAIN, and complicated symptoms. There is not a schedule of when it's better and worse (I've...

I have suffered with RA since I was 35 years old. My story I'm sure is very similar to others, and the main message I would like to share is that it really is a silent disease. I am a fairly private person, and try not to complain. I put on a grave face most of the time, but this is a whole new level of PAIN, and complicated symptoms. There is not a schedule of when it's better and worse (I've tried the calendar several times and I've given up).

For me, the flares I cannot control are after stress, emotional and physical. And in life, it is impossible to be in a relationship, raise children, hold down a job, own a pet, or even walk across a busy street without dealing with stress to some extent. Then, there's the side effects from medications, the label of an addict by doctors, pharmacists, coworkers and people you thought you could trust if you are on narcotics.

The fear of taking biologics and getting lymphoma, Leukemia, etc. The NSAIDs that cause heartburn, nausea, and ulcers. The judgements made about me because I "look fine" most days. Comparing it to osteoarthritis or saying my mom or grandmother has arthritis, is not comforting. Telling me to cut out gluten and dairy, and to watch the foods I eat is frustrating because they are basically telling me to cut out everything but water. I appreciate educated suggestions, but even my other other doctors and my therapists do not really understand the process of RA.

Then, there's the emotional feelings. The depression, the viscous cycle of feeling a bit better, over exerting yourself and then winding up in pain again. Feeling great to go out for dinner at noon and by 6 pm not imaging showering, washing and blow drying your hair, and putting on sexy heels, and then just getting to the restaurant. Oh sigh, it's constant and saddening and your friends just think that your flaky. They stop asking, stop including you, and your afraid to commit as you know 3 out of 4 times you probabaly wont be up for the outing by the time it comes.

I then resort to hibernating( which is hard with two young, active, strong boys). Everyday has its new and old challenges and I'm so sick of it. Sick of trying to explain myself to others, and especially to my mate. "How can you go to work and then don't have the energy by Thursday to participate in weekend activities with the family. It's so hard to explain. It's embarrassing. And it's depressing. This is my life and some days I feel like I can't bear another day of it.... but I do...Go on.

info about Kathy K
profile for Fred G Fred GSherman Oaks, CAThis ismy fight

I have Arthritis in my neck and back. I go for physical therapy but it does very little to help me.

I also have scoliosis in my back. I am 83 years old and try to keep busy with my hobby's.
My arthritis is most painful in the morning. I take over the counter pain medication 2 times a day.
I also use heating pads which helps. And I use Arthritis creams on my neck and back.

profile for Diana L Diana LChino Hills, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 5 years old. My childhood was filled with a variety of medications and constant doctor visits. At one time I was taking 14 aspirin a day and receiving injections every two weeks. I was an insecure child and always felt different. Taking steroids caused weight issues. As a young girl I did not have a boyfriend, no sports, no dances.

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 5 years old. My childhood was filled with a variety of medications and constant doctor visits. At one time I was taking 14 aspirin a day and receiving injections every two weeks. I was an insecure child and always felt different. Taking steroids caused weight issues. As a young girl I did not have a boyfriend, no sports, no dances.

It was not until I had bilateral hip replacement when I was 21, did I feel good about myself. Today, at 52, life is going fairly well. I am married with two children and am an elementary teacher. I had to have my hips replaced again 10 years ago due to the plastic in the joints deteriorating.

I have a husband who is very loving and understanding of my capabilities. But sometimes, when it comes to Intimacy, it's difficult. I do get very tired being on my feet all day. Mornings I am stiff and sore. Every day is painful, but my motto is one day at a time, especially after being diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. I always wish life was different for me, but I am who I am because of this disease.

profile for Susan Susan Muskegon, MIThis ismy fight

I cannot take pain pills because of my kidneys. I have found curcumin and Omega 3 fatty acids that help.

profile for Dan D Dan DChicago, ILThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in my hand and throughout my back at the age of 27. It took a long time for me to get medication that helped the pain. Initially, I blamed the pain on a sports injury or working night shift and sitting in a car for long shifts (I'm a police officer). I knew something wasn't right when my left index and middle fingers wouldn't bend at all. My symptoms...

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in my hand and throughout my back at the age of 27. It took a long time for me to get medication that helped the pain. Initially, I blamed the pain on a sports injury or working night shift and sitting in a car for long shifts (I'm a police officer). I knew something wasn't right when my left index and middle fingers wouldn't bend at all. My symptoms slowly got worse too.

Eventually, my entire left hand was immobile and my fingers looked like they were about to burst. The pain was unbearable. I felt like I could just prick my fingers with a needle and pop them to release the pressure and pain. My back pain made things even worse. There were days I would just lay in bed and move as little as possible to not feel the pain. I was incredibly fatigued and my mood quickly shifted making me a grumpy person.

I was in so much pain I started doing yoga...YOGA!!!! My symptoms were so bad, yoga only slightly alleviated the pain.

After about a year of seeing doctors, I started medication that actually helped. Today I occasionally have very minor pain in my joints that doesn't even phase me compared to my old pain.

Unfortunately, my little brother is now going through the same thing I did but at an even younger age.

Treatment is out there and it does help!

profile for Leanna B Leanna BFresno, CAThis ismy fight

I worked on my feet 8 to 10 hours a day for around 30 years. I was raised to have personal responsibility "you do what you have to do" and what the circumstances require. Well, now I am paying the price in being diagnosed at 67 with "very severe osteoarthritis" and a loss of about an inch and a half in my lower spine with the corresponding compressed nerves and has spread to both hips and right...

I worked on my feet 8 to 10 hours a day for around 30 years. I was raised to have personal responsibility "you do what you have to do" and what the circumstances require. Well, now I am paying the price in being diagnosed at 67 with "very severe osteoarthritis" and a loss of about an inch and a half in my lower spine with the corresponding compressed nerves and has spread to both hips and right knee.

When my doctor talked to me about it he explained that basically your bones are disintegrating. I searched the internet and have found some products that help decrease my pain. But the hardest thing to deal with is " a pain that NEVER goes away!" The medicine reduces the pain but it never completely goes away. It reduces your activity and being able to do what you want to do, but sometimes I say to HECK with it and do it anyway knowing I'll end up in a nice hot epsom salt bubble bath and staying off my feet for awhile.

profile for Bruce J Bruce JFountain Valley, CAThis ismy fight

A couple of months shy of reaching 65 (about a year ago), I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The inflammation and pain in the feet/ankles and the hands has been very intense at times with no relief from the pain. Walking is very difficult at times with mornings being the worse.

Working with my Rheumatologist, many different oral medications have been attempted for treatment...

A couple of months shy of reaching 65 (about a year ago), I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The inflammation and pain in the feet/ankles and the hands has been very intense at times with no relief from the pain. Walking is very difficult at times with mornings being the worse.

Working with my Rheumatologist, many different oral medications have been attempted for treatment with very bad side effects which have sent me to the emergency room. We are still trying to come up with the right combination of medicines to hopefully reduce the inflammation and pain that is 24/7. I'm looking forward to when that day will arrive. I try to keep a positive attitude every day with the hope I will soon enjoy a pain free day again.

profile for Janet E Janet EWestminster, COThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with lupus in 1986 after major surgery started my long trip down misery lane. Several years later my blood work came back that I had primary sjogrens so my diagnoses of lupus was wrong because you can't have a secondary desease with primary sjogrens. I didn't realize that sjogrens also meant you can have some serious problems with it. After caring for my husband while he was...

I was diagnosed with lupus in 1986 after major surgery started my long trip down misery lane. Several years later my blood work came back that I had primary sjogrens so my diagnoses of lupus was wrong because you can't have a secondary desease with primary sjogrens. I didn't realize that sjogrens also meant you can have some serious problems with it. After caring for my husband while he was dying from cancer the stress , physically and emotionally, caused my sjogrens to flare up and sent me back to my rheumatologist. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis on top of osteoarthritis, raynoulds and fibromyalgia. Most of the meds I was put on made me sicker than the desease but I finally went on a biologic getting an infusion once a month. I still have swelling and pain and I've learned not to make commitments because you never know what's going to happen with your body. The number one rule with any kind of chronic desease is keep your sense of humor. This desease is my enemy and I am at war with it and with God and all the people who love me I will win. Don't let it beat you down there is always things you can do, my hands are swollen where sometimes I pick up things and they slip right out this week my feet started swelling and walking is extremely painful but I will endure because it's my enemy and I haven't been beaten yet. I had to move in with my son and daughter- in- law last year my next step with this desease.

profile for Warren L Warren LPOTTSVILLE, HIThis ismy fight

G'day To All,

Got diagnosed with Rheumatiod Arthritis together with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease & Raynauds in Yr 1999 - Aged 36 yrs. Had a Whole Body Bone Scan and found a lot of activity all over my Body ( Joints ). From 1999 - 2008 Experimented with medication - I was still flaring.

In Yr 2013 I decided to take Matters into My own Hands. It was time to change my...

G'day To All,

Got diagnosed with Rheumatiod Arthritis together with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease & Raynauds in Yr 1999 - Aged 36 yrs. Had a Whole Body Bone Scan and found a lot of activity all over my Body ( Joints ). From 1999 - 2008 Experimented with medication - I was still flaring.

In Yr 2013 I decided to take Matters into My own Hands. It was time to change my Lifestyle not just for me but for Family & My 3 Beautiful Kids. So I did numerous hours of Research on Yes - Google - Very Simple - No Cost !!

I became apart of a Anti - Inflammatory Low Purines ( Low Acid ) Eating Plan. Includes a Balance of Juicing & 6 Portions a day ( includes snacks ). I eliminated certain foods & trialed to introduce certain foods later. That was 4 years ago - Since that time I have lost a bit of weight ( less to carry on my joints - 73 kg - Haven't weighed that much since I was 15 Yrs. ). My Mobility ( Flexibility ) & Body Strength is Good.

To concluded, remember everyone is different when it comes to this Condition & Lifestyle ( Food ). We get one shot at life so lets try and do it not just for ourselves but to share it with our Family and loved ones. Take Care Everyone & God Bless you all - Regards Warren ( Wazza ) from Down Under.

profile for Margaret G Margaret GLas vegas, NVThis ismy fight

I have never had a lot of high energy during my life and always needed sleep and tired easily as I got into my midlife about 40-50 yrs old.Then I noticed being out in the sun made me just wilt. I was diagnosed with fibromialgia at that time but didn't take any meds for it.I've had Gallbldder, knee, rotor cuff, babies and myriad smaller problems during my life but they take a back seat to RA!

I have never had a lot of high energy during my life and always needed sleep and tired easily as I got into my midlife about 40-50 yrs old.Then I noticed being out in the sun made me just wilt. I was diagnosed with fibromialgia at that time but didn't take any meds for it.I've had Gallbldder, knee, rotor cuff, babies and myriad smaller problems during my life but they take a back seat to RA!

My husband had a strock at 59, I was 52 and after getting him back to being able to care for himself again I had to go back to work, we down sized and were empty nesters again. Well,working full time in home care at my age was hard I can tell you, lifting,long hours and stress and lack of insurance caused me to not take good care of myself.
Long story short, at 66 yrs old I tore a rotor cuff,had surgery and had to retire.I was welcoming it and we moved closer to our youngest son to help with the Grandkids
But the first cold snow that came (we never lived in cold areas) I had a knee swell up and it was excrusiatingly painful and swollen.But something else was happening to me, I hurt all over besides my knee, my hands my shoulders, my elbows, can't exlpain it if you've never experienced it.

Went to the Knee Doctor, started crying and told him I thought I was dying! Well, he wisely he took tests and told me I was positive for RA.

I couldn't tolerate a lot of the meds, and just as hard as the pain has been the MENTAL adjustment to having chronic pain controlling your day to day life.Now, after almost 7 years of this desease I am less able to walk, have hip problems, knee problems, back pain off and on and really fight to mentally deal with it in my old age.

But, I am, and will always be grateful I did not develop this until my sixties so I had a life without this chronic pain when I worked and raised my children.

I have not really found any "good Rheumatologist doctor", (whatever that means ) but I am finally listening to my body and learning more about this desease
on my own.Denial was a Huge issue for me. My heart goes out to those young people whose life has had to revolve around the chronic pain that takes over every aspect of your life and your loved ones who care about you.

Thanks for listening to my story.

profile for Wilma C Wilma CSan Diego, CAThis ismy fight

I would just like to share that applying heat to an aching joint is about the best remedy that I have found. I have tried cortisone shots, stretching and flexing, ointments, expensive and addictive medications -- but nothing works as well for me as the heating pad. I also keep my apartment at 80 degrees summer and winter. Sometimes my visitors are a bit uncomfortable, but they don't have...

I would just like to share that applying heat to an aching joint is about the best remedy that I have found. I have tried cortisone shots, stretching and flexing, ointments, expensive and addictive medications -- but nothing works as well for me as the heating pad. I also keep my apartment at 80 degrees summer and winter. Sometimes my visitors are a bit uncomfortable, but they don't have arthritis.

profile for Karen R Karen RDallas, TXThis ismy fight

I was a dancer, choreographer, teacher and producer. I hurt my heel during a rehearsal that unleashed months of pain, immobility in various joints and a long search for the real nature and cause of my symptoms. After almost a year, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (and later Psoriatic Arthritis). It took many months more to discover a combination of medications that gave me any relief....

I was a dancer, choreographer, teacher and producer. I hurt my heel during a rehearsal that unleashed months of pain, immobility in various joints and a long search for the real nature and cause of my symptoms. After almost a year, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (and later Psoriatic Arthritis). It took many months more to discover a combination of medications that gave me any relief. Unfortunately, one drug contributed to my developing ulcers.

Whether as a result of the disease or the medications, I soon found myself with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, secondary fibromyalgia, crushing fatigue and raging headaches every time the barometric pressure changes. I’ve gone from teaching several classes a day (dance and exercise), having my choreography produced across the country and producing dance and performance art showcases, to sometimes sleeping all day and having to drag myself around to do basic domestic chores - even with my medications. I look fine. I don’t have obviously deformed finger joints. My GP tells me I am healthy, but I feel like crap most of the time. I’ve become something of a hermit, so I am not being a good friend or family member. I hate telling someone that I am tired, when I know their schedules are jam packed 24/7. The guilt and shame I feel sometimes is pretty extreme. My husband says he understands, but still becomes impatient and put out if I say I need to “rest,” instead of going out to do something fun.

I’m determined to keep going, take care of myself, continue to educate myself about the latest research and treatments and work to have more good days than bad. Arthritis is a complex and frustrating condition, but I still have hope!

profile for Janie M Janie MPontiac , MIThis ismy fight

Good Evening,
My name is Jane, I have hurt for as long as I can remember but doctors told me it was all in my head and sent me to a mental health professional. I was diagnosed bipolar, still in pain, hard time sleeping or not sleeping more or stronger medication for depression.

I was twenty-three years old when the doctor diagnosed me with Lupus sle, fibromyalgia, put me on...

Good Evening,
My name is Jane, I have hurt for as long as I can remember but doctors told me it was all in my head and sent me to a mental health professional. I was diagnosed bipolar, still in pain, hard time sleeping or not sleeping more or stronger medication for depression.

I was twenty-three years old when the doctor diagnosed me with Lupus sle, fibromyalgia, put me on medication for that and the pain got better managed. Three years later I fell and fractured my right elbow. I went to the emergency room and the doctor tells me I have the bones of an eighty-year-old woman. I go see a rheumatoid doctor and he runs bone scans and blood work tells me I have lupus sle, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud’s. I was a twenty-six-year-old divorced mother of two. The doctor told me all they can do is try to keep the pain manageable.

I have pain in my whole body, my bones feel like they are going to break. Picture your nerve in your tooth hurting throughout your whole body, muscles, tendons tight to where it hurts to sit, walk, lay down, clothes touching my skin hurts. The medication for my arthritis puts weight on me so, yes, I’m definitely depressed.
Why I cannot do activities that other thirty-year-old people do because I’m in so much pain and sunlight causes more pain.

I was one of the lucky people thirty years old and on disability. I’m on 14 different pills, I take them four times a day. I’m trying to make ends meet but my medication takes most of my check so I tried to work again.

At fifty years old my hips started hurting and I find out I have bursitis in both hips. Let’s recap I have lupus sle, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid Arthritis, bursitis, osteoporosis, Raynaud’s.

I have times I forget things from the damage the lupus has done to my brain, I cannot hold glass of water I may drop it. Many days I spend curled up trying to sleep not because of depression but sleep is the only time I’m not in pain.

profile for Bonnie H Bonnie HEvans, GAThis ismy fight

I have had rheumatoid arthritis since 2001. Years ago my hands hurt to move my fingers. Now there are better medicines, and no more hand pain for the most part. There are always some bad days when one of my knees hurt so bad it is hard to walk. And of course some days there are pains that can't be explained.
But I have been in a drug study now for several years, and it has been good for...

I have had rheumatoid arthritis since 2001. Years ago my hands hurt to move my fingers. Now there are better medicines, and no more hand pain for the most part. There are always some bad days when one of my knees hurt so bad it is hard to walk. And of course some days there are pains that can't be explained.
But I have been in a drug study now for several years, and it has been good for me. No bad side effects, but of course can't stop some of the progression of changes to my bones.
Thankfully, so far I walk good most days, and keep hoping I can stay that way!!

profile for Pat C Pat CErie, PAThis ismy fight

I've worked in retail most of my life and 11 years in a tool store. After an injury to my wrist and 2 surgeries it was determined that I had OA...I had issues with my back & hips as well but attributed it to the work I had been doing. After tests, learned Osteopenia in spine & hips. I'm going through physical therapy but with very little comfort and now having issues with knees as well. I'm a...

I've worked in retail most of my life and 11 years in a tool store. After an injury to my wrist and 2 surgeries it was determined that I had OA...I had issues with my back & hips as well but attributed it to the work I had been doing. After tests, learned Osteopenia in spine & hips. I'm going through physical therapy but with very little comfort and now having issues with knees as well. I'm a doer and rarely ask for help with things but find myself in a position that I must.

profile for Martha G Martha GMiami, FLThis ismy fight

When I sit too long it's hard to get up, my legs ache. During the week I ride my bike early in the morning. I keep busy landscaping/gardening -don't stop, keep moving. Currently, I am not in pain, maybe cause I am consistently on the move. Two days a week I go to the YMCA to exercise. Keep busy and do not let Arthritis take over.

profile for Kenneth H Kenneth HFlorence, ALThis ismy fight

I have been fighting rheumatoid arthritis for forty four years. At first I did not know what was wrong. Then I was referred to a rheumatologist. It has been a rough road. People do not understand and make fun of you, which this makes it worse emotionally. I have almost died from some of the biologic medicines I have taken. I have not been able to take any of them in about a year. Life goes on....

I have been fighting rheumatoid arthritis for forty four years. At first I did not know what was wrong. Then I was referred to a rheumatologist. It has been a rough road. People do not understand and make fun of you, which this makes it worse emotionally. I have almost died from some of the biologic medicines I have taken. I have not been able to take any of them in about a year. Life goes on. I have a loving wife who helps me make it through whatever comes along.

profile for Gregg H Gregg HSouth San Francisco, CAThis ismy fight

When I was young, in my 20s, I developed pain the back and buttocks and it turned out to be ankylosing spondylitis. I was diagnosed with it in 1983, so that makes for 34 years of suffering. But it hasn't been bad for me. I did data entry work for 15 years and then the pain went up into my upper back in the last 5 years or so. I had a crisis in 2009 which really caused me to look at my life and...

When I was young, in my 20s, I developed pain the back and buttocks and it turned out to be ankylosing spondylitis. I was diagnosed with it in 1983, so that makes for 34 years of suffering. But it hasn't been bad for me. I did data entry work for 15 years and then the pain went up into my upper back in the last 5 years or so. I had a crisis in 2009 which really caused me to look at my life and make some changes. I wanted to eat healthier and get more exercise and went back to school to get my bachelor's degree. I did get my degree and graduated in December 2014 with a degree in technical writing. I have lost 50 pounds over the last bunch of years and am exercising more. I feel better having gone to school and tackled my weight. I am 10 pounds away from my goal weight of 158.5 for my height. I am grateful for my opportunities and want to help write for others. I have my own webpage.

I had my doubts that I could go to school with advanced arthritis at such an "old" age, but am glad I did. Never let anyone tell you can't do anything. Believe it and you can.

profile for Mary C Mary COlathe, KSThis ismy fight

Growing up, my mother was always sick, always hurting. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but she always failed the Rheumatoid Factor test. She was treated with Gold shots and constant Prednisone. She developed medication-induced diabetes and had three heart attacks and three strokes which we were told were the result of the strong medications she was taking for the RA. She died at...

Growing up, my mother was always sick, always hurting. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but she always failed the Rheumatoid Factor test. She was treated with Gold shots and constant Prednisone. She developed medication-induced diabetes and had three heart attacks and three strokes which we were told were the result of the strong medications she was taking for the RA. She died at 58 of complications of those medications after having her leg amputated from gangrene. It was absolutely horrible.

Now I have the same disease. At 50 years old, I finally went to a Rheumatologist because I honestly thought I only had a few years to live with this disease. He was wonderful. He brought out a book and showed me pictures of patients' hands and asked which ones looked like my mother's. I pointed out the hands that were exactly like hers. He said she had Erosive Osteoarthritis, not RA, that many patients years ago were misdiagnosed and that she was treated incorrectly. A correct diagnosis, and she might have been alive to see my children born. I'm doing pretty well now, using ibuprofen and keeping active. And I see my Rheumatologist whenever I need to. He keeps me informed of changes in medications and new exercises. At 60 I'm alive and kicking, working full time and doing whatever I want because I was properly diagnosed and treated for this disease.

profile for Madison P Madison PIssaquah, WAThis ismy fight

I'm 17 years old, and was just diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis a month ago, in my lower back, neck, hands, and wrists. For the past year, however, I have been dealing with these symptoms--through swim season, marching band, high school, pit orchestra, and just general life--only being able to treat with ibuprophen, ice, and heat. Fortunately, since being diagnosed, I have been...

I'm 17 years old, and was just diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis a month ago, in my lower back, neck, hands, and wrists. For the past year, however, I have been dealing with these symptoms--through swim season, marching band, high school, pit orchestra, and just general life--only being able to treat with ibuprophen, ice, and heat. Fortunately, since being diagnosed, I have been started on a medication that will help in time. Due to my JIA, I cannot sit or stand for over half an hour without causing my pain to spike enormously; that gets a bit difficult with school six hours a day. And one of the side effects of the medication is a severely weakened immune system--the public school doesn't help with that either.

My mother has fibromyalgia, so she especially has been very supportive and understanding of my condition. When I was first diagnosed, I told all my close friends, but over the past month, people have come to ask why I sit with a pillow in class, and why I have an ice pack all the time, and why I stand up and pace in the back of the classroom? Everyone who I've explained my condition to have all been very encouraging, and for that I am grateful. But holy cow, it sure is difficult to live every single day in constant pain. Some days are better than others, and some are worse, but I know I am not alone.

profile for Barbara K Barbara KWhite Mountain Lake, AZThis ismy fight

I am a 76 year old woman, who has had psoriasis and Ankylosing Spondylitis or arthritis in my lower spine, for more than 50 years of my life. I have seen more doctors than I care to count. Most of them did not know what I had or how to treat it. At one time the pain was so bad and no one would give me pain pills, that I was taking 16 to 20 ibuprofen per day. Finally 6 years ago I went to a...

I am a 76 year old woman, who has had psoriasis and Ankylosing Spondylitis or arthritis in my lower spine, for more than 50 years of my life. I have seen more doctors than I care to count. Most of them did not know what I had or how to treat it. At one time the pain was so bad and no one would give me pain pills, that I was taking 16 to 20 ibuprofen per day. Finally 6 years ago I went to a Dermatolagist for psoriasis in my groin and underarms and feet. She told me what I had and what I needed to treat it. She finally got me on a medication, which worked about 40% of my pain, a pain treatment took care of my pain pills. Now I have developed an allergy to it and can't take it anymore, so I am back to square one. I was told that this is heredity, and 2 of my children have psoriasis, I wish there was some help for them, I don't want them to go through what I did. So until I keep praying for them myself and all of those who go through this.

God Bless and have mercy on us all.

profile for Erin C Erin CSalt lake City, UTThis ismy fight

I've always been able to "predict" the weather as a kid. my hands would swell and get irritated. never really bothered me much, I thought I was just special like my grandma.
However, a couple years ago, my left shoulder just starting hurting like non-other. I went to my GP who said it was a torn rotator and referred me to an orthopedic. When that doctor took x-rays, he told me that my...

I've always been able to "predict" the weather as a kid. my hands would swell and get irritated. never really bothered me much, I thought I was just special like my grandma.
However, a couple years ago, my left shoulder just starting hurting like non-other. I went to my GP who said it was a torn rotator and referred me to an orthopedic. When that doctor took x-rays, he told me that my cartilage in my shoulder has been replaced by arthritis. Not much he could do but give me a shot of something (not cortisone) and tell me that if it continues to bother me, they can go in and clean it out.

Flash forward to last September and I started having serious problems with my hands. Just this tremendous pain and swelling. I thought it was because I had done physical work the day before. But when the pain got to where I couldn't use my hands and there was a lot of red, that worried me.

I went to an instacare, where they couldn't figure out what was wrong, but gave me a shot for inflammation and an antibiotic and took my blood. Next day I had to go back in and the inflammation was gone, but they couldn't determine if it was an infection. My RA count was super high, but they said it could be because eof something else, so they took more blood.

I got the call the next day that my results were still sky high and make an appointment with my GP. So I did. My GP said "just cause your RA factor is high, doesn't mean you have it." he took more blood and, wouldn't you know it, he got nearly the same results. They referred me to a Rheumatologist. However, he didn't have openings for 6 weeks.
During that time frame, my feet just started getting extremely painful as well. Like walking on pins and needles! I would take the naproxen my GP prescribed, but most days, that didn't do much.

When I went to the rheumatologist, I had to go over every injury and every ache and pain and where. I played a lot of sports up to my late teens and fortunately I was never seriously injured, but I found out even a small injury would be attacked.

His blood tests came back and, sure enough, I do have RA. Although he told me that I wasn't a "serious" case when he saw me as my feet hadn't been bothering me more than 6 weeks!

I remember my grandma's hands, so of course that was my fear that I would end up like that. However, none of my relatives remember my grandma having trouble with her feet.

My mom has it starting in her hands, but not to the extent of where mine is. It's like a catch 22 with me. I type a lot for work and I do have carpal tunnel. The typing helps my hands, but at the risk of my wrist.

So when I have bad flare-ups all I'd love to do is just stay in bed, but that just makes things worse. I used to love walking my dog 3-4 miles every night. Now I'm lucky if I can get 1.5 miles. I did just start working up to 2 miles of walking, I just can't walk as fast as I used to.

I do limp, but I've found that by moving, it does help. What's sad is that I love cute shoes and heels, but now I have to reconsider style for comfort. It's not the end of the world. I have had so many people tell me that I'm too young for this and so on. I do have a second cousin that has JRA and she just turned 12 and is living her life as full as possible, so doesn't matter what your age is, it's how you let it define you!

I wouldn't think that I would be buying compression socks and gloves and taking all kinds of vitamins and stuff, but I work through it. Although if I do too much one day, I definitely feel it the next!

It was a long, cold winter here in Utah and I am happy to see the sun!

profile for Eric H Eric HWeston, FLThis ismy fight

Fifty-six years ago, in a log cabin on top of Signal Mountain, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a young boy who had just started walking went back to crawling. He couldn't tell his parents why this was, but through his cries his parents knew something was wrong. It took doctors in several states over 4 years to figure what was wrong and during those 4 years the little boy's parents suffered the daily...

Fifty-six years ago, in a log cabin on top of Signal Mountain, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a young boy who had just started walking went back to crawling. He couldn't tell his parents why this was, but through his cries his parents knew something was wrong. It took doctors in several states over 4 years to figure what was wrong and during those 4 years the little boy's parents suffered the daily agony of not knowing what was wrong with their child. The diagnosis: juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

By now you've probably figured out that the little boy is me. Since that diagnosis I've lived with the daily pain of arthritis, which contrary to what we hear all too often described on TV as the "minor aches and pains of arthritis", is mind-numbing, life-altering pain that takes your breathe away, causes you to grind your teeth and makes your heart quiver. However, despite the daily travails and limitations of living with arthritis, despite the ridicule and derision suffered routinely throughout my school years and into adult life, and in spite of the medications and several serious surgeries I've undergone to replace some joints and fuse others, I've been fortunate to lead a wonderful life, including marrying the love of my life 31 years ago, raising two incredible daughters, and having a successful career that has taken me to over 40 countries.

My experience has shown that having arthritis can either destroy you or make you stronger. The outcome depends on two main factors: the support structure you have around you and the nature of your own personality (e.g.. are you a cup half full person or the opposite?) Having a positive attitude and being surrounded by people who love and support you are absolutely critical in dealing with any challenge in life. We all face challenges, but those with arthritis have the blessing of facing an even bigger challenge....and I say "blessing" on purpose.

I attribute the success I have in my career and in my life to fact that arthritis has required me to become creative, to improvise and to be stubborn. If I can't do something in the manner that everyone else does it, I find another way to do it, and that creativity and improvisation has translated into the way that I approach all challenges, whether personal or professional. I always look for a solution and I am stubborn about finding and implementing it...all because of arthritis.

I am fortunate. I had parents that were willing to practice tough love. Instead of coddling me, they pushed me out the door and told me to go play touch football in the street with the neighborhood kids. They took me on whitewater rafting trips and we explored wild caves. We went horse back riding and deep sea fishing. We looked for fossils in creek beds and for minerals in quarries. We hiked and camped and canoed and built furniture and cultivated a half acre garden by hand. I was never treated differently from my brothers and sister, and that made a huge difference in my outlook on life. My parents were also my strongest advocates in dealing with the many doctors that attended to me, preventing me from taking the medications available in the 60s that would have sterilized me had I taken them prior to puberty, as the doctors were suggesting.

We've come a long way since the 60s. Research, in part funded by the Arthritis Foundation, has resulted in a new class of drugs called biologics, that help prevent some of the joint damage that I suffered as a child. We are fortunate that a lot of smart people are working today to find a cure for arthritis. It takes money to fund research and we need to do our part in raising funds for that, but the biggest thing we can do is remain positive and support those that have arthritis, by sharing our time and love with them.

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profile for Denise  C Denise CBaiting Hollow , NYThis ismy fight

It all started so suddenly, I had a few weeks of stiffness that I have never experienced before. What came after that was a living hell, agonizing pain, swelling, inability to walk, loss of the use of my hands and arms, I couldn't move my jaw or chew my food and opening my mouth was so very painful. It was a merry go round of crippling symptoms, emergency rooms, specialists, countless primary...

It all started so suddenly, I had a few weeks of stiffness that I have never experienced before. What came after that was a living hell, agonizing pain, swelling, inability to walk, loss of the use of my hands and arms, I couldn't move my jaw or chew my food and opening my mouth was so very painful. It was a merry go round of crippling symptoms, emergency rooms, specialists, countless primary care visits, no one could figure it out. On my visit with the second rheumatologist, she sent out my blood for a Vectra Test. The score came back at 70, almost twice the level of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I then received my diagnosis of Sero Negative Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was on constant steroids at this point, with injections into the joints that was flaring at the time. Injections were then given, they never helped, in fact, they affected my bladder to the point where it would bleed. It took over eight months for the first flare to subside. Needless to say, it did damage and I will never be the same. Severe, intense exhaustion overtakes me. Also, the steroids caused me to gain weight and feel bloated.

No one really understands, they say I look great. My husband feels like he had been cheated since I don't like to go to far from home. My children have no idea of the extent of damage both physically and psychologically that this disease has inflicted.

My fervent hope is that there will be a cure for this dreaded disease so no one else has to suffer.

profile for Janai H Janai HAugusta, GAThis ismy fight

I am 30 years old and I have osteoarthritis of the knee and Fibromyalgia. I have had some sort of joint pain for most of my life. My doctors, when I was a child, used to to say it was just growing pains. They tested me for JRA and lupus many times and it would always come back negative, but my Sed Rate would always be high. I guess that was the Fibro. When I was 16, I was a dancer. I was tap...

I am 30 years old and I have osteoarthritis of the knee and Fibromyalgia. I have had some sort of joint pain for most of my life. My doctors, when I was a child, used to to say it was just growing pains. They tested me for JRA and lupus many times and it would always come back negative, but my Sed Rate would always be high. I guess that was the Fibro. When I was 16, I was a dancer. I was tap dancing and I heard a pop in both of my knees as I was doing a move called a "wing". My knees quickly began to swell and I couldn't walk. We tried every anti-inflammatory known to man. One medicine worked for me, but it was soon taken off the market. I have had four knee surgeries and yet I still have pain and have difficulties walking. I use a cane and a walker at times. I have gained over 100 pounds from not being able to move at times and being bed-ridden. But I'm losing it now. It has affected my health in other ways as well from gaining the weight. It has also affected me socially. I hurt daily and I just want to be out of pain. I don't like taking medication for the pain. It interrupts my sleep, which affects my job performance. I'm currently out on disability and I'm only 30. This is not where I saw my life going. But I will persevere. I am currently in warm water therapy weekly. And I do chair aerobics at home. God is the source of my strength and I shall overcome.

profile for Patricia H Patricia HWorth, ILThis ismy fight

Living with arthritis (degenerative joint disease) has been a challenge for me since I was 12. I've had so many surgeries...first one at 17 - casted and laid up 6 months...it's not just an "old people" thing even tho I'm 59 now. I've had bone grafts, 2 hip replacements, 5 procedures on both feet and toes. Left foot totally rebuilt, tendon transfer, fusion in ankle, toes. Every surgery was worth...

Living with arthritis (degenerative joint disease) has been a challenge for me since I was 12. I've had so many surgeries...first one at 17 - casted and laid up 6 months...it's not just an "old people" thing even tho I'm 59 now. I've had bone grafts, 2 hip replacements, 5 procedures on both feet and toes. Left foot totally rebuilt, tendon transfer, fusion in ankle, toes. Every surgery was worth the recovery time and so lucky for new less invasive treatments these days. New degeneration occurs as it wishes. I have had wonderful surgeons. I use a walker or wheelchair if I can't walk to get to stuff and my Rheumatologist is the best. Makes my treatment of this disease so much easier to deal with. Takes care of my whole body and lets me know when it's time to see a surgeon. The Exercise I learned from Arthritis walk one year got me in the pool and to the health club to do Tai Chi and chair yoga and not just sitting on the couch crying as it rains any more. I still cry but then I get up and go to the things that make life worth living. Even in pain. It's so hard to dress, do dishes, get to kids activities, just being a person is painful but sure do thank Arthritis Foundation for info/support. So worried about new government taking away funding for this. Met so many children who need studies to continue so people with RA can not just survive but thrive.

profile for Suzie W Suzie WManassas, VAThis ismy fight

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about 10 years ago. My psoriasis isn't that bad but the pain in my joints are awful. Anytime rain is in the forecast my pain is miserable. I have tried several different medications with only some relief. About a year ago I switched and take several supplements instead. Turmeric, Boswellia and Bromelain. I live with terrible pain from...

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about 10 years ago. My psoriasis isn't that bad but the pain in my joints are awful. Anytime rain is in the forecast my pain is miserable. I have tried several different medications with only some relief. About a year ago I switched and take several supplements instead. Turmeric, Boswellia and Bromelain. I live with terrible pain from herniated cervical discs as well so the chronic pain from them and arthritis keep me exhausted. Sleeping through the night is difficult with pain as well. I look forward to eternity some day when I will have a perfect body with my Lord and Savior.

profile for Enid T Enid TCosta Mesa, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 12. I was having pain in both my hands and feet, and wasn't able to take part in PE class at school. I assured my PE teacher that I was not making excuses, I just didn't know what was causing my pain and that I was going see a doctor soon. One night, I was having excruciating pain in my feet, so bad that I could not sleep, and my mom took me...

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 12. I was having pain in both my hands and feet, and wasn't able to take part in PE class at school. I assured my PE teacher that I was not making excuses, I just didn't know what was causing my pain and that I was going see a doctor soon. One night, I was having excruciating pain in my feet, so bad that I could not sleep, and my mom took me to the doctor. At the hospital, I got an X-ray done, and it was suspected that I had a fracture in my foot. However, when I went to the rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. 2 years before this diagnosis, I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome.

Turner Syndrome only affects girls, and it is when part of or a whole X chromosome is missing. Girls with Turners are likely to have immune system problems as we have weak immune systems, and since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, it may have occurred because of my weak immune system. Receiving the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis frightened me because I didn't want to have something else wrong with me, and was worried that this could get even worse and prevent me from doing many everyday activities and activities I want to do, and didn't want to feel pain for the rest of my life

Later on, I had surgery to drain the fluid from my hands, but that didn't work, so instead the doctors injected a steroid into my hands, however, this affected my hands really badly as the steroid ate away at some fatty areas of my hands, leaving me with some bony areas that bruise easily, and hurt really badly if I accidentally hit them on something. Also, it weakend my finger tendons, and so the tendons on my pointer fingers on both my hands ruptured, and I am not able to lift them all the way up.

After surgery, I was prescribed medication, which really helped with my swelling and pain a lot, and I still take it today. Because of the medication, it feels like I am in remission, but when my arthritis acts up, it isn't as painful as it used to be. Because of my experience going to the doctors a lot as a child, I would like to become a nurse practitioner, either in the NICU or pediatrics. I really appreciate everything the nurses have done for me, and admire them so much, that I would love to be like them. The nurses helped me when I was feeling sad or scared, and I would love to do the same for a child who I can relate to how they are feeling. I will be attending the nursing program at a University in Fall 2017 and will start my journey to becoming a nurse practitioner.

profile for Sandra P Sandra PJerome, IDThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA about 18 years ago I was devastate and confused for a long time I was always active and had a very busy life all of the sudden everything changed at first I thought it would be like a cold or flu and that it would go away I soon realized it wasn't going to happen I cried I felt hopeless for a while I found a good Rheumatologist and got me on the right path. Over the years...

I was diagnosed with RA about 18 years ago I was devastate and confused for a long time I was always active and had a very busy life all of the sudden everything changed at first I thought it would be like a cold or flu and that it would go away I soon realized it wasn't going to happen I cried I felt hopeless for a while I found a good Rheumatologist and got me on the right path. Over the years I have seen my hands and feet get deformation I fight every day I have a wonderful family and that gets me going day by day I have been able to accept this and move on..

profile for Keely K Keely KSan Jose, CAThis ismy fight

I have been living with osteoarthritis for most of my life.i have had a number of surgeries, including having both hips replaced on Valentines Day 2013...now one of my knees is at risk. The most difficult part is dealing with changing doctors due to retirement, relocation and finding one who actually listens and values my opinion and knowledge of my condition. After all, st 56 I am not naive...

I have been living with osteoarthritis for most of my life.i have had a number of surgeries, including having both hips replaced on Valentines Day 2013...now one of my knees is at risk. The most difficult part is dealing with changing doctors due to retirement, relocation and finding one who actually listens and values my opinion and knowledge of my condition. After all, st 56 I am not naive about this illness, plus my mother had it before me and I was her caregiver.

It is most important to stay positive and to remember that there are many people worse off than I am. I am not on any medications and now that I have retired, I want to take better care of myself, including following a better diet and exercise routine.
Remember, life is good!

profile for Tracy G Tracy GSomerset, KYThis ismy fight

I am a 45 year old disabled Army veteran with osteoarthritis from an injury sustained as a generator mechanic in November of 1992. My advice to anyone would be the more you move the more you can move. The constant pain and stiffness remind me that I am alive and can still do many things that I enjoy. Sure there are days when I can't do much but mentally and physically they do pass. I'm thankful...

I am a 45 year old disabled Army veteran with osteoarthritis from an injury sustained as a generator mechanic in November of 1992. My advice to anyone would be the more you move the more you can move. The constant pain and stiffness remind me that I am alive and can still do many things that I enjoy. Sure there are days when I can't do much but mentally and physically they do pass. I'm thankful for the love and support I get from those who know me.

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profile for Lori W Lori WAnchorage , AKThis ismy fight

I can remember waking up in pain . My shoulder, my fingers just constant pain. I kept going to the Dr , asking if all this could be related. We tested for all different things then I got the call. By this time I was barely able to walk and my ankle , wrist and fingers were locking up. I sat there and listened to my Dr say it's Rhymathoid Arthritis. I'm recommending a specialist for you to...

I can remember waking up in pain . My shoulder, my fingers just constant pain. I kept going to the Dr , asking if all this could be related. We tested for all different things then I got the call. By this time I was barely able to walk and my ankle , wrist and fingers were locking up. I sat there and listened to my Dr say it's Rhymathoid Arthritis. I'm recommending a specialist for you to see . I had no idea how much my life was about to change .
Next came chemo and steroids and trying different combinations of other drugs to see if anything would help. I finally found my miracle drug that enabled me to function again. It took about a year . I was shocked at the expense of the medications but what were my options. I still live with pain every day but I have mobility back . There has to be something more that can be done. I live every day knowing it's a blessing.

profile for Barbara H Barbara HSalem, ORThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in January of 2012. Its been a struggle of trying different medications to see which ones would work without causing liver damage or eye damage. I've probably tried more than 20 different combinations of treatment. From just pills, to injections and infusions. I don't think I've been on any treatment that has lasted more than 18 months.

I...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in January of 2012. Its been a struggle of trying different medications to see which ones would work without causing liver damage or eye damage. I've probably tried more than 20 different combinations of treatment. From just pills, to injections and infusions. I don't think I've been on any treatment that has lasted more than 18 months.

I struggle each day to get up and get to work. I have an understanding boss, who allows me to make up my time. I'm seldom able to arrive at work on time. I'm so sick and tired of taking pills (over 20) many for side effects of the other medication. I am lucky to have an employer covered insurance my pharmacy bill was over $58,000 in 2016.

I would love to retire but the insurance premium would be too high and the out of pocket expenses would exceed my retirement check. I have no energy to do anything but go to work, do pool therapy after work and then collapse for the night. I seldom get a satisfactory night of sleep.

We need a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

profile for Elizabeth H Elizabeth HCollege Station, TXThis ismy fight

One day 15 years ago, I awoke to find I could not sit up without my husband's help. My rheumatologist thought It must be hypochondria.

So I went to a sport's doctor who scheduled an MRI of the spine. Indeed, later on his screen, one could see the arthritis pulsating. It was then that I started taking a new medication given by infusion.

My husband and I had moved to...

One day 15 years ago, I awoke to find I could not sit up without my husband's help. My rheumatologist thought It must be hypochondria.

So I went to a sport's doctor who scheduled an MRI of the spine. Indeed, later on his screen, one could see the arthritis pulsating. It was then that I started taking a new medication given by infusion.

My husband and I had moved to Florida to be near our sons. After ten years and three destructive hurricanes, we moved to Texas to be near our daughter for awhile. For that sixteen year period, I have taken medication while new facts have been found by researchers about RA.

Not only can RA control one's life through pain, and gradual loss of energy, but one's personality and joints can change, unhappily, with time and age. I have found, however, that not only have new facts been found by the Arthritis Foundation, but also Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins arthritis research.

The youngest Rheumatologists can be acquainted with these changes, which some older physicians have not added them to their store of knowledge. I have found, at 85, that one must constantly research this disease as well as change physicians if one's condition continues to be a burden.

profile for Shari K Shari KHaubstadt, INThis ismy fight

I have been a runner, biker, swimmer, now for about 14 years. I lead hundreds of runners each year in the journey to run in local half marathon's. I also work part time as a wellness coach at the Y. Physical activity is my life. Tomorrow I wait at the finish line while all my friends cross the finish line that I help train for the past 13 weeks. Becasue of medication costs, I chose to cut...

I have been a runner, biker, swimmer, now for about 14 years. I lead hundreds of runners each year in the journey to run in local half marathon's. I also work part time as a wellness coach at the Y. Physical activity is my life. Tomorrow I wait at the finish line while all my friends cross the finish line that I help train for the past 13 weeks. Becasue of medication costs, I chose to cut back on meds I take for my arthritis and autoimmune connective tissue disease. This has compromised all of my joints and my spine which is already in a severe state of degeneration. For me, hope is never lost. I will continue to coach and train with what causes me the least amount of pain. Movement is key and there are no set backs that will keep me totally down. But as they say, "the struggle is real". Managing pain is a struggle I deal with daily.

profile for Jackie W Jackie WKannapolis , NCThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed approximately 3 years ago. I was recovering from knee surgery in October of 2013. A few months later I noticed I couldn't open my hands, had trouble walking and was very tired. I couldn't get a Dr visit until February of 2014 with my primary dr who diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. I then had to wait until June to get an appointment with a rheumatologist who then after his...

I was diagnosed approximately 3 years ago. I was recovering from knee surgery in October of 2013. A few months later I noticed I couldn't open my hands, had trouble walking and was very tired. I couldn't get a Dr visit until February of 2014 with my primary dr who diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. I then had to wait until June to get an appointment with a rheumatologist who then after his own tests started me on medication. After a few months I finally was getting relief from the pain and the joints in my hands were finally free to start having more movement. About 6 months later I started infusions which helped even more with being more mobile and having energy. I lost my insurance, so I have been without treatment for about 9 months now. I've been fighting the pain and limited movement everyday just by being active. Everyday it's a new adventure in the life of rheumatoid arthritis. Joints swollen, fatigue, pain, have to fight extremely hard to function. Never give up. Praying to get back on meds in September. Medicare will be in effect. My goal is to get outside and run around with my grandkids.

profile for Megan F Megan FHudson, OHI fight formy daughter, Anna

This has certainly been a journey, with its ups and downs mentally, physically and emotionally. I started this journey with my youngest child, Anna. Anna was diagnosed with JRA at about two years old.

As I think about my story and Anna's - it is truly one of courage and persistence. I draw inspiration and strength each day from Anna. She is an active (most days) 13-year old...

This has certainly been a journey, with its ups and downs mentally, physically and emotionally. I started this journey with my youngest child, Anna. Anna was diagnosed with JRA at about two years old.

As I think about my story and Anna's - it is truly one of courage and persistence. I draw inspiration and strength each day from Anna. She is an active (most days) 13-year old child. For most of her life, this disease has not stopped her from doing something completely - there will be days and even weeks where she is sidelined, but she's never given up - until this past year. Her body was telling her she was just not able to continue to play a sport she had once loved at a high competitive level - so she walked away. The pain and exhaustion brought a dislike for the sport into her life - which was truly sad to see. But Anna being Anna, didn't give up - she found another activity to try.

Anna always finds the positive out of this disease - she loves her nurses and enjoys going in for treatments just to see them, she has met numerous friends from all over the country at JA Conferences, she is excited to talk with members of Congress each year, and as she says she has become friends with the wonderful staff at our local AF office. If she can find and focus on the positives through this journey - then so can I. I hope and pray for a cure for each and everyone of those suffering from this disease.

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profile for Lauren P Lauren PWilmington, DEThis ismy fight

Hi, I've been fighting arthritis since 2004. I am only 39 and had one knee replacement and going in for the next one soon. The pain can really make life miserable, especially going up and down steps, and when it rains, I just want to stay in bed. I currently take some different herbs and medication for my knee pain, but because arthritis has caused overgrowth and peices of chipped and broken...

Hi, I've been fighting arthritis since 2004. I am only 39 and had one knee replacement and going in for the next one soon. The pain can really make life miserable, especially going up and down steps, and when it rains, I just want to stay in bed. I currently take some different herbs and medication for my knee pain, but because arthritis has caused overgrowth and peices of chipped and broken bones around my knee it's very painful and hard walking long distances. I also had a cage put in my spine from arthritis, now since this Lego was introduced my spinal pain is gone. I have had both feet operated on for arthritis and bunions. I can only hope I get relief from the other knee surgery. It still is a strange feeling having all yours nerves dissected around the new knee implant, went from pain all the time to a numb, I know this isn't really my joint in there kind of feeling. It does take some time to get used to and all your nerves to grow back around the replacement to finally get some feeling back. Just taking it one day at a time, and being empathetic towards others as we struggle together. Hang in there everybody,God bless you.

profile for Charlotte H Charlotte Hnewport, MIThis ismy fight

I was 35 when I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. It started with one finger. I am 71 now and the doctor has not found one joint where there is not arthritis. My arthritis is an inherited type passed from mother to 50% of her daughters. One doctor labeled it as generalized osteoarthritis in many joints. There was a medicine on the market that helped the pain but they took it off the market...

I was 35 when I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. It started with one finger. I am 71 now and the doctor has not found one joint where there is not arthritis. My arthritis is an inherited type passed from mother to 50% of her daughters. One doctor labeled it as generalized osteoarthritis in many joints. There was a medicine on the market that helped the pain but they took it off the market because it damaged hearts. I don't understand why there is no research for my type arthritis, only for RA. I have had surgery on my lower spine because of arthritis, and fusion on my right thumb. currently I am facing test to see if I need more back surgery. My knees are shot, my ankles hurt constantly as do my shoulders. I am in pain all the time and nothing helps. everyone says " it is not RA so it is not to bad, wrong! It hurts, it makes me so tired, and sometimes it hurts so bad i just want to sleep so the pain can be stilled for just a bit. Unfortunately my oldest daughter has it starting at age 35 just like me. My second daughter is just started at age 45 she got an extra 10 years to be pain free. This is a terrible thing to get it damages and hampers a social life. Please never tell someone "its only Osteoarthritis" because it to causes much pain and disfigurement.

profile for JoAnne S JoAnne SHillsboro , ORThis ismy fight

I have Osteoarthritis in my hands, my fingers are crooked with lumps. Some days my fingers are very painful, making it difficult to write,lift anything, as well as chop anything; or cook.

I also have Spinal Stenosis in my lower back, which means some days I am bent over. This makes for unconfortable days & nights. When one goes to bed with pain & gets up with pain.

I have Osteoarthritis in my hands, my fingers are crooked with lumps. Some days my fingers are very painful, making it difficult to write,lift anything, as well as chop anything; or cook.

I also have Spinal Stenosis in my lower back, which means some days I am bent over. This makes for unconfortable days & nights. When one goes to bed with pain & gets up with pain.

Thanks for listening to my Osteoarthritis problems.

profile for Beverly R Beverly RSan Francisco, CAThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis ("degenerative joint disease"). Started with the base of my big toe (about age 40), then the base of my thumbs. Now knees (patellofemoral - sp?) and spine. I take some medication, which doesn't help as much as I'd like - though it seems to have helped my toes and thumbs.

I've tried injections in my knees. Am currently doing Pilates and physical therapy to...

I have osteoarthritis ("degenerative joint disease"). Started with the base of my big toe (about age 40), then the base of my thumbs. Now knees (patellofemoral - sp?) and spine. I take some medication, which doesn't help as much as I'd like - though it seems to have helped my toes and thumbs.

I've tried injections in my knees. Am currently doing Pilates and physical therapy to try to stay mobile, at least. But I have knee pain on stairs, walking downhill, and back pain about 15-20 minutes after doing something that requires standing - like housework, shopping, etc. Thank goodness for the internet! I can even order groceries online and they're delivered right into my kitchen. And I "keep my fingers crossed" that the elevator in my building doesn't break down!

profile for Joseph Joseph Allendale, NJThis ismy fight

Dr. Rodriguez changed my life by performing my double knee replacement surgery in 2003. I had been an avid skier since 1979 logging 30-40 days each season. In the last season before the surgery, I tried skiing about 8 times but had to stop after an hour. The pain was so intense that I walked down stairs "backwards".

Dr. Rodriguez performed the surgery in May 2003 and I was back skiing...

Dr. Rodriguez changed my life by performing my double knee replacement surgery in 2003. I had been an avid skier since 1979 logging 30-40 days each season. In the last season before the surgery, I tried skiing about 8 times but had to stop after an hour. The pain was so intense that I walked down stairs "backwards".

Dr. Rodriguez performed the surgery in May 2003 and I was back skiing the following December. Since the surgery I have skied over 400+ days. At the time of the surgery the oldest of my eight grandchildren had not yet turned 3. I've been fortunate to ski with all my grandchildren, when each skied for the first time and have shared many happy ski and other activity filled days with them during the last 13 years. I will turn 78 in August and tell people that the secret of skiing in your 70's is to have Dr. Rodriguez as the surgeon (plus possessing the brain of a 16 year old). There is no way that I could adequately thank Dr. Rodriguez for how much he changed my life in such a positive way.

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profile for Mayra S Mayra SHuntsville, ALI fight formy daughter Nikki

Our 16 year old daughter Nikki was diagnosed with spondyloarthritis in January, 2015. It took three years to figure it out! Nikki's arthritis affects her knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, hands, and back. At first I was so happy to finally have a diagnosis. No they weren't growing pains and no, she wasn't doing it for attention!

Even though I knew children could have arthritis, I...

Our 16 year old daughter Nikki was diagnosed with spondyloarthritis in January, 2015. It took three years to figure it out! Nikki's arthritis affects her knees, ankles, feet, shoulders, hands, and back. At first I was so happy to finally have a diagnosis. No they weren't growing pains and no, she wasn't doing it for attention!

Even though I knew children could have arthritis, I didn't know much about the disease. I learned how much fatigue it causes and that it can affect so many other organs in her body as well.

She was started on treatment immediately and I was sure it would take away her pain and fatigue but it didn't and it hasn't yet. After trying multiple medications she finally found one that seems to work. Apparently it is keeping her disease from progressing but, so far, nothing has taken away - let alone diminish - her pain and fatigue.

Every day Nikki goes to school tired and in pain but she still manages to be an honor student. She has been through so much since her diagnosis two years ago, two surgeries and horrible complications. Through it all, she has shown amazing courage and inner strength. She is my hero!

Her Dad and I are so grateful for and incredibly proud of her. Going forward, we continue to hope for a cure. Education is paramount. People need to be aware that children can get arthritis too so that diagnosis are not delayed. And we need to continue funding research. Biologics have been an amazing tool for rheumatologists but, by and large, we are shooting in the dark and there is much to be learned. I hope and pray for the day our Nikki will be completely free of pain and fatigue... On the meantime, she will continue to amaze and inspire us with her courage and strength!

profile for Staci N Staci NBethlehem , PAI fight forMy three children, myself, my family

My story begins with a 2 year old little boy who screamed and cried, was stiff as a board and fell over as you would put him down on the floor would topple over. Less than a year later after exhaustive doctor appointments and travels to a teaching hospital we heard the word ARTHRITIS for the first time. It turns out my baby boy of just shy of 3 years old was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic...

My story begins with a 2 year old little boy who screamed and cried, was stiff as a board and fell over as you would put him down on the floor would topple over. Less than a year later after exhaustive doctor appointments and travels to a teaching hospital we heard the word ARTHRITIS for the first time. It turns out my baby boy of just shy of 3 years old was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Enthesitis Related Arthritis and positive for the Spondylorarthropathy gene HLA B27. Our world was rocked. I was pregnant with my third child and so far the twin sister of my boy with Arthritis was sickly but not diagnosed or showing Rheumatic disease. Then as years went by and my young son tried Chemo, NSAIDS, DMARDS and a few biological drugs to keep the disease in check. To try and allow him to walk and live life normally we had another bombshell drop. I had Ankylosing Spondylitis and severe Uveitis(Arthritis can be systemic and hurt organs too).

So we now had two warriors fighting for normalcy and pain control. I have had it for many years, I just abused over the counter NSAIDs to try and help me cope with pain. I too was Started on a biological drug. We searched and researched for better insurance because we were medically bankrupt after two of us were diagnosed. We tried to keep up with therapy and get mine under control. I was also recovering from a spinal collapse from a Connective tissue disease, we didn't yet know we all suffered from. I needed to get better to fight for Johnny and get him to infusions.

Then about 6 months later after a bout of severe flu my other two children started showing symptoms. This was in 2014, September to be exact when I recieved a phone call from his rheumatologist who agreed to see and examine my other two kids. They two had JIA. She wanted to waste no time since they were in the same disease class as John and myself which is notoriously hard to treat. We were all different types of medications.

The emotions that we all went through cannot be put into words. The guilt I felt, the fear of the unknown... the fight everyday to live while in pain was compounded not by two but four under one roof. The calendar of appointments and blood draws is enough to make any Mothers head spin. My goals and dreams changed. We fought for small victories and challenged each other. We were our own support group, we were chronically sick together. Our Life with Arthritis and our story is unique. This is the reality of a disease that is costly, life altering and damaging BUT we strive for a cure or Remission. No more pain just Joy is my hope and dream for millions.

profile for Laurie K Laurie KHerndon, VAThis ismy fight

On May 14, 1994, in a hospital room, surrounded by my parents, a rheumatologist (who would soon become like a family member) told us they have finally figured out why I was having the joint pain and other issues that led to my leaving college early and being hospitalized. It is Systemic Lupus and there is not cure. I had just turned 22 and was supposed to walking across the stage to receive my...

On May 14, 1994, in a hospital room, surrounded by my parents, a rheumatologist (who would soon become like a family member) told us they have finally figured out why I was having the joint pain and other issues that led to my leaving college early and being hospitalized. It is Systemic Lupus and there is not cure. I had just turned 22 and was supposed to walking across the stage to receive my college degree in Theatre. My parents were supposed to be in the crowd, hearing "Laurie Arbia, Cum Laude".

I had to learn how to live and not just survive with SLE. It was a hard journey. My then boyfriend married me less than a year later and joined the journey of living with the SLE and my pet Wolf (Lupus can be traced to the word Wolf). We have 2 children, one on the Autism Spectrum and one who is ADHD. There were days were taking care of the kids were all I had the energy for and there were days where I needed help with that.
It was only after being on medication for 19 years and having a routine eye exam that we discovered some retina swelling from the medication. So we switched to a new medication.

I have been able to do more and feel more. I am more present in life, which my kids, now teenagers, love. They love going to amusement parks with their parents so we can go on the roller coaster with them and hit the water parks with them.

I have found that, after living with SLE for 23 years, I give each day my all but I don't allow myself to push myself too far. I still have tomorrow to enjoy.

profile for Diane T Diane TCrawfordville, FLThis ismy fight

I started having injections in my right knee about 6 years ago. I have arthritis in other joints but my knee was the most painful. The injections worked until my leg became deformed and now the muscles around the joint hurt and so does my knee. Then 2 years ago bursitis hit my left hip involving the IT band. Physical therapy helps some but some days I can hardly walk even with my cane. I take...

I started having injections in my right knee about 6 years ago. I have arthritis in other joints but my knee was the most painful. The injections worked until my leg became deformed and now the muscles around the joint hurt and so does my knee. Then 2 years ago bursitis hit my left hip involving the IT band. Physical therapy helps some but some days I can hardly walk even with my cane. I take ibuprofen but am afraid to take more than 2 a day because of the warnings. I try most every treatment I hear of and have found cherry juice and carrot juice along with the ibuprofen helps immensely. I know exercise helps but when in pain I can't. My home needs attention but I can only do very little. I hope someday a cure for arthritis will appear but until then I can just try to keep going.

profile for Laurel Laurel West Peoria, ILThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with (J)RA when I was 6 and had symptoms starting at 3. Was told I have moderate OA this past October at the age of 34 when I had a piece of cartilage rip off, ball up and block my joint from movement requiring arthroscopic surgery to remove the cartilage leaving a spot bone on bone. I try to protect my joints from from further destruction everyday with water,...

I was diagnosed with (J)RA when I was 6 and had symptoms starting at 3. Was told I have moderate OA this past October at the age of 34 when I had a piece of cartilage rip off, ball up and block my joint from movement requiring arthroscopic surgery to remove the cartilage leaving a spot bone on bone. I try to protect my joints from from further destruction everyday with water, trampoline/rebounder, or walking exercise; supplements; healthy diet; and essential oils. I have fears that my 4 year old daughter shows symptoms of RA :(

profile for Vicki F Vicki FGrand Blanc, MIThis ismy fight

I struggle 24/7 365 days a year just to walk, or open a bottle of water, or type. I have Both Osteo arthritis and Rhumetoid. I take many different types of medication. I only get temporary relief.

Almost all the joints in my right hand and both feet are bone on bone. I have two jobs , one I walk a lot and the other I type a lot and walk. I am in pain all the time and I sometimes do...

I struggle 24/7 365 days a year just to walk, or open a bottle of water, or type. I have Both Osteo arthritis and Rhumetoid. I take many different types of medication. I only get temporary relief.

Almost all the joints in my right hand and both feet are bone on bone. I have two jobs , one I walk a lot and the other I type a lot and walk. I am in pain all the time and I sometimes do not even get relief when I lie down as the nerves in my feet start a whole new pain. My Rhumetologist says there is nothing else to be done. My pain specialist tells me to suck it up and take more Tylenol. I know there is more that I can try , but who do I contact??

profile for Laura H Laura HTigard, ORThis ismy fight

My name is Laura I was born in San Fransisco in 1969, yet spent most of my childhood living in the suburbs of Palo Alto CA. I am the second eldest, in a family of four kids, I being the only girl. Our family attended First Congregational church which we were very involved in. God was ever present in our lives, we never knew anything different. My love for music and singing started at a young...

My name is Laura I was born in San Fransisco in 1969, yet spent most of my childhood living in the suburbs of Palo Alto CA. I am the second eldest, in a family of four kids, I being the only girl. Our family attended First Congregational church which we were very involved in. God was ever present in our lives, we never knew anything different. My love for music and singing started at a young age.

I have fond memories of a happy childhood filled with imaginative wonderment, amazing vacation experiences, singing in choirs, road trips, camping and tons of activities. Being the only girl I always wanted to keep up with my brothers, so I played all kinds of sports, soccer, softball, basketball, even was on a swim team. I loved to climb trees, fences, anything for that matter. I was constantly on the move, loved to roller skate or ride bikes down town and even had my own paper route, 200 papers, which I carried in my bags and delivered to our neighbors on my bike. I was involved with Girl Scouts, making the top cookie seller badge two years in a row and my friend and I started an entrepreneurial raking service. I was driven and loved challenges. I was quite daring and feisty, if you said I couldn't do it, I would prove you differently. My mom remembers when I was the only one out of my siblings willing to jump off the high dive, or jump off the highest rock into the freezing cold river water below. Little did I know then, that in a few years when I became a teenager, I would need that strength and feistiness, because I would be facing one of the hardest most difficult challenges of my life, and that my carefree world as I knew it, would be forever changed.

I remember it like yesterday, the day of my eigth grade graduation, I woke up not feeling so well, but I was determined to play my Cello in our junior high Orchestra for the graduation ceremony, I had to be there. So I went, got thru the ceremony, but continued to feel sick. That day marked the first day of a long bout of illness. That summer after graduating I continued to be very sick, high fevers of 102 day in and day out. I was extremely lethargic, and quite anemic and even experienced swollen joints on our vacation back east.

Upon returning I spent alot of time at the hospital having all kinds of tests, ruling out different cancers, and various other illnesses. I was given a slew of blood tests, I felt like a human pin cushion being poked and prodded continually. I couldn't understand why they kept taking more and more blood out of me, no wonder I'm anemic, I told my Mom. After seven months of pain staking tests and no answers, they finally figured it out, It had a name, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. What? Say that again? I thought only old people had arthritis, not me, I'm too young. Where was God in all this? I was confused, sad, angry.

I remember bits and pieces of that time when I was first diagnosed. The first year I was tired all the time, extremely pale and didn't want to do a whole lot. I remember my best friend Karen took me out in a wheelchair and wheeled me around the neighborhood. In the beginning they had me taking 15 aspirin a day. For my first year of High School I attended at the most 3 classes per day, my mom would take me and then pick me up from school. When aspirin didn't work they tried gold shots which I ended up being allergic to. It's all kind of one big blur, that time of my life. I was sad, frustrated, questioning God's love for me, yet even then, deep down I knew His strength would get me through whatever lay ahead and that He would never leave or forsake me. My parents and I found comfort and solace in connecting with our local arthritis foundation, which put us in touch with other families who were experiencing the same thing as we were. I met other kids who had Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis and suddenly didn't feel so alone.

When I was fifteen, we left everything and everybody we knew to start a new chapter in our lives. We moved to Oregon. I had a difficult time adjusting to the new move, I was in a new high school, having to make new friends, attend a new church. I was already not feeling well, now I had to reach out. My girl friends were into boys, makeup, grades, all the things teen girls were into, my world consisted of medications, consistent pain, emotionally feeling alone in my disease, struggling each day to survive, yet I always felt God's presence there watching over me. He sent friends who loved and supported me. When in school I got all kinds of help from counselors and aides, at home, my parents, and my church. We quickly became involved with the Portland Arthritis Foundation.

After I graduated from high school I attended the national juvenile rheumatoid arthritis convention in Anaheim California. Connecting with others going thru the same situation gave me strength, encouragement, hope. I knew in my heart that I wanted to give back, to encourage and that perhaps someday I would work for the Arthritis Foundation. I had the opportunity to go and lobby on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology. In 1987 my senior year of high school I chose to be baptized, to declare to the world my love for God. That next Fall I attended a local Community College nearby, my hope, to raise my grade point average, and then transfer to a private college. There was never any question in my mind I would attend a university. So I continued to live at home and commute to college each day.

In 1988 I had the rare opportunity to travel to Australia for two weeks as part of the college's choral group where we sang in Sydney at the World Expo, it was amazing. While I was living at home I visited many different Colleges, some local and a few in different states. One college in particular spoke to me, I knew in my heart from the moment I walked on the campus that God had brought me here for a purpose. So, in the fall of 1990 I began attending Pacific Lutheran University. I was excited, scared, anxious, all the things that a kid leaving home for the first time feels. I wasn't sure what my health would be like, how I would navigate getting around campus on the extremely painful days, but again with God's strength and help from friends, I persevered through the difficult days. I had the most wonderful, God loving, understanding, patient, helpful roommates who later continued on in their education to become Physical Therapists, no surprise to God there. Towards the beginning of my second year, I began experiencing pain in my left hip, each day the pain became increasingly worse until it was so bad I couldn't sleep, it became agonizingly unbearable.

So, I left school to have tests done. We had an MRI, got the results back, and were dumbfounded, sad, not happy with them. Three opinions later, all the doctors said the same thing, I had Avascular Nucrosis in my left hip, which by definition is a death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply. Not only was it in my left hip, but also in my right and that I would need to have both hips replaced right away. So again I questioned, Why me God? Didn't I have enough on my plate? This was something else I would have to deal with aside from my arthritis. The doctors wouldn't say, but I believe it was from the mass steroids I took over the years to treat my arthritis. So, with prayer and God's strength I left school, and at the age of 21 had my right hip replaced, went through the healing process, then promptly had the other one done. After a year of surgeries and healing, I returned to school with cane in hand, then quickly graduated to crutches. I had asked the surgeons if I could keep my hip bones after the surgeries, so I could display them on a chain around my neck. They laughed, and said yes. Unbeknownst to me, the tissue dies as soon as it's cut out, I was given a small jar with a blackened, grossly disfigured hip ball for display, yuck. I kept it for a week, then buried it.

In June 1994 I finally graduated with a BA Communication Public Relation emphasis, a monumental, wonderful accomplishment. That last semester I remember being hopped up on pain pills, the cartilage in my knees had increasingly deteriorated and I was doing everything I could to finish before they gave out. I remember graduation day, a dear friend from my dorm was going through a battle of her own. She had recurring cancer from childhood and had to have her leg amputated. As I watched her hobble on crutches across the stage to receive her deserved diploma I was in awe, she received a standing ovation. I recalled a conversation we had had earlier in the year, in which we were discussing our various illnesses. She told me, and I will never forget this, that when she went to heaven she couldn't wait to be with Jesus, free from pain and suffering and how she longed to be able to run side by side Him on the Heavenly shores. A month after graduation I had bi lateral knee replacement surgery, I kid that it was my graduation gift. I remember after the surgery being put in contraptions that continually bent my knees, their purpose to get as much range of motion as possible. Unfortunately, they were not able to get their desired outcome, so I was put back under anesthesia to basically crank on my knees and manipulate them beyond what I could humanly bare awake. In the recovery room I woke up in the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced. They were pumping me full of morphine, yet the pain was horrible, they told me, if they gave me any more, it would kill me. Sadly, my knees never got back the range of motion they had hoped for. The recovery process was grueling, after my hospital stay I was transferred to an inpatient nursing facility for recovery, care and physical therapy, I aptly referred to my therapists as physical terrorists. In the midst of rehabilitating I heard that my college friend Heather, the one who had cancer and lost her leg, one of my heroes, had passed away.

I felt alone, devastated, heartbroken. God sent an angel to comfort me while I was grieving in the form of a young male nurse. Normally, I wouldn't be comfortable with a male assisting me, yet from the time he walked into my room, and sat by my bedside I felt peace, love, complete joy in the midst of my suffering, my sadness. He listened, like an old friend who I had known forever. Later I wanted to thank him, but he was nowhere to be found, no one had even heard of him. Thank you God for sending your angel to comfort me. I spent several weeks in that care facility and continued rehabilitating at my parents home.

I remember one day so clearly I was sitting out on my parents deck, dark clouds loomed overhead. Feeling alone, sad, hurting physically, emotionally, I cried out to God, telling him I didn't know if I could go on, I said I have no tears left, I had cried buckets of them. I was tired... I shouted out to God ,what is your purpose in all this, why me? I thought of my friend Heather running into the arms of Jesus and I was jealous, I wanted to be doing that as well. I pleaded with the Lord to take me home. I wanted to be free of pain, suffering, heartache, tears. And then the sky opened up and a beam of warm sunshine caressed my face, and I felt God at that very moment. The peace that surpasses all understanding came upon me and audibly I heard God speak to me. My precious child I'm sorry you are hurting, I love you. He said, it's not your time to come home, I need you here, I have so much planned for your life, so much beauty and purpose. You see my child, your purpose is to share my love, my joy, my heart with everyone you see, to show how you can have joy in the midst of suffering. Someday, my child I promise you will see this disability as a gift, an ability, a strength, full of beauty. It's then I knew what God wanted from me and with faith unseen I moved forward with hope and a renewed sense of purpose and continue to this day.

As I look back on my life at that time how could I of really understood and believed all the beauty that God had in store for me. If I had gone to be with the Lord that day, taken my life, I would have missed out on so much, all the blessings God had for me. That next year I used my PR degree and worked for the Arthritis Foundation, a dream Of mine. A year and a half later I met an amazing young man in our church youth group, he had me when he gazed at me with his beautiful green eyes over his glasses.

Then I found out he had been working as a patient transport for six years up at Oregon Health Sciences University, and I knew it was as if God was preparing him for me. What I remember most is that I never felt different with him, like I had arthritis, I felt comfortable, normal. I was always the bridesmaid never the bride, I had pretty much felt I like I might become a nun. How was I ever going to meet a guy who could handle my arthritis, when I could barely handle it myself. Until I met Kris and then he knew, I knew. We dated eleven months, got engaged on Valentine's Day and were married 6 months later. We were married Aug 15, on the front of our program we had the inscription "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." He truly had given us the desires of our heart in each other. God has a crazy sense of humor, because on our honeymoon while strolling along lovers point in Monterey, my foot accidentally slipped off the rope which acted as a foothold for my legs, landed on the asphalt and catapulted me out of my wheelchair. I was in an arm sling, on heavy meds and throwing up the rest of our honeymoon. God ushered my new husband into his new role quite abruptly, welcome to our lives sweetheart.

Our first year of marriage was quite crazy, I remember fighting a lot, trying to meld our lives together, yet given time, we came to understand and appreciate our differences.

After our fourth year of marriage we began praying for the possibility of having a family. We were unsure of the ramifications of birthing our own children, how would it affect my arthritis, how would we care for the children, diaper changing, car seats, seat belts, physically carrying the kids, so much to think about...

What were the chances of our kids having arthritis.

Our Doctor a Christian himself, prayed with us at each appt. He said that I would have to get off all my arthritis meds six months before even trying to conceive. It was hard to imagine what that would look like? Would I be able to handle the pain in the interim? After much prayer and consideration we took a huge leap of faith and went for it. The doctors put me on a low dose of medication which looking back at pics gave me a huge moon face, at the time I really didn't care. I really felt great when I was pregnant, as if I was in a remission of sorts. God got us pregnant the first month with our son Kyle, then the second month with our son Micah, and the third month with our son Luke. My Mom gave us a beautiful gift of the services of a mother's helper for as long as our children were young.

Due to weight gain from the first two pregnancies and complications arising from surgeries in the past I had lots of difficulty with walking, it was extremely painful for me. If we went anywhere that involved walking for even a bit we would take my electric wheelchair. I fondly remember putting my babies in my front pack and wheeling through the neighborhood, it gave me a freedom I otherwise didn't feel. My feet pain continually got worse and the specially made orthotics put in my shoes weren't cutting it anymore. I naively believed that if they could just give me a new orthotic it would be enough. I went in and consulted with a podiatrist, when he saw my feet he said its no wonder why I was in so much pain, it looked to him as if I was walking on sprained ankles, it wouldn't be a quick fix, I would need to see a surgeon. So we went and consulted with a surgeon who upon first meeting him said he had done a handful of these surgeries, and three had ended in amputation. As you can imagine, I was devastated, I went in hopeful and left hopeless. We ended up getting a second opinion, thankfully God led us to a surgeon that was willing to do the reconstructive surgery, giving us hope again. So, with that hope, faith and lots of prayer we went ahead. I was to have reconstructive surgery on both of my feet, but we would only be able to do one at a time. I wouldn't be allowed to put weight on my foot after each surgery for awhile, and our wheelchair couldn't fit down the hall to get to our room, so we ended up making a makeshift hospital room, out in our living room, toward the back end, complete with hospital bed, a special table and a portable toilet, for privacy we hung sheets up. I pretty much lived in that room an entire year, through two surgeries in which they pretty much broke and realigned, fused each ankle and put pins in the toes to straighten them out, then I would heal from each one , took an entire year. When all was said and done I joked that it looked like Home Depot in both my feet. I remember recovering sitting up in my hospital bed watching out the window while my 3 year old and 13 month old son's jumped on our trampoline, supervised by our Mother's Assistant. Our boy's squeals and laughter brought such joy to my heart, a gift from God, a healing balm to my tired soul. After that year Kris and I decided we would like to have another baby, so again we tried and got pregnant the third time, we were blessed with yet another son in 2007. Three beautiful, healthy sons, God 's gift to us. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above." James 1:17

When we were dreaming of having a family I always envisioned having a daughter. See I had grown up with three brothers and I felt it was my time to have a girl. I was sure God would grant us a daughter, so when we found out via the first ultra sound we were having a boy I was disappointed for a day, then when I held Kyle for the first time, I was completely in love, the thought never came back about having a girl, until the next pregnancy and ultra sound, surprise, another boy. By our third pregnancy we had pretty much given up the idea of having a girl and then yet again another boy. God's desires aren't always ours, but He knew what we needed even before we knew. Our three sons are our pride and joy, our three loves and we wouldn't trade them for all the daughters in the world. When our children were young God provided help in the form of a succession of mother's assistants. I remember feeling so frustrated I couldn't get down on the floor and play with them, or lift them from a standing position. But the boys adapted quickly to mama's needs, they learned to crawl under my legs while I was in a sitting position and I would lift them from there. Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do, I focused on what I could do with them. I held and rocked them, breast fed them, sang and read to them bible songs and stories, loved them in the way I was able.

Life has a way of speeding up as we get older. Sometimes I can't believe where the time has gone. Today I have been married 18 years, my boys are 9, 11 and 13, I can hardly believe I now have a teenager.

Has my life been hard, challenging, trying, difficult, painful, excruciating at times?

Indeed, See God didn't say this would be an easy road for any of us. In fact, He said just the contrary, He tells us in this world you will have trouble, but He also says, take heart I have overcome the world.

Amidst all the pain, suffering, sickness and hardship, there is light, there is hope, there is joy, there is God comforting, giving peace, giving strength, and waiting with open arms to someday bring us home to an eternity free from suffering, tears, pain. My hope is in the Lord, everyday I wake up, truthfully in so much pain I want to give up, crawl back in bed and sleep forever. Yet, the Holy Spirit lifts me up, encourages me, reminds me of where I've come from, how far I've come, and how incredibly, truly blessed I am. I am able to look back now, since that horrible day my life was to change so drastically, when I was first diagnosed with arthritis. Now I see clearly the beauty that has come from it, the amazing, incredible way God has orchestrated my life, how loved I am. I can be joyful in the midst of my suffering, knowing that it ultimately brings me closer to Him. I am thankful, truly grateful for all that I've been through, it has given me an appreciation for life, not to take things, people, friends for granted. To slow down And find joy in the simple pleasures of life, glorious sunsets, the smiles on my boys faces and the oceans grandeur.

So who do I fight for? I fight for God, for my family, my friends and for all of you who are faced with the in and out, every day struggles of JRA and the various other forms of Arthritis, yet you continue with hope, to go on, with courage, strength, resilience and faith. YOU are all my heroes❤ud83dude0a

profile for Gayle N Gayle NLaFayette, NYThis ismy fight

My father was diagnosed with RA when he was in his early 40's. I was in high school at the time and watched him struggle with it. I began to notice that I couldn't run as fast as I could and my knees started to hurt if I ran for more than a few minutes during my senior year. Didn't really think too much of it. Around age 35 I noticed my knees would get sore and stiff if I sat on the floor in...

My father was diagnosed with RA when he was in his early 40's. I was in high school at the time and watched him struggle with it. I began to notice that I couldn't run as fast as I could and my knees started to hurt if I ran for more than a few minutes during my senior year. Didn't really think too much of it. Around age 35 I noticed my knees would get sore and stiff if I sat on the floor in one position. Knew I was getting RA just like Dad. I let it go and did nothing about it as It slowly got worse.

By the time I was 45 or so it was getting very noticeable. I was taking Tylenol to ease the discomfort and it was keeping me from doing activities. At age 48 I was hurting so bad at work that I had to do something about it. It was getting very difficult to pick up the boxes and make it through the 8 hour day of standing. I had arthroscopic knee surgery to help with the pain. My orthopedic surgeon said I needed to see a rheumatologist to try to control the arthritis that they saw during the surgery.

I am now 58, 10 years after first being diagnosed with RA. I have been on every RA drug under the sun. Most did not work or I had a bad reaction to them. At 53 I knew I had to make it 2 more years so I could retire with a pension. Those last two years of working were horrible. I did nothing for those two years except work and maybe make supper when I got home. I hurt too much to do anything else. After work and then a 20 minute ride home, I could not even walk to get into the house. I would have to grab on to everything I could along the way to get into the house. Most evenings I would lie down to try to relieve some of the pain. I finally made it to age 55 and filed for SSDI. After retiring I had foot surgery and two knee replacements within the next 17 months. The surgeries helped tremendously. I had to use a walker for a year and a half because I could no long walk more than a handful of steps. My shoulders, hips, elbows, one ankle, and one foot still bother me. When there is a bad storm, either snow or rain, I am very much still in pain. There are a few days when I stay in bed for most of the day with the heat of the electric blanket. This makes me feel better. My back has started to give me grief the last year. I can't walk or stand for very long. When we have sunny, dry days I feel my best. I don't do any where near as many things as I would like to. If I overdo then I pay for it for a few days afterwards.

My husband has been my angel through all of this. He has helped me in so many ways. He is the reason that I am doing as well as I am.

profile for Jenna B Jenna BLas Vegas, NVThis ismy fight

I am Jenna (aka Bullet) and I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 18 months old. I pretty much have lived with pain of some sort all of my life even today. You get used to it. I used to get shots at home every week when my JRA was really bad. Shots don't bother me.

I am a doer. I'm not afraid to do or try anything. I go horseback riding, swim in the ocean, play on my school's volleyball...

I am Jenna (aka Bullet) and I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 18 months old. I pretty much have lived with pain of some sort all of my life even today. You get used to it. I used to get shots at home every week when my JRA was really bad. Shots don't bother me.

I am a doer. I'm not afraid to do or try anything. I go horseback riding, swim in the ocean, play on my school's volleyball team, play guitar, hike in the mountains with my dad and soon I'm going to learn how to surf. And I play softball.

Since I was 7 years old my dream has been to play softball in the Women's College World Series. Maybe I will go to the Olympics too. I will not let anyone or anything hold me back. I work hard and train all the time. I know I have to work twice as hard as most kids but I am okay about that. Even in times when others haven't believed in me I have believed in myself and my parents and special coaches (Jewell, Manny and especially Sharon) believe in me. Sometimes my fingers and my ankles hurt really bad. But I have to keep going.

I know that my JRA could go away or that it could get much worse. If my body fails me it will make my dream harder to reach. But I won't give up. You will see me on TV one day playing in the Women's College World Series just like Coach Sharon.

I hope other JRA kids will see me then and realize that they can do it too.

info about Jenna B
profile for Shealyn S Shealyn SGrand Rapids, MIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the subtalar joint when I was 23 years old, though the diagnosis came much later than it actually started. I started figure skating when I was 7 years old and absolutely loved it.

When I was 12 years old (2002) I was on a synchronized skating team, there was one particular move that I was struggling to do, and with pressure from teammates and...

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the subtalar joint when I was 23 years old, though the diagnosis came much later than it actually started. I started figure skating when I was 7 years old and absolutely loved it.

When I was 12 years old (2002) I was on a synchronized skating team, there was one particular move that I was struggling to do, and with pressure from teammates and coaches I pushed myself to be able to do it. During a practice, I tripped and lost balance when attempting it, limping off of the ice with a bruised and swollen ankle. No one believed that anything could be wrong and accused me of faking it, so I basically was told to "walk it off," that it was "all in my head," and several other common phrases people with chronic pain hear. 3 months later when I was finally taken to a doctor they also brushed it off and told me to take a high dose of Ibuprofen (for a petite 12 year old) 3 times per day, which later on has caused stomach issues. This doctor sent me to orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine doctors, and several others who all were unwilling to help.

In the mean time, I was still skating through the pain and unable to participate in any other sports (skates are like "casts," so I was able to still do it with a weak ankle). It wasn't until I was 17 (2008), my mom switched me to her physician with the promise that I would be referred to a podiatrist. The podiatrist ended up misdiagnosing me, but luckily the orthopedic surgeon caught it before performing an unnecessary surgery. But as before, I was told off by the surgeon and that he didn't have any clue as to what could be wrong.

Finally, before looking out of town I was referred to a new podiatrist in town who after spending 2 hours in his office looking over all of my old MRIs and X-rays determined I had anterior impingement syndrome and multiple tarsal bone marrow edema. two weeks after winning the state champion title in figure skating I had surgery to fix the ligament pinched in my ankle. Surgery was successful and I spent the rest of my senior year of high school recovering.

I felt great going away to college (I had to choose my college based on the size of the campus for walking), but after just a few months I was back at the same podiatrist. I spent that first summer in a cast to heal the 5 swollen and bruised bones from the edema, and when I returned for my second year of college was in pain again.

Back and fourth on the phone with the podiatrist that I had so much faith in, he eventually also gave up on me like the other 5 doctors I had seen before him. I sucked it up and just dealt with the pain throughout college, graduating in 2013 with two bachelor's degrees. I was offered a job straight out of college where I did my second internship, which involved a lot of time on my feet.

Hesitant because of my pain, I took the job anyway (it's hard to say no to a job in your field right out of college!) and after a few months of working on my feet I could hardly walk. I found myself an orthopedic surgeon in my new town, who right away sent me into an MRI. When I went back to go over results, the first thing he said looking at the images was "your subtalar is pissed!" After asking what that is he asked "does it feel like someone's got a sharp grip on your heel with their hand?" then explained that I had arthritis in the subtalar joint, the joint below your ankle and that part of it was bone-on-bone already and that it probably started many years ago from the pressure of the pinched ligament. The only cure for this is a fusion, so my struggle the last few years has been learning to cope with this and manage the pain. I don't skate much anymore, but I stay active cycling which doesn't hurt too much. I'm 27 now and hoping to someday see a better cure to this in my lifetime!

profile for Rebekah  F Rebekah FCameron, SCI fight forMy Daughter, Shaye

Shaye was diagnosed with JRA (now JIA) at 18 months old, with it affecting just her left knee. She is now 7 years old and has had inflammation in both of her knees, ankles, elbows and one wrist. She has tested positive that it could go into her eyes, but THANKFULLY it hasn't!

She has gone under so many treatments for her "starter" knee (steroids, fluid drawn off, etc) and been such...

Shaye was diagnosed with JRA (now JIA) at 18 months old, with it affecting just her left knee. She is now 7 years old and has had inflammation in both of her knees, ankles, elbows and one wrist. She has tested positive that it could go into her eyes, but THANKFULLY it hasn't!

She has gone under so many treatments for her "starter" knee (steroids, fluid drawn off, etc) and been such a trooper that she has been an encouragement and rebuke to me and my husband. She stays active with ballet, tap and softball and loves to play anything outdoors, swim and doesn't let anything get in her way. Even on her worst days, she trudges through with a smile and doesn't let it stop her. We have seen that heating pads and warm baths help on those days though, when the playing is done- or sometimes before it can begin :)

I often think about the future and how she will be affected, what life will be like for her or even what life would have been like if her diagnosis had not been caught. Without treatment, I truly believe, she would not be doing as well as she is today.

info about Rebekah  F
profile for Marci K Marci KFrederick, COThis ismy fight

Chronic pain began in my sternum and rib cage when I was 23 and has since spread to many joints throughout my body. Since a young teen, I had small, very infrequent patches of psoriasis so it took a large flare before I was diagnosed at age 35 with Psoriatic Arthritis.

The only time I had a significant remission from pain with no medications was when I was age 34, about 5 months...

Chronic pain began in my sternum and rib cage when I was 23 and has since spread to many joints throughout my body. Since a young teen, I had small, very infrequent patches of psoriasis so it took a large flare before I was diagnosed at age 35 with Psoriatic Arthritis.

The only time I had a significant remission from pain with no medications was when I was age 34, about 5 months pregnant until 1 month post delivery. This lead me to believe that the pain was connected to my immune system. I had great relief on the first biologic we tried, however, it only lasted a couple of years and was not a full remission. I have since been trying other meds and holistic approaches looking for relief.

Besides muscle pain/Fibromyalgia, brain and memory fog, fatigue and depression on top of other life stressors, I have come to grips that this will be a life-long battle and have been trying to focus on the blessings of my life. Serving and loving others around me, and recognizing that many are fighting invisible battles, has helped me to be more empathetic to those around me.

profile for Mallory R Mallory RSelden, NYThis ismy fight

I was an athlete for most of my childhood. I played soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ran track. I thought I'd play lacrosse in college. Everything changed after I tore my ACL during a lacrosse game. Following rehab, I was having severe groin and wrist pain and mobility. My pediatrician had sent my parents and me to see a rheumatologist to get tested. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid...

I was an athlete for most of my childhood. I played soccer, lacrosse, basketball and ran track. I thought I'd play lacrosse in college. Everything changed after I tore my ACL during a lacrosse game. Following rehab, I was having severe groin and wrist pain and mobility. My pediatrician had sent my parents and me to see a rheumatologist to get tested. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) when I was 15 years old.

I missed part of my junior year of high school because I couldn't get out of bed or walk. I received my first total hip replacement when I was 18 and skipped a semester of college. I received my second replacement (on the other side) when I was 23. I was in such a dark place for a long time. Sometimes I find myself in that dark place, but it's a bit easier to climb out.

I've been on just about any drug related to JRA in the book - once my body adjusts to a medication, I have to find something else to help the pain. I've been receiving monthly blood infusion treatments for 2 years now, and feel the best I have in years. I'm able to keep up a gym routine, though I really miss running and playing sports. I have been keeping my job as a speech-language pathologist in skilled nursing which has a lot of running around. Things have been looking up, and I'm trying to stay positive that things will keep looking up!

profile for Alyson K Alyson KNew Castle, PAThis ismy fight

I've had a severe form of juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis for the past 41 years (diagnosed at age 8). Literally overnight, I went from being a robustly healthy, active child to one with a serious illness, and it took quite a while for me to adjust to my new reality.

When I was growing up, there were no pediatric rheumatologists (at least, not in my state), and the medications...

I've had a severe form of juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis for the past 41 years (diagnosed at age 8). Literally overnight, I went from being a robustly healthy, active child to one with a serious illness, and it took quite a while for me to adjust to my new reality.

When I was growing up, there were no pediatric rheumatologists (at least, not in my state), and the medications available at that time were not effective in treating my disease. I was on a drug daily for a while, plus various NSAIDs (we'd rotate through them, as each would lose its efficacy after several months), until an undiagnosed stomach ulcer perforated when I was 14. High doses of another drug made me gain lots of weight, and it was difficult spending my teenage years being fat and in a wheelchair.

But thanks to new treatments becoming available, and the miracle of joint replacement surgeries, I am now able to walk on my own. I regularly need surgeries from old joint damage, and bad chronic fatigue prevents me from working any longer, but I feel very lucky to be doing so well, overall.

profile for Christina P Christina PPearl, MSI fight forMy son and my daughter

My name is Christina and I am a mother to 4 beautiful kids, 2 of whom have JIA. My 5 year old son, Jonathan was diagnosed about two and a half years ago. At first he only had one joint effected, his knee.

After the swelling in his knee down two of his fingers became effected. Today Jonathan is in unmedicated remission. My 2-year-old daughter was just diagnosed last month (April), she...

My name is Christina and I am a mother to 4 beautiful kids, 2 of whom have JIA. My 5 year old son, Jonathan was diagnosed about two and a half years ago. At first he only had one joint effected, his knee.

After the swelling in his knee down two of his fingers became effected. Today Jonathan is in unmedicated remission. My 2-year-old daughter was just diagnosed last month (April), she is still within the first 6 months and already has five joints effected (knees, ankles, and one toe). It is very difficult for her to walk, especially in the mornings. She is in so much pain. She wants to be just another kid and play with everyone but she hurts all the time. We are just beginning this journey with her so it remains to be seen what can and will be done to help her.

profile for Jamie  P Jamie POFallon, MOThis ismy fight

I know all about living with Arthritis and how it impacts you and your loved ones. My name is Jamie, I am now 36 years old. My family has a very strong history of Arthritis. Both of my grandma's on each side of my parents have arthritis. One has recently passed this year. The other living but still fighting. My late sister passed away this year as well. She was 42 with RA. Of course she...

I know all about living with Arthritis and how it impacts you and your loved ones. My name is Jamie, I am now 36 years old. My family has a very strong history of Arthritis. Both of my grandma's on each side of my parents have arthritis. One has recently passed this year. The other living but still fighting. My late sister passed away this year as well. She was 42 with RA. Of course she had other problems as well. But she was crippled from it. Her's started when she was just a baby. I have aunts, cousins, my only two sons, and I have it as well. Most people think it's an "old people" disease. Well, that is not true! It does not discriminate, it will attack any age.
I grew up seeing how it affected my grandparents and my sister. My sister was put on so many medications. Some that have had hair loss and left bald spots for life. Medications that ate away at her teeth. Seen her in so much pain and suffering. It ate away at a lot of her bones and joints. She had undergone many surgeries through out her life. From neck fusions to plates in her arms. Her poor little brittle bones couldn't take much more. Her scars from the surgeries and how cold she was on her hands. Mom taking her to and from doctors all the time. It can be a lot of work and takes up a lot of time. She also had downs syndrome as well.
Mine first appeared later in life. I was just practically 19 years old when I broke out with Psoriasis first. I dealt with that and it was horrible. I was under a lot of stress with my first husband. It was not a good marriage and I was young and had my first son. I then had another son and it just became worse. So when I left that marriage, the stress of being a single mother with no help of two kids became worse. Eventually, I broke out all over my body in severe to moderate plaque psoriasis. I later found out that it runs in my mother's side of family. Once I got onto biologics it really helped me. Then of course as a few years went by, I noticed swelling, soreness, stiffness, etc. I then was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. I was on one drug for 10 years until my symptoms became to get worse. Doctor told me that your body can build up immunities against a drug after so long on being on said drug. He then switched me to another, which is working and I'm doing well for the most part. I still have the morning stiffness and pain every now and then. But without that drug, I would not be able to function. I have noticed that the older I do get, the worse it seems to be. Like for example in the working world. I can no longer work a job on my feet for long periods of time. I'm in too much pain that I just cannot take it. I once worked 40 plus hours a week to part time work to now no work. Thank the Lord that my husband is very supportive and helps me. Without him, I wouldn't know what to do or how much harder life would be on me.
Now through the years of my children getting older, they started to complain of aches, pains, swelling, stiffness, etc. I was really hoping that it wasn't arthritis. Took them in to get tested, first doctor told me no. The symptoms continued and I just knew in my gut that they had it. Later I had my first son get an X-ray of a bothersome foot, six months later had a repeat X-ray of same foot. Then they were compared and it was shown that there was arthritic changes seen in the calcaneus bone. It was heart-wrenching to know that he has it. But at the same time now I know for sure and my gut instinct was right. So I took them to a different doctor and many tests, labs, MRI's later proved that both of my children have Psoriatic Arthritis. It wasn't till a few years later that Psoriasis appeared. I'm glad that it went away in my youngest son so far and it isn't popping out, but my oldest seems to have more issues with it. He has higher inflammation and has Psoriasis on his scalp. He deals with having his esophagus inflamed and his chest inflamed as well once in a great while. It seems almost once a year he comes down with pleurisy. It's very hard to deal with and to see him in so much pain. What makes matters worse is that both boys also have asthma too, along with other problems with their stomach like Gerd and Gastritis.
The constant doctor appointments, testing, medications, etc are time consuming. When I use to work full time, my employers would treat me bad because of constantly having to take off to take my children or myself to doctor appointments. Missing a lot of school can also be bothersome for my kids as homework and class assignments have to be made up. Teachers not understanding and some can be cruel about it. Seems it's very hard to have accommodations made for your children because people will look at your kids or yourself and think they don't "see" anything wrong, so they act as if there isn't anything wrong. I have had a teacher make a rude remark to my youngest son mocking me saying that she just seen my son run to class but yet his mother wants accommodations made. My son had to inform her that there are times that he can run and be normal and other times he can't. That is how arthritis works. I was so upset and mad at her for being so rude and snotty about it. I think that schools need more information and teaching on how to help students with disabilities. That just because you can't "see" it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. They don't see my children after school and what they go through. They don't see the red, swelling fingers or toes. They don't know about heat pads and hot soaks in a bath or the medications and the elevating of a foot. I even bought tempurpedic mattresses for my kids to help them sleep better at night. They don't know about how my son woke up and couldn't move for a couple hours because of him having an arthritic flare in his back. So as you can see, this disease takes a lot of time away from being normal. It takes a lot from you. My kids and I are usually more tired than the average person because our bodies are constantly fighting against itself. Our bodies are working harder.
I try to not complain as much so that way my children will learn to try to deal with it the best way we can and we try to stay positive as much as we can. I don't want my kids to feel defeated. I want them to know that there is hope and we have a future. We try to be as "normal" as we can. But, there are somethings that are difficult for us. I have lost in touch with a few friends because of making up excuses to not go out with them or do certain activities. I noticed my children not being very active anymore as they use to be. My youngest son has gained a little weight. So I am worried with that. I told him that we should start doing more activities with walking and swimming to help us. I have read that there was a study about overweight people were more likely to have arthritis. Everyone in my family has and always were skinny or at the normal weight. But yet we all got it. It's years on down the road now that we have had this disease and it's been just recently that I and my youngest son have gained some weight. But I know its from the lack of being active. Which we just need to fight through the pain and just get more fit. I think that it's more genetics than anything. Like as in my Psoriasis for example, it's always been dormant in me, just released after about a year after my first son was born. I often wondered if it was triggered somehow from the major stress I was under at that time in my life. My doctor said no. But I have noticed that when my stress level is high, my psoriasis seems to get worse.
As far as arthritis goes, I think depending on where you live, it can be worse with weather. Every time winter is here or the weather is switching, I can definitely feel it. When I go down south where it's warmer, I feel better. When it rains or it's about to rain, I feel it. I have lived once before down south in Alabama. I did feel a little better in the south with the warm weather. Of course, it's not feasible for us to move down south to live there with my husband's job here. So we try to make the best out of every situation. But I do love vacationing down there!!
I will continue this fight because really, we have no other choice. I just hope that one day there is a cure and better relief. I also hope that more people would be understanding and make better accommodations for people like us, as in the work field and schools for children. It's already hard enough to deal with what we deal with, even harder when you feel like your trying to get others to understand.

profile for Heather G Heather GAtlanta, GAThis ismy fight

When I was diagnosed with early onset rheumatoid arthritis three years ago, it was a shock. Up until that point, I had always enjoyed perfect physical health, and took excellent care of my body. Then one day, several of the joints in my fingers begin to swell, and this worsened over time. Initially, my workplace felt it was occupational in nature – I typed a great deal each day as a practicing...

When I was diagnosed with early onset rheumatoid arthritis three years ago, it was a shock. Up until that point, I had always enjoyed perfect physical health, and took excellent care of my body. Then one day, several of the joints in my fingers begin to swell, and this worsened over time. Initially, my workplace felt it was occupational in nature – I typed a great deal each day as a practicing physician. Changes were made to my workplace environment, but nothing changed in terms of my physical symptoms. Little did I know, it was the harbinger of something big to come.

About a year later, I knew something was wrong. The pain in my hands was severe, and ultimately I developed extreme weakness to the point where I could neither independently feed myself or cook for myself, as I had no strength to lift a fork or a pan. I also had difficulty walking due to the stiffness and pain in my feet, ankles and hips.

When the diagnosis was ultimately made, I could not believe that at such a young age my body could essentially "break down". As a psychiatrist, I also knew of the link between rheumatoid arthritis (and other inflammatory diseases) and depression and stress, which I was experiencing as a result of the diagnosis, and had also been experiencing prior to the diagnosis.

In addition, it was difficult feeling that the tables had turned: I was a physician whose job it was to take care of others who were sick, but now I was the patient. Now I was sick in a way I had never been before, and the fear and anxiety was overwhelming.

It took about a year to find the right medication that controlled my symptoms without causing major side effects, but until then, it was an immense struggle. It was also at a time in my life when I was making a change to my career, and ultimately I had to resign from my new job because it did not afford me enough time to take care of myself – exercise, eat right, sleep well – and perform all of the things that are necessary to help manage rheumatoid arthritis, and without which my symptoms severely worsened.

It also took a toll on my marriage, as my then-husband expressed frustration and reported feeling caregiver burden.

However, over time, I came to look at my diagnosis as a blessing rather than a curse. I am more physically fit now than I was before my diagnosis, as I exercise more frequently and eat a healthier diet. I make a concerted effort to put myself first and take care of myself on a daily basis, both physically and emotionally. This is something that is crucial for anyone in life to do, whether they have an illness or not.

I also appreciate life in a way I had not before, and view each day as a gift. Had I been diagnosed 50 years ago - like my maternal aunt, who ultimately died from complications related to rheumatoid arthritis - I do not think I would be able to live the life I am able to live now. I am thankful for every day, and have a new perspective on life and how to live it to the fullest and happiest extent possible. And that is the greatest gift of all.

profile for Kat B Kat BBecker, MNThis ismy fight

For one who is always active... this is a hard disease to swallow.
I have seen a rheumatologist since my early 30s. When I was first diagnosed with combined Osteo-RA, I was having significant issues and in bed for a week at a time in the Spring and in the Fall during the season changes. My original rheumatologist, who is now retired, had me on a lot of medications and I learned to live...

For one who is always active... this is a hard disease to swallow.
I have seen a rheumatologist since my early 30s. When I was first diagnosed with combined Osteo-RA, I was having significant issues and in bed for a week at a time in the Spring and in the Fall during the season changes. My original rheumatologist, who is now retired, had me on a lot of medications and I learned to live with it for a bit. He sent instructions to an athletic trainer and I got a "program" and over time I simply felt better - with bad days and good days - and learned to manage without medication except for some Aleve.
In 2009 I was let go/retired from my work where I had been a compliance officer for many years. Also an artist, I decided to go back to school and get my Fine Arts Studio Degree with a goal of graduating before I was 70 years old. I beat this goal, graduating in 2014, six months before my 70th birthday. It took a toll though, by the last year of school, I had constant pain in my knees and feet, sleepless nights, and extremely painful calf on my left left. The orthopedic surgeon confirmed with X-rays I had no cartilage in my left knee, and with an MRI of my spine that I had Degenerative Disk Disease and bulging disks in my lower back which was causing the pain and swelling in my left calf. He sent me for a cortisone injection in my lower spine. Prior to this I had no pain in my back. After the shot I had severe pain in my back. I opted to go to the Hopkins Health and Wellness Center and focus on a natural way to heal the ruptured disks and get the spinal and leg pain under control. I have been working with a wonderful physical therapist since that time, off and on over the years, as the symptoms and pain ebb and flow, and I do quite well most of the time.
Not without cost however. In order to feel good and be relatively pain free, every single morning, I have specific stretches and exercises that I do, I walk at least 10,000 steps a day (according to my fitbit), take a multitude of natural vitamins, and constantly watch what I eat to keep my weight low for less pressure on the joints. Even one day of missing the stretches sometimes creates severe stiffness in my neck and the pain never entirely disappears from my hands and feet.
But this is a small price to pay. I still have days when I feel I cannot get out of bed because of the exhaustion and pain. I still have days when no matter what I do, the pain is still there. I still have days when it is difficult to even turn over in bed due to the lower back pain.
And when you look pretty good and you are always smiling and happy (which I truly try to be) there is little to no understanding from the rest of the world of the continuing constant pain that resides in your body.
And that's my story. Grateful for the good days, happy I know what I need to do on the bad days to make it better, and happy that I feel good enough most days to spend time painting in my studio.
Life is always good when joy is present. I love life - even with all the pain.

profile for Adele B Adele BOrlando, FLI fight forMy husband (now deceased, and 2 daughters

My husband had rheumatoid arthritis from 1963 until his death in 2014. He was on many medications for the disease but never let it cause him to be unable to work or lead a normal life. He had pain but was able to function and lead a normal life with it.

I have 2 daughters that have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and are now under the care of a rheumatologist. They have...

My husband had rheumatoid arthritis from 1963 until his death in 2014. He was on many medications for the disease but never let it cause him to be unable to work or lead a normal life. He had pain but was able to function and lead a normal life with it.

I have 2 daughters that have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and are now under the care of a rheumatologist. They have taken it in stride and lead as normal a life as possible. They have not let it get the best of them or given in to the disease. I admire them for their outlook on life with the disease.

The important thing is to be under the care of a doctor qualified to treat arthritis not just a primary care doctor.

profile for Rashad G Rashad GBaku, WYThis ismy fight

Back in 2012 I used to run a lot after work in order to lose some unnecessary weight. As a result, I succeeded and managed to lose 10 kilos just by running. (from 80 to 70). However, this joy and happiness of running which completely set my mind free of unnecessary thoughts didn't last too long.

I bought treadmill that was absolutely indispensable to run inside the house because of...

Back in 2012 I used to run a lot after work in order to lose some unnecessary weight. As a result, I succeeded and managed to lose 10 kilos just by running. (from 80 to 70). However, this joy and happiness of running which completely set my mind free of unnecessary thoughts didn't last too long.

I bought treadmill that was absolutely indispensable to run inside the house because of the breezy coldness of the winter and also the circumstances were not suitable enough as well. My father which had 3 surgeries from heart and brain cancer asked me to use the treadmill one day. I was sitting with my laptop doing my work and was so busy to notice him completely. I refused telling him that, you may fall and it is not safe for you. Generally speaking, I was lazy and selfish. My father was in desperate in need of such help. I didn't do it that day and my father was completely upset, nothing left for him but to accept the present moment and to cope with it. I realized and regretted the situation occurred long after when I got arthritis myself. I was unable to run anymore after being diagnosed with arthritis on my left knee. I had big plans about my fitness levels which I was about to take into the next level. In some way, life lost its quality and I was becoming inactive dormant lazy person day after day. That was the point of no return and there was no chance left for me to escape from this situation.
On the other hand, I've managed to cope with the situation and found an alternative to running and that is meditation. The vital element which keeps me fighting.

profile for Fran S Fran SLancaster, PAThis ismy fight

I have suffered from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis for about 40 years. I have degenerative disc disorder, too. I had to have a right hip replacement in 2004. The left knee, hip and shoulder is degenerating, along with the right knee. I am in constant pain, and due to the fact that I am not able to take strong medicine for the pain, I can only take extra strength Tylenol (generic).
My...

I have suffered from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis for about 40 years. I have degenerative disc disorder, too. I had to have a right hip replacement in 2004. The left knee, hip and shoulder is degenerating, along with the right knee. I am in constant pain, and due to the fact that I am not able to take strong medicine for the pain, I can only take extra strength Tylenol (generic).
My mother also suffered from arthritis. Over the years I learned to deal with the pain. After sitting for about a half hour I have problems trying to stand up, after standing for about 10 minutes, my knees freeze up on me and I can hardly walk. I can't find a decent job because of all this.
I am 73 years old, and still working part-time in order to survive because Social Security isn't enough to live on. I should be retired. I can't retire, but I suffer every day because of the pain. I feel this is a no-win situation.

profile for John B John BScorrsdale, AZI fight forMy friend, Lisa

I first met Lisa when we were two wide-eyed college kids, working together at a popular restaurant across High Street on the Ohio State University campus.
A tall, slender blonde with a smile that could brighten anyone's day. To me, she was everything I wanted in a girlfriend.

She was outgoing, incredibly smart, with an ornery sense of humor. Active, we'd enjoy aerobics classes...

I first met Lisa when we were two wide-eyed college kids, working together at a popular restaurant across High Street on the Ohio State University campus.
A tall, slender blonde with a smile that could brighten anyone's day. To me, she was everything I wanted in a girlfriend.

She was outgoing, incredibly smart, with an ornery sense of humor. Active, we'd enjoy aerobics classes together or we'd workout at the gym.
It was as if time stood still when we were together. Nothing else mattered. It was just her and me.

That's the Lisa I remember. So vibrant, and happy and outgoing. Such a pleasure just to be around and to laugh with, maybe over a cold beer at some dirty High Street bar.

Today, Lisa is out in beautiful, sunny and warm Scottsdale, Arizona... and it seems as if she's there for all the wrong reasons.

She'd graduated a year or so before me, and chased a boy there, a relationship that didn't pan out. But in the meantime, she took on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Slowly, the vibrant woman I knew during those fun-filled days in Ohio, was becoming an anxiety ridden recluse, who had grown bitter, frustrated and angry as a result of the constant pain she deals with almost around the clock.

She stays in Arizona because the Valley of the Sun's warm weather helps keep her pain flares to a minimum.

I'd love to do my best Knight in Shining Armor impression, riding out to Arizona in my trusty Honda, to sweep away her pain and worries, while opening jars and turning knobs, .... and maybe providing back rubs... all in the name of love, and warmth, and happiness, ... to see her smile and maybe even regain a bit of that alluring magic she possessed as that stunning blonde coed all those years ago.

But she won't let me.

She prefers to huddle up in her apartment, alone, and bitter.

I doubt that I'll ever be able to turn things around for Lisa. She's stopped returning my emails and texts -- partially because doing so brings her pain in her fingers, but mostly because she's become resigned to just enduring the rest of her days in horrendous pain and misery. She doesn't think she's worth my time or that of anyone else.

I support the arthritis cause in hopes that my meager bit of financial assistance could help turn someone's life around some day.

Maybe even that if my amazing friend Lisa.

profile for Lynda L Lynda LDenver, COThis ismy fight

My grandma had RA and I saw what it did to her. I was diagnosed with RA in 2009 at age 44. I'm on my third biologic. RA has put me in the hospital twice: once with pneumonia and once with a blood clot secondary to my second biologic. Due to RA, I've permanently reduced my work hours from full time to part time. Navigating insurance hassles is another "job". I am working for medical benefits. But...

My grandma had RA and I saw what it did to her. I was diagnosed with RA in 2009 at age 44. I'm on my third biologic. RA has put me in the hospital twice: once with pneumonia and once with a blood clot secondary to my second biologic. Due to RA, I've permanently reduced my work hours from full time to part time. Navigating insurance hassles is another "job". I am working for medical benefits. But I am very fortunate to have a great rheumatologist and a good support system. My body has changed and so has my life, but I'm doing okay.

profile for Maggie P Maggie PClaremont, CAThis ismy fight

i am a professional cellist and grew up in a musical family. My mom who is a pianist suffers from osteoarthritis and I watched her hands become more and more deformed as I grew up. I am 53 and started to see the arthritis in my hands about 8 years ago. In the last 2 years it has accelerated to the point where I cannot make a fist and in addition to the upper digits being fused now the arthritis...

i am a professional cellist and grew up in a musical family. My mom who is a pianist suffers from osteoarthritis and I watched her hands become more and more deformed as I grew up. I am 53 and started to see the arthritis in my hands about 8 years ago. In the last 2 years it has accelerated to the point where I cannot make a fist and in addition to the upper digits being fused now the arthritis is in the middle digit of my index and middle fingers. It is a challenge to keep my cello playing at a high level. I play everyday and continue to concertize but I fear there will be a time when I will have to stop.

Ironically not playing will make it worse. I have taken lots of anti inflammatory meds but they affect my stomach so I stopped. I try to soak my hands in hot water and sometimes dip them in hot wax. I have tried to alter my diet and stay away from night shades and have tumeric milk. I wish I could say something has made a difference.I hope to continue to make music as long as I am able and can deal with the pain.

profile for Richard F Richard FOroville, CAThis ismy fight

Some claim that retirement is a time to enjoy life, but I'm not so sure. After years of torturing my body as an electrician, with daily kneeling, crawling, squatting, and crawling my feet and legs are now almost constantly in pain. I jokingly say that someone has a voodoo doll likeness of my and randomly poke a new spot every day, but this arthritis pain is no joke. During the last month alone my...

Some claim that retirement is a time to enjoy life, but I'm not so sure. After years of torturing my body as an electrician, with daily kneeling, crawling, squatting, and crawling my feet and legs are now almost constantly in pain. I jokingly say that someone has a voodoo doll likeness of my and randomly poke a new spot every day, but this arthritis pain is no joke. During the last month alone my feet and knees have kept me using a cane or crutches far too often.

I am using a variety of NSAID's, lotions, and hot/cold therapy with little relief. With the VA my only source of medical help any high-end, costly treatments are not in the cards. Likewise, a good night's sleep is only a distant memory.

For you young folks my advice is, take care of your body. Those seemingly minor injuries will come back to visit years later and will not be minor any more.

profile for Terry G Terry GPlymouth, PAThis ismy fight

I developed epilepsy seizures that were brought on by stress of taking care of a parent. Time went on where I was in pain all day long; the kind of pain that one has with the flu. One day my PCP advised me to see a Rheumatologist. That's when the diagnosis was official. He did not know if the seizures precipitated the arthritis, or it was just the right time to develop.

I am a...

I developed epilepsy seizures that were brought on by stress of taking care of a parent. Time went on where I was in pain all day long; the kind of pain that one has with the flu. One day my PCP advised me to see a Rheumatologist. That's when the diagnosis was official. He did not know if the seizures precipitated the arthritis, or it was just the right time to develop.

I am a better weather forecaster than most paid weather people. I keep my pharmacy busy with all the meds that I need.

With all that said, I keep busy taking of relatives and friends animals when they are away. So I do not sit. I am attempting a part time job; trying to keep stress to a minimum.

I do pray a lot!

profile for Jennifer S Jennifer SBronx, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last year in June. I was 32 years old. I first noticed my symptoms as joint stiffness, joint pain and swollen joints. My knees ankles and toes are the worse. I was sad and scared when I found out I have rheumatoid arthritis.

I still have those symptoms and others such as fatigue and brain fog. As a runner it hurt to run last year. But I was...

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last year in June. I was 32 years old. I first noticed my symptoms as joint stiffness, joint pain and swollen joints. My knees ankles and toes are the worse. I was sad and scared when I found out I have rheumatoid arthritis.

I still have those symptoms and others such as fatigue and brain fog. As a runner it hurt to run last year. But I was determined to complete the NYC marathon which I had signed up for in February. It took me 8 hours to complete but I did it. I cried at mile 23 because I wanted to give up. But when I saw that finished line I smiled and was proud of myself.

I was prescribed medication for the RA but I stopped taking it because of the possible side effects. It's scary.

Almost a year later and I'm managing living with RA.

info about Jennifer S
profile for Terra P Terra PReynoldsburg, OHThis ismy fight

My daily struggle with the disease that debilitates my days and wreaks havoc on my life. Every day since I've been diagnosed I've been fighting to get up knowing the pain is often too much to handle.

I was diagnosed when I was 35 years old and I never suspected that arthritis was in my future. It started out with a few fingers hurting and then my knees. I went to the doctor...

My daily struggle with the disease that debilitates my days and wreaks havoc on my life. Every day since I've been diagnosed I've been fighting to get up knowing the pain is often too much to handle.

I was diagnosed when I was 35 years old and I never suspected that arthritis was in my future. It started out with a few fingers hurting and then my knees. I went to the doctor because I never felt awful pain. I was shocked to find out that I had RA. My life has never been the same and now I struggle to fight an invisible disease that many will never understand. I want this disease to be eradicated because the effects are so hard to live with and people don't understand the burden of living with daily fatigue, pain and limitations.

profile for Sharon R Sharon RBedford, MAThis ismy fight

Over the past 10+ years I was found to have arthritis in my knees, back, hips.... No one seemed too concerned about this, but I began to feel the limitations this imposes on one’s ability to bend, sit down on the ground or even walk, something I love to do. My friends were not bothered by such problems so I began to feel decades older than them. An “old lady” in my prime years. (I am...

Over the past 10+ years I was found to have arthritis in my knees, back, hips.... No one seemed too concerned about this, but I began to feel the limitations this imposes on one’s ability to bend, sit down on the ground or even walk, something I love to do. My friends were not bothered by such problems so I began to feel decades older than them. An “old lady” in my prime years. (I am currently 52 years old.) Having studied martial arts intensively for 7 years, I was astonished that my health should deteriorate so much, a pattern I noticed in some of my fellow students from this school. It was like the training had weakened our bodies, not strengthened them....

A wonderful back specialist informed me of cortisone shots for the back, which restored my ability to do so many things I enjoy doing. Another doctor gave me a cortisone shot to the knee, which also was helpful. But the problem was these shots wear off over the course of months so one needs to keep repeating them.

In my case, my body seemed to go through phases of getting worse, but then I would enjoy a period of relief afterwards so I kept putting off the shots until I was at my worst. Meanwhile I read all sorts of things about arthritis-related matters, like how diet and supplements can help reduce inflammation, which is behind a lot of my pain. So I found that by buying a really good multi-vitamin product, with easily absorbable ingredients at RDA levels, plus taking a broad-spectrum multi-mineral (also with easily absorbable ingredients, not the usual –oxides and –gluconate forms), my health improved, as did the arthritis. A Beta Carotene supplement was particularly helpful; for some reason I seem to be low in Vitamin A, which works with other vitamins and minerals to build strong bones, support immune functions and reduce inflammation.

Now, thanks to an improved diet, cutting down on carbs and sugars, and including the multivitamin/multimineral, etc., movement is becoming easier. I am trying to get back into a walking routine again, and I am again able to enjoy my normal activities. So I don’t feel such an “old lady” now and can enjoy being with my loved ones! Praise God! What a gift this is!

profile for Cassie B Cassie BOakland, CAThis ismy fight

I am 55 years old and have arthritis in my hips, back and neck from a bad car accident I was in when I was 20 years old. I also got a severe Traumatic Brain Injury in that accident. I had a very severe pelvis fracture and they warned me that I would get arthritis.

I met my husband in a desert hiking group and we both love to backpack and hike. It is hard for him to understand that I...

I am 55 years old and have arthritis in my hips, back and neck from a bad car accident I was in when I was 20 years old. I also got a severe Traumatic Brain Injury in that accident. I had a very severe pelvis fracture and they warned me that I would get arthritis.

I met my husband in a desert hiking group and we both love to backpack and hike. It is hard for him to understand that I can barely hike a mile anymore. Last weekend we went mountain bike riding with my tween son and he chose a strenuous road and not a more flat ride like I wanted. The past few days have been more painful. I think he feels I need to use it or lose it and work through it...

I brought my cane to a class I'm in at a city college, because I was sore from that mountain bike ride, and I felt shame and noticed people reacted strangely toward me like I was fragile and they even ignored me some. There is stigma people have about Physical impairments, and certainly about mental impairments.

I stretch each morning and ride my stationary bike most day, but my arthritis is still hard to deal with especially the disbelief in my arthritis from others.

profile for Jay L Jay LRock Springs, WYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA in the early 1960's. In those days, treatment was limited to heat and lots of aspirin. As time went on my medication increased as prescribed by Rhematologist's.

I realized that there must be a better way deal with the pain and distortion that was beginning in my hands and feet.

I visited with a number of Physicians around the US and even tried an...

I was diagnosed with RA in the early 1960's. In those days, treatment was limited to heat and lots of aspirin. As time went on my medication increased as prescribed by Rhematologist's.

I realized that there must be a better way deal with the pain and distortion that was beginning in my hands and feet.

I visited with a number of Physicians around the US and even tried an unorthodox treatment for a period of time.

Frankly, at that time I just gave up! The flareups were lasting longer and longer, some for months at a time.

I also decided that the medical community had little if anything to offer so I quit trying to get help. That went on for about ten years and I really suffered.

Around 13 or 14 years ago, I read about biologic medications and decided to try something.

It turns out that for me, the results are remarkable. After the first infusion 11 years ago, I have not had a flareup.

For years, I was told (warned) not to have any surgeries to correct the deformities that had occurred. That was bad advice. I have had numerous surgeries on my hands, feet and other joints which have allowed me to have a good active life as I approach 80 years of age.

Arthritics live in fear of tomorrow! Today may be very, very painful but as I was told one time, it may be the best day that you will for a long time. Make the best of it.

profile for Margie P Margie PNorth Augusta, SCThis ismy fight

I will be 76 years old December 2017, and I have been living with Arthritis since my early twenties, and it was a struggle and a fight before I finally accepted the fact that Arthritis wasn't going anywhere. At this point I began searching for ways live with Arthritis in a more comfortable way. In other words, I made friends with Arthritis.

In my twenties, I had a difficult time...

I will be 76 years old December 2017, and I have been living with Arthritis since my early twenties, and it was a struggle and a fight before I finally accepted the fact that Arthritis wasn't going anywhere. At this point I began searching for ways live with Arthritis in a more comfortable way. In other words, I made friends with Arthritis.

In my twenties, I had a difficult time believing and accepting the fact that I had Arthritis and, that it was not going away. I fought Arthritis, pushed him hard. And the harder I pushed, the worse the pain. After this, I began searching for ways to work around Arthritis, and the search is ongoing. I learned to keep Arthur (Arthritis) warm, and let him rest, but also exercise him. I had to learn his limits, and the list goes on. And recently through the literature from the Arthritis Foundation, I have discovered more information to enable me to be more comfortable in this relationship between Arthritis and myself.

profile for Marjie C Marjie CSeattle, WAThis ismy fight

When I was a toddler my parents decided that I was pigeon-toed. They must have not noticed that toddlers often seem that way. The doctor they took me to see had them put a rod strapped between my legs to force it to fix the "problem." It hurt, and I cried. It also over-corrected. My legs never grew properly.

By the time I was a junior in High School my knees started to hurt. I...

When I was a toddler my parents decided that I was pigeon-toed. They must have not noticed that toddlers often seem that way. The doctor they took me to see had them put a rod strapped between my legs to force it to fix the "problem." It hurt, and I cried. It also over-corrected. My legs never grew properly.

By the time I was a junior in High School my knees started to hurt. I was told by the Orthopedist that I was going to get arthritis, and would probably need knee replacements. The first time I went to see a physical therapist, she looked at my legs and said, "oh my god!" It's many years later, I do have arthritis, but I haven't had the replacement surgery yet. Stairs are the worst. I work on keeping the muscle across my knees strong, but it isn't easy, and exercise hurts. That's my story.

profile for Ruthie R Ruthie RPhiladelphia, PAThis ismy fight

I had always had aches and pain through out my body since I can remember, Then I suffered a fall playing with my son and pulled my hamstring then noticed I wouldn't heal then my other side started hurting I was always told your other side of your body is just compensating for the other side that went on for a few years then I was in a car accident. Then I was in more pain until one day...

I had always had aches and pain through out my body since I can remember, Then I suffered a fall playing with my son and pulled my hamstring then noticed I wouldn't heal then my other side started hurting I was always told your other side of your body is just compensating for the other side that went on for a few years then I was in a car accident. Then I was in more pain until one day the doctor sent me to rheumatologist then I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, After so many test, I finally had an answer. Now I fight everyday to stay optimistic and continue to find different ways to care for myself with medication, yoga and juicing and my faith I get through everyday.

profile for Deirdra Deirdra Orlando, FLThis ismy fight

I am fairly new to the arthritis community. I was recently diagnosed with Osteoarthritis last year at the age of 22. I can still remember the exact moment, and the shock on my doctor's face as he gave me the heartbreaking news (it's not very common to see people my age with this form of arthritis apparently). Though I didn't fully understand the weight of that diagnosis, I was finally able to...

I am fairly new to the arthritis community. I was recently diagnosed with Osteoarthritis last year at the age of 22. I can still remember the exact moment, and the shock on my doctor's face as he gave me the heartbreaking news (it's not very common to see people my age with this form of arthritis apparently). Though I didn't fully understand the weight of that diagnosis, I was finally able to explain why I was constantly in pain. I remember days I'd have to work a 10 hr kitchen shift (standing the entire time) to make extra money for the bills; on those days the pain in my back and knees was so severe that all I could do was cry.

Everyday I wake up, hoping this day will be pain free at no avail. I often pray to the Lord that this would be taken away and that I will be healed. One day I hope to experience that miracle, but until then I must fight with all that is in me. I must fight my urge to eat poorly and not exercise, rather nourish my body with whole food and daily physical activity. I must fight the urge to let my OA define my potential, and instead live to reach for the stars. Most importantly, I must fight the urge to be defeated, rather keep my head held hight even on the most painful days. I will live as healthy and as joyously as possible. My OA is a great reminder to always stop and smell the roses, because I never know what tomorrow will bring.

profile for Jo Amn H Jo Amn HSouth Lyon, MIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at 16 years old. The doctor who diagnosed me said I would be in s wheel chair by the time I was 25. Just the right thing to say because my stubborn streak kicked in. I am now 61 years old and while I still struggle with pain and joint damage I have never let it get me down for long. I was a personal trainer and aerobic instructor for 25 years. The...

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at 16 years old. The doctor who diagnosed me said I would be in s wheel chair by the time I was 25. Just the right thing to say because my stubborn streak kicked in. I am now 61 years old and while I still struggle with pain and joint damage I have never let it get me down for long. I was a personal trainer and aerobic instructor for 25 years. The pounding on my joints has taken a toll but I still exercise at least 5 days per week and know it's the exercise that has kept me out of the wheelchair. I was overweight as a teenager. I lost the weight by the time I was 25 and have maintained a healthy weight since. Both exercise and weight management are absolutely critical in keeping this disease under control. I have been on medication for 14 years and consider it a God send.

profile for Ron  D Ron DLondon , MIThis ismy fight

I have Psoriatic Arthritis and Reumetoid Arthritis. I have had struggles both health and family. My youngest is a Leukaemia survivor, my oldest is a Brain Tumour survivor. My mom passed from cancer. All this in the past 12 years. Stress is an understatement. I have had heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, colitis, gurd, enthesitis and spondylitis. Every day can be a challenge and...

I have Psoriatic Arthritis and Reumetoid Arthritis. I have had struggles both health and family. My youngest is a Leukaemia survivor, my oldest is a Brain Tumour survivor. My mom passed from cancer. All this in the past 12 years. Stress is an understatement. I have had heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, colitis, gurd, enthesitis and spondylitis. Every day can be a challenge and wondering if I can do a task. Can I attend an event. I am on medication and it has helped. I often wonder a day without pain is, between psoriasis and all I have not been well for 50 years. Depression is a part of my life.

profile for Christie  D Christie DChesapeake, VAI fight forMy 12 year old son

My son was diagnosed at the age of two. He has arthritis in both of his knees, neck, both hands, heel of his foot, elbows. My son has one leg longer then the other from the damage the arthritis has caused in his leg knee. Weekly my son takes an injection. Which makes me throw up each time, he feels sick all night and the next few days he feels blah. There are days you can see its a struggle...

My son was diagnosed at the age of two. He has arthritis in both of his knees, neck, both hands, heel of his foot, elbows. My son has one leg longer then the other from the damage the arthritis has caused in his leg knee. Weekly my son takes an injection. Which makes me throw up each time, he feels sick all night and the next few days he feels blah. There are days you can see its a struggle for him to get out of bed and some days he stay in bed. The heartbreaking thing is he doesn't get to be a normal child between hurting, and feeling sick. He not even allowed out in the son to long because the son affects him. Misquotes bites become infected. Nothing more heartbreaking then hearing your child as young as 2 say "you don't have a clue how I feel. You don't hurt. You are not sick". I want a cure for my child!!!!

info about Christie  D
profile for Steve B Steve BLincoln, NEThis ismy fight

I refereed ice hockey for 20 years I couldn't figure out why I was stiffening up no matter how much I stretched? I had to retire and that's when my life started spinning out of control. All of this was back in 2012, I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, and after having spine surgery, I then realized just how bad the arthritis has effected my body. I tried to get permanent disability and...

I refereed ice hockey for 20 years I couldn't figure out why I was stiffening up no matter how much I stretched? I had to retire and that's when my life started spinning out of control. All of this was back in 2012, I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, and after having spine surgery, I then realized just how bad the arthritis has effected my body. I tried to get permanent disability and was denied even by a judge! I went back to work driving trucks so I didn't loose everything I own. Last year, I fell from the top step of my truck , and now I cannot work at all I suffered minor brain damage in my fall and now have 5 herniated discs in my spine so I'm now trying again for disability and if denied again I won't be able to go back to work. Two months ago due to the stress, depression, and pain I'm in I tried to kill myself where I spent 5 days in the hospital getting help for my depression. We need to make the government understand how PsA effects us so it's easier to get approved for disability quicker? I wake up everyday hoping for a good day because God knows I have a lot of bad days!

profile for melinda h melinda hMichigan City, INThis ismy fight

Was diagnosed with arthritis at age 54 and four years later still suffer. I tried the scripts the doctor wrote but it did not relieve any pain so I am doing the over the counter pain meds but only when absolutely needed. Suffering from arthritis in back and the left side of my body it can be quite difficult to accomplish many things in my daily life, cleaning house can take all day when it only...

Was diagnosed with arthritis at age 54 and four years later still suffer. I tried the scripts the doctor wrote but it did not relieve any pain so I am doing the over the counter pain meds but only when absolutely needed. Suffering from arthritis in back and the left side of my body it can be quite difficult to accomplish many things in my daily life, cleaning house can take all day when it only took a few hours. Going up/down stairs I have learned how to do that where it doesn't cause too much pain but when I informed physician and therapists I was told I was doing it wrong. Upon asking them both if they suffer from arthritis they told me no so I informed them that since they don't suffer they really should not be telling those of us who do suffer how to handle our day to day activities. It an be discouraging especially when informing others about the arthritis as they all want to be helpful in giving me un-tried advice. It's always a friend or relative did this or that. That is fine but I have tried this or that and so far nothing. Then when surgery is suggested and I tell them no they look at me as though I want to suffer like this the rest of my life. It has really gotten to the point where I avoid people. It just seems like people have no compassion to what anyone is going through. They see me outside working in the yard and they assume there is nothing wrong with me. I have good days and bad days and on the good days I take advantage and probably overdue but as there is no one to help me out what gets done gets done.

profile for Katie  C Katie CBeaverton , ORThis ismy fight

I have carpal tunnel in my left hand, and have had this since i was born. I have trouble gripping bags and other things with my non-dominant hand. I have a wrist brace though and that helps. I am glad i can use that to help with and it's good for that. I am glad that i am not alone.

profile for Jane P Jane PSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

All my life I have walked 2 to 3 miles a day for exercise. At the age of 52, I knelt down one day and felt my knees were swollen. I had no idea what was wrong and went to the doctor for a diagnosis. I was told I had the onset of arthritis. I was able to continue walking for a couple more years but gradually the pain in my knees became so severe that I had to give walking up. I have been with a...

All my life I have walked 2 to 3 miles a day for exercise. At the age of 52, I knelt down one day and felt my knees were swollen. I had no idea what was wrong and went to the doctor for a diagnosis. I was told I had the onset of arthritis. I was able to continue walking for a couple more years but gradually the pain in my knees became so severe that I had to give walking up. I have been with a rheumatology doctor for 5 years now and after many tests it has been determined that I have rheumatoid arthritis in my wrists, osteo arthritis in both knees and psoriatic arthritis - occasionally I will have a patch of reddened, itchy skin somewhere on my body. The rheumatoid arthritis is being kept at bay with medicine but that and the other medications don't help much with my knee pain. For 2 or 3 years I was having injections every 6 months but I became unemployed at the end of January this year and with the new medical laws, I cannot afford the $500 cost to me. I cannot stand for very long and am about to buy a walking stick to help me when I have to stand. I have found some relief with swimming but really miss walking. Arthritis is a debilitating disease and causes many life changes but it is important to stay positive in the search for pain relief.

profile for Nancy L Nancy LBurke, VAThis ismy fight

In 2006 I fell and injuried my right arm, elbow and shoulder. That's where my story began. I beautiful summer day I was in vacation when my world as I knew it changed forever.

It would take me till the summer of 2008 July to be exact that I was officially diagnosed with a form of autoimmune disease. My RH factor was extremely high they put me on cortisone pills for 1 year and continued...

In 2006 I fell and injuried my right arm, elbow and shoulder. That's where my story began. I beautiful summer day I was in vacation when my world as I knew it changed forever.

It would take me till the summer of 2008 July to be exact that I was officially diagnosed with a form of autoimmune disease. My RH factor was extremely high they put me on cortisone pills for 1 year and continued testing exactly 2 years later I was officially diagnosed with moderate to sever RA.

During this time I never gave up hope that I would find a doctor who would care enough to found out the cause or source of my debilating pain and swelling. I found that doctor and he was and is my rheumatologist.. persistence and hope along with a deep faith in God our Father give me the courage and strength to get the right diagnosis. Today I have some joint damage in my both feet and right arm but am doing fantastic! All praise and glory to God above!

info about Nancy L
profile for mary k mary kMansfield, TXThis ismy fight

I am 78 yr. old retired schoolteacher of 40 yrs. I raised 4 children and am still in my home doing all the cleaning and yardwork.
I suffer every day with osteoarthritus and it weighs heavy on my
poositive cheerful attitude.
It is all over my body and I'm in constant pain. I have had both knees
replaced and still can't get down on my knees to pray or plant my
flowers...

I am 78 yr. old retired schoolteacher of 40 yrs. I raised 4 children and am still in my home doing all the cleaning and yardwork.
I suffer every day with osteoarthritus and it weighs heavy on my
poositive cheerful attitude.
It is all over my body and I'm in constant pain. I have had both knees
replaced and still can't get down on my knees to pray or plant my
flowers that I enjoy so much. I have to ask someone to help me dig
the holes and weed my gardens. I have it in my back where I have 3 hyrniated disks and can't lift over 20- pds. I've had one surgery and just will not have another one on my back. I eventually will have to have surgery on my rotater cuffs in my shoulders as the pain is getting worse and I can't put away my dishes.
It is now in my hands and I can't play my piano anymore. I sold my piano to buy a recliner to rest in and sleep in when I can't sleep in my bed. I was married to a pastor and played for the church and my own enjoyment. My knuckles are are hugh knots and very painful all the
time. One finger is turning sideways. My daughter who is only 45 is beginning to have pain in her fingers. I cannot make a fist, get into
or out of my bathtub. I had to buy a walk-in-tub so I could have a hot bath because now I can't stand long enough in the bathtub to shower. I don't know how I'm going to pay for this tub which is $9000 but I have to have the hot water to help me sleep. I'm on pills for arthritus and painpills which cause me to get constipated.
Now I have noticed my toes and right foot started to hurt like my hands and I'm scared to death I'll not be able to walk and who will
cut my grass and vacumn my home? I tell myself I'm blessed because I do not have cancer. I pray to God to help me and he
gives me days when the pain is tolerable or sometimes not at all so
I can do my work. I do not want to go into an assisted living where they will have to help me with dressing and bathing. I cannot use
a towel to dry myself off because my arms won't work right.
I do wish we could find a cure. Pain causes fitugue and I want to sleep all the time. I take sleeping pills and still can't sleep as I also
have restless leg syndrome. I live alone and the future looks scary.

profile for Carmen C Carmen CBALL, LAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at 18 with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and was told I would be in a wheelchair by 40. Over the years there has been good days and bad days and now at 57 the RA has caused spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, COPD as there is a rheumatoid node in my right lung. The immune system is gone and I have had strongyloides in my lungs and it has gone into my eyes. ...

I was diagnosed at 18 with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and was told I would be in a wheelchair by 40. Over the years there has been good days and bad days and now at 57 the RA has caused spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, COPD as there is a rheumatoid node in my right lung. The immune system is gone and I have had strongyloides in my lungs and it has gone into my eyes. Some days I feel like I could break and on others I can take on the world. I have gone onto Social Security Disability as working a full day is not possible. I work 12 hours a week and love doing as much as I can. Back to the wheelchair, it has not happened, I am a fighter and yes I use a cane to help with the falls but I still am walking on my own. I know my family loves me and for the most part they are understanding when I say I can't do something that day. I take one day at a time and give God the glory that I still can do as much as I do. I hope someone recently diagnosed can see that life is not over, you learn your weakness and strength and go from there. In the 39 years I have battled I can say that having a wonderful doctor right there fighting with you can make all the difference.

profile for Clint F (Age 7) Clint F (Age 7)San Tan Valley , AZI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter, Marlee, was diagnosed with JA at the tender age of 18 months old. Now seven years old, my sweet "Mo" (as I call her) has never known complete relief from the arthritic pain that is so debilitating.

At times I catch myself wondering what would have been had Mo been spared this burden? How would her toddlers years have been different had she not been so heavily medicated and...

My daughter, Marlee, was diagnosed with JA at the tender age of 18 months old. Now seven years old, my sweet "Mo" (as I call her) has never known complete relief from the arthritic pain that is so debilitating.

At times I catch myself wondering what would have been had Mo been spared this burden? How would her toddlers years have been different had she not been so heavily medicated and in constant pain? How much more enjoyable would those first formative years of primary schooling been had her hand been able to write without pain, or her eyes better focus on reading (she has uveitis)? What if she didn't have to stop participating in competitive cheer and tumbling? What if she had been able to play in her soccer games as opposed to just spectating?


In the moments of everyday life it can be too easy to minimize the true impact this has played on Mo and our family. However, when all is considered, weighted, and accounted for, the price is steep. Our hearts have been broken over and over again as we have pursued any and all possible avenues of relief for our Mo in vain.

The more difficult aspects of all this are not getting discouraged, not blaming yourself as a parent for somehow failing your child, and for feeling so utterly helpless to step in and control the situation. Or watching your child struggle socially because she physically can't participate in typical recess activities, or hear her talk about how other kids treat her differently, or are apprehensive about befriending her because they don't fully comprehend her condition and are scared of it.

But the most difficult aspect has to be the impact it has on our Mo. Our precious Mo doesn't even know herself, her non-medicated, her non-hurting, seven year old self.

The struggle is very real, but one could never accuse our daughter of lacking resolve, determination, or courage. It is in this trial we see first hand the resilience that lies within our sweet girl. And because of her, we wake up each day with a stronger resolve, more determination and courage to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.

info about Clint F (Age 7)
profile for Pam C Pam CGothenburg, NEThis ismy fight

It's been year and a half since I was told I have RA. Up until that point I was having a hard time just to make it through the day and get all needed to do. It took 9 months for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. Once I got put on medication, I still was staying very tried and in pain. A year later I was told I also have fibromyalgia. It has taken my new doctor's 6 months to find...

It's been year and a half since I was told I have RA. Up until that point I was having a hard time just to make it through the day and get all needed to do. It took 9 months for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. Once I got put on medication, I still was staying very tried and in pain. A year later I was told I also have fibromyalgia. It has taken my new doctor's 6 months to find the right dose of medicine and pain management pills that will work. I have good and bad days. My husband and son are wonderful, they understand and help me out a lot. My husband is a hard working man and made sure he has a good income for us. We have realized that I will not be able to work outside the home. I don't have the energy to work at a job. I think most people don't understand that living with RA and fibromyalgia is very hard. Most days I'm tried and in pain. I have learned to except I have RA and fibromyalgia, it does not defined me, it just something I have. For the most part I have learned to be happy no matter what is going. It helps me feel better get though the day.

profile for Lisa W Lisa WIslip, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2007 after a car accident. I have been able to keep the pain and disease under control so far with weekly injections. My X-rays reveal significant damage already to my wrists, knees, neck and back. I do have pain, fatigue and limitations but I try to live for today and do as much as I can to enjoy life. I lost 25 pounds, work out with a wonderful...

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2007 after a car accident. I have been able to keep the pain and disease under control so far with weekly injections. My X-rays reveal significant damage already to my wrists, knees, neck and back. I do have pain, fatigue and limitations but I try to live for today and do as much as I can to enjoy life. I lost 25 pounds, work out with a wonderful trainer twice a week and rely on the counsel and support of my truly special rheumatologist in New York City. I practice yoga and get massage when I can. I don't know what the future will bring so I try to live each day to the fullest. I am very fortunate not to have the rash that accompanies PA, although I understand that I may have it in the future. I try not to have my disease define me. This has been a good exercise just to write my story down.

info about Lisa W
profile for Cyndy S Cyndy SHouston, TXThis ismy fight

I never would have thought that I would have a disease that I saw debilitate my Father at 65. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus at 42 and four years later fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Now at the age of 65, I have had both knees replaced and suffer from spinal stenosis with debilitating arthritis in my spine and feet and shoulders! I need more surgery, but I am not in agreement with...

I never would have thought that I would have a disease that I saw debilitate my Father at 65. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus at 42 and four years later fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Now at the age of 65, I have had both knees replaced and suffer from spinal stenosis with debilitating arthritis in my spine and feet and shoulders! I need more surgery, but I am not in agreement with that. Pills are my way of life, for nerve pain, back and foot pain. I used to be very active and exercised three times a week for three hours. Now it hurts just to walk to another room. People ask how are you feeling, but I say "fine", because to look at me you would not know I am grimicing in pain. My fathers hands were so bad he could not even hold a cup. My fingers are slowing turning outward and I feel I will suffer the same fate he had with his hands and legs. I pray for a cure that will not involve a pill regiment. There are days I am in so much pain it makes me feel nauseous. Today I had a bone density scan, and I pray that my bones are not getting any worse! It's a battle that we who suffer daily want to win!

profile for elizabeth c elizabeth cchesapeake, VAThis ismy fight

I have oa of the right knee that I have been struggling with for four years now. The pain so bad at times I want to scream. Walking is hard for me so I use a walker now to get around. I have to pick and choose the places I go because I can't walk to far. If a store doesn't have a riding cart I can't shop there. People don't understand this kind of pain. I had to go on disability this year...

I have oa of the right knee that I have been struggling with for four years now. The pain so bad at times I want to scream. Walking is hard for me so I use a walker now to get around. I have to pick and choose the places I go because I can't walk to far. If a store doesn't have a riding cart I can't shop there. People don't understand this kind of pain. I had to go on disability this year because I cannot work anymore. I have tried to get medical insurance so I can get a doctor to look at me, but I either make to much or to little money to get any. God is my source I call on and he gets me through a day. God helps me to move and get where I need to go no matter how painful my knee is that day. At times I feel alone because I feel like no one understands my pain. But I know with God he understands my pain and carries me. Don't give up fighting with your pain because there is always hope in the fight and victory will come at some time.

profile for Diana Y Diana YLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I am so glad that my father taught me to pick stuff off the floor with my toes. In the last year I started doing this more because of not wanting to bend down or over to get something on the floor or slightly higher than than that. I also sometimes close drawer doors with one of my feet if it is not too large to push. It is also good exercise in balancing. If you are insecure about...

I am so glad that my father taught me to pick stuff off the floor with my toes. In the last year I started doing this more because of not wanting to bend down or over to get something on the floor or slightly higher than than that. I also sometimes close drawer doors with one of my feet if it is not too large to push. It is also good exercise in balancing. If you are insecure about functioning on one leg even for a moment, then steady yourself by holding onto some thing or another piece of furniture nearby. Safety first means health first. I do not share these things as a gymnast. I am talking as someone with osteoarthritis. But, if you get a kick of accomplishment in doing these things, great. Know that you got something meaningful done and life goes on.

I try to use my body in less stressful ways. If I want to move something larger than a chair, I use my whole body to help me out. I lean on whatever I need to move if it is the same as my height. If I want to move furniture, I take all the drawers out and if that is too heavy to do, I empty the drawers, remove them, then push the chest or whatever slowly to where I want it to go. Then, put the drawers back and fill them again. It is time consuming to a degree, but I get it done, do not have to make arrangements to have people come in to help me.

I have foldable tables or pieces. This is also helpful. When not using them, fold them up and push into an unused space.

If you are going to buy shelves or furniture, try to find pieces with wheels on the bottom so you can move them here and there if you need to.

Think vertically, not just horizontally. I like higher ceilings. 9 ft. at least. The higher your shelves, the less you will have to bend down and lower your body. You do not want to have to reach for things on the bottom shelf too often. So, more of your shelving should be at a reachable height. And this varies with your height and limitations in reaching or bending your knees.

I am trying now to remember to arch my back each time I lower my body forward. If I picked something off of the floor, I stand straight and do at least one back bend, slowly and comfortably. Does it help? I am not sure but I think the concept of balancing our body makes sense.

Hope this helps someone.

profile for Linda R Linda RNashville, TNThis ismy fight

When I turned 40 I started having arthritis in one or two fingers. Several years went by and gradually I had trouble with my knees. At the age of 55, I had a double knee replacement. My doctor wanted me to wait until I was 60. When he finally agreed to do the surgery, I could barely walk.

Since then, I have developed arthritis all over my body. Both my shoulders hurt; I have had...

When I turned 40 I started having arthritis in one or two fingers. Several years went by and gradually I had trouble with my knees. At the age of 55, I had a double knee replacement. My doctor wanted me to wait until I was 60. When he finally agreed to do the surgery, I could barely walk.

Since then, I have developed arthritis all over my body. Both my shoulders hurt; I have had shot in my right one.

I am now in the process of having MRI on my back and X-Ray of my right hip in a couple of days. It seems like I never really feel good. I managed to do pretty well when I was younger, but am now in my 70's and it is much harder to cope.

I feel like I come across as negative so much of the time, but I really feel bad so much.

profile for carrie v carrie vTustin, CAThis ismy fight

I have had RA for over 35 years now and I have learned a lt of things in those years. First and foremost is to trust you Rheumatologist. This is a person you need to be able to share everything with. Nothing should be uncomfortable o ask. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful Dr for the first 20+ years. I believe I own my ability to continue to work 40-50 per week and not give up. Don't...

I have had RA for over 35 years now and I have learned a lt of things in those years. First and foremost is to trust you Rheumatologist. This is a person you need to be able to share everything with. Nothing should be uncomfortable o ask. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful Dr for the first 20+ years. I believe I own my ability to continue to work 40-50 per week and not give up. Don't get me wrong I want to give up many times, daily this disease can be burta and ALWAYS changing. I have taken countless medications, should over and over again and in different combinations. I am now on a new medication and it was the biggest fight to even get it approved by insurance doctors who have never seen me or spoken to me. It's easy to get narcotics but crazy hard to get the meds to keep our off of them, makes no sense to me. I want to work and be a part of society.

Life with RA is certainly a roller coaster...just hang on and never give in

profile for Mary D Mary DNew Providence , NJI fight forMy amazing daughter!

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. She is now 16. She has pushed through the effects of this disease as much as she can. She continues to push forward everyday in ways people without arthritis can't even imagine! After two knee surgeries and and constant doctor's appointments to manage this disease, her smile continues to shine through it all. The best advice I can give family and...

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. She is now 16. She has pushed through the effects of this disease as much as she can. She continues to push forward everyday in ways people without arthritis can't even imagine! After two knee surgeries and and constant doctor's appointments to manage this disease, her smile continues to shine through it all. The best advice I can give family and friends of those with arthritis is to keep the support going and never stop! Even on the good days, be there! Don't every stop supporting from the little things to the big! Help keep your loved one smiling through it all!

profile for Ron P Ron PWichita, KSThis ismy fight

I developed OA in my right knee about two and half years ago. It came on gradually at first and then I had to use a cane to get around. At first I had severe pain and had to use strong pain killers. Now I have little pain but have lost much of the mobility in my right knee. I have difficulty doing simple things now. OA has changed my life drastically.

profile for Roger G Roger GRedmond, ORThis ismy fight

My physician told me a few years ago that my body was a hotbed for arthritis.
I have had hips replaced, knees replaced, elbow replaced, shoulder replaced. Enuff Already!

Recently have lost strength in my legs. Getting epidural injections shortly and then beginning a walking program (30 minutes-5 times a week in a pool)
I am also taking 4000 mg Tylenol, daily. If need be, I...

My physician told me a few years ago that my body was a hotbed for arthritis.
I have had hips replaced, knees replaced, elbow replaced, shoulder replaced. Enuff Already!

Recently have lost strength in my legs. Getting epidural injections shortly and then beginning a walking program (30 minutes-5 times a week in a pool)
I am also taking 4000 mg Tylenol, daily. If need be, I have pain pills if necessary.

profile for Sara H Sara HPotomac, MDThis ismy fight

Both knees are gone and it is all I can do to get around. Have rollat but still have trouble plus it is a pain. Now in one shoulder too. Only hurts when I try to walk, OK sitting,.

profile for Meagan M Meagan MPAULS VALLEY, OKThis ismy fight

I've had pain since I was about 12, but just recently talked to the right doctor who was willing to run the arthritis tests. I was sent to a specialist and found out just before I turned 30 that I have RA...but doctor said you would be surprised how common RA is in younger people. Now I have to take several medications including 2 different injections due to still having a lot of inflammation and...

I've had pain since I was about 12, but just recently talked to the right doctor who was willing to run the arthritis tests. I was sent to a specialist and found out just before I turned 30 that I have RA...but doctor said you would be surprised how common RA is in younger people. Now I have to take several medications including 2 different injections due to still having a lot of inflammation and pain. I hate taking all of this medicine, but it does help with my symptoms. It's hard because my spouse has serious back pain from an injury and he just doesn't understand that I have legitimate pain too, even though it doesn't look like I'm in pain I AM. It definitely is a daily struggle. It's sad to say, but I've just gotten used to being in pain, at least some part of my body hurts everyday, but it is better with medication. One of my biggest fears is that when I do get older how severe is this going to get when people normally start having pains from old age. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and trying to notice what can trigger my inflammation and then try to avoid it.

profile for Shelby C Shelby CSpokane, WAThis ismy fight

My whole life I had aches and pains I couldn't explain. My mom thought I was "sensitive" and "a little bit of a hypochondriac" but still dutifully took me to doctor after doctor seeking an explanation for my chronic fatigue and pain. They eventually settled on diagnoses of fibromyalgia, depression, and IBD, all providing me with partial answers and treatment options but never really addressing...

My whole life I had aches and pains I couldn't explain. My mom thought I was "sensitive" and "a little bit of a hypochondriac" but still dutifully took me to doctor after doctor seeking an explanation for my chronic fatigue and pain. They eventually settled on diagnoses of fibromyalgia, depression, and IBD, all providing me with partial answers and treatment options but never really addressing the whole story or effectively managing my pain and exhaustion. Nevertheless, I resigned myself to a life of discomfort and did my best to continue on as best I could.

That was until I got pregnant with my daughter Eleanor. My body went into shock, and I vomited and limped my way through the whole pregnancy and delivery, nearly tearing my pubic symphysis in the process as none of my joints wanted to move enough to let her through. Even then, no one suspected an autoimmune culprit until almost a year later, when I went to urgent care for what I thought was a bad sinus infection and ended up with a five-day stay in the hospital for an autoimmune pseudo-tumor behind my left eye. Shortly after, I was tested for and diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Since then, I've done everything I could do manage the disease. Through huge changes in my lifestyle, I've lost 50 pounds and changed my diet to exclude any inflammatory foods. I've also been giving myself biweekly injections of medication and am mostly in remission thanks to the combination the medication and my lifestyle changes. Even so, AS makes it so challenging to do so many of the things I'd like to do. My husband is very active and I enjoy biking and hiking with my family when I can, but often stay home on the couch while they're out on adventures. Sitting at my desk for long hours to perform my job as a CPA can be excruciating during a flare. But worst of all, we would love to have more children, but subsequent pregnancies will be considered high-risk and could potentially end with me on bed-rest for months before and after delivery.

Even with all the frustrations of AS, I am so grateful for fantastic medical care and medical advances in the past few years that keep me in remission and living a relatively normal life. I am passionate about raising funds through the Jingle Bell Run to support arthritis research in the hopes that we can find a cure for all of us suffering from this frustratingly debilitating disease!

profile for kathleen l kathleen lwashington crossing, PAThis ismy fight

I have had arthritis since I was 34. I am now 74. I was on medication for 30 years, it helped and I had no problems. Then I got internal bleeding from the meds and almost bled to death. Since then, no more meds, but some days were so painful, that my Dr suggested I try a new medicine. It worked beautifully and I felt fine. However, that medication led to auto immune hepatitis. Now I take nothing,...

I have had arthritis since I was 34. I am now 74. I was on medication for 30 years, it helped and I had no problems. Then I got internal bleeding from the meds and almost bled to death. Since then, no more meds, but some days were so painful, that my Dr suggested I try a new medicine. It worked beautifully and I felt fine. However, that medication led to auto immune hepatitis. Now I take nothing, but Tylenol, when I absolutely can't stand the pain. Weather changes are especially hard, and I feel so old and tired. Other days it is not so bad. Just have to get up and keep on going and appreciate that I am still here.

profile for Lisa H Lisa HBerkeley, CAThis ismy fight

Hello. I am 61 years old and started developing arthritis about 5 years ago - first in my knee, then shoulder, feet, and now hips. The pain comes and goes but the hardest part is when the pain flares up and I can't sleep. Today my husband and I got the results of an MRI of my lower back and hips. My hips have very bad arthritis and the doctor said they are "bone on bone." I have been taking...

Hello. I am 61 years old and started developing arthritis about 5 years ago - first in my knee, then shoulder, feet, and now hips. The pain comes and goes but the hardest part is when the pain flares up and I can't sleep. Today my husband and I got the results of an MRI of my lower back and hips. My hips have very bad arthritis and the doctor said they are "bone on bone." I have been taking Advil, but I don't want to take it long term. I will live with it until I make the decision to get hip replacement surgery. I am glad my husband was with me to hear the discussion. He is super-healthy and I think it's hard for him to understand a chronic, painful condition.

profile for Cheryl R Cheryl RLancaster, CAThis ismy fight

I have been suffering for over 15 years and some
days I feel like giving up! It started in my wrists and over the years it traveled to my right hip, both knees lower back and left shoulder. The pain has intensified greatly. I don't like taking drugs so I just use Tylenol. My doctor said I'm not ready for any surgery yet but the pain is worse now. It's so hard to live every day feeling...

I have been suffering for over 15 years and some
days I feel like giving up! It started in my wrists and over the years it traveled to my right hip, both knees lower back and left shoulder. The pain has intensified greatly. I don't like taking drugs so I just use Tylenol. My doctor said I'm not ready for any surgery yet but the pain is worse now. It's so hard to live every day feeling bad 24/7 some people don't understand what you're going through. Now that I vented I just want to say that you have to keep moving or else your muscles are are going to give out. You have to learn how to keep going regardless of the pain. I push myself to get up and move.

profile for Cheryl R Cheryl RLancaster, CAThis ismy fight

I have been suffering for over 15 years and some
days I feel like giving up! It started in my wrists and over the years it traveled to my right hip, both knees lower back and left shoulder. The pain has intensified greatly. I don't like taking drugs so I just use Tylenol. My doctor said I'm not ready for any surgery yet but the pain is worse now. It's so hard to live every day feeling...

I have been suffering for over 15 years and some
days I feel like giving up! It started in my wrists and over the years it traveled to my right hip, both knees lower back and left shoulder. The pain has intensified greatly. I don't like taking drugs so I just use Tylenol. My doctor said I'm not ready for any surgery yet but the pain is worse now. It's so hard to live every day feeling bad 24/7 some people don't understand what you're going through. Now that I vented I just want to say that you have to keep moving or else your muscles are are going to give out. You have to learn how to keep going regardless of the pain. I push myself to get up and move.

profile for Toni S Toni Slas vegas, NVI fight forMy Dad

My name is Toni, and my Dad who is 73 years old has arthritis. It is very difficult for him to get around and when he can get around it is minimal and feels the affect of for days. It wears him out and hurts him. He has Arthritis through his body but mostly in his back and knees. He must take pain pills just to be able to get out of bed every day. It's sad to see as I love my dad very much.

profile for Melissa V Melissa VBeloit, WIThis ismy fight

My RA story started after having my kids in 2010 and 2011, when I was 31 years old. I had started exercising a lot and running to lose the baby weight, but I kept having problems with my knees, feet and shoulder. I would go to the doctor and be told that it was from running and to cut back. So I cut back. The pain didn’t go away, but started getting worse. I kept going back and kept...

My RA story started after having my kids in 2010 and 2011, when I was 31 years old. I had started exercising a lot and running to lose the baby weight, but I kept having problems with my knees, feet and shoulder. I would go to the doctor and be told that it was from running and to cut back. So I cut back. The pain didn’t go away, but started getting worse. I kept going back and kept getting prescriptions for prednisone and anti-inflammatory. That would help for awhile and then the pain would come back when I was done with the prescriptions. Finally, in 2014 my doctor said maybe there’s something else going on, so she sent me for a blood test and it came back sero-positive and was told to never run again and the only exercise I should be doing is swimming. I got sent to a rheumatologist.

It’s taken me awhile to accept my diagnosis. I did quit exercising. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I gain about 45 pounds. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Being in constant pain and trying to find the right medication combination had really taken a toll on me.

I’ve started to fight back. I’m exercising when my body lets me, and it’s getting to be easier and I feel a bit better after I do it. I started making healthier food choices and again and lost about 30 pounds of the 45 I had gained after diagnosis. I started using essential oils and supplements.

I still have pain. I still haven’t got the medications right so that I feel better, and don’t keep getting sick from having my immune system too low. The medications all have side effects that sometimes seem worse than the disease, but if I quit taking them I end up not being able to walk or even dress myself.

The medication side effects scare me. The disease scares me. This is a horrible disease and we need a cure!

profile for natalia R natalia RBronx, NYI fight forMy Fight

Hi my name is Natalia, I am a 35 year women with RA, when i first notice was while i was in massage therapy school i was about 7 month pregnant with my Daughter in 2009, yes i was massaging and pregnant i love massage school it was great and i wanted to become a therapist i would've been a great one, so In 2010 after giving birth to my precious daughter i few month later i went back to the doctor...

Hi my name is Natalia, I am a 35 year women with RA, when i first notice was while i was in massage therapy school i was about 7 month pregnant with my Daughter in 2009, yes i was massaging and pregnant i love massage school it was great and i wanted to become a therapist i would've been a great one, so In 2010 after giving birth to my precious daughter i few month later i went back to the doctor to get a rheumatoid factor to check the levels of inflammation in the blood and it came back positive

i cried so much, i knew there was something wrong with me my fingers where so swollen in the knuckle area and it hurt so much, i barely could pick up my baby, I had pain in all my joint from my back and my shoulders to my forearm, i thank God i had family to help me threw my pain and struggles but no one could ever understand the great pain you feel day by day and how much it hurts, Once i began treatment nothing seems to be working but i started a new medication and it seems to be working a lot but my inflammation level are not completely controlled ...

I have a few year with RA still have pain and mild stiffness in the morning but i'm still fighting to get better and i hope that i'm still strong for my little girl i don't let anything take me down... Because i'm a fighter ... to all my RA Friends stay strong i know its not easy but fight all the way

info about natalia R
profile for Laura K Laura KNew York, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA 20 years ago after the birth of my daughter. I never even heard of it! Just so people know, not one person in my family has ever had it. Just me. I have been fighting this ever since. I started with one type of medication, and over the years kept on adding in more meds. Can't even pronounce half of them.

I was a stay at home mom, I know I was lucky for...

I was diagnosed with RA 20 years ago after the birth of my daughter. I never even heard of it! Just so people know, not one person in my family has ever had it. Just me. I have been fighting this ever since. I started with one type of medication, and over the years kept on adding in more meds. Can't even pronounce half of them.

I was a stay at home mom, I know I was lucky for that. But my kids had all their activities to get to everyday. I remember having such intense flare-ups at times, so I would drive with the palms of my hands. I was on three different injections over the course of the first ten years, then I began switching to new ones. Im waiting to see how this will work for me.

I had surgery a year ago on my left foot, to build the bones in my toes. Now I will have the right foot done. I work 20-28 hours a week, always on my feet. I make sure I workout 3-4 times a week. Yes, I workout through the pain. I am not letting this beat me. I am determined to fight back and hopefully hit remission.

Alot of family and friends still don't know the pain I am in everyday. They look at me like I am lazy. I hate that! I am exhausted by the end of a work day. I don't even have the energy to make dinner. One of the worst things I hear is, "Oh I have that to"!! Makes me very angry. I have nobody to talk with about the challenges people with RA or other Arthritis problems face on a daily basis.

I look back at the past 20 years and I know I did a good job and that I'm a fighter. My son played pro-hockey and my daughter is an amazing Equestrian. These 2 sports where extremely time consuming, but I did it! I'm not stopping now. We all have to fight this. Hopefully there will be a cure down the road. I do donate for the cause as well as participate in Arthritis walks. I hope my story relates to others, that we can be strong on the outside. Don't listen to others. Be true to yourself. Hugs to everyone.

profile for Hedy Hedy Houston, TXThis ismy fight

My story is simple. I was diagnosed with RA 13 years ago. I have learned the steps that work for me. I follow my doctor's instructions, eat right, exercise when I can. If I have a tough day I don't exercise. Sleep 8 hours a night( I am lucky). I focus on all of the wonderful things and people in my life. I am honest with friends and family and they know what help I need when and if I need it. I...

My story is simple. I was diagnosed with RA 13 years ago. I have learned the steps that work for me. I follow my doctor's instructions, eat right, exercise when I can. If I have a tough day I don't exercise. Sleep 8 hours a night( I am lucky). I focus on all of the wonderful things and people in my life. I am honest with friends and family and they know what help I need when and if I need it. I am busy volunteering for a variety of projects. My husband of nearly 50 years knows when I need help and takes over the household stuff. Lastly , I have taken my dad's ( of blessed memory) advice. It is Always smile and see the glass half full. I do that and my RA doesn't seem soooooo tough.

Always smile,
Hedy

profile for Judy P Judy PMarlborough, MAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 20 years ago - I was 40 at the time and just graduating from college with a degree in geology as a non-traditional student. My doctor kept me moving easily and I was able to be active for about 10 years. Then in my early 50's, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (I believe from the use of methotrexate) and went through chemotherapy treatment. I am...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 20 years ago - I was 40 at the time and just graduating from college with a degree in geology as a non-traditional student. My doctor kept me moving easily and I was able to be active for about 10 years. Then in my early 50's, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (I believe from the use of methotrexate) and went through chemotherapy treatment. I am cancer free now and am grateful for that! As my disease has progressed, so have my limitations. In the past, I was pretty active playing ice hockey, hiking and riding my horse. My time "in the field" as a field geologist has morphed into basically an office job. A few years ago, I had my left hip replaced and am just now finishing up physical therapy for my right hip replacement. I struggle with staying positive when I'm sore and I am so grateful for supportive family and friends. I often find myself wondering "Is this my arthritis or just me getting older??" For now, I am looking forward to getting back on my horse and perhaps doing a little casual skating sometime soon!

profile for Georgia H Georgia HBrockton, MAThis ismy fight

Several years ago I was fine. All of a sudden I have twisted fingers. They look terrible. It is from arthritis. I do take alfalfa about 8 to 10 tablets a day. If anyone knows something better that is close to all natural I would like to try it. I all ready take too many pills for my hi blood pressure. Thank you

profile for Lucy G Lucy GWellington, TXThis ismy fight

My name is Lucy I was 45yrs when I was diagnosed with RA and as the years go I'm 58 it's not easy the pain is real and my life seam's to be passing by fast the older the harder I have my own business and it's so sad cause I think I'm going to have to sell and go home don't know what to do it's hard no matter what thank you for hearing me....

profile for Cheryl S Cheryl SLouisville, KYThis ismy fight

My life today is pretty different then I thought it was going to be. I have always been very physical. I paid my way through college working as a beautician with a major in physical education. I was on:

gymnastics team
synchronized swim team
played volleyball, soccer, field hockey, water skied
snow skied and was on the National Ski Patrol Paoli Peaks
dancing - I...

My life today is pretty different then I thought it was going to be. I have always been very physical. I paid my way through college working as a beautician with a major in physical education. I was on:

gymnastics team
synchronized swim team
played volleyball, soccer, field hockey, water skied
snow skied and was on the National Ski Patrol Paoli Peaks
dancing - I have taken every kind imaginable. I was on the USO Show Stars

Oh if I had only known what a toll all of this was taking on my body. Fortunately, while in college, I realized I wanted to focus on what had been my minor-Business-so I changed my Major to Marketing.

Good thing: I could not have continued as a hair stylist or as a physical education teacher- standing all day long.

Fast forward many years; I have an MBA in Marketing from University of Louisville and over 35 years of international experience in marketing, advertising and advertising sales. And now I am retired.

I have classic Osteoarthritis (OA) the most common form of arthritis. I guess I also worked very hard to help breakdown my cartilage with all those activities I loved so much.

To date I have had 20 orthopedic surgeries and need many more.
I have had foot, knee, hip, shoulder, hand and back surgeries.

Thank God for modern medicine. Without these surgeries I would be in a wheel chair in severe and constant pain.

My treatment for OA has been surgeries, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medication and a Spinal Cord Stimulator. I swim or do water aerobics in a warm pool every day, use a stationary bicycle and I try to keep moving.

My Surgeries:

1976 right foot metatarsal at big toe - removed broken in half
2002 left foot Martin’s Neuroma (had to have re-done, did not heal correctly)
2003 right foot – 2 hammer toes repaired
2004 right hand/thumb repaired- tendon transfer
2005 left hand/thumb repaired with rod
2006 lower back- rods & screws around L3-4-5
2007 right hip replaced- anterior method, Zimmer Duron, large, metal/metal u0009
2008 left rotator cup repaired
2009 Left knee Arthroscopic surgery - trim torn/damaged cartilage & clean u0009u0009u0009out the joint
2009 left knee replaced with Biomet Signature Knee
2010 right hip revision- anterior method, Smith & Nephew
2011- Right hip revision- anterior method, Zimmer replacement/screwsu0009u0009u0009 Note: Experienced 4 dislocations in November/December
2011- Right hip revision- anterior method –Zimmer-constrained, locking joint
2014 Transforaminal Decompression Left L2-3
2015 Spinal cord stimulator - Medtronic 16 contact using paddle method
2015 left complete, reverse shoulder replacement
2015 left hip replacement, anterior methodu0009
2016 Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) L-1 to T-12, removed a rib
2016 Internal fusion of spine from S-1 to T-7, removed Spinal Stimulator
2017 Removed top screws from T-7 that had migrated and extended fusion up 3 levelsu0009u0009u0009u0009

I am happy to be able to say yes to do the things that I can still do.
I appreciate the work of the Arthritis Foundation.

education helps us learn how to copeu0009
research that leads to better surgeries, medications and someday a cure.

Because of the work of the Arthritis Foundation there is hope that my daughter, her generation and those to follow will have solutions and cures for these autoimmune diseases.

My Involvement with AF
Walk Committee - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Jingle Bell Run - volunteered 2015

Advocate - signs up new advocates at events and programs

Platinum Ambassador - attended Summit 2013. 2014, 2015

Vice-Chariman of Leadership Board for Kentucky - 2014-2015

Chair of Leadership Board for 2016, 2017

State Advocate- 2014, 2015

Annual National Meeting - attended 2014, 2015

Breaking the Pain Chain - attended 2014

JA Day - 2015

Research Reception- shared “MY Story” 2012

profile for Helen S Helen SRobstown , TXThis ismy fight

I have been fighting arthritis since I was a teen. I didn't get diagnosed until I was in my 30s. I have had drs tell me it's all in my head while they are taking big needles out of my knees with lots of fluid. I got married to my husband and he put me on his insurance. He had me go see his dr. I told the dr and showed them my knees. He said you have arthritis. He sent me to a rheumatologist and...

I have been fighting arthritis since I was a teen. I didn't get diagnosed until I was in my 30s. I have had drs tell me it's all in my head while they are taking big needles out of my knees with lots of fluid. I got married to my husband and he put me on his insurance. He had me go see his dr. I told the dr and showed them my knees. He said you have arthritis. He sent me to a rheumatologist and even though my numbers didn't show it she said I have RA. She put me on meds a lot that didn't work for me. Years later and lots of testing I think we are starting to see a treatment that is working for now. I have had surgerys due to this disease. The lastest one a hip arthroscopy. They took out a lot of bone and inflammation. I was one of the worse cases the surgeon had done. So, if you or someone you know has this awful disease I hope the drs will find something that gives you at least alittle comfort.

profile for Angela  B Angela BBrent , ALThis ismy fight

I battle Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis and Iritis daily. I was diagnosed with Iritis at the age of 13. After a long battle with this condition and a lot of research, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis at the age of 27. I will battle both conditions for the rest of my life. I live most days with pain and discomfort all over my body including both eyes. It's not an easy life to live....

I battle Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis and Iritis daily. I was diagnosed with Iritis at the age of 13. After a long battle with this condition and a lot of research, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rhumatoid Arthritis at the age of 27. I will battle both conditions for the rest of my life. I live most days with pain and discomfort all over my body including both eyes. It's not an easy life to live. I don't think people realize exactly what rheumatoid arthritis does to a person. It's life changing and it's not my choice.

profile for Marie M Marie MDracut, MAI fight forMy Husband

My husband is having crippling pain in his hands and swollen knuckles. He is a truck driver and finding it increasingly difficult to do small tasks. He just turned 60 and is so frustrated that his quality of life has already diminished greatly before even a definite diagnosis and plan of treatment. Bloodwork and more DR appointments are scheduled I feel so bad for him seeing him in so much pain

profile for Janet O Janet OColumbia, MOI fight forMy daughter Kyleigh

Kyleigh was diagnosed at age 8 with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis after 9 months of low grade temps and vague symptoms. We'd been to many doctors often multiple times in a week before finally finding a doctor in an urgent care that recognized 6 weeks of joint pain with no known injury or cause. He performed x-rays which were normal, but referred us to a pediatric rheumatologist.

Kyleigh was diagnosed at age 8 with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis after 9 months of low grade temps and vague symptoms. We'd been to many doctors often multiple times in a week before finally finding a doctor in an urgent care that recognized 6 weeks of joint pain with no known injury or cause. He performed x-rays which were normal, but referred us to a pediatric rheumatologist.

Within a week we had MRIs and a confirmed diagnosis with active arthritis and previous damage in both knees, ankles and hands. She had immediate joint injections which helped for a bit; however her disease continued to progress with her needing to use a wheelchair or wagon for anything outside the house. She takes ongoing medications to keep her arthritis pretty much at bay.

Kyleigh has good days and bad days and now has other autoimmune diagnoses related to her arthritis. She's had the roughest year yet, but has maintained a positive attitude and is a light to all who know her.

The greatest thing we have done for her is getting involved with the Arthritis Foundation from the very beginning! We went to our first JA Conference just 2 months after diagnosis. We've been very involved ever since. We will be attending our 5th JA Conference this summer in Houston. Being involved with advocacy and the foundation has been the best therapy for Kyleigh. We love our Arthritis Foundation and JA family. This isn't what we'd wished for for our daughter, but we can't imagine this journey without the support we have received!! This is why we raise awareness and fight for a cure so that future families can someday say, "Do you remember when kids used to get arthritis?!"

profile for Joy L Joy LIndianapolis, INThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995 when seeing a Chiropractor. A few months later I was in an auto accident in which my car was rear ended and my seat belt did not lock. This caused numerous injuries to my neck and back. I struggled with constant pain and headaches which disabled me in 2000.

In about 2012, I started having pain in my joints and aching everywhere. I was...

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1995 when seeing a Chiropractor. A few months later I was in an auto accident in which my car was rear ended and my seat belt did not lock. This caused numerous injuries to my neck and back. I struggled with constant pain and headaches which disabled me in 2000.

In about 2012, I started having pain in my joints and aching everywhere. I was misdiagnosed by my then dr and sent to a Rheumotologist for confirmation who actually went against my dr and diagnosed me with RA. I went on steroids in2012 and tried numerous other meds without relief. I finally found some relief with medication in 2015 but had to remain on a low dose of steroids to help with the pain.

I fell in our home in December 2015 and was diagnosed with a LisFranc joint dislocation, ligament rupture and fractures of all small toes. I had two reconstruction surgeries which did not heal because the steroids had damaged my bones. In April 2017 I had half my right foot amputated because of the damage the steroids caused to my bones. I am still recovering but will continue to fight on, even if some days I think I want to quit. Good luck everyone!

profile for Windy Windy Miramar, FLThis ismy fight

My RA journey started 2 years ago. My PCP wanted to wait to do testing in 6 months when I told her my symptoms. Fortunately I work in the medical field and was directed in the right direction to be diagnosed and start treatment. Unfortunately within that time I gained massive weight which further increased my pain and decreased the effectiveness of the RA medications.

At this point,...

My RA journey started 2 years ago. My PCP wanted to wait to do testing in 6 months when I told her my symptoms. Fortunately I work in the medical field and was directed in the right direction to be diagnosed and start treatment. Unfortunately within that time I gained massive weight which further increased my pain and decreased the effectiveness of the RA medications.

At this point, my rheumatologist had a heart to heart talk with me about how losing the weight would decrease the symptoms of RA.

Needles to say, I'm now on a new journey of weight loss and training for marathons Now 5 months later I've loosing weight, have minimal pain and the best news of all my doctor is starting to wean my medications!

Although there is not a day that goes by that I'm not in pain. I know one day I will be pain free!

info about Windy
profile for Jenny Jenny Findlay, OHThis ismy fight

I am fighting for me and my husband.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009 and chronic fatigue in 2013. Little by little my husband has shown signs of arthritis himself, mainly genetics. He is so young. Sadly, arthritis has no age.

Arthritis has really changed our lives. Our activity level has dropped dramatically. I went through so many tests before being diagnosed...

I am fighting for me and my husband.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009 and chronic fatigue in 2013. Little by little my husband has shown signs of arthritis himself, mainly genetics. He is so young. Sadly, arthritis has no age.

Arthritis has really changed our lives. Our activity level has dropped dramatically. I went through so many tests before being diagnosed because fibromyalgia is so hard to diagnose, especially not having its own set of tests.

We don't go on vacations for a few reasons. One is because frankly, we aren't up to it. Also, treatments and medications are costly.

One thing I will offer to others is to surround yourself with a support system. My husband's side of the family is great, mine not so much.

Anything I can do to help bring awareness and acceptance, I am all in.

profile for Collette M Collette MNorfolk, VAThis ismy fight

I am 43 and was diagnosed 17 years ago with RA. I fight every day. I am very active...theater, musician, comedian. I do my best to not let RA run my life. But it does at times. It takes over. I call it "The Dragon". When I am not clenched between the jaws of it, I am running from it. Most the time, like many others, I grin and bear it. But deep down, I hate it so much. I just do the best I can...

I am 43 and was diagnosed 17 years ago with RA. I fight every day. I am very active...theater, musician, comedian. I do my best to not let RA run my life. But it does at times. It takes over. I call it "The Dragon". When I am not clenched between the jaws of it, I am running from it. Most the time, like many others, I grin and bear it. But deep down, I hate it so much. I just do the best I can with what I got. RA sucks. My heart goes out to all of those who deal with it. Keep fighting. I will.

profile for Jacob P Jacob PTwin Falls, IDThis ismy fight

I was just diagnosed with arthritis this year. It has been very hard and very painful but I keep perserveering and not giving up.

profile for Kit J Kit JRaleigh, NCI fight formy whole family

My dad struggled with RA starting in his late 30s, when we were children. This was in the '70s-'80s when RA treatments were few, some were experimental, and some were downright dangerous. Now I read about the amazing progress in RA research, knowledge, and treatments and think about how different his life would have been. Heredity does tell, and my brother and I both have advanced...

My dad struggled with RA starting in his late 30s, when we were children. This was in the '70s-'80s when RA treatments were few, some were experimental, and some were downright dangerous. Now I read about the amazing progress in RA research, knowledge, and treatments and think about how different his life would have been. Heredity does tell, and my brother and I both have advanced osteoarthritis (mine started in my teens), and I also deal with fibromyalgia and systemic lupus. We are very thankful for the treatments and surgeries available to us -- that the previous generation did not have -- through the work of the Arthritis Foundation.

profile for Sandy I Sandy ILakeville, MNThis ismy fight

About 3 years ago I my knee started to swell up which scared me so I went to see my Dr. He did some tests and referred me to a Rhuematologist. They did blood work and diagnosed me with aggressive RA. I was started on a heavy dose of meds and within a few weeks I started to feel back to normal.

A few months later I started having more pain in my feet and hands so my meds were...

About 3 years ago I my knee started to swell up which scared me so I went to see my Dr. He did some tests and referred me to a Rhuematologist. They did blood work and diagnosed me with aggressive RA. I was started on a heavy dose of meds and within a few weeks I started to feel back to normal.

A few months later I started having more pain in my feet and hands so my meds were increased. One of the hardest things for me was losing hair. I started to get bald spots due to the meds. I also gained about 10 lbs. due to the prednisone and not being to exercise the way I was used to.

I have learned that I can't do things the way I used to, but I can do things in moderation. Instead of walking, I ride a bike or swim. Instead of cleaning my whole house and doing repetitive things, I do things slower and in smaller increments. I am happy with my life and feel grateful that even though I have RA, I have life and I want to enjoy every minute of it. RA is just something I have to manage - it doesn't dictate my life and I am thankful for what God has blessed me with.

profile for Jennie D Jennie DBlaine, MNThis ismy fight

My name is Jennie. I consider myself a 42 year survivor of JRA.
My story starts out like many of yours. I was diagnosed when I was about 1 and a half years old. I was learning to walk and I fell and chipped a bone in my ankle. I was in a cast for an extended period of time. The swelling in my ankle persisted after the cast was removed and I was eventually officially diagnosed with JA. I...

My name is Jennie. I consider myself a 42 year survivor of JRA.
My story starts out like many of yours. I was diagnosed when I was about 1 and a half years old. I was learning to walk and I fell and chipped a bone in my ankle. I was in a cast for an extended period of time. The swelling in my ankle persisted after the cast was removed and I was eventually officially diagnosed with JA. I was promptly put on baby aspirin as in the seventies there were limited medication options for a child with arthritis.

I’ve had a lot struggles in my life. Some of which my own family probably doesn’t know about. Growing up was very difficult for me. I hated taking my medicine. I refused to take them & boy did I ever pay for it. I would wake up in the morning so stiff I couldn’t move. I would cry out in pain. My mom would have to carry me from my bed into the tub. But I still went to school even though I probably should have stayed home. I can honestly say to this day I’ve never stayed home because of Arthritis. I just wanted to be with my friends. Also manipulating & handling bottles were hard for me because my hands were so deformed. Walking is also challenge due to bone spurs/calluses on the bottom of feet. People & doctors alike are amazed at me & that I do what I do.
Over the years I’ve had surgeries on almost every joint in my body. Like I said in my short yet long 44 years I've been thru a lot. As I face the next chapter with replacement surgeries and new forms of treatments all I have to say is "Bring it on". Yes I have arthritis but I don’t let it define me. That’s how I choose to live my life & I hope all of you do as well.

I would like to acknowledge the amazing staff at the Foundation. I’ve been volunteering there for ten years now. Throughout all the changes the one thing that hasn’t changed is truly they care & are here to help & for us to take control. They may not know this but they truly had profound effect on me. The strength & confidence I thought I had it grew just by knowing your there if ever I need you is immeasurable. I can’t thank you all enough.

profile for Shannon  C Shannon CBuffalo , NYThis ismy fight

I've had RA, since two years old, I'm now 38. I have fought. Some days I wanna give up, and just lay down. But I will never let this disease have the best of me. I am who I am today, through thick and thin, because of the disease. I will endure.

profile for Shannon S Shannon SBoston , MAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 18. The last 6 years have been full of comprising with my illness, pain, exhaustion, and having to say no but NEVER giving up. Even though sometimes the pain is hard to tolerate I try not to let my illness take away the activities I enjoy that make me who I am.

profile for Charlotte Charlotte Lake Charles, LAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JRA when I was a sophomore in high school, however, I started noticing joint pain about a year prior to being diagnosed. During that time I had to give up sports, like running on the track team, since I could barely walk. As time went on I finally felt relief after finding the right biologic treatment! From what I can remember, I went through college with only a handful of...

I was diagnosed with JRA when I was a sophomore in high school, however, I started noticing joint pain about a year prior to being diagnosed. During that time I had to give up sports, like running on the track team, since I could barely walk. As time went on I finally felt relief after finding the right biologic treatment! From what I can remember, I went through college with only a handful of bad flare ups, but I already had permanent damage in both my wrists so I was limited in what I could and could not do. The daily activities we take for granted were (and still are) my biggest struggles. It’s emotionally draining to have to ask for help with tasks like getting dressed, washing/drying your hair, opening jars/bottles and cooking. At times it feels like I've lost my independence. This feeling has been near to me these past several months after being told the biologic I was taking was no longer working with my body. It was like falling backwards after making huge improvements with my body. Despite all the struggles, I've learned that it's ok to ask for help and that those who truly love me want to help and want to help improve the quality of my life. I've also leaned that opening up and being honest about this disease has helped tremendously!! I mean, how can people understand what you're going through if you don't talk about it?! It's not always easy but it helps me mentally and physically in the long run.

profile for Sandy Sandy Johnstown, PAThis ismy fight

I try to never say no to anything related to my rheumatoid arthritis. I worked for 25 years with it while having both knees, one hip, shoulder replaced and a C1-C2 fusion in my neck. I have created a You Tube channel for persons with physical limitations where I show them crafts that I can do. It is called "Crafting for Almost Everyone." There is also a blog called...

I try to never say no to anything related to my rheumatoid arthritis. I worked for 25 years with it while having both knees, one hip, shoulder replaced and a C1-C2 fusion in my neck. I have created a You Tube channel for persons with physical limitations where I show them crafts that I can do. It is called "Crafting for Almost Everyone." There is also a blog called "craftingforalmosteveryone.com". I really believe it is helping me lead a more productive life and I love the feedback I've been getting from others with physical limitations as well as persons without disabilities. I am hoping more people with arthritis will learn about my channel. I am definitely NOT trying to make money from this. I am hoping this will allow others like me to see that there are things they can do to help keep them active, increase their imagination and improve their overall self esteem.

profile for Pam S Pam SMesa, AZThis ismy fight

My Rheumatoid Arthritis has caused me to not to not be able to say "yes"to many family holiday meals. I've had to turn down even my most precious event, the last Arthritis Summit this past March. I was too ill to attend. I've had to say no more to riding my bicycle, snow skiing, to being able to walk very far. Things I used to be able to do in my home, I had been a very DIY person. Now my home...

My Rheumatoid Arthritis has caused me to not to not be able to say "yes"to many family holiday meals. I've had to turn down even my most precious event, the last Arthritis Summit this past March. I was too ill to attend. I've had to say no more to riding my bicycle, snow skiing, to being able to walk very far. Things I used to be able to do in my home, I had been a very DIY person. Now my home projects, I've had to either stop completely or take them much slower due to arthritis. I've had to do things such as have family gatherings a few weeks later, or change plans to go on an overnight trip to a week or two after I am feeling better. I've learned to "channel" what energy I have more into my advocacy work from home, or do projects at a slower pace. The most difficult thing to do is have to say "no", when it is something you so truly want to do. I did all I could at home for the Summit this past March, as an E-Advocate. I've learned I CAN make a difference even from home. To live with arthritis, first you have to "accept" the fact that you will have to alter your way of living some. You have to "not feel guilty" when you can't say yes, and reschedule events if possible to when you feel better. Take care of YOU, first and foremost. If you don't take your medications, overdo things when you don't feel well. As difficult as it is, you have to explain to those family and friends that you may not want to let know, that your illness will sometimes mean you changing days around, or postponing some events. I am most proud of the fact that I try to channel my energy into my Ambassador work, my advocacy and activism. I feel that my "voice" truly is making a difference in how all of us with these horrid illnesses will have treatments, and a cure in the future.

profile for Jacie L (Age 15) Jacie L (Age 15)Grovetown, GAThis ismy fight

Hi my name is Jacie L. I am 15 years old and I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in the 3rd grade when I was 9 years old. I am a competitive cheerleader and a JV football cheerleader for my High School.

When I was diagnosed my doctor told me I had to quit cheer. That was the worst day of my life. I cried for hours over not being able to cheer. Cheer has been a part...

Hi my name is Jacie L. I am 15 years old and I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in the 3rd grade when I was 9 years old. I am a competitive cheerleader and a JV football cheerleader for my High School.

When I was diagnosed my doctor told me I had to quit cheer. That was the worst day of my life. I cried for hours over not being able to cheer. Cheer has been a part of my life since I was six years old and to have to quit was devastating. I had started at a new school my 4th grade year which was around the time I was diagnosed and at my worst. My fingers were curled under and I was hurting all the time. People started treating me differently and I was starting to get made fun of because I had arthritis. I would have people feel bad for me and people think it was weird that I had arthritis. I remember this one time some boy started stomping on my toe asking if it hurt and I said no because I'm not the type to say I'm in pain to people. He kept stomping on it until I said it hurt. I hated my friends knowing because I was scared they would treat me differently or just not talk to me. I was scared on being judged by my peers.

It took me almost five years to be confident enough to openly talk about my arthritis and raise awareness to people to tell them that arthritis is serious and inform people about how arthritis doesn't just affect my joints it affects my immune system and has brought my self confidence down. I have been told that I "use arthritis as an excuse for everything". It is something that has always disturbed me be to told that. Arthritis has also affected the way I've grown because arthritis stunts a person's growth, so at one point I had stopped growing.

If anyone ever asks if I would change having arthritis I would always say no because yes it has its negative side, but I have also met so many amazing people and I have been able to get myself in a state to where I'm not like how I was when I was first diagnosed. I am not in remission but I hope to one day get to that point where I am well enough to be put in remission.

I am so blessed to have the people in my life that help me get through this every day and I'm so grateful to have friends that I am able to connect with who have the same thing I do, and are going through the same problems I have gone through. I could not be luckier to have a family who is always there for me and helps me through this disease. My parents have paid thousands of dollars in medical bills and hospital visits.

info about Jacie L (Age 15)
profile for Ash R Ash RBradenton, FLI fight forJoseph (8)

It all started after 16 days in NICU. Premature 33 weeks. Our son was released from the hospital, we could finally take our baby home. Shortly after leaving the NICU, our son started to run high fevers. Spinal tap, after spinal tap. He would be released. Always running high fevers without being sick or showing signs of illness.

This continued.. We made it to 2 1/2 years old. He woke...

It all started after 16 days in NICU. Premature 33 weeks. Our son was released from the hospital, we could finally take our baby home. Shortly after leaving the NICU, our son started to run high fevers. Spinal tap, after spinal tap. He would be released. Always running high fevers without being sick or showing signs of illness.

This continued.. We made it to 2 1/2 years old. He woke up unable to walk the pediatrician had no clue that simply he has injured himself. We went for an Xray. Shortly after he received the results and was rushed to the local children's hospital or the following morning he received surgery. They still weren't sure, so they took biopsies. To confirm arthritis. Also a rare infection called Kingella(sorry possibly spelled wrong) and osteomyelitis. Cast and PICC Line.

We went home. To follow up infectious disease and the rheumatologist. Test after test after test my son has now behave at this point guinea pig. The frustration is unbearable pain the sun was in was overwhelming. Nothing a parent would ever want their child to go through and would rather take the pain away for them but couldn't so you stand helpless and help the nurses and doctors hold your child down. Fast forward--- my son has an amazing doctor. A wonderful doctor who fights for our son. Our son is doing well but the unknown of a flare-up is the most frustrating part as a parent. My son BMX's dirt bike rides, plays in the pool and lives his life like a normal child just as he should. Arthritis has nothing on our warrior. We pray they find a cure. We need a cure! Not medications. A cure!!

profile for Erin M Erin MBrockport, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis during grad school at age 22. I thought the pain in my joints would be the toughest thing to conquer, but I have learned that sometimes it the mental health aspect of handling so many complications, like medicines, side effects, working full time through pain and constant doctors appointments, giving yourself shots, exhaustion, gaining weight, losing...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis during grad school at age 22. I thought the pain in my joints would be the toughest thing to conquer, but I have learned that sometimes it the mental health aspect of handling so many complications, like medicines, side effects, working full time through pain and constant doctors appointments, giving yourself shots, exhaustion, gaining weight, losing hair, explaining your disease and then being treated differently, not being able to say yes to doing something every time you want to, surgeries, carpal tunnel, and torn ligaments.

However, although I will forever be frustrated by the burden of my RA, I am grateful at the same time because, without it, none of my accomplishments would mean as much. In addition, I appreciate RA for showing me how caring and wonderful my family and friends who have stuck by me really are.

profile for Maria M Maria MAthens, GAThis ismy fight

I started my journey in 2007. It started in my jaw. I couldn't eat. It was so painful. Diagnosed with fluid buildup in my jaw. Naproxen and that was it. I work retail so aches and pains are daily, until I couldn't open a water bottle. Maybe, carpal tunnel... wear these braces.

In 2009, I started to have pain in my lower right tummy. Ct scan and it was nothing. I had a reaction to pain...

I started my journey in 2007. It started in my jaw. I couldn't eat. It was so painful. Diagnosed with fluid buildup in my jaw. Naproxen and that was it. I work retail so aches and pains are daily, until I couldn't open a water bottle. Maybe, carpal tunnel... wear these braces.

In 2009, I started to have pain in my lower right tummy. Ct scan and it was nothing. I had a reaction to pain medication and the on-call doctor said, "I don't see anything on your scan but a little Arthritis in your back." Lightbulb moment! I sent myself to a rheumatologist where I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I am still working full-time Retail. I was lucky and found a great online support group that knew the importance of being aggressive with this disease and I was! My Rheumy wanted to go more slowly than me, but I insisted and she followed my lead. Do your homework online and talk with people who have your autoimmune disease. It can save your mobility.

Since my diagnosis, I have started traveling outside our country. I went to Europe, Costa Rica, and cruised in the Atlantic. I still work full-time retail craziness and try staying as active as I can.

RA is not a death sentence. Yes, my house is a mess. Yes, I work, so resting on my days off is necessary. Yes, life is different. I have embraced my new normal. You can too!

profile for William J William JBirmingham, ALThis ismy fight

I would say that it's been a long journey to get where I am today. First being diagnosed with an unknown type of inflammatory arthritis, then with Rheumatoid factor negative RA, then finally with Psoriatic Arthritis after a more in depth doctor analysis. Unfortunately, I am one of the people that most arthritis medications either don't work, barely work, or make me sick. Added to all this is that...

I would say that it's been a long journey to get where I am today. First being diagnosed with an unknown type of inflammatory arthritis, then with Rheumatoid factor negative RA, then finally with Psoriatic Arthritis after a more in depth doctor analysis. Unfortunately, I am one of the people that most arthritis medications either don't work, barely work, or make me sick. Added to all this is that I am a disabled veteran, and I have had 5 spinal fusion surgeries after breaking my back n the Marines, which has lead to chronic pain. Then I was diagnosed at 32 with Type 1 Diabetes, and the 15 years later with Psoriatic Arthritis. I have had to adjust from being a very active and athletic person, to someone who now has to enjoy the simple things in life. I like to cook, I like to read, but most of all I live through my two daughters now. They are my pride and joy and make the endless days of pain worth it. Now, if they could just make a drug that makes it so that I don't have to wait until noon to start loosening up, and also helps give me energy before the fatigue starts setting in around 4 pm, then life would definitely be better. Just take it day by day.

profile for Vicki G Vicki GSpringfield , MOThis ismy fight

I have degenerative arthritis in both of my knees! I don't have any cartilage left in either knees I am in pain all the time. It is really bad when weather is cold or rainy!

profile for Ashley K Ashley KTulsa, OKThis ismy fight

I was twelve when psoriasis on my scalp was diagnosed. It was a mild inconvenience growing up but, I dealt with it. A few months before my thirtieth birthday, I woke up unable to move. My joints were stiff and I was in incredible pain. My maternal grandfather and an aunt had passed from this life due to complications of RA and Lupus. I knew the signs of inflammatory arthritis all too well. After...

I was twelve when psoriasis on my scalp was diagnosed. It was a mild inconvenience growing up but, I dealt with it. A few months before my thirtieth birthday, I woke up unable to move. My joints were stiff and I was in incredible pain. My maternal grandfather and an aunt had passed from this life due to complications of RA and Lupus. I knew the signs of inflammatory arthritis all too well. After symptoms began manifesting, I went to a rheumatologist (after first being tested for everything under the sun with my PCP). I was diagnosed with PsA shortly before my birthday, February 2014.

I tried many different types of medication, and in November 2014, I began a medication that worked for me. It was a game changer in my treatment journey. I could climb a few stairs, I could walk without crying, I was able to open jars that had previously been opened and I returned to part time work. In April, this year, I began a new medication. What the first medication wasn't able to fully accomplish, this could. I ran for a mile, for the first time in three and a half years! I feel good enough to be more productive at work and I traveled, without pain, for the first time in years!

My arthritis journey has not been easy. However, I have the loving support of my parents, sister and brother-in-law, friends, colleagues, mentor and my incredible medical team. I also want to include the many amazing people that I have worked with at the Arthritis Foundation (I'm looking at you, Jennifer)! I served as Chair for Tulsa JBR 2015 and Chair of Silent Auction for Tulsa Bone Bash 2016. I plan to keep active with the Arthritis Foundation and give back to a foundation that has supported and given me so much. My fight is in honor of my papa, auntie and all those that have come before and after me. ❤

profile for Rebecca P Rebecca PCentral West Texas, TXThis ismy fight

After 40 years with serpositive Rheumatoid Arthritis I am here to tell you all that I've survived 8 reconstructive surgeries, taken every possible treatment available under the care of 5 different Rheumatologists including trial studies of all OTC analgesics. After all this time there is so much more I could add to this paragraph but it's just too much. I am widowed, I'm still here and trying to...

After 40 years with serpositive Rheumatoid Arthritis I am here to tell you all that I've survived 8 reconstructive surgeries, taken every possible treatment available under the care of 5 different Rheumatologists including trial studies of all OTC analgesics. After all this time there is so much more I could add to this paragraph but it's just too much. I am widowed, I'm still here and trying to enjoy the simplest things.

My last Rheumatologist told me I am at "end stage" of this disease and that it has run its course of destruction and that now all that can be done is to maintain me with pain medication for quality of life. I feel like I've been put out to pasture for what remains of my life. There is nothing left for my situation. On top of this I have Lupus and Fibromyalgia. I end up with reactions to all available itrestmrnts available even the steroids. I'm certainly in a fix. I mostly stay couched up during the day but get out often for my family and friends. Then there are those who don't understand any of this. Thankfully I'm still walking and do not yet require assistive devices. I don't take antidepressants but do need anti anxiety medication for the roughest days.

Never give up. Stay active with your limits and try to eat right. Best wishes to everyone.

profile for Shelley R Shelley RRogers, ARThis ismy fight

I am a 48 year old woman. I worked full time and had a successful career. Two years ago, I had surgery for carpel tunnel in my wrists. I had been diagnosed with this 15 years prior but the pain had suddenly become unbearable. The first week after surgery I seemed to be on track and I was to return to work in 3 weeks after surgery. However, the second week I woke up one morning and realized I...

I am a 48 year old woman. I worked full time and had a successful career. Two years ago, I had surgery for carpel tunnel in my wrists. I had been diagnosed with this 15 years prior but the pain had suddenly become unbearable. The first week after surgery I seemed to be on track and I was to return to work in 3 weeks after surgery. However, the second week I woke up one morning and realized I could barely walk. The pain was so severe and every movement was extremely painful. I went to the Dr. and after a few visits and blood work he told me he thought I had RA and PsA. He sent me to a rheumatologist and she confirmed I had both and it was aggressive.

We tried several medications but it would be a year before I got any relief from the relentless pain. I still have not returned to work and I don't see that in the near future, well honestly, I don't see it at all but I hate saying that.

I'm not the kind of person to feel sorry for myself or even let anyone know how bad I feel; but, I really just want my life back. When this started I accepted it would take sometime to recover; then it started sinking in that I probably would never fully "recover", and that's hard.

My mind still thinks I can refinish furniture and paint a house or even a canvas; but, my body betrays me. Even right now as I'm typing this, I am extremely tired, my head hurts and I'm sick to my stomach from meds; not to mention the pain in my foot/leg from a flare up. This is not what I had planned for my 40's or ever.

profile for Lori G Lori GTurlock, CAThis ismy fight

My diagnosis began with what I thought was pink eye. But it turned out to be inflammation in both eyes, my hands were swollen and red and I was having a hard time walking. Diagnosis, Spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, RA, and fibromyalgia. I was 52 and have spent the last year of my life on different meds trying to get control of my immune system and the pain. It has been a process, my biggest...

My diagnosis began with what I thought was pink eye. But it turned out to be inflammation in both eyes, my hands were swollen and red and I was having a hard time walking. Diagnosis, Spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, RA, and fibromyalgia. I was 52 and have spent the last year of my life on different meds trying to get control of my immune system and the pain. It has been a process, my biggest trigger is the weather, cold rainy days are brutal. I think back on my life, and I have had symptoms since I was 19, and can't help but wonder if I had had an early diagnosis, perhaps my life would be different. I live by myself, I still get up every day and go to work, I don't burden others with my illness. My only child, my 26 year old son is not supportive at all, and you really find out who your friends are. You don't look sick, so it's hard for people to understand. But I will not let my disease define who I am, I fight because it is the only choice I have!

profile for Marlene J Marlene JDracut, MAThis ismy fight

"The Hidden Disease" - I woke up one morning in Dec. 2013 with a pain in my neck. I thought I must have slept wrong and it would go away in a couple of days as this had happened to me in the past. It didn't. 2 weeks later I went to my doctor who thought I strained it somehow and he prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory meds. and told me if it didn't go away in 2 weeks he would...

"The Hidden Disease" - I woke up one morning in Dec. 2013 with a pain in my neck. I thought I must have slept wrong and it would go away in a couple of days as this had happened to me in the past. It didn't. 2 weeks later I went to my doctor who thought I strained it somehow and he prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory meds. and told me if it didn't go away in 2 weeks he would send me to a physical therapist (PT). It didn't go away and now it affected my shoulders.

Now it is Feb. 2014, I am 49 years old. I stopped going to my gym because I didn't want to make the neck and shoulder pain worse. I had four weeks of PT and that didn't help. Back to my doctor who ordered a MRI of my neck in March 2014. Nothing was found so I tried a chiropractor 3x a week for 2 weeks in May. After the 2 weeks I asked the chiropractor when my neck pain would go away. He looked at me funny and said most patients find relief by now.

Now it is June. Now I have lower back pain and my gluteal and hamstring muscles were so achy it hurt to get up from a sitting position. It hurt getting out of bed, it hurt turning over in bed. I went to a new PT in June 2x a week for 3 weeks. My pain was getting worse. Now on top of all the other pain, it hurt to take a deep breath and I could not lift my arms over my head and I could not bend my knees past a 90 degree angle. It hurt to climb and descend stairs. I went back to my doctor who ordered a lyme test and blood tests. My inflammation markers were sky high so he referred me to a rheumatologist who did a physical, took x-rays and more blood work.

I was finally diagnosed with RA in Aug. 2014!! Funny to say it was a relief to me because for so long I had no idea what was wrong with me. I did not have the typical joint pain in the hands and/or feet. It took another 2 years to find the right combination of RA meds. to get my pain under control. I am happy to say I currently have low disease activity, work full time and I am back at the gym 2-3 times a week. I know I will never be pain-free, but compared to how I felt the summer of 2014 - I will take how I am feeling now over that.

profile for Tom Tom Lexington, KYThis ismy fight

I like to be outdoors almost more than anything, whether just going for a hike, or stalking a turkey, or trying to land a big catfish. Of late though, my outdoors time has turned into recliner time. I have OA so bad in my left knee, walking is not only painful, it's almost impossible when going up or down hillsides. But the worst thing of all is not being able to chase my grandchildren around or...

I like to be outdoors almost more than anything, whether just going for a hike, or stalking a turkey, or trying to land a big catfish. Of late though, my outdoors time has turned into recliner time. I have OA so bad in my left knee, walking is not only painful, it's almost impossible when going up or down hillsides. But the worst thing of all is not being able to chase my grandchildren around or get down on the floor and play with them. I just wish the pain would stop so I can play some ball with them.

profile for Janet H Janet HLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I walk. I talk. I look OK. But I'm not.

I'm permanently disabled due to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

profile for Staci  P Staci PNorth Newton, KSThis ismy fight

I have had inflammatory issues most of my life. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with seropositive RA. Over the last year I have tried several different combos of meds and have finally found one that does a relatively good job of managing my symptoms. I have had to realize that I cannot push and be as busy as I used to be. I hate how RA has changed my life. I have found hope through Advocacy...

I have had inflammatory issues most of my life. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with seropositive RA. Over the last year I have tried several different combos of meds and have finally found one that does a relatively good job of managing my symptoms. I have had to realize that I cannot push and be as busy as I used to be. I hate how RA has changed my life. I have found hope through Advocacy with the Arthritis Foundation. It gives me a voice!

profile for Brenda A Brenda AOmaha, NEThis ismy fight

In July 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage II er+ pr- her2- Breast Cancer at the age of 42. Following 2 surgeries, I rec'd dose dense chemotherapy, in addition to 33 rounds of radiation, followed by 5 years of more medication and add'l surgeries.

Although my Oncologists are not certain which treatment(s) caused many of my subsequent health problems, they have been numerous. I have...

In July 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage II er+ pr- her2- Breast Cancer at the age of 42. Following 2 surgeries, I rec'd dose dense chemotherapy, in addition to 33 rounds of radiation, followed by 5 years of more medication and add'l surgeries.

Although my Oncologists are not certain which treatment(s) caused many of my subsequent health problems, they have been numerous. I have long-term (permanent) side-effects from cancer treatments (lung scarring from radiation for example).

I've ended up with a number of auto-immune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjorgren's Syndrome, Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vit B-12 Deficiency Anemia, Asthma and moderate/severe allergies and/or environmental triggers. I suffer from extreme daytime fatigue and neuropathy in both feet and my right thigh. I have frequent bouts with tingling in my scalp and face, both of which may indicate MS. I had a spinal tap a few years ago which was negative for MS, so we are hopeful that I'm not developing it. I also have Trochanteric Bursitis on both my left and right upper femoral bones, which makes walking, sitting, and sleeping on my side difficult. I was also diagnosed with Sleep Apnea 2 years ago.

All of this is so frustrating as I'm well within my normal weight and BMI for my height. In other words, losing weight will not likely improve any of these issues. Most days, I feel like I'm about 100+ YO instead of 54.

Needless to say, I feel awful most days. I had to quit working (as a teacher) 4 years due to all of my health issues. I never know if I'll feel good when I get up. It is extremely difficult to make long-term plans and if I overdo it, it can leave me nearly bedridden for days.

The only glimmer of hope in all of this has been my very supportive husband. He is so good to me when I'm having really bad days, and he helps out with day to day housework when I'm not up to it.

I know that there are others who suffer as I do. I really hope that within my lifetime, better treatments can be discovered for those of us who endure multiple auto-immune disorders. I have had okay to good pain management with accupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, and PT/OT. I choose to not take narcotics as I struggle so much with daytime fatigue, I am quite certain that I would sleep non-stop. Please undertand that I'm looking for sympathy, but rather talking about all of my health issues so that others going through similar things know that they are not alone.

profile for dawn S dawn SClarksville, TNThis ismy fight

My name is dawn I live in Clarksville tn. Since 2005 I have had close to 30 surgeries. I have two fake knees, fake left shoulder, fake right elbow both thumb joints rebuilt, a plate, screws and a bridge in my right foot and I have had two back surgeries. I have been in a pain management program for about two years. I have recently found out that I am going to have to have neck surgery. The...

My name is dawn I live in Clarksville tn. Since 2005 I have had close to 30 surgeries. I have two fake knees, fake left shoulder, fake right elbow both thumb joints rebuilt, a plate, screws and a bridge in my right foot and I have had two back surgeries. I have been in a pain management program for about two years. I have recently found out that I am going to have to have neck surgery. The pain specialist are trying to find away to help me with my back. Pain is a friend I have had with me for several years now. A few months ago I found out by an arthritis specialist that I have premature osteoarthritis. She explained to me it was a type of arthritis where my skeletal system is older than my age. I was just wondering is there anyone else out there that has the same thing I do that I can share with? I have felt alone in this battle.
there are days when I just can not get up off a couch, out of bed, my family don't understand. Thanks for letting me share.

profile for Angela B Angela BHeuvelton , NYThis ismy fight

My pain began around age 5. I used to limp, with pain in the arch of my left foot. Since it wasn't continual pain, and only lasted a month or so at a time, Drs told my parents I was being lazy, or looking for attention . Fifteen years later, I had wisdom teeth surgically removed and my jaw wouldn't heal. I was in excruciating pain. Drs told me I had an upper respiratory infection . When nothing...

My pain began around age 5. I used to limp, with pain in the arch of my left foot. Since it wasn't continual pain, and only lasted a month or so at a time, Drs told my parents I was being lazy, or looking for attention . Fifteen years later, I had wisdom teeth surgically removed and my jaw wouldn't heal. I was in excruciating pain. Drs told me I had an upper respiratory infection . When nothing helped I was finally sent for blood work. It came back positive for RA. I was given OTC pain medication.

At 25, I couldn't walk without being in agony. People were actually mean towards me, because they couldn't believe someone in their twenties had RA. I was sent to the Arthritis Center in Syracuse, where I was treated badly because at that time, I was in remission and the dr could manipulate my joints any way she wanted. More tests. I was negative for RA. I suffered for a few more years. Saw another dr, tested positive for RA. Between the ages of 25-44, I had been positive and negative several times. Finally, new tests were available . My latest NP, specializing in RA had me tested again. This time there was no doubt I had RA. I am now on two different medications that seem to be helping. I'm only in pain when I overdo it.

profile for Kathleen  T Kathleen TDallas, TXThis ismy fight

5 years ago I dislocated my tarsal joints in my right foot. I wore braces for a year. Then the foot became so swollen that I had to have surgery. I was an avid runner and my surgeon and I thought it was running. While I was recovering from my foot surgery, my right hand swelled up dramatically. He sent me to a rheumatologist and she did tests and I had very aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. She...

5 years ago I dislocated my tarsal joints in my right foot. I wore braces for a year. Then the foot became so swollen that I had to have surgery. I was an avid runner and my surgeon and I thought it was running. While I was recovering from my foot surgery, my right hand swelled up dramatically. He sent me to a rheumatologist and she did tests and I had very aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. She medicated me with two types of medicine. However I continued to have problems.

I have had four surgeries on my right foot and four on my right hand. I was a runner and worked out four to five times a day and my career was a massage therapist. I was very active but I have had to give up my exercise routine and massage therapy. I have suffered a big loss in income and I do exercises recommended by my physical therapy.

I am 68 years old and RA has changed my life. When people ask me about all my surgeries they say ,"the older you get, the worse the arthritis". They don't understand that RA is much different. Also, Arthritis Today is full of articles about people doing triathlons, and all kinds of success stories. That is fine but it suggests that RA is not so serious. Why doesn't other stories about people who have lost their jobs, etc.

I fight for my self and everyone who has RA. I am on infusions now. I do feel better and the damage and inflammation seems to be under control. Massage Therapy was a calling for me and not doing it has left a hole in my spirit. I have wonderful support from my family and recently my brother was diagnosed with RA. We support each other and try not to let RA get in the way of what we want to do but we are limited. It is a devastating and crippling disease and the only people that can relate to that are others with RA or MS or Lupus. I fight for everyone that has any of those diseases. Fortunately, my doctor and my friends and family are supportive and my lifeline. I wish all who have RA the best they can get out of life.

profile for stacey D stacey DCayce, SCThis ismy fight

Was diagnosed in 2015 with osteoarthritis of the spine and ibs. It has been a true battle with so many obstacles and chronic pain. I try so hard to maintain normalcy, do what I'm suppose too to ease my symptoms, and live my life to the fullest!
This is a true testiment to having faith that the next life will bring happiness and no pain.

profile for Terri M Terri MLas Vegas , NVThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA four years ago when I was 54. Diagnosis came after a long battle of pain in my hip. It took a long time to find medications that work without too many side effects. Because of my breast cancer in 2011 I am not able to use steroids. I was able to take an early retirement at 55 and went on a mission to feel better. I started acupuncture which helped me get moving without...

I was diagnosed with RA four years ago when I was 54. Diagnosis came after a long battle of pain in my hip. It took a long time to find medications that work without too many side effects. Because of my breast cancer in 2011 I am not able to use steroids. I was able to take an early retirement at 55 and went on a mission to feel better. I started acupuncture which helped me get moving without so much pain. Water aerobics was next and I'm still doing it three times a week when possible. There was a time I couldn't open anything without help. I know that moving is the key, sometimes it hurts to move but we have to keep going! I hope that I can always remain hopeful and positive not just for myself but for everyone! Big shout out to my husband for his great support and understanding!

profile for Eileen Eileen Monroe, NCThis ismy fight

At first, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when I was 20. The psoriasis went away when I was 22, but the arthritis didn't. I've got fibromyalgia as well. If you don't know me, you might be thinking I'm between 60-75. I feel older than what I really am. I'm 23 and have more health issues than I care to count. The picture I chose was on a cold day. The cold relaxes my muscles, but affects...

At first, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when I was 20. The psoriasis went away when I was 22, but the arthritis didn't. I've got fibromyalgia as well. If you don't know me, you might be thinking I'm between 60-75. I feel older than what I really am. I'm 23 and have more health issues than I care to count. The picture I chose was on a cold day. The cold relaxes my muscles, but affects my arthritis. The heat doesn't always help. Arthritis is a common thing in my family and on some mornings, it could take anywhere in between 15-20 minutes to get out of bed in the morning. I don't want pity. I have a pain tolerance that is slowly increasing. It'll wake me up in the middle of the night.

I could probably write an essay, but if you've read this far, I thank you.

profile for DOUGLAS T DOUGLAS TDOVER, DEThis ismy fight

As a child and as a teenager, I watched my dad get worse and worse from rheumatoid arthritis. He went from a man who could have a catch with you to a man who could barely hold a fork or spoon. He stood about 5' 10" to a man crippled up in a wheel chair. He had to have help to dress, to bath, to get in and out of a vehicle. I used to cut his toenails when they needed it. I always prayed that...

As a child and as a teenager, I watched my dad get worse and worse from rheumatoid arthritis. He went from a man who could have a catch with you to a man who could barely hold a fork or spoon. He stood about 5' 10" to a man crippled up in a wheel chair. He had to have help to dress, to bath, to get in and out of a vehicle. I used to cut his toenails when they needed it. I always prayed that I would not get the same disease.

However, at age 67, just 3 years ago, I experienced the first bouts of my RA. I could hardly walk. My hands became swollen and the pain was like a constant toothache. I was finally referred to a rheumatologist by my primary doctor. I went through the blood work and the tests and told that I had RA. I was initially treated with medication which really helped with the pain and the joint swelling. After a few months though, I broke out with psoriasis as a result of the medication. I was then put on something different and went through laser treatment for the psoriasis. I was then switched to an infusion. I get infusion every 6 weeks.

It works pretty well but the last week to 10 days I can tell the medication is wearing off and the pain starts to return and I have minor swelling. I have 4 brothers still alive and none of them seem to have any of the symptoms of RA. I hope they don't. When my dad was alive they didn't have the treatments for RA that they do now. I'm fortunate that I can get some relief from the awful pain and swelling that comes with RA. I can't imagine the pain my dad went through because the only treatment he received was gold shots at the nearby VA Hospital.

profile for Sharon L Sharon LGarland, TXThis ismy fight

The pain began in my thighs in 1992. In 1996 I was diagnosed and treated for Fibromyalgia and placed in a research study for medication. I continued to have worsening pain and difficulty walking along with extreme fatigue. I finally found another rheumatologist (whom I saw for 18 years before he retired) who discovered Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis and Sjogren's Syndrome....

The pain began in my thighs in 1992. In 1996 I was diagnosed and treated for Fibromyalgia and placed in a research study for medication. I continued to have worsening pain and difficulty walking along with extreme fatigue. I finally found another rheumatologist (whom I saw for 18 years before he retired) who discovered Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis and Sjogren's Syndrome. Unfortunately, due to my incorrect diagnosis and lack of appropriate therapy the physical damage to my spine and sacroiliac joints was, by this time, severe. I was on high-dose medication for over 15 years, luckily without any damage to my bones, heart or other organs.

I have had one Lumbar fusion and four Cervical fusions. The last two Cervical fusions were to prevent me from becoming paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator. I still run this risk. A pain pump was inserted in 2014 and gave me back a semblance of life. I began a new medication in April of this year and have been able to wean from the amount and am still dropping. I have been on disability since 2003 and, even with the improvements, will never be able to work again (I am 64).

The worst part of my story? My husband of 34 years, who has Psoriatic Arthritis but who got better, was unable to stick it out and left me in 2011. We had a rough two years after the divorce but have since become friends again much to the happiness of our four children and eleven (plus one on the way) grandchildren. My bottom line advice? You know your own body. If the diagnosis and treatment don't feel right, then keep looking until you find someone who listens and helps. I had to leave my lifetime dream career (heart-lung transplant ICU RN) due to my misdiagnosis. Fight for yourself!!!

profile for Joanne J Joanne JPhiladelphia, PAThis ismy fight

It's Mother's day and I can hardly type. Was diagnosed over 5 years ago with seropositive RA. Since then, multiple specialists have helped me with slowing the progression of this dieease. I've tried many different types of medication. Being a single mom with a special needs child poses challenges every day. I have a supportive kind boyfriend who encourages me and tries to make me comfortable...

It's Mother's day and I can hardly type. Was diagnosed over 5 years ago with seropositive RA. Since then, multiple specialists have helped me with slowing the progression of this dieease. I've tried many different types of medication. Being a single mom with a special needs child poses challenges every day. I have a supportive kind boyfriend who encourages me and tries to make me comfortable when he can.
Now I am in danger of losing insurance benefits as our business has been sold and all employees are being let go. Just hoping for a small miracle soon!

profile for Betty S Betty SLouisville, KYThis ismy fight

I am fighting to be able to walk and to keep my job as long as possible. I realize that Osteoarthritis is a crimpling part of Arthritis and that I may be confined to a wheelchair and or bed to where I cannot move or take care of myself in the future.

I have no support group for this and I would like to go walking and be able to do some other exercising such as treadmill, maybe see...

I am fighting to be able to walk and to keep my job as long as possible. I realize that Osteoarthritis is a crimpling part of Arthritis and that I may be confined to a wheelchair and or bed to where I cannot move or take care of myself in the future.

I have no support group for this and I would like to go walking and be able to do some other exercising such as treadmill, maybe see if Zumba dancing would be useful, and do some more Tia Chia for exercise, but it costs to do some of these things. I am already being treated as if I was an envolent (Phonetic) by some co-workers where I work.

I am able to do most of my job duties and I get made fun of for standing on a stool to reach files on the upper shelves. I am tired of it and I am to the point of resigning due to them treating me this way. I can stand just fine and I want to do my work, but they cause the complex of "Don't you due that, I am afraid you will fall"! type attitude. The same way I was brought up and I cannot get rid of this complex that keeps coming back.

I don't want to get hurt either but I cannot stop a fall if I am walking and my feet and legs give out. I guess I will get made fun of for that as well. Why do people want to treat others this way? It does not make sense to me and I will never understand anyone who is so afraid for me to do anything. I hate them for this and It is extremely hard for me to not got off on them. I never asked for this Osteoarthritis and I did not want it. It must be genetic and there is nothing I can do about it, but to live and deal with this on my own.

I wished none of us had to have any form of arthritis we would be better off without it. I also have relatives who have been battling their own arthritis issues. I am taking shots every three months and that helps some, but it is not a cure. I wished their was a cure. That is my struggle and it is also very hard to drive my car as well, when the weather is bad with a lot of rain or very cold weather it makes it extremely hard for me to walk and drive. I have to take OTC medication to get going at times. At least I can walk around the office and get away from my desk at work, that helps loosen the muscles to where it is not so bad when I walk, stand or drive my car. I really do not know what else I can do about this. Thanks for listening as I know it is not easy for anyone else.

profile for Kirby A Kirby AMandeville , LAThis ismy fight

I hurt from my feet to my face everyday. If I go out and do something it takes me days to come back to feeling like all I can do is sit on sofa. For me getting up, dressed and coming downstairs to watch TV is a major accomplishment. Taking a bath is a major ordeal. It takes at least an hour and that's no makeup. I hurt all over with Rheumatoid Arthritis and CRPS, Sjorgens disease,...

I hurt from my feet to my face everyday. If I go out and do something it takes me days to come back to feeling like all I can do is sit on sofa. For me getting up, dressed and coming downstairs to watch TV is a major accomplishment. Taking a bath is a major ordeal. It takes at least an hour and that's no makeup. I hurt all over with Rheumatoid Arthritis and CRPS, Sjorgens disease, Degenerative disk disease and other autoimmune, autoneurological and auto muscular. I have been suffering for over 21 years. I'm really tired and very scared. My doctor had his license suspended, my Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor. I have been on medicinal management for over 6 years. I did the Intervention also Pain Management for 15 years (2 stimulators, pain pump, 100s of injections, burning nerves, removing nerves plus more I can't think of) and know I'm going to have to go into withdrawal if I don't find a dr who can write for opiods).

profile for Rebecca P Rebecca PRocky Mount, NCThis ismy fight

I have been living with psoriatic arthritis for 40 years. I noticed my junior year in high school that I had very bad ankle pain when taking dance class. Then I began to notice severe stiffness In my hands and neck. I visited numerous doctors from pediatrician to rheumotologist and no one could peg the problem. I was finally 26 years old when I diagnosed myself after doing research and having an...

I have been living with psoriatic arthritis for 40 years. I noticed my junior year in high school that I had very bad ankle pain when taking dance class. Then I began to notice severe stiffness In my hands and neck. I visited numerous doctors from pediatrician to rheumotologist and no one could peg the problem. I was finally 26 years old when I diagnosed myself after doing research and having an uncle ( by marriage) that suffered with psoriatic arthritis. It took deformity for doctors to realize that I really did have a problem. I tried all types of drugs, but nothing g really helped until I was blessed with taking a medication that works for me. It gave me my life back. My hands and feet are very affected, but I am able to do whatever I want. I just finished my second 5k. I'm 56 years old, love life and I am determined not to let psoriatic arthritis get the best of me!

profile for Danielle Danielle Pinecrest , FLThis ismy fight

My name is Danielle and I'm 42 years old. I was diagnosed with RA in October 2016. Unfortunately, during that time I have been inundated with stress and anxiety pertaining to my personal life. My RA rapidly progresses because I could not control my stressful situation. I found a wonderful doctor who has helped me learn about the disease and the medication I am taking.

I have had...

My name is Danielle and I'm 42 years old. I was diagnosed with RA in October 2016. Unfortunately, during that time I have been inundated with stress and anxiety pertaining to my personal life. My RA rapidly progresses because I could not control my stressful situation. I found a wonderful doctor who has helped me learn about the disease and the medication I am taking.

I have had symptoms of RA for many years and have complained incessantly but unfortunately Powell don't want to hear it. Now that I have my diagnosis and medication I continue to try to manage the disease, lower my stress levels and take care of my physical self.

profile for Kat O Kat OWoodstock, ILThis ismy fight

When you are 11 years old you never expect to be told that your body is attacking itself. You do not expect to be told that you have to be careful not to run too much or jump and watch how you play because you might hurt yourself. To be so terrified about what is going to happen to you because you've watched your younger sister fight the same disease.

To be turned into a side show...

When you are 11 years old you never expect to be told that your body is attacking itself. You do not expect to be told that you have to be careful not to run too much or jump and watch how you play because you might hurt yourself. To be so terrified about what is going to happen to you because you've watched your younger sister fight the same disease.

To be turned into a side show when your doctor discover's you have Reynaud's Phenomenon and he has a bunch of medical students who have never seen it before. You do not expect to have days you cannot walk when you are 15 years old because the pain is so bad that just laying still on the bed hurts. To be 18 and told that not only do you not have JRA but you have RA and any hopes you had of outgrowing the disease are dashed.

When you are 22 you do not expect to be told that not only do you have RA but Interstitial Cystitis and Fibromyalgia and you will feel pain every day of your life. You do not expect to be on a cane at the age of 23 because your disease have made it so you cannot walk unassisted. You do not expect to be judge for parking in handicapped with your placard because you know you will barely make it through the grocery store much less to a far parking spot. To have people kick your cane out from under you in a crowded museum because they are not paying attention.

I am now 32. I am currently flaring and fighting just to do my job. But I have to choose between doing my dishes and cooking, supporting my students at an event versus going to the grocery store, wearing clothing with no buttons that barely looks professional just to get to work. Trying hard not to cry when a student who is having a bad day comes up to me and asks for a hug and having that hug hurt so much I want to cry. To have to fight through recovery after ACL replacement surgery and a flare that makes it impossible for you to give your best effort at therapy. To know that if the insurance laws change you can never go home (I currently live overseas in a country with national health care) because you will never be able to get insurance again.

I will not quit. I will rage, I will fight, I will overcome. I will do my best to live my life and not be defined by my disease. But some days it is so hard. But I will not quit.

profile for LaVern W LaVern WEuclid, OHThis ismy fight

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a debilitating disease and I was diagnosed with this disease 14 years ago. You wake up in pain and go to bed in pain. Thanks to much prayer, exercise and the medicines that are on the market, I am able to manage. Each day is different from the next. I fight for my Mom and myself and I join in with all arthritis sufferers and together we will win the fight against this...

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a debilitating disease and I was diagnosed with this disease 14 years ago. You wake up in pain and go to bed in pain. Thanks to much prayer, exercise and the medicines that are on the market, I am able to manage. Each day is different from the next. I fight for my Mom and myself and I join in with all arthritis sufferers and together we will win the fight against this disease.

profile for Nikki Nikki Charleston, WVThis ismy fight

I was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in March. I am currently going through the motions of trying different medications to figure out what works. I currently take at least 7 pills per day to try and feel normal. I just want people to understand that while I may look and act normal, I'm in a lot of pain. I'm not able to take long hikes with my husband and my dogs and I'm not going to be...

I was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in March. I am currently going through the motions of trying different medications to figure out what works. I currently take at least 7 pills per day to try and feel normal. I just want people to understand that while I may look and act normal, I'm in a lot of pain. I'm not able to take long hikes with my husband and my dogs and I'm not going to be able to play rec league softball this year. It's so hard going from perfectly healthy to not in just a few months. I'm still trying to get used to this new life and new limitations. I'm hoping these medications make me feel somewhat normal again. I'm fighting for better insurance to cover my doctors visits and medication and I'm fighting for people to become educated on rheumatoid arthritis!

profile for Amber  D Amber DSan Francisco , CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in college, and it has been a long journey learning about and being thrown into a whirlwind of medicine, treatments, and the science behind arthritis. It has been full of ups and downs, but I have seen this experience as an opportunity to grow in my knowledge of medicine and health, develop clear priorities and balance my time better, and work harder to...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in college, and it has been a long journey learning about and being thrown into a whirlwind of medicine, treatments, and the science behind arthritis. It has been full of ups and downs, but I have seen this experience as an opportunity to grow in my knowledge of medicine and health, develop clear priorities and balance my time better, and work harder to become a physician. I hope to be able to help others in the future in the same way breakthroughs in treatments and positive medical care has helped me.

profile for Marlena F Marlena FPhoenix, AZThis ismy fight

My name is Marlena, I have Rheumatoid, Sjrogens & Fibromyalgia. The struggle is real, I am currently battling several illnesses daily and gotta keep pushing daily for my 13yr old and 11yr old children. Life is difficult and trying to stay mentally balanced. I am a single parent as well. God has blessed me with 2 kids that help me the best they can given the circumstances. I am always extremely...

My name is Marlena, I have Rheumatoid, Sjrogens & Fibromyalgia. The struggle is real, I am currently battling several illnesses daily and gotta keep pushing daily for my 13yr old and 11yr old children. Life is difficult and trying to stay mentally balanced. I am a single parent as well. God has blessed me with 2 kids that help me the best they can given the circumstances. I am always extremely tired, with pain that is unbearable. My medications are still being changed until we can find a suitable mixture that can help. I am 35yrs old and sometimes feel like it is the end of the world for me. The strength I have to continue on daily I gotta say is coming from God. There are days I do not even know how I function. I guess I have triggered my mind to ignore some of the pain. Well this is my story, this is my life, endure the struggle yet embrace it as well!

info about Marlena F
profile for CESAR L CESAR LCUTLER BAY, FLI fight forMy granddaughter

My granddaughter Sophia Gonzalez, learned how to walk at nine months old, suddenly started to drag her leg at age two. At age two and a half, Sophia was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis! Over the next few years, she was in and out of doctors’ offices and on various different types of biologics. In her fifth and seventh grade years, she suffered especially bad episodes, which...

My granddaughter Sophia Gonzalez, learned how to walk at nine months old, suddenly started to drag her leg at age two. At age two and a half, Sophia was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis! Over the next few years, she was in and out of doctors’ offices and on various different types of biologics. In her fifth and seventh grade years, she suffered especially bad episodes, which resulted in her not being able to play with her classmates or participate in any physical activities. But with the help of physicians, school faculty, and prayers from her family and friends, she overcame it and is currently on mild daily biologics!!

In the beginning of her ninth grade year, her interest in arthritis grew more at which point she decided to do her science fair project on the effects of broccoli on arthritis. Sophia worked with ten adults suffering from a wide range of arthritic conditions and got amazing results. She was then selected to participate in the South Florida Science and Engineering Fair where she was awarded an honorable mention for her work and accolades from several medical professionals. She continues to do research in the field as part of other classes and projects. During last year’s summer and fall, she volunteered at Miami Children’s Hospital, serving the hospital that has helped her through her most difficult times. She recently became an advocate for the Arthritis Foundation through its Ambassador program.

Our entire family and I had been witnesses to her fierce fight and determination against J.R.A. but most important her unwillingness to be taken down by it and that is why we continuously support the Arthritis Foundation and their efforts in the fight against this dreadful disease. To the best of my knowledge she is finally in remission and in the next school year she will be on her way to another successful endeavor, enrolling in Loyola University Mariland to continue her studies.

profile for Judy L Judy LFranklin, WIThis ismy fight

I was 9 years old when I fell down and hurt my knee. Thus began my journey with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The year was 1961. There were no rheumatologists back then, and nobody believed or had heard of children getting arthritis. I was teased by classmates, misunderstood by friends and relatives and spent my childhood in lots of medical waiting rooms. I have arthritis in every joint....

I was 9 years old when I fell down and hurt my knee. Thus began my journey with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The year was 1961. There were no rheumatologists back then, and nobody believed or had heard of children getting arthritis. I was teased by classmates, misunderstood by friends and relatives and spent my childhood in lots of medical waiting rooms. I have arthritis in every joint. Now all these years later at age 62, I've been in remission for years; my high school years were fine. I need knee replacement surgery and my fingers are a little crooked and I have a limited motion in my neck; but I've been able to live my life, maintain a house and job and I was so happy to start seeing a specialist - a rheumatologist at age 22 for the first time. We need more pediatric rheumatologists and we need to educate people that it isn't just "old people" that get arthritis. It is kids too.

profile for Dana M Dana MDecatur , GAThis ismy fight

Although I was diagnosed in 2002 finally with Psoriatic Arthritis, at 28 years old, I had health concerns beginning as a child. I finally started searching for answers to my health concerns on my own when I turned 19, and it took nearly 10 years to start getting answers to my many questions. I had my first hip replaced at age 29, my shoulder replaced at age 35, and the other hip replaced at age...

Although I was diagnosed in 2002 finally with Psoriatic Arthritis, at 28 years old, I had health concerns beginning as a child. I finally started searching for answers to my health concerns on my own when I turned 19, and it took nearly 10 years to start getting answers to my many questions. I had my first hip replaced at age 29, my shoulder replaced at age 35, and the other hip replaced at age 37. I found out that I also have Sjögren's, possible Ankylosing Spondylitis, Ehler's Danlos Hyermobility, Avascular Necrosis and many Lupus overlap symptoms. Treatment was slow at first. We moved to 3 different states, and I have finally found the treatment regimen that is working currently for me. I am 42 years old, married for 17 years, have a 6 year old son, and I belly dance to keep my joints feeling good along with my medication, occasional PT and OT and the assistive devices as needed. I have bad days still, and I also have days that aren't so bad. I take it one day at a time, enjoy life's little joys, and continue to hope for a cure some day in my lifetime maybe.

info about Dana M
profile for Corrine A Corrine ALos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I've been knowingly living with RA for 9 years now. I was diagnosed in my late 20's while working full time to establish my career and also studying full time for my BA. The diagnosis was a mixed blessing - I was happy to know what was wrong with me but I was terrified for my future. As a single woman with no monetary support from anyone, the thought of being sick for the rest of my life was...

I've been knowingly living with RA for 9 years now. I was diagnosed in my late 20's while working full time to establish my career and also studying full time for my BA. The diagnosis was a mixed blessing - I was happy to know what was wrong with me but I was terrified for my future. As a single woman with no monetary support from anyone, the thought of being sick for the rest of my life was almost more debilitating that the disease itself. I was extremely lucky to stumble into a Young Adults Support Group very soon after my diagnosis which helped tremendously. It was comforting to meet other people who knew what I was going through without having to explain it. Many of the women I met that first night are now lifelong friends. Living with this disease is not easy, but I try to make the most of it by remembering it could always be worse. I hope others suffering can find the same peace.

profile for Christen B Christen BMartinez, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in my young thirties. That was twenty years ago. There are certainly more medicine options than the years past. But with autoimmune diseases the body’s immune system often fights these agents, as has been the case with me.

I am now considered allergic to these meds as a result. Most of my pain is from damaged joints when I was first...

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in my young thirties. That was twenty years ago. There are certainly more medicine options than the years past. But with autoimmune diseases the body’s immune system often fights these agents, as has been the case with me.

I am now considered allergic to these meds as a result. Most of my pain is from damaged joints when I was first diagnosed and could not find a medication that worked. I continue to have my struggles with my condition and search for the right medicine combination to help with both the arthritis and psoriasis.

This condition is certainly life alternating but I have found the best thing for me is to stay active, keep moving! Find a good pair of walking shoes that work with those arthritic feet. I did, even though I have pain in my feet from damaged joints. As with life, I find it’s all about the balance. Combine exercise with a healthy diet and moderation on the not so healthy, but just keep on moving!

profile for KAREN K KAREN KSANTA ROSA, CAThis ismy fight

I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN HAD R/A FOR 23 YEARS. BIOLOGICS R NOT LOGICAL IF U HAVE OTHER ILLNESS AND 2 SISTER WHO DIED FROM CANCER. I DONT KNOW WHATS WORSE R/A OR THE HORRIBLE ANXIETY AND PAIN. 23 YEARS AGO MY ONCOLOGIST SAID THEYWERE WORKING ON DRUGS CALLED BIOLOGICS AND TO ALWAYS SAY NO! SO I DO.... WHY TRADE ONE HORRIFYING ILLNESS FOR ANOTHER (CANCER) PLUS I HAVE A BAD KIND OF ANEMIA. IF U ASK A...

I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN HAD R/A FOR 23 YEARS. BIOLOGICS R NOT LOGICAL IF U HAVE OTHER ILLNESS AND 2 SISTER WHO DIED FROM CANCER. I DONT KNOW WHATS WORSE R/A OR THE HORRIBLE ANXIETY AND PAIN. 23 YEARS AGO MY ONCOLOGIST SAID THEYWERE WORKING ON DRUGS CALLED BIOLOGICS AND TO ALWAYS SAY NO! SO I DO.... WHY TRADE ONE HORRIFYING ILLNESS FOR ANOTHER (CANCER) PLUS I HAVE A BAD KIND OF ANEMIA. IF U ASK A DOCTOR IF "DO I LIVE IN A REGION WERE FUNGUS INFECTIONS ARE COMMON" THEY LOOK AT ME LIKE HUH? GO FIGURE. I FOUND ULTRA SOUND THERAPY TO BE SO HELPFUL BUT SINCE R/A IS CHRONIC MEDICARE WONT PAY FOR MORE THAN 9 TREATMENTS AT A VERY HIGH COST. I AM IN PAIN, CANT SLEEP AND IT SEEMS SO SAD TO PUT MY MONEY IN A SYSTEM FOR OVER 5O YEARS & NOW NO ONE WILL HELP ;( SORRY IM FRUSTRATED.

profile for Leigh W Leigh WPittsburgh, PAThis ismy fight

I will be 48 years old this June and was diagnosed at age 15. So, it's been 33 years in this fight. At present time, I am so much better than I was in high school. In the early years my struggle was so painful that I really had no outlook for any kind of productive, active, functioning life as an adult.

At the time I was learning to drive, date, attend school, button buttons, eat,...

I will be 48 years old this June and was diagnosed at age 15. So, it's been 33 years in this fight. At present time, I am so much better than I was in high school. In the early years my struggle was so painful that I really had no outlook for any kind of productive, active, functioning life as an adult.

At the time I was learning to drive, date, attend school, button buttons, eat, walk, zip zippers, have any kind of social life, and just plain live without having pain all the time. I would switch medications quite often trying to find something that worked. Kids my age were thriving at being a teenager and I was trying to make it through each day. I used to be very active in basketball, cheerleading, swimming, biking, gymnastics, and with friends. That all ended very suddenly.

I missed out on a lot my junior and senior years. Jump ahead to adulthood and a whole new set of obstacles developed. Such as college, working full time vs. part time, marrying, parenthood, exhaustion, and managing permanent damage in my body. In my case, I couldn't get off medication long enough to conceive, so deciding to go childless with my husband has been a constant regret for me. I feel guilt not providing my husband with a biological child. We have adopted a wonderful son who just turned 18 this year. That has been a blessing from God.

Biologic medications have also been a gift. My medication gave me an almost 'normal' life for years. Recently I have had to switch meds and have had success there so far. I have had a few surgeries to deal with damage to my hands and elbow, but overall I am very functional. There are so many things I wish I could do, so many things I miss doing, but so many things I am extremely blessed and thankful for at the same time.

I fear what the future holds for me the older I get, but at the moment I am trying to do all the things I dream of while I still can. One of the most frustrating things to deal with having arthritis is making plans to do things and waking up that morning and having a flare up or not having the energy to do it. Constantly having your family have to change plans and be patient all the time to work around my issues is difficult to bare. It is diffiuclt letting people down. On the flip side of that, my family has been the best thing in my life. My husband is the most understanding man in the world, with so much compassion and patience. Same with my son. They couldn't be better. It's my guilt and regrets that get me down. I fear I have held them back so much. But i also know that God has provided for me. And done so perfectly.

profile for Kayla M Kayla MWheeling, WVThis ismy fight

I normally don't share a whole lot on social media, but having a hard emotional day today crying in my office pushed me to share my story with those who choose to want to understand it because of loved ones and those who can with their personal diagnosis (or maybe current lack there of).

I was diagnosed at 21 with rheumatoid arthritis and am now 29 dealing with the disease. What...

I normally don't share a whole lot on social media, but having a hard emotional day today crying in my office pushed me to share my story with those who choose to want to understand it because of loved ones and those who can with their personal diagnosis (or maybe current lack there of).

I was diagnosed at 21 with rheumatoid arthritis and am now 29 dealing with the disease. What they don't tell you is the emotional burden of this disease is just as hard as the physical one and the frustration it can sometimes have over you when you let it can heavily effect both your outlook and those around you.

Yes, it is frustrating to not be able to do things physically as you used to and how the pain, sometimes absolutely unbearable, other times maybe only nagging, effects you emotionally. It can absolutely carry on to those around you and be even more frustrating when you WANT to talk about it and others do not know how to react to you, so you get more frustrated. Some do not know what to say, never do and never try to find out how they could respond. Others are way too positive and not realistic, while others try to tell you all these "methods" you should try and make you want to bang your head off of a wall in response.

This is my fight not because I chose it, but because for whatever reason, it chose me. There are days it is barely noticeable and others when it can make you completely break down, all while you probably look "fine" to others.

I fight because that is the choice you MUST make to make the best out of your situation. It is easy to get sucked into the tornado of thinking "no one understands or tries to," but how will they if we do not first try to explain to them about our disease to understand it. If they don't want to learn about it, then keep talking about it until they understand it is a part of who we are, but does not define who we are.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and it makes my everyday life harder sometimes, but there are other things out there worse than what I have. I am a firm believer that struggles do make you stronger, but there will always be the overwhelming moments, and that is okay because I will fight through it because that is the only choice we (those with RA) have.

I fight because I want to be happy and because I deserve it. I want others to know that they are not alone and deserve it as well. There will be good days ahead, we need to make the most out of what we have and value it.

profile for Susan S Susan SNashua, NHThis ismy fight

Hi, my name is Susan. I am an arthritis patient. My injury is to a lumbar disc in my back. Succumbing to an injury sustained while a colleague let go of a heavy object during a simple lift (colleague was injured during lift) I was dumped with 300 lbs of weight at full extension to my back and now arthritis has formed on said slipped disc's gap/void or compression point.

Arthritis...

Hi, my name is Susan. I am an arthritis patient. My injury is to a lumbar disc in my back. Succumbing to an injury sustained while a colleague let go of a heavy object during a simple lift (colleague was injured during lift) I was dumped with 300 lbs of weight at full extension to my back and now arthritis has formed on said slipped disc's gap/void or compression point.

Arthritis is a very painful affliction and research for a cure would be a blessing to all of us suffering from this second level formation.

profile for Debra B Debra BLyons, NYThis ismy fight

I am 45 years old and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 40, I also have Osteoarthritis in numerous joints, and just had a Partial Knee Replacement. I am so depressed because I can't work. My husband doesn't want to hear about it, but I tell him all the time it consumes me!!!! I am not myself at all anymore, and when people say get well or I have arthritis too I know how you...

I am 45 years old and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 40, I also have Osteoarthritis in numerous joints, and just had a Partial Knee Replacement. I am so depressed because I can't work. My husband doesn't want to hear about it, but I tell him all the time it consumes me!!!! I am not myself at all anymore, and when people say get well or I have arthritis too I know how you feel it makes me sad. I also have Fibromylgia and Myofacial Pain Syndrome. I have been through so many surgeries. I had a infected mesh from a hernia operation and was septic last year too.

profile for Michelle N Michelle NAnn arbor, MIThis ismy fight

The start of my pain began about 15 years ago but, never got the diagnosis until about a month ago. For that I'm a little resentful. Pain meds were always just given to a point I got addicted to some pain medication and took myself off of it.

Docs are afraid to prescribe now so what do you know we finally got to the bottom of it. I am now taking weekly medication as I feel I have no...

The start of my pain began about 15 years ago but, never got the diagnosis until about a month ago. For that I'm a little resentful. Pain meds were always just given to a point I got addicted to some pain medication and took myself off of it.

Docs are afraid to prescribe now so what do you know we finally got to the bottom of it. I am now taking weekly medication as I feel I have no other choice. It's really the only good drug in my opinion to slow the progression down if it's not already to severe from the put off diagnosis. So I pitied myself for awhile and now I'm back in the mode to fight.

I fight for those in my picture, my daughters, son in law and mother. I will not let this beat me and I'm in the progress of learning as much as I can along with lifestyle changes. I am researching alternative meds as well. If I could go back I think I would tell people to push your doctors to get to the bottom of your pain and advocate for yourself. I think many people do not understand this disease does not just effect your joints but, your whole life. This disease does not get as much attention as others and I hope that will change and further research is done.

profile for Salyna Salyna Salem, ORThis ismy fight

I've been fighting for myself since I was a young child. I've been fighting because of an amazingly supportive husband for over 16 years and because of my kids for the last almost 16 years. I fight to see baseball games and go on zoo field trips. I fight to enjoy date nights. I fight for a chance to walk on the beach or an easy trail.
Everyday is a fight to enjoy what I've got and be...

I've been fighting for myself since I was a young child. I've been fighting because of an amazingly supportive husband for over 16 years and because of my kids for the last almost 16 years. I fight to see baseball games and go on zoo field trips. I fight to enjoy date nights. I fight for a chance to walk on the beach or an easy trail.
Everyday is a fight to enjoy what I've got and be thankful it's not worse.
The fight is worth it. Every. Time.

profile for Norma S Norma SAlice, TXThis ismy fight

Was just diagnose with Arthritis on my lower back in November 2016 I have to wear a belt to be able to sweep , vacuum and mop. Did not qualify for a Home Provider. Just on April 28 diagnose with Arthritis on my right shoulder, arm and hand pain is unbearable doctor just injected 3 medicines today is May 8, 2017 and injection medicine just worked 3 days, pain is more severe now. I live alone...

Was just diagnose with Arthritis on my lower back in November 2016 I have to wear a belt to be able to sweep , vacuum and mop. Did not qualify for a Home Provider. Just on April 28 diagnose with Arthritis on my right shoulder, arm and hand pain is unbearable doctor just injected 3 medicines today is May 8, 2017 and injection medicine just worked 3 days, pain is more severe now. I live alone its just with Jehovah's holy spirit that I can still function to be able to do my cooking, laundry, and cleaning. I will appeal the decision on my case for a Home Provider. My mom and her mother had severe Arthritis too they suffered each day just to be able to do their work at home and at their job.

profile for Steph P Steph PNew York, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis when I was 15 years old in 2006 and in high school. In 2013 I got a flare & was also diagnosed with Lupus SLE, Arthritis, scleroderma, Interstitial Lung Disease, Raynaud's phenomenon & mixed connective tissue disease. My hands started deforming due to the arthritis that same year. I have trouble with gripping, making a fist, writing, typing on a...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis when I was 15 years old in 2006 and in high school. In 2013 I got a flare & was also diagnosed with Lupus SLE, Arthritis, scleroderma, Interstitial Lung Disease, Raynaud's phenomenon & mixed connective tissue disease. My hands started deforming due to the arthritis that same year. I have trouble with gripping, making a fist, writing, typing on a keyboard & straightening my fingers. They've become restricted and contracted so I can't straighten them. I get occupational therapy and infusions for joint pain every 6 months. Also have gotten joint aspirations a couple of times. Out of all the mixed diagnoses I have arthritis has been the most stressful one for me to deal with. I'm currently on disability because of it.

info about Steph P
profile for Helen H Helen HPittsburgh, PAThis ismy fight

I've been suffering with arthritis since I was 19. It started in my hands. Over the years, it has progressed to my shoulders, back, and knees. I had two total knee replacements. The first so severe they put a steel rod in my tibia. I'm in severe pain daily. Unfortunately, I can not take anti inflammatory drugs as my stomach bleeds. It's a struggle to get up and do daily tasks and has caused me to...

I've been suffering with arthritis since I was 19. It started in my hands. Over the years, it has progressed to my shoulders, back, and knees. I had two total knee replacements. The first so severe they put a steel rod in my tibia. I'm in severe pain daily. Unfortunately, I can not take anti inflammatory drugs as my stomach bleeds. It's a struggle to get up and do daily tasks and has caused me to seek disability as I can't perform my duties at work. I can't even get on my knees to pray to the lord at night or when I go to church. On the outside I look healthy. However, the pain and lack of energy I try to hide. My family can tell when I'm at my worst. My mother & her parents & aunts & uncles suffered from arthritis as well. Both osteoarthritis as well as R.A.

profile for Susan Z Susan ZPittsburgh, PAThis ismy fight

Arthritis affects my travels, daily walking and morning energy level. Still an active swimmer, I am no longer able to run or climb steps with ease. A fall in a sports event might have caused hip subluxation that was overlooked and it was the trigger of taday's pain due to the subsequent osteoarthritis according to several doctors. The painless days are greatly missed. I now use far infrared...

Arthritis affects my travels, daily walking and morning energy level. Still an active swimmer, I am no longer able to run or climb steps with ease. A fall in a sports event might have caused hip subluxation that was overlooked and it was the trigger of taday's pain due to the subsequent osteoarthritis according to several doctors. The painless days are greatly missed. I now use far infrared graphene heating pads as the external pain relief. It relieves the pain in 10 min and boosts my energy level. When I don't have access to the heating pads, I use pain pills to suppress the inflammation when it flairs up. However, the time invested to manage the issue is a lot. If arthritis can be medically reversed, so many people will be able to work twice as effective and enjoy life more.

profile for Emily B Emily BCoventry, CTThis ismy fight

I am 26 years old, and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 22. Physically, my disease is managed through several medications, but I have also struggled emotionally, not being able to do the same activities other people my age do, and not being able to express how I'm feeling and why I don't feel well. I am so very lucky to have an amazing boyfriend who helps me with everything, from...

I am 26 years old, and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 22. Physically, my disease is managed through several medications, but I have also struggled emotionally, not being able to do the same activities other people my age do, and not being able to express how I'm feeling and why I don't feel well. I am so very lucky to have an amazing boyfriend who helps me with everything, from getting dressed in the morning when I can't, to holding my hand down stairs so I don't fall. Hang in there, everyone, you are not alone.

profile for Cheryl Cheryl Stephenville , TXThis ismy fight

I have been battling RA for about 18 years now. My first marriage was abusive and I believe the trauma and stress from it triggered this ugly disease. Since then, I've found a really good doctor that has kept it in control somewhat. I am not able to do some of the things I loved in the past, I have those pesky everyday aches and pains, and feel so tired most of the time.

Each day...

I have been battling RA for about 18 years now. My first marriage was abusive and I believe the trauma and stress from it triggered this ugly disease. Since then, I've found a really good doctor that has kept it in control somewhat. I am not able to do some of the things I loved in the past, I have those pesky everyday aches and pains, and feel so tired most of the time.

Each day for me is about sitting down and putting life in perspective and trying to get a few things done each day from my to-do list. With RA, you have to work at your own pace and know that you have to listen to your own body. My husband and I have two beautiful foster babies at home and they are my reason why I have to be tougher than this disease. They don't understand when mommy doesn't feel her best, they just want me to be there for them and be loved.

I don't know what I would have done all this time without the love from my husband, family, close friends, and my almighty savior. My advice is to read up on RA, do your research, talk to people, and don't be afraid to ask your doctor lots of questions. You have to be your own advocate!!!!

profile for Judy S Judy SDeefield Beach, FLThis ismy fight

I have developed arthritis in my hands, wrists, fingers and my toes. Up until a few months ago I was fine. It came on me all of a sudden. It is so debilitating, so hard to even open a jar. My fingers are so stiff in the mornings, I fill the bathroom sink with hot water and soak my hands in it, seems to help for a little while.

I have also had a nephrectomy, so am not able to take...

I have developed arthritis in my hands, wrists, fingers and my toes. Up until a few months ago I was fine. It came on me all of a sudden. It is so debilitating, so hard to even open a jar. My fingers are so stiff in the mornings, I fill the bathroom sink with hot water and soak my hands in it, seems to help for a little while.

I have also had a nephrectomy, so am not able to take any strong pain relievers except Tylenol which gives very little relief.

I hope they come up with a cure for this terrible disease. I am 76 yrs. old. I feel sorry for the young people who develop this early in life.

profile for Cheryl B Cheryl BKaneohe, HIThis ismy fight

Hello, everyone! My name is Cheryl and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I was diagnosed at age 21 (I started having flare ups around 17 or 18 though), and I must say that it has been a very frustrating bunch of years, yet also a very rewarding bunch of years.

The medications that I am on right now have allowed me to live normally, yet I still deal with RA pain on a daily basis in...

Hello, everyone! My name is Cheryl and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I was diagnosed at age 21 (I started having flare ups around 17 or 18 though), and I must say that it has been a very frustrating bunch of years, yet also a very rewarding bunch of years.

The medications that I am on right now have allowed me to live normally, yet I still deal with RA pain on a daily basis in some way. There have been months and years of bad flare ups, ones where I would need assistance getting out of bed, I've debated getting a cane at times, I've needed to have my mom brush my hair and tie it back, the list goes on and on.

BUT all of this has made me so much more appreciative of absolutely everything as well as everyone in my life. At first I was angered at the fact that others did not understand that someone my age (or younger!) could have a type of arthritis. But because of that, I try my best to educate people about arthritis as well as other conditions that may present themselves as "invisible."

Each of us little by little can chip away at the notion that arthritis only affects a certain group of people and that it is "only arthritis." I fight for all of us going through this on a daily basis, to hopefully make it slightly more bearable if people are more understanding. Keep on going forward :)

profile for Alyssandra  S Alyssandra SToledo, OHI fight forMy Grandpa Larry

My Papa loved life. He loved playing the piano, riding his motorcycle, taking care of his 1970 Corvette, and his family. Until Rheumatoid Arthritis came into play. He was diagnosed when he was 23 years old. First, the ability to play piano went away because of the disease. Then, his ability to drive the motorcycle. However, he held on for as long as he could still enjoying taking care of his...

My Papa loved life. He loved playing the piano, riding his motorcycle, taking care of his 1970 Corvette, and his family. Until Rheumatoid Arthritis came into play. He was diagnosed when he was 23 years old. First, the ability to play piano went away because of the disease. Then, his ability to drive the motorcycle. However, he held on for as long as he could still enjoying taking care of his Vette and spending time with the family.

I watched my Papa suffer with this disease and degenerate slowly over time. The disease eventually consumed him, having surgery after surgery, and losing the ability to drive and the ability to walk. It was the most heartbreaking thing to have to watch your Papa suffer from something you couldn't help with. The pain meds helped ease pain but it never was enough. No one should have to suffer with RA or any kind of arthritis for that matter.

My Papa lost his battle 2 years ago, but we can work for a future where people like my Papa continue on and not lose the battle or have a life free of pain or a life where the battle is prolonged. This is why I fight. This is why I Walk for the Cure. This is why I am dedicating my career to helping those with Orthopeadic needs and making their quality of life as best as I can make it.

info about Alyssandra  S
profile for Adele K Adele KRichmond, TXThis ismy fight

I am sharing MY OWN FIGHT AND MY SON'S FIGHT

31 years ago this fall, I was hit head on in a car accident. I have suffered with pain since. I had been diagnosed with myofacial pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and spent years in therapies and also told "I can not help you" by many doctors.
Until this accident, I was very active. I golfed in nine leagues, gardening, knitting,...

I am sharing MY OWN FIGHT AND MY SON'S FIGHT

31 years ago this fall, I was hit head on in a car accident. I have suffered with pain since. I had been diagnosed with myofacial pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and spent years in therapies and also told "I can not help you" by many doctors.
Until this accident, I was very active. I golfed in nine leagues, gardening, knitting, cooked extensively.

I have moved several times with the challenge of finding doctors but never really got any answers.

17 years ago, I moved to my current location, which is medically well known and started to visit every rheumatologist and pain specialist in the area. Some said they don't take patients with fibromyalgia.

Several years ago, a rheumatologist said I had prosaic arthritis and began treating me with various injected biologics and infusions, all of which I either saw no relief or I had reactions to.

Then due to retirement and having to change doctors I went to a new doctor, who said I did not have psoratic arthritis, but osteo arthritis and to take over the counter pain medication. That did not help at all.

This year I saw another new doctor, who was very compassionate and not only ran tests, sent for records and said he agreed with the last doctor I did not have prosaic arthritis, but I had a rheumatoid factor and he is trying a new drug.

The cost is nearly prohibitive but we decided to try it. I have had one infusion treatment and so far, it has made my pain a lot worse. But the nurse claims I have to get all the loading doses before I see any results. So again, I am hoping for something that works as I am becoming very immobile and have fallen a lot.

My fight for my son is along the same lines.

When he was around 14, he started complaining of severe back pain. I took him to several doctors and they could find nothing. He is now 35 and last year he was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Unfortunately, he not only can not afford the treatments, he is afraid of side effects. I see him worsening as the months go by and hope somehow, I can see something good happen for him, as he is so young. They told him that he would be in a wheel chair by the time he is 40.

That is about it for my story, except that this latest doctor I have gone to, does not see any relationship with my diagnosis and my son's. I am trying to get him to this doctor to see if we share the same gene.

Thanks for listening.

profile for Isabella  R Isabella RSpokane, WAThis ismy fight

I have at least 2 different kinds of arthritis in my body, osteoarthritis and osteopenia, and recently i was tested for lupus but I haven't gotten the test results back. I fight the moderate pain that becomes severe quite often because there are a lot of beautiful things to see in this world, beautiful music to hear, and beautiful people to meet. There are still books I would love to read.

I have at least 2 different kinds of arthritis in my body, osteoarthritis and osteopenia, and recently i was tested for lupus but I haven't gotten the test results back. I fight the moderate pain that becomes severe quite often because there are a lot of beautiful things to see in this world, beautiful music to hear, and beautiful people to meet. There are still books I would love to read.

If I gave up and lived my life in a dark room and let my arthritis get me down if be missing out on a lot of beautiful things. There were times when I let my arthritis keep me down but I needed to make a change in me, my mind, and put my priorities first. I'm a totally different person than I was about 5 years ago and perhaps learning more about how NSAID'S and other simple things could help my arthritis has helped me out a lot.

profile for Phyllis W Phyllis WLincolnton, NCThis ismy fight

After reading others stories, mine may not be that unusual but it has been devastating for me.

I worked for the same company for 40+ years. Seriously, I never had a sick day, never knew what pain was. I was very active with my work, family, church, exercising and traveling. In March, 2014, I went in for my routine mammogram. 21 perfect mammograms and the year I turned 62 I am told I...

After reading others stories, mine may not be that unusual but it has been devastating for me.

I worked for the same company for 40+ years. Seriously, I never had a sick day, never knew what pain was. I was very active with my work, family, church, exercising and traveling. In March, 2014, I went in for my routine mammogram. 21 perfect mammograms and the year I turned 62 I am told I have breast cancer. The good news was the cancer was small, had not spread and only required a lumpectomy and radiation. That should be the end of the story.

My surgeon recommended what is called Mammosite. Instead of radiation spread out over weeks I could opt for 10 treatments over 5 days. We had plans to fly to Alaska so my husband and I thought why not go for this plan. The one caveat, I had to wear a tight bra 24/7 for 9 days to hold in the tube for my radiation treatment. Every day when I went for treatment I told the nurse I thought the bra was too tight. She responded that it had to be tight to hold the tube in place. I did not know any better and just thought I would get through it. After my radiation ended and the bra came off, my shoulder muscles were tight and aching but I thought, give it a few days, maybe a massage and the tightness would go away.

Within two days of removing the bra, the pain in my neck and shoulders was excruciating. I immediately went back to my surgeon and she said, “probably some arthritis", give it time. It did not ease up so I went to my Radiation Oncologist and he said the same thing. Over the next days, the pain would come and go and it would ease with Ibuprofen. We kept our travel plans to Alaska with me on over the counter meds all week. Sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting for our return flight I developed needle like sensations in my left hand. It came from nowhere and felt like millions of needles stabbing me. I was almost screaming in pain. We debated on whether to delay our flight or try to get home. I opted for home. I spent the entire 12-hour flight silently screaming and crying and holding the makeshift hand splint my husband made. When we arrived in Charlotte, NC we went straight to the Emergency Room. After 4 hrs. the Dr. said, "I think it is a sprain" and gave me pain pills. The pain finally subsided on Sunday, two days after it began.

This happened in May, 2014. The needle stabbing in my hands continued, alternating hands. I saw my Family Doctor who thought it was neurological. I saw a Neurologist who, after two months said, "you need to do neck exercises and I will give you stronger pain meds".

I was crying with pain when he said this (he was supposed to be one of the best in my area.) I had no idea what was wrong with me and no one could tell me. Flash forward to Sept. 2014. My pain was so bad I could not sleep and was not able to drive to work. My husband had retired by then and was driving me. We decided I could not keep going and since I was 62 I could retire. I was barely functioning. The bad news is I should have fought for a diagnosis and went out on disability but the pain was clouding my decision making. My employer had eliminated all retiree benefits so after 40+ year I got nothing, no Insurance, nothing. I went on COBRA which is very expensive, and continued seeking someone to help me with my pain. I went to a Chiropractor for 12 treatments which did not help. I went to a pain clinic for two injections which did not help.

By then it was the end of 2014 and I did not know what to do, I was in pain taking OTC meds every day. In January 2015, I developed a rash on my right arm, same side as my breast cancer. I went back to my breast cancer surgeon who finally said, "let’s get an MRI". The result was that both my shoulders were 'crushed'. Geez, how did that happen? I finally saw an Orthopedic Dr. who determined I needed total shoulder replacement on my left shoulder. I still had not been tested for RA and no one had mentioned it, plus I did not know to ask, so I went with his opinion. I thought the shoulder replacement would fix my problem/pain and I could get on with my life. I might add that Rheumatoid Arthritis was not even a word in my vocabulary at this point. I had no family history and did not know one person with RA.

I had left total shoulder replacement surgery in June 2015 and began 3 months of physical therapy. Everything seemed to be going well until the 2nd month of therapy. My hands and feet were throbbing with pain. I was going into therapy for my shoulder, with braces on my hands and feet asking why I was hurting so much. The Therapists' would say "oh, probably nerve damage, it will ease over time" and then continue with my shoulder therapy.

The last week of therapy, Sept. 2015, I could barely walk. I went back to my Family Physician and sat in his office sobbing. I did not want to live. In 15 months after 62 years of being healthy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, suffered debilitating pain, gave up a good job and had total shoulder replacement. He looked at my bent hands and feet and finally ran test for RA. Two weeks later, he called me at home at 9 pm and says, "I am so sorry, but you have Rheumatoid Arthritis." My inflammation levels were very high. It took 18 months and 10 doctors before I was tested for RA.

I was upset but relieved that after 18 months I finally had a name for my pain. I saw a Rheumatologist in Oct. 2015 and he confirmed the RA diagnosis and told me I should have never had the shoulder replacement. I can't undo anything but I feel let down by the entire Medical profession. None of this should have happened. Why was I not tested at the beginning when I reported my pain? I gave up so much but as my husband says. "we can't go back, we must go forward with what we know."

As I began working with my Rheumatologist, I realized this was a whole new world for me. Most people do not understand and neither did I until it happened to me. They think, "what is the big deal, everyone has arthritis." I try to explain that there are many types of Arthritis and Rheumatoid is the worst, but I am finally realizing few people get it. I found that one visit and one pill does not 'fix' everything. RA can change from day to day and I have had more Dr. visits since my diagnosis than my entire life prior! Fortunately, I have an awesome husband who is in good health and has been by my side from day one. I recently began infusions because another medication was not adequately controlling my inflammation.

I have not given up my dream of traveling. I do not like to think of the side effects of RA treatments. My Rheumatologist told me the benefits outweigh the risks and I am going with that. Life is still good, I just had to back up and realize that although my life is different now and I have to consider RA when making plans, I am going forward and living my life to the max! And that is exactly what I am doing!

I have not given up my dream of traveling. I do not like to think of the side effects of RA treatments. My Rheumatologist told me the benefits outweigh the risks and I am going with that. Life is still good, I just had to back up and realize that although my life is different now and I have to consider RA when making plans, I am going forward and living my life to the max! And that is exactly what I am doing!

profile for Mary Mary Naperville, ILI fight forJeff

When Jeff was 16, he started to complain about his hands in the morning. I noticed he was having trouble holding a spoon or a pen. After that he said his feet were hurting a lot. He was an elite runner, so I chalked it up to maybe needing new shoes or logging high mileage. I gave him some over the counter pain medication. Lots of it. After about two months, he couldn't even walk up the...

When Jeff was 16, he started to complain about his hands in the morning. I noticed he was having trouble holding a spoon or a pen. After that he said his feet were hurting a lot. He was an elite runner, so I chalked it up to maybe needing new shoes or logging high mileage. I gave him some over the counter pain medication. Lots of it. After about two months, he couldn't even walk up the stairs to go to bed. He wasn't a complainer so he didn't say much but he had to literally crawl up the stairs. The pain was now everywhere and debilitating. That's when we knew this was something big.

He was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. He was already struggling with bad acne. His running helped work out the emotion from that and helped him find something he was good at and could give him the confidence that was knocked down from the acne. Now he was faced with JIA. He was inspiring to watch. He accepted his diagnosis with humility and resolve. He didn't quit the cross country team. Instead he accepted his new role on the team. Instead of champion runner, he became the guy who cheered for everyone and helped the slower guys keep going.

He never stopped running. He ran through the pain until his symptoms were managed. He learned determination and what it meant to live for others. He turned his disease into a conduit for making his life about something bigger than himself. His symptoms are managed fairly well now. We are grateful to his incredible doctors and the medications that help him.

profile for Jessie D Jessie DCenter Moriches, NYI fight forMy daughter Jessie

It started in August of 2015 when Jessie had a bullseye rash on her leg. I took her to the doctor and although he said it looked like a bullseye he didn't believe it was Lyme Disease because the rash wasn't dark enough. We left the office and the rash went away and we forgot about it.

Then, 6 weeks later, Jessie started complaining of significant joint pain. Initially we thought it...

It started in August of 2015 when Jessie had a bullseye rash on her leg. I took her to the doctor and although he said it looked like a bullseye he didn't believe it was Lyme Disease because the rash wasn't dark enough. We left the office and the rash went away and we forgot about it.

Then, 6 weeks later, Jessie started complaining of significant joint pain. Initially we thought it was from dance or sports but it wasn't getting better. We went back to the doctor and they did a lymes test and several other blood tests. Everything came back normal and they said she was making it up. I insisted that she wasn't and that we go further to figure out what was wrong. Then they said I could take her to a rheumatologist if I wanted but they did not think it was necessary.

So a week later we met with a rheumatologist who did lots more tests and immediately started Jessie on an NSAID for the pain. Again all the testing game back normal. She didn't test positive for Lymes or any of the arthritis markers. Her SED rate was normal and she did not present with any swelling or warmth of her joints. But based on her pain she was diagnosed with JIA specifically Enthesitis.

Since then we have gone to 2 different infectious disease doctors and another rheumatologist for 2nd opinions. Still she continues to test negative for everything. They've tested for other tick borne diseases, strep, celiac disease and many others. She continues to have normal SED rates and her blood work always comes back normal. She has highs and lows with the disease. Last summer she was able to go off her meds because she was feeling great. This spring she isn't doing so great.

She is on her 5th type of NSAID and the doctor is putting her on steroids for a week to try to calm the flair. If she doesn't get better we are going to have to think about biologics. Even with all that Jessie goes through, she is such a happy, caring and thoughtful person. She never complains about the pain and just says she's used to it now. She continues to be very active. She plays on the school volleyball, soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. She was just inducted into the National Junior Honor Society and she is a girl scout and alter server at our church.

profile for Mary P Mary PAlvin, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with OA at 24 but was able to work, exercise and live a normal life. In my 60's I had 30 radiation treatments and I was diagnosed with Gout which is a form of arthritis. Compliments of the treatments.

I turned 70 and then diagnosed with RA. I didn't think my life would be worth much but I changed Rheumatologist who put me on a med that was formally for people with...

I was diagnosed with OA at 24 but was able to work, exercise and live a normal life. In my 60's I had 30 radiation treatments and I was diagnosed with Gout which is a form of arthritis. Compliments of the treatments.

I turned 70 and then diagnosed with RA. I didn't think my life would be worth much but I changed Rheumatologist who put me on a med that was formally for people with malaria and Praise God I am not in pain.

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profile for Josephine V Josephine VWilmington , CAThis ismy fight

Hello,
I have been living with RA for three and a half years. I was diagnosed when I was 40 years old. Before RA, I was very active with my workouts, always out with my husband and children. I was always on the move. I like to stay busy and productive. Things have completely changed since RA.

My days are completely different these days. There isn't one night that I can sleep...

Hello,
I have been living with RA for three and a half years. I was diagnosed when I was 40 years old. Before RA, I was very active with my workouts, always out with my husband and children. I was always on the move. I like to stay busy and productive. Things have completely changed since RA.

My days are completely different these days. There isn't one night that I can sleep through the night. I wake up several times a night due to the pain I feel in my legs. If my legs are not hurting, then it's my wrists or hips. My mornings consist of laying in bed for 30 mins trying to get enough strength to start my busy work day. These days I use all my energy just to do my job.

I'm thankful that my family is very understanding of this debilitating disease. Some days I require their help to snap a bra, open jars or help me out of bed. The pain alone is hard but I learn to cope. I sometimes deal with the depression that also comes along with this disease. Trying to be as active as I can be with the limited energy I have some days. Even after all this, I think for the most part, the hardest part of all this is when people assume I'm okay just because I appear fine on the outside. It's not their fault.

I try to stay positive, some days are worse than others. I take one day at a time. The best thing I can do is to educate people about RA.

profile for Frank Y Frank YSacramento, CAThis ismy fight

The Monster

I have a monster that lives within me. Let me tell you the story on how he has affected my life. It was back in 1975, I just started high school. I was a mere child of 15, just starting out in this world when he came into my life. At first, I didn't think much about him, nor him of me. I thought I was a normal 15-year-old. I wanted to drive a car, have a girlfriend, and...

The Monster

I have a monster that lives within me. Let me tell you the story on how he has affected my life. It was back in 1975, I just started high school. I was a mere child of 15, just starting out in this world when he came into my life. At first, I didn't think much about him, nor him of me. I thought I was a normal 15-year-old. I wanted to drive a car, have a girlfriend, and just have fun. But it didn't work out that way, the monster had other plans for me.

My monster wanted to see what I was made of. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. He would try to push my fingers out of my skin. Sometimes he would make my hands so big, I couldn't make a fist. It was at the point that the pain was so bad, I asked my dad for help. So he took me to the doctor and then to another doctor and another doctor. We finally found a doctor who was able to tell us what the name of the monster that lived in me. It was rheumatoid arthritis.

The doctor prescribed me medicine to keep the monster asleep. To this day, I wonder if what the doctor did made the monster more mad and evil? Twice a month, I would get 18 shots in my hands, 9 in each one. On one of the trips to get my injections, I met an old man in the waiting room. He was in a wheelchair, all hunched up, weathered up by life, hands in braces, knees that way too. A mere shell of a man, you could say. He asked me why I was here. I told him why. He told me, “Son, as you go through life, please remember this, don't stop, keep doing what you love, and enjoy. Have a laugh or two, but never stop. For when you do, you could wind up like me." He also said, “It's a game, you have to play every day. It's you against it. And for the most part, you are on you own. So keep going and never give up.” I listened to the man's words but never gave it a second thought. I never saw the man again.

Months later, the monster came back. This time in my knuckles. That is when I learned what real pain felt like. I am not talking about bumping your knuckle pain. I am talking about pain when your fingers are being bent back so far that you wish they would just break off. Where the pain would last for hours, sometimes days. That is when I realized the monster inside me was real. I told my doctor about the pain, so along with cortisone shots the doctor gave me high powered pain pills. An unlimited supply. Yes, that's right. Give a 15-year-old boy an unlimited amount of pain pills! Well, let's just say, that didn't go over too well. I spent most, if not all of my high school years on pain pills and filled with the wonders of getting high.

When I reached my senior year of school, the monster pulled a cruel trick on me. He started bending my fingers the other way. That is the year that I found out how cold and rude people could be. I was stared at, talked about, laughed at, made fun of, and the more this happened to me, I could feel the monster getting stronger inside of me. So what did I do? I took more pills and smoked more pot. It seemed like the higher I got, the monster stayed away. Well at least that's what I thought. All the while, he was planning something more cruel and evil to do to me

I did make it through the rest of high school and college. With not too many battles with the monster, it could have been I was too high on pain pills and pot and other medicine to even care about what was happening inside of me. I did manage to have a girlfriend or two.. or three... but they didn't last long thanks to him. He made me feel like I was not good enough for someone to love or be with. So in time, I had grown used to being alone and self-conscious about how I looked and I didn't care to be around anyone.

So by this time, I was in my 20's, all I did was work as much as I could. That way I didn't have to worry about a social life. I was always working and running from the monster. Until one day, it hit me. The pills didn't work, the pot just covered it up. I fell apart, I was put into the hospital where the monster rose it's ugly head and took over. I was in pain! Pain so bad that I wished for death. I couldn't get out of bed all I wanted to do was sleep I could hardly stand or even hold a glass. I was at the gates of hell and praying just to end it all. I thought I was going through withdrawals from the drugs but the doctor told me no I had a rheumatoid flare up. That was my first full body flare up. Words could not describe it. It was the first time I cried. Really cried. I was at the end. When I was at my lowest, I remembered what the old man in the wheelchair said to me, life is a game, I had to keep playing every day. So I spent another week or more in the hospital. I got out with a new look on life. So I will give that battle to the monster.

So now, clean and off of the pain medicine, well some of them I decided to change my life. Take better care of my body, and start enjoying life and all the while keeping the monster at bay and never forgetting what the old man told me. Now in my 30s I needed to make a major change. The monster was under some what control but I did notice I was walking a little slower and my knees were hurting and on fire every now and then. I needed to make this happen and I did in a big way, I left everything behind and moved to California. Where its' always sunny and never rains. Yeah right! But it was for the best. I got a good job, found a good rheumatologist, met my wife, everything was going well.

Then one day, the monster pulled another evil trick on me. I woke up and couldn't hear. Yes, the monster took my hearing away from me. But thanks to good doctors and hearing aids, I won that battle from him. Granted my hearing isn't the same, but I can still hear.

Then there was another time where I couldn't walk or stand up without my knees hurting me. I remember my wife would say to me as I would try to stand up, “ webbles wobble but they don't fall down.” Weebles were toys that no matter what you did to them, they never fall down. When she said this, it would always make me laugh. Even though inside of me I was dying. Yes, the monster was back in my life. Stronger and even more evil. But this time, I found the key to keeping him at bay. Laughter, yes laughter and trying not to stress along with new medicine from the doctor.

See I found out that stress and worrying feeds the monster. So at this time I had both knees replaced in a 6 month period, chalk up another win for me. After the second knee replacement the doctor told me to stop working and to start enjoying life. I told him no that's okay. So I worked for about a year and the monster came back. This time I thought he had me. But no, he didn't He tried another way by filling my head up with anger and self-denial. I tortured myself and anyone around me. I slipped back into depression. I will give that round to the monster. I did learn how to deal with pain but not anger and self-denial. I stayed that way until after my second hip replacement.

There's not much you can do when you are laying in bed with a ten-inch long strip of staples in your hip! All I did was think and then the old man's words came back to me again. After the hip replacements, I took the doctors advice and I retired. I thought it would be the end for me. But it was not actually. It was a new beginning a re-found love of the arts. The joy of a summer day. The rain hitting my face, the fun things in life. Things I forgot all about. That is why I always say do something fun there's so much joy and wonder around you.

But all the fun and games led me to letting my guard down. Well, it happened again. This time it was my shoulders. The monster got me but this time it was different. It wasn't that bad, was it because the monster had gotten older and weaker or have I gotten stronger and braver? Whatever it was, I will take this as a win!

So after my shoulders were done, all was well, I was going places, doing and seeing things that I had never seen before. All was great. My doctor said everything was fine. I was once again on new medicine that seemed to work. I had not felt the monster for a year or more, so I had thought I had slayed the monster that lived inside of me.

Boy was I wrong. This time he came back with a vengeance. He couldn't attack any more joints because he had destroyed all of them. This time it was an abscess. Yes he had gotten me again. This time he used my own medicine against me!

Here's how it happened, I was out of town checking out Hot August Nights in Reno, NV, when this burning pain came upon me, in my upper thigh. I didn't pay much mind to it, I thought it was just a flare up. Man, was I wrong! My leg swelled up and burst, blood and pus was running down my leg. So I hurried home and drove straight to the hospital for emergency surgery to drain the poison.

This time I almost lost my life in the battle against the monster. See the doctor said if I would have waited a day longer, the poison in my leg would have been all through my body. It would have been a good chance I would not have come back from it. So I stayed in the hospital for 5 days with a pump attached to my leg, draining the poison. While I was in there that time I started thinking there is a piece of the puzzle that is missing, that keeps bringing the monster back.

Then it hit me, it was always there but it took something like this to pull it out. The missing piece of the puzzle was forgiveness. Yes, that was it! Forgiveness to the people that made fun of me, pitied me, shunned me, and the ones who thought by touching me, they would get the monster. But most of all, forgiveness to myself. For blaming myself for the monster that lives in me. I will give the monster that battle, he almost won. But I am still here and still playing the game. I know we will battle again but I am okay with that.

So in the end, if anyone asks if I had to do it all over, what would I change? I would say nothing. The monster made me a better person through the years and the battles, I have learned life is a very special gift that should not be taken for granted. With that being said, go out, enjoy life, do something fun and never stop playing the game.

Frank

profile for Christine P Christine PShoreview, MNThis ismy fight

I want to share my story partly because I want to say sometimes we win, at least win a little. I have arthritis. It hurts to get up, it hurts to do anything. I am still very lucky, my family understands and believes me.

My Aunt had it so bad she stopped doing things and she was not able to get out of bed the last years of her life. I am fighting every day to not go that...

I want to share my story partly because I want to say sometimes we win, at least win a little. I have arthritis. It hurts to get up, it hurts to do anything. I am still very lucky, my family understands and believes me.

My Aunt had it so bad she stopped doing things and she was not able to get out of bed the last years of her life. I am fighting every day to not go that direction. When I could not walk without a cane and stairs because my biggest enemy, my Doctor said I could go the way of a wheelchair or I could fight it.

I went through many hoops but I was able to have both my knees replaced and I am so appreciative of everything I can do again. I am gardening for the first time in ten years! I am even biking on a three-wheel bike. The aches and pains of the rest of my body are still with me, but I am going to fight as long as I live. The hardest part was accepting that and realizing this is my life, pain and all. Medication does not help but staying active does sometimes.

Keep moving, just keep moving no matter how much it hurts.

profile for Nicole P Nicole PMarshfield , MAI fight forMy son Dylan

I fight for my 13 year old son Dylan. He has battled arthritis fiercely for the last three years. He wears an infectious smile and has the greatest sense of humor even on his worst days. Often times are people shocked to learn he has arthritis, not only because he is so young; but also because he has such a happy spirit. Great things will happen for Dylan because he will not give up.

info about Nicole P
profile for Jennifer B Jennifer BPensacola, FLThis ismy fight

Here I am, 31 years old on a beautiful, sunny, Florida, Saturday morning, and I have worked up enough energy/strength to make it out of bed onto the couch with my heating pad-- who's permanent residence is now always plugged in and waiting on me.

It's been like this for the past few weeks. Crippling. Debilitating. And painful. What's wrong with her? you are probably thinking.... Well,...

Here I am, 31 years old on a beautiful, sunny, Florida, Saturday morning, and I have worked up enough energy/strength to make it out of bed onto the couch with my heating pad-- who's permanent residence is now always plugged in and waiting on me.

It's been like this for the past few weeks. Crippling. Debilitating. And painful. What's wrong with her? you are probably thinking.... Well, before the word "lazy" comes to mind, let me enlighten you and spread awareness to what's really happening.

If anything, I feel like I'm a workaholic, who places too much pressure on myself always striving for perfection. (It's in my DNA- Thx Dad!) You could ask any of my former nursing coworkers and classmates. Ask my friends who I routinely Zumba and Barre with. I'm sure they will tell you I'm just about always there and ready to give 110%.

I'm always trying to keep myself busy in one way or another. After having my babies, I decided to stay home to raise them. I also started and run my own online business which keeps me pretty busy. So, "lazy" is not a term I would use to describe. I also will forever be hesitant before ever placing that label on another.

I saw an Ortho doctor back in Feb for a nagging hip/lower back pain (SI joint) that I've had since being pregnant with my first child.

I'm a former L&D nurse of 6 years. You hear and see it all. I remember telling my patients that pregnancies aren't pain-free. "You are growing another human being inside of you." "You will be uncomfortable to some extent."

So when I started having lower back pain- I also told myself the same thing. I continued to do so when I was pregnant with my second child, and worked the night shift at the hospital. I'd hear "Oh, Jen you're tired because you work nights." Or "You had a busy night at work." Or "Oh, it's the babies position and how you carry your daughter on your hip."

The back pain got so intense one night at work when I was 22 wks preg with my second child, that my charge nurse told me to get on the monitor. And of course, booming out contractions every 2-4 min. I eventually went out on bedrest until delivery. -- Doctor couldn't even explain why I kept having bouts of PTL (preterm labor.)

Anyway, long story short, after my sons arrival. I noticed I started sleeping A LOT!
I just thought it was a side effect from the medication I was taking at the time for Anxiety. Yes, I have that too, but that's entirely different story! Panic Disorder to be exact. -and flare-ups from that can be just as debilitating.

Anyway, so I asked my doctor to get off my Anxiety medication. He expressed he didn't want me to and that my quality of life is so much better with it, so he gave me a stimulant to take on top of it to give me an energy boost. And boyyyyy did it!

I felt AWESOME!
UNstoppable.

I was Wonder Woman and loved it! On any given day, you'd find me outside cutting the grass, running in a race, playing with my kids, competing in a Fitbit battle, or crafting my little heart out. Little did I know, I was covering an underlying issue that I -a Registered Nurse- had no clue was brewing!

So fast forward back to February of this year. I got X-rays and blood work done. X-rays showed extreme arthritis damage to both hips, spine, and neck, but I tested negative for Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis?? So basically, blood work said nothing was wrong, but the X-rays proved otherwise suggesting a definitive autoimmune disease. (Auto meaning self. It means your body attacks its own healthy tissue.) But, which one? There are so many that are very similar.

I had been waiting to see the Rheumatologist for 3 months. I finally went in on Monday. She did a complete work up. I'm still awaiting my results from the genetic marker testing. She's thinking right now it's Spondyloarthritis-a form of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Did I mention I'm only 31 and feel like I'm 91?!? And when I say my entire body hurts, I mean literally EVERY BONE! It's even painful to take deep breaths! -you know bc your ribs are bones too- I've been battling this "flare-up" since Feb.

Steroids won't fix it.

Pain medications don't touch it.

I'll be fine once she confirms what she thinks it is, so I can start the best treatment plan - Some flare-ups can be so bad that one has to undergo treatment with Chemotherapy. I hope that's not my case but, I'm so ready to feel better that I'm ready to start just about ANY kind of treatment.

But for now- I want to spread the message that Arthritis is real.

It's not just for "old" people.

It's not just a few aches and pains here and there when the weather is cold.

It can happen at ANY age!!!

Even Toddlers!!!

So you bet if I test positive for the HLA-B27 gene that my children will be tested too! I don't want them to have to ever experience a flare up or suffer any permanent damage like I've had. The hip damage is already so bad for a person my age that I may have to undergo hip surgery soon.

So please guys don't dismiss little issues, b/c what may start as a "little carpal tunnel" here and there or "plantar fasciitis" may actually be symptoms of something much bigger.

profile for Jack L Jack LStudio City, CAThis ismy fight

I sprained my left knee in 1982 and my right in 1995. I had pain and decreasing mobility in the left knee, but my doctor said wait. In 2011 I went to my orthopedic doctor and got knee x-ray. When he examined me he sent me back for hip x-ray, and told me "Wanna see something ugly?" It was the left hip, total bone on bone, no black between femur and pelvis. So he replaced left hip in 2011, left...

I sprained my left knee in 1982 and my right in 1995. I had pain and decreasing mobility in the left knee, but my doctor said wait. In 2011 I went to my orthopedic doctor and got knee x-ray. When he examined me he sent me back for hip x-ray, and told me "Wanna see something ugly?" It was the left hip, total bone on bone, no black between femur and pelvis. So he replaced left hip in 2011, left knee in 2012, right knee in 2013. Still have some pain, but I don't take any pain meds, not even NSAIDS. But the range of motion has really improved post op.

profile for Darlyne M Darlyne MSan Lorenzo, CAThis ismy fight

I am 78 years old and have been fighting Osteo arthritis for 40 years. Thanks to a wonderful Orthopedist I can still teach dancing. I have two artificial knees and an artificial shoulder and currently, I am having treatments for the damage to my neck. Don't ever give up. Take your medications, walk daily and make sure you have a good support team. I have been married for 60 years and even...

I am 78 years old and have been fighting Osteo arthritis for 40 years. Thanks to a wonderful Orthopedist I can still teach dancing. I have two artificial knees and an artificial shoulder and currently, I am having treatments for the damage to my neck. Don't ever give up. Take your medications, walk daily and make sure you have a good support team. I have been married for 60 years and even though my husband is also suffering with osteo arthritis he supports me all of the time.

Do not give in too it, just keep living.

profile for Donna C Donna CAfton , NYThis ismy fight

Hi - I'm 46 years old and am fighting against Psoriatic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in November of 2015, but have struggled and suffered with this disease for much longer than that.

I struggle daily with pain and most days with fatigue. I can't do what I want to do anymore and that is so frustrating and sometimes depressing.

I have become a sedentary person and used to be a...

Hi - I'm 46 years old and am fighting against Psoriatic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in November of 2015, but have struggled and suffered with this disease for much longer than that.

I struggle daily with pain and most days with fatigue. I can't do what I want to do anymore and that is so frustrating and sometimes depressing.

I have become a sedentary person and used to be a person who couldn't sit still - I always had to be doing something!

Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and two very supportive grown children.
I have tried numerous medications and modalities such as massage and physical therapy. These have helped but the effects don't last long.

I have had numerous foot surgeries and I'm due to have another in 3 weeks.
It's a constant fight and my hope is that there will be some real help for those of us who suffer - mostly in silence.

Chronic pain is debilitating and discouraging.

Many people just don't get it and I would like for them to try to get it and to try to imagine their lives in constant pain - so that they may be more empathetic and understanding of the many people who suffer with the many varieties of arthritis.

profile for Pamela K Pamela KLafayette, INThis ismy fight

I started my fight at about 55. I woke one morning and could barely move. My biggest problem besides the pain is the medication. I also have lung disease so when I take my RA medications it leaves me vulnerable to lung infections. It is hard to tell loved ones if you are sick you can not come over. Not many people speak to me because I often wear a mask. I try to explain it's for my protection...

I started my fight at about 55. I woke one morning and could barely move. My biggest problem besides the pain is the medication. I also have lung disease so when I take my RA medications it leaves me vulnerable to lung infections. It is hard to tell loved ones if you are sick you can not come over. Not many people speak to me because I often wear a mask. I try to explain it's for my protection not theirs. I pray every day none of my loved ones or any one ever has to go through this.

profile for Linda M Linda MMercerville, NJThis ismy fight

I have arthritis in my fingers, knees, hips and back. It's been a struggle because i was denying i had it. Passed it off as carpal tunnel, age, back problems.

At first, i noticed that I couldn't t wear any of my rings i used to wear because my knuckles are so large now, but that's not as big a deal as what else is going on.
When i sit, even for short times in church, it's...

I have arthritis in my fingers, knees, hips and back. It's been a struggle because i was denying i had it. Passed it off as carpal tunnel, age, back problems.

At first, i noticed that I couldn't t wear any of my rings i used to wear because my knuckles are so large now, but that's not as big a deal as what else is going on.
When i sit, even for short times in church, it's hard for me to get back up, forget kneeling. I do it, but afterwards am in so much pain. Thank goodness i found a church where you don't have to kneel.

When working in my office-i have to get up frequently and walk because my hips get "stuck" & painful. When we have meetings, i have to sit for about 2 hours straight-i get out of my chair and look like I'm 90, it's a real struggle, to say nothing of how my hips feel.

When i sleep, i often wake up because I'm lying on my side and whatever hip I'm on is in extreme pain. The pain prevents me from falling back to sleep. Then when it's time to get up-my hip feels better because i was forced to lay on my back for a few hours and it's rested. the sleep deprivation during the day causes me to lose focus.

Lately, i can't stand for long periods of time without having pain. this means time to cook dinner, or do things around the house. I have to keep going to the couch and sit for 1/2 hr.

All this doesn't sound like much, and for awhile, it was bearable, but as the arthritis gets worse and attacks more and more joints-it's making my life harder to live. I can't really walk around or exercise because it causes pain.

I'm wondering what I'm going to do when I'm 65-as I'm already moving like I'm 80.

profile for Peggy R Peggy RVancouver, WAThis ismy fight

I am a survivor of breast cancer & after several rounds of chemo, I started having troubles with carpel tunnel & fatigue. Then I noticed my right forefinger was mishapen at the first joint, so I went to urgent care & had it xrayed. I had not injured it & the doc who gave me the results seemed a bit surprised when she told me "you don't have a joint there. It's gone"! I got a referral to a...

I am a survivor of breast cancer & after several rounds of chemo, I started having troubles with carpel tunnel & fatigue. Then I noticed my right forefinger was mishapen at the first joint, so I went to urgent care & had it xrayed. I had not injured it & the doc who gave me the results seemed a bit surprised when she told me "you don't have a joint there. It's gone"! I got a referral to a rheumatologist, who told me I had a destructive arthritis, called psoriatic arthritis. He kept asking me if I had ever had psoriasis but I never had. Then I began to have pain in my hand joints & the first joints were being destroyed, one by one. In a coupke years, I started having a lot of pain in my left thumb joint& got a regerral to ortho hand specialist, who said the joint below my thumb was gone. I eventually had surgery to clean up the joint space & they took a tendon from the arm to use as cushion in the empty joint. I eventually had to have both thumb joints fused because they bent outward & were not usable. I could not put pushing pressure on them without pain. The only finger joints I did have not lost so far are the ring finger ones both hands. I began having a lot of pain in my left wrist some time later & found out I had destruction of the wrist joint as well. I have had several surgeries & lots of hardware in the wrist, to try to stabilize & relieve pain. Then my right toe felt weird & found I had lost that joint. They tried to stabilize with a pin but it extended externally & would not stay in, so I now have no joint & that toe does not stay level with the others. And then my ankle began to get sore, so eventually had xrays & MRI, which showed destruction in my right foot. I have less pain, unless I am up on it a lot. So I cannot walk much. Now I have pain in both shouldets, which we assume is arthritis, but unsure if osteo or psoriatic.
I had to have both knees replaced 15 years ago due to osteo & have bad back damage from osteo, spinal stenosis, & scoliosis (likely from waiting too long to get help with the back pain). I am working up to shoulder replacements. Psoriatic is so quickly destructive. I have not been able to take any treatment for it while on chemo. Then I tried an oral one that would not affect chemo, but developed bad headaches & frequent sinus infections, so had to stop it. So, even though I am off chemo now for 4 months, I am still not on treatment for the arthritis. I have always been better when taking medication for other reasons, of course. I am very disabled, for last ten years & waiting for the toss of the coin which will get me first---the cancer or the arthritis.

profile for Deanna T Deanna TSacramento, CAThis ismy fight

I can’t believe it’s only been a year. One year! I went from being the fastest and best at my job to someone they have shoved to the side, now treat like I have lost intelligence along with my physical ability, given me work to do beneath my job title, and opposite my doctor’s orders. They act like I am faking it when suddenly tears come squirting out of my eyes because once again I have...

I can’t believe it’s only been a year. One year! I went from being the fastest and best at my job to someone they have shoved to the side, now treat like I have lost intelligence along with my physical ability, given me work to do beneath my job title, and opposite my doctor’s orders. They act like I am faking it when suddenly tears come squirting out of my eyes because once again I have somehow managed to tweak my right hand wrong and it sparked the fire in the joints of my right thumb.

I guess they don’t realize anything can hurt that bad. They are just lucky they aren’t at my house when I wake up and it’s a bad day for my hips. Of course I don’t know it’s a bad day until I get into the sitting position. If I scream upon sitting up guess what, bad day. I remember the first time it happened, I don’t know who it scared more, me, my boyfriend asleep beside me, or the dog, who was also asleep.

The pain in my hips only started 6 months ago and easily rivals the pain in my thumb now. I just want to know how could this happen so fast and furious? It took away half of my life and I am only 56 years old. Yeah, I am the one standing in the profile picture.

profile for Marcia T Marcia TSioux Falls, SDThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA 33 years ago during my senior year of college. When I was first diagnosed, it was difficult for my college friends to understand what I went through. I didn’t look sick but I was in pain and fatigued for the entire year until we found the right medication.

I have never let this disease (along with a few others acquired along the journey) define me. I am a mom,...

I was diagnosed with RA 33 years ago during my senior year of college. When I was first diagnosed, it was difficult for my college friends to understand what I went through. I didn’t look sick but I was in pain and fatigued for the entire year until we found the right medication.

I have never let this disease (along with a few others acquired along the journey) define me. I am a mom, wife, high school teacher, a child of God. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been obstacles. This disease has done a physical hit job on me and a financial burden for my family. For about a 6-year period I had a rider on my insurance so I was not able to afford the medications I needed. It was more than what we were earning. Physically RA has caused me to have numerous orthopedic surgeries including wrist, elbow and MCP joint replacements and several joint fusions. I always wonder if I would be in the position I am now fixing so many joints that are structurally damaged, if I could have had coverage.

My family has been an awesome support for me. My husband Philip just steps up at a moment’s notice and helps. My 3 sons also understand and help me when I need it.

One of the most profound things shared with me was this quote during middle school: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” This is my motto of how I approach my commitments and responsibilities. I try to share this with my own students, as a way to deal with the hard things they encounter whether it be a math problem or family issues...don’t quit! But most importantly I don’t quit because I have faith that God will give me what I need for each day.

In the last 24 hours, I have been very concerned and stressed from the first step toward replacing the Affordable Care Act. I will not quit calling and writing my rep for her vote on this issue for this move was unethical as well as disheartening. I will not quit and will do everything I can.

profile for Jessica W Jessica WAnniston , ALI fight forLilly

Warning: This is going to be an emotional one. Yet, it is one of strength and not sadness.

Arthritis and Lupus awareness Month: A day in the life of both. I have Lupus and my daughter has Juvenile Arthritis.

Today, I headed off to my appointment at the clinic as I have been doing for over nine years. But, today something seemed different. Today, I noticed a lot more than...

Warning: This is going to be an emotional one. Yet, it is one of strength and not sadness.

Arthritis and Lupus awareness Month: A day in the life of both. I have Lupus and my daughter has Juvenile Arthritis.

Today, I headed off to my appointment at the clinic as I have been doing for over nine years. But, today something seemed different. Today, I noticed a lot more than normally. Normally, I drown myself in my phone to avoid the waiting room time but today I was nervous because I knew I was signing up for a clinical research trial that I knew absolutely nothing about. No information on the side effects, risks, or possible benefits but I knew that I have to be one of the few nationwide that will participate in this because I have a daughter who I want better treatments for. Today, I was anxiously more aware of my surroundings.

Today, as I looked around I notice that I am 1 of 2 people in the entire waiting area who is not on oxygen, not in a wheel chair, or without a walker. I am very observant that some of these people who are unable to get around are my age. I had the realization that, today, I am as healthy as I will ever be with a progressing disease as I waited.

Today, when I made it back to the doctor he greeted me by first name in a friendly manner before even seeing my chart. Today, I realized he knows me from his hundreds upon hundreds of patients because I’ve been coming almost 10 years and he is relying on my attendance of this clinical trial. He goes over the trials. I will qualify if my disease hasn’t progressed upon the return of my labs that will be taken. He tells me that I will be in Birmingham a lot. I will either be in-patient for bags of infusions and returning back and forth three times that same week or I will be coming every two weeks for five hours each trip for trial infusions of a new unreleased drug.

Today, I realized that is isn’t just my choice. It is my children’s too as they will be very involved because I am all they have. I am raising two kids alone and they will have to go through these trips with me. It doesn’t just affect me. It affects their lives too and I wonder if they can emotionally handle it. But, I know down deep that they will be so proud of their mommy. They will be proud that their mommy is trying to make a better future for Lilly and many more children.

Today, as I leave the lab department after what seemed like endless vials of blood work... IT HITS ME HARD! The biggest hit I've had so far... If something isn't done.. If a cure isn't found... Then my sweet LillyBugg will probably be using a walker by my age since it hit her hard so young! It hits me HARD! Picturing my little girl that’s full of life using a walker or oxygen tank or even a wheelchair by her 30s brought a single tear to my eye as I waited for the elevator to the parking deck.

Today, I know more than ever that volunteering for this is the right decision and the purpose God has given me.

Today, I did not know what I was going to post for Awareness but as I sit in the car inside the parking deck… I knew I had to share this. This is just one day, one moment, one decision, one appointment, and one single tear in a journey that we try and hide from others so many times. Today, is the healthiest I will ever be. Today, has to reach others.

Today, I hope that my day touches others and raises awareness. It’s more than one month. It’s our lives and sadly it’s not the easiest and my kids and I all fight it alone strongly. I will now head home to inject Lilly with a medicine I fear of the side effects affecting her immunity and fertility when she is older. But it lessens the pain so she smiles more, thus it’s worth it to see her be a kid. Today, is just a day that matters

info about Jessica W
profile for Kimberly D Kimberly DSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

I was first diagnosed with arthritis at age 30 but later progressed to osteoarthritis in my neck, shoulders and peripheral neuropathy. I started having migraines too... all these I inherited from my late mother.

I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome and Lupus in January 2016, which is all start making sense to me. All these symptoms that I have been experiencing for years now are...

I was first diagnosed with arthritis at age 30 but later progressed to osteoarthritis in my neck, shoulders and peripheral neuropathy. I started having migraines too... all these I inherited from my late mother.

I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome and Lupus in January 2016, which is all start making sense to me. All these symptoms that I have been experiencing for years now are symptoms of these autoimmune diseases. I just never had a doctor who could figure pinpoint my symptoms and run the appropriate lab tests to diagnose me.

I was always tired and chalked it up to being a single mother with two kids who worked full-time(and going to college part-time). I even consulted a rheumatologist because I even almost twenty years ago suspected I had Lupus. After all, my mother had it. The doctor said I was just fat and of course I was tired... it was because I was carrying around all that weight.

Did she even think to test me for rheumatoid factors, c3 or c4, or run a thyroid panel or test me for Sjogren's Syndrome?

profile for Nancee W Nancee WBridgeview, ILThis ismy fight

I was 36 when I found out that I had RA. They thought that I would be in a wheelchair within 6 months because it hit so hard and fast. I found a rhuematologist but felt that he wasnt listening or helping me. Through guidance of the hospitals nurses i was able to find a good one and still have him 20 years later. Through an aggressive approach my RA has slowed down, went into remission a few...

I was 36 when I found out that I had RA. They thought that I would be in a wheelchair within 6 months because it hit so hard and fast. I found a rhuematologist but felt that he wasnt listening or helping me. Through guidance of the hospitals nurses i was able to find a good one and still have him 20 years later. Through an aggressive approach my RA has slowed down, went into remission a few times, and helped ease the everyday pain that we go through. Most of the time I just am used to it but some days I feel like I was in a car accident. I am lucky that I have a good support system. All I can say is to think positive and keep moving. It's hard to get motivated sometimes because of the pain and feeling tired all the time but after a good walk, it helps.

info about Nancee W
profile for Constance S Constance SChicago, ILThis ismy fight

Short Story: I've had awful arthritis for 1 1/2 years and have been immensely tired all the time. My former self had unlimited energy, riding a bike from Berlin to Dresden, the western part of France, 7 days worth of Tuscany, Italy, besides twice doing RAGBRAI, across Iowa. I used to garden non-stop, etc. Now I'm thoroughly exhausted after one hour of biking, 2 hours of gentle gardening. Instead...

Short Story: I've had awful arthritis for 1 1/2 years and have been immensely tired all the time. My former self had unlimited energy, riding a bike from Berlin to Dresden, the western part of France, 7 days worth of Tuscany, Italy, besides twice doing RAGBRAI, across Iowa. I used to garden non-stop, etc. Now I'm thoroughly exhausted after one hour of biking, 2 hours of gentle gardening. Instead of going to bed at 10:30 I go to bed at 8:30. I"m still getting used to my "new normal". The Pain Management Dr. helps me by doing procedures: burning the nerves in my back, giving me two different types of shots in my lower back. Pilates exercises twice a week help very much. I need to loose about 15 pounds but that's so hard. Good Luck!

info about Constance S
profile for Shirley H Shirley HMoses Lake, WAThis ismy fight

My story began when I turned 30. I am an RN and after working a 24 hr. shift, I suffered a ruptured tendon in my foot.I ended up needing to have surgery to repair it. Right after that I had to have surgery to remove a salivary gland stone. My orthopedic surgeon diagnosed my RA at this same time and put me on prednisone and gold shots. I moved to AZ and they had a rheumatologist where I moved...

My story began when I turned 30. I am an RN and after working a 24 hr. shift, I suffered a ruptured tendon in my foot.I ended up needing to have surgery to repair it. Right after that I had to have surgery to remove a salivary gland stone. My orthopedic surgeon diagnosed my RA at this same time and put me on prednisone and gold shots. I moved to AZ and they had a rheumatologist where I moved to. He put me on the same regimen, then switched me. I worked hard in the operating room and put alot of wear and tear on my body. I switched from the hospital to a free standing surgery center. I ruptured a disc in my neck right before I moved to the surgery center. I had to have surgery and when I was recuperated, they had no place for me. I was a workman's comp. risk. I worked in Idaho, went back to AZ, and ended up taking a job in Washington. We love it here. I have had more surgeries than I can list. In 2000, I had a heart attack. in 2001, I had a stroke. I missed a lot of work with all my health problems and had to quit working or get fired. I quit. I am now 60. I tried infusions twice, but I kept getting infections. Now I take an injectible and after 30 years I am still on prednisone. I have alot of pain these days involving all major joints. I keep on trying. Not ready to give up yet.

My husband helps me SO much. He's a great guy!

profile for Renna B Renna BSan Francisco , CAThis ismy fight

At the age of 10, all you want to do is fit in and be normal, the last thing you want is something to make you different. I was on a family vacation when I mentioned to my mom in a car ride that my knee was hurting, my sister noticed that it was very swollen. It was obvious that it wasn't broken since I could walk so it was dismissed and we decided to go a doctor when we got home. In addition, I...

At the age of 10, all you want to do is fit in and be normal, the last thing you want is something to make you different. I was on a family vacation when I mentioned to my mom in a car ride that my knee was hurting, my sister noticed that it was very swollen. It was obvious that it wasn't broken since I could walk so it was dismissed and we decided to go a doctor when we got home. In addition, I was exhausted, I slept the majority of the day and couldn't keep my eyes open for the life of me, which later I found out was a system of the autoimmune disease that I would later be diagnosed with. It took 6 months to diagnose me and at that point I had JRA in 4 joints soon spreading to more. Cortizone shots were given as often as allowed along with fluid draining and constantly on medicines. It is hard to be in pain and tired day in and day out when all you want to do is be active and play sports. Medicines stopped being effective and I had to switch throughout the years to try different ones. When I came to college, I had to take the golf carts around campus because I couldn't walk the distance from class to class. I ended up changing medicines my first semester and started doing a lot better but had to increase it this year since it is no longer as effective. I currently have my poliarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in my ankles, knees, fingers, elbows and jaw. I have learned to live with the pain. I am fighting for myself, the thousands of other Americans who fight this fight every day.

profile for Janet H Janet HLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

After years of reading books and articles on health, fitness, diet, and nutrition, and seeing a rheumatologist at least once a year for ten years, working with physical therapists and exercise coaches, even working as an assistant coach, I put together a personal program to manage my hypoglycemia, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, small joint arthritis, and polyarthritis.

After years of reading books and articles on health, fitness, diet, and nutrition, and seeing a rheumatologist at least once a year for ten years, working with physical therapists and exercise coaches, even working as an assistant coach, I put together a personal program to manage my hypoglycemia, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, small joint arthritis, and polyarthritis.

Last week the information I gathered appeared as three articles published by the Arthritis Foundation.

profile for Indira P Indira PGlastonbury, CTThis ismy fight

Since my mom had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I always had that in the back of my mind that I might get it too some day. But never had I imagined that it would hit me so early and so aggressively! RA struck me suddenly at 42, two years ago. Overnight my world changed. In a matter of a year, I went from 'hyperactive supermom' who would be up on her feet from 6 in the morning till 11 at night, to...

Since my mom had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I always had that in the back of my mind that I might get it too some day. But never had I imagined that it would hit me so early and so aggressively! RA struck me suddenly at 42, two years ago. Overnight my world changed. In a matter of a year, I went from 'hyperactive supermom' who would be up on her feet from 6 in the morning till 11 at night, to almost an 'invalid' needing help for the simplest of chores.

Pain was paramount. Severe shoulder pain episodes waking me up in the middle of the night. I couldn't sleep and would just sit up or walk around in the dark. At first only the back of my knees would hurt and then gradually the knees started getting worse. I would stand at the top of the stairs and pause for a few seconds trying to muster up the courage to take the steps down! There was swelling in my hands making it difficult to do anything in the kitchen. I had so much stiffness in the mornings that I couldn't even get up and make lunches for my kids - that part hurt the most. Ankle pain, foot pain, elbow pain. You name it - Every day it would be a new joint. As if a monster was moving inside my body and going to the different joints and hitting them with a hammer.

My rheumatologist put me on medication. I was ok - meaning about 50% better but the severe pain episodes were still coming. And then after being on about 7 months, the doctor increased my dose to the highest allowed. That brought a severe reaction with me getting an episode of severe uterine cramps - I was on the floor writhing in pain and I passed out. My husband called 911 and l found myself in the ambulance and the ER! That incident shook us both and we asked the rheumy to change the medication. He put me on a different medication which was clearly not a good one for me. I lost 15 pounds on it in 4 weeks and I became so severely weak that I didn't have the energy to take even a few steps in my house.! That was when I decided to stop meds altogether and tried naturopathy. I went to India last summer taking a break from work and also tried a new treatment.

Although my naturopath had me on a dairy free, gluten free and night shade free diet, it was not showing any results. My condition got worse and worse. Work was also getting stressful. I had neck pain too now. There were times when I felt completely depressed and frustrated. I would look at the mirror and ask myself - who is this woman? What happened to the girl who could do 30 Kathak chakkars (dance twirls) at a time! Is this the same person who would be standing in the kitchen for 5 hours at a time cooking for a crowd? I would weep alone in my bed at night not wanting my kids to see my pain and anguish.

Husband and kids helped out a lot. We hired help to cook and do things around the house. After trying so many different things, instead of getting better I was getting worse. I did not know what else to do. I had run out of options. I was totally inconsolable as I didn’t have a plan. Six months ago, my rheumy told me I had severe RA and would need to take another medication which is a highly potent injectable used to treat some forms of cancer. It comes with a serious potentially fatal side effect. I asked him if he could still keep me on the oral meds and asked if I could be on a combination. He agreed although he was not very hopeful. He put me on a combination of medications. I was hopeful that the lower dosage of each medicine in the combination would help keep the side effects on the lower side.

Around the same time, I started doing meditation by the encouragement of a co-worker who is a close friend too. We started reading the Bible together every week. Being able to connect with God had a profound impact on my perspective. I went from 'feeling sad about myself' to 'feeling wonderfully positive'. Now once again I wanted to give diet a try since I had read so many case studies about individuals turning their autoimmune disease around by healing their guts with the right foods. I consulted with a new naturopath from California who put me on a new diet, which is a 'grain free', dairy free' 'nut free' and sugar free' diet that relies on nutrient dense foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, good quality fish and meat to heal the body.

I slowly started getting better. So what is working now you may wonder? Was it the medications? Or the diet or my positive attitude? I really think it is a combination of all three. I am able to do a lot more things by myself now than before. And I am continuing to work to heal my body. I regularly exercise, do yoga and do meditation. I am grateful to God for helping me to make these positive changes in my life. I also quit my stressful corporate job two months ago so that I could focus on healing and getting better. I now spend my time blogging about my 'autoimmune paleo' recipes and studying more about natural healing. I still have a long way to go but I hope my story motivates fellow RA sufferers to 'not give up' and to remain positive and hopeful. Always count your blessings and be thankful. Things will definitely start turning around!

info about Indira P
profile for Brenda V Brenda VHilliard, OHThis ismy fight

This is my fight. I have osteoarthritis nearly everywhere. I am bone on bone in my knees and it's very painful to walk and drive. I am exhausted all the time. I have arthritis in my shoulders so it's too painful for me to use a cane, which would help my knees. I have a difficult time sleeping. Normal every day activities wear me out. It's been years since I could soak in a nice warm bubble...

This is my fight. I have osteoarthritis nearly everywhere. I am bone on bone in my knees and it's very painful to walk and drive. I am exhausted all the time. I have arthritis in my shoulders so it's too painful for me to use a cane, which would help my knees. I have a difficult time sleeping. Normal every day activities wear me out. It's been years since I could soak in a nice warm bubble bath. I have trouble getting up and down from chairs. Cleaning or grocery shopping, or doing laundry is difficult for me. I try not to say anything because I know people don't want to hear me whine. I don't think anyone knows how much pain I'm in, unless they have the same problems. I also have disk disease in my back so that always hurts. It has been so many years ago that I really can't remember what it feels like not to be in bad pain.

profile for Mary C Mary CWinston-Salem, NCThis ismy fight

Hello my name is Mary and I have arthritis. My life is constant pain everyday. I have to push forward knowing it will get worse, so I find something each day that gives me joy. I am tired all the time. Almost a year ago I got a spinal stimulator . It has help with the lumbar and leg pain a lot but not completely. I deal with people that don't see anything wrong with me so they think I'm a cry...

Hello my name is Mary and I have arthritis. My life is constant pain everyday. I have to push forward knowing it will get worse, so I find something each day that gives me joy. I am tired all the time. Almost a year ago I got a spinal stimulator . It has help with the lumbar and leg pain a lot but not completely. I deal with people that don't see anything wrong with me so they think I'm a cry baby. Some ask me why I have arthritis like I did something wrong to get it. I have to explain myself to people all the time because I look normal. I had a anterior and posterior fusion of my cervical spine from C2-T2 and have pain in my neck and shoulders all the time.

profile for Stephen M Stephen MJacksonville, FLThis ismy fight

Not a complainer, just to let anyone out there suffering from any arthritic condition they are not alone. I have osteo arthritis in both knees and lower back. In 2013 I had my right hip replaced and the left in 2014. In 2012, it was suspected that I might have ankylosing spondylitis. It was confirmed via xray. I do not have the. HLA-B27 enzyme.
My only tip for both is that you remain as...

Not a complainer, just to let anyone out there suffering from any arthritic condition they are not alone. I have osteo arthritis in both knees and lower back. In 2013 I had my right hip replaced and the left in 2014. In 2012, it was suspected that I might have ankylosing spondylitis. It was confirmed via xray. I do not have the. HLA-B27 enzyme.
My only tip for both is that you remain as active as you can and stretch and exercise often. It helps me along with therapeutic massage for the AS. We are trying neuropathic stimulation and so far- so good.
Don't give up!

profile for Elise G Elise GAnoka, MNThis ismy fight

I began showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after my third child was born. (Swollen hands and feet) I was 34 years young. Now at 56 I'm facing the threat of a wheel chair as one knee insists on staying swollen and stiff. A strict diet helps and I did that for awhile with great results but when everyone else is eating pizza, sweets and other tasty things I lost the motivation to eat as...

I began showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after my third child was born. (Swollen hands and feet) I was 34 years young. Now at 56 I'm facing the threat of a wheel chair as one knee insists on staying swollen and stiff. A strict diet helps and I did that for awhile with great results but when everyone else is eating pizza, sweets and other tasty things I lost the motivation to eat as I should. I'm weak and tired most of the time. My husband is gracious and supportive but I know he grieves not being able to play and work together like we used to. Our youngest child only knows me as a mom with chronic pain and depression. I look and act like I'm fine but people can't see the fatigue, the poor concentration, the stiffness and pain. I feel guilty that I can't do more. Nevertheless, it could be worse. It's important to have a positive attitude. We're still able to make beautiful memories by spending time together. So I keep on trying to do the next right thing by stretching, eating good, fresh foods and finding joy in the lovely people and things around me.

profile for Jeff S Jeff SStansbury Park, UTThis ismy fight

After much pain and tears my parents had the foresight that this was something more than “growing pains” and I was tested and diagnosed with JRA at the age of 10. This left me with a greater phobia of needles over arthritis, even to this day.

I learned young that I needed to make adjustments in my activities and know my limitations. I, too, as with others discovered over the...

After much pain and tears my parents had the foresight that this was something more than “growing pains” and I was tested and diagnosed with JRA at the age of 10. This left me with a greater phobia of needles over arthritis, even to this day.

I learned young that I needed to make adjustments in my activities and know my limitations. I, too, as with others discovered over the years, the pains in different joints all over my body and dealing with the fatigue, which the dull aching joints bring. When I was 22, I strained my neck and when the Doctor looked at the X-rays, she inquired as to what arthritis I had. That was a wake-up call! I finally put on the weight needed to build muscles around my joints; thus helping me to manage the effects more effectively.
As I neared the end of my 30s I had moved in the stage of needing to lose weight – as now excessive weight was also hurting those joints of mine. Once again I made and adjustment to my life, my diet, and my exercise and ran my first sprint triathlon at 40. I found it hard to stick with a training schedule and needed to listen more to my body as to which sport I was going to train on for the day. I have since completed over a half dozen triathlons and a number of long distant biking events.

Arthritis eventually helped in taking the knees of my mother and so on a cold December morning in 2016 we put her in a wheelchair and pushed her all 5k in the Jingle Bell Run as part of her “adjustments” in staying active.

I have no plans that I will ever win any of these races, yet in the big race – I am still winning.

info about Jeff S
profile for Thomas B Thomas BNokomis, FLThis ismy fight

I have had RA for almost 30 years and have to fight with insurance and drug companies, and my employer. I have had one knee replaced and a foot operation and need my hip replaced soon. Occasionally after a few chores I sit down and find myself thinking enough is enough and it would be nice to stop do nothing ever again. People with chronic illness know exactly what I am talking about and the...

I have had RA for almost 30 years and have to fight with insurance and drug companies, and my employer. I have had one knee replaced and a foot operation and need my hip replaced soon. Occasionally after a few chores I sit down and find myself thinking enough is enough and it would be nice to stop do nothing ever again. People with chronic illness know exactly what I am talking about and the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have a clue. Most of us do get back up again and go on and ignore that moment in time until the next time. That is the way I feel and I hate when people say you shouldn't feel that way or that doesn't seem right. It is right for me and I make my feelings and wishes know to my family.

profile for Laura R Laura RBedford, NHThis ismy fight

My story begins when I was just four years old and suffering with severe knee pain.

For 15 years I was misdiagnosed or wrongly treated. I was told it was just growing pains and that it would pass. I was told to take OTC meds when it hurt, and by the age of 15 I was taking these every four hours, day and night. I hardly ever slept due to the pain, and I was often unable to stay around...

My story begins when I was just four years old and suffering with severe knee pain.

For 15 years I was misdiagnosed or wrongly treated. I was told it was just growing pains and that it would pass. I was told to take OTC meds when it hurt, and by the age of 15 I was taking these every four hours, day and night. I hardly ever slept due to the pain, and I was often unable to stay around friends houses, or go out for long periods of time because I would end up in tears. It felt like both my legs had been broken. My wonderful mum would often wake up to hear me crying and end up sitting on my bed for hours on end trying to comfort and console me, knowing that the doctors were doing nothing to help me, her and my dad taking me to A&E to try and get me help at all hours of the morning and just generally fighting for me in any way they could.

It was only when I went for a small, unrelated operation aged 19 that a kind nurse told me that as I had juvenile arthritis on my hospital notes, I should have it re-evaluated as I was an adult. My jaw dropped to the floor. Suddenly, the pain, the agonising nights, the missed chances to socialise, it all had a name and a reason. It was such a relief.

I immediately made an appointment to see my GP and the wheels were finally set in motion for my diagnosis. I saw a rheumatologist and I got my final results – I had the knees of a 90 year old woman aged 19. And I had rheumatoid arthritis.

I used to sit and cry with my mum in the waiting room for my rheumatology appointments as I looked around at all the older people there. I was the only person under 60 at those appointments. I knew no one else that was suffering that could relate to me being a young person with such a horrible disease. After many different medications and treatments, I was finally given a long term drug that took the edge off of my pain and meant I could continue to work and go out and socialise like a normal 21 year old!

However, this wasn’t the end of my story as more joints became affected. I developed severe anxiety about leaving the house incase the pain increased to unmanageable levels and I was unable to get home. I became isolated and depressed and lost all my closest friends.

Finally, with a push from my wonderful fiancé, my family and a small group of loving friends, I began to be treated for my anxiety and depression and got my life back on track. I’ve always tried my best to hold down a job regardless of these difficulties and I have always managed to. At the moment, due to a knee injury, I have been out of work since September and I am waiting for treatment to get my life back to normal. I try my best to stay positive and keep focusing on returning to the teaching job that I love, although it is so hard to see a way out.

I have found solace in crafting and crocheting and it’s an amazing distraction and outlet for all my troubles. It’s turning something so negative into something positive. Now I crochet for Conscious Crafties and have my own shop.

Thank you for reading my story.

I wish you all the health and happiness in the world.

info about Laura R
profile for Ruthie M Ruthie MWinterport, METhis ismy fight

I think the most difficult part of Arthritis is that as we age we have other physical ailments to contend with. Pain can be from other causes making medicines, exercise, sleep and even diet a challenge to treat.

I find my greatest help is a positive attitude. By distracting myself with things I enjoy that are doable like puzzles, TV, and simple movements I am able to get through the...

I think the most difficult part of Arthritis is that as we age we have other physical ailments to contend with. Pain can be from other causes making medicines, exercise, sleep and even diet a challenge to treat.

I find my greatest help is a positive attitude. By distracting myself with things I enjoy that are doable like puzzles, TV, and simple movements I am able to get through the day. If the pain wakes me I get up and do a puzzle or have a cup of warm milk or tea. Meditation and music are also calming. Lastly, I try and remember that there are so many people worse off. Reaching out to comfort someone else with Arthritic pain makes me feel better.

profile for Kathie  C Kathie CDrums, PAI fight forDaughter

My daughter's arthritis started with a neck spasm one early morning when she was only 8 years old. It was so bad that I brought her to the emergency department. They really didn't figure out the cause of the spasm but did find multiple swollen lymph nodes and sent us home with antibiotics. From that point my daughter began having pain in her knees and ankles. Her primary doctor ran some bloodwork...

My daughter's arthritis started with a neck spasm one early morning when she was only 8 years old. It was so bad that I brought her to the emergency department. They really didn't figure out the cause of the spasm but did find multiple swollen lymph nodes and sent us home with antibiotics. From that point my daughter began having pain in her knees and ankles. Her primary doctor ran some bloodwork and referred her to a pediatric rheumatologist. We saw this rheumatologist for a few appointments and then her tmj also started hurting. She only had intermittent swelling so the doctor was unsure if it was arthritis or not. He referred me to a few specialists she checked out good at all but the maxillofacial surgeon. He said he was sure she had arthritis in the tmj and the rheumatologist didn't agree. Finally after 3 very long years we went for a second opinion. We met with her now rheumatologist and she was diagnosed by her second appointment after one MRI study. She has JIA and is ANA + so it's extremely important for me to make sure she gets to her eye examiminations. It's not an easy road for her but she's a fighter. The struggle to figure out what is wrong with your child is not always cut and dry. Sometimes you'll see that one doctor isn't a good fit. I would suggest finding a second opinion as soon as you feel uncomfortable in any situation or if you think your child isn't getting proper care.

profile for Sylvia W Sylvia WSan Diego, CAThis ismy fight

My RA and OA emerged 10 years ago in my early 50's. Biologics keep hand flares in check, 2 new knees work great, but no help for the RA in my toes and ankles, which I'm told can only be fused. Now its Osteopenia and OA with damage in the lower spine and pelvis being addressed with Physical Therapy. The one thing I would like to do without is the medication, but alas, it is needed to keep me...

My RA and OA emerged 10 years ago in my early 50's. Biologics keep hand flares in check, 2 new knees work great, but no help for the RA in my toes and ankles, which I'm told can only be fused. Now its Osteopenia and OA with damage in the lower spine and pelvis being addressed with Physical Therapy. The one thing I would like to do without is the medication, but alas, it is needed to keep me going. As each year passes, it seems there's another body part thats wearing out.

That said, I refuse to stop living and doing things I enjoy, so I'm trying everything I can to adapt and carry on. That includes travel, quilting, writing, and lecturing. I even did an Arthritis 5k Walk when my feet were still cooperative a few years ago!

If anyone is looking for a quilter/crafter to help develop or field test assistive/adaptive devices, I would happily participate to help myself and others who would like to continue expressing their creativity despite pain and deformaties.

In general, I believe it's worth going through all the medical options to get the most we can out of the circumstances we've been dealt. So keep a good attitude, don't give up, and be grateful for what you can do.

profile for Janice P Janice PWeirton, WVThis ismy fight

Hi! I'm Janice. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 24 years old 4 months after the birth of my son. It initially started in my left elbow and then went to my left shoulder. Before I knew it I was inflamed all over my body in every joint. I am now 61 yrs. old so I have had this for 37 years total. I have gone through several surgeries, tried too many medications to mention to try...

Hi! I'm Janice. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 24 years old 4 months after the birth of my son. It initially started in my left elbow and then went to my left shoulder. Before I knew it I was inflamed all over my body in every joint. I am now 61 yrs. old so I have had this for 37 years total. I have gone through several surgeries, tried too many medications to mention to try to get this disease in remission but to no avail it remains active. It is a daily struggle for me. It takes me a while to get moving in the morning to get ready for work. Luckily I work a desk job 40-45 hours a week. I also am now experiencing osteo-arthritis in my knees and will probably be looking at a knee replacement in the future. I still try to maintain a positive outlook on life taking one day at a time. I try to rest when I can. It makes it hard to exercise but I know I should be exercising to keep the joints mobile. My husband is the best support system ever! He helps me immensely with the household chores. He is always there for me to make me laugh when I feel down. Keeps me upbeat and positive. He makes life worth the fight! Pray every day that they will find a cure for this debilitating disease.

profile for Annie J T Annie J TBirmingham, ALThis ismy fight

I was hurting progressively more and more but didn't know why. I was still working as a Human Resource Representative at the time. I started to swell excessively, I had to walk about a block to get to our building. I gave out of breath often. It was a drudgery everyday. My work soon became affected and I was not keeping up with the out put that was expected of me. I finally went to the...

I was hurting progressively more and more but didn't know why. I was still working as a Human Resource Representative at the time. I started to swell excessively, I had to walk about a block to get to our building. I gave out of breath often. It was a drudgery everyday. My work soon became affected and I was not keeping up with the out put that was expected of me. I finally went to the doctor to get checked out.

The doctor just told me I was middle aged Black and seemingly over weight, when really I was grossly swollen and arthritic. I took early retirement to work on myself. I talked to some friends who suggested that I go to the health food store to check out what they had to offer. The little health food lady advised me to clean my colon. I bought a bottle of some kind of colon cleanse and by the time I reached the end of the bottle, the back of both hands were hugely swollen. I went back to the Doctor that's when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I was floored because I had heard that kind of Arthritis causes heart problems as well as other illnesses. I was referred to one of the top Rheumatologist in the Country. in following the guidelines for treatment, at first I was put on certain medications that the industry ( Insurance) said I had to be given before I could take better none toxic medications. These toxic medications caused me to have other none arthritic pain. and other conditions like shingles three times.

My skin broke out, my hair came out with some of them. I had to start taking a fluid retention medication. This at times caused bathroom visits every fifteen minutes or so. When I was Fifteen I had another auto immune illness called Poly- Myositis which affected all my muscles. This previous illness makes the rheumatoid worse now. I have always been a Christian but I BECAME MORE PRAYERFUL!

God has now placed me on a great medication. All medications have their side effects, but I ask the Lord not to let any of them associated with this one to affect me. I have been on it for several years. I am doing better than I have in the past on it. Other than Rheumatoid Arthritis I also have several stomach issues, Scoliosis and degenerative spine, a Hialeah Hernia Acute heart burn and Reflux, my heels and toes hurt. Even with all this going on God is Good and His Mercy endures forever! It could always be worse by not even having the parts that hurt, or I could not even be here anymore. So I pray, take my Meds., eat as healthy as I can and exercise on those days that the hurting hasn't gotten the best of me. I hope this little note enlightens and encourages someone. Thanks for the priviledge.

profile for Jay B Jay BCorpus Christi, TXThis ismy fight

I am a 59 year old female.....Its been a little over a year now when I was diagnosed with RA, but the worst part is I also have Fibromyalgia, Trigeminal neuralgia and Hypothyroidism. I continue to run, cycle and hit the gym as much as I can. Right after a run I know I'm going to hurt very much but its all worth it because without it I feel useless and like my life is wasting away. My hands were...

I am a 59 year old female.....Its been a little over a year now when I was diagnosed with RA, but the worst part is I also have Fibromyalgia, Trigeminal neuralgia and Hypothyroidism. I continue to run, cycle and hit the gym as much as I can. Right after a run I know I'm going to hurt very much but its all worth it because without it I feel useless and like my life is wasting away. My hands were very painful and my joints were so swollen I kept dropping things. I was put on several medications for RA but was sensitive to both. I have changed my workout routines, not able to do what I did before but as long as I keep active I will be ok. My family is aware and I am always praised by how active I keep myself. No one in my family has non of the illnesses I have, not even my 89 year old mother, and that alone makes me question GOD "Why me". I always say "I have RA, Fibro, Trigeminal and Thyroid, they don't have me." I control what and how much I can do, I know my body well enough to stop and enjoy the outdoors and life. So I say to everyone, even if its just a 15 min walk or laying out in the sun its something that makes the body good and in turn, you feel like you accomplished something. I know I do and I will keep going, I am a mother of 3 and a grandma of 10, I have something to live for....my family....

profile for Marilyn M Marilyn MWilkes Barre, PAThis ismy fight

I have both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is not fun. When you toss in bursitis, that's just a bonus. I was diagnosed with RA about eight or 10 years ago. I remember crying in the doctors office when he confirmed the diagnosis. He was rather surprised that I started crying, but after having read all the horror stories about RA on the internet, I was petrified. And well I should...

I have both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is not fun. When you toss in bursitis, that's just a bonus. I was diagnosed with RA about eight or 10 years ago. I remember crying in the doctors office when he confirmed the diagnosis. He was rather surprised that I started crying, but after having read all the horror stories about RA on the internet, I was petrified. And well I should have been. I have continued with extreme tiredness, aches and pains each time the weather changes, but I am truly grateful I do not have it as bad as other people I've read about or have met.

I try to stay active, as I keep reading that exercise is the key to less pain. That hasn't been my experience though. My doctor keeps pushing me to do water aerobics, so once I was able to retire, I joined a gym locally that has a wonderful pool and a track. One time I will walk on the track and the next time I go, I will go in the pool. Sadly for me, though I love walking and working out in the pool, it seems that the next day I can barely move. I can't seem to find a happy balance of getting enough exercise and not being in extreme pain. I'm tired of aches, pains, and just feeling crappy in general. All in all, I'm happy if I get to the gym three days each week.

I also dread the time that, if I ever have to do it that is, I am forced to take infusions. I don't want to do that. I am moderately overweight, which I know in my rational mind doesn't help my arthritis, but sometimes my fears get the better of me and I just start eating and eating. I am trying to take it one day at a time and lose a pound a week, but it is a constant, constant battle.

The other thing that is frustrating is that I tend to avoid people now because I don't want to catch any colds from them. I don't get just a cold; I get pneumonia. I've had it about three times each year for the last few years. I love my grandchildren, but they seem to bring home everything from school and I am tired of catching each and every cold they bring home. I get so tired that I'm afraid to babysit the little ones even.

So, while I know that I could be worse off, I still mourn the loss of the things that I used to do so easily. I'm grateful for medicines that can help me now, but I dread the medicines of the future for I know my disease will do nothing but progressively get worse. It's a frightening prospect.

profile for Jay N Jay NTopeka, KSI fight forMy Wife

Annette’s story is a little different than most. Arthritis has taken the very breath from Annette.
Age 26 she was diagnosed with arthritis.
About 10 years ago she started having trouble breathing; Increasing difficulty just getting air into her lungs.
What we have learned since is that is rare cases, the autoimmune disorder that is arthritis can also cause inflammation, damage,...

Annette’s story is a little different than most. Arthritis has taken the very breath from Annette.
Age 26 she was diagnosed with arthritis.
About 10 years ago she started having trouble breathing; Increasing difficulty just getting air into her lungs.
What we have learned since is that is rare cases, the autoimmune disorder that is arthritis can also cause inflammation, damage, and scarring in the lungs. That scarring restricts the volume of air that Annette can get into and out of her lungs.
This condition is known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans.
Annette’s ability to move air into and out of her lungs is about 20% of “normal” capacity. She is OK as long as what she is doing is not in any way strenuous, but walking 50 yards will make it so she cannot talk and has to focus on just breathing.
Annette is amazing, even though she struggles every day, Only ONE time in the last 10 years, she ever expressed frustration about her condition.
I run and raise funds in the Jingle Bell Run for her and all like her.

info about Jay N
profile for Barni P Barni PMiddleburg, FLThis ismy fight

I have always been so thankful for spring after a long cold gray Ohio winter. It was spring in the country. My favorite time of year. The flowers and flowering trees blooming, birds singing and finally wonderful sunshine. God makes everything new and everything was coming back to life.

Usually wintertime is the time of year that viruses go around, but this spring there was a virus...

I have always been so thankful for spring after a long cold gray Ohio winter. It was spring in the country. My favorite time of year. The flowers and flowering trees blooming, birds singing and finally wonderful sunshine. God makes everything new and everything was coming back to life.

Usually wintertime is the time of year that viruses go around, but this spring there was a virus going around my office. I contracted the virus and had a very hard time fighting it off. I was on an antibiotic and I was still feeling lousy. When my husband got the virus, I decided to go to the doctor with him. I had been so lethargic and I didn’t feel like I was getting better.

u0009During these couple of weeks I brought my laptop home from my office job so I could still work. I asked the nurse if I could get a doctor’s note, because I hadn’t been able to make it into the office. I felt like he was annoyed. Almost like I was trying to get out of work even though I told him I was working at home. He ordered blood work. When the blood work came back it showed that I had a low white blood cell count. He called and apologized to me and sent another antibiotic to my pharmacy.

u0009While taking this second antibiotic I started to have groin pain. It was a burning nagging pain. During that summer it got worse and it was painful to sit and to walk too far. In the parking lot at work there were tall curbs. I remember that starting to be quite an obstacle. A curb, really? Was it the virus that caused this? Was it the antibiotic?

u0009I remember going to Walmart to pick up some groceries after work. I was almost in tears when I got to the checkout line. I was thinking to myself, how am I going to get these groceries to the car, let alone take them in and put them away?

u0009I once again went to the doctor. It wasn’t my primary care physician, but another doctor as his schedule was full. She gave me an injection. She also said, I should see a rheumatologist. I remember thinking isn’t that a doctor for old people? I am only fifty two! I also thought to myself I am working, I don’t have time to keep running to all these doctor appointments.

u0009Well, I didn’t listen to that doctor’s advice. In retrospect, I wish I would have. Instead I went to a sports medicine doctor. She ordered an MRI. She said, it was either arthritis or I should see a hip surgeon depending on the results.

u0009I went in for the MRI and awaited the results. I had a torn labrum in my hip. My cartilage was torn and it was catching when I would walk or get in and out of a chair. I decided to go to the hip surgeon. I was shocked when he told me, matter-of-factly, that I would probably be looking at a hip replacement. It was like what? I am only fifty two.
u0009
u0009He told me that I could have a partial labrectomy. This is basically a trimming of the torn cartilage. Your hip is dislocated and they trim the torn cartilage. I had the surgery six months after the original virus, when the groin pain had started. Now how did my cartilage tear when I was sitting at home working?

u0009It was hard being on crutches for six weeks. It is hard to get around and hard to carry items. I had to go on short term disability. I went back to work in six weeks in February in the cold Ohio wintertime. My hip was better, but I was still in pain. It is hard to sit at a desk for eight to nine hours when you are in constant pain and then add on to that a one hour round trip commute.

The Next Year

u0009Sometime during that year, my primary care doctor put me on medication. I honestly think that drug made me very irritable.

u0009At that time my coworker, tore her ACL ligament. She was a very hard worker and put in at least ten hours a day. All of the sudden, I had to take on both my job and hers. It was a very complex computer program called SAP. It took us a good month to learn how to book the complex sales orders for this global company I worked for twenty five years. It wasn’t the type of job that you could hire someone from a temporary agency to help out for several months.

u0009Well she was out for four months. I struggled to keep up with my orders and to help out her group too. I was working at least ten hours a day. I would not take lunch so I could get home sooner, but all of that sitting hunched over a computer took quite a toll on me. The manager’s enlisted help from several accounts, but I think this was beneath them. One of them had the audacity to tell me that he had been taken off the project at the busiest time month-end. Everything that came in during the month had to be booked by the dreaded month-end.

I should have asked God to help me and he would have sent someone to help me with the orders or the orders would have slowed down, but I tried to keep doing it all on my own.

u0009When autumn came with all of the beauty of the Lord, the dampness of the rain made me quite stiff. I would joke that I was like the tin man and all I needed was a can of oil.

u0009My coworker was now back to work after I had a stressful and long summer. She then decided she was taking early retirement at sixty two and a half. I was happy for her, but all I could think about was how in the world am I going to go through this again.

u0009It was November and the weather was getting cold and windy. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and she was getting near the end of her life. She lived with my brother and sister-in-law the last few years of her life. They were gracious in taking care of her every need.

u0009We got a call that it was her time and we went over to their house and thankfully were there when she passed. It is beautiful when you know your loved one is going home to be with the Lord, but it is also full of all kind of emotions too.

u0009The funeral arrangements were all made and the flowers bought. It was a beautiful funeral. After the funeral comes all of the closing of accounts and transferring of stocks, saving accounts, etc.

u0009I was working full time and trying to go through piles of paperwork and transferring the stocks, etc. Needless to say, we didn’t enjoy our Thanksgiving, because I was too busy trying to fill out all of the paperwork before the end of the year. In retrospect, it was so idiotic of me. I should have asked God to help me and enjoyed the holiday and been thankful.

u0009When December rolled around, I was in pain all over. It hurt to put my winter coat on, because my shoulders hurt so badly. My feet hurt like crazy cramped in my boots. It was getting difficult to put on socks and boots, because my hip hurt so badly. It was getting very hard to sit at the desk all day. I was also in a lot of pain getting in and out of the car and it was getting harder to drive the half hour to and from work. It hurt to hold the steering wheel in my hands and my shoulders and those dreaded curbs and stairs at work.

Going to the Rheumatologist . . . finally!

u0009Well . . . I wanted to feel better for Christmas so I decided to book an appointment with a rheumatologist finally! I made an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic with the first rheumatologist that had an opening.

u0009I went into his office at the hospital. He was an odd looking man. He looked like a skinny version of Mr. Magoo (now I am dating myself) with his lab coat and black rimmed glasses. He asked my quite a few questions. He was a very serious man and he did not like any small talk or questions in between. He put in a request to the lab for blood work. I was in so much pain, but I had to walk through the hospital and find the lab and wait for approximately forty five minutes and then drive home. After working all day and walking around that hospital I was in such pain and exhausted.

u0009Later on that week, I was at my desk at work (it was a very quiet office so I didn’t want to talk too long or ask too many questions). I asked the doctor what the results were and he said, I had slight arthritis. I said, why am I in such pain? Why is my SED rate so high at 40. He said, that is normal in a woman my age. He asked me to make another appointment to see him. I wasn’t able to get an appointment with him until mid-January.

u0009I went through the holidays with my medication, but the all over pain was getting worse and worse. He had me see a heart doctor, because he would not prescribe a different medication unless I had a stress test.

u0009I made an appointment with the heart doctor and I was able to get in before the end of the year. Leaving work again and driving to the clinic was so exhausting. Once there he examined me and I told him that my doctor wouldn’t put me on Celebrex until I had a stress test. He thought that unusual, because I didn’t have any history of heart disease. Once again, I made an appointment for a stress test.

u0009I went in for my stress test. Of course it is walking on a treadmill on a high incline. I believe that this is what tore the cartilage in my knee. My heart was fine and so a few days later the rheumatologist sent a prescription for the new medication to my pharmacy.

u0009I was still in such pain even with the new medication and my next appointment with Mr. Magoo (I mean the rheumatologist) wasn’t until the end of January! Now I am still working full time in the office where my coworker is going to be leaving soon. My next appointment with the rheumatologist was the morning of my coworkers retirement luncheon party that I had planned.

Mid-January one of the supervisors had asked me to order some company logo items for her gift. The night before her retirement luncheon, I had to stop after work at a dollar store to get a gift bag. I can honestly tell you I did not know how I was going to do it. It was already dark out and cold and blowy and I still had a half an hour drive home. I walked down the stairway at work out to the cold and blowy parking lot over the big curb and struggled to get into my car. It was getting quite painful to get in and out of the car by this time. I drove to the dollar store and walked in and hollered to the girl at the register. Where are the gift bags? In the farthest back corner she said. Uggh! I thought. How in the world am I going to make it there and back being in such pain?

u0009The next morning, was the day of my next appointment with the rheumatologist and my coworkers retirement party. I went into work and then once again left and went to the rheumatologist so I could get back in time for the luncheon. He was an odd man. I told him I was in such pain. He just stared at me with a blank stare with his arms crossed. What in the world man. I am in so much pain and that is how you treat me I thought to myself.

u0009He sent a prescription for another medication. This drug is prescribed to treat moderately severe pain and is a strong opioid painkiller. I started taking it only while I was at home, but the odd thing was I had to have help to get out of a chair or a car. I had started taking my laptop and working at home more and more. One morning, I was sitting there working at home and I called his office, because I could not get out of my chair. He had the nurse call back and told me to call 911. Well, I am trying to work and keep my job of twenty five years and not be in so much pain. That was the end of Mr. Magoo for me.

Maybe my Primary Care Physician Can Help

u0009I asked around the office where I worked and I called to make an appointment with a top primary care physician and the Cleveland Clinic.

u0009I did a spreadsheet before I went off of the past two surgeries I had the following year. A hysterectomy and a partial labrectomy. I wrote down the virus and the antibiotics I had taken and what Mr Magoo had given me. He could see all of my blood work too, because it was still the Cleveland Clinic.

u0009After he had asked me a myriad of questions. He diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia (all over pain). He started me slowly on many different medications. I tried these drugs for six weeks and sent back to him several times, but nothing was taking away my pain.

u0009I’ll never forget the last time I set foot in the office of my company. It was seven thirty in the morning and still dark outside. It was one of those cold, dreary, windy, rainy days. I remember how hard it was to get my umbrella up, grabbing my laptop case and purse and trying to hold onto the car door to get out of the car.

u0009I slowly walked in getting soaked, because the rain was coming sideways. All of the sudden the dreaded curb and then the steps up to the doorway. A fellow employee was holding the door for me (he must have seen that I was struggling). Like a turtle, I slowly made my way up the stairs and I reached into my purse to grab my swipe card for the door. Everything I did was like I was doing it in slow motion. He continued holding the door for me.

u0009Then the second set of dreaded stairs. I went down a flight of stairs to the second floor. It took me what seemed like forever. This same man was holding the door for me at the bottom. I apologized halfway down the stairs, because I was taking so long and I told him I was in a lot of pain. He said, I understand arthritis is like that. Hello, the keyword here was arthritis. It took me five more months to get this diagnosis. I immediately dismissed what he said, although so appreciative that someone acknowledged my pain and took the time to hold the door for me. Such a simple act of kindness, but I have never forgotten it.

How about a Holistic Physician?

u0009I had been diagnosed with by the Primary Care Physician with fibromyalgia and I was not getting any pain relief with the medications he had prescribed. My daughter had a friend that had fibromyalgia and she had a doctor at another health system that wrote a book on fibromyalgia. He specializes in the holistic treatment of acute and chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue.

u0009This man was so compassionate and to me he was like the grandfather I never had. He would listen endlessly to you and was so caring and understanding. My husband took me and he liked him too.

u0009He took me off of all the medications and put me on a regimen of natural supplements that was overwhelming. It took about ten minutes of putting these little granules under my tongue until they dissolved and counting out drops, etc. These natural products cost about two hundred dollars a month out of pocket.

u0009I tried this route for three months (all the time working at home). My company never told me I could, but I was a good employee and I was getting the work done. This doctor suggested I go on medical leave, but I kept on trying to keep up with my job.

u0009My husband would try to get me out of the house and take our dogs for a ride. I was so exhausted and the several dreaded stairs in the garage and the getting in and out of the care were excruciating, but I would try once in a while. I remember one day waiting for him to come out of the store. I was hurting so I decided to stand up, but my pain was so great I had to lift my legs up with my hands. I looked up and to my embarrassment there was an elderly lady looking over at me.

u0009One day, during this time, I was unloading the dishwasher. I was in such excruciating pain that I called his office crying. The lady said, I could take some Advil and she would check with the doctor.

u0009She called back and said, he wanted me to come in for some more blood work. My husband took me around five o’clock when he got home from work. It was a short time after that and he called me to tell me I had Polymyalgia rheumatica. Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that causes pain and stiffness sin various parts of the body. Parts of the body commonly affected include the shoulders, neck, arms, thighs, and hips. This disorder is most common in people over the age of 55. The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown.

u0009A few days later the doctor called and he prescribe prednisone twice a day. It was like a miracle. I felt so much better. I continued taking the medication and the natural supplements. I did this for another month. It was about three months in total that I was on this regimen (about a month with the medication).

My shoulder pain was getting much worse and my knee was bothering me so bad that I would cry myself to sleep. I went back and he was giving me herbal shots in my shoulder. He gave me an adjustment and I screamed so loud it was like a lady in and old time horror film. He wanted to sell me a mud pack for my knee. I knew right then that I wanted either a gel substance for my knee or a cortisone shot.


u0009Back to the Original Sports Medicine Doctor

u0009Remember the labral tear? The MRI results depend on whether it is arthritis or something else. I had hip surgery a partial labrectomy.

u0009I decided to go back to the sports medicine doctor for an injection. This medication is used to treat knee pain in patients with joint inflammation (osteoarthritis). It may work by acting as a lubricant and shock absorber in the joint, helping the knee to move smoothly and thereby lessening pain.

u0009Since I had been to her before and had these injections. She gave me the shot, but she must have been concerned, because she called a rheumatologist in the office next door before she gave me the injection. Apparently, my knee was red and hot. The rheumatologist asked her to take the fluid out and send it to the lab to make sure I didn’t have an infection. The sports medicine doctor told me I needed to get in to see her and that she would get me in right away.

Another Rheumatologist

u0009She did not like the fact that I was on 15 mg. of Prednisone, because this would mess up all the bloodwork she ordered.

u0009I received the blood work on My Chart at the Cleveland Clinic before my appointment and plugged all the test results into google. I realized before I went that I had rheumatoid arthritis.

u0009I take all of the arthritis drugs.

u0009We moved from Ohio where we lived and our families are to Florida, because I was in excruciating pain in the Ohio cold weather.

u0009I still struggle and I can’t work. I am constantly fighting to keep my long term disability benefits with the help of a lawyer. I have to pace myself with everything I do. I don’t go out very often and I hurt all of the time.

I had my hip replaced last December and I am thankful I went through that. My other hip doesn't look good and I have bad knees, degenerative arthritis in my neck and a slipped vertebrae in my back.

When I say I have good days and bad days . . . I really mean what I say.

u0009I am thankful I have Jesus in my life so I don’t feel so alienated. May God bless the rest of you out there reading my story. I am so sorry you have to go through this too. Love you and Jesus does too!

profile for Renee B Renee BMissoula, MTI fight forMy Mom

My Mom had osteoarthritis that acted like rheumatoid arthritis. She worked as a Registered Nurse for 40 years and loved doing active things like walking, skiing, playing racquetball and tennis.

I don't know exactly when her arthritis started but at age 50 she had her first knee replacement. My Mom had 46 surgeries in total having both knees, both thumbs, her shoulder done twice,...

My Mom had osteoarthritis that acted like rheumatoid arthritis. She worked as a Registered Nurse for 40 years and loved doing active things like walking, skiing, playing racquetball and tennis.

I don't know exactly when her arthritis started but at age 50 she had her first knee replacement. My Mom had 46 surgeries in total having both knees, both thumbs, her shoulder done twice, and her back fused multiple times ending up in a halo after the last surgery because her back broke above the fusion. She kept a smile on her face and an upbeat attitude as she endured pain that is unimaginable. As a result of the multiple surgeries she had issues with blood clots and was put on blood thinners. She wasn't very steady as a result of all the surgeries but was still determined to be as independent as she could be. Tragically, she took a fall and hit her head and we lost her to bleeding on the brain at age 68. I miss her terribly and will forever be inspired by her positive attitude and determination.

profile for Lunice C Lunice CLivonia, MIThis ismy fight

"But you're so healthy!" That's what people said when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease at the age of 59. I had quit smoking years before, I exercised regularly, my weight was good, I ate healthfully. Yet, out of the blue, my joints were aching, my hands became inflamed and swelled up. In the early days, I went from sprinting down the hallways of the school I worked in to shuffling along...

"But you're so healthy!" That's what people said when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease at the age of 59. I had quit smoking years before, I exercised regularly, my weight was good, I ate healthfully. Yet, out of the blue, my joints were aching, my hands became inflamed and swelled up. In the early days, I went from sprinting down the hallways of the school I worked in to shuffling along like my 93-year -old mother-in-law. There were the mornings I couldn't get up without help, and the nights I cried as I went to bed (with my husband pulling up covers I couldn't) because, as much as it hurt, I knew it'd hurt worse in the morning. Along with the pain was depression and fatigue, also symptoms of this disease. I didn't think I wanted to live into old age like that.

A year later, thanks to a good rheumatologist and a variety of medications, you would hardly know I was 'sick' at all. In fact, thanks to these factors, I sometimes forget I have RA, unless there's a reason to think my medication might not be available. I panic thinking about it.

I am grateful, so grateful, that I can currently get my medication and that it is working for me. I have a life worth living again. I can take care of myself and others. I pray for those who aren't as lucky. I fear that changes in healthcare policy or my insurance will make it difficult or impossible to get my medications, and that I will relapse into the misery of untreated RA again. We need research to prevent and better treat all forms of arthritis, and we need to fight to bring down prices of vital medications so EVERYBODY can get the help they need.

profile for Dawn K Dawn KStrawberry Plains, TNThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed in 1993 with Ankylosing Spondylitis, since then I have tried over 100 medications, still have pain, but I fight through it, this disease has taken its toll not only on my body, but my mind, you constantly have pain, but you never want to show it. I have a wonderful family who fight with me. I would never want anyone to have this. AS was diagnosed with an eye exam, that and blood...

I was diagnosed in 1993 with Ankylosing Spondylitis, since then I have tried over 100 medications, still have pain, but I fight through it, this disease has taken its toll not only on my body, but my mind, you constantly have pain, but you never want to show it. I have a wonderful family who fight with me. I would never want anyone to have this. AS was diagnosed with an eye exam, that and blood work showed that I am HLA-B27 positive. I have bloodwork completed every 90 days, x-rays every 6 months. I just wish they could find a cure or at least medications that would work.

profile for Dara W Dara WCincinnati, OHThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis at age 23, just 2 short months after getting married. I was so ready to start my life as a wife and hopefully as a mother. My plans changed. My life was no longer my own, the terms were set rather than chosen. Medication trials, treatments, trying to explain what I feel to the people in my life in ways they could understand, all of it was...

I was diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis at age 23, just 2 short months after getting married. I was so ready to start my life as a wife and hopefully as a mother. My plans changed. My life was no longer my own, the terms were set rather than chosen. Medication trials, treatments, trying to explain what I feel to the people in my life in ways they could understand, all of it was burdensome. I was determined to graduate with my Masters in Counseling, no small feat when your hands are too swollen to hold a pen and take notes. I achieved that goal, and have continued to achieve goals ever since. Yes, everyday is a fight. To get out of bed, to move, to exist, to thrive, to have arthritis without it having me. I am a fighter, and quitting is not an option.

profile for Miriah G Miriah GHouston, TXThis ismy fight

My fight started as I was graduating from college and starting medical school. After finishing my degree, I had an episode of passing out and was seen in an urgent care where I was diagnosed with strep throat (I also had fever and sore throat at the time). My lab work was abnormal at the time and was referred to oncology due to concern for leukemia (my labs showed a really high white count).

My fight started as I was graduating from college and starting medical school. After finishing my degree, I had an episode of passing out and was seen in an urgent care where I was diagnosed with strep throat (I also had fever and sore throat at the time). My lab work was abnormal at the time and was referred to oncology due to concern for leukemia (my labs showed a really high white count).

To make a long story short, I underwent a really extensive work up over the summer before I started medical school including having several blood and urine cultures, a lot of imaging, and even a bone marrow biopsy. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Still's disease. I tried and failed many treatments, one of which made me vomit every time I took it, and eventually I sought out second and third opinions because I was rapidly losing mobility in my hands and shoulders. Almost 2 years after my diagnosis I was started on the medication that I'm on now, which is a daily injection. In the mean time, I had 3 joints replaced in 6 months and a fourth replaced when I started fellowship. Fortunately, I had an amazing support systemic including my mom, brother, rheumatologist, orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, and everyone who worked in the graduate medical education office where I was a medical student. I'm currently doing very well (after a total of 6 surgeries, 8 procedures, and 64 weeks of physical therapy total). I'm in training to become a pediatric rheumatologist in hopes that I can prevent another story like mine.

profile for Sherri P Sherri PHamilton, NJThis ismy fight

My day(s) have been touched by arthritis for years - since my 20's and I'm in my 50's now and everyday is a day where I'm touched by either pain or restriction of movement. Back then, my only sorrow was not being able to wear heels (when you're a young woman in her prime, believe me, that's a big deal). Now, things that I used to love to do: gardening, walking, hiking/camping have all either...

My day(s) have been touched by arthritis for years - since my 20's and I'm in my 50's now and everyday is a day where I'm touched by either pain or restriction of movement. Back then, my only sorrow was not being able to wear heels (when you're a young woman in her prime, believe me, that's a big deal). Now, things that I used to love to do: gardening, walking, hiking/camping have all either become memories or I do a fraction of what I used to be able to do - and that's with help. Sleep is but a dream, pun intended. I wake up several times either with cramps from muscle aches or backaches. Can't fall back asleep for hours - I feel like a zombie most of the time. I have a young boy and I feel more like a grandmother than a mother to him and it breaks my heart I can't keep up with him. I walk with a can and back brace and most people stare at me, expecting me to be someone 20 years or so older. I've even used a walker on my really bad days, or I don't bother leaving the house. My family and friends are understanding, but even at times they don't quite just 'get' what's going on daily.

profile for Kat C Kat CBirmingham, ALI fight forMy 3-year-old daughter.

When my husband was injured in combat whil serving in Afghanistan, I always said that nothing could be worse than what we went through- unless it was my child. Fast forward a few years, and we become the proud parents of a miracle baby, Alexandra Jayne ("AJ").

She has always been a happy child and developed on time, but around 2.5 years old we saw some changes with her climbing,...

When my husband was injured in combat whil serving in Afghanistan, I always said that nothing could be worse than what we went through- unless it was my child. Fast forward a few years, and we become the proud parents of a miracle baby, Alexandra Jayne ("AJ").

She has always been a happy child and developed on time, but around 2.5 years old we saw some changes with her climbing, walking, and running. She seemed to navigate stairs the same way a new walking small toddler might, did not like to run, and often complained of walking short distances and told us her knees hurt. She was withdrawing from play with other children and becoming quite fussy.

This was not the same girl who found her way on our kitchen countertops and dominated the classroom just a few months before. Her preschool teachers and grandmothers also noticed something wasn't quite right. In the months that followed, we swiftly worked with her pediatrician and a pediatric ortho, leading to lab work and just days after her 3rd birthday, she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

We were taught how to administer two medications by injection, and treatment began just a few weeks later. We are just beginning her journey, and we hold on to hopes for remission. She has an incredible pediatric rheumatologist, and more love than she could ever imagine. Even if this becomes a lifelong journey, I know that my brave girl will still push to do all the things she wishes to do and live a very full life. She will conquer life even if it looks a little differently. And those tired knees often find their way into Daddy's lap has zips around on his wheelchairs- and what view of the world could be better than that?!

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profile for Claudia  M Claudia MLahaina , HIThis ismy fight

It all started with a nagging hip pain when I was in my 30s. I've been a fitness instructor, yoga teacher, Pilates trainer and massage therapist for 32 years now. I can't believe I'm even writing about my story...Because I never thought it would happen to me. Pretty much done at all, taught aerobics during the Jane Fonda era, bodybuilding, spinning, you name it I've done it. I've always thought...

It all started with a nagging hip pain when I was in my 30s. I've been a fitness instructor, yoga teacher, Pilates trainer and massage therapist for 32 years now. I can't believe I'm even writing about my story...Because I never thought it would happen to me. Pretty much done at all, taught aerobics during the Jane Fonda era, bodybuilding, spinning, you name it I've done it. I've always thought exercise was panacea, it is when used intelligently.

When the pain got worse over the years I backed off. In my industry, I've always use my body to make money. So when it wasn't working the way I was trying to make it work I decided to get it checked. In 2012, at around 46, I was in pain all the time, I could barely walk upstairs without my hip giving out. And teaching classes and trying to smile and make my way through was getting more more challenging. Primary care doctor said it was nothing that my bone was just shaped funny. But knowing what I know having worked with thousands of different bodies in 32 years, I knew it was worse, so I demanded an MRI. The MRI showed moderate to severe arthritis in my right hip with a labral tear and bone lesions. My left hip showed moderate arthritis. I got sent to an orthopedic surgeon who said I was too young for hip replacement to try to tough it out. Give me some drugs, and they made me sick the first night. I was severely depressed, of course none of my clients knew about this.

But I was afraid that I would have to give up my teaching career. I completely stopped any sort of jumping, dance, I stop surfing, extreme yoga was out, and heavy deadlifts, squats,lunges are thing of the past. I had to completely change my lifestyle as far as movement was concerned. Having always been into alternative therapy, I asked my chiropractor for some help. I got started on essential oil's, cold laser treatments, and supplements among other things. I started sleeping on a BioMat. This all brought the pain down and was helping.

About a year later I decided to get a Cortizone shot, this gave me some time pain-free to get specific training in the muscles that were weakened. I did very specific hip movements and pilates. I had to cut back teaching and training clients. But it was a big help, along with my chiropractor sleeping on my biomat and changing my lifestyle things are starting to get better. Every day is an adventure, I don't take any drugs specifically, once in a while I'll take an Advil. But I try to keep moving to keep moving. Knowing that with osteoarthritis it's easy to not want to move the body. The pain can be so intense, and when the pain is so intense you don't want to move. And when you don't want to move it makes the arthritis worse. And it is a vicious cycle. To break that cycle I do movement, breathing, meditation, specific exercises and I stay positive. I want others to know that they have options. I live with arthritis and thank you for listening to my story.

profile for Julia W Julia WLancaster, OHThis ismy fight

I need to do this. My first flare was like being trapped in my body and could not move all of the sudden for three whole months and could not walk. Required a cane. Could not get dressed not even get my socks on and had to get help. Could not get up the steps or the tub, lost balance on my own two feet. Would get stuck sitting down on the couch, would take an innocent nap and could not get back...

I need to do this. My first flare was like being trapped in my body and could not move all of the sudden for three whole months and could not walk. Required a cane. Could not get dressed not even get my socks on and had to get help. Could not get up the steps or the tub, lost balance on my own two feet. Would get stuck sitting down on the couch, would take an innocent nap and could not get back up, have to rock back and forth for 20 minutes. Failed OT. Lost balance on the spin bike and almost fell off. Cannot turn car.

A flare is awful. If you meet someone with RA give them a hug, offer to help them. I had a lady that helped me with my tray in the cafe every day out of her own good will. I had people who would rush in front of me, knock me over and it was until I met my PT assistant Rose who taught me about the cane and how to adjust it and how to stand up to people who were rude to the disabled.

I then met my doc who explained to me I had RA which I could not accept and she also explained to me the treatments which include chemo and injections (self injections and they are painful). Well I am still in the middle of my battle and,not giving up yet!! Then I learned there are some kids who have this and their fight as kids inspired me not to whimp out so much on taking that medicine. It can happen to anyone, any age, any time. I just need to work on my diet (which is the hardest part of this). People can't see it and they says things like you are too young (RA my doc said can take even a less than 1 mo old baby). You have to change your lifestyle and you can't find a shoe that fits right, have to give up your heels, and tanning and modify your workout...well so I have been battling, half the battle is getting on the medicine and being brave. The other half is tapering off prednisone and it's very painful to do. Still struggling, you could have a flare of any joint any given day!

profile for Jeanne J Jeanne JHudson, WIThis ismy fight

My name is Jeanne. I'm 58 years old. I've had musculoskeletal issues for many years, plus now I was just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My hands swell up and are so stiff my morning that I have no strength. I'm a caregiver for my husband. This coupled with crippling Fibromyalgia makes it next to impossible to care for him, yet I do. My other joints are starting to suffer as well. Medication...

My name is Jeanne. I'm 58 years old. I've had musculoskeletal issues for many years, plus now I was just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My hands swell up and are so stiff my morning that I have no strength. I'm a caregiver for my husband. This coupled with crippling Fibromyalgia makes it next to impossible to care for him, yet I do. My other joints are starting to suffer as well. Medication helps some, but nothing touches the morning aches and severe stiffness.

profile for Melissa  B Melissa BClinton Township , MIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at 18mths. with JRA & my Mom was my inspiration to not let the disease define me. I've always just pushed along & lived life the best that I can. It's really all I've known is being a person that has JRA ! Even though I do have Arthritis I am thankful for my life & I feel there's always something positive to be thankful for !!

They call RA the invisible illness but I...

I was diagnosed at 18mths. with JRA & my Mom was my inspiration to not let the disease define me. I've always just pushed along & lived life the best that I can. It's really all I've known is being a person that has JRA ! Even though I do have Arthritis I am thankful for my life & I feel there's always something positive to be thankful for !!

They call RA the invisible illness but I do disagree somewhat with that because mine is very visible I have many deformities due to it & I know some others who have it in there hands in such I do know it's not always visible but it is a lot of times too! Thanks for letting me share my story.

profile for Shelia  P Shelia PHattiesburg , MSThis ismy fight

I was 38 when I had my son I thought this was going to be great because we tried for so long to have a child. After I gave birth the next week I started having pain like no other pain I couldn't stand I couldn't hold my son it was awful .

I went to the doctor but my doctor was out so I saw the one that was there she didn't to the test she thought somehow I sprained my ankle she put...

I was 38 when I had my son I thought this was going to be great because we tried for so long to have a child. After I gave birth the next week I started having pain like no other pain I couldn't stand I couldn't hold my son it was awful .

I went to the doctor but my doctor was out so I saw the one that was there she didn't to the test she thought somehow I sprained my ankle she put me on crutches told me to stay off it but it wasn't getting better I couldn't walk with the crutches because my hands wouldn't work I was in so much pain . When my doctor got back he immediately did blood work and all of it pointed to RA he set me up with a rheumatologist and he did more test it was RA started me on meds but I was allergic to so many it took a long time to find one that would work and not put me in the hospital. The medicine never took all the pain away I learned to live with it to a point .

No matter what they put me on I still can't do a lot of stuff with my son . I get mad sometimes because I can't do things . My son once asked me if he was the reason I'm like this I told him no it was in my blood and eventually I would of had this problem. I actually have two kids my daughter is 29 my husband and I adopted her we have two granddaughters from her I just wish I could do more with my kids . Sometimes I over do it and I pay for it but sometimes it's worth it.

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profile for Dawn D Dawn DGreen Bay , WIThis ismy fight

I have been diagnosed for over 13 years but I think I suffered as a child too. Mine came on very sudden when I was 40 years old. I felt like I had aged 100 years in a few weeks. I woke up one morning and couldn't walk.

From there and much blood work, xrays and an MRI, was diagnosed with RA. Started down the road if trying many meds and waiting for them to work or know they...

I have been diagnosed for over 13 years but I think I suffered as a child too. Mine came on very sudden when I was 40 years old. I felt like I had aged 100 years in a few weeks. I woke up one morning and couldn't walk.

From there and much blood work, xrays and an MRI, was diagnosed with RA. Started down the road if trying many meds and waiting for them to work or know they weren't going to and then try another one. I have experienced inflammation of my lungs, the whites of my eyes and site injection reactions.

At one point I was told it was time to give up my management "dream" job, broke my heart. I then started to have to change many of my social arrangements and give up a chairperson board appointment position too. Life changed greatly...some friends thought I was dying. I am now stable, in a lot of pain from combination of OA and Ra/PsA. I consider myself lucky though, with starting on am aggressive medication therapy I don't have a lot of deformities. My body also has been able to handle all of the meds too!! I do water exercises during the week and try to walk more when I can. I also am trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, less meat and more water. I want a quality life!!!

profile for THERESA M THERESA MSPRINGFIELD, OHThis ismy fight

Wow, where do I start. I am 52 and was diagnosis about a year ago. It started with my right index and middle finger being swollen, Ouch!. I work in the Dental field and boy are there plenty of hard days. I take medications several times a week and day. I think the hardest part is I can not do the things I loved to do. I have days where if I could I would stay in bed, do to the stiffness. My...

Wow, where do I start. I am 52 and was diagnosis about a year ago. It started with my right index and middle finger being swollen, Ouch!. I work in the Dental field and boy are there plenty of hard days. I take medications several times a week and day. I think the hardest part is I can not do the things I loved to do. I have days where if I could I would stay in bed, do to the stiffness. My family understands, but I feel Like I fell everyone around me. I have to have people open things for me, help me get out of my car and sometimes just let me be alone. But I know one day someone will develop a better solution for pain relieve. I read a lot about others, and I feel like I should not feel sorry for myself. They have been dealing with this a lot longer then I. I just tell myself everyday is a new day, just keep moving and all will be good. Thank you for your time.

profile for Charlene K Charlene KOceanside, CAThis ismy fight

I am 89 years old and only have arthritis in some fingers. Also a few toes. so I am thankful to live in a gated community and can enjoy most activities.
My daughter has rheumatoid arthritis so still plays tennis so we say staying active helps a lot.

profile for Marci K Marci KFrederick, COThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at 35 but suffered from chronic pain since age 23. Because my psoriasis was very small and infrequent, it took a significant flare before I could be diagnosed. I recognized at age 34 that the pain could be linked to my immune system when I noticed a full remission of pain from month 5 of pregnancy until 1 month post-delivery with my last child. I had great...

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at 35 but suffered from chronic pain since age 23. Because my psoriasis was very small and infrequent, it took a significant flare before I could be diagnosed. I recognized at age 34 that the pain could be linked to my immune system when I noticed a full remission of pain from month 5 of pregnancy until 1 month post-delivery with my last child. I had great relief with the first biologic I tried but it slowly became less effective over a 3 year span. I have been searching for something as effective ever since, with little luck so far. I am thinking to expand into holistic approaches as well. Along with fibromyalgia, fatigue, mental fog and life stressors, I have learned to recognize my blessings and empathize with others who are fighting silent battles.

profile for Sarah C Sarah CLexington, SCThis ismy fight

Hi all! I'm a 35 year old mom of two, with a very supportive husband. In 2012 I was in the best shape of my life. Not thin.... but healthy!! I was running with friends in races, doing charity events and was very active in my community.

I started having pains in my knees and I thought it was odd but I met with my doctor who said it was likely just arthritis so he put me on a drug....

Hi all! I'm a 35 year old mom of two, with a very supportive husband. In 2012 I was in the best shape of my life. Not thin.... but healthy!! I was running with friends in races, doing charity events and was very active in my community.

I started having pains in my knees and I thought it was odd but I met with my doctor who said it was likely just arthritis so he put me on a drug. Well, that was not new for me because I had an ankle injury from when I was 19 and was already on it. So, he increased my dose. After trying the increased dose for several months I continued to have pain but it moved to my second knee and then into my left elbow.

The doctor ran testing and he encouraged me to use heat/ice for treatment along with over the counter meds if necessary. My blood counts were normal so I was beginning to think it was all in my head but I soon took a turn for the worse. Here I was… a woman who was no longer able to walk stairs to kiss her kids goodnight, unable to close the trunk, couldn’t get a coffee cup off the shelf, and needed help getting dressed at times.

I began researching and decided to ask for a referral to a rheumatologist. I was lucky to live in Cleveland so I had access to world renowned rheumatologists at the Cleveland Clinic. As soon as I met the rheumatologist she looked at my hands and said she believed I had rheumatoid arthritis. The funny thing is that I hadn’t even noticed the inflammation in my knuckles at that point.

They did additional blood work which all came back as normal. She sent me for x-rays which showed my kneecaps moving out of place but my other joints looked ok. She ran Vectra testing and it confirmed the inflammation markers were in the moderate to severe range of activity.

Finally, this disease had a name. Hello rheumatoid arthritis… I’m Sarah. Now, even though I received mental relief of knowing this disease’s name I still grieved and still do sometimes. I’ve gained 45+ pounds from inactivity, pain, and steroids. But guess what…. I advocate. I fight the fight through fundraising and awareness. I may not be able to run but this disease cannot steal my hope. For now, I don’t run but I will join alongside others to fight for a cure so my children and grandchildren don’t experience what I am today.

info about Sarah C
profile for Gary S Gary SCalifornia , KYThis ismy fight

My wife of 37yrs has been my rock, I have RA and at times I've wondered how much more pain I can take. I'm 64 and take my medication once a week, I really don't see any relief taking it. I've had the injections and the IV treatment that gave no relief at all. I still get severe swelling in my hands, knees, shoulder, feet ect.i can't sleep or fell any relief until 14/24 hours later.

I...

My wife of 37yrs has been my rock, I have RA and at times I've wondered how much more pain I can take. I'm 64 and take my medication once a week, I really don't see any relief taking it. I've had the injections and the IV treatment that gave no relief at all. I still get severe swelling in my hands, knees, shoulder, feet ect.i can't sleep or fell any relief until 14/24 hours later.

I know when I have a flare up or feel one coming on, I just get frustrated knowing what's ahead, I have to go to another room just so my wife can get her rest as I have no control what's happening to me, I just expect the worst and that usually is what I get. Only good that comes from the flare up, within 24hrs the pain starts to subside. My RA Doctor says no cure, HUMM.?ud83eudd14

profile for Palma  C Palma CMinneapolis , MNThis ismy fight

I was first diagnosed with Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 32, just after the birth of my first child. Since then various Rheumatologists have changed the diagnosis to variations on that theme. The current diagnosis I have is Inflammatory Arthritis, still an autoimmune disease no matter how you call it, as well as advancing Osteoarthritis.

The symptoms remained mild and I...

I was first diagnosed with Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 32, just after the birth of my first child. Since then various Rheumatologists have changed the diagnosis to variations on that theme. The current diagnosis I have is Inflammatory Arthritis, still an autoimmune disease no matter how you call it, as well as advancing Osteoarthritis.

The symptoms remained mild and I was not on any meds until six years ago when I had a car accident. That triggered a progression of my IA, as well as triggering numerous other illnesses, including Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka CFS) and Fibromyalgia among several others. My IA and other illnesses have upended my life completely.

I've lost the ability to do many things I loved to do before and am facing the challenge of finding a new way to meet my own needs while living with chronic illnesses. It is a challenge every single day as effective treatment protocols have not been found for most of the illnesses I have, including Inflammatory Arthritis. I am a single person without the safety nets of retirement funds, savings, etc. and have not been able to work for the past 6 years due to health conditions.

So, at age 54 and without a life partner, I am rebuilding a life and, hopefully, a career so that I can both take care of my own material needs, but, just as importantly, be able to contribute to the lives of others through meaningful interactions both in a work setting and otherwise. We are all in this life together and we both need the support of others and others need our support as well. We ALL have gifts to give and illness and disability should not exclude us from being able to share those gifts and have those gifts appreciated.

There are so many structural barriers that marginalize people for all kinds of reasons. Illness and disability are some of those life experiences which force us to the margins of life. That is not the fault of those with these conditions, but of the lack of social structures to support those of us experiencing them. Effective treatments are part of that picture. Funding is needed to prioritize the well-being of people so that we may both fully embrace our place in life and so that we may be fully embraced as well. I will keep fighting every day to change things for the better. Due to this marginalization, it can be hard to feel I am effective beyond my own daily experience, but I will keep on keeping on.

profile for Rosemarie D Rosemarie DWestport, MAThis ismy fight

I really don't remember the exact date of when the pain started but here's my story. I was always informed to stay active. Exercise is great! Heals all. Well in High school I entered every sport possible! Basketball, tennis, cageball, volleyball, golf, field hockey. Etc. Then exercise classes to finally instructing my own class. Which was an hour class 3x s a week. As my life continued into...

I really don't remember the exact date of when the pain started but here's my story. I was always informed to stay active. Exercise is great! Heals all. Well in High school I entered every sport possible! Basketball, tennis, cageball, volleyball, golf, field hockey. Etc. Then exercise classes to finally instructing my own class. Which was an hour class 3x s a week. As my life continued into marriage, motherhood, divorces, dating, remarriages, employment etc. it also consisted of weight increasing and lots of fad diets!
From Atkins diet to ice cream diet! I tried but weight kept going up. Along with weight more increasing pain. Joint pain, couldn't walk ...never mind run....hip joints were showing increasingly degenerative disease. Had hips replaced. Had carpal tunnel surgery both wrists due to severe pain. Experience lower back pain to the point I seemed out pain management services. From pain pills to injections. MRI & xray showed severe facet joint degeneration. Then tendonitis flareups in elbows! I was and still am in pain daily. Just went through rotator cuff tear surgery of left shoulder .. Was told not only tendons were bad. But xray showed severe arthritis. I've gone through many months of PT. But still have some pain. Now right shoulder does also show arthritis disease. I also had several bad falls in 2010 and 2015. Knees showed severe arthritis disease.
I'm always in daily pain, fatigue! I don't feel like participating in anything. Its an effort every day ...just to get out of bed in the morning! I have 91yr old mom (who lives by herself 45 min to an hour drive away) that is requiring more attention. I have 8 grandaughters from 23 yrs old to 8 mos old that I want to do things with....but this lack of energy and pain that I have.....I'm just not able to enjoy.

profile for Linda A Linda ACanal Winchester, OHThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA at 35 years of age. As a teacher it was extremely difficult to stand all day. I was granted disability and thus my retirement money was greatly reduced.
My husband had enormous hospital bills due to his health issues, so I returned to subbing to bring in extra money. Needless to say, it has not been easy. My husband passed away in 2016 and I still work to pay for my...

I was diagnosed with RA at 35 years of age. As a teacher it was extremely difficult to stand all day. I was granted disability and thus my retirement money was greatly reduced.
My husband had enormous hospital bills due to his health issues, so I returned to subbing to bring in extra money. Needless to say, it has not been easy. My husband passed away in 2016 and I still work to pay for my extremely high prescriptions.I turn 65 next month and I see no end of working. :(

profile for CLAUDIA T CLAUDIA TNiles, ILThis ismy fight

Several years ago my pain doctor told me I had arthritis and recommended a specialist for me to see. Both my parents suffered from the same diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis through out my body. This condition has changed my life in ways I use my hands and any lifting. My hands are looking like my mothers and fathers as both of them suffered from the same disease.

Several years ago my pain doctor told me I had arthritis and recommended a specialist for me to see. Both my parents suffered from the same diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis through out my body. This condition has changed my life in ways I use my hands and any lifting. My hands are looking like my mothers and fathers as both of them suffered from the same disease.

I have taken anti inflammatories , and 3 differed biologics. So far none have stoped the increase in the deformities of my fingers or lessoned the pain. Currently, I have just started taking a new drug and I am hoping to see a reduction in the inflammation and pain.

I no longer do alterations for a local bridal salon as my hands will not tolerate the heavy use. I have a cleaning woman that comes in weekly as I can no longer handle the vacuuming and other cleaning activities.

I use a stationary bike on a daily basis to keep my legs moving and I have had both my knees replaced. I have had physical therapy.

I can't imagine how my parents continued to keep working as they did, and continued taking cortisone for flare ups just to keep moving.

profile for Enza R Enza RMedford, MAThis ismy fight

Hello. I have been suffering with RA since I was three years old and I'm now coming to my sixtieth birthday. I was very small, but I remember the pain and the limping, the countless trips to the children's hospital on the trolley with my Mother and the never-ending hours of physical therapy administered several times a day with her; first with a cast and then without one. It came on quite...

Hello. I have been suffering with RA since I was three years old and I'm now coming to my sixtieth birthday. I was very small, but I remember the pain and the limping, the countless trips to the children's hospital on the trolley with my Mother and the never-ending hours of physical therapy administered several times a day with her; first with a cast and then without one. It came on quite quickly and stayed with me until I got a relatively clean bill of health (remission) at the age of twelve. I was pretty much symptom free until my mid to late twenties and it has been randomly attacking me since.

My rheumatologist has tried several oral medications which did not help and has been hesitant to give me a biologic for fear of infection. In the meantime, I have developed OA, making life worse at times, particularly during inclement weather and being from MA, that happens at any time. I try to do some strengthening exercises, particularly for my knees and hands where it originated, but at present am losing the battle. Keeping a stiff upper lip, asking God for help and waiting for my next visit with the Rheumatologist. Perhaps he'll change his mind...

profile for Vicky Vicky Millbrook, NYI fight forEmma, Scott, Leanne H., Jess, Jill, Roger

Emma was 15 when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. It was both a blow and a relief to discover that she had arthritis. We had a name for what ailed her, which meant we could start treating it. The blow was that it wasn’t going away. She’d have it for the rest of her life. She would have a dreaded ‘pre-existing condition’ and it would be with her for the rest of her life.

Emma was 15 when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. It was both a blow and a relief to discover that she had arthritis. We had a name for what ailed her, which meant we could start treating it. The blow was that it wasn’t going away. She’d have it for the rest of her life. She would have a dreaded ‘pre-existing condition’ and it would be with her for the rest of her life.

By the time she was diagnosed, Emma was in bad shape. Every day she woke up with a new joint that was swollen and painful to move. And it was taking more and more time for the achiness and stiffness that wracked her entire body every morning to dissipate. We would wake her by packing her body in warm compresses to get her limber enough to get into the shower and ready for her 7:30 a.m. classes. Her pain and immobility were worsening fast. We looked forward to seeing a pediatric rheumatologist. We thought we’d find a cure and put all this business behind us.

While the cure eluded us, we eventually found a treatment that works.
Emma is now 22 and in much better shape. Against all odds, she successfully completed college and will soon have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. We are so proud of her. She takes medication that keeps her symptoms at bay. But the ‘pre-existing condition’ label is squarely on her shoulders. She has to see a rheumatologist every few months. She has to make sure she always has medication and it’s expensive. Right now my insurance company covers the cost of that medication. We don’t know what will happen next year or the year after that. The specter of loss of coverage hangs over us like the sword of Damocles. The uncertainty of what will happen to health care in the U.S. and the proposal to make care for people with pre-existing conditions unaffordable causes enormous anxiety, stress and loss of productivity.

Emma once said that she has arthritis but arthritis doesn’t have her. She has so much to offer the world. I hope that our country can see that and do the right thing by her and all the people battling every day with arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

info about Vicky
profile for Kathy E Kathy EEdgewood, MDThis ismy fight

I first was told I had arthritis when I had suffered from pain in my neck. I eventually could not move my neck at all. The doctors I saw thought I was making it up. I finally demanded an MRI and they found my vertebrae were smashed together due to arthritis. Luckily I found a great surgeon who repaired my neck.
That was 17 years ago, and I have degenerative disc disease of my whole spine,...

I first was told I had arthritis when I had suffered from pain in my neck. I eventually could not move my neck at all. The doctors I saw thought I was making it up. I finally demanded an MRI and they found my vertebrae were smashed together due to arthritis. Luckily I found a great surgeon who repaired my neck.
That was 17 years ago, and I have degenerative disc disease of my whole spine, as well as arthritis of my spine, shoulders, my fingers, my knees and, lately, my feet. I am in constant pain. I take a bunch of prescriptions, one which is a narcotic. So , I, therefore, can't drive. That is very hard to accept . I can no longer clean my own home, so I have a cleaning girl .
All my doctor visits (and there are so many) have to be done on my husband's days off from work. And my dear hubby does all the cooking because I can't do it . It's too painful. But I keep trucking along and make my doc proud that I'm not in a wheelchair!

profile for Raquel C Raquel CRoswell, NMThis ismy fight

My story is a long one... I was diagnosed at age 3 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I have little memories of this time but my parents said I went through a lot of pain. I believe they did also. 2 years later I woke up with no pain I was in remission. Thankfully, I suffered no joint damage. The doctor said if I went 10 years without going out of remission that it was unlikely I would ever get...

My story is a long one... I was diagnosed at age 3 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I have little memories of this time but my parents said I went through a lot of pain. I believe they did also. 2 years later I woke up with no pain I was in remission. Thankfully, I suffered no joint damage. The doctor said if I went 10 years without going out of remission that it was unlikely I would ever get arthritis again. 5 years later on Thanksgiving day, I went out of remission. That was 36 years ago.
I have dealt with a lot of pain and isolation from this disease. As a child watching from my bedroom window as my twin brother played with out friends it was difficult. It caused me for a time to refuse medicine and I suffered from depression. To suddenly not be able to run and play or ride my bike.
I was unable to go to school on and off through most of my school years and I believe my social skills have suffered from it. Having arthritis in the 1980's the medicines were mostly for pain and inflammation. I learned that the first 5 years you have arthritis it is at its most aggressive and destructive. By age 14, I had my first surgery, a fusion of my neck. By age 16 both hips were replaced in 1 hospital stay. I was in the hospital for over a month. I had 4 major joint surgeries by the time I graduated high school.
Daily life was never easy. I dealt with joints locking up and swollen tender joints. Not sleeping well because I couldn't get comfortable. Socially I didn't get out much. It's hard to when you have an electric wheelchair. Not everyone has a vehicle that can accommodate one. Or accessibility! Even today I have issues finding parks and stores and restaurants that are accessible for people who are physically challenged.
This disease isn't easy to live with. But what disease is? I've been through 10 surgeries directly related to my arthritis. I've never got my drivers license, never got married or had kids. Never had a job or lived alone. I haven't ridden a bike ,run, or played a sport since I was 10 years old.
But I have an A A degree in Liberal Arts. I have volunteered at hospitals and other charities. I've travelled to Cancun, Hawaii, and gone on an Alaskan cruise. I enjoy shopping, movie going, and community fairs and festivals. I communicate with my family and friends about what I'm capable of doing. I always try to do for myself first before asking for help.
Yes this disease is progressive. No it WILL NOT be the center of my universe! I take each day as it comes. I find things to do ever day. I try to smile and laugh every day. Being still is the quickest way for your arthritis to take over your body and your life. My motto, or mantra if you will... JUST KEEP MOVING!

profile for Syd T Syd TAngleton, TXThis ismy fight

When I was 8 years old, I had a flare up in my knees that was a pain I had never felt before. It was a regular school night and I had just been sent to bed. Out of nowhere, I felt a strange sensation in my knees. I quickly grew uncomfortable and decided to go tell my parents that something was wrong. I climbed out of bed and instantly crumpled to the floor. I was completely unable to straighten...

When I was 8 years old, I had a flare up in my knees that was a pain I had never felt before. It was a regular school night and I had just been sent to bed. Out of nowhere, I felt a strange sensation in my knees. I quickly grew uncomfortable and decided to go tell my parents that something was wrong. I climbed out of bed and instantly crumpled to the floor. I was completely unable to straighten my legs, and I ended up crawling to the living room. I will never forget the look on my parents' faces. My pain became excruciating and I began to frantically cry. I remember laying on the couch crying all night long while my mom sat in the chair beside me. I truly believed that the burning would never go away and that I would never straighten my legs again.

The next morning I was taken to an emergency appointment with my pediatrician. He said that there really wasn't anything wrong, that it was probably just a virus that had attacked my knees. He gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. After about 36 hours, I was finally able to straighten my legs. But after that day, my knees were never the same. I would have intense swelling and they often locked up.

When I was 14 years old, I was finally referred to a rheumatologist. I was quickly diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Who knew my uncomfortable back and neck pain that I had experienced since I was 8 (right after my knee flare. Coincidence? Yeah right!) had been related to my knee pain? Everything started to connect. I began an NSAID and declined treatment with biologics. I went through physical therapy, occupational therapy, pilates, message therapy, and some aquatic therapy. Thankfully I had been on the swim team since I was 7, which allowed my body to stay flexible and strong.

When I was 18 years old, I aged out of my rheumatologist's office. I was referred to a new rheumatologist and it was a disaster. She ignored my personal wishes, pushing for biologics. When I refused, she switched me to a different NSAID (failure!) and I quickly found myself another doctor.

This time, he was a functional medicine doctor, and he had a holistic approach. I know what you're thinking, he's a fruitcake. But honestly, he's not. I have never felt better in my life than I have while following his strict autoimmune paleo diet. He has checked me for food allergies (which increase my body's inflammation) and he checked me for vitamin/mineral deficiencies. He also diagnosed me with a genetic deformity that affects my body's inflammatory markers. Now that I am on all the correct supplements and strict food protocol, I feel like I can actually enjoy life again.

Fast forward to now, and here I am today. My diagnosis has changed to the generic term spondyloarthritis, which is an umbrella term for the various forms of spinal arthritis. I have struggled a great deal with not having all the answers about my condition that I would like. I have my ups and downs, but I try to stay positive. My family and friends are a huge support and I am so thankful to have them looking after me.

I am 21 years old and graduating college early. I will be going to grad school this fall, and I am excited on healing my body without taking potentially risky medications. I am ready to have a fresh start and really live life to the fullest. Yes, I still have aches and pains here and there (really bad pain when I cheat on the protocol) but I am thankful for any improvement I can make.

And It's all on me. I am the one who has to follow the protocol and I am the one who suffers the consequences if I cheat. In a way, the protocol gives me control over my quality of life. Talk about incentive to take care of myself. It took me a lot of mental pep talking to get me through the physical pain and the changes I've had to make in my life (like no more sugar or grain), but I know that as long as I keep my chin up and continue on, I will be alright.

info about Syd T
profile for John  M John MAugusta, GAThis ismy fight

It took years to figure out what was causing my arthritis of old football injuries to flair up. I finely tried an old saying. If you have gray hair don't do dairy. It's true. I take diabetic meds now and I can eat more dairy with no flair up.

profile for Robin S Robin SMoriarty, NMThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 20. At the age of 3 and again at age 11, I had bouts of being unable to walk although at both times, there was not an official diagnosis of what was wrong with me. I feel very fortunate that I was able to come out of both of those episodes to lead a relatively normal and very active childhood. After being diagnosed, I experienced more...

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 20. At the age of 3 and again at age 11, I had bouts of being unable to walk although at both times, there was not an official diagnosis of what was wrong with me. I feel very fortunate that I was able to come out of both of those episodes to lead a relatively normal and very active childhood. After being diagnosed, I experienced more frequent flare ups. It initially affected my knees, but as I age, more joints have become affected.

My initial treatment was high doses of aspirin, and as new drugs were discovered, the treatment has changed a lot over these past decades. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis of the neck and had two discs replaced and fused 8 years ago. The surgery was successful, but as the discs above and below the fusion degenerate, it has left me with chronic neck pain. The weather also can wreak havoc with my joints. There are days when it takes everything I have just to get out of bed and make myself move. I know movement and exercise are sometimes the best things you can do, but that doesn't always mean I want to do them. The fatigue can be overwhelming and between that and chronic pain, I also have to battle depression. Some days are better than others. I try hard to stay positive but it's not always easy.

I take a biologic in a once a week shot, along with another medicine and for the most part, it keeps the major flare ups away. Ibuprofen usually helps with the other aches and pains. It is hard to live with arthritis because it is tough to realize that there are things I can no longer do. I have a difficult time accepting that, but I learned that I had to find a balance in doing activities I love, with giving my body some much needed rest and to know when not to overdo it and cause a flareup.

profile for Bob H Bob HSouth Plainfield, NJThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA at 21 and it was revised to Ankylosing Spondylitis a couple years later. At 27 both my hips required replacing. I'm now 66 and just retired this past December, 2016. For most of the time since diagnosis I've lived a normal life, go to work every day, falling in love, getting married and created a family to be proud of.

Somewhere around 47, I developed...

I was diagnosed with RA at 21 and it was revised to Ankylosing Spondylitis a couple years later. At 27 both my hips required replacing. I'm now 66 and just retired this past December, 2016. For most of the time since diagnosis I've lived a normal life, go to work every day, falling in love, getting married and created a family to be proud of.

Somewhere around 47, I developed digestive and bowel problems; diagnosed with Crohn's. It required surgery to remove a good bit of my large intestine.

So for the last 20 years I've been dealing with AS and Crohn's, frankly I don't know which is worse. My major issue at the moment is fatigue and possible complications with my lungs and heart from the continual spread of AS. I tried lots of medications over time but nothing has lasted or provided continual relief. Right now, pain medication takes a goodly amount of the edge off but nothing to fight the inflammation.
I'm dealing with my diseases and living my life in the best way possible.

profile for Debby H Debby HColorado Springs , COThis ismy fight

I am 59 years young. At the age of 12 years old my parents told me I had Arthritis. There was no medical insurance policy and no welfare medical. Daddy was too proud or too stubborn. Daddy worked in Construction, so it was as they said, "a feast or a famine. "

I have lived with chronic pain pretty much my entire life.

Not only arthritis but I have other physical problems...

I am 59 years young. At the age of 12 years old my parents told me I had Arthritis. There was no medical insurance policy and no welfare medical. Daddy was too proud or too stubborn. Daddy worked in Construction, so it was as they said, "a feast or a famine. "

I have lived with chronic pain pretty much my entire life.

Not only arthritis but I have other physical problems that have kept me limited in living a full life.

Some days are better or worse than others. One of my children has arthritis also.

I don't like to take pills as they have so many bad side effects.

I think some of my Family members, don't want to understand. On a good day I can skip around, but a bad day, I am stuck inside feeling 100 years old unable to attend event's around the city I am really interested in.

I tried pain medication years ago but it was like a joke. I felt no pain and therefore ended up hurting myself more feeling like superwoman. Than I wasn't able to do anything for about a week or so. Just like when I have a good day and I am so happy it's not as painful that I overdo it hopping and skipping around that I am sick and can't walk or drive anywhere for a week or so.

May we find a cure someday.

profile for Carmen L Carmen LChino, CAThis ismy fight

I first became acquainted with Arthritis watching my mother rubbing her right knee, much later on she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and even when she was not able to talk much anymore, the familiar rubbing of the knee told us she was I pain and we proceeded to give her pain pill.

Six years ago I had a total knee replacement of my left knee, and was told I needed to do the same with my...

I first became acquainted with Arthritis watching my mother rubbing her right knee, much later on she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and even when she was not able to talk much anymore, the familiar rubbing of the knee told us she was I pain and we proceeded to give her pain pill.

Six years ago I had a total knee replacement of my left knee, and was told I needed to do the same with my right knee. At that time I was also diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis and Osteo Arthritis. I have since retired from work, for 14 years I worked 64 hours a week, and was planning to retire and lead an active life. Little did I know that arthritis was going to rob me of my energy, and I was going to be in excruciating pain more often than not.
I have asked to be referred to a specialist and I am send to a doctor that just gives me cortisone shots, I have not returned to that clinic.

My adult children understand my pain, but my husband not really. Although he is very attentive to me, I feel sometimes he forgets that I have arthritis. Recently I fell in the shower and the top half of my body landed out of the tub, and hit my head against the toilet seat. That was an awakening to my husband, as he was trying to help me to get on my feet I saw the tears rolling down his face.

The thing is, I don't want to feel, or be seen as a disabled person. So I am trying very hard to walk everyday, I have been walking a little under 2 miles a day (35 minutes walk), I clean my house as best I can, I cook some days, other days my husband cooks, but I don't go to the movies or to dance. I only attend family gatherings.

I see now that all of my sons have knee pain, one is a very good candidate for bilateral hip replacement surgery. I hope something is found soon, I don't like pain meds. I have a horrendous fear of addiction, having worked in a hospital setting I learned the devastating consequences of addiction, I just deal with the pain, fortunately I have a high pain threshold and that helps.

I do hope that researchers will find a treatment soon , one that will not have as many negative side effects, and hopefully I will get my energy back.

profile for Deborah T Deborah TNew York, NYThis ismy fight

I had been having some hip pain when walking for about two months. I live in NYC and walking here is a way of life. I was going to my PCP for a regular visit, had an x-ray and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis with bone spurs. OUCH!! Some days I have some pain, sometimes I don't. I'm not currently taking any meds for it and don't really want to so I hope it doesn't get any worse. I do worry...

I had been having some hip pain when walking for about two months. I live in NYC and walking here is a way of life. I was going to my PCP for a regular visit, had an x-ray and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis with bone spurs. OUCH!! Some days I have some pain, sometimes I don't. I'm not currently taking any meds for it and don't really want to so I hope it doesn't get any worse. I do worry about the future and my mobility though. I hope more can be done for this affliction in my lifetime.

profile for Kristen S Kristen SSpencerport, NYThis ismy fight

Hi everyone!

My arthritis began after a severe car accident on 11.2.05. I was driving to college that morning for class, when a gentleman hit me on the left side of my car (more like t-boned me!) I ended up with 8 fractured vertebraes in my back, 4 cracked ribs, a broken pelvis & tailbone. I was only in the hospital for 4 days when they sent me home. I had to re-learn how to walk...

Hi everyone!

My arthritis began after a severe car accident on 11.2.05. I was driving to college that morning for class, when a gentleman hit me on the left side of my car (more like t-boned me!) I ended up with 8 fractured vertebraes in my back, 4 cracked ribs, a broken pelvis & tailbone. I was only in the hospital for 4 days when they sent me home. I had to re-learn how to walk and learn how to let everything heal naturally. It was later on when I continued to have such severe pain from sitting for long periods of time when I went to the doctor and he told me I have osteoarthritis! I know I don't have it as severe as some people do, but I do know pain and at 35 years old, I have days where I feel like I am 95. I hate being in pain, but have found water, swimming, and massage therapy have helped immensely. I am thankful that I am still alive and embrace each day to the fullest.

profile for Jennifer F Jennifer FAtascadero, CAI fight forMyself, family, friends.

In 2005 I crashed my dirt bike.... and was later diagnosed with arthritis in my right knee..... In 2013 i gave birth to a beautiful daughter and when she was 1 month old i started the nursing program... since I graduated I have worked with children as a school nurse and now as a hospice nurse... We (meaning the hispice care team) manage all sorts of pain and most being pain from arthritis.... I...

In 2005 I crashed my dirt bike.... and was later diagnosed with arthritis in my right knee..... In 2013 i gave birth to a beautiful daughter and when she was 1 month old i started the nursing program... since I graduated I have worked with children as a school nurse and now as a hospice nurse... We (meaning the hispice care team) manage all sorts of pain and most being pain from arthritis.... I ride for a reason.

I ride for myself.
I ride for my family.
I ride for my fellow nurses.
I ride for the patient's.

profile for Melissa M Melissa MHouston, TXI fight forMy Son

My son, Jace, was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of 3. He had a pronounced limp and was complaining of left knee pain for 3 months before we were finally diagnosed. A year later he is doing well and has more good days than bad. He's an active little boy that loves to play baseball and never stops pushing, but even at 4 years old, realizes he has limitations. I am so...

My son, Jace, was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of 3. He had a pronounced limp and was complaining of left knee pain for 3 months before we were finally diagnosed. A year later he is doing well and has more good days than bad. He's an active little boy that loves to play baseball and never stops pushing, but even at 4 years old, realizes he has limitations. I am so proud of the courage and fight he has. He has JIA but it doesn't have him!

info about Melissa M
profile for Laney H Laney HRogers, ARThis ismy fight

This has been a very difficult journey. I am a nurse and I work 40 hours a week. I have good days and bad days. I have tried every medication my doctor prescribes . I took a new medication for months and gained a lot of weight , now I have to take something new for steroid induced diabetes. Every RA medication on television I have tried.

My inflammatory numbers have not ever been...

This has been a very difficult journey. I am a nurse and I work 40 hours a week. I have good days and bad days. I have tried every medication my doctor prescribes . I took a new medication for months and gained a lot of weight , now I have to take something new for steroid induced diabetes. Every RA medication on television I have tried.

My inflammatory numbers have not ever been normal. I completed one round of meds - I felt much better -now my insurance doesn't want to pay for the drug. The drug cost is $8000 for one dose so of course I can not afford this medication. My husband and I both work but that is out of our reach and did it really work?

Because I still have days that I walk like a zombie , my feet hurt, my hands hurt it's hard to write- pick things up - it's hard to button a button - squeeze the tooth paste and I am so tired all the time. I have a knot on my wrist and it hurts. I am tired of saying I feel bad so I don't -my answer to - how do you feel? I feel fine. It's all good! Because I am tired of feeling bad and I know they are tired of hearing it!!!! My family is supportive but it has changed things. Because I do work and I have to rest on the weekend so I can go to work on Monday. It doesn't leave much time for anything else!! I hope and pray one of the drugs work and I will not turn to stone !

profile for Kori K Kori KCurtice , OHThis ismy fight

As a 31 year old, I don't know a life without arthritis. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2. Growing up, I never truly got to feel like the rest of the kids did. I would get so tired, my body would ache, and I wouldn't understand why. It didn't seem fair. By my teen years, the doctors felt that my RA was in remission.

Finally, I could live life like...

As a 31 year old, I don't know a life without arthritis. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 2. Growing up, I never truly got to feel like the rest of the kids did. I would get so tired, my body would ache, and I wouldn't understand why. It didn't seem fair. By my teen years, the doctors felt that my RA was in remission.

Finally, I could live life like someone my own age. It was refreshing, but short lived. My twenties brought new possibilities as well as my old nemesis, RA. I tried to pretend like it wasn't a thing. I'd fight through the pain and exhaustion. If I acted like it wasn't real maybe it wouldn't be real. It was so hard to do what everyone else was, yet again.

What became different now was the judgement from my peers. "Oh you're not that old, there can't be anything wrong with you." "Stop pretending, you're fine." I wasn't fine.

While in my late 20s, a newly discovered thyroid condition also shed light on my RA. Blood work showed that my levels were outrageous. My doctor didn't understand how I could function so well under the circumstances. It was time, time for me to finally start accepting my reality; I have RA. I now see a wonderful rheumatologist that takes very good care of me. My medication has drastically improved my quality of life. I still struggle and have my moments, but it's all a part of my process. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a part of me.

profile for Diana  L Diana LWhittier , CAI fight forMy daughter

June 2016 was the first time my then 5 year old daughter complained of knee pain. I asked her if she hit herself or fell she said no. Her knee did not swell up right away so we thought not much of it. Her preschool teacher brought to my attention 3 days later that my daughter was limping at school. Later that evening as I was bathing my daughter, I decided to massage her knee and immediately...

June 2016 was the first time my then 5 year old daughter complained of knee pain. I asked her if she hit herself or fell she said no. Her knee did not swell up right away so we thought not much of it. Her preschool teacher brought to my attention 3 days later that my daughter was limping at school. Later that evening as I was bathing my daughter, I decided to massage her knee and immediately noticed her knee had swelled up. My husband and I rushed her to the ER to have it checked out. They ran test and had x-rays, all came back normal.

We were told it could probably be growing pains and to make a follow up with her pediatrician. Her pediatrician requested more lab test done and that's where it all began. We unfortunately had a tough time with our insurance to get her seen and authorized by different doctors we bounced around until we finally got referred to a new hospital. It was there that they confirmed our worst fear. We had to face the fact that our youngest baby had a disease that we knew nothing about and we were clueless and blindsided by this. We noticed symptoms in June and she was diagnosed with Juvenile idiopathic Arthritis in September 2016. It was extremely overwhelming to think of what this disease had done to our baby in a short period of 3 months Arthritis effected her knee, elbow, hip,ankle, and to our surprise her eye sight was being affected! We are so thankful for our doctor and her team, they wasted no time and immediately began treatment. She has been on medication since September and we seen results within a few weeks. She started infusions in December and immediately seen results. We were hesitant about all these medications but we knew our baby was in pain and we felt confident that our doctor knew what she was doing and we thank God for her and her team.

Our daughter is still going through treatments and although the infusions are painful for her now, I know it's not nearly as painful as it was before treatment. Her fight is our fight, and together we'll keep fighting this until we find a cure.

profile for Judy B Judy BLake Geneva, WIThis ismy fight

I do have arthritis. I have had it for 5 years. There are days when it takes 1-2 hours to be up and limber enough before going in to work. At first I needed a cane, now I just accept the pain, take some aspirin and try to get through the day. It started in my back, then my neck and now I have it in both knees. I kid myself and tell others I can predict a weather front based on how my knees...

I do have arthritis. I have had it for 5 years. There are days when it takes 1-2 hours to be up and limber enough before going in to work. At first I needed a cane, now I just accept the pain, take some aspirin and try to get through the day. It started in my back, then my neck and now I have it in both knees. I kid myself and tell others I can predict a weather front based on how my knees feel.

My Mother had arthritis real bad. I remember spending time with her in her later years doing any little exercise to help her keep her hands moving. She used to be a good pianist but after many years of playing could not. We knitted, crocheted, played cards, folded laundry and sorted index cards trying to keep her hands moving. It seemed to help.

I hope they find a cure.

profile for Donna M Donna MSelinsgrove, PAThis ismy fight

I have many disabilities. When I tell people what is all wrong with me I get, that, look.I don't want to feel this way but this is my life. It started in 2006, the doctor told me I have Fibromyalgia,anxiety and depression. Then a couple of years later was told I have Sjgrens syndrome reynauds,osteoarthritis of the spine,hands and knees. It is hard doing daily things but I know if I just sit...

I have many disabilities. When I tell people what is all wrong with me I get, that, look.I don't want to feel this way but this is my life. It started in 2006, the doctor told me I have Fibromyalgia,anxiety and depression. Then a couple of years later was told I have Sjgrens syndrome reynauds,osteoarthritis of the spine,hands and knees. It is hard doing daily things but I know if I just sit around I am in more pain. So I do things around the house wearing a back brace. Then I take a break. Then continue things in that order. I am determined that these issues will not get me from doing some things, but I know if it where not for my medications, stretching and wearing a brace when I do chores, I could not do the things I do. I am grateful for everything .

profile for Frances M Frances MNew Iberia, LAThis ismy fight

I am sharing my own fight. Twenty-three years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 4 years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Both have some of the same symptoms like pain, fatigue, stiffness, headaches, etc. The osteoarthritis causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

The base of the thumb on my right hand stays swollen and extremely painful. The left thumb has started...

I am sharing my own fight. Twenty-three years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 4 years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Both have some of the same symptoms like pain, fatigue, stiffness, headaches, etc. The osteoarthritis causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

The base of the thumb on my right hand stays swollen and extremely painful. The left thumb has started swelling recently and the knuckles on both hands. Now, it is my neck, back, hips, knees, and toes, etc. The osteoarthritis is much more painful than the fibromyalgia and causes more limitations in movement. It is a challenge each day and I keep going and doing what I can.

profile for Edna D Edna DShreve, OHThis ismy fight

I have PMR & Giant Cell Arteritis. Have had these for 5 years. People do not understand the pain because these are among the rare diseases listed under vasculitis. Have not been able to get to a low dose of medication. I get tired of fighting the pain; and lately the stiffness has been worse. I wish they could find a cure.

profile for Pete S Pete SRiverside, CAThis ismy fight

My Positive Choice Story.

Who I am.

My name is Pete. I am 60 years old. I have been married for 38 years and have 3 wonderful grown children and 6 incredible grandchildren. I have been a serious bicycle rider since 2002 and had been overweight for the past 25 years.
Kaiser Permanente’s Positive Choice program has helped me take charge of my life and improve my quality...

My Positive Choice Story.

Who I am.

My name is Pete. I am 60 years old. I have been married for 38 years and have 3 wonderful grown children and 6 incredible grandchildren. I have been a serious bicycle rider since 2002 and had been overweight for the past 25 years.
Kaiser Permanente’s Positive Choice program has helped me take charge of my life and improve my quality of living in a really big way.

2 years ago I shed 60 lbs and was able to stop taking my meds for extreme knee pain due to osteo-arthritis.…
Just this past year, 2 of the Positive Choice instructor/dieticians joined me on a 525 mile bicycle ride after I finished the program. On the cover picture, Heidi P and Stefenie.

I’ve been able to keep most of the weight off and have rejoined the program recently to take my weight down even farther and be able to remain healthy and strong going into my senior years.

My Story.

After years of playing hardwood sports my knees went south back about 25 years ago. Multiple operations to clean them up and multiple injections helped keep me active. However, not to the level I was accustomed to and definitely not enough to keep excess weight from creeping onto my body. A lifetime of eating whatever I wanted, because I could just exercise it off was not in my playbook any longer.

2 years ago I reached a very uncomfortable 280 pounds and after riding my bike 63 miles in the Tour de Palm Springs charity event, I had to be helped off my bike at the finish line. I was to say the least embarrassed and exhausted and felt like I was completely out of control with regards to my weight and wellbeing.

It was then that I signed up with the Positive Choice program. After speaking with my Doctor and having my x-rays and blood work completed, I was ready to begin. I will never forget the very first session as one of the students in the back of the room blurted out at her, “What gives you the right to tell me what I should or should not eat? You look like you have never been over-weight.” Heidi’s calm response was that she like everyone in the room had indeed struggled with weight and more importantly had specific education that qualified her to discuss diet and exercise as the class instructor. I felt like clapping but decided against it…

As our class progressed it became apparent that as far as weight loss was concerned. The program really worked well as I shed 4 to 5 pounds weekly and really began to feel like I had control over my well-being. I stuck to the exercising religiously along with the increased water intake and it only took less than a month and I was able to stop taking all pain medications as the pain in my knees had diminished. As my body adjusted to the lower weight and smaller size, I became keenly aware of the benefits of weight loss. I adopted the slogan of “no food tastes as good as being healthy feels” and placed it in numerous conspicuous locations to remind myself daily of this fact.

I continued with the program to the very end and while our class did diminish in size, (pun intended), those of us that remained were all smiles, hugs and high fives at graduation day. I felt like I really had accomplished a life changing event. I really enjoyed going through my closet and getting rid of all of my “big guy” clothes. After all, I went from a size 44 waist down to a size 36, and from a XXL shirt down to a L.

That summer I did not feel like I was physically fit enough to ride my bike down the coast so I volunteered instead and spent the 8 day event as rest stop coordinator. I set up and took down all of the rest stops for the 250 riders coming down the coast. When the ride ended I knew it was time for me to start riding again as my new healthy weight was calling for a challenge.

After the ride was over I was asked to come into one of the Positive Choice classes and speak a little bit about my experience with the program. I did so multiple times and each time I spoke I would mention my bike riding, how special it was riding down the coast and what a great activity bike riding was and how it helped me be successful in the program. One evening after speaking, the 2 instructors, Heidi and Stefenie approached me and said they wanted to do the coast ride and asked me if I would help them train and get ready for an endurance event. I agreed, we all signed up and the 3 of us formed a team and began to plan what our next steps would be.

Over the next 8 months we all trained by riding increasing numbers of miles. Our team started to grow and within just a few short months our little team of 3 exploded into 30 signed riders. I started organizing regular training rides and created a bi-monthly newsletter. Over half of our riders were brand new to the sport, Including Stefenie who bought a bike just 4 short months before the ride was to take place. It was a demanding task to head up a team of this size and as I was soon to be known as Cap’n Pete, the Captain took his job very seriously. In the end we had 22 riders raise the funds, complete the training and began our epic journey down the coast highway. Our team was the largest on the tour and the largest fund raiser as we raised over $75,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. Heidi, Stefenie and I completed every inch of the ride and when it was over all of our team was exhausted, jubilant and proud of each other as riding a bicycle for 8 days and 525 miles is no small task.

I can honestly say that the Positive Choice Program has changed my life for the better. I sleep better, I have more energy, I am in less pain, I have a much more positive attitude about life in general and I feel good about myself and my future. I am definitely healthier and happier over all. I am even considering going back to school to get enough credentials so that I can give back and help teach weight management and exercise programs to help others.

Thank you to the Healthy Choice Program…

And Thank You Heidi and Stefenie for your belief in me to be the leader of our tribe of riders and to help you with participation in our epic journey down the coast of California…
Sincerely, Pete S
AKA; Cap’n Pete

Here is a picture of our little team called the CP Tribe Riders… 3 Doctors, 2 Nurses and 3 Dieticians. A School Principle, a Cop, Several Teachers, A Computer Programmer, Park Ranger, Solar Salesperson, Photographer, Several Retirees and me; a Healthcare Textiles Distribution Manager and Positive Choice graduate!!!

profile for Cheryl  R Cheryl RLancaster , CAThis ismy fight

I have had arthritis for about 15 years and the pain has increased over the years. I have it in my hip, both knees, left shoulder and my hands. Some days I feel like giving up because it's so depressing, but you have to keep moving even when you think you can't. Sometimes you have to push yourself to get up and move. Walk or excercise otherwise your muscles will shut down and you will end up in a...

I have had arthritis for about 15 years and the pain has increased over the years. I have it in my hip, both knees, left shoulder and my hands. Some days I feel like giving up because it's so depressing, but you have to keep moving even when you think you can't. Sometimes you have to push yourself to get up and move. Walk or excercise otherwise your muscles will shut down and you will end up in a wheel chair. I pray for everyone that suffers from this debilitating disease. God bless you all.

profile for Jordan G Jordan GEldersburg, MDThis ismy fight

I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was ten years old. One day my eye got really red and itchy. We dismissed it as allergies. It got worse, and started to hurt. At first we thought it was pink eye. Then I couldn't go outside. Even lift inside hurt. I was in so much pain. We went to several eye doctors, and after weeks they declared that I had uveitis. It had gotten really...

I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was ten years old. One day my eye got really red and itchy. We dismissed it as allergies. It got worse, and started to hurt. At first we thought it was pink eye. Then I couldn't go outside. Even lift inside hurt. I was in so much pain. We went to several eye doctors, and after weeks they declared that I had uveitis. It had gotten really bad. It took several dilation drops and steroids every hour to calm it down. I was on steroids for months. I came of the steroids completely for the first time this year. I'm seventeen now. After the flare in my eye, we had my blood tested to check for auto-immune conditions associated with uveitis. I was diagnosed with AS and was immediately put on medication. My arthritis itself wasn't too severe at the time. My random aches and pains suddenly made sense. Unfortunately, the constant medication and steroids didn't keep my uveitis under control. I had two more flare ups after the first, one when I was 11 and one when I was 12. I remember people staring when I wore sunglasses in school, when I revealed my huge pupils. One boy in my art class called me a witch. I would've cried if it wouldn't have hurt. I didn't have another flare, and haven't since. My lower back became increasingly bad, and I was prescribed medicine to help. Perhaps that is because I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease when I was 14 and was hospitalized for a total of 5 weeks. I was put on a new medicine, which has continued to keep my arthritis and Crohn's at bay. My lower back and knees have gotten progressively work, and I have been given cortisone shots. Now I'm battling a chronic migraine I've had for eight months. Autoimmune illnesses have picked apart my life for half my life, and the judgement and misunderstanding I face from my family, friends, and peers have ruined my self-esteem. Please don't be harsh or prejudiced. If someone with arthritis tells you they're tired or in pain, don't get upset. We can't help it. Chances are, we want to be able to do said things more than you ever will, because we aren't capable of it. We just want support and acceptance. After everything we've gone through, we deserve it. Thank you for your support!

profile for kate kate warren, PAThis ismy fight

I ignored the swelling in my hands for several months. It wasn't until I couldn't get any shoes to fit that I decided to visit the doctor. That was a year and a half ago. My Rheumy has helped with medication that has returned 80% of my daily function. This is significant since I own a horse farm and do most of the work myself. Although, I still have some swelling and in my hands and feet, I feel...

I ignored the swelling in my hands for several months. It wasn't until I couldn't get any shoes to fit that I decided to visit the doctor. That was a year and a half ago. My Rheumy has helped with medication that has returned 80% of my daily function. This is significant since I own a horse farm and do most of the work myself. Although, I still have some swelling and in my hands and feet, I feel that I am on the right track and can enjoy "going to work" everyday. All our stories are different, yet the same. I no longer am concerned about how or why I got the disease or what I did wrong. None of us could have changed the fact that we have RA and we have to just accept it and move on.

profile for Kim C Kim CDraper, UTThis ismy fight

I am a 42 year old female. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. Despite the fatigue, stiffness, soreness, pain, and mangled joints, I am proud and grateful for the active lifestyle I live. I have always worked full time and worked very hard to promote and excel. I received my bachelor of science degree while working full time. Every day is filled with decisions about how to help myself...

I am a 42 year old female. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. Despite the fatigue, stiffness, soreness, pain, and mangled joints, I am proud and grateful for the active lifestyle I live. I have always worked full time and worked very hard to promote and excel. I received my bachelor of science degree while working full time. Every day is filled with decisions about how to help myself feel better so that I can do the things I want to do. I hate taking the medications that my doctor prescribes. I try to eat a nutritious diet, exercise, rest, meditate so that I can reduce the amount of medication. I have tried complete homeopathic treatment in the last, but it did not work for me. Today, I am in pursuit of a doctor who will understand and support in in how I want to manage my disease. I am grateful and proud of my courage and continued strength to battle this mean disease every day.

profile for Jerri K Jerri KNampa, IDThis ismy fight

I am soon to be 48 year old female. Menopause hit early, I started having symptoms at 39 years old. First came hot flashes and not sleeping. I took "Black Cohosh" an herb which is suppose to help. My first bottle of pills helped a lot. My second bottle was from "Spring Valley" and they actually started a chain affect where I started loosing my hair and my bones started to pop and creak just with...

I am soon to be 48 year old female. Menopause hit early, I started having symptoms at 39 years old. First came hot flashes and not sleeping. I took "Black Cohosh" an herb which is suppose to help. My first bottle of pills helped a lot. My second bottle was from "Spring Valley" and they actually started a chain affect where I started loosing my hair and my bones started to pop and creak just with breathing and such. Once I figured out the bottle of Black Cohosh was bad, I stopped taking it. I was afraid to take anything else, so the menopause symptoms returned with a fury.

After a while I tried another brand of Black Cohosh (GNC) and they relieved my symptoms, but my bones were still weakening. I started on bio-identical hormones which ended up reducing my bones from aching all the time, but made me feel dizzy, with brain fog. I was sent to the emergency room from passing out and was told I was pregnant. I was around 43 years old by this time and had not had a cycle for years. It came back as a false positive.

I went to doctor after doctor to try and get help. I was wishing not to be living, but had this great husband, and incredible family. I felt so much despair and continued to seek a doctor that could help me. I stopped taking the bio-identical hormones and purchased a book "The Hormone Cure." I did the Master Lemon Cleanse" and then used the book to change my eating habits. I felt better than I had felt in years.

But, I lost too much weight and I needed support to eat differently. I found a doctor and NP that treated the whole person. They helped me get on a hormone patch and take progesterone every other day. I had a bone scan that revealed I had osteopenia. I started taking tons of supplements (Vit a, b12, c, d3, e, k, tumeric, hair/nail vit, calcium, etc. This helped me, but after a very cold winter and added stress, I felt something settle in my joints starting January 2017 and move slowly throughout my body. It seemed to start with my middle finger and I started feeling joints I didn't even know I had. It evolved to where at night my hands get extremely stiff and if I bend them a little, I wake yelling from the pain. It takes a while to get my hands limber in the morning. I still feel like I have brain fog. I would love to find something to stop or reverse what is happening. The doctors just xray my hand and say "it hasn't reached your bones." They tell me to take pain medicine and send me on my way. I know people say sugar, dairy, and refined flour are not good for me. I have a hard time not eating them.... I need told that they really are damaging my body. I'd like to know if there is something I can do to slow down this before I become cripple.

profile for Pam S Pam SJackson, TNThis ismy fight

I was first diagnosed at 20 years of age with RA & later with OA also. They quickly got me into remission with meds & I did well during my childbearing years. But, then, it re-emerged with a vengeance! My fingers really got bad & I couldn't shake hands or things like that. That's when my doc put me on a DMARD & it arrested the progression in my fingers. I've had 4 joint replacements, the most...

I was first diagnosed at 20 years of age with RA & later with OA also. They quickly got me into remission with meds & I did well during my childbearing years. But, then, it re-emerged with a vengeance! My fingers really got bad & I couldn't shake hands or things like that. That's when my doc put me on a DMARD & it arrested the progression in my fingers. I've had 4 joint replacements, the most recent was a total reverse shoulder replacement in Jan. Before I had my bilateral knee replacement, I wore large braces on both legs & was unable to carry anything...couldn't pick up my grandchildren & was in so very much pain. My rheumatologist at that time kept telling me I was too young for the replacements but, I was miserable. So, I went to an ortho doc on my own & had it done at 48 years old. Needless to say, I changed rheumatologists also! I give myself injections of weekly, along with folic acid, & calcium with vitamin D. I also have osteopenia & gave myself medication daily for 2 years. Thank God I haven't broken any bones! I did have to be hospitalized 2 days after my shoulder replacement due to a severe RA flair from being off all my meds for 4 weeks prior to the surgery. It took a couple of months to get it back under control. Not a day passes without pain but you just have to keep your head up, smile, & keep on living the best life you can!

profile for Thomas P Thomas PFalls Church, VAThis ismy fight

In 2010, as a Senior in High School, I came down with some horrible, agonizing pain in my wrists and knees. The sudden onset and blinding pain landed me in the emergency room, where the best they could do for me was offer an x-ray and painkillers. I went through a diagnostic process that lasted for 6 months. It was quite an ordeal for a 17-year-old who would soon be on his way to college. After a...

In 2010, as a Senior in High School, I came down with some horrible, agonizing pain in my wrists and knees. The sudden onset and blinding pain landed me in the emergency room, where the best they could do for me was offer an x-ray and painkillers. I went through a diagnostic process that lasted for 6 months. It was quite an ordeal for a 17-year-old who would soon be on his way to college. After a brutally painful 6 months where on some days I couldn't even walk and many days I was laid up in bed, I was given a biologic and my disease (which was ruled as JRA at the time) went into remission, though not without lasting effects of swelling, aches, pains, joint weakness, and some muscle atrophy.

Fast forward to October 2016. I'd been in remission for 5 years at this point, almost 6. I started to develop, of all things, a chronic sore throat, terrible cough, and fatigue. I ended up having spiking fevers of 103+ that landed me out of work and back into the ER again multiple times. The pain was in different spots this time: muscle pains in my arms, my elbows, ankles, etc. Combining that with the constant coughing, fevers, hospital scares, and general sense of uselessness on my part was very hard on my live-in girlfriend and I. After a few terrible months and traveling 600+ miles one-way to see my old Rheumatologist again, I was finally properly diagnosed with Still's Disease, a form of JRA.

I'm only 24, but I already actually feel like a feeble old man. I've had to take so many medications over these past 7 years and 2 bouts of this disease have taken a toll on my joints. In general, nobody should have to feel pain like that, but especially when you're as young as 17 and looking all starry-eyed into your future educational pursuits or at 24 trying to get your life together and find out who you really are and who you will become. Arthritis is an incredible burden to carry, and making old man jokes only masks it for so long.

profile for beth r beth rbonnieville, KYThis ismy fight

I'm 56 year old I started have arthrist when I was working in 1980 in my knees they ach a lot with weather change.by 2005 I have arthrist in both knees,both hands and arms,in my neck,both hips and thighs, and my low back. I haven't able to work. And sents now have diabetis I can't arthritis due my kindeys. I live in pain daily I have learn to push threw the pain. All can do is take care my home...

I'm 56 year old I started have arthrist when I was working in 1980 in my knees they ach a lot with weather change.by 2005 I have arthrist in both knees,both hands and arms,in my neck,both hips and thighs, and my low back. I haven't able to work. And sents now have diabetis I can't arthritis due my kindeys. I live in pain daily I have learn to push threw the pain. All can do is take care my home the best I can

profile for Sarah T Sarah TColumbus, OHThis ismy fight

My story is a generational story, going back to my Great Grandmother and perhaps beyond. My Great Grandmother, Great Aunt and Mother, all had RA. My Mother happened to marry someone with Psoriasis and in my opinion, that's how RA and PsA came to be a pair in my body. It is a struggle, some days are so very hard and they make me appreciate the days that aren't. One thing I am very thankful for...

My story is a generational story, going back to my Great Grandmother and perhaps beyond. My Great Grandmother, Great Aunt and Mother, all had RA. My Mother happened to marry someone with Psoriasis and in my opinion, that's how RA and PsA came to be a pair in my body. It is a struggle, some days are so very hard and they make me appreciate the days that aren't. One thing I am very thankful for is the discovery of Biologics. Because of them, my fate has been somewhat stalled and at almost 60 now, I still have the use of my hands and they are not deformed and I can still use them. I imagine that my Great Grandmother only had aspirin, then my Great Aunt as well and my Mother had NSAID's, pain meds and in her later years a Biologic, but unfortunately, the damage had been totally done and it only helped with the inflammation - but that was a huge step forward. I had what I call as a "Super Flare" 2 years ago which was a perfect storm causing me to be in the hospital 2.5 weeks and then a rehab center for 3 months, learning to walk again. I appreciate everything I have with my health, although the list is smaller than it once was. I hope for the generations to come, that they will never know the depth of pain this disease can cause. But help is available and progress has been made. Be as well as you can be and attitude makes a huge difference in your health. Look forward, know there are better times after a flare and you will get there more quickly.

profile for CECIL T CECIL TCHICAGO, ILThis ismy fight

AFTER 25 YEARS OF PLAYING BASKETBALL AND 15 YEARS OF LONG DISTANCE RUNNING I STOPPED,WHEN I TRIED TO START AGAIN DR.TOLD ME I HAD DEGENITVE ARTRIHITS HAD A MRI I HAD A TORN MENISCUS HAD SURGERY ON MY RIGHT KNEE . I TO STRECHING AND TAI CHI TO HELP WITH PAIN AND STIFFNESS.

profile for Joy B Joy BWake Forest, NCThis ismy fight

I'm 67 years old who was on pain meds for chronic pain for artisitis, in my neck back arms, my whole body, my feet are so bad that I can barely walk at times. The Dr. I seen got mad at me because I could not go to the bathroom. I was there from 1 to 4 that day I went back the next day but the wrong place. Now I can not get no pain meds no where she put down I told her I took my husbands pain...

I'm 67 years old who was on pain meds for chronic pain for artisitis, in my neck back arms, my whole body, my feet are so bad that I can barely walk at times. The Dr. I seen got mad at me because I could not go to the bathroom. I was there from 1 to 4 that day I went back the next day but the wrong place. Now I can not get no pain meds no where she put down I told her I took my husbands pain pills. I have never done that ever. She ask me if I was out and I said yes but I still had 2 left. that was on a Monday Feburary so I eat advil by the hand full every day and night and at stage 2 in my insurance not good. I will be lucky to be able to make dinner tonight , just tv dinner. Yes I'm seeking a layer UNC hospital day is good at night they treat you like crap no meds they take them from you. I have no pictures of me at all.

profile for Scott H Scott HNorwalk, CTThis ismy fight

It started with an ankle break while playing softball over 20 years ago.The break was traumatic with plates and screws used for the repair.A couple years later the plate and screws were removed.The doctor called it a "search and destroy mission".He told me that I had arthritis in the ankle back then.

Living with a limp and ankle stiffness was accepted and part of life. Until September...

It started with an ankle break while playing softball over 20 years ago.The break was traumatic with plates and screws used for the repair.A couple years later the plate and screws were removed.The doctor called it a "search and destroy mission".He told me that I had arthritis in the ankle back then.

Living with a limp and ankle stiffness was accepted and part of life. Until September 2016, when I just couldn't walk anymore.The doctor said I was bone on bone.An ankle fusion was performed in Oct 2016.During this time i developed arthritis in my left foot and right fingers.After returning to work in March 2017 I noticed that I Still had a lot of trouble walking.

I decided to see a Rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis.He also prescribed medication, which I have been taking for approx 1 month.I have noticed that some of my psoriasis has cleared up and the Arth. Pain is slowly getting easier to manage.I work a highly physical job and hope to return to my previous abilities before the surgery.Thank God for the doctors and the body's amazing ability to heal.

profile for Marcela V Marcela VGilroy, CAThis ismy fight

MY NAME IS MARCELA 10 YEARS AGO I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH OSEOARTRITHIS MY WALK DURING THESE 10 YEARS HAS BEEN PAINFUL I HAD SLEEPING BECAUSE WAKING WAS PAINFUL, AND MY LIFE CHANGED RADICALLY. I had a few more bad days than others but when they were good I loved them 100% with my family MY CHILDREN AND MY GRANDSON AND MY FRIENDS HAVE BEEN TOO HARD THIS TIME NOW I'M LEARNING TO LIVE WITH THIS AND THE...

MY NAME IS MARCELA 10 YEARS AGO I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH OSEOARTRITHIS MY WALK DURING THESE 10 YEARS HAS BEEN PAINFUL I HAD SLEEPING BECAUSE WAKING WAS PAINFUL, AND MY LIFE CHANGED RADICALLY. I had a few more bad days than others but when they were good I loved them 100% with my family MY CHILDREN AND MY GRANDSON AND MY FRIENDS HAVE BEEN TOO HARD THIS TIME NOW I'M LEARNING TO LIVE WITH THIS AND THE SAME WITH ALL THE CARE THAT ME HELP PROTECT ME FROM THIS CHRONIC DISEASE LEARN TO LEAD WITH PAIN IS NOT EASY BUT IT IS POSSIBLE I NEVER TOLD ME HOW MANY PEOPLE OF THIS DISEASE BUT NOW I HAVE LEARNED TO BE MORE COMPASSIVE SOMETIMES GOD TEACHES THAT THERE ARE OTHER SUFFERING HUMAN BEINGS AND FIGHTING I ONLY I HOPE ONE DAY TO FIND HEALING SO THAT NO MORE PEOPLE WILL HAVE OF THIS I PRAY TO GOD FOR ALL IN JOINT PRAYER

profile for Manny K Manny KWest Windsor, NJThis ismy fight

I'm 77 years old now and retired due to the arthritis. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about 10 years ago. I had gone to a rheumatologist because my hands hurt and my back started to hurt more than usual. I had back pain, hip pain,knee pain and shoulder pain for years but always ignored it because I was very active with my exercises. I thought is was just a matter of 'getting old'. He...

I'm 77 years old now and retired due to the arthritis. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about 10 years ago. I had gone to a rheumatologist because my hands hurt and my back started to hurt more than usual. I had back pain, hip pain,knee pain and shoulder pain for years but always ignored it because I was very active with my exercises. I thought is was just a matter of 'getting old'. He ordered blood tests and advised me it was, psoriatic arthritis. He prescribed for me an aggressive approach for medications. Turns out it was the best thing he could have done for me.

When I got home, I told my wife that I would be taking some heavy duty meds now. I don't think it resonated so much with her since I was still walking and doing stuff around the house. In my office I noticed that I was having a difficult time focusing on situations. I still got my work done but when I got home, I just really wanted to go to sleep. Most of my family didn't realize the scope of what arthritis can do to the body. My exercise routine, which I was very proud of since people much younger that I couldn't keep up. Where I used to do curls with 30lb weights I can no longer do any as both wrists just can't manage the weight. My speed walking went down from 30 minutes each morning at 4.2 mph, I can no longer do as my knees just feel like they are going to break. Stretching and just walking became problematic. I also did not realize just how taxing it is on your body when you have arthritis. The body fights and exhausts itself without you knowing it. Fatigue is now a way of life. My wife and family seem to understand now that any given time I would be exhausted for no reason.

Then there is the pain - always the pain. When there is a flare up - the pain can be brutal. Weather effects the problem and things I used to do without thinking, I can no longer do. I have a small little pug who I walk twice a day. He's keeps me in somewhat shape. I take pain pills but not enough to become dependent. That would be a bigger mistake.

The thing I would tell someone today is, never give in to the pain, get the best, most aggressive treatment you possibly can and never give up. There are people much worse than I am. Each day is something of a struggle but I know in my mind, I'm fighting as best I can. That's all I can do, that and walk my little doggie twice a day.
Take care all.

profile for Charles M Charles MBristol , CTThis ismy fight

I've been dealing with RA since 1990. Have received numerous medications, and subsequently diagnosed with non-Hoskins lymphoma. After years of medication changes and reoccurrence of lymphoma biopsies I was treated with a different type of medicine which placed the lymphoma in remission. Treatment for the RA was recommended that had been beneficial. Subsequently a CT scan in the normal course of...

I've been dealing with RA since 1990. Have received numerous medications, and subsequently diagnosed with non-Hoskins lymphoma. After years of medication changes and reoccurrence of lymphoma biopsies I was treated with a different type of medicine which placed the lymphoma in remission. Treatment for the RA was recommended that had been beneficial. Subsequently a CT scan in the normal course of lymphoma follow up detected evidence of pulmonary fibrosis which might have been a side effect of the medicine or other RA treatments. I had to cease all RA treatments except for what I'm taking now and deal with the flair ups.

profile for Judy R Judy RCarson City, NVThis ismy fight

About 5 or 6 years ago, I kept having recurring pain in my shoulder and went to my doctor, who believed it to be Bursitis. After tons of x-rays and finally an MRI, the orthopedic doctor I'd been referred to said that I had arthritis, and it was very advanced for someone my age. He said if he didn't know better, he would've guessed I was in my 80's. I was not even 50 at the time. After...

About 5 or 6 years ago, I kept having recurring pain in my shoulder and went to my doctor, who believed it to be Bursitis. After tons of x-rays and finally an MRI, the orthopedic doctor I'd been referred to said that I had arthritis, and it was very advanced for someone my age. He said if he didn't know better, he would've guessed I was in my 80's. I was not even 50 at the time. After multiple (and expensive) steroid shots and lots and lots of anti-inflammatory drugs, the symptoms gradually decreased. It was kind of downhill from there as the symptoms appeared in other areas (my knees, my right foot, and now my back). It's gotten to the point that I do not know what it feels like to go without pain. I still force myself to move and stay active by walking and working in my garden, but there are days when I just want to give up. I remember that my Dad's father had severe arthritis also, and that he walked with a limp and stooped over. I had no idea that this disease was so debilitating until I developed it. I have trouble walking and find that my balance is very tricky. I also developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot (the same one with severe arthritis). Thankfully, I do not have Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the pain and stiffness I have every day is still severe and I can't imagine what it will be like when I am 80.

profile for Carla S Carla SMUSKOGEE, OKThis ismy fight

Four years ago, I was going to have one more hernia surgery after I had already had 4, this time they were going to use pig skin to go in and make sure it would stick and heal. I woke up in ICU, the surgery had went longer than anticipated and I had to have some of my intestines removed that were strangled. I was in ICU for 4 days with an epidural in my back for pain. When the nurses tried to...

Four years ago, I was going to have one more hernia surgery after I had already had 4, this time they were going to use pig skin to go in and make sure it would stick and heal. I woke up in ICU, the surgery had went longer than anticipated and I had to have some of my intestines removed that were strangled. I was in ICU for 4 days with an epidural in my back for pain. When the nurses tried to move me I was dropped onto my back with the epidural needle still in. 6 weeks later my left leg went completely numb and I could not feel it most days except for the weirdest pain I had ever experienced. I saw drs after drs and no one could seem to help me, I continued to get sicker and still no dr could figure out what was going on. In a last attempt I saw an older dr who saw psoriasis on my elbows and asked how long had I had that, all my life off and on and no one ever seemed concerned. That led to many tests to which I was finally diagnosed with psoriastic arthritis and rheumatology arthritis. The dr said it can lay dormant in your body until you have something that triggers it, the surgery triggered it for me. I am on my fourth biologic and it helps some but most days I am in severe pain. I do see a pain management dr and I do the injections into my back, which help some. I feel like all my medicine at night could be considered a meal. I pray that I find a medicine that will give me my life back...I just got married 7 months ago and I feel so blessed. Now on to better medication to help me.

profile for Fred Z Fred ZDallas, TXI fight forMy Aunt Rita

My Aunt Rita was a character. She was a professional clown and always sent birthday and holiday cards with a joke or a cartoon. She loved to laugh and help other people laugh. This penchant for bringing joy and laughter to others was all the more significant and poignant because Aunt Rita suffered from debilitating and painful rheumatoid arthritis. She kept a bottle that contained the screws and...

My Aunt Rita was a character. She was a professional clown and always sent birthday and holiday cards with a joke or a cartoon. She loved to laugh and help other people laugh. This penchant for bringing joy and laughter to others was all the more significant and poignant because Aunt Rita suffered from debilitating and painful rheumatoid arthritis. She kept a bottle that contained the screws and metal plates that had been removed from her hands and feet after surgeries to give her some relief from her condition. She never complained about her infirmity. She simply carried on as best she could adjusting her life to the limitations imposed by her arthritic condition. She never ceased smiling, even laughing through her pain. Aunt Rita was an inspiration to all who knew her and makes working for the AF especially meaningful to me.

profile for Suzy B Suzy BNorth Miami, FLThis ismy fight

After my 1st child was born, my feet became very painful to stand on. I eventually went to a rheumatologist who said, "Sometimes this happens," and sent me away with nothing more . Over the years my achiness and random joint inflammations continued, always prescribed a variety of NSAIDs. I had been a ballerina and very athletic, so I was used to putting pain out of myway. I eventually sought out...

After my 1st child was born, my feet became very painful to stand on. I eventually went to a rheumatologist who said, "Sometimes this happens," and sent me away with nothing more . Over the years my achiness and random joint inflammations continued, always prescribed a variety of NSAIDs. I had been a ballerina and very athletic, so I was used to putting pain out of myway. I eventually sought out more specialists, but 3 more doctors later, it was always simply diagnosed as "fibromyalgia."

After a double root canal procedure, in 2013, I suddenly found my hands to be numb and painful, with a few of the fingers unable to bend. I'm a massage therapist, so I worked on myself, and blamed it on my neck position during the dental treatments. A few weeks later, feeling even worse, I worried that the root infection had become systemic. I flew up to stay with my daughter and nurse myself back to health, but the pain spread throughout my body until I became confined to the couch or bed. I couldn't turn over in bed or get up without help. I was beginning to think I was dying from some undiagnosed pathogen! I went to a DO, who calmed my nervous system, but the severe pain remained. Again, it was "fibromyalgia."

One day, I happened to notice some odd bumps on my knuckles and arches. I started to wonder if it really could be RA. I researched RA groups in Miami, selected one, and made an appointment for when I got back. The doctor was amazing! He did an exam, bloodwork, X-rays, a bone density test, and an MRI. Afterwards, he came back in and said, "Oh wow! Do you have RA! But it's 0 Factor RA, so you needed the X-rays and MRI to diagnose it, as your bloodwork shows 0 factor!"

He put me on medications and I was feeling amazingly well within a few weeks. Except for flare ups during stressful times, I go about my life and continue to work as a licensed massage therapist. Giving massages is really my own therapy, as it keeps me moving and using my body! I cannot thank Dr. Maldonado enough for all of his dedication, training, patience and kindnesses! Because of him, I am not in a wheelchair or pain medications!

profile for Becky Becky Jackson, MSThis ismy fight

I was four when Mamma Finally took me to the doctor. I had been complaining of my knees for months. The doctor said it was growing pains and I would outgrow it. I'm still waiting 75 years later.

In my teens I remember my back hurt when I made beds. I didn't tell anybody. I kept walking and making beds.

In my early 20s I sat wrapped in a long flannel robe for hours every...

I was four when Mamma Finally took me to the doctor. I had been complaining of my knees for months. The doctor said it was growing pains and I would outgrow it. I'm still waiting 75 years later.

In my teens I remember my back hurt when I made beds. I didn't tell anybody. I kept walking and making beds.

In my early 20s I sat wrapped in a long flannel robe for hours every morning before I could 'get moving'. When my hands started to swell and get stiff the GP gave me medicine and wanted to give me cold. I said No. The meds put me on cloud nine. I'd never felt so good. It scared me I quit taking it.

A few years later the Rheumatologist gave me a new medication 3 times a day for muscle spasms in my back and legs. I didn't like being lethargic and sleepy. I quit taking it.

Another few years, early 30s, a neurosurgeon gave me another medicine for cervical neck spurs. Instant relief.

A neurosurgeon said I needed a fusion for the cervical neck spurs.. osteoporosis. The Radiologist who did the spinal "accidentally" released me from the hospital the day before surgurey. I had a headache for 3 weeks but didn't have surgery.
The next Neurosurgeon said I Autonomic nervous system disorder.

Each treatment seemed to buy me some time.
Heart problems took my mind off pain for awhile.
The GP said I had a stress fracture of the foot.. Xrays.. a podiatrist.. orthotics... more pain... neuropathy.. neurologist.. relief.

Acute Respiratory Distress, "You can die any min" put me in the hospital with what I called 'the disease of the hour'. It was a new disease every hour. Massive doses of medication have become small doses 15 years later. That's when I met a very compassionate Rheumatologist.

She diagnosed Sjogren's Syndrome4 as the cause of the neuropathy. She can't really treat it because of a history of severe cardiac arrhythmias and macular degeneration, but she monitors it and the diabetes. That is treated with insulin twice a day. My A1C stay around 5.5

She says I also have an unnamed disease that turned my body on itself. She also diagnosed Fibromyalgia. She said I had tendonitis of the knees until she reviewed the results of an MRI. She showed me the bone on bone of both knees. She diagnosed severe osteo of toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck, wrists, thumbs and fingers.

My GP diagnosed degenerative disk disease and gave me narcotic pain relief. I keep it handy and refill my script. Weeks may go by between uses then I may need it everyday for weeks.

I had been in a wheelchair for months with a ruptured Achilles tendon then because of my arthritis and...When I got back from Paris with a wobbly wheel on my wheelchair she said I needed an electric scooter. I could have cheered.

It makes such a difference in my life. I can live alone, shop, travel etcI don't have time for more. I need to pack. My cruise starts this weekend!

profile for Kyliegh Kyliegh Akron, OHThis ismy fight

Hello, my name is kyliegh. When I was very young I use to to hold my knees and cry. My mom and dad took me to the doctor and they told them that it was growing pains. Well my mom constantly stayed on my doctor about it. When I was 2 years old I would fall and just cry, I would complain about how bad the pain was. I wouldn't walk, I wouldn't crawl. It took the doctors 4 years to send me to an...

Hello, my name is kyliegh. When I was very young I use to to hold my knees and cry. My mom and dad took me to the doctor and they told them that it was growing pains. Well my mom constantly stayed on my doctor about it. When I was 2 years old I would fall and just cry, I would complain about how bad the pain was. I wouldn't walk, I wouldn't crawl. It took the doctors 4 years to send me to an arthritis doctor. At the age of 6 I was diagnosed with JRA ( juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). I have had hospital trips for the pain, I've been walking and I just fall down. I play soccer to help keep my knees from getting stiff. Some days the pain is so bad I just crawl.

Thank you for listening to my story

profile for Erik L Erik LSeattle, WAThis ismy fight

Why I climb and ski mountains with double knee replacements.

For two decades I couldn't walk without pain (much less climb) because Rheumatoid Arthritis ravaged my joints. I had replacement parts installed (Double Total Knee Replacements 20 years ago - and a few other hardware fixes along the way) and started taking a breakthrough biotech drug that gave me a second chance at a physical...

Why I climb and ski mountains with double knee replacements.

For two decades I couldn't walk without pain (much less climb) because Rheumatoid Arthritis ravaged my joints. I had replacement parts installed (Double Total Knee Replacements 20 years ago - and a few other hardware fixes along the way) and started taking a breakthrough biotech drug that gave me a second chance at a physical life. I have slowly been able to regain strength and stamina over the last 15 years, so it is with particular joy that I can climb again! A good climb is also hard to find - work, health and obligations frequently clog up the calendar. But if I don't make time to climb a priority, when will I? I also don't know if my body will let me climb next year, so I make it a priority to climb now - because I still can.

For the exercise?

As I have recovered and rebuilt my capacity to climb, I have come to love the meditation of breathing. The rhythm and cadence of the struggle to escape from gravity frees my mind from all the gobbledegook that fills it up. I often solve problems and find new ideas in this space. It seems odd to my inner 18 year old self, but I have grown to love the climb just as much as the descent. I can climb uphill all day long, but I can't climb downhill for long or my knees and feet swell up and hurt for days. So hiking is out, but if you put me on skis (or wheels) I can soar down a mountain just fine. And yes, I'm sore regardless, but with a little ice and some downtime I seem to keep gaining durability.

For the View?

When the weather shines, the view from a mountain is extraordinary. That is to say - not your ordinary surroundings. Filled with unexpected and interesting delights. Hazards too. Navigating all the unexpected terrain, weather and unknowns keep my senses alive and make the view more cherished. When the clouds are spitting at you, it makes the climb even more interesting. How do I navigate? When do I turn around? Will it clear up? What piece of clothing do I need to put on? How do I make sure I can get home in one piece? Survival is mandatory - the view is not. Those stormy days are epic in their own way, and make the view on a good day even better. And the stories later around the fire are all the more cozy.

For the Turns?

After all, I started skiing in lace-up leather boots, wooden skis and cable bindings - thanks Mom! Most days the turns are ok - even good. Some days the turns are terrible or its raining and its all you can do to traverse and mountaineer your way down in one piece. Those tough days are best for touring about, rather than hunting for views or turns. But every once in a while - the turns are excellent. Even rarer still, when the sun comes out and the weather is cold it is ecstatic and effortless to motor down the hill with bursts of powder exploding all around you. Giving in to gravity and releasing altitude, but exacting a toll from the mountain in swooping graceful lines. You will never experience a day like this if you don't go and climb the mountain.

My story is really a metaphor. I know that if next year comes and I can't climb and ski in the mountains, I will find some other peaks to explore that don't rely on my cartilage. They will be just as poignant and adventurous - because exploring is what keeps me alive.

#oldguysrockin

info about Erik L
profile for Jean S Jean SMidlothian , VAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with a virus called " Parvo B 19 when I was 53 years old . This virus left me with many auto-immune diseases. I was diagnosed with RA in the same year and Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My Dr put me on new medications. Started feeling better, BUT my stomach was destroyed with ALL the RA meds. I am no longer able to take ANYTHING for my RA , so painful and dibillating...

I was diagnosed with a virus called " Parvo B 19 when I was 53 years old . This virus left me with many auto-immune diseases. I was diagnosed with RA in the same year and Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My Dr put me on new medications. Started feeling better, BUT my stomach was destroyed with ALL the RA meds. I am no longer able to take ANYTHING for my RA , so painful and dibillating fatigue. People can't see your pain & are VERY quick to judge you , which is almost as painful as disease.

profile for Sherri D Sherri DSpringboro, OHThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA three years ago. I had been having issues with fatigue for about a year before that and had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, even after getting that under control, I was still having the same symptoms. I had gained weight that I could not take off. I went for six months sticking to a 1300 calorie or less a day diet. I had stopped drinking pop and...

I was diagnosed with RA three years ago. I had been having issues with fatigue for about a year before that and had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, even after getting that under control, I was still having the same symptoms. I had gained weight that I could not take off. I went for six months sticking to a 1300 calorie or less a day diet. I had stopped drinking pop and was walking regularly. I lost zero pounds. Diagnosis can be a difficult task. The symptoms can be vague and caused by dozens of conditions. When the joints in both of my hands began swelling up and were painful, I was referred to a rheumatologist.

I have tried to explain the extreme exhaustion that comes with having autoimmune disorders by comparing it with how you feel after working a twelve or sixteen hour shift. Or the drained feeling that people get when they are coming down with the flu and all you want to do is sleep. I have slept for thirty-six hours straight before. You miss out on life doing that.

My diagnosis was changed to Psoriatic Arthritis in 2015, due to the way I was having flares in various body parts, right foot, left knee, both hands. I have tried several medications over the past few years. None of them have put me in remission or even slowed the disease down. After trying many different medications I started taking a medication that seemed like it was working in January 2016. Routine labwork after my fourth infusion showed unusually high liver enzymes. I was taken off of all medications immediately. Have you ever had to go off of all of your meds? While having flares?? I was miserable.

After some invasive testing, I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis. This now limits what medications I can take since the majority of meds out there now can have some effect on the liver. It was at this time that I made the difficult decision to quit a job I loved. I felt that I was no longer capable of doing my job safely and to the best of my ability. I would crawl in the door after work and collapse on the couch and cry in pain.

Quitting work was the right decision for me. That didn’t make it any easier though. I have worked full time all of my adult life. Now, I have been forced into a new life. I am used to having a schedule. I like having a schedule. I like predictability in my life. I liked knowing where I was going and what I was doing. Now, I felt like I was no longer in control of my life.

In September 2016, after my liver was under control, I began taking a new medication again with little improvement. In January, I began injections. Again, I showed little improvement. I visited my rheumatologist who has tried so hard to find some combination to give me some relief. He tends to think out loud. We have discussed the possibility of my running out of options. He has always rejected this, firmly believing that there is a combination out there that will work for me; he just has to figure it out. At this visit, as he was thinking out loud, he said the words “running out of options”. While he never said this directly to me, I know it’s a possibility. After some difficulty with the insurance, I began a different type of injections last week. I pray that this will be the one that works.

I face the possibility that no medication will put this into remission. I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself for ten months now. I started writing as a form of therapy. I have a blog, www.quiltingistherapy.blogspot.com. On this blog I discuss how making quilt tops and other crafts helps me deal with all of this. Sometimes, when I am unable to sleep, I will go to my sewing room and start working on something, even if it’s just looking at fabric to see what looks good together. It’s a sort of meditation for me, it relaxes me and helps me deal with any pain I might be having, or the fact that on some nights, I can’t stay comfortable enough to sleep for more than a few hours. I have been making quilts for ten years, most of them I have given to someone. I would like to be able to make a quilt for everyone I love.

Having a chronic health issue is a lot for anyone to deal with, physically and emotionally. When medication cannot get or keep it in remission, permanent damage is being done. Emotionally, you have to deal with a new way of living. Like learning how to accept help when you need it, having to have someone help you get dressed, learning to make the most of the times when you feel okay, or learning to navigate the not so friendly health care system.

I am learning. I ask for help more often. I try to find ways to do more things. I try to find new things to do. I accept that I am not able to do some of the things that I use to that made me happy. Like ride motorcycles, take long walks, target shoot, or swim. I have felt real jealousy when I watch someone ride by, strolling down the sidewalk in the evening, or when talking with friends that I use to work with. I’m not sure that everyone realizes how hard it is to want to work, to love what you do, but not be able to do it. Not to mention that when you are used to earning your own living, it’s difficult to have to rely on someone else. I am fortunate that I have a husband who understands, is loving and supportive. I have a very close, large family who cares about me and I about them. They make sure I don’t forget how much I am loved. I thank the Lord for all of them every day.

I am finding new things that I am able to do. Like everything else I do now, it’s a process in organization to write what I have. The joints in my fingers seem to loosen up around ten in the morning, so, I write until they start to cramp, then stop. If I can, I write more later in the day. I am hoping to save enough money to purchase the Dragon Speech Recognition software. I would be able to get so much more writing done that I could probably write a book!

I am fortunate enough to have a big circle of supportive family and friends. I couldn’t have gotten through all of this without their love and a strong faith that God has a purpose for me. If I can write something that helps one person understand what it is like to go through this, I have done something.

info about Sherri D
profile for Lorianne H Lorianne HMarina Del Rey, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 18 years old. II was experiencing a year of flu systems and being told by doctors that I am stressed from my first year in college. It was a horrible year for me. I had never been sick a day in my life. I knew something was seriously wrong. Every time I would get hot I would get a 103 temperature and rash on my face. Lupus is a chronic illness that...

I was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 18 years old. II was experiencing a year of flu systems and being told by doctors that I am stressed from my first year in college. It was a horrible year for me. I had never been sick a day in my life. I knew something was seriously wrong. Every time I would get hot I would get a 103 temperature and rash on my face. Lupus is a chronic illness that takes over each individuals body in different ways. The one things that we all have in common is the FLARES. When we experience stress and anxiety, we have flares. For me personally, my arthritis is painful and some days is so debilitating to get out of bed. I would with the best doctors to manage each and every system. Significant stomach pain, hair loss, rashes on my face and body, fevers, sensitive to hot and cold, nausea, joint pain, stiffness, etc... I was officially diagnosed by my general practitioner my freshmen year of college. I was okay for about ten years. I had mild lupus. Then in the fall of 1999, I was experiencing a strange issue that every time I would fly, I was extremely stiff and needed a wheel chair. I could not walk.

Come to find out my blood was thickening. I had a stroke in October after a flight and during my best friends wedding. It took me a week to find out. I was miss diagnosed with migraines. Thankfully the clot did not burst. I am still here today. Gradually, I lost my eye sight and suddenly my whole left side went, so I was then take seriously that something was wrong. At 29, I had a stroke. I am blessed to have recovered 100% with a slight deficit. I am still here! In 2006, my chemo treatment, gave me what is called Leukopenia. My white blood cells were suppressed in my bone marrow. I was hospitalized for over 25 days. I experience chronic pain daily and push through to go to work to be of service to my students. No one truly knowing how much pain I am truly in. My lupus and arthritis causes issues with my joints, bones, teeth, digestive process, etc... I watch everything I eat. I only eat what I know my body will let me.

I am concerned about so many things which I share with my doctors.
I am blessed to have so much love and support from friends. My life is definitely much different than I thought it would be.

I meditate, take baths, and take each day one day at a time. I am blessed to live where I work. I have a therapy/service animal who is a joy for my husband and me. I hate prednisone and what is has done to my body and mind. I feel the negativity and fight it every day. I am wiped out after work and can not do much at home. Life is not what I dreamed it would be. My children are my niece, nephews, others peoples kids (I am mom away from home), and I have a furbaby. Lupus made having my own children impossible. It would not be far to my husband, especially on the days I need to sleep. Now I am an orphan, I lost my biggest cheerleaders over the past two years. My mom to pancreatic cancer and my dad to heart disease. I honestly thought I was going to go before them with all my ailments and issues but here I write my story. It is complex and painful, yet I remain as positive as I can be and I fight every day to get up in the morning, go to work and be here for those I love.

My husband is an angel. He is someone that I could not live my life without and does all the housework which is so hard for me to do anymore. He understands most days and is frustrated others. Lupus and arthritis are so hard. He is great explaining that my skin is red all the time. It is my natural pigment due to the arthritis and lupus.

I facilitate a Chronic Illness Group for college students. We are going on year ten for this group. It is a wonderful group of men and women with many different illnesses. We discuss ways to deal with situations, how to remain positive and the items they have in common. How to manage stress management! And How to manage or avoid a flair! The Chronic Illness Group gives me the opportunity to teach others what I have learned and help others teach each other. I share meditation, aromatherapy, guided medication, diet, exercise, drum therapy, pet therapy, and so much more.

Thank you for reading the condensed version of my journey.

profile for Shannon B Shannon BMorgantown, PAThis ismy fight

My story is one that is probably similiar to many others. I didn't always have arthritis. It came on gradually until one day it was debilitating. For years I hopped from one doctor to another looking for the magic pill, the instantaneous cure, the fixable reason for my back pain.

The problem was that I was told something different at each doctor - it was scoliosis, it was spinal...

My story is one that is probably similiar to many others. I didn't always have arthritis. It came on gradually until one day it was debilitating. For years I hopped from one doctor to another looking for the magic pill, the instantaneous cure, the fixable reason for my back pain.

The problem was that I was told something different at each doctor - it was scoliosis, it was spinal stenosis, it was arthritis, it was degenerating discs, it was easily cured, it was incurable. Each doctor had a different diagnosis, and each doctor had a different cure or solution. For 10 years I struggled to find the solution while I put on a happy face for my family. From spinal shots to physical therapy to medication, I tried it all.

It's very hard for others to sympathize with your pain when they don't have any, and sometimes I sensed my family's frustration when I announced I couldn't walk any more, or stand any more, or function any longer while on a vacation or outing. With all that said, I learned many lessons about pain and those who suffer daily with it.

First, I have become more compassionate to those who suffer with any life-long illness - I see their pain and understand, and I feel I have more to offer in sympathy, advice, and a listening ear. Also, I have learned to have more patience with my family and less anger and frustration. They don't understand, and they never will - I can't fault them for that.

Finally, I have learned to let go of trying to find a magic pill for my pain. I will have life-long pain, but I have learned to cope with my limitations and to listen to my body. I have a found an excellent arthritis doctor who listens to me and has given me a new lease on life through medication and other treatments. I finally feel like I have my life back, and I intend to live it to the fullest!

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profile for Barbara T Barbara THouston, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at age 50. I have had it now for 14 years and have had many different medications. Some have worked and some not, unfortunately the ones that work also have the high risk of infections and have had Sepsis 3 times within the last 4 years. The chronic fatigue and pain is now the normal. I continue to work but with the fatigue and no energy, my day ends early...

I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at age 50. I have had it now for 14 years and have had many different medications. Some have worked and some not, unfortunately the ones that work also have the high risk of infections and have had Sepsis 3 times within the last 4 years. The chronic fatigue and pain is now the normal. I continue to work but with the fatigue and no energy, my day ends early evening to rest.

I have started a new med 6 months in and as with all arthritic meds, they all take time to work. I hope to see benefit at 9-12 months. Looking forward to less pain and more energy but until then I manage the issues daily. Thank you to all that understand the issues of Arthritis and the fundraisers. I'm always hopeful that medical breakthroughs will prevail. To all I hope that you have a valued Rheumatologist as your Arthritis champion. My Dr. is my most valuable resource and provides his knowledge and compassion with this debilitating disease.

profile for JT T JT TNorth Quincy, MAThis ismy fight

I have had arthritis of the back for over a year due to a fall I took which landed me on my back on the pavement! I had physical therapy for back and leg pain and then again for back pain. I had an official diagnosis of degenerative disk disease as well as stenonis of the back. The pain is made worse whenever the damp or rainy weather occurs. I am currently taking medication for pain whenever it...

I have had arthritis of the back for over a year due to a fall I took which landed me on my back on the pavement! I had physical therapy for back and leg pain and then again for back pain. I had an official diagnosis of degenerative disk disease as well as stenonis of the back. The pain is made worse whenever the damp or rainy weather occurs. I am currently taking medication for pain whenever it occurs. Standing and walking around at my job was difficult and resulted in me quitting work in 2015.

profile for April A April AFort Worth, TXThis ismy fight

Right before my daughter's third birthday, I found out that I was positive for an autoimmune disease. Lupus runs in my family. So needless to say, I was worried. As a single mother, in my early 20's and with an almost three year old...this was the last thing I needed.

While, I did not have lupus, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. 7 years later I am very fortunate to have a...

Right before my daughter's third birthday, I found out that I was positive for an autoimmune disease. Lupus runs in my family. So needless to say, I was worried. As a single mother, in my early 20's and with an almost three year old...this was the last thing I needed.

While, I did not have lupus, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. 7 years later I am very fortunate to have a wonderful rheumatologist who is leading me down the right path. I have a great family who will help look after my daughter if I am having a bad day. I have a very understanding and sympathetic boyfriend. And I have an amazing daughter who is there to help me around the house when I am too tired or to push me when I have no more energy to finish our hike.

I try and do what is best for me and my family, although some days are harder to get through than others, I know that I am the lucky one.

profile for Erika F Erika FTelford, PAI fight formy daughter

My daughter, Taryn, was the happiest baby on the block! She always had a smile on her face. One morning, when she was just over 1 year old, she woke up different. She wasn't smiling and laughing. She was crying the loudest cries I have ever heard. Her knees were hot to the touch, her legs were swollen, and she couldn't straighten her legs. She wouldn't let me set her down. She insisted I carry...

My daughter, Taryn, was the happiest baby on the block! She always had a smile on her face. One morning, when she was just over 1 year old, she woke up different. She wasn't smiling and laughing. She was crying the loudest cries I have ever heard. Her knees were hot to the touch, her legs were swollen, and she couldn't straighten her legs. She wouldn't let me set her down. She insisted I carry her everywhere. Being a new mother (and a single one at that) I took her to the pediatrician. I was told its nothing to worry about and just take her home.

I am glad I trusted my instincts. I went to the pediatrician every day that week. Each day I was told something else, ranging from growing pains to "she's just a fussy baby". I knew none of what I was told was correct. Friday morning I walked into the office without an appointment. I demanded to see the doctor who owns the practice. He took us into an exam room and went over every appointment she had that week. He called in each of the other doctor's and asked why they hadn't ordered blood work (to rule out Lyme) or images (one doc thought she may have had a sprained joint). No one could provide this kind and empathetic man an answer. He sent us to get blood drawn and xrays taken to see what was ailing my daughter.

By this point, it had been a week of crying (both of us), sleepless nights (both of us), and unanswered questions. That night, the doctor called to tell me what she didn't have (leukemia, lyme, fractures, etc) but he didn't know what it was. He arranged for us to be seen at the hospital the following Monday morning. All the while, I was completely clueless about what was going to happen to my life and that of my daughter. Our whole world was about to be turned upside down. She was just 15 months old. Babies don't get RA. That only happens to old people. We met with the most incredible Rheumatologist, Dr. Burnham. He treated my daughter like one of his own.

Fast forward to present day. Taryn is now 12 years old. She has been on many medications in her short life. She takes folic acid on a daily basis. She has had Uveitis. She has had random joint flares. She has never complained about the lot she was dealt so I won't either. This is the only life she knows and she is living it to the best of her ability with the body that was given to her. She is a fighter. She is strong. She is a teacher. She is a cheerleader. She is a surfer. She doesn't allow limits to be placed on her. She doesn't accept anything less than her best.

I am so glad I advocated for her so long ago. No one else was going to do it for me and I learned at a young age that to be a mother is to make sacrifices for my child. I would do it all again, too, because she is the most valuable thing I have ever had.

profile for Dawn T Dawn TBaltimore, MDThis ismy fight

Hi My name is Dawn. I have osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease in my neck and back, double jointed or swan neck deformity in my hands. I had arthritis all my life. I am 54 now. I could not walk until I was two because of my ankles. I sprained my ankles a lot because my ankles would give out on me. I have been in 4 car accidents. I have gained weight which I am on a weight management program...

Hi My name is Dawn. I have osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease in my neck and back, double jointed or swan neck deformity in my hands. I had arthritis all my life. I am 54 now. I could not walk until I was two because of my ankles. I sprained my ankles a lot because my ankles would give out on me. I have been in 4 car accidents. I have gained weight which I am on a weight management program through my clinic. I am going through depression because of the arthritis and have no energy. I was not a active kid. When I was growing up kids would tease me because of my hands because my fingers would not point straight. I am on anti depressants and pain medication. I have had shots in my neck and back. I have seen pain specialists, chiropractor. I have had physical therapy.

info about Dawn T
profile for Peggy M Peggy MPiqua, OHI fight forMy Dad

I am writing about my father. He had severe arthritis in his back. It began shortly after he married my mother and continued until his passing in 2001. I am one of six children and I remember well that my father could not lift any of us as toddlers due to his arthritis. He went to a clinic in Rochester, MN to seek relief of his pain and back problems. I remember seeing my father lay on the bed...

I am writing about my father. He had severe arthritis in his back. It began shortly after he married my mother and continued until his passing in 2001. I am one of six children and I remember well that my father could not lift any of us as toddlers due to his arthritis. He went to a clinic in Rochester, MN to seek relief of his pain and back problems. I remember seeing my father lay on the bed under a home-made heat lamp which helped his pain somewhat. He was never on disability and worked until he retired at the age of 55. I never knew my father without pain.

With medicines that have been developed now a days, I believe he would have lived a better life now. I truly hope a cure can be found for this disease.

I personally have systemic lupus as does my cousin. I have some pain but nothing like my father had. When I have a bad day, I think of my father and realize I don't have it all that bad after all.

info about Peggy M
profile for Gail B Gail BColumbia, SCThis ismy fight

My story begins around 1987 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I thought the pain would never end, but I had to keep going because I had to take care of my son and me. The pain sometimes was so excruciating that I did not think I would make it another day but I was determined to not let the pain stop me from doing the work that I had to do. Eventually, I took control of my pain by doing a...

My story begins around 1987 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I thought the pain would never end, but I had to keep going because I had to take care of my son and me. The pain sometimes was so excruciating that I did not think I would make it another day but I was determined to not let the pain stop me from doing the work that I had to do. Eventually, I took control of my pain by doing a lot of reading on fibromyalgia and doing the things that were recommended such as getting enough rest, eating the right foods, exercising and taking the medication that was prescribed.

Years later I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis which added to the pain and I learned how to say 'no' when I have to. Today, I still have pain but I deal with it, try to get enough rest, had a right knee replacement, take my medication as prescribed and have doctors who are very understanding.

profile for Rashid P Rashid POakland, CAThis ismy fight

I have degenerative osteoarthritis in my right hip. I was hit by a car in 1973; at the time, I was just bruised, but the doctor in ER warned me, "You might get arthritis in that joint". I didn't bother me till around 1999, when it got sore enough to make me limp after jogging. Then it got to be sore and still all the time.

I have a high tolerance for pain; ex-Marine, did a lot of...

I have degenerative osteoarthritis in my right hip. I was hit by a car in 1973; at the time, I was just bruised, but the doctor in ER warned me, "You might get arthritis in that joint". I didn't bother me till around 1999, when it got sore enough to make me limp after jogging. Then it got to be sore and still all the time.

I have a high tolerance for pain; ex-Marine, did a lot of martial arts for decades; but for the past 15 years, I have not had a pain-free hour. I'm 70 now. I need two canes to walk, and if I walked half a block, I'd have serious trouble walking back. I never had health insurance, and the only treatment any doctor ever suggested is a hip replacement. I've got medicare now, but I have not been able to find out if that would cover the surgery. I take medication every morning, and still, pain keeps me from sleeping a night or two every week.

profile for Lucy F Lucy FIndianapolis, INI fight forMy mother

I do have osteoarthritis (knees, hips, neck and big toe) but I'm writing this to fight for my mother. She was diagnosed with JRA when she was 16. That would have been in 1950. At the time, there wasn't much they could do for her, and so the doctor told her, "Jeannie, you'll be in pain the rest of your life."

I'm sorry to say, she never went back to the doctor except to give birth to...

I do have osteoarthritis (knees, hips, neck and big toe) but I'm writing this to fight for my mother. She was diagnosed with JRA when she was 16. That would have been in 1950. At the time, there wasn't much they could do for her, and so the doctor told her, "Jeannie, you'll be in pain the rest of your life."

I'm sorry to say, she never went back to the doctor except to give birth to me in 1969. She never received the newer medications in the 1970s and 1980s. She never had her knees replaced in the 1990s. Her gnarled little fingers worked every day, as a teller in a local bank.

Her mistrust of the medical profession was based on years of ignorance from our small town doctors. By the time they really could have helped, she just didn't want to get help. She suffered from anxiety as well, I can imagine triggered by her pain.

In her fifties, she needed my help putting on panty hose, clipping her nails, and picking up around the house. In 1991 she passed away at the young age of 56. Looking back on what at the time was dubbed a mystery, I believe she suffered from complications due to the West Nile virus. The virus would have been fatal for her RA compromised immune system. Every pain I feel from my lesser form of arthritis doesn't compare to the pain I feel for the loss of my mother and the relief she could have felt. I'm determined not to follow her example, however, and receive the treatment I can benefit from for my disease. I miss her every day.

profile for Cecilia  M Cecilia MChicago, ILThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis. In my knees. Both knees are bone on bone. I'm currently taking part in a research study getting shots for the arthritis. The medication is helping but I have two concerns. The first is my left hip which has started to hurt and prevents me from standing & walking for more than a few minutes. Being in the study I can't talk any medication for pain other than that which...

I have osteoarthritis. In my knees. Both knees are bone on bone. I'm currently taking part in a research study getting shots for the arthritis. The medication is helping but I have two concerns. The first is my left hip which has started to hurt and prevents me from standing & walking for more than a few minutes. Being in the study I can't talk any medication for pain other than that which is given me, acetaminophen.

My von can is after the study. Will I have to knee replacement and possibly hip replacement. I am healthy otherwise and do t want to be impaired by lack of mobility. Any advice?

profile for Antoinette N Antoinette NSidney, OHThis ismy fight

My name is Antoinette. I am 8 years old and I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. Sometimes I can't play with my friends when I want to because I am too tired and hurting.

Someday I am going to go to heaven and jump on a trampoline and ride a roller coaster. It makes me sad that I am not allowed to do that or be in gymnastics because it could really hurt my back worse.

I have a...

My name is Antoinette. I am 8 years old and I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. Sometimes I can't play with my friends when I want to because I am too tired and hurting.

Someday I am going to go to heaven and jump on a trampoline and ride a roller coaster. It makes me sad that I am not allowed to do that or be in gymnastics because it could really hurt my back worse.

I have a team called Anna's Angels and we raise a lot of money for the Arthritis Foundation. I also talk a lot about my story. I am strong. I am a fighter. I am brave. Most of all, I want a new medicine so I can feel better.

Join my team! Fight with me. https://emalli.wixsite.com/annasangels

profile for Karen O Karen OMeriden, CTThis ismy fight

I developed rheumatoid arthritis 30 years ago this summer. All of a sudden, I was stiff and sore. I was at a conference and could barely get out of the auditorium chair and walked robot-like a long ways to my car. I was 41 yrs. Old and worked full-time.My first of three rheumatologists and I tried many meds.

I developed osteopenia then, osteoporosis. My vertebrae condensed and I lost...

I developed rheumatoid arthritis 30 years ago this summer. All of a sudden, I was stiff and sore. I was at a conference and could barely get out of the auditorium chair and walked robot-like a long ways to my car. I was 41 yrs. Old and worked full-time.My first of three rheumatologists and I tried many meds.

I developed osteopenia then, osteoporosis. My vertebrae condensed and I lost approximately 5" from 4'10 1/2"! . My hands, shoulders and knees show the effects of RAa. I also developed scoliosis and have a significant curvature in my spine, lumbar region, L3 & L4.

I now not only use a cane since my mid-forties but also a walker with wheels and a seat.. I had a spinal stimulator implanted in my back in 2007 which has four programs for distracting me from pain. I had carpel tunnel release on my non-dominant side about 2003. It often accompanies RA.

It is difficult to do ADL. I need help using the kitchen, fastening No clothing, putting on upper clothes due to frozen shoulders. I had rotator cuff repair and a screw inserted in my left one.

RA is one more challenge after a total of 35 surgeries ages. 3 mos.-69. I've had many medical issues and survived each one. I did not feel disabled/handicapped until I obtained my parking permit. I had to admit I am if I need a close parking space. I do not use the terms, defect/defective (such as a bad part on an assembly line), disabled or deformed. They are so negative and focus on inability not ability.

I will keep fighting to be seen as Karen, an independent person since age 5 who can still use her brain and some body parts. I've always fought for independence and for my abilities, to be seen for what I am able to do, not unable. Disability is in the eye of the beholder.

profile for Liz C Liz CAliso Viejo, CAI fight forKids with arthritis and now me!

This will be my fourth year riding my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles (over 525 miles) to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation, otherwise known as the "CCC" ride.

During last year's ride, my neck started to hurt really bad. I was later diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my neck. This condition makes it difficult to work a full day and even drive a car, never mind riding your...

This will be my fourth year riding my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles (over 525 miles) to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation, otherwise known as the "CCC" ride.

During last year's ride, my neck started to hurt really bad. I was later diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my neck. This condition makes it difficult to work a full day and even drive a car, never mind riding your bike for eight hours at a time. I am afraid to get hooked on pain killers, so I am going to try epidural steroid injections before I go to surgery.

I am committed to helping to raise funds to help kids (and adults!) who have RA, which can be a much more serious, life-threatening condition. That being said, there are so many people with OA (what I have), who have their daily lives limited and who can no longer do what they love to do. I don't want to be a statistic. I want to be part of the cure. To help, please visit my page at:
http://ccc17.kintera.org/cichowski

We ride for Carter, who is a brave very young man with juvenile RA. GO TEAM CARTER!

Here in my picture I am with Lily, who is a wonderful young lady who also has RA. Did you know that so many children suffer from this horrible disease? All donations go to help kids like Lily and Carter live their dreams, spend time at special summer camps, and most importantly, to find a cure.

HELP US RIDE FOR A CURE!

profile for Haydee S Haydee SWest Los Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I’ve been living with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since I was 7 years old and have had my fair share of ups and downs with my conditions over the past 50 years. I went from being a little girl who could climb trees and do ballet in one afternoon to being a kid who hung out in the library because it was too painful to move.

JRA a degenerative condition that is literally...

I’ve been living with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since I was 7 years old and have had my fair share of ups and downs with my conditions over the past 50 years. I went from being a little girl who could climb trees and do ballet in one afternoon to being a kid who hung out in the library because it was too painful to move.

JRA a degenerative condition that is literally unpredictable moment to moment. I also live with its arthritis cousin’s osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. (Arthritis is an umbrella term for over 100 conditions BTW)

Imagine living life in pain every day for over 50 years – yes that is my reality. I have had extensive joint damage resulting in surgeries on my jaw in my teens, bilateral foot surgery in my twenties and in bilateral hip replacements in my 40s, next up will be my ankle and knees. In addition to joint pain, swelling and stiffness I also deal with fatigue – the kind of fatigue that has me never ever wake up feeling well rested or I suddenly feel like my battery has been removed. I live with concerns that my condition will start adversely impact my organs like my eyes, lungs and heart. Yup arthritis doesn’t just damage joints!

My current cocktail of medications are very costly. Exercising can be challenging yet I love deep-water exercise, and have been weight training for 9 months to help strengthen my muscles. Additionally I use complimentary/alternative modalities to keep me moving and grooving. I live with concerns how my chronic conditions will impact not only my health but also my financial future. It’s expensive to be a professional patient and have a healthcare team of doctors, physical therapists that you see on a regular basis.

I am riding the wave of being well managed right now and am grateful to be working full time in a job I love by the way! But I also have that insidious little concern at the back of my mind wondering when the other shoe is going to drop - when will arthritis kick me in backside again and force me back onto disability/medical retirement.

While living with arthritis certainly can be challenging, I do not consider myself a victim or a sufferer. I am someone who is living with arthritis. I am positive, I look for the silver linings and find joy in simple things and love laughter. Without arthritis I wouldn’t have meet the many incredible people who I call friends. I am fortunate to be part of a community of people who are eager to help each other on the rollercoaster of life with arthritis and together we are charting a course to be connected, educated, empowered and champions of Yes!

profile for Denise L Denise LPhoenix, AZThis ismy fight

My name is Denise I am in my50s.

My husband has to take care of me. He bathes me, cooks for me. My life has changed totally because of RA and Lupus. I was diagnosed in 04. It took over 10 years to find out what I had wrong with me.

Between Lupus and RA my walking is affected, my joints, muscles are affected, my gallbladder came out. My liver is affected, from Lupus and...

My name is Denise I am in my50s.

My husband has to take care of me. He bathes me, cooks for me. My life has changed totally because of RA and Lupus. I was diagnosed in 04. It took over 10 years to find out what I had wrong with me.

Between Lupus and RA my walking is affected, my joints, muscles are affected, my gallbladder came out. My liver is affected, from Lupus and RA. The pain effects the way I live my life. It took my job away. I am in a wheel chair, I am home bound. I have not been able to work since my 30s.

Lupus and RA has not taken the love that I have for God, or for people, or for life. It has not taken my soul.

We need a cure for all forms of arthritis, Lupus is a form of arthritis. It can affect anyone. Lupus is an AutoImmune disease, it is like your allergic to yourself. It is like a war is going on inside yourself. Not everyone who has Lupus and RA or any other form of arthritis looks sick. Many of us don't.

Many of us are not able to work because of these illnesses. It can happen to anyone, it can kill.

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT AGE YOU ARE, OR IF YOU ARE MALE OR FEMALE. BABY OR ADULT. WE NEED A CURE NOW. LUPUS TAKES LIVES AWAY. LUPUS IS REAL. WE NEED A CURE FOR ALL FORMS OF ARTHRITIS.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

info about Denise L
profile for Susan W Susan WFalls Creek, PAThis ismy fight

I am a 52 year old woman. I was first diagnosed with Arthritis in my neck at the age of 26. When I was 41 I had some Arthritis in my lower back. Still I was able to pass medical & fitness tests for State Corrections Officer. I was working one day and found a tick on myself. Ten days later I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Since then my Arthritis has skyrocketed throughout my body. It has gotten...

I am a 52 year old woman. I was first diagnosed with Arthritis in my neck at the age of 26. When I was 41 I had some Arthritis in my lower back. Still I was able to pass medical & fitness tests for State Corrections Officer. I was working one day and found a tick on myself. Ten days later I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Since then my Arthritis has skyrocketed throughout my body. It has gotten to the point where I need surgery on my hip, neck, lower back, & possibly my tailbone. I went from 41 to 81 yrs old in just a few short years.

When I wake up I am so stiff I need an hour, medication, & sometimes a heating pad just to be able to move around the house normally. On bad days I don't go out. Sometimes I need a cane. The pain is just excruciating at times.
I have a little hope that they will come up with a cure in my lifetime, God willing.
I'm terrified when I think of how Arthritis will affect me 10 years from now...
Thank you for letting me share & vent.

profile for Susan Susan Nashua, NHThis ismy fight

This is our fight. I have succumbed to arthritis due to an industrial accident where a colleague assisting with a heavy lift directive became injured during that lift. I was left holding this heavy stereo surroundsound system at full extension now weighing 300 lbs. (how weight increases the further forward/upward itvis placed). The shelf used (top shelf) even buckled trying to support this...

This is our fight. I have succumbed to arthritis due to an industrial accident where a colleague assisting with a heavy lift directive became injured during that lift. I was left holding this heavy stereo surroundsound system at full extension now weighing 300 lbs. (how weight increases the further forward/upward itvis placed). The shelf used (top shelf) even buckled trying to support this heavy delivery?

My spine is now impinged with arthritic pressure at all three affected discs. Sjogren syndrone has even crept into the equation. I am now permanently disabled, crippled and seeking medical miracles. Thank you for your research.

profile for Marisol H Marisol HMiami, FLI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter was diagnosed at eight years old. The Arthritis began in her eyes and then it was diagnosed in her lower back and throughout her body, after she couldn't walk. It was heartbreaking to see her not be able to keep up with her brother at tag or with her friends any more and worse to hear her say it and to say "I just want to be normal again".

I couldn't take this away like I...

My daughter was diagnosed at eight years old. The Arthritis began in her eyes and then it was diagnosed in her lower back and throughout her body, after she couldn't walk. It was heartbreaking to see her not be able to keep up with her brother at tag or with her friends any more and worse to hear her say it and to say "I just want to be normal again".

I couldn't take this away like I could a fever nor was it going to go away on its own, like the flu. I feared for her future and would hear things like "you have to stay with her, you can't do that to the counselor" at camp and "is it contagious?" from other moms.

The Arthritis Foundation was a place I didn't know we needed. We discovered a family retreat where there was no judgement, only love and acceptance, and at The Walk, my daughter discovered a whole sorority was behind her as AOPPI helps her cause. I have felt empowered as I help raise awareness and funds to do something about my daughter's Arthritis.

profile for Jane B Jane BAurora, COThis ismy fight

In my 20's I noticed an increase in knee joint noise when going up and down stairs. In my 40's the diagnosis was osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. At 54 years of age, I've had 3 surgeries on my feet (including bone fusions and a graft) in the big toe joints and hammer toes, Have had numerous cortisone injections including my neck. The neck has degenerative OA and bulging discs. An oblation of the...

In my 20's I noticed an increase in knee joint noise when going up and down stairs. In my 40's the diagnosis was osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. At 54 years of age, I've had 3 surgeries on my feet (including bone fusions and a graft) in the big toe joints and hammer toes, Have had numerous cortisone injections including my neck. The neck has degenerative OA and bulging discs. An oblation of the nerves in the neck helped for quite some time but the problem is now returned and has caused arm and finger problems. More surgeries: I am now recovering from my second knee replacement. Both have been successful and iit's exciting to go up and down stairs and do squats for the first time in years! I'm on several medications for inflammation and pain, and supplements. Therapeutic massage, PT, and walking, along with my arthritis specialists and PCP support. My family continues to support me 100%!

profile for Paula V Paula VOzone Park, NYThis ismy fight

My name is Paula and I am 23 years old. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 11. I was just starting middle school, so it was definitely a hard time starting a new school and dealing with an illness I couldn’t grasp on.

As a child, I was always active. I have played multiple sports from basketball, karate, swimming, and dance. I was constantly running...

My name is Paula and I am 23 years old. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 11. I was just starting middle school, so it was definitely a hard time starting a new school and dealing with an illness I couldn’t grasp on.

As a child, I was always active. I have played multiple sports from basketball, karate, swimming, and dance. I was constantly running around and was always super active. I started feeling symptoms when my right ankle started bothering me while playing a sport. My mother took me to the doctor and took X-rays and the pediatrician said I must have sprained my ankle and that I should take it easy with physical activities for a while.

Once I was cleared to play sports again, I was active once again as if my ankle never bothered me. A little down the line, my ankle started bothering me again but since I knew it was because I had sprained it, I ignored it. A few months later, I was playing around with my little brother and by accident, he hit my hand and my knuckles swelled up really bad. I remember feeling the pain when he hit it and it was unbearable. I ran to my mom and showed her and she worried right away. We went to the pediatrician and she asked me how I hurt my hand and I told her.

Once I was done, she asked me how my ankle was doing and I told her that it would still hurt. She immediately said I needed to get blood work done and told my mom and I she was referring us to the hospital in order to get more test done because it just seemed weird that my little brother could've caused such an injury when he's 4 years younger than me. We went to the hospital and they looked over the blood work that was taken by the pediatrician and examined me. They examined my entire body from head to toe. I had no idea why but I did everything the doctor asked me to.

Once she finished, she told my mother that I had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and that it had to be treated immediately. My mom was super anxious and worried and started asking questions regarding what exactly did I have. The doctor was explaining to my mom, who was in tears what it was. Not knowing what was going on, I started to worry and started crying because I just didn't understand and the pain was really bad after everything that doctor did to examine me. The doctor was able to finally calm my mom down and all my mom did was hold me while the doctor explained to me what I had. At that age, all I understood was that I had an illness that caused a lot of pain if it wasn't treated. They explained to me that I would be put on medication and that I am very lucky to have gone to them when I did because if I would’ve taken a month longer, I would’ve been in a wheelchair. The doctor told me that the illness was progressing very fast and that if I wanted to play any sports again, I would have to take all my medication every single day.

I agreed and from that day forward it was a few rough months to get used to my new lifestyle. I was on many medications. That year I had the most depressing holidays because I wasn’t able to walk or do anything.

My Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis made me change the way I lived my life. I never had a normal childhood because I was very limited on what I was capable of doing especially when it came to everyday tasks. I wasn't able to do things like shower on my own, put my clothes on, walk, grab a spoon and lifting my arm to reach my mouth, etc. and had my parents do everything for me. It was never easy.

As the years went by, I learned how to try my best to live a normal life. It took me a couple of years to get back on playing any sport. It's hard for people to understand that I have an illness. 11 years later, I am doing everything I want to do. I played sports and did many activities in high school and now being a college student, I try my best to stay active the best way I can.

Staying active has helped me manage my RA and I do not let it stop me. There are times where I do get upset because I get flares every now and then, but I do not let it get to me. It has been a rough struggle, but I have managed to go through all the flare ups I’ve had to having no pain at all for a long time. I was in remission for about a year and I have been able to lower most of my medication. I’m down to taking my medication every other week. I’ve been through a lot to get to where I am right now, but I tried my best not to lose hope and not give up.

Last month, I was given bad news that I was no longer in remission. I was in really bad pain and turns out that I was gaining more deformity in my bones. I had to start from the beginning trying to see what medication would work. After 12 years of being on my previous medication, it was no longer helping me and had to start on a new one. It has been a rough few weeks as my body adjusts to this new change, but I know with time I will feel better and be able to do all the things I was able to do.

As the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis Young Adult Honoree for Long Island New York, I am very excited to raise awareness of my disease and help others understand the importance of early diagnosis. I hope to raise all the money I can to help find a cure for these illnesses because no child or adult deserves to live their lives dealing with pain. I am extremely honored to have been chosen and I will do my best to get many people to support the Arthritis Foundation.

profile for Brianna  Brianna E, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with J.R.A when I was five years old, over time as I grew the name changed to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, I have gone through many challenges that I have to face head on, but having this has changed my perspective on life. I look at it as something positive even when I have to keep it under control. Arthritis is very unique to have, I understand on trying different medicines to...

I was diagnosed with J.R.A when I was five years old, over time as I grew the name changed to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, I have gone through many challenges that I have to face head on, but having this has changed my perspective on life. I look at it as something positive even when I have to keep it under control. Arthritis is very unique to have, I understand on trying different medicines to see what will really work for me that I already tried at a very young age and some did work and through the process I found myself being allergic to them, so always look at the affects of these medicines. The advice I would give you is, stay in good communication with your Rheumatologist and do your research as well too see what can help with lowering your inflammation rate. I understand fully, if nobody gets you because they don't understand your in pain or they think arthritis is "nothing" when actually it is something important that you yourself are always going to have to take care of, the reason why I say this is because I was once told that arthritis is "nothing", that fuels me the criticism that I get told when they don't know what goes on behind the scenes of my battle with arthritis. Sharing my story that this is my fight, my battle, my win. Always believe that one day you will be in remission.

profile for Janet Janet Oakland, CAThis ismy fight

I have fibromyalgia diagnosed in 1994 and osteoarthritis diagnosed in 2005. I am on medication to relieve the pain but by the first of this year inflammation in my legs and feet was so horrible I was brought to tears every evening. I went searching on the internet for help to relieve inflammation. Putting together my own plan I totally eliminated all sugar, all grains, all dairy, all legumes, all...

I have fibromyalgia diagnosed in 1994 and osteoarthritis diagnosed in 2005. I am on medication to relieve the pain but by the first of this year inflammation in my legs and feet was so horrible I was brought to tears every evening. I went searching on the internet for help to relieve inflammation. Putting together my own plan I totally eliminated all sugar, all grains, all dairy, all legumes, all processed foods. All meant all. I started on January 4 and on January 8 I noticed I did not have any identifiable inflammation burning sensations. I thought it was impossible that it was gone since I had lived with it for so long. However, since January 8 I have had not one bit of inflammation. Logically I don't think every one of those eliminated foods was causing the inflammation so I have begun slowly adding back in some foods to my diet. In limited small amounts I am using butter, popcorn, lentils. I plan to keep slowly adding foods approved by the Arthritis Foundation unless I experience inflammation again. In addition to eliminating these items I have greatly increased my intake of dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, fish. I personally feel (no scientific documentation) that sugar was my main culprit so I have had absolutely no problem eliminating it. And you have to read labels carefully because you would be surprised at things that have sugar in them. It appears I may be inflammation free and I tell my story every chance I have.

profile for Courtney Courtney Ann Arbor, MIThis ismy fight

My name is Courtney. I'm 8 years old. I had to say no to soccer and tennis for 2 summers because of my arthritis. This year I said I wasn't giving up. I decided to play soccer again when I'm on the field I pretend I don't have arthritis and that my pain is from soccer and I can play the whole game with a few breaks. My tips are to stay active and use make believe to get through the pain and you...

My name is Courtney. I'm 8 years old. I had to say no to soccer and tennis for 2 summers because of my arthritis. This year I said I wasn't giving up. I decided to play soccer again when I'm on the field I pretend I don't have arthritis and that my pain is from soccer and I can play the whole game with a few breaks. My tips are to stay active and use make believe to get through the pain and you will also have fun. I'm most proud that I was able to speak to the senators and that I scored my very first ever soccer goal! God gives me the most strength and hope, but my family and Doctor does too. I hope every kid with arthritis can try something this year that they gave up and get to be a normal kid for a day. We should never let arthritis win, we can beat it.

profile for Cynthia L Cynthia LSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

I've had to say "no" to many people who've had a claim on my time to help at things I can no longer due to the arthritis pain. I've overcome the limitations of not being able to do as much by doing only what I can without feeling "guilty" because I said no. My tip/tricks for living better with arthritis is to pace yourself and know your "own" limitations and it's definitely ok for you to say "no"...

I've had to say "no" to many people who've had a claim on my time to help at things I can no longer due to the arthritis pain. I've overcome the limitations of not being able to do as much by doing only what I can without feeling "guilty" because I said no. My tip/tricks for living better with arthritis is to pace yourself and know your "own" limitations and it's definitely ok for you to say "no" when you need to. Keep a positive attitude as much as you can. Ask for help when you need it. I'm proud of my self for setting healthier boundaries with not only others and myself. I receive strength and hope when I see stories or hear testimonies of children with Juvenile Arthritis who've overcome physical challenges (multiple surgeries) and still have a smile on their faces and positive attitudes. That's what keeps me humble and encouraged to keep on keeping on despite my own challenges.

profile for lani w (Age 46) lani w (Age 46)kailua-kona, HIThis ismy fight

It all started after I had meniscus surgery on rt knee - after several Sessions of PT, I was told I had bad
Arthritis-- I'm doing exercises, and use different types of pain cream . Also had shots hat seems to be helping - it's been about 2 months -- trying support socks while I work --- still have minor pain , stiffness as well -- but better after 2nd shot..

profile for Betty Jean P Betty Jean PCheyenne, WYThis ismy fight

I was in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I am 78 now and I was about 20 when I got the diagnosis. That looks like 58 years that I've had this disease. I have had many drugs and operations to keep as independent as I can. I have raised two children mostly on my own and completed my bachelor's degree and Master’s Degree during this painful period. I taught special...

I was in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I am 78 now and I was about 20 when I got the diagnosis. That looks like 58 years that I've had this disease. I have had many drugs and operations to keep as independent as I can. I have raised two children mostly on my own and completed my bachelor's degree and Master’s Degree during this painful period. I taught special education, primarily English, for 19 years. I've written books about my three service dogs to help people understand how a service dog can help them live independently.

Recently, I broke my femur bone and I have suffered for a year. I am unable to walk safely without a walker. I haven't been driving very much at all this past year and walking is difficult even with a walker. I had three surgeries starting in April of last year, 2016. I have lots of help with housekeepers and a personal assistant, my service dog and so many people I can't name have assisted me to live as independently as I can. I call them my angels. People step up to help me without even being asked and it's almost a miracle. I am currently writing my life story. I belong to several groups, but I am going to downsize from the Cowgirl group and my investment group. I love my book group and the Friendship force. I have traveled extensively with the friendship force to many countries and I hope I can continue to do that. I will have to have help though.

It is interesting that while I was pregnant, my arthritis pain almost disappeared. I felt like I was walking on clouds; I was so happy. Many other health problems have happened after I was first diagnosed: osteoporosis, both shoulders have torn rotator cuffs, my right elbow is, as the doctor informed me last week, worn out. I am right-handed, too. I have lots of pain everywhere: shoulders, neck, back, feet, hands, elbows, knees and muscles. Both my vision and hearing seemed to be deteriorating, too. After I was diagnosed, I learned about the selfless help and advice people offer about their situation and how they manage. It has changed my life in a positive way.

profile for Cathy P Cathy PTwin City, GAThis ismy fight

I fight for own sanity. I fight for my precious, understanding man in my life. I fight for my precious momma who has Alzheimer's. I fight for my grandchildren. I fight for me ...it is a hard hitting very debilitating fight but I have the Lord Jesus Christ in my corner and I will not stop fighting!

profile for Stacey K Stacey KSAINT MARYS, PAThis ismy fight

I am at the beginning of my story. My name is Stacey and I was diagnosed with RA on May 26, 2017. I am a wife to an amazing husband, mental health worker and a mother to the most amazing little girls (and they are twins)!

My symptoms of arthritis increased after having the twins and have progressively become worse. My hands, feet, and hands are the most affected. When I experience...

I am at the beginning of my story. My name is Stacey and I was diagnosed with RA on May 26, 2017. I am a wife to an amazing husband, mental health worker and a mother to the most amazing little girls (and they are twins)!

My symptoms of arthritis increased after having the twins and have progressively become worse. My hands, feet, and hands are the most affected. When I experience flare ups they are debilitating.

Based on my current symptoms my rheumatology doctor confirmed I have RA. Which sucks as a mother of two active 3-year-olds. But my prognosis is good given the early stages of my disease. I just started a new drug for inflammation. My bloodwork shows an elevated sed rate. To show how fast my disease is progressing...6 months ago all my bloodwork including my sed rate came back normal. I am still waiting on my other bloodwork results and I go back to my doctor June 14. We will discuss medication regimens at that appointment. I am strong and will get through!

profile for Sheri  R Sheri RPort Charlotte , FLThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA right after I had a liver transplant a little over 10 years ago. It runs all through my family. My daughter is disabled because of it and our 2 sons have RA. So, my family shares the compassion!We laugh and joke through the pain! A positive attitude goes a long way!

We are raising our 2 granddaughters, ages 6 & 10, so it's quite a challenge when I have a flare...

I was diagnosed with RA right after I had a liver transplant a little over 10 years ago. It runs all through my family. My daughter is disabled because of it and our 2 sons have RA. So, my family shares the compassion!We laugh and joke through the pain! A positive attitude goes a long way!

We are raising our 2 granddaughters, ages 6 & 10, so it's quite a challenge when I have a flare up. One is special needs. I am 70, and, with God's help, I can what I have to do. I also have a most patient, loving, and kind husband♥️. He picks up the load when I have an exceptionally bad day.

All I pray for is for people to understand---the pain is very real, the fatigue is real, and even the chills on bad days are real! There's no other way to explain it. My heart and prayers go out to all the victims of arthritis.

profile for Theresa R Theresa RWinter haven , FLThis ismy fight

I am 43 i been suffering since 30 i work in a freezer so its getting. Much wores real. fast i dont have a arthritis doctor. I getting hard lumps on or in between jointsim afraid im going to loose my hands its sad and very pain full. And can't get pain meds to help because they thing every body is a drug addict i suffer and cry daily

profile for Judy T Judy TDallas, TXThis ismy fight

In 2005 after a car accident I was told I had “post traumatic arthritis” in my ankles, they ached all the time but especially at night. Over time the pain eased and I was able to move on. In 2012 I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thumbs, at times they just ache even when I’m not doing anything, forget opening a jar or even a door.

In 2016 after years of neck pain (going...

In 2005 after a car accident I was told I had “post traumatic arthritis” in my ankles, they ached all the time but especially at night. Over time the pain eased and I was able to move on. In 2012 I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thumbs, at times they just ache even when I’m not doing anything, forget opening a jar or even a door.

In 2016 after years of neck pain (going back to whiplash in 1994) I was diagnosed with severe arthritis and bone spurs in my neck, for months I couldn’t even walk across a room without being in extreme pain. I went through a lot of physical therapy and several different pain medications, they all helped but only temporarily and I just don’t like pain medication.

In December 2016 I received an epidural injection in my neck and that has helped a lot along with keeping up with my stretching exercises. Every day I use a topical anti-inflammatory and when the pain is too bad I use a prescription anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer, and/or a nerve blocker. I’ve worked out at gym 5-7 times a week for the past 10 years but I can no longer lift any weights, nor can I run or even move too fast on the elliptical, as each of those causes severe neck pain. I can’t turn my head to the right and I it’s too painful to tilt my head forward for more than a few seconds so I can no longer sit and read a book. Oftentimes co-worker will comment about me having a heating pad on my neck and act surprised that my neck “still” bothers me, they just don’t get it that arthritis doesn’t go away.

profile for Dremma H Dremma HLone oak, TXThis ismy fight

I fight everyday to try and have good days, but it is getting harder. Dx psoriatic art. Aug. 2015 after having symptoms for over 2 years or so. I'm almost 61 now and my big regret is not doing things I used to do with my hubby and grandson. The fatigue is horrible and I have been waiting for disability over 3 years. I doubt very seriously I will receive it. So the financial struggles continue. ...

I fight everyday to try and have good days, but it is getting harder. Dx psoriatic art. Aug. 2015 after having symptoms for over 2 years or so. I'm almost 61 now and my big regret is not doing things I used to do with my hubby and grandson. The fatigue is horrible and I have been waiting for disability over 3 years. I doubt very seriously I will receive it. So the financial struggles continue. It is a wake up everyday and you don't know what might hurt!! But thank heavens I wake up and i will keep fighting.

profile for Jessica S Jessica SIthaca, NYThis ismy fight

I have been living with RA and Lupus for 21 years. At age 32 I had to have my left shoulder replaced due to severe damage from the diseases. Overall, I have had 7 surgeries on my joints in the past 20 years. I eat well, exercise, and focus on persevering everyday. I work full-time and am pursuing an advanced graduate level degree (MFA). I was dealt a crappy genetic hand and have worked hard for...

I have been living with RA and Lupus for 21 years. At age 32 I had to have my left shoulder replaced due to severe damage from the diseases. Overall, I have had 7 surgeries on my joints in the past 20 years. I eat well, exercise, and focus on persevering everyday. I work full-time and am pursuing an advanced graduate level degree (MFA). I was dealt a crappy genetic hand and have worked hard for everything I have in life. It is a daily fight. I am an artist and my work deals with overcoming the disease. There is no cure, but there is hope.

profile for Geralyn M Geralyn MFreehold, NJThis ismy fight

I have been suffering for 10 years I have raynauds and was,seeing a rheumatologist in nj I kept telling him something was,wrong my fingers,swelled so much I couldn't bend them the Dr kept telling me I'm fine it's only raynauds all my blood test were normal so I did my own research and found another rheumatologist in nyc got an appt with him and he confirmed I have rheumatoid arthritis he...

I have been suffering for 10 years I have raynauds and was,seeing a rheumatologist in nj I kept telling him something was,wrong my fingers,swelled so much I couldn't bend them the Dr kept telling me I'm fine it's only raynauds all my blood test were normal so I did my own research and found another rheumatologist in nyc got an appt with him and he confirmed I have rheumatoid arthritis he tried me on medication which didn't help then he tried a med which killed my stomach then he finally put me on a biologic infusion who h I get every 8 weeks my swelling went down but still have chronic fatigue and little thing like hold a toothbrush are a struggle and it hurts, when people think I'm lazy they don't understand what I go through every day

profile for Camryn M Camryn MHueytown, AKThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 5 years old. All of my joints hurt and it was hard to walk. I started two types of medication. I had to take a lot of steroids. I I did not like doing lab work and getting shots every week but it made me feel better. I am almost 11 and I still take my shots every week and I get infusions too. I am finishing my 8th year of dance and I am super involved...

I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 5 years old. All of my joints hurt and it was hard to walk. I started two types of medication. I had to take a lot of steroids. I I did not like doing lab work and getting shots every week but it made me feel better. I am almost 11 and I still take my shots every week and I get infusions too. I am finishing my 8th year of dance and I am super involved with school teams and church. I pray for a cure!

profile for Kim M Kim MShepherd, MTThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 26-years old. I had been very athletic - a martial artist, a gymnast, and an all around active, outdoorsy kind of person. So naturally, when the ache started in all my fingers virtually overnight, I assumed I had injured myself. When the injury didn't get better I took a friend's advice and went to see a Rheumatologist. He drew some blood and...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 26-years old. I had been very athletic - a martial artist, a gymnast, and an all around active, outdoorsy kind of person. So naturally, when the ache started in all my fingers virtually overnight, I assumed I had injured myself. When the injury didn't get better I took a friend's advice and went to see a Rheumatologist. He drew some blood and did a physical exam and voila, my life changing diagnosis. The pain and stiffness, the fever and exhaustion, it all took over very quickly. I had to give up the active lifestyle I had once lead because my body just couldn't do it anymore, and that was probably the most devastating part for me. The loss. The loss of the lifestyle I loved, the activities I had built my life around. The thought that I could never quite be what I once had been.

Meanwhile, 21-years later, I have lost so much more. I had to give up belly dancing with an area troupe because it was becoming far too difficult to perform in public. The pace we kept, some of the choreography we did, it was just too much. My body was slowly getting worse and wasn't able to keep up anymore. My performances were weak and stiff because my range of motion was slipping away, and there was nothing I could do about it. Some days I couldn't even make myself move to go to a show. My body felt like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat to within an inch of my life. That's the only way I can think of to describe the immobilizing pain that sometimes occurs with this disease. It was getting to the point that I wanted quality of life over quantity. Thankfully, my doctor found a medicine that works pretty well for me. It keeps me moving, but the damage done to my joints after 21-years of very active RA keep me limited.

As if all of that wasn't enough, I recently tested positive for Lupus, Hashimoto's Disease, and am waiting to find out if my purple toes with ulcerations are the result of Vasculitis or something else. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a cruel joke to those of us suffering with it. You never quite know what's around the next corner, or if you'll have energy or enough relief from the pain tomorrow to do everything you planned. Life is challenging for all of us who suffer, but I think through all of it we build strength. We learn how to fight, how to survive, and how to adapt. We have no other choice.

profile for Jeanne A Jeanne ABillings, MTThis ismy fight

I am 64 and retired from my job of work in a Group Home for 2 years due to Severe Osteoarthritis in my hips and knees. I just recently had hip surgery on both sides with complete joint replacement. Am doing physical therapy and trying to heal. Am living on SSDI and is a challenge. It is difficult being retired and not working after being a "Superwoman" in the past. I am due to have updated blood...

I am 64 and retired from my job of work in a Group Home for 2 years due to Severe Osteoarthritis in my hips and knees. I just recently had hip surgery on both sides with complete joint replacement. Am doing physical therapy and trying to heal. Am living on SSDI and is a challenge. It is difficult being retired and not working after being a "Superwoman" in the past. I am due to have updated blood work as I tested positive for Rheumatoid Factor in the past. All the adjustments that go along with arthritis including walker, canes, fatigue, daily tiredness are also a challenge. I have gone through periods of friends and family, peers at work not believing my needed adjustments. My sister and son didn't believe until going to Orthopedist with me, seeing xrays with spurs in hips. After I had surgeries they believed me. Most of that was my own fault as I worked like a Superwoman until I dropped in past. I appreciate anyone that can identify and understand.

profile for Marcia W Marcia WGrand Rapids, MIThis ismy fight

I've had RA for well over 30 years. I have tried almost every medication and biologic out there injection and IV. I would get relief and then slowly become resistant to the meds. I recently became of Medicare age and lost funding for the biologics. I continue with low dose medication but knew I had to do something more. Most drugs were out of my price range so I took a different route. I gave up...

I've had RA for well over 30 years. I have tried almost every medication and biologic out there injection and IV. I would get relief and then slowly become resistant to the meds. I recently became of Medicare age and lost funding for the biologics. I continue with low dose medication but knew I had to do something more. Most drugs were out of my price range so I took a different route. I gave up sugar, gluten and dairy. I'm not sure why but it was easier than I thought it would be. For that I'm very greatful!! I lost 30 pounds in three months and my inflammation was drastically reduced!! I haven't felt this good in many many years. I try to eat everything organic or as much as my budget can afford. I'm so thankful this has worked!!!!

profile for David P David PAyer, MAThis ismy fight

I have had agravating bouts with OsteoArthritis over the years, but in 2015 it took a turn. At 57 my Dr. Said to lose some weight so I started running... OK jogging, and when along for 6 weeks and my left knee started yelling at me. Well long story short running is no longer an option with the OA and Bone Spurs... Then in the fall right shoulder tendon damage by repetitive motion over a bone spur...

I have had agravating bouts with OsteoArthritis over the years, but in 2015 it took a turn. At 57 my Dr. Said to lose some weight so I started running... OK jogging, and when along for 6 weeks and my left knee started yelling at me. Well long story short running is no longer an option with the OA and Bone Spurs... Then in the fall right shoulder tendon damage by repetitive motion over a bone spur lead to a complete rotator cuff tear and surgery, etc... So fast forward to now and I am 60 and moving a lot slower that ever... Oh, and putting on more weight, sorry Dr...

profile for Marge D Marge DBrooklyn, NYThis ismy fight

At 50, 3 years ago, I injured my knee during exercise (squats) -- I'm a large sized woman, 5' 9" and heavy. I didn't let it heal, and it developed into arthritis. I've gone through physical therapy twice, worked with a personal trainer at the gym for a number of sessions, and have seen my mobility shrink over the last 2 years. I have a daily struggle taking a subway train and 2 buses to work and...

At 50, 3 years ago, I injured my knee during exercise (squats) -- I'm a large sized woman, 5' 9" and heavy. I didn't let it heal, and it developed into arthritis. I've gone through physical therapy twice, worked with a personal trainer at the gym for a number of sessions, and have seen my mobility shrink over the last 2 years. I have a daily struggle taking a subway train and 2 buses to work and home 5 days a week. Not that many years ago I was running up and down the subway stairs, today I take them one step at a time most days. Brooklyn is a walking town, my partner and I don't even own a car. We live near a large park, and used to walk there and to the local Botanic Garden many weekends. We haven't gone in a couple of years to the Garden, and very rarely to the park. I feel like it's unfair to him. I do exercises and am on a diet to get my weight down. It's a life adjustment, and sometimes a struggle to keep my spirits up. My partner is supportive and helpful, for which I'm very grateful. It's going to be a journey for me, a life adjustment and coping challenge. Many, many people have a much more intense experience, so I have no room to feel sorry for myself. This path has made me more keenly aware of how arthritis has invaded a huge number of people's lives.

profile for ANNETTE S ANNETTE SMICHIGAN CENTER, MIThis ismy fight

hard worker and hectic lifestyle coming to a screeching halt all of a sudden swollen warm joints lots of pain and no one could understand what was happening to me that was so physically demanding that I couldn't even get out of bed to do a simple task as making breakfast. at first people just shrugged it off as I was being lazy and not wanting to work as I was in the retail business with tons of...

hard worker and hectic lifestyle coming to a screeching halt all of a sudden swollen warm joints lots of pain and no one could understand what was happening to me that was so physically demanding that I couldn't even get out of bed to do a simple task as making breakfast. at first people just shrugged it off as I was being lazy and not wanting to work as I was in the retail business with tons of customers. people decided that I was being mean to them because I could no longer lift heavy items on a daily basis, then I was blessed to get into a very special rheumatologist and he figured out that I had/have RA and also tested positive for lupus gene.

Then he started me on different medicines over the course of a year and finally found the right combination to make me start feeling better, Now I am more stable still unable to work because I have few good days that I can do everything I want to do. I am continually fighting exhaustion and soreness.

I am thankful that I now have a service dog that makes me get out and walk everyday even when chilly wet & damp outside. When the weather affects my joints my service dog helps me get mobile and able to get up and go.

I have had to fight the insurance companies to get my meds covered because they are very expensive but really do work for my body.

I have tried improving my diet routine steadily to help with my RA but that gets difficult at times especially when I am flaring and unable to chop or cut up good for me foods.
It has effected my life to where I can no longer clean my house in 1 day as I used to be able to do. So i try not to be too hard on myself when I don't get everything done that I want to accomplish.

I am on a life long journey to help stop this dreaded disease and hope to find a cure one day that way nobody else has to deal with the pain & suffering that I have gone through.

It also bums me out when people stare rudely at me while I am using a cane as I am only 43 as if I am faking what's going on. They have rudely told me to get a job and stop using a cane as there is no need for it.

I would love to be able to get back into the work force but when people find out that I have RA all of a sudden they don't need me or I am not quite what their looking for to do a job. So it's a no-win situation for me and yes I do get very discouraged when things like this happen.

I am trying to find more peace & joy in my life with this disease but it really can be a daily struggle. thank you 4 listening to me.

profile for Anna S Anna SMerced, CAThis ismy fight

I am a retired nurse with PsA. I worked with arthritis for over 30 years. It was a challenge because of the fatigue. I kept physically active and traveled as much as possible. I always felt