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

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.

Arthritis pain may be invisible, but it is VERY real. See real stories of people living w/ #arthritis at arthritis.org/FightFor50 #FightFor50

info about Arthritis Foundation
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.

Retweet: Here's a little snippet of my story. #Arthritis #ArthritisAwarenessMonth #LupusAwarenessMonth #FightFor50twitter.com/i/web/status/8…

info about Arthritis Foundation
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 Marlena F Marlena FPhoenix, AZThis ismy fight

I am an Army Veteran that was diagnosed 2 years ago. To be so young at the age of 35 now the struggle is real. I have 2 kids to continue to fight for on a daily basis. My kids have to help me in many ways on a daily basis. Being a single parent and having RA is hard. I never thought I wouldn't be strong enough to open my own bottle of water.

Being in the military you never think that...

I am an Army Veteran that was diagnosed 2 years ago. To be so young at the age of 35 now the struggle is real. I have 2 kids to continue to fight for on a daily basis. My kids have to help me in many ways on a daily basis. Being a single parent and having RA is hard. I never thought I wouldn't be strong enough to open my own bottle of water.

Being in the military you never think that you would end up with a condition that effects your daily activity. All I ever knew was be strong and deal with it. However, with RA it is not that easy to override your mind. I am doing the best I can and living on a daily basis to fight for my kids.

profile for ILYSE T ILYSE TTARZANA, CAThis ismy fight

I have osto arthritis in my back neck and one knee. i have never been home so much, but I do go out, when I feel ok. i am not working because of my condition. i take meds. i have pain ever other day. have ben trying to get disability ,with no luck.i try and exercise as much as I can.this is my story

profile for Angela A Angela ASan Francisco, CAThis ismy fight

I'm 30 years old and I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 8 years ago. At that time, I could barely walk or sleep at night because of the excruciating joint pain. My doctors told me I would not be able to continue competitive swimming and in general, I would not be as active as I used to be. This was devastating news, but I accepted the challenge to prove them wrong.

After a year...

I'm 30 years old and I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 8 years ago. At that time, I could barely walk or sleep at night because of the excruciating joint pain. My doctors told me I would not be able to continue competitive swimming and in general, I would not be as active as I used to be. This was devastating news, but I accepted the challenge to prove them wrong.

After a year of trying different arthritis medications and seeing different doctors, I finally found the medications that worked for me. I could walk and sleep without pain and I was so thankful that I could walk down a flight of stairs without tears welling in my eyes from pain. Since then, I've completed two half marathons, 3 triathlons, one duathlon (swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco, followed by a 7 mile run), numerous open water swims, including swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco (completed 17 times), swimming the length of the Golden Gate Bridge two years in a row (one year, I was third woman overall) and swimming from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge (10k) two years in a row. All of these achievements were things I had never even contemplated before my diagnosis, but I accomplished the impossible and the doctors couldn't have been more wrong about what was in store for my future. Don't get me wrong - the past 8 years haven't been easy. There are some days that I feel like crap because of the RA and I've had other unrelated health issues that I'm battling with, but I have and I will continue to fight everyday to be able to maintain my active lifestyle.

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profile for Saundra P Saundra PMeadville, PAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA when I was almost 23 years old, two weeks after I married the man of my dreams. That was in 1982, and by 1987, I had my first knee replaced, in 1989, my second knee, in 1991, I had to have a c1-c2 neck fusion from RA,and my right hip replaced the same year, then in 1992, my right shoulder was replaced. Since then, one of my artificial knees became infected and had to be...

I was diagnosed with RA when I was almost 23 years old, two weeks after I married the man of my dreams. That was in 1982, and by 1987, I had my first knee replaced, in 1989, my second knee, in 1991, I had to have a c1-c2 neck fusion from RA,and my right hip replaced the same year, then in 1992, my right shoulder was replaced. Since then, one of my artificial knees became infected and had to be re-replaced and my artificial hip wore out and had to be re-replaced last year. Throughout the first twenty-five years with arthritis, I continued to work, managing banks for one of the largest retail banks in the US. I loved what I did, but eventually the stress of the job caused high blood pressure and migraines which forced me to take disability in 2005.

That was twelve years ago and I continue to wage my fight against arthritis with my husband by my side. I started watching card making YouTube videos a few years ago, and didn't find any craft videos made by anyone with any type of physical limitation. I found that extremely disappointing, as we need a voice to let us know which tools will work for us, and how to modify tools so that we can use them. Plus being able to be creative keeps our minds and bodies active and alive. So near the end of 2015, I decided to start my own YouTube channel for crafters with physical limitations, and called it Crafting for Almost Everyone. It's so important for us to find outlets for our creativity and I am a huge advocate of paying it forward. I want to help others find their creative voices and try to make my videos fun and upbeat.

There's no point in complaining about this disease because it is what it is. There was an advertisement on television many years ago where the actress said, "I have arthritis, but it doesn't have me." I try to live my life by ignoring the disease and the pain that is brings. Life is too short to let arthritis control my life. I refuse to let it win and I hope all of you do as well. I hope you'll visit my YouTube channel as I don't sell anything and it is there simply because we should have a voice there and now we do. The channel is called Crafting for Almost Everyone.

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.

info about Alberta D
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.

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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.

info about Elizabeth R
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 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 Karen D Karen DLebanon, PAThis ismy fight

It happened over night, woke up w/such pain my husband took me to the ER - that was about 8 years ago. Have been trying different meds and infusions... in battle now with Insurance Co. to get a new med approved. Very frustrating to have to deal with RA/Fibro, etc. and then also have to deal with insurance. Forced to leave work 1 1/2 years ago because of my health.

I'm "only 59"...

It happened over night, woke up w/such pain my husband took me to the ER - that was about 8 years ago. Have been trying different meds and infusions... in battle now with Insurance Co. to get a new med approved. Very frustrating to have to deal with RA/Fibro, etc. and then also have to deal with insurance. Forced to leave work 1 1/2 years ago because of my health.

I'm "only 59" but this disease makes me feel so much older. Have very bad flares where I can barely walk or move. Sure wish there was a cure all pill with no side effects and it was not expensive! God Bless all those who suffer and also the families of them because they just can not truly understand what we go thru. You can not tell just looking at us what degree of pain we are experiencing.

info about Karen D
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 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?!

info about Kat C
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.

info about Shelia  P
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 Linda H Linda HROANOKE, VAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA in January 2009. I was doing so well at that time that I didn't believe the doctor when she told me. I was going to the gym everyday, losing weight, and feeling good. The weather turned really warm that June and everything hit the fan. One day I couldn't get out of the bed, my joints were hurting and very swollen! This went on for about 3 days, then I finally went to the...

I was diagnosed with RA in January 2009. I was doing so well at that time that I didn't believe the doctor when she told me. I was going to the gym everyday, losing weight, and feeling good. The weather turned really warm that June and everything hit the fan. One day I couldn't get out of the bed, my joints were hurting and very swollen! This went on for about 3 days, then I finally went to the doctor. I couldn't believe how hard it hit me and the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced before! The next 7 years were excruciating! After being on steroids and other medications, I finally started taking a medication that works for me. I began to see a breakthrough with the pain in the later part on 2016. I still have flare-ups but they are not as severe. I've started watching what I eat, trying to eliminate wheat, dairy, soy. I still struggle with low energy but I try to walk as much as possible. My sleep has gotten a little better but it still poses a challenge for me.

profile for Marcia M Marcia MFranklin, INI fight forMy mom Linda and also myself

My mom had several types of arthritis and it made the last 10 years of her life very difficult. The last couple of years she needed a scooter to get around...even in her home...as walking became increasingly painful. My mom's finger joints got so large that she had to purchase rings that were size 9-10 to put on fingers that were size 6-7. She used to crochet all the time but even that was...

My mom had several types of arthritis and it made the last 10 years of her life very difficult. The last couple of years she needed a scooter to get around...even in her home...as walking became increasingly painful. My mom's finger joints got so large that she had to purchase rings that were size 9-10 to put on fingers that were size 6-7. She used to crochet all the time but even that was something she struggled with as her hands became more and more painful. Many things she used to do around the house...like redecorating or rearranging...would cause so much pain that she would be down for a couple of days.

Mom was diagnosed with arthritis when she was 29 which is the same age I was diagnosed. It wasn't until her mid 50's when she had tests done that showed she had several types of arthritis. I am now 55 and facing several of the challenges from arthritis that my mom faced. Some of my difficulties are compounded by other problems besides arthritis. I watched as arthritis destroyed a very vibrant woman and worry that it is going to do the same with me. My hands cause me so much trouble that typing, cooking and crocheting are painful and I usually pay for it for a couple of days afterwards. Just typing this story is hard to do as joints don't want to cooperate.

I fight for a better life/cure of arthritis so others don't have to face what my mom and I had/have faced. I most especially fight for my mom as her arthritis was worse at 55 than mine currently is in some of my joints but worse than hers in others. It's a future that no one should be faced with and arthritis does not discriminate. It affects the young as well as the old. The thought of a child facing this kind of pain and limitations sickens me and I pray for a cure or vaccine or something that will stop the suffering.

profile for Laura G Laura GVallejo, CAThis ismy fight

I am 56 years old. I was hit by a car about 20-21 years ago. Doctors at that time told me that if my family was prone to arthritis, that I could expect to get it starting in the injured areas. I have suffered from chronic pain ever since, but it became really bad a few years ago until I decided it was time to quit working and apply for Social Security Disability.

I went to live with...

I am 56 years old. I was hit by a car about 20-21 years ago. Doctors at that time told me that if my family was prone to arthritis, that I could expect to get it starting in the injured areas. I have suffered from chronic pain ever since, but it became really bad a few years ago until I decided it was time to quit working and apply for Social Security Disability.

I went to live with my sister, and about the same time I found out that I had arthritis everywhere. Some joints had the added bonus of bursitis. It is hard to convey to family and friends who are pain-free, exactly how it feels to have arthritis. Pain medications often did not work, and left me sick.

There are days I am happy just to get out of bed. I can walk (slowly) and often have to pause to rest my back and legs. I used to crochet all the time - now I do a little and rest. I need adaptive items to accommodate arthritic hands and shoulders. My sister just shakes it all off like I was "exaggerating" until someone shared with her what my doctors' report to Social Security said, and what impact arthritis was having to my life and my ability to maintain employment.

It is hard to explain to people why sometimes I can't get out of bed some days, and why I stay home some days. I still stay active with volunteer work, and I have an active chihuahua who is also trained to be my service animal. She is my angel, and keeps me up and around. Arthritis may not be curable, but I am not giving in yet. I take medical marijuana for pain, and I make future plans and goals. At my age it is sad, but my sorrow is for children who have to live with arthritis. It's for them that I pray that there will be more successful treatment of this disease.

profile for Fay B Fay BGarland, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at age 58, now 77. I was an amateur ballroom dancer but had to give that up when my first hip replacement left me with a limp in my right leg. Since diagnosis, I've had both hips replaced, both knees replaced, surgery on both feet due to arthritis.

I am limited socially because I can't stand for more than 15 minutes, I can't walk even a short block. I thought with...

I was diagnosed at age 58, now 77. I was an amateur ballroom dancer but had to give that up when my first hip replacement left me with a limp in my right leg. Since diagnosis, I've had both hips replaced, both knees replaced, surgery on both feet due to arthritis.

I am limited socially because I can't stand for more than 15 minutes, I can't walk even a short block. I thought with all four joints replaced I should be bionic but no. My back is so bad doctors won't touch it and I've been told I will end up in a wheel chair due to the pain in my back. I need both shoulders replaced now but I'm resistant to more surgery. I have to plan everything around the limitations.

I've had to hire a housekeeper because my hands won't push the vacuum any more; my little dab of socializing has to be filtered through my pain so I have very little social life. I don't want to make my problem that of others. I have to ask family for help for chores I should be able to do myself. I go to a water exercise class (designed for those with arthritis) twice weekly which is all that keeps me as mobile as I am. I am still able to drive and have a handicap plate which is a life saver. I use a cane or walkers when longer trips are required. I have to shop at small stores because I can't handle the big box stores anymore and there are many stores that don't provide sufficient functioning carts for the demand.

The frequency of steroid shots for pain has caused a "cupping" in a part of my eye which could lead to glaucoma. And on it goes.

profile for Rachel F Rachel FWoodbury, MNI fight forMy Daughter

Our daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 3. And we began to give her medication. Since my husband had been previously diagnosed with food allergies to gluten and dairy, we decided to begin a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for our daughter.

After 3 months of medication and diet change, her arthritis went into remission. After 6 months of...

Our daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 3. And we began to give her medication. Since my husband had been previously diagnosed with food allergies to gluten and dairy, we decided to begin a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for our daughter.

After 3 months of medication and diet change, her arthritis went into remission. After 6 months of medication, tests showed that her liver was stressed. We stopped the medication but continued the diet change, and her arthritis was in remission for 5 years. She did flare again at the age of 9 - we do not know if it was just time or if we cheated on too much dairy. I know that not everyone with JRA can control it with diet changes but for our daughter no gluten and dairy does help.

Our family enjoys the going to the fair. But walking around the fairgrounds is hard for people with food allergies. Since summer of 2013 our family business Free Indeed Food has been making mini donuts that are gluten-free and do not have any of dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts or wheat in them.

profile for Sharon T Sharon TTucson, AZThis ismy fight

I have been diagnosed with Osteo. about 5 years ago it is in my knees,
and now I have been diagnosed with it in my neck. Boy does it hurt, I have good days and bad days, my body will ache as well. I take Aleve.

My doctor said for me to do a plant-based diet and not too much chicken which I eat a lot of. Also whole grains and to continue my exercise on my stationary bike, I try to...

I have been diagnosed with Osteo. about 5 years ago it is in my knees,
and now I have been diagnosed with it in my neck. Boy does it hurt, I have good days and bad days, my body will ache as well. I take Aleve.

My doctor said for me to do a plant-based diet and not too much chicken which I eat a lot of. Also whole grains and to continue my exercise on my stationary bike, I try to do at least 30 min. a day. So I will give this a try, I try to stay as active as possible, but some days are painful. I will give this new diet a try and see how it goes.

I am 73 years and want to continue to live a healthy lifestyle.

profile for Chi D Chi DSevern, MDThis ismy fight

I have been arthritic for 6 years and it has not improved. I have lost cartilage on both my knees and I have had swollen both ankles. I had been exercising four or five times a week. Now, I only can do two times a week because I am in pain. I try to fight arthritis as much as I can.

profile for Anita S Anita SEndicott, NYThis ismy fight

What gets me is that the very concept of PAIN seems to be so nebulous. I've been told to use the little pained faces chart, over and over for years. I had assumed that the worse face, which they usually tell me is "more than you can stand" would apply at the moment I lost consciousness, because of it. No, it has been explained to me recently, it means "more than you wish to endure".

What gets me is that the very concept of PAIN seems to be so nebulous. I've been told to use the little pained faces chart, over and over for years. I had assumed that the worse face, which they usually tell me is "more than you can stand" would apply at the moment I lost consciousness, because of it. No, it has been explained to me recently, it means "more than you wish to endure".

I have been yelled at for silent tears dripping down on the x-ray table. That is more than I wish to endure.

I have been told to stop leaning against the Ladies Room door casing while waiting in a long line to tell the desk I was there for an Orthopedic appointment. " Someone might want to go in there." That is more than I wish to endure.

I had to stop going to a warm water exercise program when it became winter. I could not get out of the required standard swim suit, in the required tiny cubical and could not go out in the cold dripping wet. That is more than I wish to endure.

However yesterday I went to see the doctor who had previously treated me for a non-arthritis condition in my hand. My family doctor had referred me to him because he was concerned about a finger. This doctor had an x-ray done and decided it was a cyst. He was about to put a needle into it and to remove the stuff that was in it, but he knew I was allergic to the preservative that was in the pain killer he generally uses. I said he should just go ahead and do it without the pain killer, that I have to do that all the time. He cringed! Yes that is exactly what he did, and he is not the first.

My eye guy goes into an absolute funk when he has to check the pressure in my eye without a pain killer, but he has no concern at all about my arthritic neck being twisted around for Tecs to use a testing machine in his other room.

Of course it annoys me that people can't believe that I would be so much worse off if I had the preservative and that they seem to feel that their own squeamishness is more important than my actual suffering.

Speaking of other people's squeamishness, how very annoying it is to hear someone say "oh how awful" when they ask why I am on crutches, or why I was not in church Sunday, or why I need to change some appointment, and I say I have just had a joint replaced. How come it never occurred to them to say "how awful" when I was in so much constant pain that I chose to have Elective Surgery to replace a big hunk of my body?!

My story.....

profile for Cathy C Cathy CSan Jose, CAThis ismy fight

I retired from teaching a little earlier than I had planned. I didn't have enough energy to get through a day and give my students my best. I had a hard time holding the pens to write on the whiteboard. My hands hurt all the time. I caught every cold the kids brought to school and got nervous anytime one of them coughed in fear of getting sick again. I couldn't work when I was sick as my symptoms...

I retired from teaching a little earlier than I had planned. I didn't have enough energy to get through a day and give my students my best. I had a hard time holding the pens to write on the whiteboard. My hands hurt all the time. I caught every cold the kids brought to school and got nervous anytime one of them coughed in fear of getting sick again. I couldn't work when I was sick as my symptoms drained me. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis shortly after I retired.

It took three years to find the right medication to make a difference in my symptoms. I still get sick easily and don't recover very quickly, so my doctor doesn't want me to substitute teach. I loved my job and I miss it. The medications that work cost so much that I don't know how long I can continue to pay for them. Medicare and the supplemental policies don't cover as much as my old insurance from my school district did. It's a worry, which also affects my arthritis. I can't cross my fingers, but I'm still hoping for the best.

profile for Anita R Anita RJacksonville, FLThis ismy fight

My pains started in 1998 while I was pregnant with my son. I was told that the severe foot pain was from being pregnant. I just let it be. Eventually I started having issues in my shoulder and around sacroiliac joint which I was sent to physical therapy for. I was even told it was ALL in my head.

I eventually had exploratory surgery on my shoulder which they scraped down the collar...

My pains started in 1998 while I was pregnant with my son. I was told that the severe foot pain was from being pregnant. I just let it be. Eventually I started having issues in my shoulder and around sacroiliac joint which I was sent to physical therapy for. I was even told it was ALL in my head.

I eventually had exploratory surgery on my shoulder which they scraped down the collar bone. The pain wasn't getting any better. There were days it took everything to get out of the bed. Then in February of 2007 I woke up to my ring finger on my right hand being completely swollen. I couldn't bend it or nothing. After a few days I went to the doctor. She put me on an anti-inflammatory, but it wasn't getting better. I went back to the doctor the following week and she was looking me over and noticed a small psoriasis patch behind my right ear. It was like a light bulb went off. She immediately told me that I needed to be referred to a rheumatologist. So I went and he asked a ton of questions and did blood-work. Needless to say on my 27th birthday, April 18,2007 I was diagnosed with a autoimmune disease called psoriatic arthritis.

I immediately started on a drug regimen. Since then things have only progressed. I have issues with my neck, both hands and wrist, both feet, and my knees. I've been on many different drugs trying to get some relief. I no longer take some drugs because of all of the side effects I was having from them. This disease has taken a lot from me and caused me shame. I'm done letting people tell me its just arthritis get up and move around and you will feel better. Every chance I get, I try to get my story out there and let people know about PsA (psoritaic arthritis).

profile for Dawn Maria D Dawn Maria DPhiladelphia, PAThis ismy fight

I woke up on the Saturday before Memorial Day on 2002 with both hands swollen. I didn't know what was happening, but I was in tremendous pain and couldn't move. It was a holiday weekend, and I couldn't see my doctor until Tuesday. He referred me to a hand doctor, who told me I needed to go to a rheumatologist as soon as possible.

The initial rheumatologist I saw started me on a...

I woke up on the Saturday before Memorial Day on 2002 with both hands swollen. I didn't know what was happening, but I was in tremendous pain and couldn't move. It was a holiday weekend, and I couldn't see my doctor until Tuesday. He referred me to a hand doctor, who told me I needed to go to a rheumatologist as soon as possible.

The initial rheumatologist I saw started me on a drug regimen, but never adjusted the dosage, telling me he wasn't sure what type of arthritis I had. I had symmetrical swelling, morning stiffness, and felt that every day I was only getting worse. I changed doctors, and over the next ten years, I have stabilized enough that I am able to live a normal life despite my symptoms. My doctor has worked with me to adjust my medications and make sure I function to the best of my ability.

I have developed a lot of problems with my left foot and ankle. Some days it's difficult to wear shoes. Some days it's hard to drive for long periods of time or type for extended periods. But most of the time I am able to do everything I want and need to do.

The biggest challenges I've faced have been trying to explain to people that I have a disease, and it's a disease where my immune system attacks my joints. It's not caused by the weather, eating gluten, or getting older. I can't start a program of running in an attempt to exercise this away. I might look fine, but inside there is a lot going on. It's not about coping with pain. I have a high pain tolerance, but it doesn't help the fatigue, stiffness, or anemia I deal with because of my RA.

I am lucky to have good insurance that allows me to receive whatever medicine my doctor recommends. But others like me can't fight if they can't get access to appropriate medicine. That's the most important tool to fight RA --access to medicine. Unless insurance companies realize how important it is for patients to receive treatment as recommended, the fight will never end.

profile for Mary S Mary SPretoria South Africa, NYThis ismy fight

I am now 72. 15 years ago They diagnosed RA. What a battle. Years before that I was sent from one to another and heard more than once that "sometimes it may just be your imagination. Eventually, Ankolysis Spondolytis and the cherry on the cake RA were diagnosed. Sometimes I am so depressed that nothing seems worthwhile because of all the pain. Nobody understands that one day you can climb steps...

I am now 72. 15 years ago They diagnosed RA. What a battle. Years before that I was sent from one to another and heard more than once that "sometimes it may just be your imagination. Eventually, Ankolysis Spondolytis and the cherry on the cake RA were diagnosed. Sometimes I am so depressed that nothing seems worthwhile because of all the pain. Nobody understands that one day you can climb steps only to not to be able to do it the next day. All the medicines take their toll and you just go from one day to the other.
Every second person tells you how good they cope with the pain of this and that. Yes sometimes we go can go on as before. As aging creeps on, fewer times. A dreadful disease and absolutely understated.

profile for Beth K Beth KSidney, NEThis ismy fight

I started having assorted aches and pains all over when I was 8. It started after a vaccination, was told that those sorts of pains were "common" and would go away. I remember being teased so I would know "how older people feel". Well, it didn't go away. The doctor said they were "growing pains", as did a subsequent doctor.

Of course, this led to me choosing a career and education in...

I started having assorted aches and pains all over when I was 8. It started after a vaccination, was told that those sorts of pains were "common" and would go away. I remember being teased so I would know "how older people feel". Well, it didn't go away. The doctor said they were "growing pains", as did a subsequent doctor.

Of course, this led to me choosing a career and education in something that required me to work at a desk, primarily.

As I got older, I've been prescribed nearly every NSAID on the market, and a couple of the steroidal ones. They all worked - for awhile. Then, either my stomach would object or I'd develop an allergy to them. All that's left are Naproxin Sodium and aspirin.

It's gotten to the point where I don't often talk to doctors about the pain. They won't delve into it, and will just give me a lecture about the dangers of opiods and stress exercise. It's great to tell me to go walking, but when I can't get out of bed some days, it's useless. When they send me to the physical therapist, yes, I've learned some useful exercises and collected some useful and not-so-useful pieces of equipment over the years. Lifting light weights is what seems to help the most, and is a lot of what I do.

profile for Bertha S Bertha SLas vegas, NVThis ismy fight

I have osteoarthritis in both my knees. I have had it for about seven years or so and it has gotten worst in the past year. There are a lot places I want to go but I don't because every time I sit down somewhere I got to have someone help me get up my knees hurt so bad that is really embarrassing. When I sleep I get bad pain in my knees that wake me up. Nothing seems to help, I have taken shots...

I have osteoarthritis in both my knees. I have had it for about seven years or so and it has gotten worst in the past year. There are a lot places I want to go but I don't because every time I sit down somewhere I got to have someone help me get up my knees hurt so bad that is really embarrassing. When I sleep I get bad pain in my knees that wake me up. Nothing seems to help, I have taken shots lots of pills. I just stay in pain no matter what I do.

profile for Elizabeth S Elizabeth SSaramento, CAThis ismy fight

I had a hemi-knee replacement in 2006. Prior to that the pain in my knee was making it impossible for me to participate in some of my favorite activities. Since then with work and exercise I have gained close to full use of the knee and continue to do my belly dancing, volunteering as a docent at the zoo, and working part time as an adult educator. I recently passed the exam to become a...

I had a hemi-knee replacement in 2006. Prior to that the pain in my knee was making it impossible for me to participate in some of my favorite activities. Since then with work and exercise I have gained close to full use of the knee and continue to do my belly dancing, volunteering as a docent at the zoo, and working part time as an adult educator. I recently passed the exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist. My capstone project got my Masters degree in Health Education was on educating seniors with arthritis. Being active, eating right, and getting the proper amount of rest are key factors for staying healthy.

profile for Amanda T Amanda TKenosha, WIThis ismy fight

I am a 42 yr old mother of 3. When I was 7 my doctors thought I had juvenile rheumatoid but could never diagnose because I was going into remission. At 13 I was full blown. They diagnosed me. Ever since I have been through numerous prescriptions and treatments, physical therapy, ups and downs. Living with RA practically my whole life has not been easy. I am also a diabetic.

I...

I am a 42 yr old mother of 3. When I was 7 my doctors thought I had juvenile rheumatoid but could never diagnose because I was going into remission. At 13 I was full blown. They diagnosed me. Ever since I have been through numerous prescriptions and treatments, physical therapy, ups and downs. Living with RA practically my whole life has not been easy. I am also a diabetic.

I also have fibromyalgia, celiac, gastroperesis, vertigo, endometriosis, and tmj. To look at me you would never know I have all of these major health issues...which makes it HARDER for people to understand. If it's not one thing hurting or making me tired it's another. I often ask myself how I keep going. I still can't answer that because I have no idea!! I get tired. I get crabby. I get frustrated. But I keep going.

I was not supposed to have children as I was taking many medications and God blessed me with three!

I do WHAT I can WHEN I can and if people don't like it then too bad! I am unable to work because I can be fine one day and the next I cannot get out of bed. My biggest thing is getting people to understand what I live with every day. I try not to complain but sometimes it just comes out. I wonder what life would be like to live without all of my issues. My doctors are my home away from home and would be lost without them!

profile for Tanialee B Tanialee BAshtabula, OHThis ismy fight

I'm in my sixties now as I write this but I was just sixteen years old, a junior in high school when diagnosed with JRA. I was up on the gymnastics beam trying to execute a launch when sudden severe chest pain hit. I wondered if I was having a heart attack or cancer. That was a very intense moment and my gym teacher made me leave abruptly. Although frightening, I was not allowed to do gym class...

I'm in my sixties now as I write this but I was just sixteen years old, a junior in high school when diagnosed with JRA. I was up on the gymnastics beam trying to execute a launch when sudden severe chest pain hit. I wondered if I was having a heart attack or cancer. That was a very intense moment and my gym teacher made me leave abruptly. Although frightening, I was not allowed to do gym class the rest of the year. I didn't mind because gym wasn't my best class and all the other kids were jealous that I was exempt. :)

Little did they know what a battle the ensuing years would become. I myself had no clue either. I remember early in the disease the pain was so debilitatingly that I just wanted to die. At sixteen, your world isn't about pain, swelling infinite blood tests, hospitals and x rays. The family physician (rheumatologists weren't prevalent in those days) put me on pills which made me super fat. Great, another bane to a young girl's existence.
Then came medication but the JRA had done it's damage.

I managed somehow to get baby sitting jobs while all my friends were entering college. In 1978 I went to trade school which was a school just for the disabled and there I met my husband who had cerebral palsy. a rather strange health combination for marriage I might add. We did fairly well until our son was born. I had to have my first hip replacement. That was a very botched up job...the glue leaked down to my knee and I had to go to a specialist in sports surgery 90 miles away, leave my one yr. old with relatives while they did their absolute best to put Humpty dumpty together again. Then 14 yr.s later the same hip deteriorated, a new total hip was put in. I've had three total hips on that leg and one knee replacement on the opposite leg. Currently after years of trials with all sorts of medicines I am taking a medication which has helped a great with pain and swelling deal but I developed a blood disorder, leukopenia which my rheumy said was due to having to take other meds for nearly twenty years.

Often, fatigue is my worst enemy but maybe it's due to my age? My husband was in a car wreck about fifteen years ago which has left him wheelchair bound so the struggles have been many. However, if it hadn't been for the presence of God in our live I don't know if either one of us would have come through as well as we have. My heart is sad for any children who develop JRA and my heartfelt prayers are for a cure for this very wicked disease. Oh yeah, our son is now a strapping six footer with children of his own and so far all is well that none of his kids have JRA.

profile for Elane R Elane ROdenville, ALI fight forJessica M

Jessica passed away 6 years ago from a blood clot.

profile for Melissa I Melissa ISaint Louis, MOThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA 9 years ago. At first I took medication for 4 years and lost a lot of friends and respect from coworkers. I had to go off and realized that I could no longer do my job.

I also could not continue with my favorite thing. I was a 2nd degree black belt with the American Taekwondo Association. I have been on disability now for some time. I do what I can but I...

I was diagnosed with RA 9 years ago. At first I took medication for 4 years and lost a lot of friends and respect from coworkers. I had to go off and realized that I could no longer do my job.

I also could not continue with my favorite thing. I was a 2nd degree black belt with the American Taekwondo Association. I have been on disability now for some time. I do what I can but I have gained weight and feel a lot of fatigue. This year my husband left me. Depression, shame and self esteem where destroyed. I couldn't keep up with him and he said he didn't want to be old. I am better now thanks to doctors, therapy and time. I am glad I don't have to try and keep up with others.

I am now learning Tai Chi for arthritis and hope to be able to teach others. My church also played a large part in my mental health . All things happen for a good reason. I hope to help others with this crazy pain and fatigue we suffer from

profile for John Z John ZToms River, NJThis ismy fight

I am 74 years old and have osteoarthritis since I was 37. I have been on a variety of NSAIDS over the years but they make little difference in my day to day life.

I have degeneration of almost all of my joints and need two knees and a shoulder. I have had failed spinal surgery in 1994 and further surgical intervention is not recommended due to the amount of nerve damage and the...

I am 74 years old and have osteoarthritis since I was 37. I have been on a variety of NSAIDS over the years but they make little difference in my day to day life.

I have degeneration of almost all of my joints and need two knees and a shoulder. I have had failed spinal surgery in 1994 and further surgical intervention is not recommended due to the amount of nerve damage and the degree and length of my stenosis, which is currently at L2 to S1.

I have been on narcotic medication for a rather long time now and all it does is take enough of the edge off so I can do basic daily functions. I refuse to increase the dosage of my narcotics as they make me so sleepy that I need other medication to simply stay awake. I am fortunate in that I can get around with a cane at this point whereas my wife, who also has osteoarthritis for the same amount of time needs a walker for everything. We are not very happy campers at this point in life.

profile for Joyce L Joyce LWatertown, CTThis ismy fight

It started 15 years ago. I twisted my right knee and started having a little swelling on one side. Two months later I went to see my PCP who sent me to an orthopedic doctor because he suspected I had a torn meniscus. The orthopedic doctor thought I might have lime disease because I had no history of knee problems. Testing came back negative. I had to have fluid aspirated from the knee because it...

It started 15 years ago. I twisted my right knee and started having a little swelling on one side. Two months later I went to see my PCP who sent me to an orthopedic doctor because he suspected I had a torn meniscus. The orthopedic doctor thought I might have lime disease because I had no history of knee problems. Testing came back negative. I had to have fluid aspirated from the knee because it had become so swollen.

I had arthroscopic surgery done by another doctor who told me that my knee showed inflammation going on and then referred me to a rheumatologist. There was no definitive diagnosis. Bloodwork to see if I had rheumatoid arthritis always came back negative. If I remember correctly, I was put on medication for four months. There was no change.

When I saw my fourth rheumatologist, he looked at my nails (a few had some mild pitting) and diagnosed me with psoriatic arthritis. I have a sibling that has psoriasis but no arthritis. He put me on methotrexate for a year but had to get off of it because of elevated liver count.

It took about 8 years to get a proper diagnosis. I've had a full knee replacement 7 years ago and will need the left knee done soon. I eventually went on a biologic, but after taking it for about 5 years it wasn't as effective. I've had to have injections once or twice a year because of flare ups. I now am using a new medication and have noticed a positive change.

I am finding it harder to do my job and will most likely go on disability someday. Some of my coworkers are not very understanding and it gets frustrating.

I also miss doing things because of pain and lack of motion. I would love to be able to go hiking with my friends.

I'm unable to ride a bike because I lack ROM. I no longer garden because I can't kneel. Hopefully one day I can have it corrected.

profile for David W David WBuckley, WAThis ismy fight

I fell 15' out of a hay barn at age 14. Years later my doctor showed me my back x-ray.at about age 35.

"What's all that white stuff on my lower spine, I asked".

"You must have a a heckuva fall when you were about 14", he replied. He was right on the money!

I played football and baseball but basketball and volleyball were too painful. I have followed good...

I fell 15' out of a hay barn at age 14. Years later my doctor showed me my back x-ray.at about age 35.

"What's all that white stuff on my lower spine, I asked".

"You must have a a heckuva fall when you were about 14", he replied. He was right on the money!

I played football and baseball but basketball and volleyball were too painful. I have followed good advice and have been very fortunate. I have only one gnarled finger. I keep active, exercise but use a "no pain approach.
Arthritis has given me one new hip, a new knee and in the future a new shoulder Other then that I feel great!

profile for Peggy T Peggy TRedmond, WAThis ismy fight

Does my story count? I am over 70, so I'm supposed to have arthritis, right? It is expected, anticipated, and no surprise that I have arthritis, so no big deal.

It is very sad when a child has arthritis. It costs us, as a country, a lot of money when so many people on Medicare have to have surgeries to replace hips and knees due to arthritis.

Yet, if an older person moves...

Does my story count? I am over 70, so I'm supposed to have arthritis, right? It is expected, anticipated, and no surprise that I have arthritis, so no big deal.

It is very sad when a child has arthritis. It costs us, as a country, a lot of money when so many people on Medicare have to have surgeries to replace hips and knees due to arthritis.

Yet, if an older person moves more slowly due to pain from arthritis in hips and knees prior to surgery, that is the norm -- why?

profile for Samuel  j Samuel jJackson , MSThis ismy fight

My name is Samuel , I have had RA since the age of 7 years ,old, all though middle school and high school my joints would swell up really badly and aches though the ,night. My years would come and go as I have gotten older I have went from being very active to now almost unable to get out of ,bed, once in my wrist and elbows and my ,teens, it is now affecting my ankles as a ,adult, atthis...

My name is Samuel , I have had RA since the age of 7 years ,old, all though middle school and high school my joints would swell up really badly and aches though the ,night. My years would come and go as I have gotten older I have went from being very active to now almost unable to get out of ,bed, once in my wrist and elbows and my ,teens, it is now affecting my ankles as a ,adult, atthis ppoint I am 36 and had to quit my job due to my ankles swelling up badly. No income it hurts and can be depressing but I keep my spirits up by writing and painting in my spare time. It can really keep you from enjoying life as normal people are ,ilose weiweight easily and my strength has declined , I'm looking for ways to rebuild my body with my ,ailments, I have deep compassion for those who understand my struggle and may God bless us all

profile for Timmian S Timmian SOlympia , WAI fight forCowan

Cowan was diagnosed at age 8 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He started waking up at night, crying because his hands hurt. We were lucky we saw a nurse practitioner that had completed a rheumatology rotation, and recognized his arthritis right away. We now see our rheumatologist quarterly, and have been able to get the inflammation in his joints under control. He hates getting injections...

Cowan was diagnosed at age 8 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He started waking up at night, crying because his hands hurt. We were lucky we saw a nurse practitioner that had completed a rheumatology rotation, and recognized his arthritis right away. We now see our rheumatologist quarterly, and have been able to get the inflammation in his joints under control. He hates getting injections weekly, and often asks why he has arthritis. It is heartbreaking. He is a very active boy, and loves to play all sports, particularly football and soccer. I fight for Cowan so he can live a "normal" life without a ton of appointments and medications.

profile for Donna P Donna PFairfax, VAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA/AS 12 years ago. I saw 20 Drs. before I was finally referred to a great Rheumatologist. After trying about a dozen different meds. I finally started an injectable biologic. I was feeling well enough that I was going to the Gym 3 times a week and relatively pain free. 6 months ago my Dr. retired and the new Dr. she referred me to decided I no longer had RA and could stop...

I was diagnosed with RA/AS 12 years ago. I saw 20 Drs. before I was finally referred to a great Rheumatologist. After trying about a dozen different meds. I finally started an injectable biologic. I was feeling well enough that I was going to the Gym 3 times a week and relatively pain free. 6 months ago my Dr. retired and the new Dr. she referred me to decided I no longer had RA and could stop the injections. I was fine for 4 months then my body basically crashed. I couldn't get out of bed for 4 days, 2 trips to the ER, 2 CAT scans, 3 MRI's, 3 chest X Rays, a rib series and a bone marrow biopsy. Finally went back on the injectable and started improving within 24 hours. There is a lesson here, stick with very experienced Specialists, don't change meds. unless you are followed very closely.

profile for Ruth N Ruth NMerrill, WIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed in 2004, but had complained of hand symptoms for years before that. I can deal with the stiffness and aching most days, it is the FATIGUE that is hard to tolerate. I am a Nurse Practitioner, it is hard to give my best to my patients when all I want to do some days is find a bed! I am also expecting my 4th grandchild soon and want to be able to be active with and enjoy them.

profile for Mary  L Mary LManchester, NHThis ismy fight

I remember having a great deal of pain in my knee as a young child, perhaps age 5. Very painful. They used rubs and heat. It finally went away. Now at age 75 I deal with 2 kinds of arthritis. My right knee will flare up according to allergens and chemicals. Arnica Gel relieves the pain. I have traced triggers using my organic chemistry and botany books in the past when it was a big problem in a...

I remember having a great deal of pain in my knee as a young child, perhaps age 5. Very painful. They used rubs and heat. It finally went away. Now at age 75 I deal with 2 kinds of arthritis. My right knee will flare up according to allergens and chemicals. Arnica Gel relieves the pain. I have traced triggers using my organic chemistry and botany books in the past when it was a big problem in a building with poor HVAC. Osteoarthritis is not too bad except in my left knee. I was on a medication for many years. My MD asked me to stop it. I'm surprised that I did not have a big flare up when I withdrew recently. A spa bath nightly helps the knee pain and other discomforts.

profile for Kathy S Kathy SWarwick , RII fight formy Mother

My mother's arthritis started at a fairly young age and progressed quickly. Eventually she could not drive because she could not hold the steering wheel. She had arthritis all over. Not everyone understood the amount of pain she was in. I wish I could have done something for her besides being there for her. She passed away almost 4 years ago at the age of 89. What I will keep close to me all the...

My mother's arthritis started at a fairly young age and progressed quickly. Eventually she could not drive because she could not hold the steering wheel. She had arthritis all over. Not everyone understood the amount of pain she was in. I wish I could have done something for her besides being there for her. She passed away almost 4 years ago at the age of 89. What I will keep close to me all the time is no matter how much pain she was in she would always smile. I think it is important that there is someone a person in that much pain can talk about it. She felt people would get sick of hearing it. I always encouraged her to tell me how she felt and what her pain was like. She had a husband but he did not understand how bad her pain was. You can't hold a book, can't drive, can't open a can or a jar and so much more.

profile for Bonnie G Bonnie GNEW ALBANY, PAThis ismy fight

My story is much the same as yours.
I've been diagnosed with several diseases, and Polymyalgia Rheumatica is one, Osteoarthritis, DDD, Diabetes, Lyme, Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, mixed lipidemia, etc....
The list goes on and on.
I first NOTICED the pain from Arthritis at one of my four children's birthday party, I was in my mid 20's.
It was impossible to scoop ice cream.

My story is much the same as yours.
I've been diagnosed with several diseases, and Polymyalgia Rheumatica is one, Osteoarthritis, DDD, Diabetes, Lyme, Fibromyalgia, Hypertension, mixed lipidemia, etc....
The list goes on and on.
I first NOTICED the pain from Arthritis at one of my four children's birthday party, I was in my mid 20's.
It was impossible to scoop ice cream.
Over the years, my neck deteriorated, my lumbar spine, every joint possible including jaw, then the swelling etc, the burning and freezing pain of Diabetes, and the NEUROPATHY associated with all of the above.
I am not allowed to have any strong pain meds. My Drs don't want me to become addicted.
How kind.
At what expense?
My life.
I miss almost every holiday, every birthday, anniversary, you name it...I'm unable to go.
Why? Incredible pain. Lethargy. Exhaustion.
In order to go somewhere it's necessary to bathe, get dressed in decent clothing, drive, and then reverse the whole routine.
It's so hard.
Not many understand who don't suffer the same.
I'm 60 now, so it's ''well you ARE in your 60's you know, you WILL have pain''...no crap!! But for 35 years I've been trying to get someone to help me with my pain!!!
Oh well...I know I'm not alone.
It sure feels like it at times....

info about Bonnie G
profile for Kelly J Kelly JSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

I am a mother and wife first, and a patient with Ankylosing Spondylitis second. I like to say that I have "A fused backbone and I'm not afraid to use it!" Even though I have AS it doesn’t have me and I am very blessed. The Lord has given me so many wonderful things in my life, so the positive definitely outweighs the negative! I have a wonderful husband, who is also my soul-mate and best friend...

I am a mother and wife first, and a patient with Ankylosing Spondylitis second. I like to say that I have "A fused backbone and I'm not afraid to use it!" Even though I have AS it doesn’t have me and I am very blessed. The Lord has given me so many wonderful things in my life, so the positive definitely outweighs the negative! I have a wonderful husband, who is also my soul-mate and best friend of 19 years (we got married at 19!), and three gorgeous kids. I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2000, when she was 45. I miss her so much, and to add to the loss, both my husbands parents have passed away as well. It is hard raising two kids, while having a disability, and all the while not having a large family for support. I am blessed to have my father here with us, and he is a wonderful grandfather to my babies. After I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis I felt like I had finally found my purpose on Earth…I was meant to be an AS advocate, and I take that very seriously. I hope I can not only teach the world what living with AS is about, but I hope I can help others like me deal with the toll it takes on not only our bodies, but our souls.

When you live with an invisible illness, you learn to live with constant pain and defeat. No one knows you are sick, surely you couldn’t be sick, when you don’t look it…right? Wrong! Imagine this scenario : You are perfectly fine one day, then the next your entire body hurts. The pain is so bad, you go to the ER, crying, begging, and screaming for something to take the pain away. But instead of the ER helping you, they look at you suspiciously and they don’t believe you. They tell you the pain is a figment of your imagination, it is not real, so they discharge you with an antidepressant and a script for therapy. What would you do? Continue on in the scenario…after the ER you decide maybe you really are imagining the pain, but you decide to go for a second opinion…this pain is overwhelming and controlling every thought and movement you make…only when you get the second opinion the doctor blows you off again. You look fine, it is depression tricking your body into thinking it hurts, says the doctor. How would you feel?

Hopeless?

That scenario is my life. I was told for 3 years that nothing was wrong with me, except that I was depressed. I was a hysterical woman, with “drug seeking behaviors”, never mind the fact that I had never even taken narcotics before. I was hopeless. Until a little piece of hope trickled into my soul. A rheumatologist finally listened long enough to do an MRI, and he finally knew where my pain was coming from…I had Ankylosing Spondylitis, and the pain I felt was REAL. Invisible to others, but constant to me. I was terrified to learn I had a chronic and lifelong condition that has no cure, but I was also hopeful because now I had a name for my pain, I wasnt making it up! I had solid proof, I was no longer walking around aimlessly trying to find answers. If I knew what I had, then I could try to fix it. Another glimmer of hope entered my heart. Once I was diagnosed I had a lot of questions; did everyone with AS hurt this bad? What treatment would be best for me? Did anyone else get told they were depressed before figuring out they actually had AS? When I was diagnosed, there was only one place to go to get answers from other ASer’s, The Spondylitis Association of America. I began to frequent their forum boards, trying desperately to connect on a personal level and to find the answers I was looking for. That is when hope seemed to seep into my soul all the while it created infinite ideas in my head.

I NEEDED to raise AS awareness. I needed people to understand how I felt. It began to consume me, with each step bringing me more hope. You see, there are approximately 33 million people world wide that have Spondylitis, approximately 2.4 million people with Spondylitis in the USA, and there are more people with Spondylitis than those with MS, Cystic Fibrosis, and ALS COMBINED. Let me stop for a second.

Have you heard of MS before? (Are you nodding your head yes?)

Have you heard of Cystic Fibrosis before? (Yes again, right?)

Ok, well what about ALS? Have you heard of it before?

I am going to assume you answered yes to all the above questions….because I answered yes to them. That is when I really got curious. I couldn’t understand why the disease I have is more prevalent that those three illnesses combined yet no one has ever heard of it before.

The big question is, have you ever heard of Ankylosing Spondylitis? (Yeah I didn’t know what it was until I was diagnosed too.) How can a disease afflict more than 33 MILLION PEOPLE around the world, yet no one has ever heard of it? I had to fix this problem. I had to bring hope to others with AS. That is when ASAP was founded. Remember I knew some people with AS from the SAA forums, and some of those people had friended me on Facebook. We all kind of tossed ideas around, knowing that if anyone was going to fix this problem of awareness it was going to have to be someone with AS. So in December of 2009 Ankylosing Spondylitis Awareness Project was founded by myself and Sean Ryder, a good friend with AS. We began as a group on Facebook, which has turned into over 10,000 fans, a website called www.hurtingbuthopeful.org, multiple community projects, and the goal to support the SAA. But mostly, ASAP has been my hope. It is hope that one day so many people will know about Spondylitis that the SAA will have enough donations to fund the research for a cure . It is hope that every person in this world with AS will know at least one other person with AS to lean on. It is hope that my pain isn’t all in vain. I know that having Ankylosing Spondylitis is painful, and scary, but it has given me a purpose, and I am passionate about teaching others the hope they can find after they are diagnosed with AS.

profile for Julie J Julie JRiverside, CAThis ismy fight

8 years ago when I was 58 yrs old, My husband and I moved from California to Reno NV which is a much higher altitude and a lot colder. After being there 1 week I began having severe pain all over my body in what seemed like every joint. When I could hardly walk I went to the ER and had to be given Morphine. I was admitted for 4 days and finally the tests came back showing I was suffering from...

8 years ago when I was 58 yrs old, My husband and I moved from California to Reno NV which is a much higher altitude and a lot colder. After being there 1 week I began having severe pain all over my body in what seemed like every joint. When I could hardly walk I went to the ER and had to be given Morphine. I was admitted for 4 days and finally the tests came back showing I was suffering from RA, just like my mother had. I started taking medicine which helped. Over the past 8 years I have tried many different meds. I see a Rheumatologist every 3 months now and he monitors my liver enzymes. I still get flair ups periodically which can be very painful, making it difficult to get out of bed. I have good days with minimal pain also but I'm learning to live with it and have learned to accept this disease for what it is. Fortunately I have a very supportive spouse who sometimes needs to be my hands and feet.

profile for Heather R Heather RSimpsonville, SCThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 2. I don't really remember much from my younger years, but Mom noticed that I was favoring one of my legs and decided to get it checked. After going through a Pediatric Rheumatologist who wasn't great, we found a great one at the Medical College of Georgia, and I continued seeing her until I became an adult (18 years old).

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 2. I don't really remember much from my younger years, but Mom noticed that I was favoring one of my legs and decided to get it checked. After going through a Pediatric Rheumatologist who wasn't great, we found a great one at the Medical College of Georgia, and I continued seeing her until I became an adult (18 years old).

Unfortunately, since some of the new medications that were available for adult RA patients weren't approved for kids at the time, a lot of the damage was done to my joints by the time it was finally approved through teaching institutions experimentally (about 3 years later). By then, most of my joints were affected. Throughout my pediatric stint, I went through serial casting, splinting, physical and occupational therapy, therapy camp, joint injections, and various other treatments.

Once I graduated from pediatrics (age 18), I found a new doctor a little closer to home (I lived in northeast Georgia at the time). Since under her care, I have had numerous surgeries to address the joint damage from the RA, (thanks to the outstanding surgeon she recommended). In the past 10 years, I've had both knees replaced, 3 left elbow surgeries, 2 left wrist surgeries, 2 left hand/finger surgeries, 2 right foot surgeries and 1 left foot surgery. All have resulted in great improvements in my quality of life, but I hope to be done for quite a while!

Although I have been battling RA for almost 30 years now, I still keep a positive attitude. I attribute my faith in God, the support from my family and from my small hometown for this. It truly takes a village!

I am a newlywed (celebrated our one year anniversary this past September), and my husband has been an outstanding support for me (I went through several surgeries while we were dating!). We enjoy life in SC with our two German Shepherds and feisty feline.

info about Heather R
profile for Pauline T Pauline TSingapore , AKThis ismy fight

Hi I was diagnose severely osteoarthritis on both knees. It was excruciating pain as my job require me to stand for long hours. When to see many Dr, they say my only solution is total knee replacement which is the best. As I am below 50 they say I might be looking at replacement up to 3 times. It was a devasted to hear such news...what I can do now if too painful just eat painkillers.

profile for Sonya K Sonya KKent, WAThis ismy fight

for 5 years my walk got progressively worse and my gait progressively wider till I was walking with a shopping cart always in front of me or riding as scooter as my gait was now 2 feet wide when I walked. Standing for long time was hard so I had a stool at work when I got over tired. I also went to shorter hours. I saw several different doctors till one finally told me I had rheumatoid arthritis...

for 5 years my walk got progressively worse and my gait progressively wider till I was walking with a shopping cart always in front of me or riding as scooter as my gait was now 2 feet wide when I walked. Standing for long time was hard so I had a stool at work when I got over tired. I also went to shorter hours. I saw several different doctors till one finally told me I had rheumatoid arthritis and osteo arthritis . I saw a rheumatologist for a couple of years with different medicines and various shots till he finally referred me to a surgeon who said my hips were so bad that he replaced both at the same time. I have so much more mobility now and can walk so much better and do walk about 5 miles a day to get to and from work. I now have bruises on my ankles and my feet bones hurt when I walk after awhile. Hoping things will improve there too. So thankful to be able to walk normally now.

profile for Terri  M Terri MBethesda, MDThis ismy fight

There is hope for those with post-traumatic arthritis. I can still take learning and go forward. There is so much offered in Bethesda. We can get stronger every day.

The so long Jimmy story is sad information. Somewhere over it doesn't have to be as old lang syne sees. I really like arthritis research.

profile for Nancy S Nancy SCincinnati, OHThis ismy fight

Hi, I'm a happy girl, full of life and so happy to be alive. I have a crippling gout. Which is a bad thing on two counts. One if you say to someone you have "gout" it just sounds like an old person's thing, no big deal.

When you have uncontrolled gout, it can be unreal as far as pain. On two counts I have been hospitalized with it for over a week on a morphine drip.

Hi, I'm a happy girl, full of life and so happy to be alive. I have a crippling gout. Which is a bad thing on two counts. One if you say to someone you have "gout" it just sounds like an old person's thing, no big deal.

When you have uncontrolled gout, it can be unreal as far as pain. On two counts I have been hospitalized with it for over a week on a morphine drip.

Gout can cause things call tophi, which are uric acid crystals that form a hard ball. My tophi had gotten so big and so painful I was in the hospital, on the morphine drip, and a surgeon came in and said, "Let's try to cut it out." This is unusual but it worked!
I am sharing my story to let people know that gout is not just for old people and it can be incredibly painful and even crippling.

On a personal note, what I do to cope is to max out the good days. To rejoice in every single day I can walk and reach for things and be kind of normal.

On the bad days I am so thankful for pain meds and so thankful to know that each day I have the flare is one day closer to it going away.

I always keep a happy heart. I always look for things that are good about my life, and I always find them. Much love to everyone who reads my story! Life is good, max out the joy! xoxo

info about Nancy S
profile for christina  T christina Twilliamsburg, VAThis ismy fight

I hadn't thought to do this beyond family and friends, but I'm feeling lucky these days inspite of RA and other issues (asthma, sleep apnea, IBS, etc) This photo attached was taken on my 70 birthday last Sept. and I felt pretty good for a mature lady with 30 years of RA! It's been a struggle and will continue to be. But i'm still here and still normally rather active with bike and walking and...

I hadn't thought to do this beyond family and friends, but I'm feeling lucky these days inspite of RA and other issues (asthma, sleep apnea, IBS, etc) This photo attached was taken on my 70 birthday last Sept. and I felt pretty good for a mature lady with 30 years of RA! It's been a struggle and will continue to be. But i'm still here and still normally rather active with bike and walking and kayaking and boating and playing with 8 grandkids and running my own business/agency. I'm in some pain always, and with 30 years of medicine and infusions there are challenges. But these meds ,and good care from my RA Dr. for last 12 years particularly, have kept me going and normally in a very controled amount of pain. My hands now are weak and a bit twisted, and one of my knees is headed for replacement perhaps soon. My toes and feet aren't what they used to be but I still get around just fine. I've had RA for a very long time, but haven't had to let it define me. Lucky yes...and determined. ;)

profile for Ralph V Ralph VCountryside, ILThis ismy fight

I have had pain in the knees for a long time. In 1990 was diagnose with Osteoarthritis. The Rum ethologist Was treating the problem. He was prescribing Non narcotic medication and muscle relaxers to quiet the ligaments that surround the front of the knees on left and right sides. The pain medication he was prescribing was not helping to relieve pain. Working in vending delivering 5gal bottles of...

I have had pain in the knees for a long time. In 1990 was diagnose with Osteoarthritis. The Rum ethologist Was treating the problem. He was prescribing Non narcotic medication and muscle relaxers to quiet the ligaments that surround the front of the knees on left and right sides. The pain medication he was prescribing was not helping to relieve pain. Working in vending delivering 5gal bottles of water daily 200 bottles a day was putting a lot of pressure on the knees and up and down the truck 8 hours a day was not helping either. The doctor wanted to inject some kind of medication that would be injected in 3 stages and at the cost of $300.00 per injection which I could not afford especially with no insurance. So I had to stop seeing the doctor due to he would not prescribe a narcotic pain medicine. So went back to taking aspirin several times a day.

As the years have gone by each day became a challenge with the arthritis in daily walking, up and down stairs, up and down trucks. So at time went on still unable to afford medical insurance it was in March 2010 I finally had to stop working because the pain was getting to intense especially in the Private Security Business having to do a lot of walking. Sitting down helped some but not enough. Was living on Advil 4 times a day to get some relief. Not being able to work anymore do to the extent of pain, I decided at age 62 to file for Social Security and hope to be able to get some kind of insurance. So I filed for Social Security and had to give an extensive reason why I wanted to collect so early.

Giving SS the problem with Arthritis, they immediately signed me up for Medicaid. Medicaid sent me for Xrays. The xrays showed that Osteoarthritis spreading in the knees. To get a better picture of what was going on they had me see several doctors to go through walk, sitting, standing and concluded with the xrays that its time for me to seek medical help. So being on Medicaid they sent all the information to Social Security. I was given the go ahead to find a doctor who could treat the arthritis. I found a doctor and gave the history of when arthritis started and what kind of treatments did I receive. I told the new doctor non-narcotic pain meds do nothing to alleviate pain enough to do walking standing etc.

Was sent for an MRI which showed and confirmed osteoarthritis. I was then sent to a doctor that would give me epidural injections. It did not help me after 3 days. After studying about Osteoarthritis to get a better understanding of what is happening and what kind of "Medications" could help lower the pain level, which Did not help because they are non-narcotic. So after getting to the point of getting something stronger and having an argument with the doctor that the non narcotic pain meds were not helping me and to stop prescribing them, finally started prescribing narcotic pain medication.

Was also sent to a bone doctor for evaluation of the knees said not at the point yet for knee replacement and that medications and injections I received so far not helping but said there is a new medication out that once injected it goes to the area where the discomfort is in the knees almost like a glue to better explain. So started with these injections. It does help but is not going to work after a certain length of time.

Then in 2015 had me go for physical therapy. Do the same exercise daily and go for therapy 2 times a week really did not do much for me. Pain started going up into my hips and back. Went through a CT Scan showed the arthritis moving into the thighs and half way up my back effecting L3,L4 and L5 areas. injections still were not helping. Then sent to a doctor that deals with surgery on the spine. He said for me it would be too risky and it might not help at all. So Back to the drawing board. Seen my regular doctor and said enough with the xrays and so on. Surgery for the knees and back is too scary and may not relieve a lot of pain. After having my brother go through 2 back surgeries on Arthritis he is still in pain. So at this point in time May 2017 still on Narcotic pain meds and muscle relaxer's and walking with a cane daily. It will one day stop me totally of doing daily activities. I get tired and don't want to go anywhere that have to do a lot of walking. Cannot walk a long distance without becoming short of breath and with Asthma

Yes I am a mess. So this is what Osteoarthritis is doing to me. Yes my husband gets sometimes upset cause I don't feel up to going to a store for what ever. Some stores have handi-cap scooters but if buying groceries etc these scooters do not have big enough baskets so have to walk and use a regular shopping cart. By the time I am done shopping, load the car up, I am exhausted. Then drive home and unload the car, put things away and exhausted again. Some times it gets to unbearable walking and I get so frustrated with it. But life goes on and so must I continue to do what needs to be done to move around and try to stay limbered up. Exercise does not do anything for me. Once standing up I feel the same as before stopping to exercise. So when I read articles about exercise and there is a response section I let them know it does not do anything for me. IT does not help keep pain to a minimum at all.

profile for Joan H Joan HRedmond, ORThis ismy fight

I am now 76 years old. I was diagnosed with degenerative Arthritis when I was 50. I was hoping that I would not inherit the risk, but my grandparents and my mother were diagnosed at much earlier ages.
As a result, my lower spine was the first noticeable sign with almost continuous pain that became so bad I was finally forced into surgery in 1991. I had steel rods implanted which was the...

I am now 76 years old. I was diagnosed with degenerative Arthritis when I was 50. I was hoping that I would not inherit the risk, but my grandparents and my mother were diagnosed at much earlier ages.
As a result, my lower spine was the first noticeable sign with almost continuous pain that became so bad I was finally forced into surgery in 1991. I had steel rods implanted which was the treatment of choice at that time, with my discs rebuilt from my own hipbone. My hip has still not completely healed and I have been in pain from that for years. I have had injections which are painful and do not last long. As a result of this, my hip is now compromised to the point that the degeneration has set in, making walking very painful. Last year, I had a severe attack of very painful spasms in my neck, which when scanned in the E.R., showed considerable degeneration of the upper spine at the base of my skull down to below my shoulder blades. I also have arthritis in all other joints at this time. My only partial relief is Ibuprophen, aspirin, and a heating pad. I have been unable to find a safe medicine that will relieve my pain. Arthritis seems to be simplified by many younger doctors who just assume it is a part of growing old. I wish sometimes that they could have one 24 hour period with the pain I live with. Maybe if they understood better what millions suffer, they might fight a lot harder for a cure. Thanks for listening.

profile for Linda L Linda LRedding, CAThis ismy fight

I was achy & tired for quite awhile. Then my fingers started getting all twisted up. I finally went to the Dr & was diagnosed with RA. I started medication & couldnit tolerate it. So my Dr changed meds & then I had to have blood test every few weeks. I thought these meds can't be good for me if they are testing for kidney & liver damage. I stopped all meds. I now take OTC pain killers for...

I was achy & tired for quite awhile. Then my fingers started getting all twisted up. I finally went to the Dr & was diagnosed with RA. I started medication & couldnit tolerate it. So my Dr changed meds & then I had to have blood test every few weeks. I thought these meds can't be good for me if they are testing for kidney & liver damage. I stopped all meds. I now take OTC pain killers for pain once in awhile & tumeric. I try to eat healthy. It's hard to walk as my hips & knees hurt when walking for long distances.

profile for Sarah B Sarah BSarasota, FLI fight forMy youngest son

My youngest just turned four at the end of last year. He was diagnosed around 2. Before medication he would army crawl through the house crying because he could use his legs. Even with medication his legs give out as he attempts to keep up with his peers. If it's raining or overcast he often experiences pain and exhaustion. His arthritis is in his feet and legs. He is diagnosed with JIA (juvenile...

My youngest just turned four at the end of last year. He was diagnosed around 2. Before medication he would army crawl through the house crying because he could use his legs. Even with medication his legs give out as he attempts to keep up with his peers. If it's raining or overcast he often experiences pain and exhaustion. His arthritis is in his feet and legs. He is diagnosed with JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis) meaning they don't know what type it is yet. The dr feels it may actually turn out to be rheumatoid arthritis :( He recently had to have a huge surgery (open heart) and had to be taken off his meds for safety blood clotting reasons. While in the hospital his little ankles swelled and he couldn't walk. The nurses and Drs in the cardiac ICU didn't know how to handle his recovery as well due to him having arthritis. It's tricky and painful and it's heart breaking to see your child not be able to do as much as he wants to or to see him upset because he doesn't understand why the other kids are allowed to and able to run and jump so much more than him, but I'm confident and positive about new technologies and studies that give all of us hope and relief.

profile for Barbara F Barbara FHuntington Station , NYI fight forMyself and my daughter in law

I am a 69 year old woman who started with osteoarthritis in my 40's. Over the last six years, I have had two knee replacements. I am happy I decided to get them after trying numerous therapy and meds ( both conventional and homeopathic) for many years.

I'm presently dealing with an auto immune condition called temporal arteritis. I had a biopsy of my temple to confirm diagnosis ....

I am a 69 year old woman who started with osteoarthritis in my 40's. Over the last six years, I have had two knee replacements. I am happy I decided to get them after trying numerous therapy and meds ( both conventional and homeopathic) for many years.

I'm presently dealing with an auto immune condition called temporal arteritis. I had a biopsy of my temple to confirm diagnosis . I have been on the only med presently available for this condition. Not good ... many side effects... but also a life saver. My rheumatologist is my main doctor for this problem.

My 43 year old daughter in law deals with RA . She is a trooper though constantly in pain ; and has taken numerous meds since a young girl. All her joints are like a woman my age or older. She is not a complainer and gives her all each day. She is my inspiration.

profile for Muddassir R Muddassir RGujranwala, AKThis ismy fight

I am a physiotherapist who survived attack of adult onset stills disease at the age of 25 years. ..
My big joints especially hip was locked and knee. Elbows. Hands remained stiff for few weeks. My self esteem was finished. . I was depressed and depending upon the family for feeding and bathing. . Even used wheelchair for visiting hospitals.
This period last only ofr 2 months. And ...

I am a physiotherapist who survived attack of adult onset stills disease at the age of 25 years. ..
My big joints especially hip was locked and knee. Elbows. Hands remained stiff for few weeks. My self esteem was finished. . I was depressed and depending upon the family for feeding and bathing. . Even used wheelchair for visiting hospitals.
This period last only ofr 2 months. And reminds me a lot of pain associated with those moments. .
I am thankful to the arthritis foundation who help me to know about my condition and I used this site as a resources.


Thanks to almighty Allah.

All praise for Him

profile for WARREN W WARREN WSAN CLEMENTE, CAThis ismy fight

I've been fighting arthritis for almost 50 years. The last 20 have been the worst. I REFUSE to give in. What keeps me going is my love for golf. I still play weekly, not without pain but in spite of discomfort. Recently I had to quit playing for a month but after physical therapy, I’m back on the course hoping for my 4th hole-in-one. My message “Don’t GIVE IN!”

profile for Truda S Truda SNashport, OHThis ismy fight

I've always been active, was called "tom boy" and "Grease monkey" growing up, because I did everything my older brother did and learned a lot of mechanics. By high school, I was a cheerleader, and academically gifted. My senior year was split time between high school and college classed. I had began working at age 12, ( babysitting ), then waitress, and first real job in a factory. College, work...

I've always been active, was called "tom boy" and "Grease monkey" growing up, because I did everything my older brother did and learned a lot of mechanics. By high school, I was a cheerleader, and academically gifted. My senior year was split time between high school and college classed. I had began working at age 12, ( babysitting ), then waitress, and first real job in a factory. College, work and married by 19... Life was spinning fast. I enjoyed being so versatile.

My professional career was RN. I worked for a few different hospitals, and found every area of nursing to be rewarding. I spent many double shifts in ICU, or as shift coordinator usually working an average of 60 to 70 hours per week. By my mid 30's, I realized life was passing by, and it was time to have children.. Two boys later, and still working, juggling mother, wife, daughter, and refer/preferred nurse for all family and friends, I recognized the need to slow down, but had too many responsibilities to let go..

Finally, after an administrative jumble and reorganization, my position was eliminated, and I was offered a severance package that finally gave me an opportunity to slow down, look at my life and see just what direction I wanted to go. That's when I realized I had been ignoring my symptoms and minimizing any aches and pains to remain loyal to my responsibilities.

When I did acknowledge that I was abusing over the counter pain Meds, I made an appointment to see my PCP. He referred me quickly to a rheumatologist. It did not take them more than a week to diagnose RA. That was initially like "yea, so what, lots of people have arthritis" Then I thought, I'm a nurse, I'm aware but not fully educated about RA. so I set out to learn all I could about it. What was initially mind boggling, soon began to make sense when I could relate the pain and stiffness and wall of exhaustion that I had been ignoring. After 6 month trial of a new medication, ( which it turns out is NOT compatible for me) and 6 months my dr's and I have found my remission.

The time I spent researching and hearing about the many people who suffer the same symptoms and the inability for non arthritic folks to see the pain and the exhaustion is un believable !! I include myself as a naysayer (even being a nurse) before I accepted that I have RA. Arthritis is definately a misunderstood and unaware disease process.

I was proud of Matt Heizman, on celebrity apprentice for bringing his story and the many people who suffer to light on national television. I hope many Americans will see that it is a worthy charity and learn more about the arthritis foundation. Everyone knows someone that has arthritis, they just don't know what it really is, or how much the person hides their suffering. Now I'm retired, and spend my free time quilting. Some days are impossible to either motivate myself to quilt, or when I, motivated, be able to finish a project without pain. It's difficult to manage the desire to participate in my hobby and the pain in my hands or hips and knees. It is amazing how much the weather effects my pain. I can tell you when the weather is going to change by how my hands hurt. Besides quilting, I also like to hunt. It is impossible to walk out into the woods and climb into a tree stand or sit still for long periods of time. Hunting has become a "live thru others" past time. I have two beautiful grand babies. A 3 year old and an 8 month old. I dearly love those babies, but watching them for any length of time takes a toll on me. It takes me a day to recover. I won't give up watching them or stop loving them , but I have to decline babysitting for more than 1-2 hours. It breaks my heart to decline to watch them.

profile for Justin F Justin FNormal, ILI fight forMy daughter (Aubrey)

It's been over a year now since our daughter was diagnosed with JIA. Aubrey is 2 years old and fights everyday. We first discovered something was odd when at 18 months, she wasn't even crawling anymore. She would just slide on her butt because the pain was too much to even crawl. After failed attempts in town to truly receive a diagnosis we were referred to a great hospital in Chicago. They...

It's been over a year now since our daughter was diagnosed with JIA. Aubrey is 2 years old and fights everyday. We first discovered something was odd when at 18 months, she wasn't even crawling anymore. She would just slide on her butt because the pain was too much to even crawl. After failed attempts in town to truly receive a diagnosis we were referred to a great hospital in Chicago. They validated to us that our precious little girl does indeed have JIA in at least 5 joints. Many more visits and numerous amounts of blood work followed. There have been many sleepless nights as well with Aubrey waking up crying in pain. All we can do is hold her. However, she perseveres each and every day. She climbs the stairs on her own and kicks a soccer ball just like any other child her age. We continue to fight, together! My belief and my goal is that by the time my little girl heads off to kindergarten, her and all those suffering from this painful disease, will be cured. RISE UP EVERYDAY!!!

info about Justin F
profile for Edith M Edith MMooers Forks, NYThis ismy fight

I never would have guessed that my arthritis would affect my life so much. to go from an active woman to someone who suffers pain and stiffness everyday has been a difficult journey for me. Especially since my husband of 51 years is so active. I had back surgery to correct my spinal arthritis and it went well; some nerve damage has caused me to have pain in my legs but all in all my back is...

I never would have guessed that my arthritis would affect my life so much. to go from an active woman to someone who suffers pain and stiffness everyday has been a difficult journey for me. Especially since my husband of 51 years is so active. I had back surgery to correct my spinal arthritis and it went well; some nerve damage has caused me to have pain in my legs but all in all my back is better. So now my knees are feeling terrible from my arthiritis and I am not enjoying moving again. I do exercise but swimming is about all I can do. I stay positive but it is hard to do. This will be a life long manage the arthiritis situation. It can be very depressing.

profile for Angela W Angela WJacksonville, ALI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter was 14 months old when she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. We first noticed something when she started limping and then got to where she wouldn't even walk. Every morning was the same she would wake up crying in pain. After about a month of doctors visits and hospital visits they finally figured out what was wrong with her. They put her on a weekly shot of medication...

My daughter was 14 months old when she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. We first noticed something when she started limping and then got to where she wouldn't even walk. Every morning was the same she would wake up crying in pain. After about a month of doctors visits and hospital visits they finally figured out what was wrong with her. They put her on a weekly shot of medication until about a few months ago. She had been on that for almost a year when we found out that it wasn't working as well and the arthritis was spreading through her body.

So just recently she got put on two shots a week. Now she is able to run around like other kids her age. We have not had any problems with it so far. I'm thankful to her rheumatologist for figuring out what was going on and for continuing to be cautious with every little problem she may have and doing his job well.

profile for Rebecca B Rebecca BOssian, INThis ismy fight

I have had post tramatic arthritis in my left ankle since the late 80s. I just had the ankle replaced twice due to complications from the 1st in November of 2015. I also fell in 2001 on ice in 2002 I found out that I broke my pelvic bone. I have been in pain since then. I took another fall in January 15, 2013 and from there had my right hip replaced. I was still having issues and then went to a...

I have had post tramatic arthritis in my left ankle since the late 80s. I just had the ankle replaced twice due to complications from the 1st in November of 2015. I also fell in 2001 on ice in 2002 I found out that I broke my pelvic bone. I have been in pain since then. I took another fall in January 15, 2013 and from there had my right hip replaced. I was still having issues and then went to a different doctor found out that I have degenerative osto arthritis. I have had 1 surgery already and am facing another. In between this I found out that I need both knees replaced and am very scared to have this done plus the doctor won't due the surgery unless I loose weight. I still can't walk a long way without pain in my hip, leg or back.

profile for Kathryn A Kathryn AMaysville, GAThis ismy fight

I see a Chiropractor:

Early on see a top notch very good Chiropractor, and good luck, all are not equal.
I found one that works every bone & joint in my body, gives me tips, $60 per visit, I can avoid bunion surgery later ---the list goes on....

My stride has changed, looser, LESS PAIN, no more bursitis, no more plantar fasciitis.
She works my feet, hands,...

I see a Chiropractor:

Early on see a top notch very good Chiropractor, and good luck, all are not equal.
I found one that works every bone & joint in my body, gives me tips, $60 per visit, I can avoid bunion surgery later ---the list goes on....

My stride has changed, looser, LESS PAIN, no more bursitis, no more plantar fasciitis.
She works my feet, hands, sinuses, temples, arms, back, hips, every joint....no one has ever worked on my hands and feet --- I didn't even ask, she just works everything possible.

The blood & oxygen will improve, which feeds our bodies.
I know all health issues differ, but if you haven't tried this route, please do. This may not be a cure, but it could help. I cannot say enough good things about this.
I'm 65, and feel 10 yrs younger.

profile for Elizabeth  P Elizabeth PConverse , TXThis ismy fight

Beginning in 2007, I started to have a lot of aches and pains. My doctors kept running tests and they couldn't pin point exactly what was wrong. My inflammation levels were very high.. but all of my autoimmune blood tests were coming back normal. I was also really tired all the time. The doctor diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome and gave me medicine for the inflammation. In 2012, I was...

Beginning in 2007, I started to have a lot of aches and pains. My doctors kept running tests and they couldn't pin point exactly what was wrong. My inflammation levels were very high.. but all of my autoimmune blood tests were coming back normal. I was also really tired all the time. The doctor diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome and gave me medicine for the inflammation. In 2012, I was still experiencing all of these symptoms. But now my ANA blood test came back positive. I was finally sent to a rheumatologist to be evaluated. The rheumatologist looked over my history and even ordered a nuclear bone scan. He was convinced something autoimmune was going on with my body. But it couldn't be diagnosed or treated yet. He gave me the diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disorder and he told me to come back in a year.

In 2013, I went to see another rheumatologist, hoping they could give me answers. My inflammation levels were still very high. My ANA was also still positive. But he wasn't willing to change my diagnosis since my other blood tests had not changed. I was not RH positive. I went back to my primary doctor very discouraged. I had been in pain for years and I was tired of being exhausted all the time. My primary doctor suspected lupus, but I had seen two rheumatologists and they had been unable to diagnose me. My depression peaked at this time, which didn't help how I coped with the pain I was experiencing.

In 2014, I started to wake up very stiff and it was hard for me to walk. I hurt while I was sleeping because I became stuck in certain positions if I stayed there too long. My joints were red and inflamed. I made another appointment with a 3rd rheumatologist and I was scared. I didn't want to be told that they couldn't see anything diagnosable. I was starting to feel like it was all in my head.

But this rheumatologist finally heard me! He diagnosed me with seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Fibromyalgia. I left his office that day with a treatment plan. This same rheumatologist is now my daughter's rheumatologist for her Juvenile arthritis. I trust him fully. I am forever grateful to him for listening to me and taking the time to hear me.

profile for Kimberly Kimberly Oneida, NYI fight forMy Sister Aletha

In August 0f 2015 my sister and I went to San Diego CA for a small sister trip and during that trip she noticed her foot because swollen. Being a former US Army Medic/LPN I suggested when we got back to her home in AZ she see a doctor thinking it was Gout.

In December that year I went back to AZ from NY for Christmas, it had been 15 years I spent a holiday with my immediate family. My...

In August 0f 2015 my sister and I went to San Diego CA for a small sister trip and during that trip she noticed her foot because swollen. Being a former US Army Medic/LPN I suggested when we got back to her home in AZ she see a doctor thinking it was Gout.

In December that year I went back to AZ from NY for Christmas, it had been 15 years I spent a holiday with my immediate family. My sisters situation became more complex and complicated and finally diagnosed with RA in April 2016. She began treatment with her RA Doctor in AZ and was able to go into remission then having to stop her treatment due to a hip replacement.

My sister is a tough cookie...shall we say! She will fight this to the bitter end and I will fight with her along her journey!

info about Kimberly
profile for Eric G Eric GAtlantic, IAThis ismy fight

Four years ago I was hit by a car, and since then I had arthritis in my back, so far I have had little luck in reducing the pain.

profile for Marie C Marie CEasley, SCThis ismy fight

Started having osteoarthritis in my mid thirties in cervical disks , then in my toes and knees and now lower back.
I cannot take certain medications because they have caused kidney damage.
The only thing that I do now to help myself is go to my local Y and do water exercises.
I sure wish there was a medicine for this that wouldn't damage the kidneys!
Most people are not...

Started having osteoarthritis in my mid thirties in cervical disks , then in my toes and knees and now lower back.
I cannot take certain medications because they have caused kidney damage.
The only thing that I do now to help myself is go to my local Y and do water exercises.
I sure wish there was a medicine for this that wouldn't damage the kidneys!
Most people are not understanding that a person has so much pain and fatigue from this disease.
Maybe in the not so distant future we might get a med that helps.
Thank you
Marie C

profile for Myisha  C Myisha CJackson , MIThis ismy fight

When you think of Arthritis most people don't think of me. I am the young person who occasionally has to ride a electric wheelchair at the grocery store, because of the extreme pain and swelling I am in that day. I am the person who is made fun of because of that. I am the family member that many say to "you are young, why don't you get out more?" In reality, I am in pain and not interested in...

When you think of Arthritis most people don't think of me. I am the young person who occasionally has to ride a electric wheelchair at the grocery store, because of the extreme pain and swelling I am in that day. I am the person who is made fun of because of that. I am the family member that many say to "you are young, why don't you get out more?" In reality, I am in pain and not interested in leaving the house. I have the invisible illness that affects every aspect of my life. I am a warrior with a rare type of Arthritis, called Palindromic Rheumatism. I have moments of freedom but I also have moments of intense flare ups that leave me vulnerable and frustrated. I am the face of the often times invisible illness called Arthritis.

info about Myisha  C
profile for Celestina  M Celestina MMorgan Hill, CAThis ismy fight

It all started when I was seven years old. One day I woke up my legs were hurting and I could not walk. My parents took me to the hospital and could not find nothing wrong until we were referred to a children's hospital.

From there I was seeing a lot of times and was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I was not able to walk so I had to do physical therapy and occupational...

It all started when I was seven years old. One day I woke up my legs were hurting and I could not walk. My parents took me to the hospital and could not find nothing wrong until we were referred to a children's hospital.

From there I was seeing a lot of times and was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I was not able to walk so I had to do physical therapy and occupational therapy to help me learn to walk again. I was in a lot of pain and it was really hard for me. I was put on medication. It did not help me so I went through many medications before we found the right one to help me.

I have a hard time when my joints flare up and the pain is so bad I wish for nobody to have to go through this. I am 14 years old now I'm able to open up a bottle water or use a hairbrush now and be able to call my own hair. I was never able to do that before the therapy that I go through helps me and the medication is helping me. Even though I don't like the shots I'm able to stop taking one of them and take a pill instead but I still have to do injections with other medicine.

We have done the arthritis walk under team Cece. I was able to complete the whole walk at one time with the help of a scooter. We do the Jingle Bell run my family and my friends all have came to support me. Along the way of me having arthritis I also have chronic kidney disease which I get treated for that also. I have gone to the doctor hundreds of times and now I'm down to only going maybe every other month without the help of my Dr my rheumatologist I would not have gotten better and my therapy also my acupuncture from the pain clinic period I have gone to the conference and learned other things I never knew and met kids like me who have the same thing and that has helped me to know I'm not alone or the only kid. I also went to The Summit in Washington DC to help raise awareness for kids for myself. I only wish for one thing and that's to help find a cure for arthritis for all the kids including myself!

info about Celestina  M
profile for Dave Dave Oakland, TNThis ismy fight

Age 72; had Psoriatic Arthritis since age 30; and Osteo since age 50. Control the Psorisis, & control the arthritis untill 50 or 60. Take medication. Had left knee replacement. Arthritis in hands, feet, hip, spine. Do light exercise, walk, and play golf. I cope with pain and discomfort. Spent a lot of time with doctors. Wife is helpfull. You have to accept what you have, and keep...

Age 72; had Psoriatic Arthritis since age 30; and Osteo since age 50. Control the Psorisis, & control the arthritis untill 50 or 60. Take medication. Had left knee replacement. Arthritis in hands, feet, hip, spine. Do light exercise, walk, and play golf. I cope with pain and discomfort. Spent a lot of time with doctors. Wife is helpfull. You have to accept what you have, and keep moving. P. T. can help and give you good exercises. Spent a lot of time at Ortho Clinic. I thank God that I can cope.

profile for Edward M Edward MPortsmouth, RIThis ismy fight

I have been battling Reiter's Syndrome for approximately 22 years. It has been the greatest challenge of my life. It began with a swollen right knee, which was misdiagnosed as a tumor in the synovial tissue. I had surgery on that knee and it took 6 months of physical therapy to regain the use of my leg. After that surgery I began having pain in my right hip.

I then went to an...

I have been battling Reiter's Syndrome for approximately 22 years. It has been the greatest challenge of my life. It began with a swollen right knee, which was misdiagnosed as a tumor in the synovial tissue. I had surgery on that knee and it took 6 months of physical therapy to regain the use of my leg. After that surgery I began having pain in my right hip.

I then went to an orthopedist who sent me to a highly respected rheumatologist in New York City who diagnosed me with Reiter's Syndrome which is a form of spondylitis. It took two years to get an appropriate diagnosis of my disease. Also, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, struggled with iritis, had pain in multiple joints, and have been on steroids and other drugs to control symptoms.

Without going into detail of the struggles of surviving this disease which have been many, including pain, fatigue, changes in medications, and flares, I have managed to have a wonderful life. I have established a career as an attorney, am married, and continue my hobby as a jazz guitarist and singer. I have survived many days which I thought I could not bear and just wanted to lay down and give up. But I always kept in mind that there would be periods of time when I would feel better. So, the most important thing I want others to know who suffer from one of the many forms of arthritis. Hang in there, do your best to remain active, and be kind to yourself.

profile for Holly M Holly MFresno, CAThis ismy fight

I sprained my ankle in the 8th grade. It never really healed properly and it turned into juvenile rheumatoid arthritis by the time I was 16. It was especially bad for a few weeks after I delivered my two children. I've got a negative rheumatoid factor. The disease spread from my ankles to my knees, early on and have been that way ever since. I have had remissions and flare ups for many years,...

I sprained my ankle in the 8th grade. It never really healed properly and it turned into juvenile rheumatoid arthritis by the time I was 16. It was especially bad for a few weeks after I delivered my two children. I've got a negative rheumatoid factor. The disease spread from my ankles to my knees, early on and have been that way ever since. I have had remissions and flare ups for many years, but about 15 yrs ago I started on a new medication and have been almost symptom free for years. Now, however I can feel the osteoarthritis starting up in my joints from all the damage the rheumatoid arthritis has done over the years. Now I take a couple advil and I do pretty well. My low back has started with mild arthritis, so I don't like that!

profile for Gretchen S Gretchen SRancho Cucamonga, CAThis ismy fight

I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 40years. I started taking medicine which did help but it was very expensive and had to be injected. I had both knees replaced twice from 2001 to 2007. Each time I was given too much anaesthetic. I believe this brought on my Alzheimer's. I had both shoulders replaced in 2009. Both surgeries went well. Per my doctor's recommendation I switched medications and the...

I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 40years. I started taking medicine which did help but it was very expensive and had to be injected. I had both knees replaced twice from 2001 to 2007. Each time I was given too much anaesthetic. I believe this brought on my Alzheimer's. I had both shoulders replaced in 2009. Both surgeries went well. Per my doctor's recommendation I switched medications and the R A has subsided.

profile for Camilla G Camilla GCollinsville, VAThis ismy fight

I always feared that I would have the same horrible disease. In some ways I am more fortunate than my family. I worked very hard most of my life and now I am 70 years old. I have Degerative OsteoArthrits in my knees. Have suffered for the last 10 years and have continually worsened. In the last few years I have had frequent falls that caused several concusions. I was a danger to myself.

I always feared that I would have the same horrible disease. In some ways I am more fortunate than my family. I worked very hard most of my life and now I am 70 years old. I have Degerative OsteoArthrits in my knees. Have suffered for the last 10 years and have continually worsened. In the last few years I have had frequent falls that caused several concusions. I was a danger to myself.

I realized that I could just retire or sit down and quit. Not options. I have a supportive family and I talked to them and told them I will fight this and I have. Cannot stand more than a few seconds but I deal with it. Took me 3 years, a change in doctors and medical facilities but I have my mechanical wheel chair. I can live in my apartment, keep it clean and neat, but it takes a little longer. Very thankful for determination to keep on fighting. Medication and exercise, eating right and encouragement.

My knee caps are gone, now bone on bone, Surgery is not a option . Life is good and even though I realize that it worsens, I know my faith in God and determination is a winner for me. By the way I Worked a public job till last month. There are people out there who still recognize that we are still able to contribute to our job force as well as our community.

I could tell you how bad it gets but you that suffer from arthritis already know. Encourage others and give hope.

profile for George R George RHialeah , FLI fight forMy mother

Growing I would of never thought I would see my mother go threw the pain and suffering she goes through with rheumatoid arthritis. She had two hip surgeries and needs a hand surgery as well. It's very troubling and even sometimes frustrating for both sides of the family for her and us to see her not be able to do thing or may not want to go places not because she doesn't want to its just simply...

Growing I would of never thought I would see my mother go threw the pain and suffering she goes through with rheumatoid arthritis. She had two hip surgeries and needs a hand surgery as well. It's very troubling and even sometimes frustrating for both sides of the family for her and us to see her not be able to do thing or may not want to go places not because she doesn't want to its just simply her body doesn't let her. We see her go through life in pain and no matter what she still gets up and goes head on to accomplish her daily tasks. And we all pray that one day and hopefully soon enough there will be a cure for all arthritis sufferers and many people will have a little bit of life without the pain and struggles of arthritis.

profile for Laurie K Laurie KRahway, NJThis ismy fight

Over the last 20 years, I've had 3 surgeries to my knees. Once on the left, and twice on the right due to accidents and all for medial meniscus tears requiring clean out and removal of cartilage.

The last surgery was 3 years ago. I now have osteoarthritis in the right knee which severely impacts my daily routines including a very long commute requiring standing and stairs at times....

Over the last 20 years, I've had 3 surgeries to my knees. Once on the left, and twice on the right due to accidents and all for medial meniscus tears requiring clean out and removal of cartilage.

The last surgery was 3 years ago. I now have osteoarthritis in the right knee which severely impacts my daily routines including a very long commute requiring standing and stairs at times. Going upstairs is particularly challenging as it getting up from a seated position. I rarely can get a seat on the subway and since this is an "unseen" type of disability, nobody is offering me theirs.

The arthritis is also in my neck/spine area which sends sharp periodic pain into the area. It is in areas of my feet too, so walking long distances is difficult at best. My husband and I have been trying to plan a vacation but each place we consider requires more walking than I'm able to manage.

I'm in constant pain and not a single doctor has been able to find a method of pain reduction which works for me. So, I take nothing. I've done several bouts of rehabilitation as well but that's never helped my pain levels either.

I can't believe that in this day and age there still aren't any treatments which effectively work for this type of arthritis. I go through each day being as positive as possible but it's wearing on one's body and mind and curbs the enthusiasm for life I used to enjoy. We need a lot more research for arthritis - too many people suffer from it silently.

profile for Ann G Ann GTrucksville, PAThis ismy fight

At 50 with a 9 yr old daughter and a single parent (right after menopause) I started limping. Went to foot dr who gave me inserts, which hurt more. Soon my fingers started to turn and saw rheumy. Tho no RA factor, I had RA. Started on medication and it helped.

But five years later, as the biologics came out, I developed melanoma, which was successfully removed. However, this...

At 50 with a 9 yr old daughter and a single parent (right after menopause) I started limping. Went to foot dr who gave me inserts, which hurt more. Soon my fingers started to turn and saw rheumy. Tho no RA factor, I had RA. Started on medication and it helped.

But five years later, as the biologics came out, I developed melanoma, which was successfully removed. However, this precluded my use of biologics. I am now 71, with a brother in Raleigh a rheumy and a daughter in her 3rd yr of residency at Stanford in anesthesiology. Two yrs ago I got a foot infection and taken off meth. Now I am self injecting, but need medication for the pain. I had one hip replacement, but RA is ravaging my feet and shoulders. I see multiple drs, but the pain is always there. I try not to complain and stay active as I don't believe anyone understands this disease. I pray every night for restful sleep and less pain.

profile for Holly L Holly LBellflower, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at age 1. I am now 42. Thankfully, I was diagnosed fairly quickly by an intern at my pediatrician's office that had just studied Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (that's what the diagnosis was called at that time). I was immediately started on the new medications as they became available.

My RA began in one ankle and is now in every joint in my body. I was put on...

I was diagnosed at age 1. I am now 42. Thankfully, I was diagnosed fairly quickly by an intern at my pediatrician's office that had just studied Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (that's what the diagnosis was called at that time). I was immediately started on the new medications as they became available.

My RA began in one ankle and is now in every joint in my body. I was put on permanent disability at the age of 17. However, once I started taking college courses in my early 20's I knew I wanted to work. Although now I am finding it difficult to keep my full-time job as my fatigue is almost worse than my pain. I had a knee replacement in late 2015. It was one of the best decisions I made until recently. I have to undergo surgery again as the physician cannot pinpoint the issue.

I have 3 children, 18, 23, and 26. Although I started out very young due to lack of education, I am happy I had my children young as they now assist me when necessary. Unfortunately, my 2 oldest children were recently diagnosed with RA as well. They had symptoms as young kids and into their teenage years but their labs did not show evidence of inflammation. We also all were diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). It can cause additional symptoms of RA to be exacerbated, especially in the heat.

I have been on almost every single medication available for RA and am now taking a new one. It does not provide complete relief but I am out of options at this point. Exercise brings great relief but I can't seem to get through the pain long enough to want to keep going.

I wish everyone the best in their journey and continue to fight this disease.

info about Holly L
profile for Alyssa H Alyssa HSharonville , OHThis ismy fight

My name is Alyssa, and I am 13-years-old. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I started complaining that my legs were hurting and a couple weeks later, my knee was really swollen. We went to my pediatrician and she noticed I had psoriasis on my swollen knee, so after x-rays and an exam, a rheumatologist told us I had arthritis. I had to get a really big shot in my knee to...

My name is Alyssa, and I am 13-years-old. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I started complaining that my legs were hurting and a couple weeks later, my knee was really swollen. We went to my pediatrician and she noticed I had psoriasis on my swollen knee, so after x-rays and an exam, a rheumatologist told us I had arthritis. I had to get a really big shot in my knee to decrease the swelling, and for almost three years, I was injected with my medication every Friday night to help decrease my joint pain and inflammation.

A year ago, my doctor told me I could start drinking my medication instead of getting it injected. I like this much better! I had my most recent appointment in April. My rheumatologist doesn't want to stop my medication yet (to test if I'm in remission), because she wants to wait for my growth plates to fuse. The good news is she hasn't increased my dosage in four years, and I showed no signs of psoriasis, swelling, or pain.

The impact of my arthritis on my daily life is it does not affect my life too much. I am very lucky that my arthritis isn’t too severe. I mean, some people cannot even walk. I am very lucky, because I am not as disabled as some people with arthritis except for the following reasons.

One way I am disabled is I cannot participate in all physical activities. I am not able to do push-ups. This actually works to my advantage, since I really hate to do push-ups. Another disability that I would say is a disadvantage is I can’t participate in track, which is actually a physical activity I really wanted to do when I was younger, but now it’s too much pressure on my knees.

A final impact arthritis has on my daily life is sometimes I just have a sudden jolt of pain in the locations of my arthritis. That can definitely affect my daily life, depending on how much the pain hurts. These are some of the ways arthritis affects my daily life.

My family started a team called Alyssa's Angels to fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation and their annual Cincinnati Jingle Bell Run and Walk 5k. Every year we try to come up with creative ways to fundraise, like holding bake sales, making angel magnets, hosting a book exchange, hosting a "Minute to Win It" Tournament, and hosting an annual raffle, silent auction, and Stella and Dot jewelry party.

It makes me feel good to fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation! Hopefully there will be better medicines invented soon to make all the pain of arthritis go away!

info about Alyssa H
profile for Emily  N Emily NSidney, OHI fight forMy daughter Antoinette

Anna, or as she wants to now be called by her full name, Antoinette is 8 years old. Antoinette was diagnosed at just under 3 years old with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

My 8 year old was saying her bedtime prayers this week and was begging for a medication and to go back to infusions so her hips and back wouldn't hurt so bad. As a mother, sitting by her side, listening to her little prayer...

Anna, or as she wants to now be called by her full name, Antoinette is 8 years old. Antoinette was diagnosed at just under 3 years old with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

My 8 year old was saying her bedtime prayers this week and was begging for a medication and to go back to infusions so her hips and back wouldn't hurt so bad. As a mother, sitting by her side, listening to her little prayer for MEDICATION made me weep. She should be praying for sunshine so she can run outside and play or for a new doll or something that has nothing to do with hospitals or IVs.

Anna is selfless. She is part of a study at the National Institute of Health so she can "help other kids someday not hurt so much". Her inflammation continues to worsen despite all of the medications she has tried. We need new medication. The insurance company won't approve the meds that have worked for adults with AS because they haven't been tested in children. She is an 8 year old living with an adult disease. We need research and donations for new medications.

I will never stop fighting for Antoinette and all of those who struggle with arthritis.

info about Emily  N
profile for Anonymous Anonymous West Jordan , UTThis ismy fight

I was 1and 1/2 years old and I went straight from walking to crawling to not moving at all. My right knee was severely enlarged and my mom took me to the doctors. They had an MRI done and they said it was a tumor and I had to go to the hospital right away. When we got there, they said it was not a tumor but JIA. My mom was relived, not knowing what it was. When she figured out she felt bad, but...

I was 1and 1/2 years old and I went straight from walking to crawling to not moving at all. My right knee was severely enlarged and my mom took me to the doctors. They had an MRI done and they said it was a tumor and I had to go to the hospital right away. When we got there, they said it was not a tumor but JIA. My mom was relived, not knowing what it was. When she figured out she felt bad, but didn't know my pain. It ha's been 12 years now and I'm still fighting my battle waiting for a cure.

profile for Marcela V Marcela VGilroy, CAThis ismy fight

10 years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis .. it was progressing slowly I was terribly scared because my neck my head started to pain I tried all the treatments that I have been told the doctors have changed my medication many times, but I read terrible stories and I want to give Thanks to this foundation and all the people who have put their stories that are nothing other than testimonies...

10 years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis .. it was progressing slowly I was terribly scared because my neck my head started to pain I tried all the treatments that I have been told the doctors have changed my medication many times, but I read terrible stories and I want to give Thanks to this foundation and all the people who have put their stories that are nothing other than testimonies of people who struggle day by day and do not let themselves be overcome and I have received a lot of motivation thanks to the truth .

profile for Julie C Julie CBaltimore, MDThis ismy fight

My fight with arthritis has been a long, painful journey. By my late 20s, I knew something was wrong. I felt pain all the time. I recall seeing a doctor who told me to "lose weight." While I had gained weight from bearing three children in four years, in my soul I knew something was wrong. I lost the weight, and continued to feel pain. For a few years, I blamed myself for allowing my weight...

My fight with arthritis has been a long, painful journey. By my late 20s, I knew something was wrong. I felt pain all the time. I recall seeing a doctor who told me to "lose weight." While I had gained weight from bearing three children in four years, in my soul I knew something was wrong. I lost the weight, and continued to feel pain. For a few years, I blamed myself for allowing my weight to cause destruction in my body.

Finally, my knee completely gave out. I was told I had osteoporosis arthritis in my knee. It was scoped twice, then I received injections. Again, I blamed the weight!
By my 40s, osteoarthritis had worn out many of the discs in my back, fusion and rods were inserted, and I lived on pain relievers and my heating pad! I went out on disability, felt defeated, and obsessed about my pain every day. I avoided activities that would aggravate my pain, so I avoided friends.

I recently d coded to take back my power. I started with reducing my opiates to zero. After being offered an inserted morphine pump, my reaction was to refuse, and to rid myself of all narcotics! Now I knew how much pain I was experiencing. I had to pursue relief.

I was diagnosed then with polymyagia in addition to osteoarthritis. A new medication was prescribed, and I felt better. As I began taking less medicine, my pain increased. I met a wonderful doctor who was I satisfied with the diagnosis. After a myriad of tests, we determined I had inflammatory arthritis, attacking my joints.

I am scheduled for a body scan tomorrow, I am on a low dose of my medication. For the first time in years, I am hopeful. I have remained off pain meds by practicing yoga. I find the movement challenges my joints, increases my circulation, and while it can be painful, it is empowering.

My journey has no happy ending, no miracle drug, no surgery to pull out my wretched spine and replace it with a new one. It has only hope, and an attitude that refuses defeat. Maybe one day I will feel less pain, maybe one day I will wake up with terrible stiffness, and maybe one day inflammatory arthritis won't challenge anyone the way it has me. For now, Namaste!

profile for Nichole V Nichole VCHEEKTOWAGA, NYThis ismy fight

It seems like so Long ago when I first showed signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was 30 years old, had a full time job I loved, in a relationship. Pain started in my hands and fingers first. There was pain and throbbing and swelling. It was so bad it kept me awake at night in tears.

When I finally saw my doctor and he told me I had RA I didn't know what to say, what to do. I cried,...

It seems like so Long ago when I first showed signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was 30 years old, had a full time job I loved, in a relationship. Pain started in my hands and fingers first. There was pain and throbbing and swelling. It was so bad it kept me awake at night in tears.

When I finally saw my doctor and he told me I had RA I didn't know what to say, what to do. I cried, and cried for a long time. Then I read as much as I could about RA and treatments. Always learning trying to overcome my pain, frustration and fear.

Through the passed 15 years I've been through so much, it's hard to explain it all. I've been through ups and downs and two childbirths. I had to give up my jobs because of the progression of my disease. I went through a divorce and starting over living alone 50% of the time.

Through the years I've gone through many different kinds of medications that never seemed to work and still don't. My hands have deformed and have little use anymore. I am always more exhausted than not....feeling like I've always just got done with a marathon. I get depressed, sick, cancel on my friends and family and even appointments. I've lost many friends and family in this journey because some do not understand this disease or what it takes from me on a daily basis.

But I have learned some things in my journey. I've learned to love myself and put me first, allowing myself to rest. There ARE friends and family that do understand and who love and support me. So, I will keep going, keep trying and I will keep smiling, laughing, living....the best way I know how too. Cause RA won't get me down... I am a warrior!!!!!!

profile for Jerry D Jerry DRiverside, CAI fight forMy grandson Carter

Carter was diagnosed at the age of 3.

About Carter:

Carter is a shining force, radiating happiness and hope which he shares with everyone who touches his life.

Fascinated by superheroes, Carter is definitely his own superhero. It’s hard to believe that he has lived with pain and constant medical attention from Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis which was diagnosed...

Carter was diagnosed at the age of 3.

About Carter:

Carter is a shining force, radiating happiness and hope which he shares with everyone who touches his life.

Fascinated by superheroes, Carter is definitely his own superhero. It’s hard to believe that he has lived with pain and constant medical attention from Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis which was diagnosed on January 6, 2014. Carter manifested symptoms of the disease in July 2013 which began with bouts of unexplained pain; now, while knowing the underlying cause brings its own relief, faced with a life-long disease for someone so young is a big task for a little guy and his family. Yet, Carter has retained his silly personality and big heart. His curious nature drives him to constantly seek knowledge and store it in his amazing memory.

Carter can be summed up through his favorite Bible verse: “I can go through all things through Christ that gives me strength.”

Team Carter:

The goal of Team Carter is to raise donations for better treatments, to raise awareness about the disease and to help find a cure. We do so by riding in The Arthritis Foundations California Coast Classic 525 Mile Bike Ride For A Cure in Carter's honor.

To support Carter and his team or to get more information on the ride go to TeamCarter525m4aCure.com

profile for Paul Paul Itasca, ILThis ismy fight

During 2001 I was diagnosed with arthritis. That was the year my left hip was replaced. This change put me in a period of self pity that lasted until December,2005. My life style was one of sitting around and eating too much. My weight was 315lbs.

My first step toward making myself healthier was to participate in a medically supervised liquid diet. The next step was to become a member...

During 2001 I was diagnosed with arthritis. That was the year my left hip was replaced. This change put me in a period of self pity that lasted until December,2005. My life style was one of sitting around and eating too much. My weight was 315lbs.

My first step toward making myself healthier was to participate in a medically supervised liquid diet. The next step was to become a member of Joints In Motion. This Arthritis fund raising group invigorated me.

During 2006 my hips had to support 120lbs less weight. Movement is a key issue in reducing the pain. Walking marathons gave me a great sense of accomplishment every time I crossed the finish line. Eating more fruits and vegetables and decreasing fat foods like bread helped me reduce my weight to 165lbs. Reducing weight is the outcome of practicing healthy habits. My right hip was replaced in 2010. The arthritis devil is still in me. Making myself healthy has been the key to less pain and wear and tear on my heart and the rest of my body. Please don't just sit there and let arthritis freeze your joints. Keep moving.

info about Paul
profile for Samantha  J Samantha JGilbert , AZThis ismy fight

I have been fighting since I was diagnosed with JRA (now called Systemic JIA) at 18 Months old in 1967! Yes, that will make me 50 this year! I have tried almost every medication they could give me. Many times in the past 48 years I have felt like a test dummy and pin cushion! I am actually surprised I still have blood left in my veins. I have had both hips replaced at the age of 14 & 15. And...

I have been fighting since I was diagnosed with JRA (now called Systemic JIA) at 18 Months old in 1967! Yes, that will make me 50 this year! I have tried almost every medication they could give me. Many times in the past 48 years I have felt like a test dummy and pin cushion! I am actually surprised I still have blood left in my veins. I have had both hips replaced at the age of 14 & 15. And since have had them revised in 2005 and 2007. I had my right shoulder semi replaced and left knee totally replaced 4 years ago.

I grew up with this illness in a time when being a child with Arthritis was more rare. And I was told that I would NOT do much. I rebelled and did more than I ever thought I could! I fought to be ME, a human, INDEPENDENT, a girl, a young woman, a student, a college graduate, a wife, a mother, a friend, a Social Worker, a Career Woman and a person who gives back to her community. And I did all this with Arthritis! Yet due to all of the damage and exhaustion I have had to retire early from employment and begin a different fight but the same fight, my health and wellbeing.

In The midst of my life I found myself wanting to give back and decided to help others like me. I met up with some friends and I became one of the Founding Board Members of Arthritis Introspective. We were searching everywhere for Support and to see and chat with others that had similar illnesses we had so we could connect. Now I am a Support Group Co-Leader for the Phoenix Metro area for Arthritis Introspective, who is now part of the Arthritis Foundation.

Not only do I fight for myself but now I am fighting for all my Arthritis friends and family! And although I have learned to live with my Arthritis and accomplish some fabulous things I fight for all the children who are being dealt this hand right now!

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profile for Alana B Alana BLake Saint Louis , MOThis ismy fight

At the age of 24 I thought my world had crushed. I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to bend my legs, walk to the bathroom, practically unable to bend just about every joint in my body. I knew something wasn't right but wasn't sure exactly what was going on. I went to the doctor and was told I had a virus and was given steroids to kill the virus. Once I took the round of steroids,...

At the age of 24 I thought my world had crushed. I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to bend my legs, walk to the bathroom, practically unable to bend just about every joint in my body. I knew something wasn't right but wasn't sure exactly what was going on. I went to the doctor and was told I had a virus and was given steroids to kill the virus. Once I took the round of steroids, the pain came back even worse so back to the doctor I went. After more blood work and x-rays of my joints, I was then diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I thought to myself: okay, I have arthritis. Little did I know what was being thrown at me. I was diagnosed with severe RA and soon did my research to begin learning about what my diagnoses was and that I have an autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid Arthritis nor only attacks your joints but other parts of your body as well- your immune thinks the good in your body is bad so it turns against it. The last 3 years have been the biggest roller coaster I could have imagined. I have tried about 8 different medication combinations and my body is stubborn and responds very little to them or only for a short time. I've been in flares so bad throughout the last three years that I could barely bathe myself, couldn't brush my own hair, and could barely cook. I am finally on a new medication. My disease is the most controlled it has been since I was diagnosed. Do I ever wake up with no pain? No. I can't even remember what it feels like to wake up pain free. I have learned so much in the past three years- you never know what someone is going through. I bet 90% of the people I come in contact with have no idea I suffer from a chronic illness/autoimmune disease. I keep a positive outlook no matter how bad I hurt or how bad my flare is. I thank God everyday that I am still doing one of my favorite things- working out. It is something that keeps me going mentally and physically.
For everyone who is suffering from any type of arthritis- stay strong, you can do it even on your toughest days❤️

profile for Kyle Kyle Sacramento, CAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JRA around the age of 13 years old after years of misdiagnosing from my pediatrician, I would wake up my a joint in one of my lower extremities inflamed and unable to walk only to be told I "must have" banged my knee the day before and to just rest.

Aside from the JRA I also have to deal with bouts of uveitis in my eyes causing extreme pain, light sensitivity and...

I was diagnosed with JRA around the age of 13 years old after years of misdiagnosing from my pediatrician, I would wake up my a joint in one of my lower extremities inflamed and unable to walk only to be told I "must have" banged my knee the day before and to just rest.

Aside from the JRA I also have to deal with bouts of uveitis in my eyes causing extreme pain, light sensitivity and extreme redness. Growing up with JRA has taught me mental strength and perseverance. I was an extremely active kid and young adult and learning your body and when to say no was difficult to do as a kid. I am now 30 years of age and still as active as ever with soccer, running, cycling and crossfit. I feel like this active lifestyle has helped tremendously with keeping my RA symptoms at bay as the more active I am the better my body feels.

For any young kid or parent of a child with JRA I offer you encouragement. While everyone's fight is different, RA doesn't have to define you. Work with you doctor on the right treatment plan and when your body allows it be as active as you can be!

profile for mark mark Arlington, TXThis ismy fight

i am 62 years old,and have had gout for the last 17 years.it is in all my joints,knees, hands,feet.years ago i found out i was highly allergic to most gout meds so i just have to suffer with the pain and the flares everday,but i have learned to cope . i found a easy thing to do everyday Just Smile, and it work for me. maybe one day they will make some meds that can help me. till then i will keep...

i am 62 years old,and have had gout for the last 17 years.it is in all my joints,knees, hands,feet.years ago i found out i was highly allergic to most gout meds so i just have to suffer with the pain and the flares everday,but i have learned to cope . i found a easy thing to do everyday Just Smile, and it work for me. maybe one day they will make some meds that can help me. till then i will keep on smiling.

profile for Alan Alan La Crosse, WIThis ismy fight

I have been living with osteoarthritis in both ankles for the last 12 years. Except for the last 10 months, my only modification was to stop playing sports. However, I became bed ridden in October 2015 due to soft tissue damage in both knees as a result of my changed gait. I could no longer work due to the severity of pain. I could barely move for months. I virtually remained in bed for months. I...

I have been living with osteoarthritis in both ankles for the last 12 years. Except for the last 10 months, my only modification was to stop playing sports. However, I became bed ridden in October 2015 due to soft tissue damage in both knees as a result of my changed gait. I could no longer work due to the severity of pain. I could barely move for months. I virtually remained in bed for months. I took various prescriptive and over the counter medicines, some of which had undesirable side effects. Over the course of months, I visited with my GP, orthopedic and rheumatologist. The consensus was due to the wear and tear on my bones in the ankle, I needed arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs. I was scheduled for surgery. At that moment, I decided to change my life and to do everything possible to avoid or delay surgery as long as possible. Over the last few months, I have lost 21 pounds (to alleviate pressure off my ankle joints) and I have accomplished my weight loss due to new dietary regimen and exercising a minimum of 1 hour/day. I eat less meat, sugary and processed food and sweetened drinks. My largest meal is breakfast and I progressively reduce my portions throughout the day with dinner being the smallest portioned meal. I drink filtered water and have detoxed my body with special eating regimen. I regularly visit with my physiotherapist and massage therapist. I now wear orthotics in accommodative shoes. I have subsequently visited two pain clinics and both clinics stated they could not offer additional assistance because I am doing everything possible to address my condition. I visited my Rheumatologist yesterday and she said she was inspired by my dedication to improve my health. I am now mobile. I can walk, ride my bike, jog on my rebounder and play sports using Wii. I will continue to improve to increase my flexibility and mobility. I will never again take my health for granted and I will remain determined to improve my health everyday.

profile for Karla Karla Durham, NCThis ismy fight

I have been living with rheumatoid arthritis for three and a half years. I've said no to staying out late with friends, cooking dinner after a long day, and a multitude of other things along the way. But I've said yes to medication, watching my diet and rationing my "spoons" for important things. I've never missed work for more than a day or taken disability. I am a single mom putting my son...

I have been living with rheumatoid arthritis for three and a half years. I've said no to staying out late with friends, cooking dinner after a long day, and a multitude of other things along the way. But I've said yes to medication, watching my diet and rationing my "spoons" for important things. I've never missed work for more than a day or taken disability. I am a single mom putting my son through college with little help from his dad. I haven't given up anything, just made some adjustments to help me survive tough days. I'll go to bed early when I need to and I'm not afraid to say no. Saying no helps me to say yes later on. I get strength from my son and my boyfriend who are great at supporting me. I get hope from seeing my brother with his grandson and knowing someday I want to play with my grandkids like that!

profile for Brian W Brian WPortland, ORI fight forMy Daughter

My daughter was diagnosed with Systemic JIA when she was 3 years old (she is now 11) Watching her struggle and anticipating what the future will hold for her health has been agonizing at times. I am so hopeful for advances in the treatment options. I look forward to helping as I can.

Have you seen the 500+ stories people have submitted to help us #FightFor50 during #ArthritisAwarenessMontharthritis.org/fightfor50/sto…

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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.

It's the #1 cause of disability in the nation but many don't understand the severity of #arthritis.… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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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 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 like somebody was chasing me.... "let me do this ASAP, who knows if I'll be able to travel when I get old". I was diagnosed when in my early 30's. Even though I've had plenty of pain I never said I suffer. I...

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 like somebody was chasing me.... "let me do this ASAP, who knows if I'll be able to travel when I get old". I was diagnosed when in my early 30's. Even though I've had plenty of pain I never said I suffer. I fight. I am a warrior. This disease will not win. This month I took my fight even further and went to the California Capitol to advocate for people with chronic illness. Thank you AF for being one of the sponsors of this event! I believe getting involved in the political arena is very important. I hope other members will join us in the future! Never give up! Fight back!

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 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 Danny F Danny FLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I've had psoriatic arthritis for over 20 years now. I was a photographer in the television industry working on shows like Friends, ER, Modern Family, Scandal, etc. My livelihood depended on my ability to work 12 hours on my feet while carrying heavy cameras.

I was fortunate enough to have an excellent rheumatologist who diagnosed my disease early on and got me on a biologic.

I've had psoriatic arthritis for over 20 years now. I was a photographer in the television industry working on shows like Friends, ER, Modern Family, Scandal, etc. My livelihood depended on my ability to work 12 hours on my feet while carrying heavy cameras.

I was fortunate enough to have an excellent rheumatologist who diagnosed my disease early on and got me on a biologic.

The biologic saved my life and allowed me full functionality in my work and life. That is not to say that I haven't had my difficult times. But to have lived in all the history of man and been lucky enough to have had my disease coincide with the creation of these incredible biologics is an incredible gift.

I have also not had any side effects from my injections, a rarity for anyone who takes medication. I'm grateful to all the scientists and doctors who are the true heroes in this story.

profile for Jeanelle  P Jeanelle PBedford , INThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with what was then called Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis or JRA at the age of 4. I'm now 33 years old. Over the 29 years that I've struggled with this disease I have tried so many medications and procedures.

I remember scooting down the stairs on my butt when I was 6 because I couldn't bend my knees to walk down the steps. I remember being held down on the table for...

I was diagnosed with what was then called Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis or JRA at the age of 4. I'm now 33 years old. Over the 29 years that I've struggled with this disease I have tried so many medications and procedures.

I remember scooting down the stairs on my butt when I was 6 because I couldn't bend my knees to walk down the steps. I remember being held down on the table for them to drain my knees and ankles. I remember sleeping in what they called canoe splints. They were hard casts cut open to put my legs in then Velcroed shut to keep my knees from deforming. I recall my dad holding me in his lap while he injected me with medication.

By age 22 my joints had deteriorated so much and I had my first joint replacement. It was my left hip. Now I call myself the bionic woman! Both of my hips are replaced, both of my knees are replaced and my right foot was reconstructed. I have been on prednisone for over 20 years now. Due to this I developed prednisone induced diabetes and gained over 100 pounds over these past 6 years in particular.

I have days that I get angry and sad. Why me? But I am a mom to a beautiful compassionate 6-year-old daughter and I need to fight this disease for her. She sees me administer my weekly shots and she will sit there and comfort me.

We just found out about a month ago that she may have this terrible disease. In July she will see the same pediatric Rheumatologist I saw when I was a child. I need to put a brave face on for her and show her that we can get through this. Arthritis will not win. It will not bring either of us down!

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 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.

info about Mary P
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 M D M DOmaha, NEThis ismy fight

First, let me mention that I'm typing with my left forearm in a brace; my thumb has some problems for a few weeks because of a new bicycle, a gift.

Nobody understands when I simply cannot eat sugary birthday cakes or processed foods, even chips and salsa. Over the years, I've learned that what I eat definitely influences swelling, bloating, even and joint and finger stiffness and how...

First, let me mention that I'm typing with my left forearm in a brace; my thumb has some problems for a few weeks because of a new bicycle, a gift.

Nobody understands when I simply cannot eat sugary birthday cakes or processed foods, even chips and salsa. Over the years, I've learned that what I eat definitely influences swelling, bloating, even and joint and finger stiffness and how well I sleep. I cook every bite of food, even tea. I do drink frozen orange juice in moderation.

Colleagues look at my simple plate of broiled fish, brown rice and vegetables. "How can you stand to eat like this?" I also get enough sleep and rest during the day. That doesn' t make me a valued friend! Also, I ge t colder faste r than o the rs, who cannot understand why I must wear gloves and a hat, and di rec t sunligh t makes me rather ill. Ove r the yea rs I've become in te res ted in projects that have nothing to do wi th the approval or disapproval of o ther s. Mos tly, they' re jus t unaware. They don' t necessa rily mean any thing!

However, my symptoms have lessened since I was in my 30's (I'm 68 now), as I become more careful of wha t I ea t and my exe rcise routine. Yoga and meditation, too, really help.

I have had some nasty shocks, like seeming tendinitis and pain, but not often; and I've lea rned from these expe riences.

I did get hepatitis C when I taught university in China. I take no strong drugs of any kind; for this live r problem, My ca reful diet and quie t life have helped me remain mostly s trong and heal thy. People are always shocked to lear n tha t I have these two p roblems: ar thri tis and hepa titis C. "You look so heal thy!" My hands we re my fi rs t 'tip off' in my early 20's. And so on.

I'd encou rage every pe rson wi th arthri tis to exer cise every single day fo r mor e than an hou r, to ea t ve ry simply, to ge t enough res t and to pu rsue their dreams. You want a Ph.D in G reek Li t? Do i t! You pine for a job overseas? Figu re out how you can do this, and do i t! It's important to see being misunderstood as a chance to really be you rself, to develop your highes t capabili ties..

Bes t of luck to you all. I know you can do i t!

profile for Susan P Susan PDobbins, CAThis ismy fight

I've had rheumatoid arthritis my whole life. I was diagnosed at age 9. I've tried all the medicines on the market for the last 50 years. I remember when I was young using heat packs and aspirin only. Some meds gave me bad rashes and other side effects. I've had both knees replaced and one hip replacement. I still work part time as a teacher, and I'm grateful for that. I can't do the things I...

I've had rheumatoid arthritis my whole life. I was diagnosed at age 9. I've tried all the medicines on the market for the last 50 years. I remember when I was young using heat packs and aspirin only. Some meds gave me bad rashes and other side effects. I've had both knees replaced and one hip replacement. I still work part time as a teacher, and I'm grateful for that. I can't do the things I used to do when my sons were growing up, like play baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming, etc. Going to bed with swollen ankles after doing too much with the kids happened a lot. Now, my doctor wants me on a new med, but my insurance may not cover it. I have lived 60 years with pain and stiffness, but I'm from New England and I come from hearty stock, so I'm not apt to quit doing whatever I can. The only great thing that worries me is that someday I may be in a wheel chair. And that won't work for the 2 story house that I presently live in. What people need to know is that there are always others worse off than you. With that in mind, I just keep plugging away and do what I need to do.

profile for Lilian B Lilian BMiami, FLThis ismy fight

Yes we have to take RA very serious, I had RA from 1997. I had both my hips replaced 5 times, my hands changed dramatically, all my body is very sensitive. My crisis are very hard, sometimes. I have very good days w/out pain or inflammation but I had also Osteoporosis and my RA became worse.

I watch what I eat, but the medicines are strong and I have to eat fruits, vegetables and...

Yes we have to take RA very serious, I had RA from 1997. I had both my hips replaced 5 times, my hands changed dramatically, all my body is very sensitive. My crisis are very hard, sometimes. I have very good days w/out pain or inflammation but I had also Osteoporosis and my RA became worse.

I watch what I eat, but the medicines are strong and I have to eat fruits, vegetables and proteins, Even with all my precautions and monthly visits to my rheumatologist and labs every three months I get sick wth Amiliodosys. This illness is not common and comes when you have a chronic illness, like RA.

The goal for my rheumatologist and nephrologist is to try to manage my RA, but the osteoporosis is in my system and today I'm in the hospital with my cervical broken and I had to get another surgery.

RA is very very hard but we have to fight and continue to advocate for more investigations to try to find a cure and also lower the cost of the medicines.

profile for Wendy B Wendy BNew Bedford , MAThis ismy fight

Ok so for years I had boughts of joint pain and fatigue. I was told it was possibly lupus, possibly RA, possibly some other type of arthritis, possibly lyme disease...finally after much testing doctors came up with a viral infection that affected the joints on one side of my body only. I believed them because it went away. Then years later after the birth of my second child it stated up...

Ok so for years I had boughts of joint pain and fatigue. I was told it was possibly lupus, possibly RA, possibly some other type of arthritis, possibly lyme disease...finally after much testing doctors came up with a viral infection that affected the joints on one side of my body only. I believed them because it went away. Then years later after the birth of my second child it stated up again. My doctor told me I had postpartum depression. I of course knew better. I have a psychology background and knew that I was blue but not due to postpartum depression, it was due to chronic pain and fatigue. So I sought out therapy which helped me to become the fighter I needed to be in order to get the care I needed. I became emotionally strong enough to confront my doctor and demand a referral to a specialist. It took a few weeks but I got a diagnosis. First visit it was fibromyalgia then at my second visit we noticed irregularities in my finger which prompted an xray. The xray showed erosions. Thus prompting a new diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. That was 5 years ago. Every day I fight to get the care I need and deserve. Every day I fight to get the understanding of friends and family. Everyday I fight this disease and try to be the wife, mother, and woman I am inside my brain. Sadly the hardest part of this disease is not being able to be who you are in your mind. At 41 years old I can completely understand what a person who is twice my age feels like when they can't open a bottle of water or turn the doorknob. I have two children who are very bright and want to be scientists, I encourage them to be scientists and work on curing diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Psoriatic Arthritis, etc. I hope one day to be there watching my children accept the Nobel prize for finding a cure for these horrible diseases and finding a cure for cancer.

profile for Gabriela  H Gabriela HRiverside, CAThis ismy fight

I'm 23 years old, I have rheumatoid arthritis. I've had it for two years now. One of the hardest battles I've ever fought. In my life I would of never thought of being diagnosed with this. It's a huge battle, physically and mentally it can either destroy you or build you. In my case it's helped me to construct myself and especially since I have infusions every time I go get it I have to rebuild...

I'm 23 years old, I have rheumatoid arthritis. I've had it for two years now. One of the hardest battles I've ever fought. In my life I would of never thought of being diagnosed with this. It's a huge battle, physically and mentally it can either destroy you or build you. In my case it's helped me to construct myself and especially since I have infusions every time I go get it I have to rebuild my strength. My family and friends are my biggest support. I fight every day by maintaining myself strong and trying to work with my hands as if nothing happens. My hands are my main concern daily. Their what mostly hurts but I make the best of my life. In general life is beautiful no matter what.

profile for Gloria D Gloria DMission Viejo, CAThis ismy fight

I've had Arthritis for over 40 years. My 1st doctor immediately prescribed an oral pill and the injections which I was on until a newer medication was developed. I've changed oral prescriptions several times - now on several medications. I am almost 76 years old and still working 3 days a week in a Pharmacy. I've raised my 3 children and 8 Grandchildren. Been very active in all of their lives. I...

I've had Arthritis for over 40 years. My 1st doctor immediately prescribed an oral pill and the injections which I was on until a newer medication was developed. I've changed oral prescriptions several times - now on several medications. I am almost 76 years old and still working 3 days a week in a Pharmacy. I've raised my 3 children and 8 Grandchildren. Been very active in all of their lives. I have daily pain, especially during the night, but I keep myself very busy and not sit at home watching T.V. I keep my body moving. My Doctor tells me I'm amazing. I've had Colon Cancer - 4 Stents - Gall Bladder Surgery and stomach surgery. I think all of the strong Rx's that I've taken through the years have caused me to have stomach issues -- but I wake up every day with a smile - get dressed - and out the door to stay busy.

profile for Georgia Georgia San Francisco, CAThis ismy fight

I had lots of pain in many joints and pseudo gout at my foot and wrist. A neurologist thought I might have RA. My ESR was 70. I don't go out much and I cover up a lot in the sun. I had my vitamin D tested and it was 40. I decided to try vitamin D supplements. It has made a huge difference! I am currently almost pain free and have been for about 2.5 months. This is a true remission. My ESR was 30...

I had lots of pain in many joints and pseudo gout at my foot and wrist. A neurologist thought I might have RA. My ESR was 70. I don't go out much and I cover up a lot in the sun. I had my vitamin D tested and it was 40. I decided to try vitamin D supplements. It has made a huge difference! I am currently almost pain free and have been for about 2.5 months. This is a true remission. My ESR was 30 at my last test, less than 1/2 of what it was. I am hoping this lasts. I hope this helps anyone else who might benefit from vitamin D. I also noticed that when I drink more water, over 3-4 bottles at least, I feel better.

profile for Cheryl R Cheryl RLancaster, CAThis ismy fight

I've been suffering for the past 15 years and the pain has gotten worse over the years. I decided not to let it bring me down! I do things that have to get done I even go shopping! Sitting aound is just make it worse, and I don't want to end up in a wheel chair!! I would like to encourage everyone to keep moving. I know it hurts but you can do it!! I pray for everyone that has this debilitating...

I've been suffering for the past 15 years and the pain has gotten worse over the years. I decided not to let it bring me down! I do things that have to get done I even go shopping! Sitting aound is just make it worse, and I don't want to end up in a wheel chair!! I would like to encourage everyone to keep moving. I know it hurts but you can do it!! I pray for everyone that has this debilitating disease every day. God bless you all. ud83eudd40ud83eudd40ud83dudc9aud83dudc99ud83dudc9cud83dudc9b

profile for Maureen  S Maureen SHaverhill , MAThis ismy fight

I have osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, & fibromyalgia mostly in my back & hips. I began my treatment with painkillers but kept getting sick on them. My doctor then prescribed medication that was primarily for seizures but it took control of my life a year later & had to be stopped gradually. At the same time, my doctor put me on a low-dose NSAID, against my better judgement. It also affected my...

I have osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, & fibromyalgia mostly in my back & hips. I began my treatment with painkillers but kept getting sick on them. My doctor then prescribed medication that was primarily for seizures but it took control of my life a year later & had to be stopped gradually. At the same time, my doctor put me on a low-dose NSAID, against my better judgement. It also affected my health! Being overly sensitive to any new drugs on the market, I must use extreme caution or I could be in serious trouble. When it flares up, all I can do is take acetaminophen & rest until it passes.

profile for Teagan Teagan New Harbor, METhis ismy fight

I am 8 years old and I am in 2nd grade. I have had Juvenile Arthritis for 6 months. I have my joints hurting on my wrists, fingers and ankles. I have to have shots once a week and I have to have blood taken every 2-3 months. Right now I have to take yucky medicine and have a pill every day. If you have Juvenile Arthritis I hope you don't let it stop you from doing anything you love. I love to...

I am 8 years old and I am in 2nd grade. I have had Juvenile Arthritis for 6 months. I have my joints hurting on my wrists, fingers and ankles. I have to have shots once a week and I have to have blood taken every 2-3 months. Right now I have to take yucky medicine and have a pill every day. If you have Juvenile Arthritis I hope you don't let it stop you from doing anything you love. I love to go horseback riding and doing gymnastics. And I don't let it stop me from doing anything!

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profile for Lisa M Lisa MRamona, OKThis ismy fight

I'm a mother, daughter, wife, sister and a grandma. I've always been the kind of person that had to be doing something. I was diagnosed in 2008 with RA, and I thought life as I knew it was going to change forever, and in many ways, it did, for the better. In the beginning I went through a period of feeling sorry for myself wondering what I did so bad in life to deserve this kind of...

I'm a mother, daughter, wife, sister and a grandma. I've always been the kind of person that had to be doing something. I was diagnosed in 2008 with RA, and I thought life as I knew it was going to change forever, and in many ways, it did, for the better. In the beginning I went through a period of feeling sorry for myself wondering what I did so bad in life to deserve this kind of torture...until I look at my nephew with CF or friends with cancer and I realize that I don't have it so bad. I still ride motorcycles, scuba dive, cross stitch, workout, continue my career, etc. I refuse to lay down or give up. This disease will not define me. I have RA, but RA doesn't have me. It may take us longer to accomplish our goals with this disease, but we can still set goals and accomplish them.....just like anyone else.

profile for Kari M Kari MTucson, AZI fight forMy daughter Cassidy

Our daughter Cassidy (Minnie) was diagnosed with Autism in December of 2013, that’s when our world changed. We had therapists and appointments galore and just when things started to settle, she was diagnosed with Poly-articular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in August of 2014. Our world has not been the same since. Our oldest daughter, has made it her personal mission to raise awareness for JIA,...

Our daughter Cassidy (Minnie) was diagnosed with Autism in December of 2013, that’s when our world changed. We had therapists and appointments galore and just when things started to settle, she was diagnosed with Poly-articular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in August of 2014. Our world has not been the same since. Our oldest daughter, has made it her personal mission to raise awareness for JIA, even starting up a cookie stand here in AZ to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. Minnie is more than Mighty, she’s our HERO! At the current time, Minnie is 6, although you’d never know it by her activity level or “puffy” joints. Her favorite things are Minnie Mouse, Skittles after taking her daily medications and weekly injections, cuddle time, books, and her heating pad. This evil disease has taken away more than any of us would like to admit and it’s time we raise awareness and fund research to find a cause!

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profile for Andrea S Andrea SWest Hazleton, PAI fight forAll the children who suffer from Arthritis

I was born with arthritis and I know full well the pain and problems that we face each day. I had swollen hands and had to soak my hands in hot water each day in order to dress myself.

It was a struggle each day buy I I learned to do things that my friends ccould and I could not. I still suffer today and I hae spinal problems .
I do not want to see another child...

I was born with arthritis and I know full well the pain and problems that we face each day. I had swollen hands and had to soak my hands in hot water each day in order to dress myself.

It was a struggle each day buy I I learned to do things that my friends ccould and I could not. I still suffer today and I hae spinal problems .
I do not want to see another child suffer from this disease. I will keep fighting until not chold suffers from this disease.

I share my story so others will understand that this disease will eat away at your cartilidge and bones.

profile for Candace C Candace CSan Juan Capistrano, CAThis ismy fight

I have been living with psoriatic arthritis since I was in my early teens, over 50 years. It took several years to even get a decent diagnosis. I have tried most therapies available over the years with finding some relief with more current choices. Unfortunately, I already had extensive joint destruction prior to availability of newer medicines. I'm sure my arthritis was a major factor in my...

I have been living with psoriatic arthritis since I was in my early teens, over 50 years. It took several years to even get a decent diagnosis. I have tried most therapies available over the years with finding some relief with more current choices. Unfortunately, I already had extensive joint destruction prior to availability of newer medicines. I'm sure my arthritis was a major factor in my marriage ending after I couldn't use my hands for work any longer. I have a lot of good things in my life despite the disabilities and pain. I am thrilled for the future, that newly diagnosed patients will have more choices for effective treatment.

profile for Debra S Debra SGarland, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed in 2003 with RA. I had suffered for years but did not know what was wrong. The feet would kill me. The neck, and sometimes my knee would just go. The Doctor would give me pills for pain. Then Winter hit, and the disease came on like a freight train. I could not type, open a door, or even get out of a car. I went in and asked Doctor to test for RA after my Mom recommended...

I was diagnosed in 2003 with RA. I had suffered for years but did not know what was wrong. The feet would kill me. The neck, and sometimes my knee would just go. The Doctor would give me pills for pain. Then Winter hit, and the disease came on like a freight train. I could not type, open a door, or even get out of a car. I went in and asked Doctor to test for RA after my Mom recommended this. It was positive, but he said there was nothing they could do. From that point on, I took control. I got a Rheumatologist and have been on a biologic for past 14yrs. The lesson here-Do whatever you have you have to do to get the answers you need. Don't wait. Take control of your health.

profile for Heather O Heather OSpringfield, ILThis ismy fight

It all started with flu like symptoms. Then I could barely stand and walk...I cried as a dropped glasses. These symptoms began interring with my daily life and my ability to teach (I am a health teacher!).

After months of pain, hospital visits, doctors appointments, and being poked and prodded, I was given a diagnosis. In November of 2014 I was told at 22 years old that I had...

It all started with flu like symptoms. Then I could barely stand and walk...I cried as a dropped glasses. These symptoms began interring with my daily life and my ability to teach (I am a health teacher!).

After months of pain, hospital visits, doctors appointments, and being poked and prodded, I was given a diagnosis. In November of 2014 I was told at 22 years old that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. This brought a mix of emotions and new fears. Since then, I have had ups and downs. I do not know what I would do without the support I have from friends and family. But also since then, I have jogged multiple Arthritis Awareness 5Ks,I have become an avid "Yogi", I have overcome my fear of needles (thanks to my injections) and I have climbed mountains (literally and figuratively). Rheumatoid Arthritis does not mean I am weak...it has made me stronger

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profile for Nancy Z Nancy ZGrant Park, ILThis ismy fight

My story started when I was 45 years old and was told I would have to have double knee replacements due to osteoarthritis. This was not a shock to me since my mother suffered the same fate but she did not have her knees replaced until she was in her sixties. I did not participate in any sports until college I played racquetball, tennis, I skied I also took and eventually taught Aerobic classes....

My story started when I was 45 years old and was told I would have to have double knee replacements due to osteoarthritis. This was not a shock to me since my mother suffered the same fate but she did not have her knees replaced until she was in her sixties. I did not participate in any sports until college I played racquetball, tennis, I skied I also took and eventually taught Aerobic classes. Due to my knees being so painful I took up golf and started taking water aerobics at my doctor's suggestion. He also suggested that I start taking a series of shots in both knees to help with the pain and to put off surgery until I was at least 50 years old. The water aerobic class that fit in my schedule was arthritis based class by the Arthritis Foundation. I loved the class because it was very similar to the aerobics land classes I taught but without any pain. After a few weeks of taking these classes the instructor told me that one of the classes would be cancelled due to the instructor leaving. I went to the shower thinking what's the difference between land/ water aerobics and what do I need to teach it. I got dressed went to the pool office and said what does it take to teach the class she said you'd be fabulous I will train you. I watched one class called Senior Fit Arthritis and said I'm ready to teach.A couple of weeks later I got certified that was 12 years ago and I've been teaching that class ever since. Since then I've gone on to get certified with the Ms Aquatics program and Pilates Aquatics. I went from teaching 2 classes a week at 1 location to teaching 6 classes a week and lifeguarding 2 times a week at 2 locations and subbing classes at least 1to 2times a week. And oh yeah I had my first knee replacement last year at 57 years old!!!! I'm hoping to hold off my second knee for a little while. I tribute waiting longer for my knee surgery to aquatic aerobics. I have no pain in the water I never have pain afterwards and I had convinced several family members ,friends and clients that water aerobics is the best thing for not only osteoarthritis any type of arthritis also Parkinson's MS and lupus etc.. I will teach my water classes as long as I am physically able and I will continue to recruit everybody I know into the water.

profile for Suze B Suze BLakeland, FLThis ismy fight

In 2009 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I had to drop out of college and stop working full time. RA took so much from me, but I'm getting it back. I fought to walk without a cane and now I am a gym regular. I refuse to give this disease anything more of me, not more bone damage or exhaustion. At any point it could be taken from me, so I fight back hard. I hope that my children will be...

In 2009 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I had to drop out of college and stop working full time. RA took so much from me, but I'm getting it back. I fought to walk without a cane and now I am a gym regular. I refuse to give this disease anything more of me, not more bone damage or exhaustion. At any point it could be taken from me, so I fight back hard. I hope that my children will be spared the pain, damage and fatigue. I fight for them too.

profile for Roberta A Roberta A Sycamore , ILThis ismy fight

I have suffered with psoriatic arthritis for many years but was never diagnosed until five years ago...it has affected many parts of my body and has cause much pain. I am now on medication... which also helps to control my psoriasis which I've had since a young child.
Psoriatic arthritis has caused complete exhaustion from the moment I wake up until I go to bed.
Just getting up...

I have suffered with psoriatic arthritis for many years but was never diagnosed until five years ago...it has affected many parts of my body and has cause much pain. I am now on medication... which also helps to control my psoriasis which I've had since a young child.
Psoriatic arthritis has caused complete exhaustion from the moment I wake up until I go to bed.
Just getting up to dressor taking a shower causes me not to be able to function without resting. My spine is affected.Three of my vertebrae's have fused together in my neck. Both my hands and feet are very painful and at times very swollen .

profile for Michael M Michael MLansing, MIThis ismy fight

I have been a martial artist and athlete all my life. In 2011, after a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, my knuckles started swelling and aching. I thought it was merely from exertion, but when my feet started to ache all the time too, I finally listened to my wife and went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and found out at that time from my family that my grandfather had...

I have been a martial artist and athlete all my life. In 2011, after a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, my knuckles started swelling and aching. I thought it was merely from exertion, but when my feet started to ache all the time too, I finally listened to my wife and went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and found out at that time from my family that my grandfather had had it as well.

Since then I have been seeing a great rheumatologist, but still have not found a medication regimen that gives me consistent relief. I am still very active, teaching kids' karate and training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but I am constantly needing to modify my activities to cope with the pain and fatigue. Since my diagnosis I have had two knee surgeries (I have no cartilage left in my right knee), and often walk with a cane. I also recently had to reduce my hours at work due to fatigue and the number of doctor appointments I have to attend.

Rheumatoid Arthritis has been difficult, but I am grateful to have a very supportive wife and two wonderful kids who understand if Daddy is sometimes exhausted and not able to keep up with them. I have great friends to train martial arts with, who keep me safe on the mats and keep me motivated to stay active. And I have a wonderful employer (I am a social worker working in a non-profit serving people with disabilities) who gives me accommodations that allow me to stay productive and take care of my health at the same time. Overall, I am very lucky.

One thing I would like to say to people who have not experienced this disease is: be kind - people who look healthy on the outside can be fighting battles with their body that you know nothing about.

I don't take my health for granted, and am grateful for every day I have left.

profile for Gina T Gina TGranville, ILThis ismy fight

My first experience with arthritis started over three years ago. I would say that I lived a very active healthy lifestyle. My normal workout routine was in the morning before going into my full-time job. We rescued a bulldog pup and so my morning routine required a change, instead of going to the gym in the morning, I had to switch to after work. At that time I started to notice that I just felt...

My first experience with arthritis started over three years ago. I would say that I lived a very active healthy lifestyle. My normal workout routine was in the morning before going into my full-time job. We rescued a bulldog pup and so my morning routine required a change, instead of going to the gym in the morning, I had to switch to after work. At that time I started to notice that I just felt like I couldn't stretch enough, especially with my legs. I started to notice that I was not as flexible as I had been, then I really noticed something wasn't right because I repainted my husbands' office and could not bend down to paint the trim in his office, pain was shooting down my thighs and my hips were burning terribly.

After ruling out many things, trip to chiropractor, regular dr, I was encouraged to see an orthopedic sports dr. which eventually led to a different orthopedic surgeon...this is when my world changed and the pain was at it's peak. I tried several months of physical therapy and other types of pain relief but nothing worked. I continued to golf but doing my normal workout routine was not happening. The pain was too intense. Sitting up to walk was a surprise everytime because I didn't know how much pain I would have. It was horrible! I was bone on bone in my hip joints and surgery was my only option.

I put it off as long as I could stand it and eventually had 2 total hip replacements done but a year apart. I must admit, my life has changed since I was told I had arthritis but I have regained so much by having those hip surgeries. I'll be turning 50 in July and I never thought I would have had 2 total hip replacements by this age but this is what has been dealt to me. Having the surgery allows me to be able to walk so much better, be able to play golf without constant pain. Now my arthritis is felt in my hands and feet. I have learned to buy better shoes and to use my hot tub when necessary. Even icing helps in certain circumstances. Every day I tell myself it could be worse!

profile for Sean P Sean PMaize, KSThis ismy fight

At the ripe old age of 14 I was diagnosed with arthritis and only a couple of years later, the more accurate Ankylosing Spondylitis. I have spent the last 30 years continuing to work for full-time in the hospitality industry through the pain and at times, shame. I am thankful that I have been able to push through and have a career and continue to work. Although they would never admit it, I am...

At the ripe old age of 14 I was diagnosed with arthritis and only a couple of years later, the more accurate Ankylosing Spondylitis. I have spent the last 30 years continuing to work for full-time in the hospitality industry through the pain and at times, shame. I am thankful that I have been able to push through and have a career and continue to work. Although they would never admit it, I am often overlooked for promotion because of the manner in which AS has made me appear physically (hunched over). However, I keep fighting and I continue to build and have as great a Life as I can.

I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful family and many friends that support me and lift me up when I am feeling down. In general I am probably still in better health than most that are in this fight, and for that I am very thankful. I hope that in some small way I can help to inspire others to keep going, head high and shoulders back!

profile for Barbara H Barbara HBartlesville, OKThis ismy fight

Having arthritis means you are in pain almost every day despite taking drugs all day every day. It also means you have a lot of fatigue and can't do alot of the things you used to do.

profile for Leora R Leora RWright, WYThis ismy fight

Well I have been suffering with Arthritis for about seven years now. This is the worst pain that anyone could ever have. I actually had a bone scan back in 2002 and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis then. I took vacation about two months after my diagnosis and couldn't really walk very well, but I made it through. I came home from that vacation and was bound and determend to loose some weight,...

Well I have been suffering with Arthritis for about seven years now. This is the worst pain that anyone could ever have. I actually had a bone scan back in 2002 and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis then. I took vacation about two months after my diagnosis and couldn't really walk very well, but I made it through. I came home from that vacation and was bound and determend to loose some weight, so I lost about twenty pounds and felt a lot better.

So my arthritis was at bay for awhile and only acted up on occasion and nothing a couple of Tylenol couldn't cure. Well I started putting weight back on and could feel my arthritis acting up once again, and then in 2012 I had a left knee injury that left me with a meniscus tear , so I had to deal with that so not being able to exercise properly i packed on a few more pounds. And you know what they say that for every one pound of weight that you gain it is like ten pound on your joints.

So at this point my right knee started acting up and as my left knee got better from therapy. I had acquired achilles tendinitis so I had to learn how to deal with that, and I don't think that ever goes away. So I still have those pounds I still need to lose and a knee that when the weather rolls in it can tell you. I've tried every pill and potion out there trying to alleviate some of the pain and I do take some prescription medications now that are kinda helping, and yes loosing some of the extra weight can help. There are times when it hurts to walk or even just stand in the kitchen to cook and it hurts to even bend my knee at times, but my motivation is knowing that I'm not the only one suffering with this condition and that if my story can help some one else then having this is not that bad. I have osteoarthritis and I will learn how I can live with this.

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profile for Kristi R Kristi RHarrisburg, NCThis ismy fight

My first osteoarthritis diagnosis was at the age of forty. Five years later, I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my shoulder, neck, hand & foot, and I most likely have it in my knee but haven't seen a doctor for that yet. The pain can get really bad sometimes, especially in my neck and causes muscle spasms and radiating pain. This can make daily tasks difficult. I prefer alternative...

My first osteoarthritis diagnosis was at the age of forty. Five years later, I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my shoulder, neck, hand & foot, and I most likely have it in my knee but haven't seen a doctor for that yet. The pain can get really bad sometimes, especially in my neck and causes muscle spasms and radiating pain. This can make daily tasks difficult. I prefer alternative medicine and treatment (because of side effects of so many medications) and have tried several supplements, chiropractic care, acupuncture, eating an organic, anti- inflammatory diet, yoga and gentle exercise.. These are not 100% effective for the pain, and treatment costs add up quickly. I think living in a humid environment that gets lots of rain does not help. I don't tell many people about my aches and pains because most responses are that I'm too young for arthritis, which I think is a lack of understanding. My wish is that there is a safe and effective treatment developed that will help with the pain that so many suffer from almost daily.

profile for rebecca h rebecca hcolumbus, OHThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 18 months old. Being so young I don't remember much of the initial stages of the disease discovery and treatment. My mother noticed that I held my wrists funny and seemed to be in pain any time i tried to use them. My parents were able to find a fantastic doctor at in Cleveland who started to aggressively treat the disease. By age 9 I had...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 18 months old. Being so young I don't remember much of the initial stages of the disease discovery and treatment. My mother noticed that I held my wrists funny and seemed to be in pain any time i tried to use them. My parents were able to find a fantastic doctor at in Cleveland who started to aggressively treat the disease. By age 9 I had developed uveitis and glaucoma and I had glaucoma surgery at age 10. My medications were being changed constantly to try and help with the inflammation in my eyes. My rheumatologist had retired by this time but thankfully the physician who took over for him was just as passionate and aggressive at treating my disease. Working in conjunction with my uveitis and glaucoma specialist, we developed a treatment plan that seems to be effective in maintaining my inflammation levels. Over the years my medications have been changed or altered countless times and controlling my disease is still a full time job.

There are so many more challenges people living with JRA face beyond finding a medication that works. The side effects of the medication can often feel just as awful as the disease. The constant fatigue and illness due to being immunocompromised can effect many aspects of our lives. Growing up i wasn't allowed to attend sleepovers or go on over night trips because i could get sick. I would fall asleep in class because of the fatigued. The eye drops i needed to take to control my inflammation and glaucoma altered the color of my eyes. Another great challenge was the lack of understanding of the illness from other people. I was constantly made fun of by friends for always being sick or injured. I was asked to leave my private high school because i missed so many days due to illness. The school administration didn't understand why i was absent so often, because to look at me i looked completely healthy. In college things didn't get better with professors not caring that you missed class for treatments or because it was too painful to walk to class that day. I was even told by one professor that i would never make it in my chosen field because of my illness. Lastly the financial aspect can be over whelming. From the constant battle with insurance companies to cover the new medications to knowing you're going to hit that max out of pocket cost and trying not to do it before February of that year. JRA is so much more than being sick.

Despite all of the challenges presented by my illness with the support of an excellent medical staff and family i am now a laboratory manager at a biotech company that works toward finding treatments for arthritis. I have a second degree blackbelt, was a competitive dancer, and a varsity tennis player. Although not currently in remission i remain positive that that day will come.I can appreciate my past struggles and use them to help me find the strength to over come obstacles as they occur. Participation in the Cleveland Arthritis walk and volunteering at the Columbus jingle bell run i have been introduced to many people who are similarly suffering and it never ceases to amaze me how strong and positive all of those people are despite their pain. I hope through advocacy and spreading awareness we continue to fight for a better life for people suffering and provide a source of help for those struggling.

profile for Ann H Ann HColebrook, NHThis ismy fight

It is true, nobody sees the pain and turmoil. You make extra effort to dress well, wear makeup and fix your hair ( all of this painful) to go out in public. Everyone says things like "you never look sick" , or "you look so good with the weight you lost". They never seem to understand why you have a hard time going to evening meetings, or call it a short evening, due to fatigue.

I...

It is true, nobody sees the pain and turmoil. You make extra effort to dress well, wear makeup and fix your hair ( all of this painful) to go out in public. Everyone says things like "you never look sick" , or "you look so good with the weight you lost". They never seem to understand why you have a hard time going to evening meetings, or call it a short evening, due to fatigue.

I have OA, RA, with two knee replacements and a shoulder repair, need the other shoulder done as that rotator cuff is also now torn, but my orthopedic surgeon feels only a total shoulder repair will work, but she won't do it till I retire. I'm a nurse and a Grammie, 67 yrs old, but do not want to give up my life because of my disease. I feel it is important to stay as active as possible. It hurts, but I feel better mentally when I work in my home, gardens, or out with the kids.


People don't know that RA affects the ligaments and muscles, as well as the joints, which causes more problems and makes healing more difficult. I now have a low back spondylolisthesis which is getting me down. I've been doing the exercises and had cortisone epidural injections with no effect. I am trying to avoid more surgery. Just hope I can still plant my vegetable gardens, play in my flowers and swim with my grandbabies this summer.

profile for Jean S Jean SMidlothian , VAI fight forMy Son

My son was diagnosed with JRA at age 9 . He has Uveitis,which is where he deals with most of his inflamation.
It was devastating when he was diagnosed and the fear of losing his eyesight was a fear I had to fight daily .
God has been faithful to look after him .

profile for Brooke M Brooke MAva, MOThis ismy fight

I began my journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2005 at the age of 28 while pregnant with my first child. I had fifth's disease early on in my pregnancy and then the RA disease was triggered. I had a great aunt that was severly crippled from RA so I knew some about it. It was the beginning of a nightmare.

I had severe onset and every joint in my body was affected. I could not...

I began my journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2005 at the age of 28 while pregnant with my first child. I had fifth's disease early on in my pregnancy and then the RA disease was triggered. I had a great aunt that was severly crippled from RA so I knew some about it. It was the beginning of a nightmare.

I had severe onset and every joint in my body was affected. I could not move for hours in the morning. I could not turn faucets, open doors, bathe myself, dress myself, raise my arms, and so on. This attack was all while going through my entire pregnancy so not able to take any strong medicines. They also did not quite know what was wrong with me until months after my daughter was born...healthy, thankfully. I was also attending graduate school in the evenings and teaching fifth grade full time during this. I honestly do not know how I did it looking back. The pain was excruciating and affected my mind, body, and soul. At the birth of my daughter I had only gained three pound in my pregnancy. I could not hold my six pound daughter because of the pain.

That was almost twelve years ago....I have been on numerous drugs, have had periods of taking no drugs, experienced wonderful periods of remission...in which I was able to have another child, my beautiful son. I have also had long periods of high disease activity and had complications with other health issues due to this. I am currently coming out of the worst year of my life with the disease as it attacked my thyroid and caused all kinds of terrible havoc. I am now on a new biologic and am moving into remission again. I feel great right now and so I cherish these moments that I can move freely and feel healthy. This is only a snippet of my story as it could be a book. This disease is brutal. It does not get the attention it deserves. RA is not arthritis....it is an all out autoimmune attack on joints, tissues, and organs. It is a major disease. I cannot desribe the pain to justify how bad it can actually be. It is like daily having the flu and feeling like I have been run over by a truck and am not able to move. I feel trapped inside a body that is not mine. It hurts deeply. It affects your mind and spirit as well. I have great support around me and I am an RA warrior. I am enjoying my freedom right now and believe and hope it will never attack again. I fight for all of us battling this horrible disease.

profile for Tonja W Tonja WRed Oak, NCI fight forMy niece, Brittany Bass

I'm writing for my incredible niece, Brittany Bass, who has lived with arthritis since a child. She can tell her story better than I can. So you have asked me to submit a story, I'm suggesting you read her blog: Brittslifetherainsider. She would be an amazing ambassador for your platform! Thank you.

profile for Laura Laura Seymour, CTThis ismy fight

I try to hide the pain, but I can't hide the lack of strength. I force myself to keep going, then the fatigue kicks in I I drop things, I trip, lose my balance, have to quit for the day. I live alone, no one to help, a good thing and a bad thing. There's no one to help, so I have to do for myself. But that keeps me moving, a good thing.

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 Pam G Pam GNew Palestine , INI fight forMy husband, Marvin

My husband has RA. I remember the night he was stricken with it. Every joint in his body was painful, and we didn't know why. Our family doctor recognized the symptoms of RA becuase she had been trained in rheumatology. We were referred to a rheumatologist. It took a while before the right medicine and dosage were found. Since then he has done well. Occasionally he has a problem if he reaches...

My husband has RA. I remember the night he was stricken with it. Every joint in his body was painful, and we didn't know why. Our family doctor recognized the symptoms of RA becuase she had been trained in rheumatology. We were referred to a rheumatologist. It took a while before the right medicine and dosage were found. Since then he has done well. Occasionally he has a problem if he reaches into his pocket incorrectly and has had flare ups in his knee and feet. He has had surgeries on his hand to improve movement. But whatever RA throws at him, he tackles it with strength of spirit. He does not complain when I know it is bothering him. RA is a crippling disease. We don't know what it has in store for us, but we will fight it together.

profile for Tracy G Tracy GSomerset, KYThis ismy fight

I am a disabled veteran with osteoarthritis from an injury in November of 1992 during my stint as an Army generator mechanic. At 45 my pain and arthritis are a constant reminder that I am alive and still able to do many of the things I love. My advice to anyone with arthritis, "the more you move the more you can move." Sure there are days when I need a break and don't feel like doing much but...

I am a disabled veteran with osteoarthritis from an injury in November of 1992 during my stint as an Army generator mechanic. At 45 my pain and arthritis are a constant reminder that I am alive and still able to do many of the things I love. My advice to anyone with arthritis, "the more you move the more you can move." Sure there are days when I need a break and don't feel like doing much but with the Lord's help it passes both mentally and physically.

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profile for Joann A Joann AReno, NVThis ismy fight

I adopted a plant based diet 2 years ago and within 5 months (with the help of my rheumatologist) was able to go off all medications. I also have experienced my Reynods syndrome completely disappearing. I would encourage any one experiencing rheumatoid arthritis to explore the benefits of adopting this life style. I started with an introduction to the Esselstyn family and then Forks Over Knives,...

I adopted a plant based diet 2 years ago and within 5 months (with the help of my rheumatologist) was able to go off all medications. I also have experienced my Reynods syndrome completely disappearing. I would encourage any one experiencing rheumatoid arthritis to explore the benefits of adopting this life style. I started with an introduction to the Esselstyn family and then Forks Over Knives, and Engine 2.

profile for Stefanie H Stefanie HCleveland, TNThis ismy fight

I was a freshman in college, caught the flu and just never recovered. It was my Mom who wouldn't quit asking the doctors to get blood work to find something!

After several tests and two Rhuematologist confirming RA, I began the long, roller-coaster journey of medications and all sorts of over-the-counter remedies to try and cope. At first, I didn't want to believe this could happen...

I was a freshman in college, caught the flu and just never recovered. It was my Mom who wouldn't quit asking the doctors to get blood work to find something!

After several tests and two Rhuematologist confirming RA, I began the long, roller-coaster journey of medications and all sorts of over-the-counter remedies to try and cope. At first, I didn't want to believe this could happen to me. I didn't fully understand that I wasn't operating at 100% until around year 4 when a teacher looked told me to start listening to my body.

Now, almost 15 years into this disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia), I'm very honest with myself about my spoons for the day but I try not to let it get in the way of what needs to get done. My biggest source of strength has been my relationship with Jesus. Through reading scriptures and singing about Him, I know there is hope and He cares about my struggles just as much as anyone else's. I'm thankful to this organization, for allowing people like me to recognize I'm not alone in the fight! Thank you!

profile for Glenda I Glenda IBremerton, WAThis ismy fight

I got sick with chicken pox at 8 then mono at 15 which caused aches and pains plus so much fatigue turning into Epstein Barr virus that still has not been treated, diagnosed by university of Wa in 91 with fibromyalgia but the lumbar puncture showing my spinal cord being congenital smaller than most began disc degenerated disease very young and I have had surgeries on many joints that have...

I got sick with chicken pox at 8 then mono at 15 which caused aches and pains plus so much fatigue turning into Epstein Barr virus that still has not been treated, diagnosed by university of Wa in 91 with fibromyalgia but the lumbar puncture showing my spinal cord being congenital smaller than most began disc degenerated disease very young and I have had surgeries on many joints that have degenerated too.

Last year add Sjögren's syndrome since many MRI exams and CTs in recent years show the facet joint arthroparhy and poly arthritic conditions my Rheumatologist is elderly and barely records what we discuss but what can be done for spondylithisis and spondylosis of the spine? The rheumatoid factor just doesn't show in my blood but I sleep in the rain almost ruined my stomach with anti inflammatory meds and finally can function only on narcotic pain meds which took many years to get on. It is so difficult to have a life when my neck back hurt so often at night because with ADHD I can't take pain meds at night since they counteract. So muscle relaxers and sleep aides, while sedating, do help me to sleep also.

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 Clint FSan 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
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 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.

This month we #FightFor50! Over 500 ppl have shared their arthritis stories. Read them & find out how to share your… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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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!

@Stephbutta Thanks for sharing your story, Steph! #FightFor50 #ChampionOfYes #ArthritisAwarenessMonth

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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 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.

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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!

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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 Laura  G Laura GSeattle, WAThis ismy fight

I have had RA since age 27. It has changed my life in so many ways, so all negative. I am more patient and I realize now I need to enjoy each day and take each day as it comes. This last year I had two surgeries related to my RA, but I persevered and just got licensed to practice law as a legal technician, LLLT, in Washington State. I advocate for justice and for people like myself with chronic...

I have had RA since age 27. It has changed my life in so many ways, so all negative. I am more patient and I realize now I need to enjoy each day and take each day as it comes. This last year I had two surgeries related to my RA, but I persevered and just got licensed to practice law as a legal technician, LLLT, in Washington State. I advocate for justice and for people like myself with chronic auto immune issues. Making your voice heard matters!

profile for Courtney  B Courtney BTacoma, WAI fight forOur daughter Taylor

Taylor was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months of age. The joints it affects the most are her ankles, her knees, her right wrist, and the most damaged joint, her right jaw joint. Most days her joint pain is minimal to none, where it does not cause a problem for her mobility and her daily activities. When she is in a flare she has a difficult time doing the simplest of tasks...

Taylor was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months of age. The joints it affects the most are her ankles, her knees, her right wrist, and the most damaged joint, her right jaw joint. Most days her joint pain is minimal to none, where it does not cause a problem for her mobility and her daily activities. When she is in a flare she has a difficult time doing the simplest of tasks to you or I.

In the summer of 2014, she had a Le Fort osteotomy jaw surgery. After the 6 hour surgery, she came out with titanium plates and screws in her jaw. She was extremely swollen to the point, she could not shut her mouth for over 2 weeks.

To this day she still struggles with headaches, and migraines, and continues to have flares, but manages to be on the honor roll at her high school. Taylor is a very determined, focused, tenacious, competitive student that does not like her arthritis to get the best of her, but sometimes her body does not allow her to do what she wants it to do.

In the Spring of 2015 she announced she wanted to play Lacrosse, for her high school. After the major jaw surgery I was afraid to let her play worrying about injury. It took a lot of convincing from her oral surgeon and coach, but they helped us realize that she would be okay. She loves the crazy sport, and her spirit is happy.

Taylor's arthritis journey has been an interesting one, at times very frustrating, sometime a curse when she is in pain, and sometimes a blessing, as we have met so many special people along the way. Thank you for reading Taylor's story, we hope for a cure someday for our girl, and the many other people who suffer form arthritis.

profile for Nancy O Nancy OClaymont, DEThis ismy fight

I am 59 yo nurse & have had Crohn's disease since age 14 (although not diagnosed until age 22) with 5 bowel resections. I have other health problems some of which are Raynaud's disease, rosacea, multiple procedures for kidney stones, OA with cervical fusion & vertebrae replacement in 2013 & in Jan. 2016 I was diagnosed with peripheral arthritis (secondary to Crohn's disease).

I was...

I am 59 yo nurse & have had Crohn's disease since age 14 (although not diagnosed until age 22) with 5 bowel resections. I have other health problems some of which are Raynaud's disease, rosacea, multiple procedures for kidney stones, OA with cervical fusion & vertebrae replacement in 2013 & in Jan. 2016 I was diagnosed with peripheral arthritis (secondary to Crohn's disease).

I was already on two types of medication for my Crohn's when I began having chronic, red, painful swollen joints in multiples areas at once that migrate- "sausage" fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles & feet. The inflammation, at times, causes my tendons to "pop" which is very painful. I had about 3 months of pain relief after taking biologics, however, I had to stop these meds when I got shingles last August & the Azulfadine hasn't helped since. I have been on a new type of medication for nearly all of the time since being diagnosed with this. My rheumatologist is working with my GI Dr. to see if she'll agree to a medication combo that works for me.

After reading numerous posts, I didn't see anyone with peripheral arthritis. Would love to read about others (not wishing it on anyone though). Am going to start swimming at end of month & hopeful it will help my stiffness. Also my weight after being on medication for so long!

profile for Barbara Ann Marie M Barbara Ann Marie MPonte Vedra Beach, FLThis ismy fight

Two years ago, I did not have Health Insurance, as I am self employed. I started having horrifying symptoms. My body swelled up from head to toe. I could not where my shoes. I lost my appetite and I could not sleep at night from the constant pain. My hands were so swollen that i could not put a pair of socks on or barely dress myself. I lost 23 lbs.

I am a Nanny, so you can imagine...

Two years ago, I did not have Health Insurance, as I am self employed. I started having horrifying symptoms. My body swelled up from head to toe. I could not where my shoes. I lost my appetite and I could not sleep at night from the constant pain. My hands were so swollen that i could not put a pair of socks on or barely dress myself. I lost 23 lbs.

I am a Nanny, so you can imagine how difficult it was to care for a 2 year old and a newborn. My employers were very supportive and patient with my situation, which certainly was a blessing.

I had test after test and x-rays, which I had to pay out of pocket. The test for Rheumatoid Arthritis was negative, but the doctor said this was normal when the disease first starts.

I finally got a healthcare policy that was affordable. At that point I was able to see an Arthritis Specialist who put me on medication. After trying 3 different medications, we finally found one with no side affects. I would not wish this disease on my worst enemy.

I am just so thankful to God that I now lead a normal life with proper diet and exercise and that I did not lose my job.

profile for Gabriela B Gabriela BNewburgh, NYThis ismy fight

I remember my first trip to Mexico like it was yesterday mainly because I kept having to tell my aunt that I was in constant pain. The main part of that trip that I will never forget was returning home and having to hear from my doctors that the pain I was having was because I had JRA.

At the age of 10 I was unsure what that meant however, now just turning 24 I know exactly what that...

I remember my first trip to Mexico like it was yesterday mainly because I kept having to tell my aunt that I was in constant pain. The main part of that trip that I will never forget was returning home and having to hear from my doctors that the pain I was having was because I had JRA.

At the age of 10 I was unsure what that meant however, now just turning 24 I know exactly what that means. The first things that were affected were my knees and legs. I went from being a very active 10 year old to having to stay in bed sometimes because I couldn't take the pain. I tried several medications and many with no success until I turned 13 and found the medication I'm taking now which gave me part of my life back however, there will always be the days that I cannot make myself get out of bed or the days were it is so bad that I have to go to the hospital. I have been hospitalized several times in the last 14 years.

One of the biggest impact this disease, now just RA, has given me is that 18 year old me wanted so badly to be an archaeologist however, after having several hand surgeries and days where I cant even dress myself because they hurt so much I had to switch my dream. I remember attempting to join the army and also being turned away because of being too much of a liability so I switched to Criminal Justice. Even though, I can still succeed in the CJ field it would also have to be behind the scenes because you never know when you might flare. This disease has changed my life and career paths. I will continue to strive for greatness and hope everyone else will too. No matter how much these diseases push us down we will always come out on top.

profile for Gerald B Gerald BPORTER, TXThis ismy fight

My fight with RA started in 2003. I woke up on January 4 unable to get out of bed without help from my wife. My hands and fingers were swollen and would not move. The pain was excruciating and unstoppable. For 6 months my family Dr. could not figure out what was happening so he concluded I just wanted pain meds. Finally my wife convinced him to run a RA blood test.

That led me to my...

My fight with RA started in 2003. I woke up on January 4 unable to get out of bed without help from my wife. My hands and fingers were swollen and would not move. The pain was excruciating and unstoppable. For 6 months my family Dr. could not figure out what was happening so he concluded I just wanted pain meds. Finally my wife convinced him to run a RA blood test.

That led me to my first Rheumatologist. Filling out the paperwork made me feel like a hypo I was answering yes to everything. Trying to gauge pain with frowning faces seemed ridiculous how was I to know what was a level 5 or 10 pain. When I met my Rheumatologist he observed me sitting there, had me walk across the room, open and close a door, sit back down and remove my shoes. I thought to myself really and this guy is a specialist. That is when he informed me that I was a liar and I informed him I was not interested in any painkillers I wanted to know what was wrong with me because I was 43 and could not move. That is when he informed me he did not have a painkiller that could touch my pain and it was not a 5 but more like 10+. The rheumatoid was in at least 90% of my joints and in my eyes.

That is when we went into hyper drive. Full body scans, bone density test and full body X-rays. I endured steroids and the full run of different treatments they had while running numerous blood test to determine that they were not working. I finally was offered a medication which was in test phase. Long story short it works and I walk around with my immune system shut down.

People have a hard time understanding why it is not cured and flares up every once in a while. They don't understand that the flu, open wounds and infections require you to get off the meds and endure the pain once again. I just explain that this is my life with RA.

info about Gerald B
profile for Wendy H Wendy HMesa, AZThis ismy fight

I have been fighting Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) since I was 6 months old. It impacted every aspect of my childhood as I grew up and has damaged more than 90% of my joints. JRA is an autoimmune disease, meaning my body's immune system attacks all the tissues that make up my joints. It can also attack my organs. I have had over 20 joint replacement/ reconstruction surgeries. This lifelong...

I have been fighting Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) since I was 6 months old. It impacted every aspect of my childhood as I grew up and has damaged more than 90% of my joints. JRA is an autoimmune disease, meaning my body's immune system attacks all the tissues that make up my joints. It can also attack my organs. I have had over 20 joint replacement/ reconstruction surgeries. This lifelong journey with JRA has taught me how to be strong and compassionate. Currently, I help to co-lead local face-to-face and online support groups so that others with these autoimmune diseases can find people who understand. Now, I am turning 50 years old this summer and I want to continue the #FightFor50. We must find a cure for this destructive disease. No adult or child should have to suffer the pain and isolation that JRA/RA/autoimmune disease brings. Please help us raise awareness and fight for a cure!!

info about Wendy H
profile for Jamie B Jamie BAlbany, NYThis ismy fight

At 16 I could never have imagined being diagnosed with osteoarthritis. OA is only seen in older adults due to wear and tear of the joints, and in young people who have connective tissue disorders, like myself.

Being diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome was a bit scary but also brought a lot of relief to my family. I finally knew what was causing my constant joint pain and a whole...

At 16 I could never have imagined being diagnosed with osteoarthritis. OA is only seen in older adults due to wear and tear of the joints, and in young people who have connective tissue disorders, like myself.

Being diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome was a bit scary but also brought a lot of relief to my family. I finally knew what was causing my constant joint pain and a whole host of other medical issues, but also the future was very uncertain. One thing we did know is that I was one of the few young people who have OA. This means no real treatment for my arthritis, just maintaining my pain levels to manageable.

My day to day can vary like day and night. My OA one day can be acting up to the point where I can't get out of bed, and the next day I'm able to go and run a few miles. It's hard for people to understand that just because I am young doesn't mean I don't have arthritis.

I don't let my diagnosis get in the way of my dreams. During the year it took to get diagnosed, I was a competitive dancer, and continued to be for another year. I didn't let my arthritis get in the way of my passion for dance. I also continued on my path to become an occupational therapist, which is a very physically taxing profession. I was not going to let my diagnosis stop me from pursuing my dream.

profile for Jennifer  Jennifer Roanoke Rapids , NCThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA in 2006. I am on rheumatologist #3. One retired, one relocated, now I drive 170 miles round trip to the doctor. I have insurance, through my employer, that is very restricting as far as meds go. I'm working about 48hr a week. Many of my family members and coworkers don't seem to understand what RA puts a body through. My hands are so swollen and painful when I get home...

I was diagnosed with RA in 2006. I am on rheumatologist #3. One retired, one relocated, now I drive 170 miles round trip to the doctor. I have insurance, through my employer, that is very restricting as far as meds go. I'm working about 48hr a week. Many of my family members and coworkers don't seem to understand what RA puts a body through. My hands are so swollen and painful when I get home there's very little I can do. Just eating supper is painful. People seem to be under the impression that because I don't constantly complain I'm not in pain. Complaining is not in my nature. I believe in doing things to the best of my ability with no excuses. I'm one of those people who have never had a positive RA factor. Because of that I've had a Nurse Practitioner basically say I lied about having RA. I get so frustrated sometimes with the disease process and people around me some days. There are no resources in my area for people with RA unless you have money to travel to other areas of the state.

profile for krista c krista cLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

The first time I flared up was in college, my boyfriend at the time thought I was being dramatic. It wasn't until I could barely make it down the stairs as my dad waited outside to take me to the emergency room that it became "legit".

6 months later I was able to completely get off medication, I was stable.

Fast forward 4 years and after months of persistent and constant...

The first time I flared up was in college, my boyfriend at the time thought I was being dramatic. It wasn't until I could barely make it down the stairs as my dad waited outside to take me to the emergency room that it became "legit".

6 months later I was able to completely get off medication, I was stable.

Fast forward 4 years and after months of persistent and constant swelling and stiffness I'm on one of the strongest immune-suppressant drugs out there, so strong that cancer patients take it.

I haven't stopped fighting.

My struggles were real.
They are real.
So are yours.

profile for CYNTHIA C CYNTHIA CWatervliet (Capital Region), NYThis ismy fight

I try hard to manage my osteoarthritis by engaging in daily physical fitness exercises, avoiding those side effect ridden Prescription Meds...that may likely cause other health related troubles later on. Careful to not injury myself while doing anything daily to reduce the joint pains.

My youthful curiosity about CARS put me in the hospital about 3 months on summer before i was to...

I try hard to manage my osteoarthritis by engaging in daily physical fitness exercises, avoiding those side effect ridden Prescription Meds...that may likely cause other health related troubles later on. Careful to not injury myself while doing anything daily to reduce the joint pains.

My youthful curiosity about CARS put me in the hospital about 3 months on summer before i was to start kindergarten after a drunk driver involved automobile accident

profile for Niki T Niki TDenham Springs , LAThis ismy fight

I'm fighting so my daughters never have to live the life that I have with RA!

profile for Christine M Christine MMonroe, NCThis ismy fight

At the age of 42, within 5 months, my mother in law, my mom, & my husband died suddenly. My husband died at age 49 with no life insurance & our son was 3 1/2 years old.

Of course, I could not afford the apartment we had- so I needed to move quickly; cashed out any bank monies I had to move; had garage sales to sell his clothes & some of mine. I began getting pain throughout my body ....

At the age of 42, within 5 months, my mother in law, my mom, & my husband died suddenly. My husband died at age 49 with no life insurance & our son was 3 1/2 years old.

Of course, I could not afford the apartment we had- so I needed to move quickly; cashed out any bank monies I had to move; had garage sales to sell his clothes & some of mine. I began getting pain throughout my body . My doctor said, because of all the packing, moving by myself I may have pulled some muscles. Mind you , I was in shape back then.

For 1 year, I was going back & forth to the doctor, being placed on anti inflammatories, & told to rest.- I really had no one to help with my baby son, thus that was not an option. My family members kept telling me "its in your head" "there is nothing wrong with you"- one day, I could not even walk & my sister (who is now deceased) came over, took me to her house for the weekend & catered to me. Finally, my doctor said, "I will give you a rheumatologist to see". I did go see her, even though at this point I had no medical insurance, she saw me for free.

Yes, free. She did blood work & it came back that I was & had active RA. Finally, after a year of thinking I must be going crazy with all these deaths, (my best friend from high school died suddenly from sepsis at this time) I had an answer. I cried & cried, because I did not want to be bedridden & in a wheelchair. I was so, so frightened, but did not cry in front of my son. I was placed on medication; able to function- not great, but at least I was not in a wheelchair . Now, 18 years later, I still have it & I am surprised I have lived this long.

My older sister & her husband kept telling me its in my head until about 2 years ago, when her husband was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Boy oh boy, you should have heard them change their tune. ie "oh my gosh, I did not realize how painful your RA is- we just thought you were exaggerating" Not that I wish anyone to get this awful disease, but sometimes people choose to be ignorant & make you think you are nuts because the pain is an unseen terror with RA.

I wish I had known about RA groups a long time ago, so I would not have suffered alone.

profile for Tiffenie R Tiffenie RAmarillo, TXThis ismy fight

I'm 42 yrs old and I fight RA everyday. The only thing that gets me through is my kids and grandkids. I was diagnosed 3 yrs ago. And it has progressed rapidly. All the medications and feels like nothing works. Daily it something new. A new ache something you did the day before that you can't do the next day. Luckily I have a great support system. If I didn't I wouldn't make it through. My RA has...

I'm 42 yrs old and I fight RA everyday. The only thing that gets me through is my kids and grandkids. I was diagnosed 3 yrs ago. And it has progressed rapidly. All the medications and feels like nothing works. Daily it something new. A new ache something you did the day before that you can't do the next day. Luckily I have a great support system. If I didn't I wouldn't make it through. My RA has gotten so out of hand and is progressing so fast nothing is working. My heart goes out to all of you who suffer from with it. And for all the kids who deal with it daily. Prayers for everyone

profile for Valerie L Valerie LSun Prairie, WIThis ismy fight

Mother of three and a fighter for over two decades, I live for my family! Some days living with ra just doesn't make mother hood the easiest trip. I've suffered since 1984! At the young age of two I was diagnosed with JRA and remission was the name of the game at age 18. However, my first child at the age of 20 cause a flaring revenge of the RA and I've suffered with it since. A 30year old knee...

Mother of three and a fighter for over two decades, I live for my family! Some days living with ra just doesn't make mother hood the easiest trip. I've suffered since 1984! At the young age of two I was diagnosed with JRA and remission was the name of the game at age 18. However, my first child at the age of 20 cause a flaring revenge of the RA and I've suffered with it since. A 30year old knee that "looks 47" and the other so bad that scar tissue is built up from the several drainings, causing a whole new page of problems. But I live on!! I wake each day and work 40hours a week doing what I love (I work in a restaurant kitchen and bar) spend all the time outdoors I can with my kids and live through their youth to keep me going. They are my strength, they are my hope, they are my future of more understanding and tolerant people!!!

profile for Rose-Marie T Rose-Marie TJackson, NJThis ismy fight

This is my fight! When I was first diagnosed with RA , 12 years ago, I was actually happy to have confirmed, what I suspected for months, and had battled already for twelve years prior. However, soon I learned how sobering the statistics of this disease can be. At the time of my diagnosis, I learned that 50% are disabled within 10 years of their diagnosis. Thanks to modern medicine, I'm beating...

This is my fight! When I was first diagnosed with RA , 12 years ago, I was actually happy to have confirmed, what I suspected for months, and had battled already for twelve years prior. However, soon I learned how sobering the statistics of this disease can be. At the time of my diagnosis, I learned that 50% are disabled within 10 years of their diagnosis. Thanks to modern medicine, I'm beating those statistics, but just barely. I have had three surgeries in the last 5 years to stay ahead of those odds and have at least two more to face. And I will keep fighting!

profile for Andrea C Andrea CPowder Springs, GAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at age 19 with RA. I am determined that it will not stop me - through the fatigue and pain I finished graduate school and go to work every day. I have very supportive family and friends, which helps a lot. I have to find new ways to do things, but I laugh about it and create funny memories (like trying to get out of my bedroom which has a round doorknob), because that is what...

I was diagnosed at age 19 with RA. I am determined that it will not stop me - through the fatigue and pain I finished graduate school and go to work every day. I have very supportive family and friends, which helps a lot. I have to find new ways to do things, but I laugh about it and create funny memories (like trying to get out of my bedroom which has a round doorknob), because that is what helps me get through the tough days.

profile for Deborah  L Deborah LBaltimore, MDI fight forMy Family

I'm Deborah age 65 diagnosed with Osteoarthritis at age 53. Arthritis is a Genetic Disease for my family. At the age of 96, I watched my grandmother undergo reconstructive hip replacement. She arose like a champ. My mother who worked as a RN for 45 years has under went 2 sets of knee replacement surgeries and a hip replacement. I've continue to watch my mother at the age of 85 continue to watch...

I'm Deborah age 65 diagnosed with Osteoarthritis at age 53. Arthritis is a Genetic Disease for my family. At the age of 96, I watched my grandmother undergo reconstructive hip replacement. She arose like a champ. My mother who worked as a RN for 45 years has under went 2 sets of knee replacement surgeries and a hip replacement. I've continue to watch my mother at the age of 85 continue to watch her life a full life with mobility.

I began my journey to become pain free in 2006 with my first hip replacement. Three months later, I had my second hip replacement.

In 2009 I had one full knee replacement in the month of June and my
second partial knee replace in July. LIFE IS MOVEMENT WITHOUT PAIN! Now I'm a fulltime patient advocate. Sharing HOPE that life is MUCH BETTER after joint replacement when there are NO other alternatives. Keep Moving!

profile for Judy  B Judy BGreenfield, WIThis ismy fight

In October 2010 I was going to Germany with my church choir. Before our flight ,I experienced some pain in my knee. I went to my ortho doc for evaluation. On X-ray it looked like mild arthritis.

When we landed in Prague, my knee was very painful and I felt very tired. Over the next few days my ankles/knees were very painful and swollen. My shoulders felt swollen too. The fatigue was...

In October 2010 I was going to Germany with my church choir. Before our flight ,I experienced some pain in my knee. I went to my ortho doc for evaluation. On X-ray it looked like mild arthritis.

When we landed in Prague, my knee was very painful and I felt very tired. Over the next few days my ankles/knees were very painful and swollen. My shoulders felt swollen too. The fatigue was overwhelming. I don't know how I got through the trip and the performances. When I arrived home I went back to my ortho doc who ran some blood tests...the labs were positive for elevated RF, ANA and ESR. He referred me to Rheumatology and the rest is history. I lost 20 pounds during the next six months, felt stiff all over and I had no energy. It was like pushing a wall back that was closing in on me. Very draining.

When I came home from work all I could do was sit or lie down. I was started on meds that really didn't help. Then I tried medication that worked for me and it was like a miracle. I am doing pretty well after six years of therapy. I am still working and I am doing exercise 4 times a week, which to my surprise, really helps with my energy level, mood and pain. I live with RA. It's there every minute of the day but I am managing it. If I need to rest, I do. You need to stay active and engaged. I am looking forward to retirement in the near future.

profile for kathryn d kathryn dgaithersburg, MDThis ismy fight

at 15 and a half i had my first knee surgery. the orthopedic surgeon warned what would happen down the road, i wasn't prepared for it. the second knee surgery was less than 6 years after the first one. the knee surgery was to repair a genetic problem so i could remain on my feet during the most important years of my life. as i got older the pain in my knees got worse. to make matters worse i...

at 15 and a half i had my first knee surgery. the orthopedic surgeon warned what would happen down the road, i wasn't prepared for it. the second knee surgery was less than 6 years after the first one. the knee surgery was to repair a genetic problem so i could remain on my feet during the most important years of my life. as i got older the pain in my knees got worse. to make matters worse i broke both ankles and they were repaired. i have osteo-arthritis in both knees and both ankles. there is no way to get around the pain. the barometer has been bouncing around for the past 2 years. i am the only one in my family that has this problem. no one else understands that with compromised joints, arthritis comes with the territory.

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profile for Elizabeth N Elizabeth NLake Geneva, WIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed at 20 with RA. 31 years later I fight everyday to stay positive, not show the pain or frustration of not being able to be as active as I once was. I loved to ride horses and dance, now the pain in my joints prohibit it. One of the most frustrating things is peoples lack of compassion for this "invisible" disease. I have been faced with the "stink eye" look when parking in...

I was diagnosed at 20 with RA. 31 years later I fight everyday to stay positive, not show the pain or frustration of not being able to be as active as I once was. I loved to ride horses and dance, now the pain in my joints prohibit it. One of the most frustrating things is peoples lack of compassion for this "invisible" disease. I have been faced with the "stink eye" look when parking in handicapped spaces, comments like you'd feel better if you would lose weight, and my favorite, "you are going out of work on medical leave AGAIN?"

If they only knew how I, and many others, struggle to be normal, over exert ourselves to keep up, and put on a brave face everyday just to get by. If they only knew how much pain can be caused by exercising, and how I am prone to injury because my body has decided to attack itself. If they only knew how terrified I am to lose my job and medical benefits, because without them, I could not afford the medication or physical therapy I need.

Then I would like to show them the cost of RA. The co-pays for drugs that range from $5 to $1500.

I try my best to educate those around me, but I wish I could do more. Don't get me wrong, I would rather deal with RA than so many other diseases out there. I just wish people understood RA better.

profile for Robert B Robert BBloomington, ILThis ismy fight

I couldn't believe that I was actually pestering my Primary Care Physician about being extremely TIRED all of the time! I have never had a chronic condition - but I couldn't take how tired I was all the time. Then, out of the blue, my right hand started hurting every morning when I woke up. Sometimes the pain was such that I couldn't even brush my teeth or shake hands with others. I didn't...

I couldn't believe that I was actually pestering my Primary Care Physician about being extremely TIRED all of the time! I have never had a chronic condition - but I couldn't take how tired I was all the time. Then, out of the blue, my right hand started hurting every morning when I woke up. Sometimes the pain was such that I couldn't even brush my teeth or shake hands with others. I didn't know anything about arthritis at this time. My PCP didn't really have any advice, so I hit the internet. I started reading about people with Psoriasis and this thing called Psoriatic arthritis. I had never been officially diagnosed with Psoriasis. The pain worsened on about a weekly basis and I continued to get more and more tired.

Eventually, I insisted on seeing a dermatologist who told me about Psoriatic Arthritis. He also told me it was nothing to mess around. My dermatologist was good enough to contact my PCP and ask for me to be referred to a rheumatologist. I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in its early stages and placed in a clinical trial. The medications have been great so far. Pain has lessened. I'm still fighting being tired all of the time, but I am doing much better.

Bottom Line: Fight for yourself! Educate yourself! Talk to your PCP - educate them if needed! Be your best advocate!!!

profile for Krystyna S Krystyna SKitchener, AKThis ismy fight

I was born with arthritis in my legs. My mother was told that I would never walk. My mother refused to believe this. My brother had flat feet so he had special exercises, given by the doctor. The doctor said it would not hurt for me to do these exercises and to sign me up to ballet lessons to strengthen my legs. Childhood was painful, especially in the winter. I could not lift my legs up and...

I was born with arthritis in my legs. My mother was told that I would never walk. My mother refused to believe this. My brother had flat feet so he had special exercises, given by the doctor. The doctor said it would not hurt for me to do these exercises and to sign me up to ballet lessons to strengthen my legs. Childhood was painful, especially in the winter. I could not lift my legs up and would tear the skin off my toes when I walked. I never grew out of the arthritis and keep on walking to control the pain in my legs. Now I have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis but I keep walking. I cannot talk anti inflammatory drugs for it affects my stomach so I have researched foods that would help me with this. I have lupus and that med helps the arthritis more bearable. I do not sleep at night because of the pain, so I take Tylenal 3, which are for a shoulder injury that I have had a few years ago. No one knows I have lupus,sjogans and arthritis. I am good at hiding it.
Do hope this helps someone not to give up and know they are not alone.

profile for Marcia S Marcia SMarietta, GAThis ismy fight

I face challenges on a daily basis as a result of my arthritis. Although my wrists do not bend and my hands are extremely deformed, I typed for a living in my job as a legal administrative assistant for almost 50 years. I did whatever it took to “get the job done” in a timely manner and made every effort to perform the activities required of me in my job as if I didn’t have the...

I face challenges on a daily basis as a result of my arthritis. Although my wrists do not bend and my hands are extremely deformed, I typed for a living in my job as a legal administrative assistant for almost 50 years. I did whatever it took to “get the job done” in a timely manner and made every effort to perform the activities required of me in my job as if I didn’t have the disability. However, because I was not able to lift heavy objects or perform some routine duties, such as clearing a paper jam in the copier, changing toner cartridges, etc., I had to rely on the patience and understanding of my co-workers to assist me in those instances.

u0009In addition, I have had the discs in my neck from C-1 to T-3 fused together (after 7 surgeries) and, as a result, have very limited movement of my head and neck. This presents challenges in driving for such things as safely changing lanes, turning at intersections, driving at night, etc. I also have difficulty getting dressed or bathing without my husband’s help.

u0009All of the above does not even take into consideration the pain I live with every second of my life. I also tire easily and cannot take part in activities that require a lot of walking.

Since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1987, I have had surgery on my hands 5 times, foot surgery 5 times, right shoulder replacement, neck surgery 7 times, and twice being in a halo brace for an extended period of time. I developed 6 stomach ulcers in 1997 from the anti-inflammatory medications that I had been taking and, in the year 2000, I was seriously ill and on IV antibiotics almost the entire year after contracting a severe salmonella infection due to my suppressed immune system from taking medication, which started in my neck and ultimately lodged in my spine.

As serious as that infection was, it couldn’t hold a candle to the staph infection and sepsis I contracted in the summer of 2012 in my blood stream while on medication, which required a three-month hospital stay and then daily IV antibiotics through my PICC line for an additional 5 months, after which it took nearly 2 years to finally gain back the weight I had lost and get my strength back.

u0009Except for being in the hospital for and recuperating from my numerous surgeries and infections, I never missed a day of work as a result of my arthritis. For 5 months in 1990 and for 3 months in 2000, I went to work every day while in a halo brace with a PICC line in my arm for dispensing my IV antibiotics. Because I couldn’t drive while in the brace, I had to arrange for rides to and from work and for all my other day-to-day activities and responsibilities. Through it all, I received countless comments from people who noticed that I never complained and always had a smile on my face.

u0009I have been very active in my arthritis support group for over 20 years. When our leader unexpectedly died in December of 1999, I assumed the role of leader, taking care of every detail of the monthly meetings from arranging for the location, to composing and sending out flyers and brochures to prospective members and getting them displayed in rheumatologists’ offices, to making telephone calls and sending e-mails, to getting interesting speakers for the group and creating and maintaining our group’s Facebook page.

u0009I have also been the treasurer of my homeowners’ association for the past 24 years and attend Silver Sneakers exercise classes at least three times a week.

profile for Megan M Megan MSherwood, ORThis ismy fight

I started noticing my arthritis pain when I developed a neck injury at age 48. It turned out I had Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease, as well as bulging discs causing me great pain. After 5 years with 3 cervical and 1 lower back surgery, I was no better. I had developed Fibromyalgia during that time, which became painful as well. My fingers and toes would hurt when it was cold and...

I started noticing my arthritis pain when I developed a neck injury at age 48. It turned out I had Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease, as well as bulging discs causing me great pain. After 5 years with 3 cervical and 1 lower back surgery, I was no better. I had developed Fibromyalgia during that time, which became painful as well. My fingers and toes would hurt when it was cold and damp out. Suddenly, walking on the beach in the early morning to watch my friends surf became very painful. Everyone said I was too young to have so much pain. It eventually cost me my job, as I could not sit all day at a desk. It interfered with me being an extremely active person, which lead to lots of time alone, resting my neck on heat or ice. After a couple of years on Narcotic pain pills, the pain was just getting worse. The last three years I have been off the pain pills, but living in daily pain.

I developed a new injury in my neck at the age of 55. It is not repairable, but it is extremely painful. I have not been able to be myself now for many years, which has contributed to my depression. I am now 56, and my neck is worse when the weather is cold and rainy. Living in Portland, Oregon the last 3 yeas has been even more painful and depressing. Now I am finally moving back to warmer weather, but because rent is so expensive, I can not even afford my own small apartment. Now I have to rent a room in someone's house to be able to live. Living off my social security is very challenging now. I babysit for a couple of hours here and there to make a little money, but I am exhausted from my daily battle with pain. I have spent thousands of dollars on doctors for pain treatment, nothing is long lasting with relief. I know that most people dont realized how much I am suffering. I have a very sensitive pain system, which makes it even worse. I just want to help raise awareness that this disease causes extreme pain for some, and very mild pain for others. Each person is different. Please support research to help end this disease. My body feels 80, at only 56. How will I feel at 65, 75?

info about Megan M
profile for Curtis B Curtis BSeattle, WAThis ismy fight

Greetings fellow Arthritis survivors: My Psoriatic Arthritis came on instantly about 15 years ago, with horrible pain in hands and both feet, classic "sausage digits" all fingers of both hands. It turns out that PA was the tip of the iceberg, the first indicator of my auto-immune system turning on me. The PA was swiftly diagnosed and we rapidly escalated up the steps of medications to biologics...

Greetings fellow Arthritis survivors: My Psoriatic Arthritis came on instantly about 15 years ago, with horrible pain in hands and both feet, classic "sausage digits" all fingers of both hands. It turns out that PA was the tip of the iceberg, the first indicator of my auto-immune system turning on me. The PA was swiftly diagnosed and we rapidly escalated up the steps of medications to biologics which provided relief. Then I began to experience debilitating asthma, and CAT scans revealed I had Farmers Lung: permanent damage to my lungs harboring disease. Farmers Lung had come from years of working as a child and teenager in the Oregon agriculture industry: picking beans and strawberries as a pre-teen, then working in a grass seed cleaning plant as a teen. This was hard summer work and we were unprotected and exposed to organic dust, DDT, and other pesticides. So my body had been fighting the infections in my lungs for decades, and finally just went into overdrive. I am now partially disabled, and carefully balance use of biologics to manage my PA with twice daily lung therapy to keep my lungs as clear as possible. I am thankful that the advances in treatment mean that arthritis victims, especially children with JRA and PA, can live full and productive lives. The ACA has saved my live twice. Stay strong! Curtis

profile for LaShonda B LaShonda BLithia Springs, GAThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA in January 2016. I have experienced aches and pains in my entire body, but the areas that affect me the most are my hands, wrists, and rotator cups near my shoulders. I have frequented Urgent Care to get shots to ease the pain. It is routine for me to speak daily that by His stripes, "I am healed."

Prior to my diagnosis, I had a mental breakdown because I have...

I was diagnosed with RA in January 2016. I have experienced aches and pains in my entire body, but the areas that affect me the most are my hands, wrists, and rotator cups near my shoulders. I have frequented Urgent Care to get shots to ease the pain. It is routine for me to speak daily that by His stripes, "I am healed."

Prior to my diagnosis, I had a mental breakdown because I have always been an independent person. I was unable to comb my hair, put on my clothes/shoes, or clean up my house. However, thank God for my girls and my God-sister who assisted me in every way possible to ensure I maintained a normal life while awaiting my diagnosis.

Since my diagnosis, I have been taking medicine regularly. I have experienced good days and bad days, but on my good days I try my best to do all that I can because I never know when the flare-ups will occur.

It has been a challenge to live a normal life, so that is why I am fighting and bringing awareness to arthritis, especially RA. My motto is, "I will beat RA, it won't beat me!"

profile for Michelle T Michelle THoward City, MIThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed w/Rheumatoid Arthritis 8 years ago after years of being in pain, sick with recurring infections, and severe fatigue. I finally had an answer to all of my issues! I have since also been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, osteoarthritis, enthesopathy in several joints...among other issues related to the RA (interstitial cystitis, Raynauds, dry eyes, severe itching, etc.)...the list...

I was diagnosed w/Rheumatoid Arthritis 8 years ago after years of being in pain, sick with recurring infections, and severe fatigue. I finally had an answer to all of my issues! I have since also been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, osteoarthritis, enthesopathy in several joints...among other issues related to the RA (interstitial cystitis, Raynauds, dry eyes, severe itching, etc.)...the list goes on and on.

I have tried many different drugs and my rheumatologist has labeled me as "medication sensitive/side effect sensitive". My body just can't handle the side effects of these drugs and I'm no longer on anything except a few drugs for pain. I was once a thriving and active person who worked 40 plus hours a week and now I'm to disabled to work, go to the gym, live a normal life. I've applied for Social Security over a year ago and had to appeal....I'm only 46 and I feel so defeated. I'm exhausted and stressed out from losing an excellent income and living off of LTD for the past 1.5 years; I shouldn't be asking for disability wages yet.

My college degrees are gathering dust on the wall and I can't help but think "what did I pursue my MBA for, knowing I was ill?"; it's because I wanted to believe that I could overcome this disability and in the end it overcame me. Thank God I have a supporting husband and family that help me deal with all of this. We need a cure!

profile for Nicole J Nicole JMemphis, TNThis ismy fight

It started when I was 8 and when I was 9 they finally diagnosed me Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. My final year in middle school/junior high, it seemed to disappear and then at 34 it seemed like my entire body was on fire. Almost a year after that, at 35 it exploded. It took another year, and me advocating for my own health, to get the proper diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

When I...

It started when I was 8 and when I was 9 they finally diagnosed me Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. My final year in middle school/junior high, it seemed to disappear and then at 34 it seemed like my entire body was on fire. Almost a year after that, at 35 it exploded. It took another year, and me advocating for my own health, to get the proper diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

When I look back there had always been little signs before the explosion. Then came several other diagnoses of other health issues all the aftermath and destruction of RA. It is very difficult to deal with mentally and emotionally as well. I am 42 and sometimes I feel robbed of the life I planned. Everyday life can be a challenge. I am a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a citizen and I have to be all of those things plus, I have to be me!

RA has affected my lifestyle dramatically. It's an invisible disease and you fight to be seen and heard every day and many times by those closest to you. I fight back with the knowledge of my disease and the other diseases and illness brought on by RA. I stay up to date on advancement and information about it.

I encourage others with this disease through social groups and it in return helps me. I push through to accomplish goals, major and minor. I enjoy the small things as well as the big things. I take nothing and no one for granted. I will not shrink back. I will live. I will thrive. Sometimes crying, many times in pain, I will not be defeated. I will find a new way to live and enjoy my life. I may have pain every day, but my good days outweigh my bad days because I can always count up my blessings.

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profile for Ellizabeth K Ellizabeth KRiverside, CAThis ismy fight

I've been dealing with the results of arthritis for over 20 years. Have had surgery many times, both knees, both hips and back three times. The last five were done within a four-year span just within the last five years. It was not easy and physical therapy grueling, but you can never really value the strength and movement you get back unless you have worked hard to achieve the most you can...

I've been dealing with the results of arthritis for over 20 years. Have had surgery many times, both knees, both hips and back three times. The last five were done within a four-year span just within the last five years. It was not easy and physical therapy grueling, but you can never really value the strength and movement you get back unless you have worked hard to achieve the most you can achieve. This is true for anything in life and it will make you a stronger person.

I wanted to have a life in spite of my difficulties. I am thankful I have achieved my goal and still work on moving on. To sit and vegetate will negate the progress I have made. Enjoying my family and grandchildren means everything to me and the fight to keep moving has granted me my wish. I am not so much an arthritic, but a person determined to have a life in spite of arthritis.

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 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 Barbara L Barbara LRacine, WIThis ismy fight

My diagnose occurred in 1964 when I was 14 years old and experiencing massive swelling and tenderness around both knees. They were bent at an angle that allowed me to only shuffle slowly. Our family doctor speculated rheumatic fever but was at a loss for a true diagnosis. My parents took me to a major hospital where I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and SLE, Systemic Lupus...

My diagnose occurred in 1964 when I was 14 years old and experiencing massive swelling and tenderness around both knees. They were bent at an angle that allowed me to only shuffle slowly. Our family doctor speculated rheumatic fever but was at a loss for a true diagnosis. My parents took me to a major hospital where I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and SLE, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

My kindly pediatrician gave me two choices: some prescription drugs, which he explained could cause me to gain perhaps up to 50 pounds or, aspirin therapy - 15 aspirin daily, 12 hours of sleep at night, and a 2-hour nap after school every day. Of course, a teenager would not hear of any weight gain, much less up to 50 pounds! So aspirin and sleep it was!

My knees were heated by lying under a metal domed structure lit by special bulbs. I called it "The Baker". When my knees were quite "cooked" my mother would massage them gently. Oh, such pain. This went on for months. And then I went into "remission".

It was at that time my parents revealed to me what the doctors at the hospital had told them: "We have had very few patients with these diseases and most of them did not live long." But not me! I survived! What was not evident when I was able to walk again was the cartilage in most of my joints was on it's way to being destroyed, from the initial extreme inflammatory process of the Lupus resulting in very early osteoarthritis.

By the age of 26 I had severe arthritis in one hip. My first hip replacement was at the age of 40. By that time I was virtually pain-free since the head of the femur had become egg shaped and was fused into the pelvic socket. My arthritis progressed to the other hip, both knees, my spine, neck, feet, jaw. The first hip replacement lasted 19 years and then had to be revised. At the age of 65 I had the other hip replaced. I have had steroid injections in my hips, back, neck and knees.

One might think this has caused much suffering. But I have a different outlook on it: the pain and discomfort is part of who I am and what me strong. The most difficult part by far has been that arthritis is a disease that can be outwardly deceiving. I have looked healthy most of my life. When I could walk normally, I acted healthy. Chronic pain does not show on the outside depending on how one handles it. After all, no one likes a whiner! So most people do not really know what you are going through. I have been fortunate to keep on top of the pain with minimal medication.

However, arthritis has been at least partially responsible for a devastating personal loss. As I grew less able to do the physical activities I used to do, over times of tiredness from the pain along with other symptoms that one trusts their loved ones will accept and understand, my partner looked at me as someone growing old faster than he was. He could not adjust to me not being able to keep up with him or help with physical work. And he left me for someone much younger and vibrant.

I am strong and will survive. But, to me, that is the hidden cost of arthritis in addition to the pain and eventual debilitation. Even for those who can cope for a long time, it never gets better. It only gets worse. But the "worse" is on the inside. No one can really understand unless they have also been there. It is a daily fight and arthritis sufferers know they must be strong to win.

profile for Thi Thi Hurst , TXThis ismy fight

I miss running. I miss scrapbooking. I do not like asking people for help with anything let alone the simple things. I am tired of taking meds...especially the ones that lead to bad side effects. And I'm so tired of being tired. We all need a cure!!!!

profile for Doug W Doug WBeaver, WVThis ismy fight

Just over 2 years ago it came creeping into to my life, Psoriatic Arthritis. Just some feet, ankle and hand aching. But it rapidly moved to multiple joints. And then the muscle cramping with ligament and tendon pain an unexpected surprise. Yep fatigue too.
Now I thought I could control PSA pretty rapidly with medication. Nope it didn't go like that. Meds are only a part of management....

Just over 2 years ago it came creeping into to my life, Psoriatic Arthritis. Just some feet, ankle and hand aching. But it rapidly moved to multiple joints. And then the muscle cramping with ligament and tendon pain an unexpected surprise. Yep fatigue too.
Now I thought I could control PSA pretty rapidly with medication. Nope it didn't go like that. Meds are only a part of management. Exercise, yoga and stress reduction have helped me get a grip. Stay strong!

profile for Brooke D Brooke DBowling Green, KYThis ismy fight

Rheumatoid Arthritis is often referred to as an “old person’s” disease, but nothing is further from the truth. After being diagnosed at the prime age of four, I can confidently say that I grew up quicker than most children. My case was systemic and required more butterfly needles, infusions, steroid shots, children’s hospitals, serious talks, and many more “grown up” things that I...

Rheumatoid Arthritis is often referred to as an “old person’s” disease, but nothing is further from the truth. After being diagnosed at the prime age of four, I can confidently say that I grew up quicker than most children. My case was systemic and required more butterfly needles, infusions, steroid shots, children’s hospitals, serious talks, and many more “grown up” things that I wouldn’t wish on any child or famliy, but I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything.

I give the same advice to anyone dealing with RA; having Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is what you make it. You can make it something bigger than it is, or you can accept it as your new normal. Attitude is everything. If you limit yourself, you will be limited. If you power through, that’s amazing! You know your body better than anyone else. Some days will be harder than others; this disease is completely unpredictable.

Fifteen years ago, my family held a Jingle Bell Run in our hometown to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. I was newly diagnosed with a round, drug-inflated face and pitiful limp--the poster child for JRA. We had just started this journey and didn’t know what do except to jump into this battle full force. This past December, instead of doing my usual duty as ribbon-cutter, I was able to participate in a Jingle Bell Run for the first time. It was such a surreal moment crossing the finish line with my mom and my best friend by my side.

Thanks to supportive family, teachers, and friends along the way, I have overcome many challenges. I am 20 now, five-years pain-free, a junior in college, a sorority woman, an aspiring publicist, a concert fanatic, an amateur runner, the list goes on.

Nowhere in the short bio will you see, “I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Yes, I do have RA, but I have not let that limit me from reaching for my dreams or enjoying the things I love. I have conquered this disease rather than let it conquer me!

info about Brooke D
profile for Penny C Penny CCincinnati, OHThis ismy fight

After having Rheumatoid Arthritis for almost two years, I finally had a diagnosis, then after 10 years, my skin started severe changes and I thought it couldn't get much worse with all the pain in my joints and being exhausted all the time. I was then told that I have Psoriatic Arthritis, so now I am going on 13 years with Psoriatic Arthritis.

As soon as I physically and mentally...

After having Rheumatoid Arthritis for almost two years, I finally had a diagnosis, then after 10 years, my skin started severe changes and I thought it couldn't get much worse with all the pain in my joints and being exhausted all the time. I was then told that I have Psoriatic Arthritis, so now I am going on 13 years with Psoriatic Arthritis.

As soon as I physically and mentally come to terms with it, something changes or my medication fails again. Or I have an injury that continues to affect my daily life and interfere with my job. And I am starting my fourth medication today. Not knowing if the side effects are going to happen, or I will be here tomorrow and trying to be a parent of three children, well its all so draining. And not knowing if my children are going to have to endure the same.

There is not enough support for having an autoimmune disease, other then my Rheumatologist office when I meet other people with similar problems. And we all try to smile and make it through another day.

profile for Traci W Traci WGreenville, OHThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with JIA when I was 13. I also had psoriasis since the age of 2. It hit me hard so I was put on shots and they helped quite a bit. I stayed on them until I had some female issues and was told if I wanted children I should have them soon or I probably couldn't, I was 20. I had to stop the shots prior to getting pregnant, luckily we had two healthy kids, and I was one of the lucky...

I was diagnosed with JIA when I was 13. I also had psoriasis since the age of 2. It hit me hard so I was put on shots and they helped quite a bit. I stayed on them until I had some female issues and was told if I wanted children I should have them soon or I probably couldn't, I was 20. I had to stop the shots prior to getting pregnant, luckily we had two healthy kids, and I was one of the lucky ones who went into remission during pregnancy.

My arthritis stayed in a low-level remission for a while and I took very little medication. I became an LPN before I had my kids and was able to complete getting my RN part time and work Part Time at my local hospital on the MedSurg Peds unit while the kids were little.

My arthritis which by now is diagnosed as Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, flared up big time about a year after I became a RN. I changed jobs and went to Home Health, my parent's health started declining, and my husband's good paying job went away. I had to start working fulltime and now be the main bread winner.

Things have stayed pretty challenging since then. Parents both ended up passing away after taking care of them (of which I am blessed to have been able to do that), husband went on disability, kids are grown but daughter now has been cursed with getting PSA also, and I now also have Sjogen's disease which I think is worse than PSA.

Despite all of that, I am very blessed in many ways. I have a loving family, a good job with understanding employers, and I try to take each day at a time and make the best of it. Autoimmune diseases are tough and difficult to find good treatment. We often look fine while we feel terrible on the inside. I put my pain inside its box but the fatigue is the hardest to deal with.

profile for Arica A Arica AQuincy, ILThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Systemic RA at 22 months old! I was told back then that I'd be lucky to live til 5yrs old! I am now 36yrs old! I've had many many weird & scary things happen in my life, including but not limited to things like death, having my skin fall off, my blood counts looking like I had cancer, & not to mention being a guinea pig for medications & treatments.

profile for Andrew B Andrew BTwp of Washington, NJThis ismy fight

Hello, my name is Andrew. My story begins at the age of 4 when I was thought first diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at that time there was little medication can do even though I had top doctors in the region. I was 4 years old and in a wheelchair and determined to walk again.

The disease eventually went into remission and I was able to go to the local grade school middle...

Hello, my name is Andrew. My story begins at the age of 4 when I was thought first diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at that time there was little medication can do even though I had top doctors in the region. I was 4 years old and in a wheelchair and determined to walk again.

The disease eventually went into remission and I was able to go to the local grade school middle school and eventually High School. I also went to college and work part-time while I was going to college during this period of time I would have times of remission and also many flare-ups. During college, I had the first of many reconstructive surgeries this one being total lower jaw reconstruction. I was fortunate enough to have Top Doctors and surgeons throughout the years to rebuild my right thumb twice my left thumb and all ten toes.

I am now 54 years old and have worked for Fortune 500 companies throughout my career for which I am now retired. I have been on many medications. These biologic drugs have slowed down the disease progression and I am still able to be active such as light house work landscaping around the house just to stay busy and driving spending time with friends. My fight will continue for as long as I live but I was taught that I can use my mind with the help of people I have been able to live a fabulous life and for that I am very grateful.