ALISON SCHWARTZ My RA is unacceptable because, at age 10, I could no longer run and play with my friends. I came home from school and slept. I endured painful gold injections and teasing about my puffy face from steroids. At age 33, I was disabled from a hard-earned career as a pharmacist. At 36, I have had a total ankle replacement and total knee replacement. My future will have so much pain, surgeries and a shorter life expectancy. Most of all, I cannot keep up with my three children. I have to tell them "I can't" too many times.
MICHELLE STEIN Rheumatoid arthritis robs you of your life. It's frustrating being young and not being able to do things you should be able to do. It's frustrating when some days I can't work or comb my hair. The dependence on others to help can at times be depressing.
GINA ANTOON My granddaughter always wants me to go out and play. I barely make it at work all day – some days I cry from the pain at work! I feel so bad because I want to do things. I'll try, then it only lasts 30 seconds before I'm dying of pain. I have inflammatory RA all over, and fibromyalgia on top of it. I didn't ask for this.
JEANE SMITH I am a 36-year-old mother of four sons, diagnosed with RA. We take medicines that cause a lot of damage to our bodies. There is no such thing as a pain-free day. Arthritis takes its toll physically and emotionally!
KARIS CRAIN Arthritis takes over every aspect of your life – every waking minute is painful. Outings consist of doctors' offices and infusion rooms – and every dime you have is spent on insurance, doctors, medication and various attempts to feel some relief.
KRISTIE WRIGHT Arthritis is unacceptable. Unless you or your child has it, people don't understand that treatments are so rough just to function normally. I have two kids with JIA, and it's heartbreaking as a parent to give shots to them every week, knowing the side affects. People will never understand unless there is more awareness brought to this crippling disease.
MEGAN KELLY I'm only 24 and I have RA. I got diagnosed with it last year. It makes me feel old, useless and depressed. I've tried to adjust to this new pain, but I can't seem to get past it. It's raining today, and the pain got really bad at around 2:30 a.m. I can't really do anything about it but take medication. This is unacceptable.
MARIE WAZIAK I have lived with arthritis for over 10 years. I have had four surgeries on my right hand and one on my left. I had major foot surgery six months ago and am still not healed.
SARAH OGLESBY Arthritis is unacceptable to me because no one should live in constant pain. Arthritis does not discriminate.
AMANDAH HENDRICKS RA sucks because I can't pick up my kids. I can't tie their shoes! I can't dress them (or myself)! When we play, I'm terrified of them touching my hands.
BENNY-JENNA GARCIA Arthritis has made my 6-year-old daughter put her childhood on hold!