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

Donate Today Share Your Story
profile for Melanie W Melanie WAlpharetta, GAI fight formyself, my brother, and most importantly my son

I was diagnosed with RA at 40 and my brother at 28. While we both have struggled with this condition - my brother's worse than mine - we are very fortunate to have good care and good medicine that is working. My son Tyler was diagnosed with JIA this year at age 11. Living in a suburb of a big city like Atlanta doesn't mean you have easy access to a pediatric rheumatologist. There were none...

I was diagnosed with RA at 40 and my brother at 28. While we both have struggled with this condition - my brother's worse than mine - we are very fortunate to have good care and good medicine that is working. My son Tyler was diagnosed with JIA this year at age 11. Living in a suburb of a big city like Atlanta doesn't mean you have easy access to a pediatric rheumatologist. There were none that could accept us outside of nine months! We were very fortunate through a family member to find a doctor at Vanderbilt Children's who could see Tyler and were very blessed that he put a plan of care in place and could see us until a doctor came available in Atlanta. We know how fortunate we are and are so very grateful for those who have guided us along the way. For Tyler, being diagnosed with JIA, was difficult and life-changing. It definitely impacts your life both physically and mentally. He is doing well right now but is fighting strong and hopefully remission will be in his future!

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

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



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









profile for Betty Jean P Betty Jean PCheyenne, WYThis ismy fight

I was in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I am 78 now and I was about 20 when I got the diagnosis. That looks like 58 years that I've had this disease. I have had many drugs and operations to keep as independent as I can. I have raised two children mostly on my own and completed my bachelor's degree and Master’s Degree during this painful period. I taught special...

I was in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I am 78 now and I was about 20 when I got the diagnosis. That looks like 58 years that I've had this disease. I have had many drugs and operations to keep as independent as I can. I have raised two children mostly on my own and completed my bachelor's degree and Master’s Degree during this painful period. I taught special education, primarily English, for 19 years. I've written books about my three service dogs to help people understand how a service dog can help them live independently.

Recently, I broke my femur bone and I have suffered for a year. I am unable to walk safely without a walker. I haven't been driving very much at all this past year and walking is difficult even with a walker. I had three surgeries starting in April of last year, 2016. I have lots of help with housekeepers and a personal assistant, my service dog and so many people I can't name have assisted me to live as independently as I can. I call them my angels. People step up to help me without even being asked and it's almost a miracle. I am currently writing my life story. I belong to several groups, but I am going to downsize from the Cowgirl group and my investment group. I love my book group and the Friendship force. I have traveled extensively with the friendship force to many countries and I hope I can continue to do that. I will have to have help though.

It is interesting that while I was pregnant, my arthritis pain almost disappeared. I felt like I was walking on clouds; I was so happy. Many other health problems have happened after I was first diagnosed: osteoporosis, both shoulders have torn rotator cuffs, my right elbow is, as the doctor informed me last week, worn out. I am right-handed, too. I have lots of pain everywhere: shoulders, neck, back, feet, hands, elbows, knees and muscles. Both my vision and hearing seemed to be deteriorating, too. After I was diagnosed, I learned about the selfless help and advice people offer about their situation and how they manage. It has changed my life in a positive way.

profile for Cathy P Cathy PTwin City, GAThis ismy fight

I fight for own sanity. I fight for my precious, understanding man in my life. I fight for my precious momma who has Alzheimer's. I fight for my grandchildren. I fight for me ...it is a hard hitting very debilitating fight but I have the Lord Jesus Christ in my corner and I will not stop fighting!

profile for Stacey K Stacey KSAINT MARYS, PAThis ismy fight

I am at the beginning of my story. My name is Stacey and I was diagnosed with RA on May 26, 2017. I am a wife to an amazing husband, mental health worker and a mother to the most amazing little girls (and they are twins)!

My symptoms of arthritis increased after having the twins and have progressively become worse. My hands, feet, and hands are the most affected. When I experience...

I am at the beginning of my story. My name is Stacey and I was diagnosed with RA on May 26, 2017. I am a wife to an amazing husband, mental health worker and a mother to the most amazing little girls (and they are twins)!

My symptoms of arthritis increased after having the twins and have progressively become worse. My hands, feet, and hands are the most affected. When I experience flare ups they are debilitating.

Based on my current symptoms my rheumatology doctor confirmed I have RA. Which sucks as a mother of two active 3-year-olds. But my prognosis is good given the early stages of my disease. I just started a new drug for inflammation. My bloodwork shows an elevated sed rate. To show how fast my disease is progressing...6 months ago all my bloodwork including my sed rate came back normal. I am still waiting on my other bloodwork results and I go back to my doctor June 14. We will discuss medication regimens at that appointment. I am strong and will get through!

profile for Dottie V Dottie VCotter, ARThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Ivy M Ivy MPark Forest, ILThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Elda G Elda GSan Antonio, TXThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Karen H Karen HWestminster, COThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Noreen H Noreen HLoves Park, ILThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Debbie M Debbie MLynwood , ILThis ismy fight

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

profile for Julia B Julia BMilwaukee, WIThis ismy fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

profile for Michele  C Michele CLebanon , TNThis ismy fight

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

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

profile for Staci  P Staci PNorth Newton, KSThis ismy fight

I have had inflammatory issues most of my life. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with seropositive RA. Over the last year I have tried several different combos of meds and have finally found one that does a relatively good job of managing my symptoms. I have had to realize that I cannot push and be as busy as I used to be. I hate how RA has changed my life. I have found hope through Advocacy...

I have had inflammatory issues most of my life. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with seropositive RA. Over the last year I have tried several different combos of meds and have finally found one that does a relatively good job of managing my symptoms. I have had to realize that I cannot push and be as busy as I used to be. I hate how RA has changed my life. I have found hope through Advocacy with the Arthritis Foundation. It gives me a voice!

profile for Brenda A Brenda AOmaha, NEThis ismy fight

In July 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage II er+ pr- her2- Breast Cancer at the age of 42. Following 2 surgeries, I rec'd dose dense chemotherapy, in addition to 33 rounds of radiation, followed by 5 years of more medication and add'l surgeries.

Although my Oncologists are not certain which treatment(s) caused many of my subsequent health problems, they have been numerous. I have...

In July 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage II er+ pr- her2- Breast Cancer at the age of 42. Following 2 surgeries, I rec'd dose dense chemotherapy, in addition to 33 rounds of radiation, followed by 5 years of more medication and add'l surgeries.

Although my Oncologists are not certain which treatment(s) caused many of my subsequent health problems, they have been numerous. I have long-term (permanent) side-effects from cancer treatments (lung scarring from radiation for example).

I've ended up with a number of auto-immune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjorgren's Syndrome, Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vit B-12 Deficiency Anemia, Asthma and moderate/severe allergies and/or environmental triggers. I suffer from extreme daytime fatigue and neuropathy in both feet and my right thigh. I have frequent bouts with tingling in my scalp and face, both of which may indicate MS. I had a spinal tap a few years ago which was negative for MS, so we are hopeful that I'm not developing it. I also have Trochanteric Bursitis on both my left and right upper femoral bones, which makes walking, sitting, and sleeping on my side difficult. I was also diagnosed with Sleep Apnea 2 years ago.

All of this is so frustrating as I'm well within my normal weight and BMI for my height. In other words, losing weight will not likely improve any of these issues. Most days, I feel like I'm about 100+ YO instead of 54.

Needless to say, I feel awful most days. I had to quit working (as a teacher) 4 years due to all of my health issues. I never know if I'll feel good when I get up. It is extremely difficult to make long-term plans and if I overdo it, it can leave me nearly bedridden for days.

The only glimmer of hope in all of this has been my very supportive husband. He is so good to me when I'm having really bad days, and he helps out with day to day housework when I'm not up to it.

I know that there are others who suffer as I do. I really hope that within my lifetime, better treatments can be discovered for those of us who endure multiple auto-immune disorders. I have had okay to good pain management with accupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, and PT/OT. I choose to not take narcotics as I struggle so much with daytime fatigue, I am quite certain that I would sleep non-stop. Please undertand that I'm looking for sympathy, but rather talking about all of my health issues so that others going through similar things know that they are not alone.

profile for dawn S dawn SClarksville, TNThis ismy fight

My name is dawn I live in Clarksville tn. Since 2005 I have had close to 30 surgeries. I have two fake knees, fake left shoulder, fake right elbow both thumb joints rebuilt, a plate, screws and a bridge in my right foot and I have had two back surgeries. I have been in a pain management program for about two years. I have recently found out that I am going to have to have neck surgery. The...

My name is dawn I live in Clarksville tn. Since 2005 I have had close to 30 surgeries. I have two fake knees, fake left shoulder, fake right elbow both thumb joints rebuilt, a plate, screws and a bridge in my right foot and I have had two back surgeries. I have been in a pain management program for about two years. I have recently found out that I am going to have to have neck surgery. The pain specialist are trying to find away to help me with my back. Pain is a friend I have had with me for several years now. A few months ago I found out by an arthritis specialist that I have premature osteoarthritis. She explained to me it was a type of arthritis where my skeletal system is older than my age. I was just wondering is there anyone else out there that has the same thing I do that I can share with? I have felt alone in this battle.
there are days when I just can not get up off a couch, out of bed, my family don't understand. Thanks for letting me share.

profile for Shawm P (Age 40) Shawm P (Age 40)Valley Stream, NYThis ismy fight

Hi

I was diagnosed with AS ( ankylosing spondylosis) a type of juvinile arthritis when I was about 18,I'm now 40 years old.I also have and was diagnosed with scoliosis ( which is a curvature of the spine)At first the scoliosis did not affect me much,but now years later when I walk my head is constantly down looking at the ground due to the severity of the curve in my spine

Hi

I was diagnosed with AS ( ankylosing spondylosis) a type of juvinile arthritis when I was about 18,I'm now 40 years old.I also have and was diagnosed with scoliosis ( which is a curvature of the spine)At first the scoliosis did not affect me much,but now years later when I walk my head is constantly down looking at the ground due to the severity of the curve in my spine

I was an athlete for most of my life ( baseball player) It was actually the one God given talent the Lord blessed me with.Unfortunetly,the arthritis started in my hips,rendering me useless to play my passion in life, baseball.After that,I lost all interest in school and fell into a deep depression which took me a long time to pull myself out of.

Thankfully in the years following,I was able to go on and work for many years getting by on Tylenol and Aleve ect,but as things got worse I went to see a regular GP doctor.He did blood work and he couldn't believe that I was standing in front of him due to some body imflammation test he conducted.
So him being just a GP he prescribed me pain meds that worked for a while,and it honestly took away almost all my pain.However,due to people doing the wrong thing with these meds I slowly just stopped taking them.

Which pretty much leads me here,I got a new GP and get anti imfammatory meds meds and Nerontin plus taking Tylenol ect again, but my pain now ever since I turned 40 is out of this world.I literally cry,and have to have my wife help me out of bed.Also,I've been getting swelling and alot of pain in my left wrist.I honestly never knew that arthritis pain could be this relentless.I also have severe pain in my shoulders and knees.

This whole time I've been scared to go to a specialist,but I finally got the referral and am gonna. go soon cause I can't live this way.I say I'm " scared" because I'm very hesitant due to these new Biologics medications? I've researched them alot,and I don't want something forced on me.

Anyway,this is my story! I'm extremely sorry this is SO long of a post.Thank you for listening ( reading)

profile for Jacie L (Age 15) Jacie L (Age 15)Grovetown, GAThis ismy fight

Hi my name is Jacie L. I am 15 years old and I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in the 3rd grade when I was 9 years old. I am a competitive cheerleader and a JV football cheerleader for my High School.

When I was diagnosed my doctor told me I had to quit cheer. That was the worst day of my life. I cried for hours over not being able to cheer. Cheer has been a part...

Hi my name is Jacie L. I am 15 years old and I have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. I was diagnosed in the 3rd grade when I was 9 years old. I am a competitive cheerleader and a JV football cheerleader for my High School.

When I was diagnosed my doctor told me I had to quit cheer. That was the worst day of my life. I cried for hours over not being able to cheer. Cheer has been a part of my life since I was six years old and to have to quit was devastating. I had started at a new school my 4th grade year which was around the time I was diagnosed and at my worst. My fingers were curled under and I was hurting all the time. People started treating me differently and I was starting to get made fun of because I had arthritis. I would have people feel bad for me and people think it was weird that I had arthritis. I remember this one time some boy started stomping on my toe asking if it hurt and I said no because I'm not the type to say I'm in pain to people. He kept stomping on it until I said it hurt. I hated my friends knowing because I was scared they would treat me differently or just not talk to me. I was scared on being judged by my peers.

It took me almost five years to be confident enough to openly talk about my arthritis and raise awareness to people to tell them that arthritis is serious and inform people about how arthritis doesn't just affect my joints it affects my immune system and has brought my self confidence down. I have been told that I "use arthritis as an excuse for everything". It is something that has always disturbed me be to told that. Arthritis has also affected the way I've grown because arthritis stunts a person's growth, so at one point I had stopped growing.

If anyone ever asks if I would change having arthritis I would always say no because yes it has its negative side, but I have also met so many amazing people and I have been able to get myself in a state to where I'm not like how I was when I was first diagnosed. I am not in remission but I hope to one day get to that point where I am well enough to be put in remission.

I am so blessed to have the people in my life that help me get through this every day and I'm so grateful to have friends that I am able to connect with who have the same thing I do, and are going through the same problems I have gone through. I could not be luckier to have a family who is always there for me and helps me through this disease. My parents have paid thousands of dollars in medical bills and hospital visits.

info about Jacie L (Age 15)
profile for Nicole F Nicole FOrland park , ILThis ismy fight

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

profile for Mary T Mary TSeverna Park, MDThis ismy fight

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

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

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

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

profile for Nan S Nan SPhoenix, AZThis ismy fight

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

It...

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

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

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

profile for Vicki G Vicki GSpringfield , MOThis ismy fight

I have degenerative arthritis in both of my knees! I don't have any cartilage left in either knees I am in pain all the time. It is really bad when weather is cold or rainy!

profile for Ashley K Ashley KTulsa, OKThis ismy fight

I was twelve when psoriasis on my scalp was diagnosed. It was a mild inconvenience growing up but, I dealt with it. A few months before my thirtieth birthday, I woke up unable to move. My joints were stiff and I was in incredible pain. My maternal grandfather and an aunt had passed from this life due to complications of RA and Lupus. I knew the signs of inflammatory arthritis all too well. After...

I was twelve when psoriasis on my scalp was diagnosed. It was a mild inconvenience growing up but, I dealt with it. A few months before my thirtieth birthday, I woke up unable to move. My joints were stiff and I was in incredible pain. My maternal grandfather and an aunt had passed from this life due to complications of RA and Lupus. I knew the signs of inflammatory arthritis all too well. After symptoms began manifesting, I went to a rheumatologist (after first being tested for everything under the sun with my PCP). I was diagnosed with PsA shortly before my birthday, February 2014.

I tried many different types of medication, and in November 2014, I began a medication that worked for me. It was a game changer in my treatment journey. I could climb a few stairs, I could walk without crying, I was able to open jars that had previously been opened and I returned to part time work. In April, this year, I began a new medication. What the first medication wasn't able to fully accomplish, this could. I ran for a mile, for the first time in three and a half years! I feel good enough to be more productive at work and I traveled, without pain, for the first time in years!

My arthritis journey has not been easy. However, I have the loving support of my parents, sister and brother-in-law, friends, colleagues, mentor and my incredible medical team. I also want to include the many amazing people that I have worked with at the Arthritis Foundation (I'm looking at you, Jennifer)! I served as Chair for Tulsa JBR 2015 and Chair of Silent Auction for Tulsa Bone Bash 2016. I plan to keep active with the Arthritis Foundation and give back to a foundation that has supported and given me so much. My fight is in honor of my papa, auntie and all those that have come before and after me. ❤

profile for Rebecca P Rebecca PCentral West Texas, TXThis ismy fight

After 40 years with serpositive Rheumatoid Arthritis I am here to tell you all that I've survived 8 reconstructive surgeries, taken every possible treatment available under the care of 5 different Rheumatologists including trial studies of all OTC analgesics. After all this time there is so much more I could add to this paragraph but it's just too much. I am widowed, I'm still here and trying to...

After 40 years with serpositive Rheumatoid Arthritis I am here to tell you all that I've survived 8 reconstructive surgeries, taken every possible treatment available under the care of 5 different Rheumatologists including trial studies of all OTC analgesics. After all this time there is so much more I could add to this paragraph but it's just too much. I am widowed, I'm still here and trying to enjoy the simplest things.

My last Rheumatologist told me I am at "end stage" of this disease and that it has run its course of destruction and that now all that can be done is to maintain me with pain medication for quality of life. I feel like I've been put out to pasture for what remains of my life. There is nothing left for my situation. On top of this I have Lupus and Fibromyalgia. I end up with reactions to all available itrestmrnts available even the steroids. I'm certainly in a fix. I mostly stay couched up during the day but get out often for my family and friends. Then there are those who don't understand any of this. Thankfully I'm still walking and do not yet require assistive devices. I don't take antidepressants but do need anti anxiety medication for the roughest days.

Never give up. Stay active with your limits and try to eat right. Best wishes to everyone.

profile for Shelley R Shelley RRogers, ARThis ismy fight

I am a 48 year old woman. I worked full time and had a successful career. Two years ago, I had surgery for carpel tunnel in my wrists. I had been diagnosed with this 15 years prior but the pain had suddenly become unbearable. The first week after surgery I seemed to be on track and I was to return to work in 3 weeks after surgery. However, the second week I woke up one morning and realized I...

I am a 48 year old woman. I worked full time and had a successful career. Two years ago, I had surgery for carpel tunnel in my wrists. I had been diagnosed with this 15 years prior but the pain had suddenly become unbearable. The first week after surgery I seemed to be on track and I was to return to work in 3 weeks after surgery. However, the second week I woke up one morning and realized I could barely walk. The pain was so severe and every movement was extremely painful. I went to the Dr. and after a few visits and blood work he told me he thought I had RA and PsA. He sent me to a rheumatologist and she confirmed I had both and it was aggressive.

We tried several medications but it would be a year before I got any relief from the relentless pain. I still have not returned to work and I don't see that in the near future, well honestly, I don't see it at all but I hate saying that.

I'm not the kind of person to feel sorry for myself or even let anyone know how bad I feel; but, I really just want my life back. When this started I accepted it would take sometime to recover; then it started sinking in that I probably would never fully "recover", and that's hard.

My mind still thinks I can refinish furniture and paint a house or even a canvas; but, my body betrays me. Even right now as I'm typing this, I am extremely tired, my head hurts and I'm sick to my stomach from meds; not to mention the pain in my foot/leg from a flare up. This is not what I had planned for my 40's or ever.

profile for Lori G Lori GTurlock, CAThis ismy fight

My diagnosis began with what I thought was pink eye. But it turned out to be inflammation in both eyes, my hands were swollen and red and I was having a hard time walking. Diagnosis, Spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, RA, and fibromyalgia. I was 52 and have spent the last year of my life on different meds trying to get control of my immune system and the pain. It has been a process, my biggest...

My diagnosis began with what I thought was pink eye. But it turned out to be inflammation in both eyes, my hands were swollen and red and I was having a hard time walking. Diagnosis, Spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, RA, and fibromyalgia. I was 52 and have spent the last year of my life on different meds trying to get control of my immune system and the pain. It has been a process, my biggest trigger is the weather, cold rainy days are brutal. I think back on my life, and I have had symptoms since I was 19, and can't help but wonder if I had had an early diagnosis, perhaps my life would be different. I live by myself, I still get up every day and go to work, I don't burden others with my illness. My only child, my 26 year old son is not supportive at all, and you really find out who your friends are. You don't look sick, so it's hard for people to understand. But I will not let my disease define who I am, I fight because it is the only choice I have!

profile for Marlene J Marlene JDracut, MAThis ismy fight

"The Hidden Disease" - I woke up one morning in Dec. 2013 with a pain in my neck. I thought I must have slept wrong and it would go away in a couple of days as this had happened to me in the past. It didn't. 2 weeks later I went to my doctor who thought I strained it somehow and he prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory meds. and told me if it didn't go away in 2 weeks he would...

"The Hidden Disease" - I woke up one morning in Dec. 2013 with a pain in my neck. I thought I must have slept wrong and it would go away in a couple of days as this had happened to me in the past. It didn't. 2 weeks later I went to my doctor who thought I strained it somehow and he prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory meds. and told me if it didn't go away in 2 weeks he would send me to a physical therapist (PT). It didn't go away and now it affected my shoulders.

Now it is Feb. 2014, I am 49 years old. I stopped going to my gym because I didn't want to make the neck and shoulder pain worse. I had four weeks of PT and that didn't help. Back to my doctor who ordered a MRI of my neck in March 2014. Nothing was found so I tried a chiropractor 3x a week for 2 weeks in May. After the 2 weeks I asked the chiropractor when my neck pain would go away. He looked at me funny and said most patients find relief by now.

Now it is June. Now I have lower back pain and my gluteal and hamstring muscles were so achy it hurt to get up from a sitting position. It hurt getting out of bed, it hurt turning over in bed. I went to a new PT in June 2x a week for 3 weeks. My pain was getting worse. Now on top of all the other pain, it hurt to take a deep breath and I could not lift my arms over my head and I could not bend my knees past a 90 degree angle. It hurt to climb and descend stairs. I went back to my doctor who ordered a lyme test and blood tests. My inflammation markers were sky high so he referred me to a rheumatologist who did a physical, took x-rays and more blood work.

I was finally diagnosed with RA in Aug. 2014!! Funny to say it was a relief to me because for so long I had no idea what was wrong with me. I did not have the typical joint pain in the hands and/or feet. It took another 2 years to find the right combination of RA meds. to get my pain under control. I am happy to say I currently have low disease activity, work full time and I am back at the gym 2-3 times a week. I know I will never be pain-free, but compared to how I felt the summer of 2014 - I will take how I am feeling now over that.

profile for Tom Tom Lexington, KYThis ismy fight

I like to be outdoors almost more than anything, whether just going for a hike, or stalking a turkey, or trying to land a big catfish. Of late though, my outdoors time has turned into recliner time. I have OA so bad in my left knee, walking is not only painful, it's almost impossible when going up or down hillsides. But the worst thing of all is not being able to chase my grandchildren around or...

I like to be outdoors almost more than anything, whether just going for a hike, or stalking a turkey, or trying to land a big catfish. Of late though, my outdoors time has turned into recliner time. I have OA so bad in my left knee, walking is not only painful, it's almost impossible when going up or down hillsides. But the worst thing of all is not being able to chase my grandchildren around or get down on the floor and play with them. I just wish the pain would stop so I can play some ball with them.

profile for Janet H Janet HLos Angeles, CAThis ismy fight

I walk. I talk. I look OK. But I'm not.

I'm permanently disabled due to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

profile for 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 Sam W (Age 18) Sam W (Age 18)Houston, TXThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2nd grade when I was 8. That was 10 years ago now. It was in one finger, a toe, and my knees. I was one of the lucky ones who didn't feel any physical pain, but the emotional trauma I experienced is unforgettable. I had to get my blood drawn very often (like every two weeks or once a month or something) which caused the trauma and fear of...

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2nd grade when I was 8. That was 10 years ago now. It was in one finger, a toe, and my knees. I was one of the lucky ones who didn't feel any physical pain, but the emotional trauma I experienced is unforgettable. I had to get my blood drawn very often (like every two weeks or once a month or something) which caused the trauma and fear of needles. I eventually went into remission for about two years, but now it's back and this time theres so much pain and it spreads 10 times faster. It came back hard in both my knees (one of which i can only bend less than halfway), my right hip, my left elbow, both sides of my jaw, and possibly my neck now. I hid it from my parents for over a year because I was in denial and didn't want to go back on strong medication and have to get my blood drawn (lots of psychological stuff involved there). I haven't been on any treatment/medication since I was 12 (6 years ago).
I hate talking about it too because it depresses me that I'm 18 and should be going out with friends, working a job, and excited for college, but all I can think about is saving money for a future knee replacement and how much it will hurt to walk miles to different buildings at college.

profile for lani w (Age 46) lani w (Age 46)kailua-kona, HIThis ismy fight

It all started after I had meniscus surgery on rt knee - after several Sessions of PT, I was told I had bad
Arthritis-- I'm doing exercises, and use different types of pain cream . Also had shots hat seems to be helping - it's been about 2 months -- trying support socks while I work --- still have minor pain , stiffness as well -- but better after 2nd shot..

profile for Erin M Erin MBrockport, NYThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis during grad school at age 22. I thought the pain in my joints would be the toughest thing to conquer, but I have learned that sometimes it the mental health aspect of handling so many complications, like medicines, side effects, working full time through pain and constant doctors appointments, giving yourself shots, exhaustion, gaining weight, losing...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis during grad school at age 22. I thought the pain in my joints would be the toughest thing to conquer, but I have learned that sometimes it the mental health aspect of handling so many complications, like medicines, side effects, working full time through pain and constant doctors appointments, giving yourself shots, exhaustion, gaining weight, losing hair, explaining your disease and then being treated differently, not being able to say yes to doing something every time you want to, surgeries, carpal tunnel, and torn ligaments.

However, although I will forever be frustrated by the burden of my RA, I am grateful at the same time because, without it, none of my accomplishments would mean as much. In addition, I appreciate RA for showing me how caring and wonderful my family and friends who have stuck by me really are.

profile for Maria M Maria MAthens, GAThis ismy fight

I started my journey in 2007. It started in my jaw. I couldn't eat. It was so painful. Diagnosed with fluid buildup in my jaw. Naproxen and that was it. I work retail so aches and pains are daily, until I couldn't open a water bottle. Maybe, carpal tunnel... wear these braces.

In 2009, I started to have pain in my lower right tummy. Ct scan and it was nothing. I had a reaction to pain...

I started my journey in 2007. It started in my jaw. I couldn't eat. It was so painful. Diagnosed with fluid buildup in my jaw. Naproxen and that was it. I work retail so aches and pains are daily, until I couldn't open a water bottle. Maybe, carpal tunnel... wear these braces.

In 2009, I started to have pain in my lower right tummy. Ct scan and it was nothing. I had a reaction to pain medication and the on-call doctor said, "I don't see anything on your scan but a little Arthritis in your back." Lightbulb moment! I sent myself to a rheumatologist where I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I am still working full-time Retail. I was lucky and found a great online support group that knew the importance of being aggressive with this disease and I was! My Rheumy wanted to go more slowly than me, but I insisted and she followed my lead. Do your homework online and talk with people who have your autoimmune disease. It can save your mobility.

Since my diagnosis, I have started traveling outside our country. I went to Europe, Costa Rica, and cruised in the Atlantic. I still work full-time retail craziness and try staying as active as I can.

RA is not a death sentence. Yes, my house is a mess. Yes, I work, so resting on my days off is necessary. Yes, life is different. I have embraced my new normal. You can too!

profile for William J William JBirmingham, ALThis ismy fight

I would say that it's been a long journey to get where I am today. First being diagnosed with an unknown type of inflammatory arthritis, then with Rheumatoid factor negative RA, then finally with Psoriatic Arthritis after a more in depth doctor analysis. Unfortunately, I am one of the people that most arthritis medications either don't work, barely work, or make me sick. Added to all this is that...

I would say that it's been a long journey to get where I am today. First being diagnosed with an unknown type of inflammatory arthritis, then with Rheumatoid factor negative RA, then finally with Psoriatic Arthritis after a more in depth doctor analysis. Unfortunately, I am one of the people that most arthritis medications either don't work, barely work, or make me sick. Added to all this is that I am a disabled veteran, and I have had 5 spinal fusion surgeries after breaking my back n the Marines, which has lead to chronic pain. Then I was diagnosed at 32 with Type 1 Diabetes, and the 15 years later with Psoriatic Arthritis. I have had to adjust from being a very active and athletic person, to someone who now has to enjoy the simple things in life. I like to cook, I like to read, but most of all I live through my two daughters now. They are my pride and joy and make the endless days of pain worth it. Now, if they could just make a drug that makes it so that I don't have to wait until noon to start loosening up, and also helps give me energy before the fatigue starts setting in around 4 pm, then life would definitely be better. Just take it day by day.

profile for Sheri  R Sheri RPort Charlotte , FLThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with RA right after I had a liver transplant a little over 10 years ago. It runs all through my family. My daughter is disabled because of it and our 2 sons have RA. So, my family shares the compassion!We laugh and joke through the pain! A positive attitude goes a long way!

We are raising our 2 granddaughters, ages 6 & 10, so it's quite a challenge when I have a flare...

I was diagnosed with RA right after I had a liver transplant a little over 10 years ago. It runs all through my family. My daughter is disabled because of it and our 2 sons have RA. So, my family shares the compassion!We laugh and joke through the pain! A positive attitude goes a long way!

We are raising our 2 granddaughters, ages 6 & 10, so it's quite a challenge when I have a flare up. One is special needs. I am 70, and, with God's help, I can what I have to do. I also have a most patient, loving, and kind husband♥️. He picks up the load when I have an exceptionally bad day.

All I pray for is for people to understand---the pain is very real, the fatigue is real, and even the chills on bad days are real! There's no other way to explain it. My heart and prayers go out to all the victims of arthritis.

profile for Theresa R Theresa RWinter haven , FLThis ismy fight

I am 43 i been suffering since 30 i work in a freezer so its getting. Much wores real. fast i dont have a arthritis doctor. I getting hard lumps on or in between jointsim afraid im going to loose my hands its sad and very pain full. And can't get pain meds to help because they thing every body is a drug addict i suffer and cry daily

profile for Judy T Judy TDallas, TXThis ismy fight

In 2005 after a car accident I was told I had “post traumatic arthritis” in my ankles, they ached all the time but especially at night. Over time the pain eased and I was able to move on. In 2012 I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thumbs, at times they just ache even when I’m not doing anything, forget opening a jar or even a door.

In 2016 after years of neck pain (going...

In 2005 after a car accident I was told I had “post traumatic arthritis” in my ankles, they ached all the time but especially at night. Over time the pain eased and I was able to move on. In 2012 I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thumbs, at times they just ache even when I’m not doing anything, forget opening a jar or even a door.

In 2016 after years of neck pain (going back to whiplash in 1994) I was diagnosed with severe arthritis and bone spurs in my neck, for months I couldn’t even walk across a room without being in extreme pain. I went through a lot of physical therapy and several different pain medications, they all helped but only temporarily and I just don’t like pain medication.

In December 2016 I received an epidural injection in my neck and that has helped a lot along with keeping up with my stretching exercises. Every day I use a topical anti-inflammatory and when the pain is too bad I use a prescription anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer, and/or a nerve blocker. I’ve worked out at gym 5-7 times a week for the past 10 years but I can no longer lift any weights, nor can I run or even move too fast on the elliptical, as each of those causes severe neck pain. I can’t turn my head to the right and I it’s too painful to tilt my head forward for more than a few seconds so I can no longer sit and read a book. Oftentimes co-worker will comment about me having a heating pad on my neck and act surprised that my neck “still” bothers me, they just don’t get it that arthritis doesn’t go away.

profile for Dremma H Dremma HLone oak, TXThis ismy fight

I fight everyday to try and have good days, but it is getting harder. Dx psoriatic art. Aug. 2015 after having symptoms for over 2 years or so. I'm almost 61 now and my big regret is not doing things I used to do with my hubby and grandson. The fatigue is horrible and I have been waiting for disability over 3 years. I doubt very seriously I will receive it. So the financial struggles continue. ...

I fight everyday to try and have good days, but it is getting harder. Dx psoriatic art. Aug. 2015 after having symptoms for over 2 years or so. I'm almost 61 now and my big regret is not doing things I used to do with my hubby and grandson. The fatigue is horrible and I have been waiting for disability over 3 years. I doubt very seriously I will receive it. So the financial struggles continue. It is a wake up everyday and you don't know what might hurt!! But thank heavens I wake up and i will keep fighting.

profile for Jessica S Jessica SIthaca, NYThis ismy fight

I have been living with RA and Lupus for 21 years. At age 32 I had to have my left shoulder replaced due to severe damage from the diseases. Overall, I have had 7 surgeries on my joints in the past 20 years. I eat well, exercise, and focus on persevering everyday. I work full-time and am pursuing an advanced graduate level degree (MFA). I was dealt a crappy genetic hand and have worked hard for...

I have been living with RA and Lupus for 21 years. At age 32 I had to have my left shoulder replaced due to severe damage from the diseases. Overall, I have had 7 surgeries on my joints in the past 20 years. I eat well, exercise, and focus on persevering everyday. I work full-time and am pursuing an advanced graduate level degree (MFA). I was dealt a crappy genetic hand and have worked hard for everything I have in life. It is a daily fight. I am an artist and my work deals with overcoming the disease. There is no cure, but there is hope.

profile for Geralyn M Geralyn MFreehold, NJThis ismy fight

I have been suffering for 10 years I have raynauds and was,seeing a rheumatologist in nj I kept telling him something was,wrong my fingers,swelled so much I couldn't bend them the Dr kept telling me I'm fine it's only raynauds all my blood test were normal so I did my own research and found another rheumatologist in nyc got an appt with him and he confirmed I have rheumatoid arthritis he...

I have been suffering for 10 years I have raynauds and was,seeing a rheumatologist in nj I kept telling him something was,wrong my fingers,swelled so much I couldn't bend them the Dr kept telling me I'm fine it's only raynauds all my blood test were normal so I did my own research and found another rheumatologist in nyc got an appt with him and he confirmed I have rheumatoid arthritis he tried me on medication which didn't help then he tried a med which killed my stomach then he finally put me on a biologic infusion who h I get every 8 weeks my swelling went down but still have chronic fatigue and little thing like hold a toothbrush are a struggle and it hurts, when people think I'm lazy they don't understand what I go through every day

profile for Camryn M Camryn MHueytown, AKThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 5 years old. All of my joints hurt and it was hard to walk. I started two types of medication. I had to take a lot of steroids. I I did not like doing lab work and getting shots every week but it made me feel better. I am almost 11 and I still take my shots every week and I get infusions too. I am finishing my 8th year of dance and I am super involved...

I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 5 years old. All of my joints hurt and it was hard to walk. I started two types of medication. I had to take a lot of steroids. I I did not like doing lab work and getting shots every week but it made me feel better. I am almost 11 and I still take my shots every week and I get infusions too. I am finishing my 8th year of dance and I am super involved with school teams and church. I pray for a cure!

profile for Kim M Kim MShepherd, MTThis ismy fight

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 26-years old. I had been very athletic - a martial artist, a gymnast, and an all around active, outdoorsy kind of person. So naturally, when the ache started in all my fingers virtually overnight, I assumed I had injured myself. When the injury didn't get better I took a friend's advice and went to see a Rheumatologist. He drew some blood and...

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 26-years old. I had been very athletic - a martial artist, a gymnast, and an all around active, outdoorsy kind of person. So naturally, when the ache started in all my fingers virtually overnight, I assumed I had injured myself. When the injury didn't get better I took a friend's advice and went to see a Rheumatologist. He drew some blood and did a physical exam and voila, my life changing diagnosis. The pain and stiffness, the fever and exhaustion, it all took over very quickly. I had to give up the active lifestyle I had once lead because my body just couldn't do it anymore, and that was probably the most devastating part for me. The loss. The loss of the lifestyle I loved, the activities I had built my life around. The thought that I could never quite be what I once had been.

Meanwhile, 21-years later, I have lost so much more. I had to give up belly dancing with an area troupe because it was becoming far too difficult to perform in public. The pace we kept, some of the choreography we did, it was just too much. My body was slowly getting worse and wasn't able to keep up anymore. My performances were weak and stiff because my range of motion was slipping away, and there was nothing I could do about it. Some days I couldn't even make myself move to go to a show. My body felt like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat to within an inch of my life. That's the only way I can think of to describe the immobilizing pain that sometimes occurs with this disease. It was getting to the point that I wanted quality of life over quantity. Thankfully, my doctor found a medicine that works pretty well for me. It keeps me moving, but the damage done to my joints after 21-years of very active RA keep me limited.

As if all of that wasn't enough, I recently tested positive for Lupus, Hashimoto's Disease, and am waiting to find out if my purple toes with ulcerations are the result of Vasculitis or something else. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a cruel joke to those of us suffering with it. You never quite know what's around the next corner, or if you'll have energy or enough relief from the pain tomorrow to do everything you planned. Life is challenging for all of us who suffer, but I think through all of it we build strength. We learn how to fight, how to survive, and how to adapt. We have no other choice.

profile for Nancy B Nancy BCamas, WAThis ismy fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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