Reflecting on My One Year RA Diagnosis Anniversary

There are many wonderful long-haulers living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who share their valuable knowledge and experiences on this platform. However, I am not one of them.

In fact, I am relatively new to life with RA as I am just coming up on my one year diagnosis anniversary.

Although I experienced pain for close to a decade, my diagnosis was not at all straightforward. It was wrapped up in the complexities of another illness I battle - cystic fibrosis - making it a very long journey to this spot.

In reflection, owning my diagnosis of RA has been a healing experience for me the past year and I’d like to share why.

The peace of giving pain a name

For so long, my pain was a silent thorn in my life. I rarely spoke about the influence of pain on my day, so that it was invisible to almost everyone but me, my doctor, and my close family.

What do you say about something when you don't know its true cause? Let alone a name or label in a conversation that strangers might recognize or be familiar with outside the craziness of cystic fibrosis.

In the medical world, a name is a diagnosis and that often means better treatment, better monitoring, and a better prognosis. It also means better support from physicians and family because there’s a more tangible way to respond and help.

In the end, naming my pain has given me a lot of peace - emotionally and physically - and additionally, a connection to a community that I lacked before.

Achieving remission with treatment

Although this past year has been crazy in all sorts of ways, the first year of my diagnosis has been a positive experience towards proper treatment.

If you would have told me last year that decades of pain could resolve with a daily pill, I would have laughed right in your face. I didn't think it was possible after trying a variety of anti-inflammatories, an SSRI, and pain medications.

However, it’s true and I am so thankful to have more good days than bad days with treatment.

Grateful for relief, a plan, and support

At this point, I would consider myself in "remission" with RA after starting Plaquenil shortly after my diagnosis. With the help of Plaquenil, I've experienced the longest period of time I can remember without chronic and debilitating pain.

In addition, when my next flare-up occurs, I know I have a specialist and access to different treatments to keep in my RA toolbox. There’s a sense of comfort knowing that there’s a process and next-step treatments waiting when things get difficult in the future.

A turning point after decades of chronic pain

All and all, the past year of my diagnosis has been a turning point in living with chronic pain that I feel has benefited me all around.

I don’t feel concerned or sad at another diagnosis added to my repertoire. More so, I found peace and that is priceless!

How long has it been since your RA diagnosis? What lessons have your learned in that period? Share your stories below!

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