Diagnosed at 17
I was diagnosed in the fall of 2014. I had joked with my girlfriend at the time, when I would be sore or have pain, that it was arthritis. Little did I know that was the actual problem. RA was a hard adjustment for me. In high school I played rugby, I loved lifting weights, being outside and playing rough. I even work construction during the summers.
I knew there was a serious problem when I would wake up in the middle of the night with this agonizing pain in my shoulder. No matter what I did I couldn't stop it. It got so bad I couldn't lift my arm above my head for a long time. When rugby season came around I would always jam my fingers on the ball and not think anything of it. But then they would get really big and change colors. The swelling wouldn't go down either. But being 17 and stupid I would just ignore it and keep playing. Pretty soon I noticed I couldn't pull my left arm completely straight anymore. Again, I didn't think anything of it. The scariest time was when I was working construction. I was using a sledge hammer and would take a couple swings and left hand would cramp up. Then my finger would get locked. The only way for me to move it was to take my other hand and straighten it.
I finally got tired of my joints seemingly slowly shutting down, one by one. I told my mom I wanted to go to the doctor to be tested for arthritis. She actually laughed the first time I suggested it. But I kept asking.
Eventually I got to the doctor, who also chuckled at the thought of a 17-year-old rugby player having arthritis. But after a few minutes after my blood work was sent out, it came back positive for RA.
I immediately got put onto methotrexate. That didn't end well. I lost about 15 pounds, wouldn't eat, looked pale all the time and I wouldn't do anything but go to school and sleep. Thankfully they changed my medication.
Unfortunately, I was in my senior year of high school. Which is when drinking became a problem. The doctors told me not to drink, but I didn't take them very seriously. After all, the last drug they gave me got me a lot sicker than I was before.
It's now a year later and I'm in college. I realize how stupid I was then. But at the same time arthritis is a b****. It took away a lot of things that I loved doing. I don't play rugby anymore because I'm afraid of further joint damage. I can't work construction because I can't keep up with the other guys. I can't go to the bars with my friends anymore because if I do I'll get sick and feel like crap for a week.
I'm thankful that the doctors helped me, and I am getting better. But every time I have a flare up or have a little pain in my joints or a new joint starts to swell, all I can think about is how much I hate this disease and how it's made me miss out on so much.
I pray for the day my RA goes into remission. It can't come soon enough.
Right now, what RA tips would most be helpful for you?