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Diagnosed at 30

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 30. It came on quickly, in my hands first. My hands were so swollen and in so much pain, it kept me up at night in tears. I finally went to the doctor and he told me I had RA. I was shocked and scared, I didn’t even know what it was. But from that moment on my life changed. Through the years I had two children and switched jobs numerous times. Each job gave me challenges from the RA, but I kept working through the pain. My children were getting bigger and my medications kept changing because nothing seemed to work and/or my insurance would change. It was an uphill battle that I always felt I was losing. After years of struggling with work and just not keeping up or being exhausted, I was accepted on disability because of my extremely active disease. My body was fighting itself and losing badly. I was always in pain and exhausted, barely able to keep my home clean. Now after years of having this debilitating disease, and watching how it has changed my life and changed me. I no longer work and I’m a divorced mom of growing boys. Every day is a challenge but I keep strong and keep going if not for myself, for my children. I am still struggling with changing medication and my daily pains and exhaustion. But, I remain happy and hopeful that someday there will be a cure for this debilitating disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Patricia Darstein
    2 years ago

    When I read your post I had to double check as to whether or not I wrote that myself. RA is so unbelieveably painful and effects so much of daily life. Just when I honestly thought it couldnt get any worse…it has been. Right now my knuckles are swollen and the only way I can decribe the pain is similar to being hit with a hammer. Doesn’t hurt a bit until I move than “bam” there it is. I am so tired. I too have 2 busy, active boys that I just can not keep up with. It breaks my heart that everyday I feel as though I am letting them down. I can’t play with them the way I’d like to. Heck, I can even manage to stay awake long enough past 7 pm to enjoy a summer evening. I am still on the search (after being diagnosed at around 30) for the perfect mix of medications. I’ve tried quite a few and right now, I’m on Orencia with my fingers crossed. Xeljenz stopped working for me a month ago. Steriods work great BUT hmm…I’ve had cadoracts, been arrested (on 80mg makes you go a little crazy), lost any, ANY support I had from my extended family (brother & sister totally cut me off from any contact), the list goes on &on. Still, things could always be worse.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story npanda and glad you have come to place you can get information and support. You mention changing medications. I don’t know what you are switching from or to, but thought this article from one of our contributors on switching biologics might be of interest:

    Also, it is completely understandable and admirable that you strive so hard for your sons. Please also try to find the time to take care of you. In this article one of our contributors writes about trying to find the “me” time: Wishing you the best and please keep us posted on how you are doing. Richard ( Team)

  • Erin Rush moderator
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, npanda! I am sorry you have had such challenges in regards to your RA. I know insurance issues can make a tough condition like RA even more tough when you have to switch medications and physicians and fight for coverage and such. I know most people don’t want to go on disability, but it sounds like you worked for many years and paid into the system. SSDI is designed to help individuals who can no longer work. One member put it like this, “Being on disability allows me to take care of myself and manage my disease full time. It’s another full time job and now I can devote the time I need to do it well.” That was an eye-opener statement to me and so true! You have worked hard and fought this disease for so long. It’s ok to take the time you need to help your body. And it sounds like you have a good attitude about it. I am glad you are able to remain happy, even on those not-so-great days. And I sincerely hope that your medical team can help you find a treatment that gives you results! Thank you again for sharing and being a part of this community. We’re glad to have you here. Best, Erin, Team Member.

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