Diagnosed with RA at 22

Hello everyone,

I take solace in all the encouraging words I've read on here. To tell you a little about myself: My name is Laura and I'm 22 years old. I recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor's of Science in Communication Disorders. Currently, I'm pursuing my Master's degree in speech-language pathology at New York Medical College. I'm truly grateful beyond words to be at the school of my dreams, pursuing the career of my dreams. I was 21 when I began showing signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. RA was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn't understand what was happening to my body.
After graduation, I spent the summer in Europe with my best friend as a post-graduation trip. The pain became unbearable and I spent most of my trip in tears. I found that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to complete simple tasks, more specifically: opening bottles, walking up and down stairs, etc. I contacted my doctor back in Boston and she told me to acquire Prednisone at a pharmacy in Europe. It took care of the pain, thankfully, though there are obviously many ramifications to taking Prednisone. Upon my return, I was prescribed Methotrexate. I'm currently on 20 mg (8 tablets). The pain isn't gone, but it's manageable. The program I'm in at school is INSANELY rigorous, and I know that RA is exacerbated by stress, so I've been trying to learn how to cope with that. I've recently started losing my hair, which has been insanely devastating for me. This makes no sense to me. I recognize that it's completely irrational, but this feels like some sort of punishment. I'm 22. The thought of living with this for the rest of my life - quite frankly - seems cruel and unimaginable. I haven't even gotten to a place where I can talk about this openly without crying. I don't say this for sympathy. I say this because I'm starting to feel as though people only understand arthritis to be a disease of the geriatric population. Have you found this, too? My hope is that by talking and engaging with others who are experiencing the same pain as me, I will be able to experience some emotional healing that I've been needing so desperately. Please share with me your thoughts, experiences, and advice. I'm angry with the cards I've been dealt, but I'm so grateful that we all get to walk this journey together. -Laura


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