The Golden Years
Last updated: February 2022
I am 72 years old. I have had RA since my son was born 42 years ago. It started quickly.
Learning I have RA
I woke up one morning with nearly every joint in my body swollen, from my jaws all the way down to my toes.
Although devastating at the time, especially with a newborn, the gift was that it was diagnosed fairly quickly. Back then, there weren't a lot of medications available to treat RA.
How RA treatments used to work
I was started on high daily doses of aspirin, then moved to gold shots. I am incredibly grateful that since being diagnosed, the availability of treatments has increased tenfold.
When one drug has stopped working, or side effects have been concerning, there has always been another option.
It was believed that my pregnancy triggered the illness and that another pregnancy would surely leave me wheelchair-bound. Although disappointed, I chose to have no more children.
A fulfilling life with RA can happen
I remember wishing early on that I could cope better if I only had hope for a better future. Hope was in short supply initially, but with time and an increasing arsenal of medication, I have been able to live a fulfilling life.
I climbed Mt. St. Helens (post-eruption) in my early 50's.
I worked outside the home until I was in my early 60's.
At 72, I continue to walk at least three miles a day. I lawn bowl and hit the driving range when the weather allows.
It is my experience that limiting stress as much as possible, taking prescribed medications, and seeing a competent rheumatologist is paramount in addressing this disease.
Life challenges, treatment availability, and responses to medication will differ for each of us, but being diagnosed with RA is not what it used to be. It may take time, but hopefully, you will find your stride.
Reach out. This site is a great place to start. I've been blessed. I hope you will be, too.
Did you know rheumatologist Dr. Donica Baker is answering community questions?
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