It’s a Journey

I’m the youngest of five children and was always a tomboy. I played football, basketball, ran track, played tennis, basically did anything in order to be active. I ran my first marathon at age 19. In my 20’s and early 30’s I played adult soccer and ran more marathons, mountain runs, half marathons, etc. When I was 29 our daughter was born and 2 and 1/2 years later our twin boys were born. I was still active. When I was about 35 years old I noticed something was different. I was so tired! I had some tingling in my hands and feet and then I had pain. I went to doctor after doctor. At first they thought I had MS. Then, for several years I was always told that I was “just depressed.” Well, I was depressed because I was teaching full time, raising kids, and still trying to be active. Finally, when our local rheumatologist told me I was depressed, my husband told him, “She’s depressed because she’s in so much pain!” Luckily, my husband is a physician and he realized that we needed to get to Seattle to see someone there. We went to Dr. Mease in Seattle and within about 10 minutes I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The blood test confirmed the diagnosis. For the next 10 years I continued to teach math and tried to be active when I could. Finally, I had to quit teaching and I know I’m very fortunate to have that option. Through the years I have had my ups and downs with this disease as we all have. When I feel good I still walk as much as possible and when I’m in a flare I can barely do anything. There are times when I feel sorry for myself. I’m sad that I can’t run like I used to. I can’t do many of the things I used to do. Most of the time though, I thank God that this is “all” that I have. There are so many people who are way worse off than me. I try to be positive every day, although if I’m in terrible pain and in a flare that is not always possible. I have vowed to to be as informed as I can about my disease and I have also vowed to be as physically active as I can possibly be even though that too changes depending on symptoms. I look forward to being a part of this community as this can be a very lonely journey.

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