My life; my RA story

I’m Dayna and I was 43 when I was diagnosed 12 years ago.

Although I am convinced now that I had it for several years and didn’t know. Ironically, I was working with people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and terminal illnesses. Some of my clients had RA and one of those clients, insisted I had it. I didn’t believe her. I was in Indiana with my significant other for vacation when I woke up one morning and I could not open my hands. I forced them open. And then I noticed I looked like a cartoon character. My hands and feet were extremely swollen, prompting people to ask if I was “retaining water.” Granted it was hot and humid, but I couldn’t even wear shoes, including flip flops. And I was having chest pains. The drive home, back to Wyoming was excruciating.

I saw my primary physician when I arrived home and he thought it was RA. He referred me to a Rheumatologist. And, indeed, it was RA. I was treated aggressively with Remicade, Humira, and Methotrexate. But the side effects became so bad, worse than having RA, that I stopped all medication for several years.

My new rheumatologist was amazed that I have done as well as I have for not treating it and wanted to know my “secret.” I told him denial. And I refuse to let this disease get the best of me. It is catching up with me, however. It is in my wrists, my shoulders, my knees, my neck, my back.

I have had both hips replaced, and a knee. Shoulder surgery last summer. My hands and feet show deformity. And I have trouble tolerating medication.

Luckily, I work from home, so getting up in the morning and having to go to work is no longer an issue for me. I travel whenever possible, both for work and for fun, and have learned how to deal with the RA when traveling. I have had to make adjustments and learn to live with it. I would not say I am thriving, but I am living. And I will continue to live and work and maintain a sense of humor for as long as possible!

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