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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!

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.


  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Dayna – Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. It sounds like you have been through a lot. I really admire your courage and positive attitude! I think you are right that maintaining a sense of humor can sometimes be the best medicine at all! I’m glad that you have found our community. Remember that we are here to support you! Hang in there!

  • Kathy P.
    6 years ago

    Dayna, I also live in Wyoming. I know of only 2 rheumatologists here, one in Casper, and Dr. Monger in Cheyenne. The rheumatologist I really liked left last year. Are there any others you know of? Thanks!

  • Dayna Bennett author
    6 years ago

    Hi Kathy.
    I saw Dr. McGuire in Casper and I would not recommend her. She did absolutely nothing for me. I was diagnosed by Dr. Monger, who is a good dr. However, I ran out of insurance shortly after I was diagnosed and I was dropped as a patient. They are the only two I know of. I am now seeing Dr. Thackor, who is in Ft. Collins, CO. If you want his information, I will gladly give it to you.

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