Surviving with RA

I am 74 & have had RA for 20+ years. I vividly recall the sympathy in my doctor’s voice when he gave me the diagnosis. I didn’t understand what the “big deal” was since all I had was a persistent but annoying pain in my left wrist. Since I am right handed it didn’t seem so bad. I took a Tylenol when it bothered me & life went on.

Within a year the pain & swelling had progressed to all my joints but my wrists, feet & one ankle were the most affected. I now was in the care of a rheumatology group & life started to change. Doctor visits, blood work, cortisone injections & new medications to ease the pain & swelling became part of my routine.

Fast forward 10 years & I moved from NY where my rheumatology group had 10 doctors to Florida where the nearest rheumatologist was 15 miles away. By now I had developed severe deformities in both feet & the surgeries began. Within a 5-year period I had 3 surgeries to straighten my toes, had my foot broken & pinned & a plate put in my ankle to reinforce the joint. I have some issues with balance as a result but still manage an occasional pair of high heels! I’ve also had numerous hand surgeries to release trigger fingers & a suspension/arthroplasty on my thumb. I now also have osteoarthritis and Sjogrens.

Life goes on & I stopped feeling sorry for myself & apologizing for what I can’t do. I worked until 3 months ago & I walk 2 1/2 miles nearly every day for exercise. I try to watch my weight & would be in excellent health for my age if I didn’t have RA according to my Dr. I take the maximum medication possible including a weekly injection off Enbrel & am fortunate my body has tolerated them all very well & I have good (expensive) health insurance to help pay for them. I am hopeful that I will continue to enjoy life in spite of RA.

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