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The Only One

It feels like I am alone in this journey. I don’t have any substantial relationships with other RA warriors, and when I meet them, I struggle to relate. I’m a 36 year old male veteran, with a family to support, and sometimes it feels like I’m the only one. Here’s my story.

I was active duty military serving my enlistment on a fast attack submarine in Virginia when my hands, shoulders, ankles, and feet began to hurt everyday. I really struggled to get help, but after months of suffering, I decided it was time to figure out what was wrong. My doc on my boat swore it was gout and kept delaying the specialist appointments. In the meantime, there were a lot of pain medications, lot of Aleve, lot of useless appointments, a lot of jumping through hoops and blowing past red tape to get the appointments I actually needed and finally my diagnosis. I was a 27 year old man with RA. It ended up being over a year from the time I decided to figure out what was going on until my diagnosis. Quite a miserable year, but then I could hopefully get it under control. I went through the normal progression, Mobic, Methotrexate, Leflunomide, then finally Enbrel which became my miracle drug. The only issue was that I could not have needles onboard and therefore the prescription disqualified me for submarine duty. I got my discharge and started my civilian career.

I’m now 36 and I struggle everyday with my RA. I struggle with the normal RA aches and pains. I struggle with not relating to anyone about my condition. I whine to my wife and kids, but I know they don’t understand. I struggle with the constant fatigue. I struggle just like most of you do, and I still feel so alone in my struggle. That’s why I’m hear and that’s why I’m sharing my story. Hopefully someone else will read this and realize that they too are not alone. There are so many more that have very similar daily struggles with this terrible disease.

Overall, I should say I am doing good, I’m on Humira now. Physically, I’m not very limited, mostly by fatigue. I’m not in a medical remission either, but I’ll take what I’ve been given and do my best with it.


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.


  • cdriver
    3 years ago

    David, I was really able to relate to your story. I believe I have RA. I’m waiting to see my new rheumatologist on the 20th of june. I was extremely happy to see you accepted my friend request this morning when I woke up. I feel completely isolated. In the story I shared or posted last night I mentioned how I had believed people with arthritis were making it worse than it really was. Because I felt that way I assume there are plenty of people out there that think the way I did. When I woke up today my feet and ankles were so swollen I can no longer wear the one pair of shoes I could fit into as of yesterday. I am wearing flip flops today. I don’t know what I am going to do about work tomorrow. I unload airplane parts after they have been painted. It’s a physically demanding job. I am trying to hang on until I see the rheumatologist and get a diagnosis so maybe they can modify my job. It’s a scary time and I feel alone.

  • Deborah
    4 years ago

    You are not alone, David. I, too struggle with the challenges of RA. As a former R.N., very difficult to have my own heath crisis, after all I am used to being the care giver, not the taker. Let’s face it, everyone struggles with some thing. PUT a SMILE on your face and just do the best you can! I’m here,if you would like to chat.

  • Kat
    4 years ago

    David, I too am from a Navy family and thank you for your service. You are not alone – though I understand feeling alone in a family where you’re the only one who suffers. I think only other chronic illness warriors can truly understand, even more than our doctors. It’s lonely but the online community is where I find the best support. You are always welcome here. 🙂 – Kat

  • AddyRae
    4 years ago

    Hi David, my father served in the Navy and thank you for your service! You are not alone even though I know exactly what you mean. My husband and child are very sympathetic and I appreciate that so much. But even with that it is very lonely at times when your body can’t do all of the things your mind wants to do. Many prayers for you and please know you are not alone!

  • AMBiermann
    4 years ago

    David, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I was finally diagnosed at 25 years of age. I felt like all of my joints were sprained… ankles, feet, wrists, hands and shoulders. It was very difficult to say the least. I was married with a small child. My spouse was unsympathetic and kept wondering what I did to myself to cause pain.

    I too have been through the many drugs to treat RA The anti-inflammatories (Mobic, Ibuprofen, Aleve and more). Also, plaquinil, methotrexate, arava (leflunomide) humira, embrel. Currently I’m being treated with methotrexate once per week, Xeljanz twice daily and folic acid daily to help boost the immune system. I have also had a total left hip replacement and several cortisone shots. Next replacements will be the shoulders. My disease is being managed and although I’m not in remission, I’m doing well. The key is to have a good rheumatologist.

    You will have good days and bad days but one thing is for sure, there are many of us out there who understand. I am now 52 years young. I will cycle on the weekends sometimes going 20 to 25 miles. I will also walk at least every other day. I know I have limitations and yes, the fatigue makes it hard to get up and get moving and sometimes we can overdue it.

    I always try to have a good outlook but sometimes this can be exhausting too. It’s interesting that many of the people I know have no understanding of RA and think it’s because of my diet. They are always full of advice, if left up to them, I wouldn’t be able to eat anything as nothing is good for me.

    Hang in there David! Those of us with RA… We got your back. We will champion your successes and also understand when you want to vent.

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