Young, Swollen, and in Construction

I was very recently diagnosed with RA at the age of 21. It is a diagnosis that is very bittersweet. It is sweet in the fact that I know what has been going on with my body. The bitter part of my diagnosis, is that I won’t be able to pursue my career in construction as soon as I would have wanted to. I am just about to go into my fourth year in college as a Construction Management student. I am passionate about every aspect of construction and love to build little projects as a hobby.

To put my medical history in a few sentences; Three years ago, I randomly started waking up with swollen eyes, throat and mouth. I slowly started to become so lethargic that I would barely make it up a flight of stairs. I saw specialists like the allergist, nephrologist, radiologist, ent, etc. Then went to my first rheumatologist and she never followed up with me or answered my calls.

I have had trouble with my mental health for about 8 years now so this really wasn’t helping at all! As the symptoms started to worsen, and the doctors continued to have no clue for a good two years, I had a mental breakdown last year and was hospitalized for about a week. It was just too much to have my only treatment be sleeping with an EpiPen next to my bed.

After the hospital treatment, and taking care of my mental health, I was refreshed and ready to figure out WHY! I started to see a new rheumatologist who is amazing and she really helped me. I had such a combination of mix matched symptoms, but she was still able to find something that worked for me.

Although I am scared of what he future might hold in terms of my construction career choice, I am hopeful that I will be able to find a good treatment plan. Although I am noticing new aches and pains each day, I am making changes in my diet and lifestyle to help with inflammation. Thank you for reading my story, I hope that if you are going through something similar this story lets you know that there is a treatment for everyone!

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