Until two years ago, my physical health was something that I mostly took for granted. Sure, I paid attention to the basics…eating (mostly) healthy foods, (sometimes) exercising, and getting regular exams. However, I never believed I would have to deal with a serious health problem.
At age 37, I’m redefining my reality. Life today includes another companion, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It’s an autoimmune disease — systemic, serious, and today at least, incurable. The good news? The disease is manageable through a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle modifications. When detected early and treated aggressively, people living with RA can reset reality and live a mostly normal and completely happy life.
I confess I didn’t know much about this disease until I was diagnosed. Like many others, I heard “arthritis” and thought “senior citizens” and “needs some extra Tylenol”. However, that’s not even close to the reality for this serious autoimmune disease. If untreated, RA can lead to severe disability and, in some cases, can be fatal. It affects roughly 1.3 million people in the US, including 50,000 children. It is 2 to 3 times more likely to occur in women, most often those between the ages of 30 and 50.
At first, I debated about sharing my story, but with those statistics, my internal debate was a short one. Through openness about my journey, conversation with others, and work with non-profits like the Arthritis Foundation, I hope to raise awareness, help others, and affect some change.
What next? For years, I’ve had a desire to blog. All that time, I was searching for my voice. I knew I wanted to start a conversation, selfishly knowing how much I’d grow and learn from a community. But I never expected health to be my catalyst. Yet here I am, finally writing my first blog post. Jeremy will be proud. 🙂
So, this blog is a personal and public journal of my life, and the challenges that come with aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis. Through it, I hope to facilitate a conversation to raise awareness and affect change. Even though I’m early in my journey, I know happiness and normalcy are possible for those with autoimmune diseases, and for those that love us. So, let’s seek ways to thrive together, despite the daily challenges we face.