Starting the Conversation…

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.

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11 thoughts on “Starting the Conversation…

  1. I commend you for the stance you are taking and appreciate the shout-out.

    I think you will find that this is not only therapeutic, but selfless. You will find that people who are also suffering from RA will find your blog, support you, and be comforted by you. I know this happened to me with my thyroid cancer.

    I love how you are facing up to this publicly. It will make you stronger and give your friends and family a clear avenue to support you and know how to help others.

    I am sorry you have to face this. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

    Stay strong and know that your family and friends are here to listen, learn, love, and assist (I needed another ‘l”, but couldn’t think of one).

    • Jeremy, you are an absolute inspiration, and I appreciate your insight and friendship so much. Just a few days in, and I’m already learning and growing so much. As for another “l”, how about “lend a hand”? 🙂 Thanks for encouraging me at every turn!!!

  2. Karen says:

    God bless you on this journey…and, rather selfishly, I appreciate the insight into your daily life. I miss you tremendously and thoughtfully pray daily for your health and happiness. I love you Miss Thing! 🙂

  3. As a person that was mistakenly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I commend you on your strength and admire you for passion to bring awareness to RA. I only had symptoms of RA for 2 months and could not imagine being in that kind of pain the rest of my life. I know that hard stopping feeling once you hear those words…and wondering if you’re life was over at such a young age…

    Jess you’re the most charismatic person that I’ve ever met and I know you’ll find the Bright Spots during your journey. I look forward to following you on your mission and support you in any way I can!

    • Thank you Jane! I didn’t know you were mistakenly diagnosed….so glad it turned out not to be the case. I appreciate your support, and speaking of bright sides, my cane can be used as a cool prop for WPC parties (at least when stylishly wrapped in a feather boa). 🙂

  4. Jason says:

    We love you like crazy and we hope that this journey provides some solace as you continue on your path. We’re also very proud that you’re lending your considerable talents to raise awareness. All the best Jess!

  5. Bernard Bray says:

    I`m really sorry about the disease, but after reading your post and courage to fight this illness, I couldn`t stop myself to write this. Thumbs up man! One of my aunt is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since last 20 years. She is seriously debilitated with multiple joints replaced in recent years. This has encouraged me to write for this disease. I`m writing on arthritis just you are. I feel I`m doing a noble work to bring awareness as much as I can. You can share your thoughts on my work here…

    http://jointpainnomore.com/

  6. Bernard Bray says:

    I`m really sorry about the disease, but after reading your post and courage to fight this illness, I couldn`t stop myself to write this. Thumbs up man! One of my aunt is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since last 20 years. She is seriously debilitated with multiple joints replaced in recent years. This has encouraged me to write for this disease. I`m writing on arthritis just you are. I feel I`m doing a noble work to bring awareness as much as I can. You can share your thoughts on my work here..

    http://jointpainnomore.com/

    • Thanks for reading, and for sharing your blog, Bernard! Awareness is so critical, and I really appreciate you adding to the voices out there. I wish you, and your aunt, the very best!

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