My journey with rheumatoid disease began in 2009. I had not been feeling well for a couple of months, but believed it was due to some overwhelming assignments I was handling. Throughout my life I have been involved in sports and fitness, so as an athlete I was always ‘in tune’ with my body. I knew how hard I could push myself and just as important, I knew my limits. Something just did not seem right, but I didn’t know what it was.
It started to unfold one day when I doing something as simple as working in the yard. That evening I was really sore and stiff in a couple of joints. I treated it like I would an athletic injury, but two weeks later there was no improvement.
What did happen at that point was the pain and stiffness spread to every joint in my body. I felt terrible. My activity was confined to a recliner. I rapidly lost muscle strength and had difficulty attempting to handle routine tasks. Suddenly I could not hold my camera. Opening a jar was impossible. I could no longer train or show dogs or participate in dog sports. All I could do was sit, very still.
I finally met with the doctor and a couple days later received a call that said “you have rheumatoid arthritis, you need to see a rheumatologist.” I knew nothing about this disease. I remember how numb and lost I felt after that phone call. I admit I was scared.
While this incident led to my diagnosis, I strongly believe my immune system had been faulty for at least ten years. There were other symptoms, debilitating fatigue and illness that went unexplained. At least now, I had a diagnosis and the journey began.
This blog is a step of faith for me. For a long time I didn’t want anyone to know I was “sick.” It was difficult enough for me to accept it. I refused to tell anyone. It took me a couple of years before I opened up and shared my diagnosis. However, what I have discovered is most people know nothing about this disease.
I hope my stories will encourage. I hope people who are unfamiliar with rheumatoid disease may learn something. I hope to meet others who share this journey. I want to make a difference in the lives of those who share this diagnosis, if only to encourage and listen.
There have been a lot of changes in my life since my diagnosis. I am learning to make adjustments, deal with the frustrations and understand new limitations. I’m learning to live a new normal.
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