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Christina’s Fight Like A Girl Story (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

RA RibbonRheumatoid arthritis. I’ve known what that was since I was ten years old when my mom was diagnosed. Her disease has always been progressive and aggressive.My mom has never been a person who enjoys working out etc, and her disease soon made that impossible. As a young girl, you never think that’s going to happen to you. I always assumed that if anyone was going to get RA it would be my older sister, Sam.

But the summer before my senior year of high school, I started having pain in my feet during early morning cheerleading practice. I really thought nothing of it, I had been running a lot and assumed I just needed to cut back a little. I had my 18 year old physical that June. My mom had the doctor run a RA factor test, which the doctor didn’t want to do, but because of my mom’s disease, she ran anyway. A ‘normal’ RA factor is about 14….mine was 55. I didn’t really get it at the time, but I remember by mom being so upset. They say that they can’t prove rheumatoid arthritis is hereditary, but several people in my family have it. I went to see my mom’s rheumatologist and he started me on methotrexate and folic acid.

After about 6 months he started me on the injection Enbrel.I have been on that cocktail for the past 7 years. And I have been pretty much pain free for 6 1/2 years. That doesn’t mean I don’t have flare ups, or days where it takes my morning stiffness longer to go away. I still get sore when the weather changes, when I have to go off my medicine for longer than a month etc. I got married 1 year ago, and because I went from my dad’s insurance to my husbands, I had to be off Enbrel for about a month and a half. Let me tell you, I was in pain towards the end of that time. I felt bad for my husband, because he didn’t know how to help me.

During this time, I also moved from Minnesota to Wyoming. I live in Casper, which only has one rheumatologist. I saw her once, and was so turned off. Not only did she not really look at my medical history, but she was all about pain management, not management of my disease.I now drive 2 hours to Cheyenne to see my new rheumy who is great. The one thing I will give the Casper doctor credit for is making me more aware of the dangers of taking methotrexate. My previous rheumy never talked to me about getting pregnant on the drug. BAD NEWS. It is used in abortions, therefore causes women to miscarry or caused the fetus to be deformed. Thankfully I never got pregnant on it. We now know that I need to be off methotrexate for three months before we even attempt to get pregnant.

I think the thing to remember is every body is different, so every disease will be different. I don’t have my mother’s disease, I have my own form of rheumatoid arthritis. My hands and feet have minor erosion, but so far, I’m doing pretty good. I don’t like it, and the future of how RA will effect my body is scary, but I can only take it one day at a time. My drug cocktail works for me, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I know that there are others who are in constant pain, my mother included. She has had 12 shoulder surgeries, her knuckles in all ten hand digits replaced, knuckles in her toes taken out, and two partial jaw replacements. Her strength and her will power are inspiring. They say that women with RA who get pregnant, 90% of the time their RA will go in remission and stay in remission for a period of time. That being said, their RA usually comes back stronger. These are the things that I ( a 23 year old) have to look forward to, but I refuse to have a rotten attitude about it:)

Submitted 7-17-2012

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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