According to the experts…Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.3 million people in the United States and pops up typically between the ages of 30-60, with women accounting for three times the number of men living with the disease.
Hmmm. Ages 30-60 you say? Really? How about 19?
Since it is World Arthritis Day, I thought it would be the perfect time for a virtual coming out party and the opportunity to share a personal story with all of you Full Spectrum Blog readers!
So here’s my tale (the cliff notes version):
- 2000 – It’s genetic. My mom was diagnosed with a combination of RA and Lupus.
- Early 2006 – I started exhibiting symptoms indicative of RA.
- Summer 2006 – (Age 19) Diagnosed with RA - After a slew of diagnostic procedures, including antinuclear antibody (ANA) and rheumatoid factor (RF) testing, I was diagnosed with RA and the genetic indicator for Lupus. Funny enough (or not), all of my tests came back negative and to this day, nearly six years later, my ANA and RF are still negative. But due to family history, the diagnosis was solidified.
- 2006-2010 – Post Diagnosis & Treatment - I changed my diet to exclude nightshades, began taking NSAIDs and Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), and eventually got to a place where I effectively managed my symptoms and disease on the same dosage. For almost four years, I led an active lifestyle, including multiple snowboarding adventures, three years as a choreographer in a dance company and a trip around the world.
- 2010 – 2011 – The Flare Up – Common in RA patients, sometimes the drugs you’re taking don’t work anymore. In the summer of 2010, we had to change up my treatment to something more drastic. So the docs brought out the big guns: steroids to control the pain and prevent joint damage, along with methotrexate, a low-dose chemotherapy. (more…)