Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Mishawaka, IN
Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 15

How has your condition impacted you?  I was 15 to 16 years old when I found out I have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  At first, I didn't know what to think, how to feel, or what to do.  I didn't feel "sick" so it was confusing to me.  I went to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis for the pain, stiffness, and swelling I had in my left knee and in my right pointer finger.  Slowly, through the years, it started to affect me in different joints.  There were so many days I would just sit and cry.  There was nothing I could do but cry.  I felt very alone.  I lost two jobs because of my disease, I lost friends, and I lost my teen years.  Sometimes, I still wonder how I got out of bed each day.  However, now that I am responding well to medication, I spend most of my time symptom free.  It's been a long road to get me here, but I know it's not over.  I just thank my family for being here and for a husband who doesn't get it all, but tries so very hard to.  I do believe this has made me a stronger person and more compassionate towards others.

What would you like for other people to know about RA?  Just because you don't look sick or act sick every day doesn't mean that you are healthy.  I want everyone to know that.  Be compassionate towards others because you never know what they are battling.

What would you want to tell someone who is newly diagnosed with RA?  I want them to know that it's you and RA.  It's only the two of you.  It's best to just accept it.  It's hard not to think, "Why me?", but it's best to remember that things could always be much worse.  You are the only one who can make yourself feel better.  You'll be just fine . . . even on days when it doesn't feel like it.  There will be days that you struggle.  You will feel helpless at times.  You will experience a period of grief.  However, there is a world of people out there who understand the pain.  It's best to have a great doctor with great nurses.  Also, family and friends will pull you through anything.  It's best to be patient, say your prayers, and realize that you are not alone!

Extra thanks to Michelle for meeting me on a very cold day in December for this photo shoot and then patiently waiting for the July/August issue of Arthritis Today magazine to come out before seeing her portrait on this site.  Thank you Michelle!


Michelle said...

Wow! Thanks! I wish I could add so much more to this now that I look back. :)

I just wrote a blog about it last month. It's been 10 years!

Thanks again for the picture! It was quick due to my lunch hour, cold, and very much so winter!

Mintyfresh said...

"it's just you and RA." so astute.

elizabeth said...

She has the prettiest eyes!

Mom Of Many said...


I happened upon a copy of Arthritis Today. Never even had known there was such a magazine. I then found the article about you....what a blessing!! I think photographing people with autoimmune disorders is beautiful...thank you for honoring those whose road is a bit more "bumpy" than most...

For the longest time I thought that if you had an auto-immune disorder you couldn't get another - ha! I have Multiple Sclerosis, Sjogren's Syndrome, Hashimoto's Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. But my life is far more than the diseases my body battles, it is the 10 treasures I have...making my dreams come true - by being a Mom of Many..{7 adopted from all over the world}...I am an abundantly blessed woman!!

Thank you for your blog...I love it!!

~Linny {aka Mom of Many}

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