Thursday, October 21, 2010
Location: New York, NY/Mumbai, India by way of San Diego, CA and Dallas, TX
Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 8
How has your condition impacted you? RA and Heart Disease have impacted my life tremendously. At a very young age, I had to learn to deal and live with my conditions. This made my childhood very difficult. I was unable to grow up the normal way healthy kids do. I would dream of being as strong as my athletic twin brother and living a disease-free life. I found yoga and decided to follow my dreams of a disease free lifestyle. Since then, my life has changed and any pain I feel in my body only fuels my desire to transcend the limitations within myself - mentally, physically, and emotionally.
What would you like for other people to know about your condition? I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 8. I had many complications from the physical stress and from taking all the medications. Between the age of 11 and 13, I had major knee surgery, suffered from migraine headaches and had stomach ulcers. At the age of 13, I had a heart attack. I found yoga when I was 19 and have been been in remission for the past 6 years of my life.
What would you like to tell someone who was recently diagnosed with your condition? Not to settle for the cards you have been dealt. If you do not learn to have joy in life and accept your condition(s), then you might as well live in a box. We are given our condition to learn from it and to become stronger and wiser about the way we live our lives. All conditions can be controlled, if not reversed, through our own minds. It's our willingness to change and not live under the shadow of our disease that gives us joy in life.
Here is the first quote that popped into my head after I wrote this. It's from my teacher, Bikram Choudhury - "Having doesn't mean anything if you don't know how to use it."
I like this quote because it reminds that my conditions were a gift. A gift which taught me that anything in great life is worth suffering for. :)
Thank you so much Joseph! Your smile and positive attitude are contagious!!
Be sure to check out more of Joseph's amazing success with Bikram Yoga here.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The most difficult part of my illness is the effect that it has on my family. My thyroiditis was undiagnosed during my pregnancy with my son and we nearly lost him at 19 weeks of pregnancy. Fortunately, after many months of bed rest, he was fine. But I developed one autoimmune disease after another in the years that followed. My son has never known me to be well. He is a very active boy and I HATE that I cannot keep up with him. My husband is a wonderful single parent when I am out of commission. I am grateful for that, but desperately wish that I could always be there when they need me.
What would you like for other people to know about your conditions? When you develop one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to develop another in the future. I feel like the poster child for this statement! I would like people to keep this in mind if they are ever diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Not all doctors are astute enough to make the connection if you become ill in the future that this may be another autoimmune disease.
What would you tell someone who is newly diagnosed with your condition(s)? You are your best advocate. If your physician is not answering your questions or spending enough time to listen to you, start looking for someone else and do not feel guilty about it. My biggest mistakes in managing my health have been to trust doctors who were really not dedicated to my care. These mistakes were serious ones that negatively affected my health for several years and almost caused us to lose our son.
It is also really important for you to figure out what your insurance will and will not cover. I have had 4 different health insurance plans since my diagnosis. Our previous HMO and PPO plans seemed fine until they did not cover necessary procedures and medications. We spent thousands more than the maximum out-of-pocket amounts because of the expenditures they did not cover. Ultimately, a high deductible plan that covers everything once the out-of-pocket amount has been met has been the best value for our family. I know exactly how much to budget for my health insurance each year, and that has been a huge relief. Being sick and paying for health insurance is hard enough. Fighting for coverage is a battle patients should not have to wage.
Thanks so much Jennifer!