My name is Kelly, and I was diagnosed with a very terrifying, and debilitating disease at the age of 16, known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). My journey was long, and confusing… I had never heard of the disease, and thought, "how can a child develop Arthritis, a disease of an old person?!" I was angry, mainly because of my confusion, and misunderstanding of the illness itself. I felt alone, like no one understood what I was feeling. I felt depressed, as I began to lose friendships, and I was very scared.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was treated for a variety of illness. I suppose being from a small town in British Columbia, Canada, unfortunately meant there was little medical help and support for someone like me. My symptoms were a bit more on the 'odd' side according to my Rheumatologist whom later diagnosed me with RA. In the beginning I felt cold, so cold my entire body would shake and quiver. Then I would have an incredibly high temperature. My body would become stiff, and I would be unable to move. Finally, I would throw up, it felt as though it would never end, the pain was unbearable.This was a terrifying experience. I was constantly hospitalized and treated for different bacterial infections. One night in the hospital after continuous throwing up, and pain, and nurses that would forget to check up on me, I decided I had enough. I called my mother at home and she came a got me, and the next day we flew to Vancouver, BC Children's Hospital where in a matter of hours I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and my journey with differing medications, and learning how to live in a body that made me feel like I was 90 years old began.
I am now 21 years old, and have learned a lot about my body, RA, and how to live with a disease that is invisible. RA is known as an 'invisible disease' meaning, that a lot of the time people do not even recognize you have any type of disease at all, even though you are living in chronic pain. This can make many feel isolated, and alone. It can be difficult to articulate and explain to others what you are feeling, and this is one of my personal frustrations. One major frustration for many with RA is the famous question, ' is your pain worse depending on the weather?' NO. This is completely different then the Arthritis you might see in your grandmother. The name ' Rheumatoid Arthritis' implies arthritis, when really there is much more to the disease than that! There must be a more affective name that could be used??????
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, it occurs when your own body mistakenly attacks your body's tissues. Not only does this cause join swelling, pain, and deformation, it also effects organs such as: skin, eyes, blood vessels, and lungs. So once again, ' does it get worse with the weather?' NO!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTJNQ4FPF0w (here is a link that explains what RA is).
My goal for this blog is to tell my story, and spread awareness. I want to help other RA warriors become more positive, and most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone!