With pain comes strength.
Over a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, it’s been quite the journey transitioning out of college and trying to figure out how to lead my life as a young adult while facing all the challenges that came with this chronic illness. It was tough to see my peers being physically active and making the most out of their youth while I was having difficulty just getting out of bed and being productive on some days.
May is arthritis awareness month, and I just want others to understand that arthritis is not just a chronic disease that affects the elderly – it affects young adults and children too. Arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which one’s immune system is attacking the body causing inflammation in joints that can prevent someone from doing various physical activities – everything from turning a doorknob to running. It’s the leading cause of disability in America that currently has no cure and is only managed by medical treatment. I do have to take pain medication daily in order to prevent any inflammation on the joints in my fingers, wrists, shoulders – it’s hard to explain, but let’s just say my body can stiffen up and make it difficult to raise my arms and/or make a fist to grip things on really bad flare-up days…
I recently stumbled across this quote, and I couldn’t agree with it more: “Arthritis is not just a problem with the joints – it’s the sleepless nights, the loss of morale, the chronic fatigue, the depression, the struggle to walk and exercise, the ‘but you don’t look ill’, the ‘you’re too young for arthritis’, the missing out on [social events], the staying sober, the knowing that there is no cure, the injections and blood tests and drugs and scans, the missing out on things with your friends, the medication which makes you sick, the tears and stress, the anger you feel when you can’t do simple tasks and of course the indescribable pain. To everyone out there fighting arthritis, you are so much stronger than you know.”
I’m not asking for sympathy, but to acknowledge that this silent disease is something that many people are facing on a daily basis and that I’m fortunate for the constant research and medical treatment being done to help me, along with millions of others, lead normal lives.
With that being said, I’m planning to attend the Walk to Cure Arthritis event this year, which is taking place at Lake Merced in San Francisco on May 30th to help raise not only funds, but awareness. If you’d like to donate to my team, RAWrSendy (Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior Sendy), I’d really appreciate it as this money will go towards the Arthritis Foundation and their mission to help find a cure. Feel free to even join me and a few others that day to walk with us – it’s a free event open to all ages. If you have any questions about the event or even RA itself, feel free to personally contact me too.
I’m still learning about this and trying my best to be healthier and more active, but each day is up in the air and I’m trying my best to make the most out of everything that has happened.