It’s been 41 days since isolation began for me. 

For those who don’t know, I am immunocompromised because of Arthritis. Currently I am on four immunosuppressants—including chemotherapy—to keep my RA under control. 

To be honest, I wish it was making a bigger difference. But as my stress increases, help from family and friends has subsided, and medication shortages continue, it’s been harder and harder for me to function. 

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t affected my mood at all. 

There are so many things I miss about life. I miss feeling safe, I miss swimming in the ocean, laughing with friends and family. I miss not being afraid to hug the people I love. 

However, the feeling of isolation isn’t new to me.

Even though I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis as a five-year-old, I never met or talked to anyone with Arthritis until I was an adult. 

And even then, it felt like no one knew what I was going through as an 18-year-old with a painful, progressive disease. 

Everyone my age was going away to college and traveling the world while I was meeting my rheumatologist every two weeks and injecting chemotherapy. 

At 20 years old, I started blogging about my experience and eventually I started meeting and connecting with others like me. 

It was an incredibly validating and uplifting experience. 

Finally, there were others who saw me and knew what it was like living with the daily struggles of Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

And now, while the rest of the world talks about restarting life amid this global pandemic, 54 million Americans, including 300,000 children like me are preparing to continue their ​isolation in order to stay safe.

Luckily, the Arthritis Foundation has been working hard to help extroverts like me combat the loneliness and isolation of being categorized High Risk for serious complications from COVID-19 by providing life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, and community connections. It’s more important now than ever for people like us to be aware of the necessary precautions and resources available to stay healthy and safe. You can find up-to-date, trustworthy information and resources from the Arthritis Foundation here: https://www.arthritis.org/care-connect

The  Live Yes! Arthritis Network, created by the Arthritis Foundation, makes connections both in person and online to empower people to live their best life. 

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Even though many of us have to shelter-in-place, we can all manage stress, take control of our health, and ultimately find strength in each other. 

The Live Yes! Arthritis Network provides personalized help and support to adults living with all types of arthritis and rheumatic conditions and parents or guardians of children living with arthritis. Their programs offer opportunities for connection, education and empowerment via Live Yes! Connect Groups, Online Community and conferences. 

The foundation also encourages people with arthritis to participate in  Live Yes! INSIGHTS. By asking those affected by arthritis to take a 10-minute assessment where they will share their overall arthritis experience – answering questions relating to their symptoms, pain levels and how arthritis affects their function and mobility – the foundation will get a better sense of what people experience on a daily basis. The data they collect will then show decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis – ultimately paving the way for change by breaking down barriers to care, accelerating research and creating resources that will make a difference in people’s lives.

The Live Yes! Arthritis Network has tons of resources that can keep us safe and healthy, like tips for pain management, anit-inflammatory recipes and more, but perhaps right now the healthiest tip of all is human connection and support. 

So, if you’re like me and miss connecting with others, join us at www.arthritis.org/liveyes

I’ll be the one with messy hair, a cup of coffee and in my green Walk to Cure Arthritis shirt. 🙂

And speaking of the Walk to Cure Arthritis, it has been switched to a virtual event this year! Join the Arthritis Foundation on Facebook on May 16 at 12 p.m. ET to participate in the virtual walk.

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The Arthritis Foundation is also calling upon you to Give $54, Tell 54 people and Move 54 minutes by: 

  • Giving $54 to the Arthritis Foundation to support its mission of supporting people with arthritis and advancing treatments.
  • Telling 54 friends and family members to join or support you. 
  • Moving 54 minutes however you want (walk, dance, swim, relax).

Share your 54 by sharing a picture or video on social media and tagging @ArthritisFoundation and #walktocurearthritis.

Visit https://www.arthritis.org/events/wtca for more information!