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A Car Accident caused my RA Vengence

Yep, you read the above title right.

It’s something my family, my doctor, and I have known for a long time, but I’ve never talked about until now. Well, until a friend and fellow JRA’er Linsay asked me on Facebook. (hey!! 🙂 )

It was February of 2009, I was 17 years old and I was late to school. Usually, this would have meant that I had to call one of my friends to come get me or figure out some excuse to give to my teachers, but on this bright morning my dad was available and he volunteered to drive me. The more I think about it, the more I think that if I had been on time, it would have still been dark out at 6:00am during daylight savings. But it wasn’t dark out, it was bright and sunny in the sunshine state and as my dad drove down this deserted stretch of road he held his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun right as we were coming up on a stop sign.

My dad, with one hand acting as a visor and eyes squinted into the sun missed the stop and barreled into oncoming traffic. It happened so fast, there wasn’t time to scream or even brace myself. I’ll never forget the man whose car we hit bolting from the front seat, yelling at us for not stopping as he attempted to make a left turn. His car had spun out and hit another car, totaling both my dad’s truck and his sedan. He kept yelling curse words at my dad, who had gotten out to apologize. Then he stopped dead in his tracks as our eyes met. I don’t know what he saw in them, but something made him call an ambulance. When EMT’s arrived, my knees were pinned between the seat and the dash and I was crying, but it was my dad who got me out and as he pulled me from the cab of the truck, I screamed in pain.

I don’t remember what the doctors said at the hospital except that my knees weren’t broken, thank God, but that it would take a few months and physical therapy to get me back on my feet. They referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who told me my knees could take up to two years to heal completely and that I needed to give it time.

So I did. I took a leave of absence from my job and school and worked my way out of a wheelchair, but six months later, I still needed crutches to get around and now my shoulders were hurting. At this point, I still didn’t know that my childhood included Arthritis, so I kept going back to physical therapy, but never got back to how I was before. My orthopedic doc recommended special knee braces, which I wore constantly to help me walk without crutches and when I needed breaks, I pointed out my braces to my boss and to my professors and told them of my accident. Nine months later, I still wasn’t okay and now my ankles were hurting and my hands needed frequent breaks from writing. I had no clue what was wrong with me, so my boyfriend suggested I talk to my mom.

It was then that my mom told me that I had “a little” arthritis almost my entire life, but that the doctor had said that I grew out of it during my teens and that I was lucky. 

I didn’t think much of it, but when I told my boyfriend, he suggested we see this doctor together. After a lot of appointments and back and forth and him running virtually no tests on me, we got the answer.

My RA was back with a vengeance. Enlight2.jpg

WALK TO CURE ARTHRITIS #TEAMACHE

Walk to Cure Arthritis | 5K Walk Event | The Young Face of Arthritis #TeamACHE

It still astounds me when someone tells me they didn’t know that young adults and even kids could get Arthritis.

As most of you know by now, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1996 when I was just 5 years old. Now, I’m 26 years old, in college, married to the love of my life, and currently disabled because of my RA. Still, I’m determined not to let my disease stop me from achieving my dreams and hopes for the future. It may sound silly, but my biggest goal for a long time has been to get healthy enough to get a job! Some days I can do things almost like a normal person, but consistency is a really big obstacle for me. In 2012, I got laid off (from a job I loved! Management at Restoration Hardware) right after Enbrel stopped working for me. Since then, I’ve really struggled to find a treatment that works consistently well, has manageable side effects, and works for any length of time whatsoever. I’ve also been diagnosed with a few more diseases and syndromes while looking for my “miracle drug” including (but not limited to.. lol) Gastroparesis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, chronic pain syndrome, and Cushing’s Syndrome. The last one is the most recent, actually being diagnosed last Monday…more on that later. *eye roll*

Although most people long for retirement, for me, working is something I miss dearly. I always say, mind is perfect, but my body can’t keep up and that is insanely frustrating. A CURE could help me accomplish this dream to be healthy, stable, and employed! 🙂

Arthritis is the #1 cause for DISABILITY in America today and contributes to approximately $80 billion in medical expenses and $47 billion in lost wages. The total cost to society in the United States is around 1.2% of the 2003 U.S. GDP. Donating today not only helps those of us suffering with Arthritis, but society as a whole. Millions of Americans trapped in their malfunctioning bodies could be contributing in cutting-edge fields such as mathematics, healthcare, science, technology, and business–if only we had better treatments or a CURE!
The money raised in this walk will be donated solely to research. PLEASE consider helping young folks like me hope for a cure!

*I joined the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Arthritis to help the more than 50 million Americans and 300,000 children with arthritis live better today and to keep the Arthritis Foundation’s promise of finding a cure for tomorrow. Your support provides people with arthritis life changing resources and information to manage their disease and improves access to the critical medications they need to live full, healthy lives. The impact of your donation doesn’t stop today, it also helps fund cutting-edge research to identify better treatments and a cure. Written by the Arthritis Foundation

JOIN MY TEAM OR SPONSOR MY WALK @THE YOUNG FACE OF ARTHRITIS #TEAMACHE A.C.H.E stands for Arthritis Can Hit Everyone

My RA Fit Kit

OK, so now that I’ve posted my New Year’s Resolutions I guess it’s time to begin following up on them, right??

My second resolution [loose 10 lbs/exercise/eat healthy] is something I can get started on, but first, I need a plan!

Having Arthritis makes it difficult to do exercise of any kind and these commercials of people hiking and riding bikes don’t help either. It’s true that movement helps ease the fatigue and stiffness, but the ugly truth is that some exercises also makes my pain and inflammation worst! Not to mention, leaves me unable to sleep a wink and out of commission for the rest of the week. Just ONE afternoon of walking at the mall leaves me with red, painful and swollen knees that I later have to treat with ice packs throughout the night.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Inflammation in the joints cause deformation and exasperating it can actually increase this damaging inflammation. Any doctor or physical therapist will tell you that joint pain is NEVER good, which is why it’s super important to listen to your body whenever you do physical activity of any kind, whether you have Arthritis or not! 
However, on the flip side, it is important that I move around because unfortunately the stiffness can also worsten my already decreased range of motion and cause muscle atrophy (aka: more problems I DON’T need). 

So, not only is it a challenge for me to get up and get going, but it’s also very difficult to find exercises that I can actually do! 

So what is a girl to do in this situation?! 

Luckily, there is a great resource online called, My RA Fit Kit where you can customize  a fitness program based on your personal limitations and interests! I’ve filled it out and here is the program I’m going to get started on today! I’m not sure if this Arthritis-approved workout is going to help me loose 10 lbs….but either way I think it will help. 😉  I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes. 

Just go to My RA Fit Kit, fill out the questionnaire, and get moving with me!! Together we will hopefully loose 10 lbs. xD


*I am not a doctor and you must always seek care from a medical professional before engaging in any strenuous activities.*

Reflections on 2013, Resolutions for 2014

I think by the second or third week of January we all have our New Year’s resolutions set. However, before I tell you what mine are, I’d like to take the time to reflect on this past year. 

In 2013, I spent 2 weeks (including Christmas Day and New Years Day) in the hospital, 3 months on a doctor-ordered liquid diet, and the first 4 months of 2013 using a walker. It was really hard on my husband and I, and to be honest, for a minute there we didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. 

My 2013 New Year’s resolutions may sound simple to most people, but for me it felt like a raging river I was unsure I would ever be able to cross.
  1. Make it through the rest of 2013 without a visit to the hospital.
  2. Be well enough to eat normal food.
  3. Get better on Actmera.
  4. Make it to the annual Arthritis Walk in November.
  5. Reach out and re-analyze the company I keep.
  6. Start a blog, help others like me, and bring awareness to Arthritis.

Although it was a very difficult time, I’m proud to say I achieved all my goals and then some! We did have some bumps along the road. We were forced to move out of our apartment because my health, had to give our dog away, and dealt with two failed treatments. 
It was very disappointing and disheartening, and I cried a lot. But I must say there were some great memories and amazing achievements that I am so proud of. 
For one, we moved back in with Andres’ parents which ended up being a great decision as we now have a much better support system. Second, we gave our dog away to the most perfect couple on Earth-whom I believe really needed and wanted her- which resulted in us making two great friends. And lastly, I was able to switch to two new treatments with the guidance of an amazing doctor
As if that wasn’t enough, I also got the incredible opportunity to start a blog, publish an article in Women magazine, and bring awareness to RA by doing interviews on WSVN and RadioMD
All in all, it was a difficult, but good year. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in 2014. 

So without further ado, here are my New Years Resolutions for 2014:
  1. Stay off of Prednisone for one year.
  2. Loose 10 pounds by eating healthy and exercising when possible.
  3. Go back to school.
  4. Have at least one successful treatment this year. 
  5. Be well enough to do the things I love and spend more time with the people I love.

I believe I can do it. I think its very important to have goals in your life. Even if it’s something simple. We have to remember to keep trying even through disappointment and heartbreak. We have to keep dreaming and keep looking forward even through big challenges! I may have Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I’m still dreaming and I always will be. ❤
So tell me, what are your Resolutions for 2014?

Arthritis Walk 2013

Arthritis Walk 2013

Hey guys! 

So on Saturday I went to my very first Arthritis Walk
I have been dying to go for years, but never could because I was either in the hospital or way too sick. 😦 Thanks to my dear friend Julie, my dad, and my brother Josh this year I was finally able to go and it was AWESOME!! 

At first I was kind of hesitant because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the actual walking, but my Support System was there pushing me in my wheelchair for 1.6 miles! I’m so grateful, I’m sure they were getting a hefty workout…lol. 
We even got to raise money for Arthritis while we were walking using this app called ‘Zimmer.’ The three of us with iPhones downloaded the app and were able to raise $1 for each mile we walked/rode. 

It was amazing seeing so many people supporting Arthritis Awareness and I had a fantastic time connecting with people in my community who either have arthritis or know someone who does. I even got to meet some Storm Troopers walking for a cure, cool huh?! 🙂

I can’t wait till next year when I plan on going again with more of my friends and family! It’s super fun and I highly recommend looking into walking and raising money for a great cause… (you can click on this link to find a walk in your area —> Walk to Cure Arthritis ) or just come with me! 😀





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