Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis as a Young Woman

Hollybgroovin Health Guide
  • "But you’re so young!"

     

     

    Dealing with this Rheumatoid Arthritis has been such a difficult emotional journey for me.

     

     

    Life was supposed to be great --then, suddenly, came Rheumatoid Arthritis

    I was at the point where life was supposed to be great. I was going to school for court reporting and was in my third year. This was going to be a great career for me, one that seemed to come so naturally. I had just finished most of my classes that I needed to graduate and I had managed to stay focused on school despite the birth of my second son.

    I could type almost 200 words per minute in shorthand on my stenograph machine and I was preparing to take my state certification test to get licensed.

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    My family was complete, and I was full force on my way to an exciting new career.

     

    I got sick and everything changed. It came on so quick.

    Every joint in my body hurt and I was constantly in pain. I would lose sleep at night, not just because of my baby, but also because the throbbing in my body was so intense that it would not allow me to sleep. I could barely walk, and holding a fork or spoon was nearly impossible. My husband had to feed me.

    Dressing was a battle. My shoulders hurt and throbbed so bad that I couldn’t even raise them to pull a shirt over my head. Buttoning buttons, tying shoes, zipping a zipper, and getting up from a seated position were all things that I absolutely could not do by myself. I couldn’t drive myself to school. I couldn’t carry the case that my stenograph machine came in. I couldn’t set up my machine, and I definitely couldn’t type.

     

     

    "The doctor told me my career was over"

    The skills required for court reporting involve using your hands mostly and being able to type shorthand at speeds up to 210 words per minute. How was I going to be able to have a career in court reporting if my fingers were constantly swollen to the point that I couldn’t even bend them to type?

    As if getting the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis wasn’t bad enough, the doctor told me that my career as a court reporter was over; I had a lot of joint damage in my hands.

     

    So that was that.

     

    But life was supposed to be great! Instead, I barely could hold my baby boy in my arms because of the pain in my shoulders, wrists and hands. Then, in an instant I lost my career as well.

     

    I thought my life was over!

     

     

    "Rheumatoid Arthritis Knows No Age"

    I cried all the time. Sometimes I would cry so hard and for so long that I would begin hyperventilating or start screaming. At that time I didn’t realize what a great therapy that was for me. I had two amazing little boys at home, and an amazing husband, yet I felt like I had nothing left. I had lost three years of my life to a career I was never going to have, and I could barely hold my amazing baby boy in my arms. My life was supposed to be perfect, but now I was convinced it was over. Everything I had planned for my life was taken away.

     

    I became angry, upset, and sick. I spent many, many months feeling sorry for myself because I felt I had lost everything. And I could always hear people whispering that it was such a shame because I was so young. Rheumatoid Arthritis knows no age.

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    I soon realized that it was okay to feel the way I felt. I learned that I had to grieve for the life I thought I was going to have. That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Everybody at some point in their lives daydreams or makes plans for their future.

     

    What are you supposed to do when those plans are no longer a possibility for you?

    Here’s what you do: grieve.

    I went through denial. I didn’t believe, or didn’t want to believe, I was sick. After all, for years the doctors told me I wasn’t sick. They were wrong. I cried because I was so sick and I was in pain constantly. I became angry because I had lost so much. Then, I accepted it. It took so long to get to the point of acceptance, and some days I fall back a couple of steps. But now I am working on healing the emotional damage as well as the physical damage this disease has caused me. I still make plans and day dream, but now I have to plan everything one step at a time.

     

    Yes, I am young. Yes, I have rheumatoid arthritis. Yes, I am living well with this disease… one day at a time.

Published On: March 03, 2008