Meet Cathee McKeown

Cathee McKeown shares her tips and strategies for coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis with a positive attitude and a great sense of humor.

Read Cathee's blog.

My name is Cathee and I am currently 35 yrs old. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 27. My introduction to RA was rather quick. In fact, I had actually never heard of RA when I went to see my doctor about a swollen knuckle. My finger had been swollen for about 2 months and as I was reading through a magazine I found an article about lyme disease. Since I spent a lot of time hiking in the woods with my dog, I began to think I might have contracted lyme disease from a tick. I went to my family physician and luckily she had an instinct about what was going on with me and sent me to see a Rheumatologist. The Rheumatologist immediately ordered blood work and I was officially diagnosed with RA in March of 1997. I didn’t have any other symptoms at the time except for the one swollen joint until August 1997. Literally overnight, I became almost bed ridden. It was if I went to sleep as one person and woke up another.

Since that fateful night, I have battled this crippling disease every way imaginable. I have tried almost every medication that is available. I started with gold shots, plaquinil and prednisone with little relief but plenty of side effects. I gained 40 pounds from the prednisone and lack of movement due to my severe stiffness. Eventually, I had to go on permanent disability due to my condition. I lived this way for about 5 years and in between medications I also tried many alternative therapies. I tried going on a macrobiotic diet, acupuncture, warm water therapy and many other alternative treatments. Sometimes certain things seemed to work but ultimately I continued to live in pain. My husband and I decided to move to a dryer climate to see if that would help. We moved from Monterey, Ca to Denver, Co and the change in climate has been a huge benefit to my overall health.

I still battle RA on a daily basis. I have been on Remicade for the last 2 yrs although I have developed antibodies to the medication and can no longer tolerate it. My doctor and I are now discussing Orencia as a new treatment. In the meantime, I still take a very low dose of prednisone along with Advil for pain. I continue to work although anyone with RA knows how difficult working can be since this disease can change from one day to the next. I am hopeful that there are better days ahead and I keep on going strong with the support of my family and friends. It has been almost 10 years since my first symptoms and a lot of life changes but I am confidant that with a good attitude, sense of humor and a lot of support, I will live a fulfilling life.

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