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 didnt 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.