The Big Picture

It's said that photos don't lie, but for people living with a health condition, one image may not tell the whole story.

I was 19 at the time, and living in San Diego and very active. I was surfing, hiking, taking my dogs for walks, jogging on the beach, I would work out every day, I would work a lot at the restaurant. And when this arthritis happened, I couldn't do any of that. I could barely get out of bed, and there were days that I did feel very broken and I wished like, ‘Why? Why does it have to be me?’
Melody Kopsch
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Peter Amend
It was scary at first…I had to sit down and try to figure what the hell ‘rheumatoid arthritis’ actually means, and understand it better, and find out what I can do to offset it. What I’ve learned, though, is you’ve got to listen. You really have to listen. Take me: minor motor control of my fingers. My hands, they get scraped up a lot faster. Using very small tools is really affected.
Kris Klos
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Alex Quesada
I have never had pain as bad as that. It was awful. I was going to drive myself to the hospital because I didn't know what was going on. I've played sports all my life, was a physical guy, was a land surveyor, just active, active, active. This happened just sitting on the couch and all of the sudden my right knee started to feel like people were stabbing daggers in it.
Keith Eshbock
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Alex Quesada
It was so crazy to be that young, to think about those things for old people only. I was like, ‘God, who am I now? What is going to happen?’ I didn't know what I was going to be able to do and if I'd become crippled, because, of course, that's all I heard.
Joy Geltmacher
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Colie James Photography
I remember waking up at six in the morning and hearing the lady next door getting into her car with her high heels clicking on the asphalt, opening the door, starting up, and going to work. And I remember thinking… ‘That’s the life I want. I’m not going to be sitting in this bed. I want to get out, I want to work, I want to go to school, I’ve got to start doing it.’
Nora Delaney
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Peter Amend
The worst experience of all was my doctor. Because every time I asked questions of him, he would come back and say things like, ‘Well, you're kind of a lousy patient because you ask too many questions.’
Susan Klinker
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Stan Kaady
Having grown up with arthritis and heart disease, I never really tried to make my body healthier. I was always told, 'Be careful, be careful! Don't do much, you know. Don't stress out. Something could trigger.'
Joseph Encinia
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Lizzy Sullivan
I couldn't hardly walk anymore. And finally... because I had no insurance yet, here you go. I got to the point where I couldn't and I was holding on to things and then it was walking, and the next thing you know I was crawling on the floor, actually crawling as a young... old adult.
Twila Hiatt
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
Photographer: Erica Finnan
Before I was diagnosed there were certainly some dark moments and dark times, just trying to cope with the pain.
Ainslie Durnin
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient
My hands got to a point where I couldn’t actually type on a computer and the head of HR said ‘We need to get you on disability.’ I was a little prideful, but my hands weren’t working, so pride be damned. I ended up going on short-term disability.
Lori Quinn
Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient