Though we can not see them, auto-immune diseases do exist as another type of disability. There are many people that we may or may not know that suffer an auto-immune disease. I sat down to interview my best friend who has rheumatoid arthritis. She answered a few questions about her condition.
Tell Us A Little About Yourself?
I’m a 22-year-old Arts/Law student, studying full time. As well as RA, I suffer from a vision impairment and cerebral palsy, so the RA was a very unwelcome surprise.
What Is An Auto-immune disease?
An auto-immune disease is pretty much where for reasons that science does not yet know, a person’s natural immune system starts overworking, and with lack of any serious diseases such as… let’s say the Black Death… it attacks its host person. Rheumatoid Arthritis is where the overworking immune system attacks the bones/joints of a person causing chronic pain and fatigue
How Did You Find Out You Had The Condition?
That’s a tough one. I think that I was feeling some of the symptoms – mainly the fatigue – about three or so years before I was diagnosed. I remember coming home from school most days absolutely exhausted, shaking and nearly in tears because all i wanted to do was lay down and sleep. It got worse over the years. Then, in February 2016, I started noticing that I woke up with sore wrists, or that if I had clenched my hand in my sleep, my knuckles were locked into a fist. By April of that year, it had gotten to the point where I could not get out of bed to go to class at Uni, I was just in so much pain throughout my body. I called my Dad and he took me to the doctor, who sent me for blood tests and X-rays… a week later, I was diagnosed.
How Has It Changed Your Life?
Thanks to RA, I’ve become a bit of a cynic, I think. Things that people just take for granted, such as being able to walk up and down stairs, anger me, and I often find myself rolling my eyes or scoffing at people who complain about something as simple as stubbing their toe. But RA has also made me a stronger person in that I have a higher pain tolerance now, I am able to tackle each day to my best – even if that best is being able to hobble to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. It’s given me a greater appreciation for the days when I’m not in so much pain, and something of a rose-tinted view of the past.
What’s The Hardest Part About Living With R.A?
That’s a tough one. I could say that the hardest part of living with RA is the Rheumatoid nodules on my feet – which hurt like bitches every time I walk – or I could say that the hardest part is waking up and not being able to move, or the constant tiredness… it’s a difficult question to answer. In some ways, the WHOLE THING is the hardest part of RA, but in others, it could be the little individual bits of it. Like being dependent on pills – what will happen to me if the world goes to hell and I run out of medicine? – or the 3-monthly blood tests. But I guess like i said before, they’re all the hardest part, in their own ways, because there is nothing easy about living with RA
Are There Any Positives About The Condition?
Yes! When i was researching RA after being diagnosed, i came across an amazing case of some archaeologists and rheumatologist excavating an American-Indian viral site on the River Tennessee. What they found there is amazing. The people living there some thousand years ago had suffered greatly from tuberculosis, yet the bones that displayed signs of RA, showed NO SIGNS of TB. That got me thinking, what if all auto-immune diseases are an attempt at stronger protection against illnesses? An evolutionary step gone wrong? It’s an interesting proposition, but for me the fact that I had not been severely ill for two years up until December 2017, seemed to prove that, ad it was always something to be happy about. No more flu shots – yay!
What Advice Do You Give To Others Like Yourself?</h1
Never give up.
Some days you may feel like all you want to do is lie down and die – believe me, i have those days. But you can't. You'll get more out of your life if you push on, get up and do the best you can every day.
I would also recommend eating lots of Italian/Greek foods. Studies have shown that the high olive and fresh, leafy greens in those foods helps wit managing flare-ups. Oh, and fish. Fish will be your friend too. And blueberries. Also, doing light weight and going on daily walks help loosen up joints and strengthen then too. If you can't manage to do this on days of intense pain however, don't push yourself too hard. Wait until there's a day when you feel better.