These arthritis stories by a self-taught acrylic painter, an occupational therapist, a yoga instructor, and more will hopefully help you stay positive, inspired, empowered, and motivated to not let this disease define you.
My name is Pattie and I have just turned 40 years old, and I am just now pursuing a career as a painter, which I never thought in a million years I could do. I didn’t even know I could paint up until a few months ago when I picked up a paintbrush and began painting pretty decent portraits.
I’ve always had a creative spirit, and after spending many years bedridden with RA, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on painting, and it’s as if the information got downloaded to my subconscious. I picked up an old paintbrush and painted my first portrait on the very first day of the quarantine, and sold my first two paintings three weeks later.
I finally get to pursue something that brings me so much fulfillment every single day. I paint while I listen to spiritual and uplifting podcasts or audiobooks, which makes painting a very meditative experience. I live with pain every day, but whenever I create something, my focus shifts away and I get lost in whatever painting I’m working on. I hope I can paint for the rest of my life. It has brought me so much joy that I will enjoy it for as long as I can. I’ve learned that nothing in life is guaranteed, so I appreciate every day I get to paint.
This is the first time in a long time that I can see my life unfold beyond my RA. In recent years, the RA was all that defined me. It’s taken me a while to remember that I’m more than my disease. It’s just a part of me the same way my blue eyes are a part of me. I’m not fighting it anymore the way I used to. I’m creating art, and for me, that’s how I live in harmony with myself and the world around me.
Find Pattie on Instagram @portraits_by_pattie
Facebook page Portraits By Pattie
Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/portraitsbypattie
Dancer, Yoga Teacher, and Arthritis Warrior.
Nothing can bring us down.
My journey with rheumatoid arthritis started at the age of 18. One morning and the simplest of tasks became impossible, doing my buttons up, putting my jeans on and off, making a cup of tea. So after a while of fighting, I welcomed 25mg of methotrexate and steroids into my life. Hello new friends! With that came extreme fatigue (I couldn’t drive my car for longer than 20 minutes without taking a nap, my lunch at work I spent napping in my car), and hair loss.
But I was not ready to give up. Uncle Google showed me all the natural ways I could help my body, and so I did just that. Nutrition, yoga, mental health. Started working on myself every single day. Managed to go into forced remission for 2 years. Then BAM, after moving countries, overnight it hit me AGAIN! This time methotrexate injections and steroids, hello again! Less fatigue this time, fewer side effects. Just the lovely hangover and limited spoons.
Back then, I had no community, I had no friends, I had no knowledge of anyone my age living with arthritis. So now I am on a mission to RAISE awareness to all the chronic community and their closest ones and I am on a mission to share Yoga with every single soul! When you find the right teacher, and the right type of yoga, your body will seriously thank you for it! With RA we need movement, to lubricate our joints, and we need to build strength into our muscles to help support the joints better.
Accept yourself, your feelings. Know it is okay to ask for help. You are never alone. Try things out see how they make you feel because things like nutrition or yoga could really have a very positive impact on you.
So here I am, a chronic warrior yoga teacher. Here to help, to share, to educate, to listen, to simply be there for YOU. Yes, you! Every single person out there. Message me, and I promise, I will respond to every single person.
Sending you all lots of hugs, love, sunshine, and of course SPOONS!
My absolute passion is food, and Arthritis Foodie!
Finding what feels good for my body, and what tastes good too so I can share it with the community of fellow foodies.
I am currently on furlough, but my day job is in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) marketing, for start-up, planet-conscious, and health-conscious food brands here in the UK.
Alongside food, I am a huge bookworm, and probably have a library’s worth of books at home. As well as reading the written word, I love to write it too and I am currently writing a book for people living with arthritis, which includes ways to live better and feel better with our condition.
Find Emily here:
Facebook support group https://www.facebook.com/groups/arthritisfoodie
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/arthritisfoodie/
Links to all products that have helped her are on her Amazon shop here
Hi, my name is Aashi and I am an Indian American Muslim who has autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. I live in Sacramento California with my newlywed husband, Romey, and service dog, Sammy! My life is abundantly easier because I have some of the most amazing humans supporting me through the good and bad days, especially my husband! We run our account together as we both suffer from chronic pain and conditions; some might say we were made for each other.
Medications, exercise, and lifestyle modifications all work to keep me functional enough to be a human and get through my days! Currently medication wise, I am on 25mg of methotrexate every week (injected by my husband) and sulfasalazine twice a day for my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Professionally, I am a Behavior Therapist but in 2014, I gave up on my dreams of becoming a powerlifter as my pain was so bad I couldn’t hold a coffee cup or a phone in my hand. As the years went by, I began working out again, and prior to COVID-19, I was hoping to compete in powerlifting after 6 years! My passion for feeling strong and helping other women feel the same way has fueled me since I was a young child. I hope to compete when the world is safe again and Romey is putting in all his exercise biology knowledge into helping me get there!
We started this account as we found ourselves to be very overwhelmed by the realities of our chronic diseases. Seeing so many young women and men who are beating RA and other degenerative diseases every day is really just a blessing. For years I hid my pain from everyone in my life but after I accepted that my disease is here to stay, my life became pleasant again. I really can’t wait to continue sharing that a disease doesn’t define you and even if one day you can’t hold your hairbrush; you can still take steps to achieve your goals.
Find Aashi and Romey on Instagram @spoonieandspoonie
Hello! My name is Ali and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at the age of 15 and have been living with it for the past 12 years. In that time, I’ve had 2 arthroscopic knee surgeries, an appendectomy due to chronic appendicitis, 13 knee draining’s, 16 cortisone shots, 2 colonoscopies, 2 endoscopies, multiple CT scans, X-rays / MRIs, ER visits and a ton of other tests done all due to my condition.
There was a period in my life where I relied on crutches, canes, and wheelchairs to get around. I’ve battled terrible side effects due to the medications we must take in order to function, which was and still is an emotional roller coaster. During this hellacious time of my life, I didn’t have a community of spoonies to connect with. I didn’t know a single person with RA at the time and I was the first in my family and friends to have an autoimmune disease this aggressive. During this time, I felt very alone and depressed. Why was this happening to me? What are these meds they are giving me? Why do I feel like I’m hungover all the time? Why are my joints so messed up and lastly why am I the only young person with this disease?
It wasn’t until I came out of remission the second time and was told I’d have to go back on the low dose of chemo (methotrexate) that I connected with others like me. I was so overwhelmed and longing to connect with someone who really understood how I was feeling. I finally made a social media account geared solely to having an autoimmune disease. Suddenly I was flooded with new spoonie friends who were going through the same thing I was and were even on the same medications as me! I can’t express how good it felt to vent to someone who knew EXACTLY how I felt and knew the struggles of joint pain and fatigue. It’s been two years since I made that account and because of it, my outlook on having this disease has completely changed. I am more positive and fit due to the spoonies I’ve connected with.
My goal now is to prove to other spoonies that we can fight this disease and kick it’s ass! I’m constantly dancing my way through this painful life to prove to my disease that I won’t let it win. Yes, we will have our bad days, but the more we stand up to it and prove that no matter how much pain it causes us, we will never stop fighting and let it win! I’m now a fitness junkie and I love to move daily. I’m very passionate about dancing, working out & making people laugh with my ridiculous videos online. Someday I hope to teach group dance classes that welcome everyone including people with limitations due to their illness. I’ve connected with so many lovely people because of this disease and I hope to connect with many more!
Find Ali on Instagram @anotherdaywithra where she just announced that she is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.
Hi! I’m Cheryl Crow. I’m an occupational therapist and I’ve been living with rheumatoid arthritis since I turned 20 (almost half of my life ago). I’m incredibly passionate about helping others with rheumatoid arthritis learn mental, physical, and emotional strategies to cope with the daily challenges that RA brings! I love sharing life hacks, patient stories, provider advice, and more through my video channels and podcast.
Last year I formed an educational company called Arthritis Life. Every other month I run a formal four-week online education and support program called the “Beginner’s Guide to Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis,” where I provide all the basic information patients need to manage their lives with RA, in addition, to support and encouragement. The medical system seems focused on the physical factors, but I’m hoping that through my projects I’ll bring light to many needs of people with RA beyond joint pain. You can find me on all the links below!
Find Cheryl on Instagram @arthritis_life_cheryl_
Hey there! My name is Erika and I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2016. I was diagnosed as seropositive, meaning that I had both a positive rheumatoid factor and anti-CCPs. At the time of my diagnosis, I was 28 years old. I had just started graduate school and was an active rock climber. I was also dating the love of my life and our relationship was starting to take a more serious direction.
After speaking to a rheumatologist about treatment options, I decided that I wanted to see a naturopathic doctor so I could get another perspective on my disease. This is where I learned about gut health, diet, and lifestyle factors that were exacerbating my symptoms. For the first time in my life, I was beginning to see food as medicine. I started to evaluate my stress levels, and I started to realize that I was living in a very pro-inflammatory lifestyle.
To document my journey, I started an Instagram account. I wanted to see if there was any truth to what I had been learning about. It was a way for me to document any changes, hold myself accountable, and also a way for me to connect with others who have RA. I never had a timeline of how long I would keep my account going, and I wasn’t even sure if anyone would be interested in what I was doing.
Flash forward five years, and I can’t believe I am still sharing my life with thousands of people. I never set out to be anyone’s inspiration or the motivation for living a healthier life, I think it kind of happened in a very natural way. I’ve had many ups and downs, but I’ve always persevered. I’ve viewed myself as some sort of science experiment. I keep trying and trying until I find what works best for me and my body. I think that’s what encouraged others to do the same.
That’s my message to everyone. We have to become our own advocates for our health and find out what our individual bodies need from us. But a lot of the work that has to be put in, comes from the mental aspect. Every day, waking up and having the mindset that we will not let this disease control our life. It may control our bodies at times, but it cannot control our minds. We are not powerless; we can do things to better our lives.
Today, I am a certified health coach. I help people with arthritis optimize their health through as many different ways as they can. I use my personal experience and education to empower others to make necessary changes to their diet and lifestyle. My goal isn’t to cure anyone, it’s to improve the quality of life of a person. Any improvement is a big improvement! I’ve been able to get back to most of the things I love, and I would love to give that to someone else.
Find Erika on Instagram @healing_arthritis_holistically
Hi! My name is Kristen and I am a 33-year-old living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I was diagnosed when I was 30 years old, only 9 months into my Ph.D. program in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences. Living with RA and trying to earn a doctoral degree has been challenging, but I won’t let it stop me. In addition to working towards a Ph.D., I am married to my high school sweetheart and have 3 dogs who I love doing anything active with. I enjoy camping and hiking, practicing yoga and meditation, and cooking.
I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and recently have been putting my training in behavioral science towards helping other people with chronic illness manage their health and lifestyle through Applied Behavior Analysis techniques. It has been an amazing way to give back to my community. I also blog about my experience with chronic illness.
To read Kristen’s blog or learn more about behavioral chronic illness coaching, please visit her website at https://warriorsmovemountains.wordpress.com/
Find Kristen also on Instagram @WarriorsMoveMountains
I’ve been living with rheumatoid arthritis since childhood. I was diagnosed at the age of 3 years old with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JIA). I grew up with many health challenges and have had multiple joint replacements since I was 17 years old. I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s when treatments were limited and the nature of the disease caused permanent joint damages, which lead to deformities in most joints of the body. My fingers, hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, hips, knees, foot, and toes are affected by the RA.
I’ve worked in the field of social services as a Social Worker for more than 17 years. I medically retired in 2016. After my retirement, I started taking better care of my body and mind by focusing on lifestyle changes, including nutrition.
In July 2016, I started my journey with dōTERRA essential oils and nutritional supplements as an integral part of health and wellness. As a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate, I help others discover a natural and safe way to incorporate natural solutions into their daily lives. I enjoy meeting new people and educating them about living a chemical-free lifestyle. My greatest passion is cooking nutritious meals and developing recipes that include anti-inflammatory ingredients and dōTERRA essential oils. During the past few years, I’ve learned to incorporate dōTERRA essential oils in every dish and beverage that I’ve developed. I wrote my first cookbook in 2019.
I’m also a blogger and write about food recipes and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) recipes using dōTERRA essential oils at www.foodandwellnessbytippy.com
Find Carolyn also on Instagram @foodandwellnessbytippy where she shares random recipe creations.
Hi, everyone my name is Randi. I am 23 years old and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 16 after 6 years of trying to find an answer. I graduated from The University of Alabama in 2018 and am now currently in chiropractic school. My journey with RA has not always been easy, but it has been rewarding. I have had to learn what works best for me in controlling my RA because of course, not everyone’s RA is the same. I manage my RA with exercise, a moderation diet, medication, chiropractic care, and plenty of rest. Oddly, I am thankful to have been diagnosed with RA at 16 because I have become the best version of myself as a result of it.
Interested in being involved in the fall or winter 2020 Keeping It Real With Arthritis community feature? Know anyone else whose story should be known?
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