Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different – and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren’t alone!
Location: Donnellson, Iowa
Diagnosis/Diagnoses: low thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and osteoarthritis
Age at Diagnosis/Diagnoses: diagnosed May 26th 2013
How are you currently treating your conditions?
I'm on methotrexate by shot 1 ml, folic acid, and levothyroxine.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
I had to quit my job, which was the hardest thing I've had to do. I was a CNA so I've taken care of people all my life. I tried to tell them I would get better, but I didn't know this wouldn't go away. I kept asking my doctor when this would get better. I had no clue. He finally told me this is a disease and it doesn't go away. When he gave me the medicine he gave me three shots and he said my levels were very high. I was rushed back to the hospital and they kept me overnight. I cannot take prednisone. I went into a depression and I was scared.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I finally said to myself: "I have RA, IT DOESN'T HAVE ME!" So I learned to take things slow. That was very hard. I do things like I used to do, it just takes me a while and I take it slow. I do stretches. I try and walk 30 minutes every other day. I have seen what this does to people: the hands, the hammer toes, nodules. Until I found this post on Facebook I felt all alone. I wear Imak gloves for my hands and I wear supported shoes.
How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
The way I keep going forward is walking away from a lot of stress. I thank God every day that I can get up. I take things a lot slower than I used to.
If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
I guess what I would have told myself is that I wish I had slowed down to take care of me.
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