Friday, March 11, 2016

Facing Forward: Alissa

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic 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!

Name: Alissa
Location: Belfair, WA (Seattle is the closest big city)
Diagnosis: Rheumatoid arthritis
Age at Diagnosis: 21

How are you currently treating your condition?
Treating with methotrexate and Cimzia.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
Biggest emotional challenge: I was diagnosed just a few months after getting married. Honestly the biggest challenge has and continues to be feeling guilty, that I've made his life unfair with my chronic illness, knowing he'll have to deal with it the rest of his life (and we're only 22). This is something that I continue to work on: that our vows said "in sickness and in health" and we're getting to live those out intentionally, daily.

Biggest physical challenge: my husband is in the Navy, so two months after my diagnosis we finally had our big wedding & reception and moved across the country. (This was before my pain/symptoms were controlled at all, I was grateful for prednisone then)

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I've found sleep to be my biggest "trick" for managing everyday tasks. Also learning I'm not Superwoman and that's ok and that doesn't need to be my goal. Learning to care about what's truly important and what's not, and to prioritize. 

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
My husband's faith in me: the first time I gave myself an injection, crying the whole time, he said when it was over "you're so brave." The look on his face and those words keep me facing forward. I also have been blessed with some of the best friends in the world, amazing family, and my faith.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Be honest with those close to you about how much pain you're in and what you can handle. They can probably sense this to a certain extent, but not always. It's so much more fair to them, and yourself, to be honest even when it's hard, and even when you feel like you're letting them down.  You're not. Admitting weakness is a sign of strength. 

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