Friday, August 12, 2016

Facing Forward: Nathalie

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: Nathalie
Location: Navan, Ontario (near Ottawa)
Diagnosis: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Age at Diagnosis: 31

How are you currently treating your condition?
From a medical standpoint, I have tried various combinations. With my disease relatively stable, I am able to be on mono-therapy, and am currently only on my second biologic (Actemra).

On other fronts, I have made changes in my life to have a better work-life balance so that I can get the rest I need. I exercise regularly. I make an effort to eat healthy, with lots of fruits and veggies.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?

My biggest challenge has been coming to grips with the fact that I have RA. For me, it was the loss of who I used to be...and getting used to who I am now. I can't do all the things I used to do, but I can do other things. And it was these other things I needed to embrace.

The other challenges have been directly related to my disease. I have had two shoulder replacements. I had to delay my pregnancy and the birth of my beautiful boy. Add I have had to deal with fatigue regularly.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I have learned to focus (or try to, in any case) on what is the most important. For example, I don't get fussed about dusting and housework. I try not to bring work home. I do things that make me happy, like being part of a book club and volunteering.

I have also learned to ask for help when I need it. For example, lifting something heavy, or going for something on the top shelf at the grocery store.

When I have to do something that will take more effort, I make sure I am rested. If I can't do something because I am too tired, or I hurt, I don't get upset at myself, I know I will do it when I can.

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I look forward to being the best mom and wife I can be. I look forward to being with my friends. I look forward to contributing at work and supporting others with RA through my work with the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA).

When things become overwhelming, I take a step back and try to figure out what is going on...and I often find that getting more rest, eating better, and getting my pain under control goes a long way.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell myself that my life will continue. It will not always be easy, and there will be some bumps and zigzags along the way, but it will be good. I would tell myself that I will still be able to do most of the things I have always wanted to do with my life, including having a fulfilling career and a family. Most importantly, I would tell myself not to be scared. And to learn as muc has I can about my disease and what I can do to help myself.

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
Please find more about what is going on in the arthritis community by checking the CAPA website. 

Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to  

No comments: