Friday, January 13, 2017

Facing Forward: Suzanne

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: Suzanne
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Diagnoses: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Barretts Esophagus, Endometriosis
Age at Diagnosis: RA & Fibro 42; BE 39; Endo 36

How are you currently treating your condition?
Plaquenil, Losec, low dose Naltrexone, CBD oil, Vimovo, Tramadol when required, Kefir, gluten free, dairy free, and low sugar diet. A relaxing bath in Epsom salts. Eat healthy and everything in moderation. Reduced alcohol, coffee, and processed foods intake drastically.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
People's reactions, being judged, unable to carry out the simple tasks I always took for granted, being clumsy, difficulty exercising, weight gain, losing control of my life, being isolated socially by people I thought were friends, struggling with my mental health when in pain, losing my career, not being taken seriously anymore. Being told "it's just arthritis, lose a bit of weight and you won't be in pain."

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
Make lists so you know what your everyday tasks are (fibro fog and forgetfullness have been quite the challenge since diagnosis.) Ask my husband to carry out the difficult things before he goes to work i.e. lifting heavy objects so I cam manage/use them. 

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
Giving myself a break, ditch perfectionism, enjoy the people who support you, allow people to help, believe that there will be better days and this too shall pass!

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Take your time confiding in people. They won't always understand and some will walk away from you, but that's ok because if they aren't able to weather the storm then they're not worth investing any more energy in. It will be tough but there are supports out there. Value the people and things that really matter in your life because they will be of great support and enjoyment to you. Research everything and it's ok to question your doctor on medications, not everything works. 

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