Friday, February 3, 2017

Facing Forward: Jimmy

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: Jimmy
Location: Raleigh, NC
Diagnoses: Gout
Age at Diagnosis: 21
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
Quality of life. Ever since I was diagnosed with gout at an early age, each year continues to be a physical challenge for me. Even though I take preventative medicines to help control my uric acid level, I still continue to have gout flares. In my twenties I would have a flare 3-4 times a year. Now I have then 12-14 times a year. Over the years when I would have more gout attacks the abuse to my legs, arms, fingers, or any other area that was affected has made it harder to stand, walk, and grab things without pain.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I'm a sales manager and need to be with my sales team in the field daily. I know that rest is key each night to ensure I can walk without pain the next day. I also know that eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water helps me have better days. It's now the new year and the resolution for 2017 is to start to work out again.

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
My family and employees that I work with help motivate me to get more healthy and find out answers to get my gout controlled. I'm 47 years old now and the wear and tear on my body has limited me to not be as outgoing. Now that I have found the right rheumatologist and have been introduced to the right treatments, I feel my attitude and outgoing personality will be back soon. It has been a long journey to get to this point. 

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
I would have continued to search for the right doctor to help me get through this awful condition. Even though I was diagnosed with gout and had high levels of uric acid, the doctors would only treat it as an acute attack and not give me direction on how to control it going forward. There were years that went by that I would just go into a doctor's care and ask for a prednisone taper down pack. Again, from my twenties until early forties I only knew how to stop the attack, but did not know how to control going forward. 

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