Friday, April 7, 2017

Facing Forward: Katie

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:  Katie
Location:  Boulder, CO
Diagnoses:  RA (rheumatoid arthritis)
Age at Diagnosis:  6

How are you currently treating your condition?
Enbrel and Arava
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
When I was a child, my RA was not very well controlled, as we cycled through many different treatments. I was able to get my symptoms under control when I started taking Arava at age 21.  My biggest physical challenges were definitely when I was a child.  As an adult, my biggest emotional challenges have been concern about the aging "infrastructure" of my body.  I recently had arthroscopic hip surgery, and it looks like that hip will be headed for replacement at some point.  

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
Because my disease is well controlled at this point, managing everyday tasks is fairly easy for me.  If I do start to have a flare, it's important for me to address it quickly, typically with Prednisone. 

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
Staying physically active has been very important to me.  When I was a child, my parents shared their passion for the outdoors with me.  They brought me along on their adventures, tailoring them to my abilities.  This meant taking me backpacking and carrying me for parts of the hike, skiing slowly with me and only as much as I could, etc.  I now have the opportunity to share my passion for the outdoors with my children, which is extremely rewarding and provides additional motivation to keep moving! 

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Because I was so young when I was diagnosed with RA, it didn't affect me the way it would an adult.  For me, it was just the way things were.  I try to carry this attitude forward when facing new challenges.  As an example, I developed OA in my foot a few years ago.  I was extremely upset about it.  After complaining to some friends about how I was feeling sorry for myself, a friend of mine said to me "Katie, even if you had no feet, you would find a way to do all the things you love to do!"  This is absolutely true. 

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