Growing up, I was always under the impression that arthritis was an “old person’s disease.” While it is true that many elderly people have it, I have since learned that arthritis does affect younger people too; particularly those that have juvenile arthritis.
In my 20’s, I began to notice my fingers were becoming increasingly painful and were not as “straight” as they used to be. Some days, in fact, they would swell and become very stiff and painful. While this was bothersome at times, it did not stop me from doing all of my daily activities, and I went on with life. Unfortunately, now at age 31 (and just turned 31), Rheumatoid Arthritis and I are having a most difficult battle. (I will let you guess who is winning.) I am starting to wake up every morning with the “claw hands” as I call them: basically I describe it as my hands look like they are playing the clarinet or piano with curved fingers except they are holding nothing and feel this way throughout most of the day. I also feel so tired that I am very embarrassed to tell anyone, as I don’t want to be seen as lazy.
So off I went to do my research: Rheumatoid Arthritis usually surfaces in women between the ages of 40 to 50; while men take usually longer for symptoms to show. It can though, affect anyone, at any age; however, women are three times more likely to be affected by RA than men.
After reading about various treatment options, I have decided that the benefits of the drugs do not weigh equally to the long-term side effects; especially since at my age, I would have to be on them for a long time. I am, however, going to investigate more natural remedies such as massage therapy, hydrotherapy, paraffin wax treatments for my hands (as they enjoy keeping warm), and seeking information on special diet suggestions for arthritis sufferers.
Finally, I did read about the long-term prospects for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers and know that many lose their ability to perform normal activities that they once were able to do. For example, as I type this, I am having a harder and harder time getting my words from my brain to this screen. My fingers just want to quit, but my head says, “no.” My goal is to push myself, both as a writer, as hard as I can, for as many years as I can, before I am not going to be able to do this anymore.
I wrote this piece out of despair and anger, but now that I have finished it, I see it as a way of enlightening others about the condition, as well as offering my support to all those that may have it.