The pain started in my hands
I was just 17 and studying for final exams for high school when my hands started to hurt. And then my knuckles began to swell. I thought it was mosquito bites, but my mom feared otherwise.
Shortly after, I met with a rheumatologist, who confirmed my mom’s suspicions. I had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Just like my mom.
I wish I could tell you that I knew what was coming. Afterall, my mom was diagnosed with RA when I was 14, so I thought I had an understanding of how serious or severe arthritis can be. But unless you live with arthritis yourself, it’s really hard to know what it is really like. I even remember thinking that my diagnosis wasn’t that big of a deal.
But everything was about to change. One month into my second year of university, I had a huge flare up. The fatigue was debilitating. At its worst, everything hurt and I could barely move. Showering was hard, washing my hair hurt, going grocery shopping was impossible and holding my books was excruciating.
To look at me you’d never know that I’m in pain all the time or that, at times, I can barely stand.
Imagine that you have the flu, at its very worst, all the time. That’s what it felt like.
The pain was always there and I only had, at best, a few hours of energy each day. Despite my determination, I couldn’t continue. I had to leave school and come home. I knew that to feel better, I had to learn how to control my disease.
Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Thanks to the generosity of caring donors who have supported arthritis research, I found the answers I needed at Arthritis Research Canada. I started a new stronger course of medication and I learned how to give myself injections – something that I never thought I’d be able to do. And I’ve learned ways to deal with pain management and cope with stress, which is a major trigger for me.
I’m also participating in a research study by Dr. Linda Li that uses technology like Fitbits to encourage people with arthritis to become more physically active to help with pain management. And I recently started a part-time job with a patient support organization for people with arthritis.
I’ve learned a lot of skills along the way, but one thing is clear: research has directly impacted my life. And not in some kind of abstract way. Because of advances in research, I have access to new and improved medications and the very best care. This has changed my life! By making a special holiday gift today, you can help accelerate critical arthritis research that leads to earlier diagnosis and new treatments, or even a cure for millions of people.
Arthritis Research Canada is currently conducting over 75 research studies across the country, exploring every possible avenue of discovery from prevention to new treatments and a cure.
Credit: This video was made for RA Matters and funded by Eli Lilly and Company Ltd.
You can’t imagine how much hope this represents to someone like me.
I’m young and I would love to have children in the future, so one research study in particular means the world to me – Dr. Mary De Vera’s research investigating the long-term effects of arthritis medications on pregnant women and their children. Research like this gives me hope that I’ll become a mom one day!
To look at me you’d never know that I’m in pain all the time or that, at times, I can barely stand. That’s the problem with arthritis – it’s invisible – and unless you live with it yourself, it’s impossible to know what it’s really like. I didn’t even truly understand what my own mom was going through until I experienced it myself.
My mom is an inspiration. Her arthritis is very well controlled and I also know other people who are living well with arthritis. I even know someone who is in remission, which is my ultimate goal. It’s a goal that I’m getting closer to and one that’s possible because of research. I’m doing so much better that I recently returned to school.
Donor support has made a real difference in not just my life, but in the life of my family, friends and everyone around me. The research funding directly impacts the life and future of millions of Canadians living with arthritis.