My Truth: Life with Arthritis

I remember being a kid and hearing my mom and Nana sitting in the kitchen discussing my grandmother’s hands and all the pain she was having. How she couldn’t grip things like she once could, the disfiguring of her knuckles, her need for a cane that transitioned to a walker and finally to a wheelchair.

This was my first encounter with Arthritis.

Because my only knowledge of Arthritis was second hand information from elderly people who had it; it never occurred to me that I could possibly have it at this age, which led me to ignore some early warning signs.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term often used to mean any disorder that affects joints. Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. … The most common forms are osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

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www.arthritis.org

I Didn’t Think It Would Happen to Me So Soon

I never thought that arthritis wasn’t a possibility. After all, my Nana had it and as my mom began to age, she was diagnosed with it too. However, in my head I always relegated it to being an “old people’s disease”. At 30 going on 31 I hardly felt I qualified for this disease.

Turns out I was wrong.

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2016 the perfect storm was brewing in my life. After being told I would never have babies again; I found myself at my highest weight, pregnant, with un-diagnosed Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism at the time.

During my pregnancy I kept complaining to my OB that I was experiencing hip and pelvic pain. Of course, the obvious reason was pregnancy right? I was expecting everything to go back to normal after giving birth….except it didn’t.

After my thyroidectomy in 2017, the hope was that my joint pain would correct itself with the use of thyroid hormone medication since joint pain is a symptom of hypothyroidism.

The pain persisted until I was finally given an x-ray. It was at that time my orthopedic doctor informed me after viewing my x-rays he was expecting to see a woman in her 80’s on the other side.

I wasn’t immediately devastated, not even after he told me I had un-diagnosed congenital hip dysplasia, not after he told me it was spread to my pelvis, not even after he told me I had cysts in the sockets and bone.

The devastation didn’t occur until I met with an orthopedic surgeon a few months later who told me I wasn’t a viable candidate for hip replacement until I lost a significant amount of weight.

Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Fighting against Hypothyroidism and the unbelievable progressive pain of arthritis in my hip and lower back does not a weight loss champion make.

I haven’t given up, I’m planning on weight loss surgery; but what does that mean for me in the interim?

Arthritis Sucks

I wish I had a more eloquent way to put that; but I don’t think I have the adequate words in the English or any other language to properly describe how this feels.

Physically I am miserable.

I am in pain 24/7. Some days are arguably better than others; but it’s an absolutely horrific feeling. From the time I wake up, until I go to bed and even in my sleep, I am in pain.

You can’t be serious?

I know a few of you may be thinking that. Let me make sure I reiterate that; YES. I’m serious.

It’s unpleasant but it is my truth and the truth of millions of others living with some form of arthritis.

I’ve watched myself like a stranger in my own body lose optimal functionality of my body. Once a person who could walk and walk and walk; I’m lucky if I can stand more than 5 minutes at a time before excruciating pain begins to take it’s toll. I use a shower chair, I walk with a cane, and if extensive walking is involved, I use a motor powered cart or wheelchair.

It’s Not All Bad

Though this journey has taken me to new lows mentally and emotionally at times; it has definitely given me a different perspective on life. Things I would normally not give a second thought or simply take for granted; I now find myself saying thank you for.

This journey has brought an extra layer to my marriage, sometimes I fear it is all too much; but we keep our faith in God at the center and we communicate now more than we ever have. We’re closer for it too and I appreciate that.

I know my prognosis is not different from so many of my fellow arthritis warriors. It can often feel like a death sentence when you’re dealing with chronic pain. The key for me is to continue physical therapy, work on my weight loss, and avoiding toxicity whether it be from my own thoughts, other people’s opinions and ignorance and sometimes removing certain people from my life.

The most important thing along this journey for me is to never give up even when I feel like I can’t take it anymore.

I love who I’m growing into even if I don’t love how I’m learning these lessons; but I won’t let this be for nothing if I can help it!

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For more information about arthritis please visit www.arthritis.org.

Until Next Time,

AP Young signature with kiss print.