Monday, December 8, 2014

I don't know about you.. but I'm feelin' 72

It's funny how I can more closely relate to the life of a seventy year old than someone my own age (I'm twenty one). When I walk up the stairs my knees pop, my back aches and my ankles snap. My parents always say they can tell when it's me coming up the stairs because you can hear me before you see me.

One thing people don't understand about Rheumatoid Arthritis is the difference between Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis. Osteo Arthritis develops because of wear and tear on the bones over the years and Rheumatoid Arthritis is completely different. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is a disease resulting from a disordered immune reaction in which antibodies are produced against one's own tissues. Pretty much, when someone has autoimmune disease, they have an antibody in their blood that causes their immune systems to work differently than it should. For example, if I am exposed to a certain bacteria or viral sickness, instead of my immune systems fighting it off, it gets sick. This antibody causes the immune system to attack your own organs, tissues and bones. Making you more susceptible to viral infections and problems like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. 

I've been starting to learn more about RA for about a year now. I started having a lot of pain last year that was unexplained for a long time. This was/is a combination of RA and fibromyalgia (a syndrome characterized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints). Having these types of pain can be really freaky. At first, I tried to justify the pains by thinking 'maybe I ran into to something' or 'maybe there's a bruise there', then you start thinking, 'what if there's something wrong, like a torn muscle or a bone fracture?', then suddenly in the middle of intense pain, it stops. And you feel better for a while. Which makes the situation even weirder and harder to understand or explain.

I can be walking around and doing my thing, feeling fine and then out of nowhere it feels like someone shoved a giant screw under my knee cap. Because of this, I end up hobbling around like a little old lady. Sometime's the pain lasts for a couple hours, sometimes its half an hour, sometimes its a few days. But whatever it is, it always sucks and makes life a lot harder than it should be. 

Maybe this post hasn't been very humorous or entertaining but I recently talked to someone who was really frustrated about people not understanding how different RA is from other types of arthritis. I always get comments like, "Oh my grandma has that and she just takes tylenol and she feels fine". More likely, your grandma has Osteoarthiritis, which 50% of people over the age of 50 develop. RA is not something to mess around with and wait to get a disagnosis for. Many people who suffer from RA need surgeries such as shoulder and hip replacements. It is a serious disease that can affect people at any age and change their lives dramatically. Please, if you think you or someone you love may be experiencing RA, pursue further information. Get your tests done and figure out what may be wrong. I wouldn't wish RA upon anyone; it's one of the hardest things that I have to deal with in my life.


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