How Is Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Is Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

I have been answering a lot of questions about different treatments for rheumatoid arthritis,

natural ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis but how is it really to live with rheumatoid arthritis, are there anything difficulties or things I am unable to do due to my illness and how can you support someone living with rheumatoid arthritis – is there anything you can do?

Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis – Growing up

Growing up I never really understood what Rheumatoid Arthritis was or how it would affect me. It was not until my teenage years that I started noticing symptoms other than swollen fingers and pain, I still did not put the two together. When I started receiving treatment – cortisone injections – is when I started experiencing more inflammation and more pain. There was days when I could not go to school because I could barely walk, there was days when my mother had to wash my hair because I was unable to do this myself because the pain was too intense. I was only 16 years old.

How does Rheumatoid Arthritis pain feel like?
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

I compare it to a balloon. Imagine having a balloon and you are blowing it up, you can feel that it is getting full but you continue to blow in air, it is really getting hard to blow air into it and you can feel that if you blow anymore air in it will pop but you still continue. This is basically the feeling, at least for me, your joints are not very big and when the inflammations start, your joints fill up with liquid, it keeps filling up even tho there is no room. It is extremely painful.

There were times when I could not hold a glass of water with just one hand. I needed two. I had to get a bunch of different aids to be able to be independent. Not fun to have to live through in any age, definitely not fun to have to live through as a teenager. I would see my peers playing basketball or other sports, knowing that I could not due to the pain. I would try to fail miserably, the pain of holding the ball was too intense.

I stopped going to gym class. Something that should have been fun, now was only torture.

My teachers argued with me about this. They could not or would not understand the struggle I sometimes had just walking.

I focused on sports that I was able to do, I was riding and doing Pilates at home.

If you would like to read more about exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis then click here.

Can You Work With Rheumatoid Arthritis

– Yes you can work with Rheumatoid Arthritis but you might not be able to do everything. I wanted to join the army but due to my R.A. I would not have been able to this was very disappointing for me. I wanted to join the police force, same thing as the army, I was not able to due to my R.A. I felt like the world was against me and that there was no point. I then started doing pretty much everything that the doctors told me not to do. High impact sports, drinking, smoking. I did not care.

One day I started caring again. I am unsure why but I did. Perhaps I was just sick of allowing my illness to have so much control over me.

I have worked with a lot of different things and most of them have caused pain. I have worked in cafés, as a caregiver, in administration and as a caregiver, I have been working as a door to door salesman and a cleaner, a ton of things. All work has involved doing something with my hands and to be honest it is very hard to avoid. I have been lucky enough to have found work that has had an understanding for my condition to a certain degree. Either way if you have R.A. adding more “stress” to your joints might be something you want to avoid but finding something that will not affect your hands might be tricky.

At the end of the day I would suggest trying to find something that will make you happy and where you can take breaks.

Something that is simple to everyone else might be something that you struggle with.

It can be as simple as driving a car. I have always driven a manual car but due to my R.A. I found myself in pain with both my hands and feet when I had to shift gears. I now drive an automatic car.

Finding something that you can do without putting unnecessary strain on your joints is something I recommend.

You might never use it but perhaps there will be a day when you must.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

How To Give Support To Someone Who Has Rheumatoid Arthritis

One thing that I have noticed is because people do not understand how Rheumatoid arthritis affects you it is hard for them to know what to do. Because they have never gone through it they might not think that what you are asking is of relevance, they might think that they are helping or supporting when, to you, it feels like added on pressure.

Because Rheumatoid Arthritis is not a visible “disability” I have noticed that a lot of people do not understand the things you might ask to do or not to do.

The gym teachers did not understand why it was hard for me to go to that class and the more they pushed me and I failed the less I wanted to go. How you treat and understand can be of great significance to someones self-esteem. It took a big toll on me and my self-esteem, the more I failed at doing things that all the other children could do and the things the teachers told me I should be able to do.

When I have studied today, I now have the option of added on time as R.A. can make it hard to use a computer from time to time, it is then my choice if I want to use this or not.

By listening to your friend or family member you can make a big difference in their life. Pushing them can sometimes make it harder for them, especially if they have a flare-up. During this time the smallest thing can feel like a huge task. Even having a shower can be of great effort. I have had people in my life who would push me to do things when I was in pain, this ended up with me being in more pain and being exhausted afterwards. Accept that the situation is as it is right now but in a few days it will probably be completely different.

Always ask if there is anything you can do. Most of the time there probably won’t be anything you can do but offering your support shows that you care and it will make a difference to the person in need. During a flare-up the person might not be able to do the things they usually do, try to understand, I know that it might not be fair but you might have to add on some extra things to your schedule to assist the person. Something so little as going grocery shopping can change the outcome of the whole day. Preparing a bath can help with the pain and is such a small thing to do to show some support.

Most importantly, ask, ask if there is anything that you can help with. Keep an active communication.

I am lucky to have had family and friends that most of the time understand. Sometimes they do try to push me to go out with them etc. I know that they do not intend this in a bad way but it can add on pressure of being well, which I have accepted, I am not all of the time.

Conclusion

I am a strong believer that you can do anything you set your mind to, except joining the military or the police force, at least not for me. As long as you believe in yourself and you are able to allow things to take time then you can do anything. It might take you a little bit of time to build yourself up to do certain things on a daily basis but you can get there.

I love writing but in the beginning, it would hurt like you could not imagine, but by doing a little bit a day you can get to a point where you will not hurt and it will be easier. It might take time but it will be worth it.

When you live with someone who has R.A. they will probably, most of the time, think if what you are about to do will cause pain. The pain is what will hold you back. The swelling and the inflammation you live with but the pain is the struggle. We try to avoid it at all cost because it can be extreme. Try to keep this in mind, that we most likely will choose an activity or a way of life that will give us as little pain as possible, this does not mean you cannot do anything. Use your imagination. R.A. has given me an incredible lust for life and for always pushing my limits.

 

I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments then please drop them down below and I will get back to you.

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36 thoughts on “How Is Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. I must commend you for taking your time to share your experience. This is really an inspiration , I really need to share this article to a friend who is really down because of his RA , since he was rejected at the police force ,he has decided not to go into any work again, I will share this article and advice him to start following you. Thanks

    1. Hi Lok,
      I am glad that you found the article helpful. There is always ways to move forward in life, you just need to find them.

  2. Thanks for writing this article on how to live with Rheumatoid arthritis. I must commend you for a job well done for taking your time to write this article and all your experience with Rheumatoid arthritis, like I always say you will never know until you feel what the other person is feeling. I have a friend who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis and I always get even closer to the person than my other friends due to the fact that I always feel for him and I don’t want to let him feel bad for his condition and I always tell him it is not his fault for what is happening to him

    1. Hi, Thank you for reading. I hope that this might give you more insight to your friends condition. I think that it is great that you feel close to him and that you are trying your best to assist in this situation.

  3. That is an eye opener for sure. My Mom has RA and although I would help her with anything she needed I had no understanding of what she was going through. Your description of the balloon really helped to put it in perspective. I will keep these things in mind when she needs help with just the simplest of things that at times if I am busy with something else I can get annoyed when she asks for help. I will have more patience and understanding now. Thanks!

    1. Hi Katie,
      The balloon is really the only way I can describe the feeling. It is important to try and be sensitive. Sometimes I have had to ask family members to help me butter my toast. It is such a small task but when I have been in pain this has been impossible. It is so important to remember that such small and simple tasks can be extremely painful and it takes a lot of courage to ask for help in those situations, so remember to always be kind 🙂
      Thank you for reading and I am glad that you found it insightful.

  4. Hello, Am not surprised you live through rheumatoid arthritis . Am only impressed , with the kind of  pain and discomfort i always witness my niece go through. I believe you have a strong will power and that has also given  the courage I can do and achieve whatever I want , provided I decide to.

    Thanks for the inspiring story you told about yourself , it really touch my heart.

    1. Hi,
      I have had friends ask say “I don´t know how you do it?” and I always answer “What other choice do I have”.
      You do it because there are no alternatives.
      It is important to know that things can change and the things you put into it will greatly be outweighed by the outcome.

  5. I absolutely love what I read in this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and interesting to me. . I really felt for you for writing this painful story, your story really got me. People suffer from this rheumatoid arthritis every where but many are emotionally down all because of it this post worth sharing for people to benefit and have hope that everything is possible. Thanks for the insight .best regards 

  6. This is a wonderful writeup. The world is filled with great things to do, make, and accomplish, but not with a lot of time. This quotation from David Allen, the creator of the Getting Things Done productivity system, is a reminder that we have to remember what’s important to do rather than trying to do it all. You are doing great. 

  7. Great website.  My husband was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 34.  He is now 55.  It has really affected our lives.  I appreciate what you say about having a flair up, and that going to the grocery store is suddenly a monumental task.  And it truly is a condition that does not outwardly present symptoms.  In know my husband always dreads shaking hands with people, because it really hurts!  And he can’t avoid it because people would pass judgement on him for being anti-social.  Hard to deal with.  Anyway, I look forward to more postings about RA from you.  You know what you’re talking about!  RhondaLeigh

    1. Hi,

      I am sorry to hear that. I have had that experience too. I would have fazes where I did not want to shake hands with people or even hold my partners hand because it was too painful. I hope he is doing better now? There are things to do as well, changing diet can help a lot. 

      Thank you for reading.

  8. My land that sounds awful and at such a young age, I’m sorry you had to go through that. Invisible disabilities are the worst, its like anything emotionally debilitating some people are so insensitive to these issues.

    I like how you have really explained a day in the life so to speak, some people really need to see that to understand how badly a disability such as this can affect a person.  

    Do you think that asking someone if you can help them would in any way make them feel belittled in a way, for some  people it may be hard to admit they need help.  Also do you think that a change in what you eat would help with the inflammation and discomfort?  There are a lot of foods that cause inflammation…

    1. Hi Amanda, 
      Thank you for reading.
      I agree, people need to be more aware that just because you cannot see anything physically wrong with a person there still might be issues, whether physical or mental.

      I would say that it dependes on how you ask the person. If you leave it open like “let me know if there is anything you need help with” or ” I am going down the store, would you want me to grab some stuff for you when I am there”. It does not have to be like, give me a list of things you can´t do. I believe that it is a sensitive subject to both sides and both sides need to be respectful towards each other.

      I definetly believe that diet will change how you feel. I say this because I have changed my diet and I have had better results than I had on medications. 
      In the article following you can read more about an anti inflammatory diet

  9. Thank you for sharing your experience. It was not an easy one for you but you are prevailing and your story is helping and motivating someone out there. Someone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and has not been able to achieve much in life because of his or her condition, what could be the approach to his or her rheumatoid arthritis? 

    1. Thank you, that is what I am hoping for, that someone might se that glimmer of light that they need to make the change, that they can see that change is possible. 
      I would say it comes down to pain, I know in a lot of countries you have to pay for your treatment and it can be very expensive, we are talking 8000 dollars for 1 injection, and you need 2 per month.

      If you are unable to receive treatment or you do not want to use medication, like myself, my advice would be to change your diet and then start exercising slowly as the food will help you with the inflammation and the pain and the exercising will give your body energy and release those happy hormones in your body whilst helping you with the pain. 

      As soon as the pain goes away and your body feels well your mind will start to change.

  10. Hi Alexandra, your write up on Rheumatoid Arthritis left me speechless. This is my first time of reading a firsthand experience report on Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I can’t begin to imagine the excruciating pain you must have been going through and still might be going through. However, one thing I deduce about your is your spirit of survival.

    As a teenager, you went through a lot yet you were not embittered. I can understand your decision to disregard doctor’s advice and do things you were advised not to do, like smoking etc, but it is good enough you didn’t allow the illness to control you for a long time.

    I am happy to know that you have been able to find some work that considers your condition. Thanks for your tips on not to add stress to one’s joints if the person is suffering from RA.

    1. Hi, 
      The pain it can give you is some of the worst pain but it will sure harden you up. 
      I think it is very important to not try and let your illness control you, If you cannot afford treatment or in other ways do not want treatment, I hope that people choose a different way, perhaps food etc and take back control.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words

  11. This story pricked my mind so greatly. Understanding the related pains surround the Rheumatoid Arthritis situation is heart-touching, Oh My God! I am really glad to know about exercises that Rheumatoid Arthritis patients can undertake. Thank you so much for pointing out about finding things that make you happy as an RA patient. That helps to kick depression and self-pity. Finding something that you can do without putting unnecessary strain on your joints is also key. Being responsible as you can is also key. You also emphasized in believing in yourself as an RA patient. That struck me positively. Thanks for this brave article.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. It is very important, I believe, to do things that you love as being in chronic pain can be very draining and can easily put you into a dark place. Having something that brings you joy is even more important. 

  12. Thanks for sharing this article on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Firstly I am really sorry for the pains you have gone through and you missing out from the army and police because of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I agree with you that many people don’t know about RA or the experience they people suffering from it are having. Thus some may not know how to assist those suffering from it. But my question is what can be done to help the people that have Rheumatoid Arthritis? I mean the cure or solution, thanks. 

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for reading. There is not much that can be done except medications, most likely an immune suppressant treatment. I chose another path to heal arthritis naturally. I believe that medicine will only relieve you from your symptoms and will not heal the root of the problem. 

  13. I do not know anything about this disease until i stumble onto your writing.  Reading through it can make people feel how it can be so painful and I wanted to send you healing and encouraging thoughts. Glad that you have great support behind. Keep on doing what your love and I wish you all the best!!! 

  14. if you have seen people with RA you will understand better. 
    Things that most people take for granted, for example sleeping, bathing, brushing one’s teeth, getting dressed, making meals, and even driving a car, are extremely challenging for them.
    How Is Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis? It’s terrible I hope there is permanent cure!

    1. Hi,

      I can only agree with what you are saying, small things that we do not view as difficult or hard at all can be a real struggle for someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

      Unfortunately there is no cure which makes living with Rheumatoid arthritis hard at times but since I have been treating Rheumatoid arthritis naturally it is a lot better than it was. 

  15. You are completely right when you said it is difficult to live with at any age. I simply couldn’t imagine having it at 16.

    I’ve recently developed Du Quervain’s (like Carpel Tunnel, but the nerve in the thumb), and Plantar Fasciitis (fallen arches). It has affected my life more than I wish to accept. I fight my way through cardio exercises for my feet, but using my thumb on my dominant hand is almost impossible not to do. I fear it will require surgery.

    My uncle had arthritis when he was a teenager also, and he had to have his knees drained by a doctor, or he would have lost his ability to walk. It’s much more common than people realize.

    1. Hi Tyler,
      That sounds horrible. Such small things can impact your life in a lot  of aspects.  Hopefully there will be something that they can do about it to help you with the pain. 

      I have had to have my thumb drained before so I can only imagine how horrible it must have been for him, having his knee drained. It is a very common illness that deserves more attention.

  16. Hello Alexandra,

    I’m wounded at heart to read your story. As far as I know, Arthritis usually gets in the knees. But today I learned a lot about reading your valuable reviews of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is really painful that this disease is not understood from outside, although patients seem to be normal. It is good to know that, rheumatoid arthritis is largely overtaken by strong mentality and endless efforts. Thank you sincerely for writing such an important review.

    Regards,
    Ranao.

  17. Thank you very much for sharing your unprecedented conscious things. It’s actually a worsted disease and very affliction and people suffered kinds of health problem. Analytical, you crystal explain about the disease and harmful aspects and I hope it is can be aware of people overcome from it. Yes I am interested to work with rheumatoid arthritis and I wants to destroy this disease from the earth and I also gave support them especially who those people have suffered this disease. Reagardly I will feel proud of being part in here.

  18. I was diagnosed of RA in 2009. I was put on Naprosyn and after some time i didn’t feel any different, so i started on a Natural Rheumatoid Arthritis Formula treatment protocol from RICH HERBS FOUNDATION (www. richherbsfoundation. com), the treatment made a great difference for me, it effectively treated my Rheumatoid Arthritis and symptoms. The swellings, stiffness, fatigue and joint/muscle/body pains has subsided, I feel better overall than i have felt in years.

    1. Hi Monica,
      I am sorry to hear. I have not heard about the rich herbs foundation but I will look into it. That sounds great, I am so happy that you have found a natural rheumatoid arthritis treatment that is working. It can be done. Thank you so much for the information about this foundation. I will look into it. I am very happy that you are doing better and that your symptoms are getting better as well. Keep it up!

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