It doesn't happen overnight. It happens over a long period of time. You don't ever see it coming. Each time something happens that sends you to a doctor you are clueless about what's really going on. For most people they find out when the damage is already done.
It's quiet most of the time. You only feel stings of pain every now and then. The exhaustion slowly moves in like a fog and it begins to cloud your brain from remembering your everyday functions. It's like a bomb but it doesn't go off until one day you wake up and realize you can't move because the pain is almost unbearable.
Auto Immune Arthritis. It's a disease, a genetic one. It's misunderstood, ignored, and and it affects more people and children than you realize. I have watched friends suffer from the consequences of this disabling beast. They have endured pain, surgeries, and even strokes. They have battled with their careers and families for understanding. They have had to compromise with the life they used to have and change everything about how they live to adjust to this beasts' demands.
I awoke this morning barely able to make a fist with my hands. It took 10-15 minutes to get out of bed. I could barely hold my coffee cup but the warmth of it felt so good. This isn't an old person disease, although I'm sure I look like one when I've been sitting or laying still for a time and you see me try to stand up. My joints are not the only thing affected though. I have had trouble with my eyes, my liver, my colon, and my skin. There are many of these diseases and each one is unique in how it affects you.
I challenge you as a reader, to start researching the affects of these diseases. I guarantee that you either already know someone, have a friend who knows someone, or maybe you have a family member who has one of these diseases. Either way, Auto Immune Arthritis is serious and needs to be brought up, learned about, understood, and most importantly, cured.
Treatment for these diseases become a pick your poison type of scenario. We are faced with low dose chemotherapy and biologic injections or infusions. Sometimes, especially in our cases, the desire for a better quality of life supercedes the risks associated with these treatments. The downfall is that a lot of the newer more effective treatments are extremely costly and insurance doesn't like to pay for them. That's where I am right now. I need the treatment yet my insurance company makes me pay out of pocket costs ($3,031) and then wait 8 weeks to be reimbursed but in the end? I'm still paying $600 a month.
I'm sure there are a lot of worse scenarios than mine, and I know that there may be more serious illnesses out there. But all in all, this one is important too. I had never heard of it until I was diagnosed. So naturally I want you to know about it.
Is this my pity pot? Maybe, but if one person Googles Auto Immune Arthritis today and shares with one person what they learned, and then challenges that person to do the same, maybe, just maybe the invisible, you don't 'look' sick disease will begin to be seen. And that's all I want. Not only do I not want the pain and consequences of the beast inside me to be tamed, I don't want to watch others I know, and the millions of children who have it, suffer one more day. Please, take a minute to peak inside our world.
Elizabeth Ladd has worked in various retail positions for nearly 15 years. For five of those most recent years she was a manager of a Starbucks Cafe. In 2010 she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis which forced her to step down from her position so that she could focus on her three wonderful children, her supportive husband and most importantly her health. Currently she is a stay at home mom who loves to dabble in writing what's on her mind. Most days she stays busy tending to her kids and the mess they like to leave behind them, but she loves them, and she loves her life.