A life with arthritis is all I have ever known. I was born with it. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 17 months old.
My mom was taking me out of my high chair and noticed my right knee was swollen and hot. The Doctor in Lillooet wanted to immobilize it to see if the swelling would go down. So they put a cast on it, but didn't get it straight enough, and it didn't make the swelling go away. The cast went from toes to hip. Sadly, because of the cast the development of my leg was delayed and made 1 leg shorter and I had to have cork added to the bottom of 1 of my shoes so that I didn’t walk with a limp. The JRA Doctor also put a cast on later, trying to straighten it completely, But at 39 years old my leg still doesn't straighten.
I was fortunate enough to have only 1 joint affected, however in 30% of cases like mine it will spread to the eyes, so by the time I was 9 years old I had my first cataract removal surgery on my left eye.
I remember being told "You can't/You shouldn't/You won't" a lot as a child. I remember leaving all of my appointments feeling sad or frustrated, such as when I was 16 and I was told I would eventually need a total knee replacement, but they wanted to wait as long as possible because it only lasts so long. And when I went to get do my learner’s test just to be refused because I did not pass their eye exam.
Despite what I was told, I played sports, I figure skated, I danced and lived a fairly active life, but had many days on crutches or taking prescriptions that hurt my stomach or stung my eyes.
By 18 year’s old I had my second cataract removal surgery and countless laser treatments on my right eye. After that my doctor was able to confirm I was able to see well enough to drive so I finally got my drivers license.
After graduation I started playing soccer but struggled for days after a game. Swelling and fluid would have to be drained from the knee causing almost as much pain as the flare up. I learned what I could do and what I shouldn't do. I learned what I could do to prevent the aftermath of a more active day.
Things were calm for a long time. In 2003 I moved to Kamloops and started having some pain again, which led to having an arthroscopy done the next year. The surgeon said there wasn't much he could do with what was left of the knee joint, but he surgery did relieve most of the pain and so I carried on.
Then when I was 30 I had my first child. I gained a lot of weight and for the first few months of motherhood all was good. But after 2.5 months I started to get a lot of pain! Like every day, all day!! Nothing helped. I went to the doctor and had over 30 cc's of fluid drained. A cortisone injection did nothing to help. Here I was 30 years old with a new baby that needed me, and I could barely walk. So I was referred to a specialist.
So here I am at 30 thinking, I am going to have the knee surgery I was told about when I was 16! Then one night I was watching a show and it was talking about when the body is injured all its nutrients goes to the injury. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was nursing my son!! All my nutrients were going to my breast milk. There was nothing left for my "injury" I started taking a multivitamin everyday and within a few weeks the pain was gone. All before I got to see the specialist.
In 2014 I had my second child and had learned from the first that I needed to prevent the pain before it started. Plus I didn't gain as much weight so that helped relieve the stress on my joints.
In December of 2015 I fell down four stairs on my tailbone. I honestly thought I had broke it. It was painful for a few months. I went to the doctor and was referred to a rheumatologist because I was in so much pain for such a long time. It took months to see a rheumatologist when I finally did see him he ordered CT and MRI and came back with arthritis in my L4 L5 with a slight bulge in my disc as well as arthritis in my hip and it was osteoarthritis. The recommendation was to take stronger anti-inflammatories that would wreak havoc on my stomach and provide little relief. By 2017 I was in extreme pain all the time, I could barely lift my son and I struggled to mow the lawn. Doing anything was extremely painful. The simplest walks around the block were slow and were about all I could do.
I finally learned of a natural supplement that I can take and it has given me my quality of life back!! I can do yard work. I can carry my son. I can do anything I want. There are things that will still cause pain, but I can take precautions to minimize the pain. So this year when a high school friend reached out and asked me to Walk for Arthritis, I said Yes!
I walk for all those that can't! I walk for children who shouldn't know this pain. I walk to raise awareness for those that don’t know. That are unaware of the pain they can’t see. I walk for those that do know but remain silent warriors, fighting a battle no one can see!
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