In 2008, 23-year-old Emil DeAndreis was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD)—following a record-breaking career as a pitcher for the University of Hawaii Hilo and an offer to pitch professionally in Belgium. With consistent pain and swelling that made the ordinary (tying shoes, putting on a shirt, turning on water) excruciating for him, Emil had to make a decision about the course of his life—declining the contract to play professional baseball.Read More
In 2007, José Velarde was having trouble with his right knee. An MRI revealed he had torn his meniscus. While rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery, his left knee began bothering him. Although José chalked it up to 30+ years of competitive soccer, his doctor decided to scope the area only to find “junk” behind his kneecap. The pathology results indicated RA/RD, and blood work confirmed the diagnosis.
At first, José pretended everything was fine. His rheumatologist told him he could do whatever he wanted, as long as he could live with the pain. So José continued living his day-to-day life, working out, playing with his kids, doing what he enjoyed. But along the way, the disease began slowing him down. He couldn’t keep up.
Marie Marotta’s rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) journey started fifteen years ago. She initially found herself unable to turn the key to start the car, but since the symptoms dissipated by mid-day, she thought nothing of it. Then a few days later, she bumped her hand, and instantly, Marie was on the ground in excruciating pain. Her family doctor immediately believed the problem was RA/RD, which was confirmed through lab results. A week later, Marie had her first rheumatology appointment, where her doctor explained the disease, treatment, and what she would need to do remain healthy throughout her life.Read more ›
If you’ve spent any time in the rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) community, you’ve probably heard of Kelly O’Neill Young or spent some time on her website, RAwarrior.com, which she founded in 2009. She is also the founder of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF), which advocates for the RA/RD community.
Although she began experiencing episodic symptoms as a child, Kelly was not diagnosed until 25 years later, when she transitioned from a flaring pattern to having full-blown, chronic progressive disease. By this time, she had five children and was homeschooling, and her symptoms made life extremely challenging.Read more
Leslie Rott has lived with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) and lupus since she was about 19 years old. Now 32, Leslie is a staunch patient advocate—but it took a while to get her to that confident, assertive place.
The problems started just before Leslie’s senior year of college. A very bad episode of vertigo landed her in the hospital, and subsequent attacks, while milder, were still disabling. Because she had no other symptoms, doctors dismissed her concerns and sent her back to college. That summer, she continued to have more symptoms, including severe pain in her shoulder and ribs. This time she was told they were psychologized.Read more ›
In June 2008, at the age of 25, Mariah was diagnosed with RA/RD. At the time, she was a dual-degree student at the University of Colorado, working simultaneously on a law degree and a master’s of science in environmental policy. She was also a member of the law journal, worked as a newsletter editor and events planner for an environmental research center, and was on the University’s club water polo team.
It started with acute pain in her toes, then fatigue and anemia, followed by pain and swelling in her wrists and fingers. Since the symptoms appeared one at a time, Mariah could easily excuse them. However, she found herself still exhausted no matter how much she slept after the semester ended. Then during a summer camping trip her knees swelled up to the size of grapefruits and they were so painful she could hardly stand or walk. Mariah knew something was terribly wrong.Read more ›
Lawrence “Rick” Phillips was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at seventeen. Now 59, Rick has far outlived the age when he thought diabetes would claim his life. Today, he also lives with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD).
Rick’s treatment regimen has changed many times in the years since he was diagnosed. To begin with, his rheumatologist suspected Rick would not respond to methotrexate, but had to put him on that drug for six months anyway because of an insurance industry practice called “step therapy.”Read more ›
Shannon Young has been living with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) for five years. It was while recovering from a radical hysterectomy that she began experiencing extensive pain and stiffness in her hands. Soon her feet and other joints bothered her too. Her primary care doctor wanted to do blood work to screen for RA/RD, but Shannon declined.
Unfortunately, the pain did not go away. When walking was difficult and she could not cover herself with a sheet in the middle of the night because her hands hurt so much, Shannon finally agreed to testing—and she tested high positive in all categories. Not only did she have RA/RD, but she had an aggressive form of it.Read more ›
At 47, Dr. Sylvia Ann Faircloth already had experience with chronic pain and other health conditions. A bad car crash had left her with serious back pain; a series of horrible migraine attacks led to a transient ischemic attack (or mini-stroke) which caused some lasting damage. Diabetes had caused neuropathy.
So when Sylvia had difficulty with simple things, like opening a car door, tying her shoes, and walking up stairs she saw a rheumatologist. Within 48 hours, they diagnosed her with RA/RD.Read more ›
Trey Wafer first began experiencing joint pain and fatigue at the age of 11. He was an active kid who was constantly playing sports, and assumed the aches and pains were related to growing up. By the time he reached his 20s, Trey was 6 feet 2 inches tall and athletic.
However, he soon began to notice joint pain and swelling present even if he hadn’t been exercising. One evening following work, Trey’s hands started itching terribly. When he woke the following morning, he was too tired to get out of bed and his feet were also itching uncontrollably. Most doctors dismissed his complaints, opting to prescribe opioids instead of looking for the cause of his suffering.Read more >