When I was younger and lived in Europe for a good bit of my childhood, I caught scarlet fever from a child who probably didn’t even know they were sick. I even developed rheumatic fever later in my life because of this. I’ve had a lot of people ask me what arthritis feels like and how it’s like to live with this.
- Living with arthritis is hard: An understatement to some people who have it. For me, it’s like having all your joints completely lock and stiffen. Sometimes, my whole body will ache, as if I have the flu.
- Flare ups: Whenever I have a flare up, it lasts for about 1-2hours. A certain part of my skin(mostly my thighs) will become really red and swollen and it’ll feel like it’s burning. Whenever this happens, I have to put on a dress or a skirt until it passes because pants seem to make it worse. When this kind of flare up happens; it’s always painful and I dread it.
- Active: I was told I would need to stay active for the rest of my life in order to keep my joints from stiffening up and locking, putting me in a wheel chair. Towards the end of my pregnancy, my joints stayed stiff all day and night. It was so hard to get out of bed or walk around without needing help. I never worked out while I was pregnant and that was a huge mistake, because when it came time to walk, it was difficult because my joints where getting so stiff and hard.
- Lack of sleep: Whenever I am asleep at night, I’ll wake up and fight back the urge to scream or cry. My legs would cramp up so bad, it was enough for it to wake me up. When this happens, there isn’t anything I can do but suffer through it and wait for it to pass. Still being half asleep, I do, however, force myself out of bed to walk around and stretch my legs. After the cramping would stop (which would last for about 15-20 minutes), my leg would still hurt and I would end up limping for an entire day because of this.
- Worry: I’m always afraid that I’ll have a flare up or that my joints will lock randomly without any warning when I’m away from home. It’s always in the back of my mind and this stresses me out a lot. Which is a reason why I always stay active, for fear that one day it’ll just hit.
Living with arthritis is a pain, and some people have it far worse than I do. It took me a few years to figure out how to handle and control my flare ups and joint locking. Now I make sure to take a walk around my neighborhood with my son for my daily exercise. Even if it’s just a 20 minute walk, it’s better than nothing. This is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life and even though it took me years to accept, I’m okay with this and with the help of my doctor, I can manage it in a healthy way.