Mrs Sharma is a successful writer and a mother in her mid thirties. Her cheerful persona and bubbly attitude clearly defines her approach to life. She has always been an active person and a fitness enthusiast. Be it any sport, dance or group activity, she was always the first one to participate during her school and college days. She is someone who truly loves life and believes in living to the fullest. But everything changed forever when,
She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis(RA) is an auto immune disease that causes chronic inflammation in joints. RA affects the lining of the joints that causes a painful swelling that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. It most commonly affects the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet and ankles. Simple everyday tasks such as brushing teeth, showering, dressing up, typing etc. is a daily struggle for a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis, although debilitating, could not stop her. Her will to combat it has kept her on a constant go to find new ways to fight RA. Mrs. Sharma says “With all my prizes nicely displayed in my drawing room, I get the boost of energy and motivation needed to keep myself going. With the right diet, exercise routine and a healthy lifestyle, I am again able to enjoy my life.”
Mrs. Sharma narrates her story, which is indeed inspiring for all of us.
My experience with rheumatoid arthritis
I had a very active and happy life until I started suffering from joint pain last winter. Although I had sustained some ligament injuries in the past, this seemed a little different. Initially I dismissed it thinking that the pain was possibly due to the growing age, as it started few years after I delivered my baby. But still I felt that being in my thirties does not mean I should give up on my favourite activities and sports. And, of course, I did not want to give up on my writing either as I worked as a freelance writer and extensively used the computer for typing.
But the fact was that I had joint pain, stiffness and swelling in my wrists. At first it was difficult to understand what was happening. It started with mild fever and pain and swelling in both the wrists. I ignored it thinking it was due to my extensive physical exertion but then the pain continued to persist and did not seem like simple over strain. Then, as the fingers and the thumb became painful, I was really concerned. My fingers felt stiff, I just could not move them and they seemed very heavy. The pain and stiffness was more in the morning or after not having worked for a long time. I felt the need to wear hand gloves to keep my fingers warm, as it was really cold at that time.
My Medical Work-up
When the pain continued with no relief in swelling and pain in the joints of my hands, I decided to see a doctor. I consulted an orthopaedic doctor who on examination felt that it was an inflammatory condition. He noticed that there were small nodule like swelling around the wrists. He advised few blood tests and gave anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve pain and swelling.
The tests included:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Tests for inflammation
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- RA factor and
- Some other tests for arthritis
The investigation reports showed inflammation and with all the tests reports the doctor confirmed rheumatoid arthritis and gave me medicines with a list of do’s and don’ts. Medicines did bring some relief but I was aware that it is not a permanent solution. I decided to do whatever it takes to get my life back on track.
My battle with rheumatoid arthritis
I was also advised to relax and not worry about the condition, as it would continue for a long time. I took all the medical advice and decided to battle rheumatoid arthritis, as I desperately wanted my old life back. I decided to take necessary dietary and lifestyle measures that could help me fight this condition and live a normal life.
I remember how much I tried not to pay attention to it, but it still kept coming after me. It was difficult for me to carry on my routine work, as most of my activities involved hands and fingers. Right from making my hair to holding a pen, I suffered from pain and stiffness. And the constant fatigue would make me feel like a log that cannot move. Even a simple trip to the market exhausted me and kept me resting the entire next day. But that’s when I thought that it was enough; I had to do something.
This agony made me find ways to fight rheumatoid arthritis and not just live with it. Being an active sportsperson, I first found out ways to remain active, so as to beat the fatigue that came with RA.
My healthy lifestyle choices
I was really determined so I underwent physical therapy for my treatment, which was followed by therapeutic exercises. I researched and made the following changes in my lifestyle which really helped me a lot:
- Exercises- My exercises were focused on muscle strengthening, improving range of motion and relieving joint pain. In addition to that, I continued with my morning walk, yoga and swimming for overall strength and activity. I was cautioned that no activity can cause joint stiffness but too much activity can cause joint inflammation. So, striking a balance was the key to a healthy life.
- Sleep- The next challenge was fatigue. I planned my routine such that I could get enough sleep. I started going to bed early, giving up on late night gadgets and woke up refreshed. I also started taking short naps in between the day, particularly when my joints felt strained and after strenuous activities.
- Diet- After a lot of research, I realised that refined, junk and processed foods caused more problems, possibly greater chances of inflammation as well. So, I switched to a healthier diet and included green vegetables, raw veggies and fruits in my meals. And of course, I increased my water intake which provided great relief in my pain.
I made a choice of healthy lifestyle to fight rheumatoid arthritis. To keep myself fit I started taking breaks in between my typing work and did not exert too much. I made it a point to move all my joints without keeping them in the same position for long. Exercises are a must every day but when I am not well, I take enough rest.
Mrs. Sharma adds, “Rheumatoid arthritis can be debilitating, only if we allow it to. But if we decide to rise, I am sure we have enough ways out. I just found out my way to fight rheumatoid arthritis, I am sure you can too!’
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