When were you first diagnosed with RA ?
I started getting sick when I was 4 and my parents did not know what was wrong with me. I gradually became worse as I got older and by the time I was 7, my condition was still worsening. They took me to the doctor, who then referred me to Great Ormand Street. Within a short amount of time they diagnosed me with STILL’S Juvenal Arthritis. At such a young age I did not know much about it and for me, it was nothing to worry about as a 7 year old.
Have you ever been bullied for having RA?
Growing up, in school especially, for me was very difficult, not just because I was in pain but I was also bullied. They used to call me ‘Tank’ because some days I attended school in a wheelchair. The effects of being in a wheelchair a lot of the time also caused me to be a little overweight, which in itself made me even more of a target for bullies. As I moved through school into college, life became a lot easier for me in terms of people judging and taking the Mickey, as I had formed good friendships.
How does your RA affect your day to day life?
For me, day-to-day life is a struggle. I wake in chronic pain, with stiffness and I feel tired almost every morning. I struggle to get dressed some days and don’t have anyone to help. It is a constant battle to stay on top of everything, when just walking around causes me so much pain. I struggle with housework and keeping the house clean and I am unable to work due to the limiting affects of my RA. Other side affects of living with RA include that it causes me to suffer from depression and constant headaches, due to lack of sleep caused by pain.
Has having RA stopped you from doing anything?
Having RA stops me from doing anything a fully fit human can do. Just being able to run, jog or even dance for long periods of time. Having RA limits your life choices. I try not to dwell on such things as it can upset me, I can’t change anything, so thinking about it is no good.
What does the word disabled mean to you?
Society looks upon disabled people as second class citizens who are lazy or trying to clam benefits. For me, the word disabled means being unable to do things able-bodied people can. I don’t like to put a label on myself but society has done that for me.
6.What are the things in your life you feel are achievements?
I am struggling to answer this question due to the pain I am currently in. With all this pain, my mind blanks out sometimes and I honestly can’t think of anything. The only thing I can think to say is my children.