My Story: Audi

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

My bones have always been an issue for me, but being as busy as I was, I didn't pay much attention. I just kept going; in pain or not.

Facebook has been a good timeline, and I'm shocked to see statuses from 2011 that say how much my legs and hips would hurt.

In 2012 I noticed how bad I was getting. Getting up from a seated position to greet students at work became super hard to do. I steadily got worse. I couldn't carry my grandson up the stairs anymore. Then taking the stairs got hard all together. The pain was very consistent at that point and has been since the end of 2013.

The doctors at first said it was my psoas and gave me muscle relaxers. Then they said I had osteoarthritis with a fracture in my L5. I was ordered physical therapy in 2015, but I couldn't do it.

I finally saw a rheumatologist at the end of 2015 and started taking Plaquenil. My swelling stopped with the Plaquenil. My ankles, hands, and knees looked healthy again.

The doctor was trying to pinpoint what I had. Lupus? Rheumatoid Arthritis? RA and spondylitis were the culprits at the present time.

I take Plaquenil daily, Methotrexate once a week, metformin (PCOS), and Orencia Infusions once a month.

The pain is still consistent, but I'm better than I was. Movement is a little smoother now.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I was unstoppable before! I was always going a mile a minute! I was a single mother of two, going to school, working full time! Then I met my husband and we had two more children!

My house was packed and was always full of energy, laughter, music, and love! When I got to the point where movement became nearly impossible, I just stopped. I stopped everything.

I was a vocalist recording my third album. I was a grandmother that loved playing with her grandson. I was a mother that loved to hang out with her kids. I was a wife that loved dates and dancing. All of that just stopped.

My family didn't know what to make of it, and I didn't know what to think either. Was I dying? Would I ever be able to walk normally again? Would this pain ever stop?

I became introverted and isolated myself in my beautiful, dark home and submerged myself into movies and great food! I gained a lot of weight in those beginning years. I weighed more than I did full term with any of my children. I have since lost some of the weight, but that fluctuates.

I have to force myself to have "normal" conversations because it seems like all I want to do is get someone or anyone to understand what I'm going through and to those that don't get it, are just probably thinking I'm complaining.

I've had to come to terms with what I can and can't do. Overdoing it only makes things worse. I just consciously do my best not to be so down or negative! I have a lot of "positives" in my life! I'm blessed beyond measure with so many things, and I now place my focus on that.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

That I didn't give up and I didn't give in! Yes, late at night when every part of my body that I try to lay on hurts, and all I'm trying to do is to get some rest, I still get mad and upset, but I'm still here! I'm still trying! I'm still going!

Now that I know what I'm dealing with, I can decide for myself what I do and don't do. I still have plenty of dreams and aspirations. I'll find the right people and the right team to help me get there! I already have the best family in the world. So I'm already a winner!

What accomplishment are you proud of?

That I didn't give up and I didn't give in! Yes, late at night when every part of my body that I try to lay on hurts, and all I'm trying to do is to get some rest, I still get mad and upset, but I'm still here! I'm still trying! I'm still going!

Now that I know what I'm dealing with, I can decide for myself what I do and don't do. I still have plenty of dreams and aspirations. I'll find the right people and the right team to help me get there! I already have the best family in the world. So I'm already a winner!

I'm still going!

I'm still going!

Who has been there for you? How?

My family and my kids. They saw a warrior break down and crumble before their very eyes. Today, they all accept my limitations and continue to be encouraging in everything I still aspire to do.

Although they can't really "fathom" what I experience, I see their heartbreak when I cry out in pain. So I know, that they know, I'm in pain. On those days, my son will take me out to eat, my daughter makes food at the house, or we'll all pick a movie, and my husband goes to buy the snacks!

When I am having a good day though the music gets turned up loud again, and the resemblance of our old lives creeps up, and we're all grateful to be at that moment.

Slow down! You're going to have to embrace this new life if you're ever going to make sense of it.

What's your advice to someone else living with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Slow down! You're going to have to stop with your old life. You're going to have to embrace this new one if you're ever going to make sense of it and figure out how to incorporate your new self (limitations and all) into the future that you still dream of.

You'll only get out of life what you settle for, and I'm refusing to settle! I don't think anyone should! Especially those who live with chronic pain. If the medication you're on doesn't work, say so. Don't be afraid to try something new.

I know it's scary but reach out to fellow autoimmune warriors and get all the information you can.

Is there anything else we should know?

My life has been like reading different chapters and different novels. I've been spoiled, abused, beaten, shattered, spit upon, kicked, and thrown away.

But I had my babies looking up at me seeing no wrong, and with their eyes filled with nothing but love! They had no cause to suffer or hurt, so I protected and guarded them.

I just kept moving forward no matter what! I always fought for every inch for every penny! This is part of my life; it's just another chapter. I have so much more to offer and things I need to accomplish. I'm keeping my fork still because I know the best is yet to come.

About Audi

My Story: Audi

I do have a Facebook page and website. However, that wasn't my intention when I responded to this. You can search Facebook for "Audi Castillon" and find me there! Because of my daddy, Elias Castillon Sr., music was and is one of my greatest passions.

Check Out Audi's Facebook Page Here

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