My Story: Lana Barhum

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I started experiencing unexplained, on and off the joint pain that would stick around for a few days and then dissipate when I was in my early twenties.

The pain always came back.

Back in those days, I was in great shape and worked out several days a week.

My doctor insisted I was overdoing things and recommended rest and pain relief for my symptoms. At one point, my doctor started treating my pain and fatigue as psychosomatic rather than real.

That began a journey of nearly ten years looking for answers and finding a lot of disbelief along the way. In 2008, when I was 32 years old with a newborn and a nine-year-old, I awoke to all over body pain and the inability to walk or use my hands.

That was the day my life changed, and shortly after, I was formally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

It took time, patience and a whole of lot anger, sadness and pain to find a treatment plan that allowed me to go back to a somewhat normal life.

I have made a lot of lifestyle changes so I can continue to work full-time and care for my children. A big one has been stress reduction, including finding a job where stress isn’t the norm.

I watch my diet and keep moving because I want to make sure I win the daily battle that RA imposes on me.

Who has been there for you? How?

I have made many new friends since I was diagnosed, many who understand my struggles with RA and who have been there and got it.

I have not had a lot of support from my family, but I have blessed to have great friends who have made this journey so much easier. They listen, help out when I have bad days, and make me laugh when it feels like I have nothing left in me.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

RA may have closed some doors for me, but it has also opened ones that I never imagined.

Nine years ago, I didn’t see myself advocating for and writing about chronic illness and helping others.

While I am proud these accomplishments, I am most proud of the fact that as a single mother with chronic illness, I continue to prevail and set examples for my children that they can take with them into adulthood.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

RA may have closed some doors for me, but it has also opened ones that I never imagined.

Nine years ago, I didn’t see myself advocating for and writing about chronic illness and helping others.

While I am proud these accomplishments, I am most proud of the fact that as a single mother with chronic illness, I continue to prevail and set examples for my children that they can take with them into adulthood.

I continue to prevail.

I continue to prevail.

What's your advice to someone else living with RA?

Nine years ago, I was afraid of what having RA meant and sometimes, I am still afraid. But I refuse to let RA steal my dreams, dominate my life or let me miss out and you shouldn’t either.

You have got to keep going, dreaming and fighting for the life you want because you are worth it and you deserve to live your best life.

I refuse to let RA steal my dreams.

Is there anything else we should know?

I also suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia shortly after my RA diagnosis.

I have struggled with depression most my adult life and have had several major depressive episodes throughout my adult life.

I have been blessed with an ability to prevail despite the fact that all the hardships life has thrown my way. I share my story because I believe that my experience can help others and allow them to see that even in the worst storms, the rain does run out.

About Lana Barhum

My Story: Lana Barhum
You can visit my website and blog here for more on my experience with RA, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and chronic illness overall and articles I have written.

Read Lana's Articles on NewLifeOutlook

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