My Story: Sally

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

Four years ago in late summer, I started to experience whole body pain and fatigue. I was preparing to begin my 22nd year of teaching. I typically become stressed out about starting a new school year around the beginning of August.

Once school began, I felt like my entire body was falling apart! I had severe pain in my entire body along with some odd lumps on my lower legs. I finally went to my primary care physician, and he prescribed a course of prednisone, blood work and a referral to a rheumatologist.

The rheumatologist confirmed RA, and I began another course of Prednizone. Initially this helped, but of course, I could not remain on prednisone for a long time.

I then began a small dose of methotrexate that was later increased. At the moment I am doing ok, but had a horrible case of shingles last December. Still have post-herpetic neuropathy ten months later. My pain level from RA has been reduced to probably a four instead of a nine.

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband has joined me on the gluten-free diet. He is always encouraging me to go for hikes, bike rides and also loves to swim!

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I have been gluten-free since last April. This was tough at first, but I feel better. I’m not as depressed either. I continue to work full-time but find time to walk, ride my bike and swim. I also have been alcohol-free for two months and even feel better from that change!

The rheumatologist confirmed RA, and I began another course of Prednizone. Initially this helped, but of course, I could not remain on prednisone for a long time.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I am proud that I can continue to work as a teacher and on the weekends play piano for our church.

I am proud that I can continue to work as a teacher and on the weekends play piano for our church.

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

My advice to someone else with RA would be to continue with exercise, be honest about symptoms with your rheumatologist, and to try a gluten-free diet.

I do try to limit my stress and to seek life-giving activities with other people. I have changed my mindset and make a daily decision to stay away from negativity at work. My playing and teaching piano, and working with children at school bring me joy!

Be honest about symptoms with your rheumatologist.

Is there anything else we should know?

My mother suffered from multiple sclerosis for at least 40 years, and I have wondered if I inherited genes from her that could have pre-disposed me to RA.

About Sally

My Story: Sally

I am 58 years old. I have been a teacher of gifted education for the past 16 years. I have three children, 23-year-old boy/girl twins as well as another son who is 22 (yes it was like raising triplets!)

I have been happily married for 29 years. I stayed home as a full-time Mom for seven years. I returned to teaching when my youngest son entered first grade.

I am very active with my church and with extra-curricular activities for my school such as Quiz Team coach, creative writing coach, and accompanist for HS musicals and talent shows. I was raised in a military family. The US Army stationed in Belgium.

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