Interview with a young woman living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Part 2

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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis as a teen

PamelaWhat is it like to have RA as a teenager?

“Having RA and being a teenager is hard. It’s like ‘only older people get this’ and I have it! LOL. But I’m still the Crazy, God-loving, fun Girl even if I do I have this. It’s hard sometimes because people judge you. Like you have to go to college and you have to get a job and you have to do this and that. And I’m like ‘Hello! I have RA, I’m not Super Kid.’

 And RA makes you tired and in pain all the time. Sometimes it’s hard because I want to do so much yet I can’t. This disease may never go away for me.”

I asked Pamela whether she talks to her friends about Rheumatoid Arthritis.

“Not too many people know about it, because they don’t understand. Everybody thinks it’s for old people only. And I have to tell them, but I don’t mind because I want them to know. Sometimes they don’t seem to care till they see how you are when you are in pain. And most of the time they care and want to know more about it. “

Did you know anything about Rheumatoid Arthritis before you were diagnosed?

“Well, no. Just my aunt and I didn’t know that much, But that’s the only time I have heard about it. Well, all I knew (was) it had something to do with your bones… my aunt on my Father’s side got it when she 25. She has it really bad.”

What the world needs to know about Rheumatoid Arthritis

What would you like to tell people about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA is one of things in my life I wish I didn’t have! …Don’t judge people with RA – everyone is going though stuff. And always help them when they ask for help and be patient and CARE!”

What is the best way someone can help you with your RA?

“Just telling me, ‘You will get better’ and just caring. Even understanding a little bit helps.”

The impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis on a young life

How do you think RA has affected your family?

“Well, they have had to do a lot of stuff I can’t do anymore. My Mom is always there for me; she takes me to my appointments and stuff.  My Dad understands what I am going through.  And my brothers make dinner when I can’t or do a lot of stuff for me and they don’t mind. We had season passes to SeaWorld and we had to give it up because I can’t walk far. Our family likes to go to festivals and we don’t anymore. Or I stay home with my mom. It’s stressful with all my medical bills piling up. I feel like I am a burden even though my parents tell me no, I am not. “

Have any of future plans been influenced by RA?

“Oh yes it has! …(I wanted) to be a Chef, but now I’m looking at other things – something that’s not that much toll on my body…Chefs stand up so long and I can’t handle that and college. Well, I’m going soon or when I feel better. I’m so tired of people judging me if you don’t or if I put it off. I feel like when taking time off, I have to have a reason other than ‘I don’t feel good’ or ‘I can’t move today’!! I know some people can be chefs, but for me it’s always my back. Even when I cook for my family, it hurts or is too hard.”

Very wise advice about Rheumatoid Arthritis and life

What have you learned from living with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

“I have learned to have faith in God and my family because you never know how you will feel from one day to the next. And don’t be afraid to ask people for help. That is one thing I don’t like to do. But some days I have to. And always take care of yourself.”

Final observation: A cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis apathy

It is very clear that the impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis on a young life is tremendous. Physically, Pamela has been held back from many things. However, spiritually, she has strength beyond her years. I love the way she balances realism and hopefulness. If everyone listened to her words, the world would be a better place.

Did you miss Part 1 of the interview with Pamela?

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 at 7:15 am and is filed under Other. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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