I was first officially diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in 2014. But I first realized symptoms in 2009. I noticed at work my fingers were hurting quite a bit and I thought it very strange. However being so young I figured it was just regular aches and pains possibly from the accident or even work.
I worked at Tim Hortons at the time and constantly was pushing the button for sugar and cream and brushed it off as being that. I found the pain came and went so after awhile it was gone mostly and I thought , AHA! It was just from working too hard. The years went on and it seemed the pain was constantly coming and going.
I was very terrible with my health back then, being so young I was the type to ignore things concerning my health and hated visiting the doctor. Now there finally came a time I noticed pains in my elbows; I thought this very odd because now I had pains in my fingers and elbows. I finally couldn’t stand the pain anymore and decided to see my family doctor. he prescribed pain medications and suggested I rest thinking it was probably from me overworking myself. At the time I was working over 40 hours a week and figured he was right.
As the years went by and I started college, it seemed the pains were getting worse and worse. Especially in the morning I found my fingers were hard to straighten out and very very painful!
I finally decided to go back to the doctor again. At this point I actually began to worry and wonder what on earth was happening to me? My doctor seemed concerned now too, he wasn’t at all sure of what was happening to me. I think because I was so young in my early 20’s he hadn’t considered arthritis for me at this point. He was searching for other explanations. He sent me for some blood work and tests to be done to see if we could get to the bottom of it.
One day I got the call, the doctor wanted me to come in to talk about my results. I remember being so nervous. My mind was going to the worst case scenarios of sheer paranoia. Did I have cancer? Are they going to have to cut my fingers off? My arm? Haha My mind was in a total panic and was going to the absolute worst places your mind can take you when nervous.
I sat down with him and he informed me that it looked like I had a juvenile case of arthritis and that he was going to be setting me up to see a specialist in Vancouver. I remember feeling absolutely devastated but hopeful all at once. Maybe this specialist could cure me and I could continue living my regular life? This had to just be a blip. I’ll take some medications and I will be better in no time of course? Or will things get worse? Is there even a cure for arthritis? All of these things raced through my mind.
Turns out I couldn’t get a appointment with the specialist for another 6 months. So I had to wait and worry what would happen next, I had no clue. In that time I researched a bit on arthritis that some people were able to cure their symptoms with therapy if they were diagnosed early on. But for me it had been years and years and I feared there was no hope for me. I would have to live with pain forever. Those months were quite depressing. But more sadness and pain was to come unbeknownst to me…