Linda W. Perkins

RA Does Not Have to Define You

Health Central - February 02, 2016

Chapter 1 - Why Now?

When I first heard those words, “You have rheumatoid arthritis,” I felt as if my whole world was ending. Why me? Why now?

I had finally met the man of my dreams, after years of struggling as a single parent, and was loving our active life of outdoors activities on the water and in the woods. We loved to hike and kayak together, taking in the beauty of God’s creation. But within just a few months of our wedding, all that changed.

My RA symptoms had actually begun about a year before I was diagnosed. I was so fatigued that I frequently fell asleep alongside my young daughter when I was putting her to bed. I'd have to take naps to make it through the day. My hands ached and my feet hurt--I couldn’t walk across hardwood floors without wearing slippers.

I spent a long time in denial. My focus was elsewhere. My father was dying of cancer and my wedding was coming up. It was clear, though, that something was wrong. My swollen joints made it difficult to put on my wedding ring. The fatigue began to interfere with my work and other activities. The pain became excruciating, frequently waking me up at night.

When I was finally diagnosed, I sat in the doctor’s office with my husband, Ben, and cried. My greatest fear, with the RA diagnosis, was that all of the dreams of our new life together had just died.

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RA Does Not Have to Define You