I am a 21 year-old college student-athlete living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. As hard the trials have become being a young adult and athlete being diagnosed with this chronic disease presents, I am learning how to deal with it in the best possible way. Read for yourself.
I was an active and healthy athlete for many years. I participated in competitive soccer since the age of five to nineteen (hopefully be on hitting the turf soon enough), basketball player for eight years, and Varsity-lettered Track & Field athlete (distance runner and javelin thrower). The only injuries that threatened my career where far from serious, the occasional sprained ankle or broken finger. Other than that, nothing was out of the ordinary. My sophomore year in college, during the pre-season of Cross-Country running I noticed a change in my health. I became abnormally fatigue, weight-loss, nauseous and workouts that presented no challenge in the past now left me struggling. One month into the Cross-Country symptoms began to grow worse; with my joints beginning to grow inflamed and excessively bruised. My athletic trainer demanded me to get blood-tests believing it was one of the two; Lyme disease or Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The results indicated Rheumatoid Arthritis. Being my senior year in college, I am still an active member and Captain on the UMass Dartmouth’s Track & Field team. However, I’ve had to make multiple adjustments in my life and training (no longer able to run competitively, with only a main focus in Javelin) not only to partake in my sport but to remain relatively healthy.
ABOUT RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disorder in which ones own body’s immune system mistakenly attacks their body’s tissues and good cells. This noot only affects various joints, but can damage cartilage and organs throughout the body, and cause the start of bone eroding (osteoporosis).
Rheumatoid arthritis affects mostly people who are 20 years of age and above (yup that’s right, this isn’t just an “old person” disease.) Doctors and researchers are still unsure why rheumatoid arthritis happens and all is relatively incurable, however patients diagnosed can go in and out of remission.
Doctors and therapists recommend various treatments that focus on easing the pain of the diseases symptoms. These treatments include medicine, therapy and in some of the more severe cases surgeries are necessary.