This blog is to show people what it's really like to live with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 18. When I was diagnosed, I searched the web and found very few accounts showing the difficulties of dealing with this disease at such a young age. On top of this, there were NONE that described the college experience living with RA, which has inpired me to start this! I hope my account can provide hope and support to RA fighters of all ages, and especially to those who have just been diagnosed!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Story

They say you never really understand something until it happens to you. . . In my case, this is fully accurate.

Before 2009, the only knowledge I had of Rheumatoid Arthritis was from the commercials promoting new treatments. I had always disregarded the disease as simply something I would never get. My naive mind saw it as 'plain old arthritis', an issue that only 'old' people dealt with as they grew older. Needless  to say, I was wrong.

Step1: The Beginning 

I first began to notice the symptoms during my junior year of highschool. Being an active swimmer and dancer, this pain was not acceptable. I originally went to my primary physician due to knee pain, and was sent to physical therapy (Which I'm convinced made my joints worse). After three months of no results, the disease had not only gotten worse, it had moved to my fingers and wrists.

Step 2: False Diagnosis and a bad doctors visit

By this point, it was taking me a god awful 45 minutes to get out of bed and moving in order for the morning stiffness to slightly go away. My fingers however, continued to hurt througout the day. Because of the pain, I was unnable to dance and swim certain events. Frustrated from the pain, we decided to return to the doctor. She then falsely diagnosed me with Chondromalacia Patellae, a softening of the cartelige under the knee-cap. She also ordered that we go see an Osteopathic doctor to get my hands checked out.

This was by far my worst experience, considering the osteopathic doctor then suggested that I may have a tumor growing on the inside of my right middle finger bone, and that it may cancerous. We had an x-ray and mri on both hands and knees, the results showed some slight swelling, but no cancerous tumor. It also showed that I did not have Chondromalacia Patellae.

Step 3: The Sports Doctor

By this time, my mom had become extremely irritated at seeing her daughter in pain, and having no answers. So being the awesome strong minded person that she is, she took matters into her own hand. She did the research and soon had me in to see a very highly rated sports doctor. He actually suggested that I go see a different physical therapist, for it may have something to do with the way I walk and my joints. He was the first person to suggest joint damage, which prompted more research from my mother.

Step 4: The Rheumatologist 

After the new physcial therapy treatments proved unsuccessful also, she immediately made an appointment with a rheumatologist (who has seriously saved my life). He looked at my symptoms, joints, and mri's and diagnosed me with what I would call sero negative rheumatoid arthritis. Meaning that I have all the symptoms and signs of RA, but my blood test proved negative for the RA factor. I continued to remain negative unil this past June (2011), when my diagnosis was changed to adult rheumatoid arthritis. \


I have moved away from my rheumatologist, but have continued to see him (Seriously such an amazing doctor. If anyone needs a juvenile rheumatologist in Phoenix, let me know!). I have been on many medications (which I will soon post about!), and have been in remission once, but recent came out of it.

I hope my story can show how hard it is to become diagnosed with this auto-immune disease, and to show you not to give up if you are in the process. It can be treated, and it WILL get better. I will go into detail soon about the medications, and if you have any questions feel free to ask! 


  1. I'm living with RA in college too! I saw your post because I track #RheumatoidArthritis on Tumblr.

    I appreciate that you are writing this blog! So many people don't understand the struggle we have as young people living with this disease, let alone, while still trying to attend college like ever other normal person.

  2. I'm so proud of you, Lauren!
    keep it up, we all love you so much!!!

  3. Hi lauren, I am a middle aged woman mother and grand mother and live in Canada, I was diagnosed with RA at about age 3. I have done extreemly well throughout my life until this last June when I suddenly dropped dead with cardiac arrest. I had no idea as I am sure most people dont know that RA patients have 50% chance of sudden cardiac death due to the disease. I had no idea RA affected your heart and all other arteries. I wanted to tell you and your readers this in order to help keep an eye on your heart throughout your lifetime. I have always kept active, extrememly active despite my arthritis, I have RA bad in all my finger joints, ankles, neck, wrist, feet. I refused to let the disease run my life and never gave in until it stopped my heart unfortunatley I couldn't fight that one.I wish you all the luck and hope for a bright and happy future although you have been delt this disease.Ive had RA for 46 years now,you can live a good life I think you just learn to work around it and dont let the sickness stop you from living your dreams.
    Yours Tracy