I work in an ophthalmology practice, and a large portion of our patients are geriatrics; especially when you work with a cataract or glaucoma specialist like I do. It's hard to walk them back, often slowly, almost hearing their joints creaking. You hate yourself for your frustration at their slowness, knowing that every second puts you farther behind. The medicine lists they give you to enter are a page long, and seem to be one medicine treating the side effects of another treating the side effects of another and so on and so forth.
It can be scary for those of us who share the degenerative diseases that plague them. It feels like looking into the future: watching them try to hold an occluder over one eye, barely able to grasp their own glasses and slide them off.
That's an extreme case, of course, and I see plenty of patients who live fairly normal lives with the same problems and medications I have, but it's the gnarled fingers and hunched backs that stick out in your mind as a stark reminder of why we endure the sometimes painful and uncomfortable treatments that make up our lives.
My name is Kathleen, I am 28 years old and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. The disease has taken a lot away from me, but I hope that I am making progress towards gaining it all back. This is my life with it, all the little things that come up, the accomplishments, the set backs, the little joys I might not appreciate if I didn't know how much worse things could be from personal experience. Maybe you can relate- I hope that you will share. Because I don't just want this to be where I share my story, I want it to be where we share all of our stories- to comfort the new patients, to encourage the old patients, to be a community of life.
I am the face of arthritis.