Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Life With...Rheumatoid Arthritis

Welcome to "Life with...", the first post in what will hopefully be a monthly series of interviews with young people living with a chronic illness, waiting to receive an organ transplant, or currently living with an organ transplant.  So, without anymore rambling from me, meet Julia! 
Julia Parrish, blogger at These Awkward and Arthritic Adventures
In one sentence, who are you?
I'm Julia; an awkward nineteen year old with rheumatoid arthritis who is a lover of books, baby animals, and birthday cake ice cream.

What are you passionate about?
The main thing I'm passionate about is awareness for rheumatoid arthritis, which branched into a passion for others with disabilities and illnesses. It makes me super happy to interact with others at summer camps, and nursing homes, because there is something truly amazing to see the joyfulness in someone when their lives are less-than ideal. 

Tell the readers a little about your disease/ailment/illness/syndrome/health annoyance, and what it was like when you were first diagnosed.
Currently, my primary diagnosis is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and it certainly is a health annoyance. It's an autoimmune disease which affects the joints and immune system as a whole, which means I do a lot of hobbling around and being sick.  When I'd first been diagnosed about six years ago, the concept of juvenile arthritis had been something I was completely unaware of, like plenty of people I'd been under the impression that 'only old people got arthritis,' so it was a bit scary. Since then, I've grown to understand and take charge of my illness a bit more, and realize that arthritis doesn't have me.

People with a chronic illness face a lot of challenges (A LOT)!  What’s a big challenge that you’ve faced so far in your journey and how have you dealt with it?'
To be honest, it's a bit devastating as nineteen year old that pretends they're adult enough to know everything, to put aside that prideful attitude to ask for help. It's a challenge to say "Hey, I know I'm going to a party with my friends, but can you brush my hair for me because I can't reach?" It's easier to deal with it now that I just try to be my same sarcastic self and see the humor in the situations I face. 

Who or what helps you make decisions about your health?
Definitely my parents. Even though I'm the type of person to Google every symptom, medicine, and treatment myself (and get terrified on WebMD), my mom takes me to the doctor and asks questions to decide what's right for me. They've always treated me like an adult about my health choices, but they also always know what's best for me.
I have a ton of funny and memorable hospital stories.  Can you share one of yours?
One memory that comes to mind was during a jaw joint injection procedure, in which my anesthesiologist was this hilarious and great guy, that just decided to be our best friends that morning. He'd been so ridiculously excited for us to try this restaurant that he had gone and printed off the menu to have us look. It was definitely memorable, and funny to us because we just looked at each other and were all like "alright then." 

What advice do you have for other people, young or old, who are living with arthritis?
Just laugh about it. If you take things too seriously, you'll just be a grumpy person with bad joints, which is never a good mixture. There's too much to be thankful for and find humorous in life to sit around sulking about all that's bad in your life.

And finally, what brings you joy?
Funny cat videos on the internet, bad puns, getting the last slice of pizza, and knowing that I have ridiculously amazing people in my life.  

Go read Julia's blog, "These Awkward and Arthritic Adventures" 
and leave a nice comment for her!

If you are living with chronic illness, waiting on a transplant, or have received a transplant, get at me and you could have your face on my blog next month!