Most people take a few days off work when they have the flu or leave the office a little early when they have a headache or their back hurts. But what happens when that flu-like feeling never goes away — and is accompanied by a lot more symptoms that also never go away?
I first started to feel the effects of rheumatoid arthritis in my mid-twenties. I figured the pain and fatigue were from not exercising or eating healthy enough. Back then, I felt naively invincible. I always had an answer, an excuse, a justification for my pain.
My job as an esthetician was very physical in nature, so it was easy to blame my pain on that. During a typical work day, you’d find me hunched over doing pedicures and other repetitive tasks like deep tissue massage. I was getting used to these “repetitive injuries” that went away but then came back again. Eventually got tired of being told the pain that wouldn’t go away was just a repetitive injury.
This led to my being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 29. I would quickly learn that the pain I was experiencing was actually from unchecked inflammation in my joints running rampant and causing irreversible damage.