The person behind Arthritis Chick and Team Arthritis………
My name is Suzanne and I am a 45 year old supermom. I proudly call myself a supermom because, well, I am. I have 3 kids ranging in ages from 13 to 19 who keep me running mostly from Cheerleading now, but a short bit ago I was juggling soccer practices as well. For some this seems quite the norm – sprinkle in working full time and going to school on top of having an Autoimmune Disease and hence the title Super Mom comes into the picture.
I haven’t always been a Super Mom. Back before I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was always juggling more on my plate then I knew what was good for me. About 7+ years ago while my husband was deployed to Iraq I started having some strange symptoms that I couldn’t make sense of. After a few tips to my primary care and some specialists I was no closer to any type of diagnosis. I was basically told to go home and be a mom and just deal with these symptoms and enjoy life. So I did just that. What choice to do I have, right?
It wasn’t until I started working for a Rheumatologist did I start seeing my crazy symptoms weren’t really all that crazy after all. I mentioned them to my doctor and suggested that we do some lab work and go from there. I was very surprised when my labs came back and he told me that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was both relieved and frustrated at the same time. It took me so many years of feeling like I was crazy because I knew that something wasn’t right with my body but the doctors I saw said otherwise. No one should ever have to feel like that!
While working for this Rheumatologist I learned everything I could about all the different medications, treatment options etc that go along with all the different types of arthritis. I met countless patients who shared similar stories like mine and even on some occasions, stories that were worse. I watched patients who were denied life changing medications because their insurance company deemed it unnecessary, too expensive, or requiring less effective and sometimes cheaper medications needed to be tried first.
In a nut shell, that is how life has brought me here. I feel like I have so much to give back to the RA and Autoimmune Disease community. I have learned so much over the years, especially when it comes to navigating around insurance companies and their BS! So how did I get the name Team Arthritis? It all started a few years back when I was spending Thanksgiving with some friends and their families in Georgia. We were all playing football on Thanksgiving Day – mostly the kids against the adults. Of course the kids were winning. Since our team was made up of some over 40 and more adults I made the joke that our team name was “Team Arthritis”. Well our team banded together and worked hard and we beat the kids. That is what I feel like we should do. Let’s band together, work together, help one another, encourage each other – what ever we need to do “TOGETHER” to beat this!!! RA doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It doesn’t have to be the way we define each other. It doesn’t have to be a crutch. It doesn’t have to be what we see when we look in the mirror. I refuse to let RA define me and I hope that you too will see that about yourself! Life is short – and its not a guarantee – and I plan on living out the rest of my days on this earth trying my best to not let RA dictate what I can and can’t do!
I invite you to share in this journey with me. Connect with me. Share your stories. I believe there is strength in numbers. If we can all join together – lets fight this together!!!!