Louis, 31, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2017. She shares how the condition has affected her day-to-day life, including difficulty with certain activities and the need for extra help with household chores. Louis also discusses some of the challenges she has faced as a result of her condition, including the impact on her career and the decision to start a family.
Hi, my name is Louis and I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2017 when I was 31. I experienced joint pain, swelling in my left wrist and right elbow, and limited range of motion in the affected areas. As a result, I found it difficult to perform daily activities that required wrist strength, such as opening cap bottles and holding heavy items with my left hand. It also took me longer to complete household chores like changing bedsheets and buying bulky groceries, so I often had to ask my husband for help.
My condition has affected my life in many ways and posed several challenges. One of the biggest challenges I face is with my career. Being in a higher position means dedicating more time to work, which comes with more stress. Taking time off for medical appointments can also be challenging, and I worry that it will create more stress for me. I am currently working an office job that deals with lots of paperwork.
I realized that it would be more difficult to climb the career ladder because I would require some accommodations. An important consideration for me was an employer that provided insurance that would allow me to claim medical expenses.
I tried to change jobs last year within the same industry, but when I declared my health condition during interviews, it became apparent that they did not understand what my condition is. They asked me how my condition would affect my work, and I explained that I can't do certain things such as carrying heavy items or taking time off to attend appointments. This was not taken positively, and I felt like they did not want to hire me because of my condition.
Another challenge is that I stopped taking methotrexate in late 2021 to start planning for a family, which caused a huge flare in my symptoms. As a result, I am still trying to keep my condition under control. Parenthood may not be easy, so I have some second thoughts about it, but I am willing to try and see how things turn out.
My disease has also affected my decision-making. I have learned to take things slow and not stress myself out. When I bought and designed my new home, I opted for lightweight dinnerware, door handles instead of door knobs, and an adjustable automatic laundry rack that does not require climbing up and down. These decisions have made my life easier and less stressful.
Through this experience, I have realized the importance of seeking support from friends, family, and the online community. Talking to others with autoimmune conditions has helped me feel less alone. When I was first diagnosed, I felt angry and wondered why this happened to me. However, now I try to look at things positively and focus on what I can do instead of what I cannot.
Living with an autoimmune condition has taught me to slow down and appreciate the small things in life. As a quote I once saw online says, "You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."