My Journey with Arthritis: The struggle within

By Yusra Jamal

KARACHI: What happens when you’re a girl in your 20s, full of life, takes care of everyone, can’t sit still, loves to dance and travel, and then finds out one fine day that she has Arthritis? You throw tantrums on your close ones, call your ex in the middle of the night. Yes. That’s exactly what I did.

After my diagnosis, I realized I have two types of people in my life.
Group A: Those who remind me how strong I’ve been throughout my life and encourage me to keep going (blessed to have them)
Group B: Those who tell me that I’m not strong enough and that being depressed about it is too much (Honestly, stop talking)

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A post shared by Chronic Illness Humor (@chronicillnesshumor)

When people ask me how I feel, I’m not sure if they are asking out of concern or out of courtesy. Truth be told, I feel a range of emotions. Scared. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Depressed. Frustrated. Disbelief. Thankful. Not to forget the random episodes of pain and inflammation. And that cracking voice my knee makes (scary as hell).

How am I overcoming it? Well, I’m trying my best to stay positive. I really am. Trying to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t. However, it’s easier said than done. I’m aware of the fact that I should exercise but sometimes all I want to do is sleep. It’s hard to find motivation to move when dealing with pain.

What do you do when you live for Pizza and McDonalds and have a sweet tooth but your doctor tells you no more junk and specially, no more COKE? Unfortunately, sugar is on top of the list of foods that may increase muscle and joint inflammation. Numerous studies suggest that processed sugars release pro-inflammatory substances in the body, causing further inflammation in the joints.

arthritis symptoms

What do you do if you’re someone who can’t swallow pills, but now you have to take them everyday? Yes sir, we chew! And we repeat. In order to reduce pain and inflammation, I have to make sure I’m taking my meds timely but no one told me that I might experience some side effects. Which your girl experienced to the fullest! Had to drink 10 glasses of water in 30 mins because my mouth and throat were dry AF!

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A post shared by Dr. Tristan Ezeoke | Holistic Health and Exercise Specialist (@dr.tristanezeoke)

Now when I think about it, a few months ago, I was bridesmaid for three weddings in a row. I was juggling between my work and all the bridesmaid duties (which meant I hardly got any rest) including shopping for dresses, accompanying the bride to the salon, photoshoots, coordinating with photographers, dance practices (they were so much fun) and even handling the bridezilla moment (I love my girls – don’t kill me when you read this).

Despite the workload, I managed to do everything in an amazing way. However, I did feel some knee pain, which I thought was from exhaustion or dancing too much. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with arthritis that I realized I had been pushing myself too hard. Sometimes, we only realize our true limits when we slow down.

But I’m not complaining. Group A helps me keep going. They literally researched and sent me lists of foods and things I need to incorporate in my new lifestyle. It’s been less than a month to my diagnosis and I’m making sure to improve my health by taking vitamins, changing my diet, my lifestyle.

Trust me, it takes a lot of emotional and mental strength to bring these changes in one’s life but I’m all for it. Vitamins, oils, medicines, knee caps are my new best friends. And most importantly, the mask one has to wear for your loved ones, because you don’t want them to worry. Because you are one strong girl. All my life, I’ve been strong so how can arthritis define me now? I’m struggling but I’ll get there.

arthritis symptoms

Like a dear friend reminded me,
“When there’s no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.”

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