Living with arthritis- Andie's Story

Today’s story takes us through a day in the life of Andie. Her constant companion, Arthur, a.k.a., rheumatoid arthritis, joined her when she was 9, a tad more than 39 years ago.

At that age Andie knew she was going to be a famous fashion designer, get married at 23, have twins named Lynelle and Janelle and live happily ever after…. She didn’t consider for one minute that her aches and, sometimes excruciating, pains or stiff and swollen joints would stop her living life.

And she still doesn’t, even though her life went in a different direction to the one she had mapped out at 9.

As an adult she’s travelled to 27 countries; moved house 15 times; lived in two Australian states and eight towns and cities; completed an apprenticeship; graduated from university; head banged at two Acca Dacca concerts and hiked in the Blue Mountains.

As a kid living in a country town in far north Queensland, having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or Arthur as one of Andie’s school friends called her chronic illness, was a novelty. Back then not many people had heard of JRA, let alone met a child who had it. They often didn’t understand it and she couldn’t blame them because she looked and acted like there was nothing wrong with her. Except when her joints were so stiff and sore that her mum had to rub her with liniment after a hot shower and dose her up with paracetamol so she could function enough to go to school. Then Andie smelt weird, looked unhappy, and moved stiffly and slowly.

People probably didn’t think she was “normal” then.

But Andie’s view of normal changed when her mum showed her a magazine story about a boy in New South Wales who had JRA like she did. He was in a wheelchair because his arthritis was so bad he couldn’t walk, but he was still getting on with his life and even helping to spread the message that kids get arthritis too.

That’s probably when it dawned on Andie that she had no cause to feel sorry for herself.
She had loving parents who cared for her when she was in pain, encouraged her to be independent and helped her to believe she could achieve anything she wanted.

But still Andie would have loved to talk to somebody like that boy who knew what she was going through, because that’s probably the biggest challenge she’s faced since being diagnosed- the feeling she was different and unusual.

That’s why Andie started her blog, Andie and Arthur.

By sharing her experiences of life with Arthur, Andie hopes other people with RA will know they aren’t alone and believe they, too, can live a happy, fulfilled, and normal life with “their Arthur”.

We would like to thank Andie sincerely for sharing her living with arthritis journey with us. If you have loved hearing about Andie and Arthur as much as we have, visit her blog...