What type of chronic illness/autoimmune disease (s) do you live with? I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disc Disease that has resulted in a 3 level lumbar spinal fusion, permanent peripheral nerve damage in leg resulting from a foraminotomy surgery done in 2014.
When was your diagnosis? I broke my back in 2006 after slipping on my basement stairs. I didn’t know that I had degenerative discs until then. I waited until 2007 to get my 2 level spinal fusion because it was hockey season & both my boys were on teams. They were 10 & 8 at the time. I was diagnosed with RA in 2006 approx 6 months after my fusion. And fibro approx 8 months after that. Doctors felt the trauma from the surgery caused my immune system to turn on itself.
How did you cope? medications, injections and lots of ice.
What medications/treatments/surgeries/lifestyle changes have you gone through to manage your disease symptoms? 2 level lumbar spinal fusion in 2007, started RA meds in 2007. 1 level spinal fusion in 2013, bilateral foraminotmy in 2014. I took myself off all RA medications in 2011. The medications were making me sicker than the disease itself. I started researching nutrition and incorporated healthy, anti-inflammatory foods into my diet to put my RA in remission. I an manage my Fibro now with foods as well.
If you could tell yourself one thing looking back on your diagnosis, what would it be? Research and see what “natural” treatments can be done first. Pharmaceuticals are not always the first answer to a disease.
What do you do to relieve stress? Honestly, I watch reality tv LOL I am a sucker for all the “Real Housewives” shows. It takes my mind off my pain when I can just lay on my heating pad and watch mindless tv. 🙂
You really design some great bracelets to raise awareness. How long have you been creating? What inspires you? I started making bracelets when I was recovering from my spinal fusion surgery. I started making “hope” bracelets. After I was diagnosed with RA, there was not much information on the internet about it. And people thought it was just arthritis. I felt a passion to not only raise awareness for RA but for everyone else suffering from other illnesses that had no cure. People inspire me. Words cannot describe the feeling I get when someone sends me a card or an email telling me that my bracelet that I made for them has given them hope. Or made them smile. Or made them feel not so alone. Other people are the true inspirations.
Do you have a saying or quote or song that you turn to when you need to be uplifted?
My husband bought me a sign that is hanging in our bedroom where I can read it every day: “Find a heart that will love you at your worst and arms that will hold you at your weakest.” We got married at 18 and have been married for 26 years. He is my strength and is the only person that knows my pain and struggles. Love him dearly.
What keeps you hopeful? Science. So much is being discovered…new medications, therapies, etc so I am hopeful that a cure will be discovered for all this pain and suffering from our illnesses.
What are some of your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress?
making bracelets!! 🙂 and hugging my dog
What are some of your favorite things? watching hockey, my 170lb English Mastiff named Bauer that lays in bed with me, anything pink, veggie sticks, night time with stars in the sky, coffee
Anything else you’d like to share! I never thought a bracelet could be so powerful to someone. I am grateful that I can create some beautiful designs that make people happy. It makes sitting at my desk with ice packs not even a factor as long as a bracelet touches someones heart!