Five years ago, Jessica went to her doctor to ask about prescription antidepressants. “I couldn’t understand why I was exhausted all the time and why getting out of bed was so difficult.” A health history and exam revealed that she wasn’t depressed; she had rheumatoid arthritis (RA). “At first, I struggled with the diagnosis. I’ve always been super active – I love to play tennis and hike, and I have children. RA had seriously damaged my hands, too, and I write for a living.”
For Jessica, reclaiming her life was not about positive thinking, “It was about good medicine and good therapies [including acupuncture],” she says. “Anyone who tells you living well with RA is all about your attitude is delusional or a liar,” she says. “Sometimes I get really irritated that I have this disease. That doesn’t make me sicker – it makes me human.”
Sticking to her treatment plan has minimized the severity of her RA. “For me, biologics have been crucial. They helped get rid of the fatigue, which allowed me to regain my stamina and get back to my life,” says Jessica. “I see my rheumatologist regularly and I’m totally honest with him; I don’t pretend my pain is a 2 on a 1 to 10 level if it’s really a 6.”
In fact, early intervention and aggressive treatment were so effective that she’s able now to do most of the things she loves, including exercising and continuing her writing career.
“Are there some things I can’t do? Yes. I’d like to run 5 miles instead of 3, but I know it’ll hurt me,” she says. “Sometimes that bugs me. But I stick with my plan and deal with it, because I’m so happy my body works again.”