Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 25, Fighting Pain Like a Warrior

By Shrutika Snehanath, 25, Mumbai

I was an extremely active young girl who wanted to try out all the extracurricular activities I could. Growing up in Muscat, Oman, I would enroll myself for athletics, Bharatanatyam, karate, kabadi, badminton, tennis, swimming and much more, with my parents’ encouragement.

We shifted to Mumbai when I was 13, where my parents now both work in the family automobile business. One day in college, I woke up to a swelling in my right wrist that led to excruciating pain. Deeming this to be a result of an awkward sleeping position, I neglected it, and it became worse.

What followed was a series of visits to the doctor and, three years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – an auto-immune disease in which the immune system begins attacking your own joints. The crippling pains across joints in my body began slowing me down emotionally and physically.

Most people think of RA as something that only strikes people in mid-to-late life, but it does, in rare cases, afflict people who are in their 20s. No one in my family has RA, though my grandfather and aunt have other kinds of auto-immune disorders like psoriasis and alopecia.

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I can no longer play sports with the same strength and vigour. I get exhausted faster. But I do not limit myself to being inside a room. Be it a plaster on my hand or the inability to turn a door knob, I still went ahead and completed my Bachelor’s in mass media and post-graduation in media and research. I now work in the field of public relations.

From what I’ve read, there isn’t a confirmed cure for RA yet. However, a number of us are on a variety of medications that lessen the pain and help us cope with day-to-day living. I am currently on homeopathy medicines and it is doing very well for me.

RA fails to deter my spirit to do the things I love. It has, instead, won me the support of a lifetime from family, friends and colleagues who see beyond my daily struggle on the outside, while being a warrior on the inside. As much as pills and ointments come to the rescue, hope and belief will be my medication to success.

First published in the November 2017 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here. Or buy the print edition.