My Story: Living My Best Life as a Woman of Color with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Afshin, a rheumatoid arthritis patient, is living her best life despite the complications of her health management.

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[LIGHTHEARTED MUSIC] I think for my future, I want to be able to hike and backpack for several days at a time.
I would like to just take my cat and my dog and be a little hiking team and take on a lot of trails
this upcoming year.
I've had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 14 years old. I think being a person of color, the disease just
presents differently on you. It definitely leaves a lot of room for misdiagnosing.
For me, stress is a huge part of why RA flares happen. So this year, I think I can count
how many flares I've had on one hand because I've taken myself out of a lot of the stressful areas
that I was finding myself in last year. I feel like finding a health care provider who understands your need is finding water when you're in a desert.
I found mine pretty quickly. But due to unfortunate insurance changes, I had to explain all of my illnesses to a new team
of doctors, which was really difficult. They asked me to induce a flare, which was just super stressful
for me to go through. It is so important to take your medications as prescribed. And that's what my doctor had to explain,
that you have to do these things as I tell you because these things can get really bad for you.
And that's when you have to be sure to take the guidance of your doctor. I use a lot of cold therapy.
I use a lot of ice baths in the morning to relieve joint pain and pressure from my hands.
I also use a lot of topical creams. Otherwise, I don't think I would be able to function without them.
I used to be a power lifter, so exercise has always been a big part of my life. I currently do hiking.
I do brisk walks. And I make sure to get some sort of movement in even if I'm having a bad day, even
if that means stretching and just walking around my home and having my dog there to support me if I need it.
So Sammy provides a lot of deep pressure therapy for me when I'm in my flares. She provides a lot of comfort to turn to.
She can finally start training to be my mobility aid, and I'm just really looking forward to seeing how she grows along with me.
For others with rheumatoid arthritis, I would definitely say that once you find the right cocktail of treatment, it does get easier.
I've never felt better. [LIGHTHEARTED MUSIC]

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