Photo testimonial: Maintain hope despite the side effects of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis
Published Mar 19, 2019 • By Louise Bollecker
Maintain hope despite the side effects of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis
Shortly after the birth of my third child, I started to experience joint pain. I was told that this was normal after childbirth, in addition to having three children to manage, a home and a job. After several discussions with my physician and a battery of tests, the diagnosis came: "mam, you have rheumatoid arthritis".
Finally having the diagnosis
I was happy that I could finally put a name to this invisible disease that is not understood by those around me because the pain is not visible. The treatments followed one after another in attempt to reduce the pain.
One day, my rheumatologist prescribed a so-called biological treatment... what a beautiful word to hide the fact that you are injected every month with a molecule used in oncology. This treatment allows you to move a little more, gain some flexibility, and slow down the progress of this disease.
Side effects of biological treatment
But no one warns you of the side effects: hair loss, nausea... Cortisone reduces inflammation and makes pain bearable but it gives you something extra: hello weight gain. It's hard to see your image change, to admit that physically, I'm diminished. It's hard in the morning when your brain says "let's get up" and your body says "uh... no".
I sometimes feel humiliated and so misunderstood by those around me who do not know the pain I am in, which is very much with me day and night.
Maintaining hope despite rheumatoid arthritis
I try to find positives: a day with bearable pain is a day saved. I try not to get discouraged and keep hope that there are better days.
And during those better days, I try to be a normal mother, a mother who is not in pain and who can do activities with her children even though I know that the next day I will be in, and a, real pain.
I enjoy every positive moment and I say to myself every day "Carpe Diem" (which tends to mean "seize the day").
This testimonial is part of the graduation project of Gaëlle Regnier, a student in photography at the Agnès Varda School of Photography and Visual Techniques in Brussels. She chose chronic pain as the theme of this photo report to highlight the patients and their struggle.
Claire: "Continuing to work with rheumatoid arthritis"
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