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  • Writer's pictureMegan Perdue

Growing with a New Reality

As a kid growing up, you have all these dreams and aspirations that you hope to come true in the future. There are going to be times in life that make you question if you can make that dream become a reality. In the early months of 2022, I had many moments that scared me for my future. In those early months, I had severe pain in my left wrist, which led me to go to the doctor. After many appointments, I had De Quervain’s tenosynovitis surgery (surgery for the tendons that run alongside the thumb). Just when I thought that would fix all my problems, I noticed that I was unable to bend my wrist joint; I did not know how this would affect my future aspirations of being a nurse. About a month after my wrist surgery, I went to an orthopedic doctor because I started experiencing ankle pain. In August of 2022, I had ankle surgery. That surgery went well until the doctor told my dad there was a ton of inflammation and he suggested I get blood work to see how my inflammation markers were. My parents decided it was important to rush to get the blood work done because a lot of my joints were starting to affect me. After doing the blood work my primary doctor saw that all my inflammatory markers were elevated. The next step was to go see a rheumatologist. Living in Las Vegas, Nevada there are very few rheumatologists which led me to go to the Arizona Mayo Clinic. There were many days when I felt like the world defeated me. Getting out of bed every morning was painful, especially because we weren’t familiar with anyone in my family having a rheumatic disease.

On October 12, 2022, I was diagnosed with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was a relief that I finally got answers on why my body was doing what it was doing. But at the same time, I was terrified because I was experiencing pain and could barely walk. My family was an amazing support group through everything. The rheumatologist immediately got me on Prednisone while I was in Arizona so we could act fast and start treatment. I would go on social media looking for answers and guidance as I was coping. I wasn’t familiar with rheumatoid arthritis and had no idea I could have arthritis at 21.

After finding a few Instagram handles of people who are also dealing with rheumatic diseases, I no longer felt alone throughout my journey. I was able to finally get into a rheumatologist in Las Vegas, Nevada so he was able to prescribe my medications and it was easier because he was in the same state. He put on many medications at once so we could slow down the process. Throughout this time, I was unable to work and go to school. I felt like my 9-5 was going to doctor appointments and doing blood work.

In December of 2022, I was experiencing hip and knee pain. I was unable to reach for my socks or shoes. Sitting down in chairs was difficult and I couldn't lay on my side when I fell asleep. At this time my parents and I decided that the best thing was to go to the doctor and see if more damage is happening in my other joints. I didn't think my disease could affect other joints that fast, especially because I was giving myself injections to prevent further injury.

In December I left that doctor's appointment scared but hopeful knowing I was in good hands. After many cortisone injections and MRIs, it was time to do surgery. On February 13th, 2023, I had a total left hip replacement. I had no idea that just after 4 months of being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis it could progress so quickly to where I needed a total hip replacement. This surgery was scary because the doctor wasn’t just going to fix little things. He was performing a major surgery; my family, friends, and boyfriend were very supportive and helpful through this whole process.

Immediately after surgery on February 13, 2023, I got out of my surgery bed and walked to my recovery room for the first time; I had such a huge relief. I sat down in my recovery room recliner and started crying tears of joy. I was no longer in pain, and it made me gain so much hope for my future of being a nurse. I was getting up so often in the recovery room to go on walks because I felt some type of normalcy. After all, I was no longer in pain. Since then, I've been going to the gym and I'm back at work.

Never take moving your body for granted. Battling all these obstacles has allowed me to gain so much appreciation for moving my body. This is what growing up in a new reality looks like. There's going to be a time in life when there may be a roadblock, but you must find the way out and never give up on what your dreams are; I can now say that I'm in nursing school. One day, I can say I became a nurse even through all these obstacles. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis will make me a better nurse in the future! A good support system and community is important and will help you through all the struggles and it will make you a better person in the future. This new reality makes me stronger and more open-minded, and I will continue to grow and educate myself and others.

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