I am Sara Nash. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I live in New York City and I am a senior producer at a nonprofit contemporary dance center.
I was diagnosed about a year-and-a-half ago. I was just about to turn 29. I just moved into this apartment by myself for the first time.
And I've just been promoted so things were going really, really well. I was thinking like my 29th year was going to be great.
And I woke up one morning and I couldn't move my left wrist. I was just feeling just crazy sense of inflammation, and I couldn't even stretch my fingers out all the way.
I just couldn't move it all without shocking pain. And then the next morning after that I woke up my left wrist was fine but my right wrist with the same thing.
I went to my doctor and he did some tests for a whole bunch of stuff, all of which sounded really serious and kind of scary.
He tested me for lupus and for rheumatoid arthritis and Lyme disease.
So of course the first thing that I did after I went and had those taken, I was back at my office, and of course I Googled all of them.
And so I was familiar with sort of basic symptoms of, you might have RAF,
and I got a voicemail and it was my doctor telling me that I had tested strongly positive for rheumatoid arthritis.
There was a weird unexpected sense of relief that finally knowing actually what was wrong with me because at that point in time it was really clear that something was not right,
and I looked fine. I looked completely normal to everybody else, but I knew that, like, this is not how a 29-year-old body should be feeling.
I was still going to work and still trying to be like a normal person living in New York City, but I'm spending tons of time at the hospital and all these doctor's appointments.
Every single day I was getting worse and worse and worse.
So it was really pretty physically dramatic.
So having an illness that is largely invisible to other people pretty much sucks.
There is nothing about my physical appearance that's really going to give anything away.
On the other hand, everything hurts, pushing doors open was really difficult for me, and when you are in New York City people are expecting you to go, go, go. ...
and they're not looking at me and thinking that I am going to have a hard time pushing the door open, but I couldn't stretch my arms out.
You know, the pain is something that people talk about with RA a lot, but one of the things that remains for me that I have to deal with all the time is the fatigue.
Because there are good days, there are bad days, and I can just turn on a dime.
I can be feeling absolutely fine, and then it's like somebody just flips a switch and all of a sudden I just feel awful in a way that's hard to describe.
And so you just start running this constant calculation of what everything is going to cost you energy-wise.
It's not easy to fit RA into my life, but you don't really have a choice so you kind of start to figure it out.
For my self separating, all right, what is me and what is me with RA.
And that comes out in a lot of different ways, I mean in just how you talk about how you have the disease and who you choose to share it with
and who you don't choose to share it with. It's not something when I am hanging out with my friends.
Yeah! If I am having a bad day or if they ask me about it or if there is something I just really feel I need to talk about, then I bring it out.
But for the most part I don't want to go out and just talk about how bad my joints feel or something. That's not really entertaining.
So I tried to go through my day as much as possible, not thinking about the fact that I have RA.
But at the same time you have to acknowledge the fact that your life is different and that you do have different considerations now than you did before.
It's always there, but it doesn't have to be the first thing that people see or know about me.