“I can’t walk,” I struggled to say, lying on an exam room table at USC’s health center six years ago as two doctors stood over me. My hip felt like someone had poured gasoline on it and laughed as they lit the match.
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” the doctor said after he completed with the exam. “Try a heating pad and some pain pills.”
The medical staff called a car to take me back to my dorm, and I hobbled to the elevator, trying not to cry as I struggled to get back to my bed. Something was wrong with me — this kind of pain wasn’t normal. I didn’t need a medical degree to know that.
But I wouldn’t find out the cause until this past January. In the past 6-7 years, I’ve had joint pain that blasts out of nowhere, lighting different joints on fire one day to the point where I couldn’t move — or do anything other than pray that the heaviest pain pill dose I could concoct would actually work — and then it would just disappear the next.
For the past two years, it started to get a lot harder to type or bear any weight on my wrists. This coincided with getting my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. In my yoga training, I almost completely lost my ability to do planks and other basic moves that were integral to the core yoga sequences. I had to get super crafty, and with the support of my teachers and fellow classmates, I redesigned entire sequences to be done on forearms instead (helloooo the challenge that is forearm crow!) so that I could teach yoga classes in the community. On my worst days, I struggled with the pain I was experiencing in a practice that was meant to be calming and restorative.
Then, 2020 came around, and things got a lot worse. Not only was I experiencing pain, but my joints started to swell as the fluid in my fingers and then my toes broke down and became something I couldn’t ignore.
In January of 2021, I got to the doctor’s office and after a set of blood tests, my official diagnosis came in: I had the autoimmune disease known as rheumatoid arthritis.[Read more…]