My name is Collette, I’m a 23-year-old Yorkshire lass, I go to shorthand classes every morning at 8am as part of getting qualified to live My Dream, and I spend most of my time laughing far too loudly at my own jokes. I have systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
I don’t exactly fit in with the image you might have of an arthritic, even less so when you know that I was diagnosed at three years old. But here I am, writing about living with arthritis – largely because I think it’s a rather nice and therapeutic way of dealing with all my feelings about it, and because I have read other people’s blogs about living with the condition and it’s great to know you’re not alone.
I cannot lie and say that JIA is not a massive part of my life; in fact when I think about how and why I make decisions on a daily basis it is nearly always a factor. It’s definitely taking up a lot more of my time now I write about it – and now I am old enough and wise enough to deal with my responsibilities.
But that’s not to say it’s my whole life; more an inconvenient aspect that I have to deal with some of the time.
There’s not more to me than meets the eye or anything, I’m just a normal person. I love Doctor Who, murder mysteries, and novels about horribly violent crimes. I am a feminist. I’m one of those people who correct the grammar of others. My favourite singer is Kylie Minogue and I’ve been on stage with Derren Brown.
I did the Race for Life once and then decided never to do a sponsored physical activity again as long as I live. I like pretentious teas, cheese, white wine, and chips. I’m not a natural blonde. I used to have persistent rhinitis, when I sneezed around 30 times a day for over a year, and then I got my nose pierced and it stopped. I went to Australia last year. I want to be a journalist.
And I have JIA. Every day is a learning curve, and it’s only recently that I’ve been able to meet the happy medium of not causing myself any pain and problems, while still pushing myself to new limits and not letting it stop me from doing anything.
I often think about how difficult it was for me as a teenager going through all this JIA admin without really knowing anyone who was in the same position. But if there’s one good thing about having JIA for 20 years, it’s a whole bunch of anecdotes.
I’ve been in remission twice before, and at the moment I’m coming through the other side of a flare up, on a brand new drug for me, Sulfasalazine. At the moment, I am 100% natural (apart from my hair colour), but I have to have three joint replacements in the future.
Really, I’m just muddling through every day and learning new things about myself along the way. And I may as well do all that for your entertainment.
Meet Collette and other friendly folk on Arthur’s Place Social, our Facebook Group
(Any opinions expressed in Collette’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Collette’s blog constitutes medical advice.)