Imagine your body turning on itself, attacking the very joints that keep you moving.
"It just felt like my joints had broken glass in them. They were crunchy, hot, painful. Any kind of movement they hurt," said 43 year old Robin Mayhall.
That has been the life of Mayhall for more than 20 years. As a senior in college, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto immune disorder that causes painful swelling and degeneration in the joints.
"All the sudden everything kind of started happening at once. Both my knees swelled up, my shoulders, my elbows, my hands everything on both sides," she recounted.
Over the years, Mayhall has had 18 surgeries, both knees and hips replaced and she takes up to 14 medications a day.
Many of the medicines used to treat RA have serious side effects like a constant itching, and brittle bones. So Mayhall often has to take more medicine to counteract the side effects.
"Anybody of any age, of any ethnic group can wake up and have a form of the 100 forms of arthritis. It's very isolating I've learned," said Sharon Furrate of the Arthritis Association of Louisiana.
Those 100 forms include osteoarthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and RA.
That is why the AAOL is working to educate people about the life changing effects of arthritis.
"You can't look at a person and tell oh they've got arthritis or they don't have arthritis. Many times that person is in a great deal of pain, but you can't see that," said AAOL President Karen Kennedy.
"My brain moves faster and has more ideas than my body can fulfill," Mayhall.
The AAOL hopes by showing that the face of arthritis can be anyone, that more comfort and help can be given to those who are suffering. The group provides a lot of educational resources for both patients and those who know patients.
For more information on the support offered, as well as opportunities to help the organization, click here.
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