To join this Arthritis Support Network and receive email updates, please click the “Subscribe to Group” link above.
Arthritis Support Network launched: 2007
Arthritis Support Network Leader: Wendy Type of Arthritis: Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis Support Network Leader: Samantha Type of Arthritis: Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
About this Arthritis Support Network:
The Phoenix Arthritis Support Network is a safe place where we meet face-to-face to share our experiences, triumphs, concerns, and questions about living with arthritis. The group offers educational and social events throughout the year and opportunities to meet others facing the same challenges. Please join us for a meeting. We would love to meet you!
My name is Wendy and I am currently 40-something years old. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) at the young age of 18 months old. I’ve never known life without stiffness, inflammation, fatigue, pain and joint destruction that JRA brings to the body. Childhood was difficult for me since I could not physically keep up with the kids in my classes and always felt different in comparison to my classmates. In high school, the JRA went into a major flare and threw my life into chaos. I could not carry my books or walk to my classes without extreme pain in my hands, shoulders and feet. Many of the joints in my hands and feet were destroyed by this point. My senior year saw me having my first round of total joint replacement and reconstruction surgeries on my hands and feet. During college I had a lot more fun and endured more JRA flares, more joint destruction and more surgeries on my hands, feet, elbow and knee. After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, I moved 800 miles away from my family to live and work in Silicon Valley. It was the best decision I ever made. I was determined to be fully independent; to live on my own and be financially secure. I am happy to say that I have achieved both of those goals. Over the years of intense computer work I had to have joint reconstruction surgeries on both shoulders and more joint replacement surgeries on my right hand. In all, I’ve had over 20 surgeries and nearly every single joint in my body has been damaged by the JRA. At the young age of 38 years old, I finally had to go out on permanent disability and stop working due to the extensive damage and fatigue caused by the JRA. Today, my full-time job is managing my health and enjoying life.
While living in northern CA, I volunteered with the Arthritis Foundation and started a young adult support group for people with arthritis. I led the group for almost 10 years. Upon moving to the Phoenix area, I got involved in the local AI support group. Moving forward, I would like to ensure that this group continues to offer support to its current participants and new participants looking for support.
I have been living with JRA/JIA Onset since I was 18 months old. I have had six joint replacement surgeries and battled MRSA in my left leg. I have been a case manager/social worker for over 15 years. I have been a volunteer for several community organizations over 30+ years. I am one of the Founding Board Members of AI. And I am the proud mother of 2 very great young men.
I would love to provide support for my fellow rheumatoid and auto immune disease friends with the support they can only get from Arthritis Support Networks. As a young woman growing up with JRA I really never saw anybody that looked like me or that could identify with what I was experiencing growing up with JRA. I felt like I had no support and no one that understood me. Then at the age of 30 I finally met someone like me and a bond was formed immediately. I feel that this support system is a vital resource for those diagnosed with all forms of arthritis and rheumatoid diseases.
We look forward to seeing you in our future!
To join this Arthritis Support Network, please click the “Subscribe to Group” link above.
All subscribers to this group agree to adhere to the Support Group Participant Guidelines.