Erica Stotler shares her experience with JRA and how her rheumatologists are supportive of the local support system she started with her friend with the assistance of Arthritis through Arthritis Introspective.
I can bring articles and flyers for activities I enjoy or for upcoming support system meetings for other patients with arthritis, to my rheumatologists’ office, and they will hang them up to spread the word. I love this about them!
When I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) at the age of eight, I didn’t know anyone else who had it. I wondered if I would ever meet anyone like me. I would sit in the waiting room and always be the youngest patient. It wasn’t until my 20s that I finally met others who knew what I was going through. It was so wonderful to have someone understand. With the help of my best friend we decided to start a local support system in Richmond, Virginia for others with Arthritis through Arthritis Introspective.
I have a great relationship with my friend, and I can call her with any problem. The best part is she understands the ups and downs of RA because she lives with it too. If other people can do the same thing we did, it could improve their outlook by helping them to realize they aren’t alone. Friendship can do wonders! Doctors can write prescriptions for smiles, kindness, and support just by letting their patients know that there are others like them—especially since we never talk to people in waiting rooms. (Although maybe we should!) We now get together for pot lucks, coffee, or even lobbying for health care reform on Capital Hill.
With the help of social media I have even more contacts in the arthritis world. I really wish I had had that as a teenager; I might not have felt so isolated. Currently I have support from so many outlets. Arthritis affects 300,000 children; just think if they had such a great support system to lean on!
Erica Stotler is a Richmond Virginia Arthritis Introspective Facilitator, Arthritis Advocate, Rheumatoid Arthritis patient, Wife & Mother