I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 19 months old. The disease started in my knees, and has now spread to my right ankle and right elbow. I have had four surgeries and I take medicine every morning for my arthritis as well as get an IV every six weeks. It takes a lot of effort for me to even be able to walk to class, but I have been pushing myself to be able to do everyday activities my entire life and I will never stop. I believe in the power of determination; it is the reason I am still walking today.
When I was about seven years old, my family planned a skiing trip to Colorado. Just to be on the safe side, my parents decided to ask my doctor whether or not I should ski. I remember sitting in the room as my doctor replied, “no, that would be a terrible idea! If Annie pushes herself too hard, she could horribly injure her knees. She will be lucky if she is able to walk by the time she is eighteen even without all that pressure.” I just sat there and thought to myself that I was going to ski no matter what he said (and I would be walking at 18). This was my life, my knees, and I knew how far I could push myself, even at seven.
As it turned out, my parents believed I should be able to choose how far I would push myself also. They knew that I would not sit out. So I went skiing, and although I experienced a lot of pain, I had the best time of my life (of course I later learned that physical activity is beneficial for arthritis). I pushed through an obstacle and was able to enjoy myself. It was at that moment that I learned I could do anything if I had enough determination.
Throughout my life there have been times when I wished I did not have arthritis, but looking back, I think this disease is a blessing in disguise. Without it, I would have never been able to accomplish some of the goals I’ve set for myself. My arthritis has formed me into a more determined person. It has gotten me to where I am today. Although it may sound odd, I’m glad I have arthritis. I was strong enough to look past my disabilities and now I can still do the things I love. My arthritis hasn’t stopped me from doing what I want to do, it just makes me push a little harder to accomplish it. There will always be obstacles in my life, but with enough determination, I will overcome every one of them.
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