Lene Andersen’s Lifelong Battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen’s Lifelong Battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis reaps its chaos on countless children across the world; children, who unfortunately, have grown up with the disease that has affected their lives permanently. Lene Andersen, author and founder of TheSeatedView.blogspot.com, a healthcare blog about living with rheumatoid arthritis, is one of those people.

Lene was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was just nine years old, but had been experiencing symptoms since she was four. She struggled with her arthritis symptoms throughout her childhood, one flare becoming so serious that it affected not only her joints but also her internal organs, putting her in the hospital when she was just twelve. The effects of the flare were so bad, she almost lost her life.

Just before she turned fourteen, Lene experienced problems with her right hip, not being able to straighten it. As a result, she was placed in a body cast for one month, from her chest to her toes. Her doctors believed the lack of mobility would straighten her hip and give her body a break from the raging inflammation, but when Lene’s cast came off and she stood up for the first time in a month, she was unable to walk. She remembered an overwhelming sadness and sense of hopelessness for fear that she would never walk again. Afterward, it was decided that she had to undergo hip replacement surgery; a procedure that would not come about for two years.

After spending two years stuck in a hospital bed, Lene experienced a miracle – she was able to move on her own. When her power wheelchair was delivered to her, she felt like she was no longer a prisoner.

“I knew instantly how to use the chair – it was like we had been waiting for each other, as if it became an extension of me and it was effortless,” Lene remembered. “The first experience in my new chair was on a visceral level. Driving through an empty hospital ward and being in silence for the first time in over two years was like coming back to normal life.”

photos

**Lene’s personal photography

But things were not all sunshine and butterflies from then on. Lene spent a lot of time being sad during her decades with RA, the worst coming from a flare in 2004 when things became so bad she even contemplated suicide. However, it was finding a medication that worked that brought her back.
“It taught me that there is always hope,” Lene explained, “and it’s important to tell your doctors how you feel so they can help you. Giving up was not an option. I knew that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other (metaphorically, that is), you can get through to something better.”

Lene’s biologic medication saved her life and allowed to do accomplish many of the things she currently does; building her career as a writer, helping to take care of her family, and advocating for others who share her illness. She has written two books, both independently published; Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and the e-book, 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain. She also is an avid photographer, which she said helps her find beauty and joy everyday and how she stays positive.

Considering herself a “worst-case scenario” arthritis example, Lene decided to participate in an immersive video experience produced by HealthCentral.com in an effort to spread her message of hope with a wider audience. When she was a child her parents taught her that she always had two choices – she could either laugh or cry. Lene admitted that sometimes staying positive is hard work, but is convinced that it has given her a better quality of life.

“I knew how I wanted to live my life,” she said. “It’s helped me cope better with pain and illnesses and it means I laugh every day. I was sad for many years. Being happy is better.”

Lene also expressed her appreciation for her support system, most notably her partner and family. She is passionate about helping spread arthritis awareness and using herself as a vessel to show that with hard work, a positive attitude, and perseverance, a happy life can be reached despite an arthritis diagnosis.


Check out HealthCentral.com for the full interactive experience on Lene and her journey with rheumatoid arthritis: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/d/LBLN/living-with-ra/launch?ap=500


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Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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