Martha McKenzie is a self-proclaimed fighter. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as a teenager, she hasn’t let pain or surgeries keep her from being active. “I enjoy working out and fighting my RA,” says the 58-year-old from the tiny town of Section, Alabama.
And Martha has been tested again and again on her journey with RA. After graduating from high school, she started experiencing debilitating pain, first in her feet; then throughout her body.
Unlike many people with RA whose disease is miscast as other conditions—fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, even lyme disease—Martha received a quick diagnosis. A low dose of cortisone resulted in other medical problems, but despite her troubles, Martha went on to college and began teaching elementary school.
Her doctor finally took her off the cortisone, leaving her desperate for relief. “I started taking 18 extra-strength Bufferin tablets a day,” she says.
A rheumatology specialist finally found the solution, but it took time. “For about 10 years, he tried different drugs,” before hitting on the right combination, she says.
Her pain finally controlled, Martha embraced an active life, joining a gym in January, 2011. “The other ladies are impressed. They cannot believe that I have RA,” she says. “I am proud to say that RA doesn't control my life.”