Live Yes! Connect launched: 2015
Live Yes! Connect Facilitator: Carolyn Type of Arthritis: Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis
About this Live Yes! Connect Group:
The vision for the Live Yes! Connect in Fresno County is to create a safe and confidential environment where we meet face-to-face to share our unique experiences, challenges, and learning to overcome adversity while living with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. This support group provides both informative educational sessions and fun social events. Arthritis not only affects us personally, but it also impacts our family, friends, and even co-workers as they play an important role in our daily lives and healing process. I invite you to join us and look forward to meeting you soon!
My name is Carolyn and I have lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis for more than 40 years. I was born in Vientiane, Laos, but grew up in the U.S. and have lived in California for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) at the young age of 3 years old when my family was still living in Laos, but the medical doctors in our Southeast Asia country did not treat many children with rheumatic disorders since the autoimmune disease was uncommon among young children back in the 1970’s. At that time, treatments were minimal and my parents watched me go through phases of agonizing pain and stiffness, constant inflammation of the joints, bouts of high fever, rheumatic rashes, and fatigue. My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 and when we first arrived to the U.S., our American sponsor family saw that there was something wrong with my physical health as I was thin and appeared to be smaller than my chronological age. Our sponsor immediately sought health care services and I underwent numerous treatments for the JRA. My parents were then told that the JRA is of the polyarticular and systemic type. They also learned that my condition would be debilitating, chronic, and progressive in nature as it quickly affected my entire body and joints. During my youth, I received conventional and holistic treatments for the JRA that involved both modern medicine and cultural herbal healing, and yes, I even received acupuncture. My parents did everything and tried anything that was possible to help stabilized the progression of the disease process. I had my first bilateral hip replacements at the age of 17 years old. By the time I was 21 years old, I had bilateral knee replacements and 6 other joint surgeries by age 22 years old. As the years gone by, I observed myself going through changes with physical body image as the severity of the JRA caused multiple joint damages leading to deformities. Now in my 40’s, I continue to struggle with the effects of the Rheumatoid Arthritis and most recently, a secondary diagnosis of Osteoarthritis.
Despite adversity, I have always been an active individual who believes that “life is what you make of it.” During my 20’s, I stayed focused and motivated so that I could accomplish life’s goals and aspirations. I attended college and obtained three college degrees. I received an M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a B.A. degree in Social Work from CSU, Fresno. I also received an Associate’s degree from Fresno City College. After college, I continued to stay positive and strong while developing a career in the social services field and have worked with the disabilities population for the past 17+ years now.
I would like to become a Live Yes! Connect facilitator and start a group in my community because there is not an existing group in Fresno County. A few months ago, I went through diagnostic tests and learned that I now have new health concerns related to both the RA and the Osteoarthritis. I felt depressed, sad, and frustrated. I wanted to join a support group designed for individuals who are going through similar situations, but there was none in my area. I reached out to friends whom I met at the AJAO conferences years ago. I then learned about Live Yes! Connect. My goal is to bring together people living with rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, whether they are newly diagnosed or seasoned, so that we can share our unique experiences while embracing our strengths in a supportive and encouraging manner. Given the many layers of complexity with family life, work life, and managing our health, we cannot thrive without the supports and mutual understanding of our peers.
To join this Live Yes! Connect group, please click the "Join this Group” button above and we will send you updates about upcoming events via email.
All subscribers to this group agree to adhere to the Participant Guidelines.