Our names are Tamikka and Michelle Brown-Green and our journey begins with a love story. We met in an AOL chat room in our mid-twenties. After 2 months of getting to know each other in a long distance friendship, we separated for 7 years before reconnecting and entering into a relationship. After 7 more years as a couple, we married on August 25th, 2015.
During those 7 years, we’ve been challenged with health issues that begin as an undiagnosed mystery. Tamikka’s battle with RA, began before we rekindled our romance. She began experiencing debilitating muscle spasms to the point where she found herself confined to the couch all day; after coming home from work.
When we reconnected, Tamikka tried to keep her situation a secret because she thought it might scare me away. In fact, the first time I visited her for the weekend (we were still long distance with me being from Indiana and her in Illinois), she took a fall in the bedroom, while I was sitting in the living room, and she secretly struggled to get herself upright before I found out.
Eventually, she felt comfortable enough to confess to me what was going on. I remember being glad that she came clean because then I could be there for her and support her through it. It’s been a roller coaster ever since, and we’ve ridden it together the whole way.
There were days when Tamikka was in such agonizing pain that she could barely walk. She’d yell out all hours of the night in pain. She could barely function. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). For the longest time, Tamikka was convinced she had fibromyalgia, although her doctors had ruled it out. This was because in the early stages, the pain was entirely in her muscles. However, she is now experiencing the typical RA symptoms such as joint pain and disfigurement.
It took a while, but she finally found a doctor who was able to get her pain under control. We both thank God for this doctor as no one before her could seem to figure it out. While she still experiences a great deal of pain. It is no where near what it use to be. It’s still an up hill battle, and we’ve accepted the fact that it always will be. Our #1 goal is to improve our quality of life by adapting to our reality.
We say our reality, because it is a mental and physical adjustment for both of us. While Tamikka is dealing with the physical and mental challenges of the disease, Michelle is coping with the physical and mental challenges of being the sole caretaker for a disabled loved one. It’s an experience we have both grown from and will continue to grow from as the disease progresses.
RA Survival is a project we launched as a coping tool for us and help resource for other individuals and couples dealing with the hardship of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Our mission for others is the same as it is for us – to continuously discover new survival tools and tactics that equip and empower our followers to adapt and thrive mentally, physically, and financially in spite of our circumstances, in order that we may live a more fulfilling life.