My name is Kristin Johnston, and I’m 32 years old living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m recently married (a year ago!) and thrilled to continue our lives together as husband and wife now. I work full-time as a digital marketing lead for a leading foodservice distributor in the US and CA. I absolutely love to read, spend time with my husband and our two kitties, and spend time in the patient advocacy and autoimmune disease social media community. I’m also your Blog Editor at Autoimmune Sisters!
My autoimmune story began about 10 years ago when the rare hip and back pain I dealt with became constant. I first saw an orthopedic doctor that saw a bit of arthritis in my x-rays, and recommended I start PT to try to strengthen my core as a way to support my lower back more, but the pain skyrocketed and the PT and orthopedist were no longer comfortable having me exercise when pain was increasing. I was then referred to a spine specialist that tried spinal injections and corticosteroid injections into my sacroiliac joints in my lower back. Over the course of 3-4 months, there was little to no change in my pain and symptoms, so we did further testing and a full body CT scan finally showed rampant arthritis in my back, hips, and upper spine. We ran blood tests and I had increased CRP and Sed Rate. I was then referred to a rheumatologist to start exploring that route. Through the course of about a year of different medications, scans, blood tests, and trials and error – we were able to finally diagnose me with Spondyloarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I then found various biologic medications that have continued to work well for me – though I usually go about 2-3 years before my system gets used to the medication and I have to try a new one/it stops working. Throughout the course of symptoms and disease management of my autoimmune arthritis’, I’ve also collected Fibromyalgia, Chronic Costochondritis, GERD, and Chronic Rhinitis.
- Weight Gain
- Mental Health
- “Missing out” on things I used to do
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress
- Managing my mental health and priorities
- Being able to share my story and help others
- CBD products
- Heating Patches
- Finding alternatives or alterations to exercise programs
Weight gain; diet; motivation.
Pain from today is strength for tomorrow.
I have these words tattooed vertically down my spine as a constant reminder that though pain is constant, it has made me the woman I am today. The pain that I deal with today allows me to be strong tomorrow. I have growth to be so much stronger, more confident in my mental health and abilities, and more resilient than I ever thought possible.