New blogger alert The RA AcademeI was diagnosed with lupus and RA at the end of my first year of graduate school.  I was 22 years  old. What started as pain after I exercised, turned into pain all the time, and thus began the “fishing expedition” that, after several doctors, and months later, led to the dual diagnosis of both lupus and RA.

When I was diagnosed, I had never heard of lupus, and I thought the common misconception – that arthritis is something only old people can get – was true.  I was totally unprepared for these illnesses and what they meant for the rest of my life.

I remember leaving the hospital, feeling like the entire world had changed, and was ready to fall apart, but it was only something that I sensed, and no one else was aware of.

At that time, I was told by both my doctors and faculty from my PhD program that I should quit school, move back in with my parents, and be prepared for a life of dependence.

Since that time, however, I have (just) completed a PhD in sociology (in six years), and am planning on having a career in health advocacy.  I want to make sure that the experiences I have had at the hands of the higher education system, are something that no student who values education should ever have to experience.  Having a chronic illness and getting a quality education are not things that should be mutually exclusive.

A week after my diagnosis, in April of 2008, I began the blog, Getting Closer To Myself.  It has been my saving grace.  At the time, I didn’t know anyone my age that was chronically ill or dealing with my combination of illnesses – and for that matter, I didn’t even know what a blog was until I started one.

My writing aims to share my experiences openly, honestly, in a raw and real way, with a little bit of wry humor on the side.

I am also the administrator for the patient-centered blog carnival Patients for a Moment, and can be found trolling around HealthCentral’s RA Site and a variety of other online health sites.

Born and raised in Michigan, I am becoming a New York transplant, so it is likely that the themes of moving and coping with city life, all while dealing with multiple chronic illnesses, will come into my writing in a big way.

I am thrilled to be adding Creaky Joints to my repertoire, and am excited to share my story and experiences with the readers of this great site.

And CreakyJoints is thrilled to welcome Leslie to our blogger lineup smiley