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Hi I'm Janet,

I've had aggressive, unresponsive Rheumatoid arthritis since 1978.

About Me

My father developed Rheumatoid arthritis in his early thirties. The difficulties of dealing with family relationships, making a living, as well as his pain and disabilities were traumatizing for the whole family. My parents didn't talk to us about this, so my sisters and I thought his anger and frustration were directed at us. I was afraid of my father because of his mood swings. He became angry, short tempered, and although he never physically hurt us, I was afraid of him because I never knew when there would be an outburst of some kind. We were members of the LDS church. The teachers and leaders in Omaha took an interest in us and taught gospel concepts, such as prayer, a Father in Heaven who loves us and hears and answers prayers, and faith in Jesus Christ, which became very comforting to me as I was growing up. We moved to Casper Wyo. After high school I graduated from BYU, taught school for two years and married my husband when he was discharged from the Navy. We went back to BYU so he could graduate. We were happy to be blessed with five children in seven years. I was happy and anticipated not repeating the family life that had been so distressing to me. However, after only seven years of marriage, at the age of 34, I developed aggressive, unresponsive Rheumatoid arthritis. Within three months I was almost totally bedridden. I was about to re-live my worst nightmare, and I learned a lot as I walked in my father's footsteps.

Why I am a Mormon

I am so thankful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It teaches us doctrines of God that are good for our physical and spiritual needs. I am thankful to be married to my true love who immediately expressed his commitment to me and our temple marriage. Then, in addition to his daily employment, took on the extra household tasks of caring for me and 5 children, ages 6 1/2 to 10 months of age. Church members and neighbors gathered around to help us, but we knew we would be in this situation for a long time and wanted to find our own permanent solutions. Believing that our children were our greatest assets we began by teaching them about safety, door locking, appliance use, household chores and service to the family. Having been a kindergarten teacher I knew children around that age were very smart, liked to do the real life things that grown-ups did, and could work together cooperatively. We had quite a variety of job charts to give reminders and reinforcement to these little helpers. In order to find realistic expectations I added their ages and divided by 4, (the baby didn't count). The average age of our workers was 4.5 years. When added to daddy, they could do quite a few helpful things. The younger ones also did things and were an amazing and wonderful support at home when he was away. In spite of frequent depression and still being traumatized as parents, we maintained prayers and Family Home Evening. Many a day I would be on my bed praying about my fears and worries. Answers always came to mind and we were comforted by our friends and by the Holy Ghost. Years later our daughter said she loved coming home from school because she could feel the Spirit when she opened the door. In many ways this was the most special time of our life because the Lord blessed us so much.

How I live my faith

I live my faith by being thankful, loving my husband and children and serving in the church as I am able. I have always visited other women even if simply by mail or over the phone. At the height of my depression I helped start a support group for the Arthritis Foundation that reached out to people in Utah County. My children often helped me and were affectionately known as the "A" Team. In November, 2011, we have been married 41 years, all five children have married well, have strong testimonies of the gospel, and we have twenty-two grandchildren. Recently my life has been complicated by heart failure and several amputations. My husband's care giving duties have become more intense. Since we are both older this has been a big, but willing sacrifice on his part. I'm very thankful for his lifetime commitment to living the principles of the gospel, and for desire we share for our temple marriage to go on into eternity. Thanks to God's help, our trials and afflictions did not destroy our life. It has been full of love, opportunities, learning, testimony and repentance. Everyone upon this earth will have to face their individual trials. My testimony is that with faith in Jesus Christ we can each follow God's plan for us and find great joy in doing so. I once prayed for arthritis to go away. Instead it became a major building block and the most special time of my life. I was not "cured", but God has "healed" me from ignorance and personal flaws that were worse. If we let him, God can always make more out of us than we can by ourselves.