Hi friends! I have a really special treat for you today! Please help me in welcoming Becca from Cooking with Confetti to GlitterGlucose.com! Becca is a woman of many talents and happens to live with an autoimmune disease also… but I’ll let her introduce herself below!
Paloma: Hi Becca! Tell us about yourself!
Becca: I am a 28-year-old, Arizona native, and have no plans of leaving anytime soon or if ever! I love my home and family more than anything, so I plan to stay and continue to plant roots of my own here with my babe! (side note: he too is an AZ native and we have been dating since high school.)
I have always had a love for cooking and entertaining. Growing up I could watch the cooking channel hours on end and combined with my mom’s love for party throwing, I grew a love for it all. Cooking for my loved ones and creating a space for everyone to feel at home while celebrating all of life’s milestones and holidays is what I cherish most! It has become even more impactful to me in the last couple of years as my Rheumatoid Arthritis came out of remission and went into full flare up mode. Having a clean and healthy diet is crucial for an autoimmune disease, so knowing how to cook is amazing because I get to control what I am putting into my body.
I have been living with an autoimmune disease since I was born but became active at 9 months old! Like any auto immune disease, the basic run down is it’s your immune system attacking itself. I have actually never thought about it as a disease or a disorder, I have always just called it what it was is, Rheumatoid Arthritis. (RA)
Paloma: Becca and I decided to team up to share our experience as young women who live with autoimmune diseases. We have many similarities: we are both Arizona natives, bloggers, 28 years old, and fans of The Bachelor/ Bachelorette!
Most of you reading this already know me but let me reintroduce myself just in case! I’m Paloma! I am a full-time influencer and diabetes advocate. I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since 2013. I have a background in the fashion industry, so I created my business to be a blend of two major parts in my life: diabetes and style. In addition, I share my life in Arizona with my husband and kitties!
Paloma: Becca could you tell us what Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) is?
Becca: It is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause debilitating pain, muscle soreness, joint stiffness and even deformity in the joints. However, it doesn’t just affect the joints; it can also affect all major organs, bone structure, tendons, and much more! Pain and stiffness can occur in one, two, or even every joint in your body. Sometimes those joints will swell, causing fluid build-up which I experienced in my knees as a young child and more recently in my adult years. Unfortunately, I have problems in every joint in my body, from my fingers, toes, knees, elbows, hands, wrists, and even my eyes!
For me, I would say it’s the worst in my knees, ankles, and eyes! The stiffness is uncomfortable and at times makes difficult to perform every day activities like working out, standing for long periods of time, walking, and even things like brushing my hair.
Paloma: Thank you so much for painting such a clear picture of what it means to have RA. It is just a reminder that everyone deals with something and it’s not always visible. When I look at Becca I see a young, beautiful woman who I would assume is perfectly healthy. By the smile on Becca’s face and her fabulous Instagram account, I would never assume that she has to deal with daily struggles that can even turn debilitating.
When you look at me you might not know that I also deal with a chronic illness. There are days when diabetes takes over and I don’t even get out of bed. I try to minimize those days by taking great care of myself and trying to stay mentally strong, but I’m not embarrassed to say that there are days when I do feel completely defeated. The important part is that I keep moving forward, stay positive and enjoy the good days to the fullest.
Is anyone else surprised to hear that arthritis isn’t just a condition that affects old people?? When I hear the word “arthritis” I automatically picture an old person who uses a cane. Becca, is this response common?
Becca: Yes! When people hear of RA or when mentioning my own experience with it, they are confused. Many times, their immediate response is “isn’t that for old people?” Ha!
RA is more prone to happen when you’re older as our bodies naturally strain from the wear and tear of all that we do over the years but it is NOT just for old people!
Understanding the possibility that anyone at any age anyone can develop an autoimmune disease, arthritis being one of them. Another thing I want to touch on is if you have one autoimmune disease you are more prone to develop another.
Paloma: What do you think when you hear “diabetes?”
Becca: When I hear diabetes truthfully, I think of an overweight person who ate too much sugar and had a poor diet most of their life!
Paloma: I used to think the same when I heard diabetes! Diabetes is always the butt of a joke about weight or the caption on a picture of cake. It actually has ZERO to do with diet or lifestyle. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops creating insulin. Since the pancreas isn’t doing its job, I have to act as my own pancreas. I manually give myself insulin through an injection or insulin pump throughout the day and when I eat. I manage my blood sugar with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) or by pricking my finger. It is A LOT of work to be a human trying to mimic a failed organ!
Paloma: Do people generally understand RA or think you are being dramatic?
Becca: haha sometimes my mom actually thinks I am being dramatic but I know it’s because she wants me to push through it. Luckily, for the most post part those who’ve seen me during a flare up and are really close with me know the days I’ve struggled so they get it. As for everyone else I think they generally understand but I am not sure.
Paloma: For me, I don’t think people get it at all. Those who don’t understand diabetes assume that with a better diet and exercise that it will all go away. It’s almost like people blame me for feeling sick because they just think “well if you had only taken care of yourself.” That is the biggest myth I wish I could debunk. Only 4% of the diabetic population is Type 1. There is no cause or cure for an autoimmune disease.
Paloma: How is RA integrated into your blog Becca?
Becca: I think RA coincides more so than ever with my blog, and more than I originally expected it to. I think my RA flare-ups came back during a time that was maybe meant to be. I started my blog to inspire others…to cook and to celebrate life, but I quickly realized I was missing a huge part of what has inspired me. I hope to help others lead a healthier and happier life. I think having a blog allows me to have a platform to reach more people and connect with others who may be going through the same troubles but feel alone! A little story that already proved this to be true for me was, just a week after launching my blog I was contacted by a friend whose younger sister was recently diagnosed with RA.
Not knowing anything about the disease and feeling lost, she and her family reached out to me and I was able to shed light on what can be a scary diagnosis. After giving suggestions and a background of what I did to heal, my heart was so full knowing she felt a little more at ease moving forward and a little less overwhelmed. THAT is what it is all about to me.
Paloma: For me the whole reason I started my blog was to connect with others. It can feel pretty lonely to have a condition that is so misunderstood. I have learned so much and received tons of support from people all over the world! Now I feel confident to share who I am beyond diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a huge part of me but not all of me.
Paloma: Lets share what living with an autoimmune disease has taught us.
Becca: The biggest thing RA has taught me is that, you are nothing without your health. You can have a lot of wonderful things in life but none of it matters if you aren’t healthy and can’t enjoy those things to the fullest. It truly sounds cliché when they say “you don’t know what you have until its gone” but it’s true. Not having mobility of your limbs is humbling and awakening, it makes you appreciate every day and celebrate every milestone. I think that’s why I love celebrating and have loved it from a very young age. It has also made me have more empathy for others and their own personal struggles.
Paloma: Living with Type 1 Diabetes has taught me discipline and maturity. I literally make life saving decisions every minute of the day! Besides that, I have learned the power of community. I have seen all my family and friends come out to support me through diabetes charities, wear my clothing line that raises awareness and even correct others when they make a diabetes joke!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to learn more about what it’s like to live with an autoimmune disease. I hope it inspires you to get through your own daily struggles and be the best you can be regardless of anything that tries to get in the way! Also, don’t forget to always be kind to one another, you never know what the other person is dealing with. Becca and I are both living life to the fullest and enjoying the little moments along the way. You can keep up with Becca by following her on Instagram or at CookingwithConfetti.com!