Beating the Odds: Channeling pain into a creative pursuit 

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Photo and Article Credit: Kavitha Cardoza, WAMU Public Radio

Bridget Dease, 18, can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been in severe physical pain.

"Everywhere. My legs, my knees, my wrist, my neck, like a ton of bricks being thrashed against my legs. My pain has taken up such a large percentage of my life, I don’t think I’d be the same person without it," she says.

When Bridget was little she didn’t have the words to tell people how she felt. Teachers told her she was lazy when she didn’t participate in sports. But when she pushed herself to play, classmates were unhappy.

"I was the slowest person on the team and a lot of people would say you’re worth nothing, why would you play with us if you aren’t going to be your best. And it was frustrating for me because I knew I was being my best. But my best wasn’t good enough."

Lazy or slow—it was a lose-lose situation. When Bridget was 12, she got an official diagnosis. She had arthritis. At first she was relieved—at least she knew what was wrong with her. Then the questions from teachers and classmates started. What is arthritis and why do you have it?

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