#ArthritisWontStopMe: Jennifer’s story

Jennifer Ingimundson didn’t plan on being a commercial insurance broker. She also didn’t plan on having arthritis.

As a girl growing up in Winnipeg, Jennifer was very active and played a variety of sports. Her goal was to be a sports photographer, and after graduating from College Pierre Elliott Trudeau, she studied photography at Red River College. She stumbled into the insurance business and discovered she loved it. She developed a passion for it. The arthritis, not so much.

“I was 19 years old when I received my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis,” Jennifer recalls.

“I was sick on a school trip to Europe and after coming home I was sore and tired. My mom also noticed how swollen my hand and my knees were, and how my posture was getting worse.”

Preliminary testing revealed nothing conclusive but further bloodwork confirmed her doctor’s suspicions about arthritis.

“I thought, no way. I was young, I was active. This was an old person’s disease. I was crushed. How was this going to affect my life? My sports?” she says.

An exhaustive regimen of medication began and at one point, Jennifer was taking 15-plus pills every day. Her rheumatologist and her mother suggested she join an arthritis support group, but her father felt it might keep her mired in a negative cycle of complaining rather than encourage and push her forward.

“He told me to keep playing my sports at the highest level. I played AA ringette as a goalie and A-level fastball as a pitcher. That’s how I dealt with it at first. I was depressed for a time but thankfully, I was able to get away from that. “

Her father suggested yoga as therapy for pain, but as a young woman at the time, Jennifer didn’t listen.

“I finally took his advice in my late 20s. I wish I would have listened years before that,” she says.

Now 35 and the mother of a beautiful two-year old boy, Markus, Jennifer still enjoys ringette and plays in a ladies’ slow-pitch league in the summer.

“My arthritis has not stopped me, and it will not stop me. It’s slowed me down and given me many obstacles over the past 16 years but I have persevered and have a life that I am very thankful and grateful for.” 

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