hideko kawajiri

Regaining Freedom

Hideko Kawajiri of Gifu, Japan, loves to help people look their best. “That’s why I became a hairdresser,” she said.

But after suffering from a sudden onset of rheumatoid arthritis, she couldn’t fit her fingers through the handles of scissors and had to put down the tools of her trade.

“It all started with excruciating pain in my fingers. I couldn’t move them at all and had no idea why,” she explained.

Hideko initially went to a joint clinic where doctors diagnosed her with tenosynovitis. She received injections in all 10 fingers, but her symptoms didn’t improve.

“The constant pain in my feet was bad and worse in my hands. It hurt too much to even wash the dishes. I began dropping them to the point where I had to use plastic tableware,” she said.

“The best part has been regaining the freedom to do what I want.”

– Hideko

A later blood test with a new doctor found that she had rheumatoid arthritis.

The persistent pain she experienced because of her illness was punctuated several times daily with sudden jolts that would cause her to double over and cradle her arms. She stopped seeing her friends and gave up most activities, including the work she loved. “I remember asking myself, ‘Just how bad is this going to get?’ ”

Hideko found hope from her new doctor, whose encouragement made her want to keep fighting. It also came from the Orencia (abatacept) he prescribed.

“After my second treatment, I began to feel an improvement in my shoulder pain,” she said. “The next thing I knew, my hands no longer hurt. It wasn’t long before I felt well enough to begin doing the things I used to enjoy – eating out and meeting with friends.”

Today, Hideko continues her activities without having to push through pain. “Orencia changed my life,” she said. “The best part has been regaining the freedom to do more of what I want.”

Orencia was launched in 2005 in the U.S. and 2010 in Japan for treatment of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and in Europe in combination with methotrexate in 2007.