BALTIMORE — "It was painful to the point that I couldn't even hold a pen. Some days I would get a sharp pain and paper would fall right out of my hand. It was hard," Tyre Salley said.
She was diagnosed arthritis when she was just 8 years old.
After decades of living with it, she decided she couldn't take it anymore.
"As a child I stayed in a protective bubble that my mom created for me," she explained. "No after school sports. I couldn't do cheerleading. She was so terrified that I was going to break a bone."
Now, nearly 40 years later her quality of life had gotten so bad she started looking for a surgeon.
"When you have chronic illness like that you just don't have the energy to get dressed or go out and enjoy things," Salley said.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Murphy said Tara suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects 2 to 3 million people and is not associated with aging like osteoarthritis.
"It's where your immune cells that normally fight off colds, viruses and infections inappropriately go after your normal tissues for some reason," Dr. Murphy said.
Dr. Murphy says Salley was a perfect candidate for a wrist and elbow replacement. Her joints were fused and were severely limiting her mobility.
"The end of the bone was fused to her radius so she couldn't rotate her wrist," Dr. Murphy explained.
"I couldn't brush my teeth the way I should. I couldn't do my hair," she said. "To lift a frying pan out of the cabinet I would lift with this hand and support it with this hand, so everything was two hands."
Months out of two surgeries she has gotten her life back.
"I can twist my wrist, maneuver the back of my head or shake my hair that's something I couldn't do before."