(NEW YORK) — Abdul Moussadda was an active biker, working a summer job as a waiter and getting ready for his first semester of college when he got hit with the flu. Two weeks later, at the age of 19, a sore throat and other horrible symptoms set in.
“My joints in my fingers, and neck and wrists and knees starting literally looking like watermelons or tennis balls,” he told ABC News. “Everything was swollen. I would get high fevers of 104 and every night I was sweating, soaking the bed.”
Moussadda, who is from Cutler Bay, Fla., lost 15 pounds and doctors ran tests but they showed nothing.
“They couldn’t figure it out,” he said. “One night my fever was so bad I went to the hospital.”
When he was finally referred to a rheumatologist, Moussadda was diagnosed with an autoimmune form of arthritis — Still’s disease, a disorder that is similar to systemic-onset variation of juvenile arthritis, but it occurs in adults. The disease can go into remission, but may lead to chronic arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It most commonly affects the knee and wrist, but ankles, shoulders, elbows and finger joints may also be involved.
Two and a half years later, Moussadda was so disabled that he couldn’t attend school or even leave his house.
But in August 2013, he decided to have hip replacement surgery and only in February of 2014, he had the second successful operation. So today, at 22, Moussada said he is “feeling great.”
“I am a little more active each day,” he said. “With my hips, I really couldn’t bike, but last week I started again, which I am very happy about. And I am doing yoga, nothing crazy, to help me keep limber. I am stretching and doing physical therapy and every day I am stronger.”
Though Moussadda’s not yet at 100 percent, he says 60 to 70 percent is “pretty good.”
In the fall, Moussada is ready to start a bachelor’s degree program in English to one day be a television comedy screenwriter.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN