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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

defining RA - sooo confusing to explain to others!

     Without a doubt one of the toughest parts of dealing with RA, believe it or not, is trying to make others understand how it is different, sooo different, from "traditional" arthritis.  So what is it? Well, Rheumatoid Arthritis is first of all an autoimmune disease which means that those of with RA have bodies that think our joints are in trouble and need help!  To do this, a response is triggered which sends those pesky white blood cells and other body chemicals rushing to the joints that lead to what characterizes this progressive disease...that is...pain, swelling, inflammation, and joint deformity and erosion if proper treatment is not initiated early.  Just as diabetes or asthma are autoimmune so is RA. 
     I am purposely explaining this in non medical terms so that anyone reading this can then take it and share it with is NOT the arthritis that most of us think of which is related to aging, overuse or injury.  They are ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.  The only thing they have in common is the pain and involvement with joints.  Otherwise NADA!  This is so important.  
     One of the really annoying things that I dealt with early on was having people say to me when I mentioned that I had RA "Oh I know how that feels, I have a thumb with arthritis"  Now....I chuckle and try to educate...then I wanted to smack em up side of the head and say PPLLLEEEAAASSSSEEE" when every joint is immobile, when you are so fatigued you cannot sleep, when your brain is unable to put two words together, when you have to crawl to the tub and get in hot water to move in the morning, THEN we can talk about our commonalities...till it!  That said, I believe people are trying to relate and I now (15 years in remember) use this as an opportunity to educate them about the difference so they don't do the same thing to another unsuspecting RA who may not be so kind!  Once again, humor plays a role in keeping you from overreacting.  A good laugh and the ability to smile through these situations will be your best strategy from the moment you are diagnosed (and that may take awhile, another topic to be covered) through every moment you are handling the day to day living experiences....Well, that's it for today....
Remember, smile, and hug someone you love today!


Melissa said...

Great post, you hit the nail on the head.

Megan said...

Hi Nan,

My name is Megan Peaslee, I am a senior at Drexel University with a major in Product Design. I am beginning to work on my senior thesis based around arthritis. I was hoping that I could speak to you through email or in person. I have really enjoyed your blog and have gleamed a lot of useful information. If possible, could you contact me on email?

Here is the link to my own blog, I am just now beginning to gather information on the topic and would love your opinion.

Thank you,

Megan said...

Missed the link to my own blog.

Look forward to hearing from you.