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Managing Your RA: The Big Picture
Living Well with RA: Turning Points
My Story: Living with RA
Helpful Tools and Devices
Cleaning Tips with RA
RA: Back to School and Work
Here are some tips for people with rheumatoid arthritis who are heading back to school or work.
What Is the Best Treatment for Your Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Credit: Thinkstock Your rheumatologist has just rattled off at the names of a number of medications. All these multisyllabic words sound like a foreign language -- how will you know what is the best treatment option for you? Let’s demystify RA meds, so you can make better decisions. NSAIDs Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat the symptoms of RA, not the underlying disease. As the name indicates, they work to reduce inflammation and pain, and that can feel like a huge relief. Examples of NSAIDs include naproxen, Voltaren, meloxicam, and Celebrex. Like all medications, they have potential for side effects and you need to be especially aware of two: One is that NSAIDs can be hard on the stomach. This includes the risk of gastric bleeding, although most don’t experience this. The more common stomach-related side effects are acid reflux and heartburn.
Flaring Again: Dealing with Symptoms After a Long Quiet Period
Credit: Thinkstock Unfortunately, an inevitable side effect of chronic illness can be denial. I’ve experienced a lot of major life events over the last three years: getting my PhD, moving to New York, my grandfather dying six months later, my dad dying six months after that, graduating from a Master’s degree program, getting a job, losing a job, my boyfriend of three and a half years breaking up with me, moving back to Michigan, getting a job. Yet my health has been relatively stable considering all of that. And when your diseases have been pretty stable, especially given all of the emotional upheaval, and then suddenly aren’t anymore, it comes as a literal shock to the system. Even though the word “remission” has never been used about my RA, I guess I got caught up in the idea that maybe I was no longer sick, or at least not as sick as I used to be. When I first got sick, the slightest emotional upheaval would send my body into a tailspin. So when I went through all of these very emotionally trying experiences and didn’t
Gastroparesis: What You Need to Know
Credit: Thinkstock August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month. But with a whole month dedicated to this condition, how many of us know anything about it? Gastroparesis is a rare disease that may affect some people with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. It can be debilitating, even life-threatening. Knowing more about it will enable you to seek medical help should you develop symptoms, or help others who live with it. What is gastroparesis? Gastroparesis is a chronic condition in which the stomach empties too slowly, without evidence of a blockage. Eighty percent of those affected are women, ranging from young to middle-aged. In most cases, the cause of the condition is unknown, leading to a diagnosis of idiopathic gastroparesis (idiopathic means unknown). However, this condition can also develop a
Coping with the Guilt of Chronic Illness
Credit: Thinkstock Even at my best, there’s not enough energy to go around. And then I had a medical crisis five months ago and the recovery is still ongoing. My energy level has been halved and there simply isn’t enough left for everything I need to do. I couldn’t attend the funeral of a friend’s mother. I don’t see my own mother as often as I’d like to, or spend time with my friends, and I’m hopelessly behind on some pretty important work projects and life tasks. And the guilt is overwhelming. I’m not alone. So many people in the chronic illness community feel guilt over all the things we can’t do -- guilt because we have to say no to doing things with our kids, our families, our friends. Things we used to be able to do, things we want to do. But our illness -- the pain, and the fatigue -- means we can’t. Knowing that I am not alone is theoretically a comfort. I can try to persuade myself that this many people can’t be wrong. That the fact that w
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5 Steps to Dealing with an RA Diagnosis