RA And On-line Communities: Sharing Stories To Help Others

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • Living with RA is a challenge. We have obstacles to overcome every day. Sometimes it is hard just to get to the shower in the morning. Sometimes it is painful to brush our hair. Sometimes, we can't brush our hair, because our shoulders are too stiff and swollen to move in the right direction.


    Coping with these type of road blocks to living a “normal” life can be overwhelming, unless we have emotional support from friends, spouses, family or other people who find themselves on the same journey through this life. Let's face it, we are on a road less traveled. We need to be connect with people who understand what life is like for us. Sometimes we need a hug, even if it is of the virtual variety.

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    I truly believe that the HealthCentral community helped keep me from going into a bout of depression last year. It took me a long time for me to get a diagnosis. In the meantime, I wanted to know what I was facing, so I read everything about RA I could find. I have to say that none of my friends, family or co-workers understood what I was going through the way the people here did, and still do. As a matter of fact, if I hadn't listened to Lene and gone for a second opinion, I might still be undiagnosed and untreated.


    It is understandable that our friends and relatives don't know what to do when they learn that we have RA. The drug companies don't help us out much by airing those ridiculous commercials showing people with RA looking, acting, and MOVING as though they have no problem at all.


    Most, if not all of us, went through a period of denial when we were first diagnosed. I actually denied I had anything wrong for years because the doctors couldn't give me an answer and I was tired of dealing with a medical community that would not diagnose RA without a positive test for RF. I think our friends and relatives may go through a period of denial, too. They don't want us to be sick. They don't want to believe it any more than we do.


    Those of us who are married know how difficult it is for our spouses to understand what is going on with us. I have read stories from readers about their wives or husbands thinking they are lazy or hypochondriacs. Reading those posts breaks my heart.


    The answer, of course, is education. We do have resources. There are posts on this website that my husband has read at my suggestion, and it has helped him understand how RA affects us, and those we love. Some of our members have found that taking a spouse to an appointment with them has made a huge difference in how their spouses relate to the challenges all of us face with RA.


    Still, no one can understand the physical and emotional pain of RA like a fellow “RA-er”. I hope that when you feel misunderstood, uncared for, or alone, that you will come here and share your story.


    I am here because I want to help others the way I was helped. We all need emotional support and concrete ideas to help us deal with our RA. I hope that 2012 is better for all of us. I hope that if any one of us needs a little help from our friends, we remember that this is a safe place to come for support and a virtual hug.

Published On: January 09, 2012