The Month Ahead: Improving Your Life
Quality of life. It's a term that's much bandied about when you're living with a chronic illness. When there is no cure for what ails you, the goal becomes to have the best quality of life possible. There are times where I look at my able-bodied and healthy friends and realize that this focus on quality of life is one of the gifts of RA. So many around me move so fast trying to keep up with jobs and family obligations that it seems as if they have put off worrying about enjoying life until they retire. When the other hand, when you face the challenges of a chronic illness every day, maximizing quality of life is a more immediate concern. I think it gives us an opportunity to balance life in a way others don't.
Quality of life is a large, somewhat vague concept and what it means can differ from person to person. One way to define it is through a measurement called Health-Related Quality of Life. The short way of defining it in RA is a reduction of symptoms like stiffness and pain, stopping damage and preventing disability to enable you to participate in your family, workplace and your community. This month, your MyRACentral team is focusing on aspects that can improve your quality of life, both in terms of physical and emotional health.
Most of us take medications for RA. Some of these meds are to suppress the disease, others to deal with symptoms of inflammation and pain. Most of these meds come with certain side effects, most hopefully manageable. There are two Awareness Weeks during the month of November that are especially relevant to those of us who have RA. First, Get Smart about Antibiotics Week runs November 14-20 and this one is of interest to us all, especially for those of us who take immunosuppressants. Lisa will dive into the topic of antibiotics and include tips on managing infection risk.
Regardless of whether the meds suppress your RA or deal with your symptoms, many have one thing in common: they're hard on your stomach and many of us struggle with heartburn, GERD and other gastrointestinal woes. During the week of November 20-26, we'll be marking GERD Awareness Week with a post from V on the topic.
This month is also COPD Awareness Month. This is one of those topics that's important for everyone, but it's even more important for those of us who live with RA. We have a higher risk of infection and lung problems, which is why most rheumatologist recommend you get the pneumonia vaccine. Smoking also seems to play a role in triggering the immune response that starts the development of RA. Brad is going to write about COPD, quitting smoking and being good to your lungs.
And last among the health related topics, Leslie is going to give us an update on the latest visit to her rheumatologist. Many of us fight foot pain and are on a never-ending quest to find comfortable shoes. This month, Cathy will look at this topic in more detail.
Quality of life isn't just about managing side effects so you feel better or get healthy, it's also about being able to participate in the important things: family, work and community. The holiday season is almost upon us and Leslie will also write about staying healthy during a busy season, as well as explore thankfulness.
This month, I'll be writing about issues around connecting and participating when you live with RA. November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month I'll be taking a look at different issues related to caregiving and autoimmune diseases. As well, I'll be taking a close look at how the RA community connects through social media.
It's going to be an interesting month! Please join us throughout November as we give you tools and resources to enhance your quality of life. We look forward to reading your posts on the topic!