The Month Ahead: Are you RA Literate?

  • Note: this is a re-post of the October, 2013 Month Ahead, which due to technical issues disappeared from our site.


    This time of year has always felt like a beginning for me. Perhaps it's all the years I spent in school and university that's firmly cemented, early fall as the real-time the year starts. And perhaps it is that the idea of a start in the death of winter is impossible to comprehend. It's so much easier to feel at least somewhat energized and motivated when you don't have to put on a parka, mittens, and snow pants to leave the house!


    Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is much like getting enrolled in a mandatory course you don't want to take. You need to learn new jargon, figure how to navigate the health care system and at the same time very quickly get up to speed on making decisions that have a direct impact on your life. It can be very overwhelming. October’s Health Literacy Month is dedicated to improving how we communicate health information to make it more understandable. HealthCentral has a proven track record of presenting the information you need in ways that don't require an advanced degree to understand. This month, we are all writing about health literacy. This means giving you the information you need in such a way that you don't need an advanced degree in medicine to understand it.

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    Several members of the RAHealthCentral team are writing on the topic of health literacy this month. I'm kicking it off with my first post, which will go back to basics to cover the essential terms you need to know to start your journey with RA. Leslie is also going to tackle health literacy from a slightly different perspective.


    RA literacy also involves being aware of treatment options and how effective they are, so you can have informed conversations with your rheumatologist and make better decisions. Lisa is going to continue using her research skills for our benefit, discussing a recent study about the long-term effectiveness of anti-TNF drugs that has identified certain ways to predict who will and won't continue with a particular treatment.


    RA isn't just about what's happening in your joints. It's also about what's happening within other systems of your body, such as your lungs. Brad is going to talk about lung health and RA, sharing his experience with lung complications and what you can do to stay ahead of these types of problems. RA also comes with emotional challenges and depression is a very common in people who live with this disease. Later this month, V will write about how to deal with depression when you're flaring.


    When you have a chronic illness, it is very important to have a good medical team. Leslie reason removed from Michigan to New York and now has to start from scratch to put together an effective team of health professionals to help her manage RA and lupus. She's going to share her experience and includes some tips on how to find a good doctor. But what if your doctor moves? Lisa's doctor has recently changed offices and that this may affect her care. She'll tell us more about this situation.


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    One of the positive aspects of RA — and there are some — is that it can put you in touch with a wider community that can support you. Sometimes, the support is very specific to your disease, at other times it's helping you through regular life challenges. Often, we come together to help bring awareness about RA and arthritis and October is one of those times. On October 12, we celebrate World Arthritis Day and connect with many others all over the world who know what it feels like to have arthritis. I'll write more about this event in a few weeks.


    Do you have any plans for World Arthritis Day? Are there any particular topics you'd like us to write about to help you better understand your RA? Let us know in the comment section or on our Facebook page.


    We look forward to talking to you this month.


Published On: October 30, 2013