The Month Ahead: Love and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Patient Expert

Love. It is an integral part of February. Based on store decorations, the celebration of Valentine's Day has now been extended all the way to the day after New Year's. Everything is decorated with hearts in pink and red and boxes of chocolates try to entice you away from your healthy eating resolutions. But love is so much more than what's presented as the romantic ideal for February 14. This month on HealthCentral's RA site, we will be talking about the many ways we can show love towards others and ourselves. We will also continue our theme about bringing you to the next step of adapting to RA with some information specific to negotiating the healthcare system.

This month, we say goodbye to Lisa Emrich, who will be focusing exclusively on our multiple sclerosis site. We know she'll do a terrific job as Community Leader of the HealthCentral MS community. Thank you for all the wonderful posts you have brought us, Lisa. We have loved working with you and learning from you

Hearts are the symbol of love, but did you know that when you have RA, you need to pay extra attention to the health of your heart? This Friday is National Wear Red Day for women's heart health. Later this week, I'll be writing a post with more information on how you can take care of your heart and help raise awareness to help other women, as well. Will you wear red this Friday?

You may also associate the colour red with an RA flare. When the heat and swelling starts, it can feel as if your joints are on fire. Later this month, Brad will give you tips on how to deal with a flare, both in terms of relieving symptoms and the emotional aspect.

Knowing how to cope with flares is just one way of moving into better health. When you're having a rough time with RA, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the fact that there are things you can do to improve your health. This month, Marianna shares questions that can empower you to move forward towards better health.

There are times when many of us feel that the healthcare system is set up to be as mystifying as possible. It's unlikely that it's deliberate, but RA and other chronic illnesses are complex and dealing with them adds extra layers of complexity. This month, we have several posts for you on how to demystify healthcare so you get the help you need. One way is to find a patient advocate to help you. Leslie will tell you more about what they do and how to find one.

Although there are now many more treatments for RA than ever before, a significant number of us still have problems finding a medication that works. Clinical trials of new drugs can be the place to find that drug. In my second post this month, I'll tell you how to find a clinical trial. Many of the newer RA drugs are administered by injections or infusions, which can be unnerving for people who don't like needles. I'll also post about how to deal with a fear of needles.

Throughout this month, we will also publish posts about love. Leslie will write about how you know you've found the right person with whom to build a life. Britt is going to explore the issues related to when the person with RA becomes the caregiver.

We also want to recognize that love isn't just about your life partner showing love is something you can do for anyone and in the process, you end up showing love towards yourself. Vanessa is going to delve into this topic when she posts about random acts of kindness. You may also want to explore our special area about love, sex and other relationships when you live with a chronic illness.

We look forward to hearing about your experiences with love and navigating the healthcare system this month in SharePosts and on our Facebook page. You can also reach us on Twitter and if you have a question about living with RA, hop on over to our Q&A area.