It’s been a big year! In this year-end post I’d like to share four articles that capture what 2015 was about on HealthCentral’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) site. We were very excited to bring you great news about advances in RA research. This recent news was a neat bookend to our January article about insight into the cause of RA. We were also privileged to facilitate the growth of a new movement in the chronic illness community.
As is unfortunately the way of life, our year wasn’t just about exciting news, but also about loss. As this year comes to a close, I also want to remember Brad, a member of our RA family for many years. He passed away in February due to compilations of RA. His legacy of advocacy, support, and a fantastic sense of humor lives on.
In a recent study at Oxford University, researchers created a blood test that is capable of predicting RA up to 16 years before it develops. This is hugely exciting news that can lead to many more people receiving treatment as soon as the first signs of RA appears.
There is a window of opportunity for the most optimal response to treatment in those early days of having RA. Until now, that window is often missed, but this new blood test will change that. Once we can predict who will get RA, much higher rates of remission will be possible. This will greatly reduce the personal and financial cost of RA to individuals, families, and society.
This study is also a major step forward in RA research that is likely to lead to a time when it will be possible to turn off RA before it starts. In other words: a cure. Stay tuned!
What is it really like to live with a chronic illness? Over two days in February, Britt did the first #ChronicLife event on Twitter. She shared moments when her chronic illnesses affected her life or she felt pain. Others joined in the conversation and the movement was born.
Three months later, HealthCentral facilitated a huge #ChronicLife event when Britt took over our @Health_Tips account on Twitter, supported by myself and other writers. We blew up Twitter, trending on both days, and making 15 million impressions. That’s a lot of awareness created about chronic illness and we were proud to be part of it.
Since then, telling the story of your Chronic Life has become part of the HealthCentral mission, not just on the RA site, but all our sites.
We are dedicated to bring you solutions to help you live better with RA. One of those solutions is to build a diverse healthcare team that can help you with the many different aspects of having RA. Your rheumatologist is essential, but there are a number of other health professionals who are important members of the team.
These include the phlebotomist who does your blood tests, a social worker to help you adjust and access community resources, and physical and occupational therapists to improve your function. Other health care workers who may be useful include nutritionists to create a diet to make you healthier, someone to tell you about financial assistance programs for RA meds, and more.
You may not need all of these people immediately, but over your journey with RA, they will all be important to you at some time or another. So we collected them all in one slideshow that you can refer to when you need it.
Living with RA isn’t just about managing the disease. It’s about living your life and there are some obstacles to that. A common one is interpersonal barriers originating from misperceptions and misunderstandings about what RA is. If the people in your life don’t understand and accept how your illness affects what you can do, it can lead to becoming quite isolated.
This past summer, we brought you a letter to help others understand what it’s like to live with RA. It delved into the difficulty between explaining chronic illness when you don’t look sick, dealing with pain, unpredictability, and gave suggestions to help others learn more about this disease.
This article resonated deeply in the community, giving many people who live with RA a tool to help their families, friends, and colleagues better understand the impact of RA.
We hope these articles will be helpful for you in the years to come. Wishing you and yours a very happy new year. May 2016 be healthy, pain-free, and joyful.
Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She’s the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.
Lene Andersen is the Community Leader for HealthCentral’s RA Community. Lene (pronounced Lena) is an award-winning writer, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. She’s written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Follow Lene on Twitter @TheSeatedView and on Facebook. Watch her story on HealthCentral.