Learning and Living with Chronic Illness

In the last few days I have had many questions about arthritis. Not exactly a topic I would chose to claim as an expert, but alas I am. It’s not a fun disease to deal with nor is there a cure. It’s also annoying because it’s your own body attacking your necessary body parts. As with many autoimmune diseases nobody really knows why this happens. There are theories that it’s heredity or that it is triggered by an infection, but there is no way to cure the nasty attacker.

One of the biggest misnomers about RA is that it only happens to old people. This disease strikes any age – usually females. The idea that it is an ol’foggey disease is because it gets confused with OA – osteoarthritis. OA is wear and tear on joints – which typically takes years to develop yielding a higher age group to posses the uncomfortable striker.

As the aging process takes place it seems we find that our friends and family discover unfortunate diseases, like RA, and are at a loss when it comes to dealing with it or offering support. What is it that you have been recently diagnosed with? Do you have a child or parent that battles with a disease and you are looking for support? It would be wonderful if you would share your story so this could be a place of support and information.

Dealing with a chronic illness requires a massive amount of physical and mental energy. A positive realm of support can be the best medicine and alleviate the a heavy heart when all seems lost. I look forward to your feed back and hope you have a pain free day. -trvw

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  1. You nailed it. When I was diagnosed w RA (just in 2010), I had no idea what I was facing or what I was in for. I thought, “How bad can it be? I’ll eat right, take vitamins, and my medicine.” I do all those things and yet, I can’t tell you why some days are good and other days, I’m in pain. I didn’t know anything about RA when I was diagnosed…I thought it was OA. I’ve come to learn that there is a big difference and sometimes I wish they would name it “Rheumatoid Disease.” When I tell people that I have RA, I get the blank stare and they think that my hands hurt and I can’t open jars and all I need to do is take some tylenol. OR I get the seven degrees of separation story, ” I have a friend who has a boyfriend and his mother has it.” Since my Jan 2010 diagnosis, I’ve only met 3 people who actually have it. They make me feel good and normal and not alone. As mush as my family and friends try to understand, how can they understand such a WEIRD and unpredictable disease.

  2. Jennifer and Trina – Finally someone who understands! I am 27 and was diagnosed with RA about a week ago – smack in the middle of training for the Chicago Triathlon. I have been a mix of hysterical and angry, furious that this happened to me. All I can think about are my limitations and the awful road ahead of me, because I keep reading the sad blogs about horrible pain day in and day out: “I can’t start my car” “It hurts too much to walk” “I can’t take care of my kids”. Anyone I’ve told has had the same reaction as what Jennifer has encountered “Uh, that sucks. I’m sure you’ll be fine”. No understanding whatsoever. This is the first time I’ve found someone who is still an athlete and doesn’t let this disease ruin her life. Almost everything else I’ve read about a person with RA completing a marathon/tri has made it seem like a MIRACLE.
    Sorry – I guess I’m venting. I’ve been dying for some good news. Thanks so much!

    1. Vent away…then get back to your training! 😉 So happy you wrote, please feel free to email, too, anytime.

      When is the exact date for your tri?

      -Trina =o)

      1. Thanks so much Trina! I look forward to reading more of your blog. The Chicago Tri is on August 29th. I’m only doing the sprint version because I’ve never done anything like this before. But I’m really excited!