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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Necessary Evil

pillshotWhen it comes to managing an illness, the very medicine that adds comfort  and control to life can also strip away longevity. It is disappointing to think about how the medication that you swallow or inject into your body can be slowly killing you while at the same time it is adding value to your well-being in the short term. In order to live a better life, taking the potent poison becomes a necessary evil.

However, on a positive note, medicine is evolving all the time. Hopefully advances will be able to cure diseases and omit the need for drugs while correcting any damage done from taking medicine. I have been injecting and swallowing poisons since I was a child as a means to cope with rhuematoid arthritis.  It scares me to think what is happening to my body when I take something that is supposed to be helping me. At the same time I can’t let the RA continue to attack my joints and potentially cripple my valuable, active lifestyle.

The best way I deal with this issue is by trying to take care of what I do have. Take a look around at the people that abuse their health with excessive alcohol, smoking, or bad food. They are no healthier than I am. I focus on being happy and putting value to the life that I have. I have no choice but to put my fear aside and hope that my efforts will pay off. If I live with a positive attitude then I will get more out of my time alive then I ever will if I sulk and wonder what if.

It’s not that I never get worried about how the disease is controlling my fate or if I’m trading one evil for another. I have to clench my teeth and swallow my pride when I see my knuckles swell. Some of the scary thoughts that worry me I have to push away because I refuse to let them control me. Surrounding myself with supportive and caring people is one of the best ways to fight off the necessary evils in life. No matter who you are or what you are dealing with, there comes a time when you have to make decisions that will leave you wondering “what if?” Don’t live in the “what ifs” of life because the “what it is” of life is waiting for you to make the most of it. -pm

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Doctor, doctor Part II

redbandaidsThe trip to the doctor isn’t fun – we determined that in Part I.  Now in part II I will suggest 3 lists to take with you to your next doctor’s visit. It’s important to be an informed patient. To get the best care from you doctor you have to be prepared and smart.

1. The Question List

The Question List is going to be the one that has every little ache and pain that you forget about once the doctor enters the room. It’s a good idea to keep an ongoing list of items between visits.  Just before you go, mark off ones that are no longer an issue and prioritize them in order of importance.

2. The Medicine List

The Medicine List should list every prescribed, over-the-counter, and vitamin/herb supplement, with dosage.  It’s is important because there are many medicines that sound the same, are close in spelling, and have a range of doses.  Even if you don’t take anything on a regular basis think back if another doctor prescribed something for a flu or cold, if you had taken pills for blood pressure but don’t need them now – things like this can give a doctor clues to your medical history. Add any allergies too.

3. The Info/Contact List

This list will have all the junk that you might need for the stack of forms you might need to fill out.  Have your insurance information ready(there are 2 or 3 numbers on the card that they might need even though they copy your card, so take your card too.). Have the names and numbers of the friends and family that you trust to be your emergency contacts. Write down medical history information like past surgeries that you’ve had, major illness that you are aware of in your family and who had/has it.

The smarter and more prepared you are the more serious your doctor will take you.  Hopefully, it will result in better care.  If you don’t feel like you are getting the care you deserve from your doctor, move on.  You already have your lists made. -pm

Other articles in this series:

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