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I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
Self-care is never a selfish act–It’s simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on the earth to offer others.-Parker Palmer
Knowledge is power. Knowledge and education about rheumatic diseases can help combat the feelings of fear and uncertainty that often fuel denial. Developing a toolbox of strategies can help you feel empowered to deal with issues as they come up. This is known as your Pain Plan. You can then reach for your pain plan whenever the need arises.
February is American Heart Month according to the American Heart Association. It is also Valentine's Day month! According to an article cited on WebMD, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. For the majority of us living with Rheumatoid Arthritis or other Rheumatic conditions, we are at greater risk of developing heart disease. Some medical experts believe the inflammation in RA may raise inflammation throughout the whole body, including the heart's coronary arteries.
Hello, out there all you autoimmune arthritis cousins. As you can see, our winter theme is all about the heart. Oh, that fabulous organ that pumps and pumps with precision, all on its own with nary a thought in our heads about it. But, bear with us here for a bit because it’s that time of year again when ‘hearts are thumping and you’ need to pay attention to them. It is American Heart Month.That’s right! And because many of us with inflammatory forms of arthritis are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, than others, we are doing our best to bring this situation to light.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it seems like a good time to pause and take a moment to consider love in the time of rheumatic disease. It has been well documented that a stressor like chronic illness can put unique pressures on partners in a relationship. Relationships have been known to crumble under those pressures. But in those relationships that do hold strong, many partners find that facing a chronic illness together actually brings them closer. Furthermore, fulfilling relationships have been shown to be a protective factor, increasing well-being and reducing inflammation.
Holidays are a mixed bag for most folks—and I don’t mean gift bag. For those of us who live with chronic illness, holidays present some unique challenges, or “opportunities” if you prefer. Parties, out of town guests, foods we don’t eat the rest of the year. Dinners out, cooking, shopping that never ends. While these activities can be joyous, they can be stressful and exhausting—even for “normies” people who don’t have health challenges.
Here are some ways to stay intact during this busy time of year:
When we think about the fall season, what are some of the things that come to our minds? I bet most of us think about the holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. To me, fall brings the joys of baking and awakens the sense of smell of baked goodies, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, brown sugar, and pumpkin. This is the busiest time of the year for all of us as we plan our schedules for travel, shopping, entertaining with family and friends, and even cooking!
Rheumatic diseases are typically first diagnosed by a primary care doctor. Patients are then referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who has received specialized training in arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Websites, such as RA.com and the American College of Rheumatology (www.rheumatology.org), have locators where you can find a rheumatologist near you. When meeting with your rheumatologist, it is always important to go into the appointment prepared.
Heather Reyna (Fort Wayne, IN Support Group) was officially diagnosed with RA at the age of 16, and over the years also have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s, neuropathy, osteopenia and osteoarthritis. Heather Reyna’s conditions are maintained with a mixture of medications, physical therapy and self-management. She is an avid reader of just about anything from non-fiction to science fiction. Heather also loves anything to do with plants and gardening.