If you have heard about Rheumatoid Arthritis or know someone with it, do you really know what it is or understand what it does to the body and mind. Do you get that it is a disease and not an ailment. Well let us be Honest with you about this disease known as Rheumatoid Arthritis. A lesson for us all.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long term auto immune disease which I’m sure many don’t even realize it’s considered a disease. Are you surprised that it is. Well that’s what I think confuse so many. Maybe if it were called Rheumatoid Disease instead, there may not be as much confusion as with arthritis. But yes it is a disease. The symptoms are many but the treatments are few. It comes with pain, stiffness and swollen joints but most devastating of all, it affects the organs. From your lungs to your heart and those between. The cause you see is not clear but there are many factors contributing to getting it.
There are many of us stricken with this disease. The fact is, it starts in the synovial membrane where swelling and congestion lead to filtration by immune cells. Then there are the 3 phases of progression: the initial phase (due to non-specific inflammation), an amplication phase (due to T cell activation) and the chronic inflammatory phase with tissue injury resulting from cytokines. Yes it’s confusing but this is the brutal truth about Rheumatoid Arthritis. Even we don’t understand everything there is to know about RA but what we do know is how much it affects our daily lives and how much we suffer at the hands of this not so well known vicious disease.
As we have come to learn, the process of being diagnosed can be very difficult and it can take time. The symptoms aren’t the same for any one individual and they can mimic other diseases. We often find the bloodwork does not tell the whole story or can be misleading. There are many that find themselves suffering for years before finding out they do have RA. Once our diagnosis have been confirmed many do realize just how long they have BEEN suffering with this disease. The sad part is, finally being clear about the diagnosis can be a roller coaster ride to hell and back. It can hide its ugly head behind many symptoms causing one to doubt themselves and their doctors.
There is no simple solution to treating RA. Finding what works best can be a long and arduous journey. We are forced to change medication more times than we can count. The ups and downs of adding medication, stopping medication and increasing medication all in the fight to control this disease can be as challenging as the disease itself. The idea thing is to stop the progression while hopefully easing our symptoms which in most cases isn’t what happens. We hardly ever get the relief desired. Even though the objective is to stop the damage to our bodies, we find pain can linger no matter what we do. So let me tell you how difficult it is when this happens and your body fails to function when you need it too. It is driven by pain and fatigue that’s wreaking havoc on us as we try hard to make the best out of tough and ongoing fight. It has taken away a life once known to be fine to many and replaced with a life filled with uncertainty and confusion. You see most do not realize this is a disease that is constantly working even though we may appear to be fine. This is why it is known as chronic and everything about it is chronic but the goal is to make our lives as livable as possible even while living chronic.
There is no known prevention or cure for this condition. So we often find ourselves dealing with guilt over this but it is not our fault that we have Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is just one of those things we have to come to terms with and not hold ourselves accountable for. Many have said to us get over it, can’t you find a cure or just deal with it as we battle each day with what we have been saddled with for the rest of our lives. This is why we feel this is one of the most misunderstood diseases there are. Through it all we work when there is no strength, go when the going is tough and stand when we feel ourselves falling from the weight that we have to bear. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease that has taken over our lives and changed everything about us. We have a huge loss “Ourselves as we once were” and no one no one knows it better than us.
Finally, as I sit here and blog I am reminded that I have this vicious disease because I am experiencing pain more than I can tell you but I feel I must let everyone know just what this disease this is as best I can. Those of you who has it understand exactly how I feel and what I mean.