at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

My First RA Post - Again.

Prompt: “Best of” post. Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.

Well, this is an interesting prompt since I’ve only recently started adding to my health-related blog posts.  So, I guess what I will share is my very first blog post about Rheumatoid Arthritis.  This post was originally published almost exactly a year ago and was a part of a blogcarnival orchestrated by Kelly at

RA Un-Awareness

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?  It’s unfortunate, but if you don’t know, you are among the vast majority.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by an overactive immune system that begins to attack the body’s own healthy cells.  The disease often affects the joints, causing pain, inflammation, and permanent damage or deformity.  It is a systemic disease that can affect the all of the body’s organs and cause many complications throughout its course, including heart disease.  About 1.3 Million Americans suffer from this disease.  There is no cure for RA, and many of the existing treatments are among the most expensive drugs in the world.  So, how come you never hear about the serious nature of this or other rheumatoid diseases?

Here are some of my thoughts:

1.  It has “Arthritis” in the name.  People know what arthritis is, so why should this be any different?  It happens as you get old and your joints are overused—they get sore and creaky.  Your grandma probably has it.  Wrong.  That’s osteoarthritis, which is what people commonly think of when they hear the term “arthritis.”  RA is so much more than the joint symptoms that manifest, and many patients believe that having the word “Arthritis” in the name does a huge disservice to RA Awareness and the patient’s ability to be taken seriously when in pain.  What’s a better name?  Some have proposed RAD = Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease.  I like it.

2.  Patients themselves are often afraid to speak up about their condition.  They may fear feeling disparaged or not understood.  Unless you have a similar condition, it can be really difficult to understand what it’s like to live with RA day in and day out.  Many patients may feel judged or even afraid of what might happen if their employers found out.  So, they remain silent.

3. Lastly, I think a lot of RA Un-Awareness is due to people like me.  Did you know that I have RA?  I can hide it really well, most of the time.  I’m pretty open if you ask me about it, but unless it comes up, you would probably never know that my immune system is wreaking havoc on my body (or is at least trying to).  Even if I told you, you might not believe it’s as serious as it is.  You see, I am one of the fortunate ones whose symptoms can normally be pretty well controlled by medication (for the time being – with RA, things can change overnight!).  By God’s grace, as long as I’m on a good treatment plan, my RA doesn’t usually stop me from doing any of my daily activities or hobbies.  The danger here is that people begin to think that RA is not a big deal – I seem fine, so the disease must not be that serious.  That’s wrong on two counts.  One, there are things going on underneath the surface that you can’t see.  And two, there are a huge number of patients who do not respond so well to treatments and continue to live in pain each day.  RA affects every facet of their lives, and they must severely alter their lifestyles to fit what they have the strength and energy to do day by day.  It’s for all of us, but especially these RA-ers that we really need to spread the word of this disease and fight for a cure.

So educate yourself and help spread the word!  Click here or on the RA Info Button on the sidebar for more basics about RA.

Unfortunately, what I posted then still holds true today.  However, I’m taking small steps to learn what I can do to increase RA Awareness and to help make the patient’s voice heard.

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!