at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

4th Annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day: The Real RD

*This post is part of a Blog Carnival put on by Kelly at  Click here to see the other blogs that were a part of the carnival on this topic.

February 2nd marks the 4th annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day -- established in 2013 by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) to educate the public about the truth of Rheumatoid Disease (RD). This year, RPF has selected seven key facts to show "The Real RD" and challenged bloggers to select one fact to focus on in a blog post relating to their own experiences with RD.

If you want to know what rheumatoid disease or a rheumatoid patient looks like - this is it.
Want to know what it feels like? No, you don't.

You can find all Rheumatoid Disease seven of the facts below, but I've chosen to focus on the first one:

I've posted on similar topics before because RD is often known as "Rheumatoid Arthritis" which leads people to believe that RD is a type of arthritis. That's what I thought when I was diagnosed and I think it's one of the most common misconceptions with this disease. What is arthritis? Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Do I have arthritis? You bet I do. But that's just a part of RD. The ugly truth is that RD is a systemic disease that can affect any part of the body -- including the heart, lungs, eyes, skin, etc.

Although arthritis is often the most prominent symptom, I've known others with RD who have had other symptoms as their primary or even first symptom. For me, Raynaud's may have been my first symptom -- not joint swelling -- although no connection was made until after the joint symptoms started. Lately, my joints have been pretty happy. Hallelujah! But, RD has been cropping up in some other ways. Even with an overall low disease activity, my skin and eyes have started to revolt much like my joints did in the past. This has come out in the development of dermatitis, eczema, Sjögren's syndrome, and blepharitis. 

Fortunately, for now these symptoms have been more of a nuisance for me than a serious problem -- but they serve as a reminder that RD is still there, even on my good days. And they go to show that "arthritis" doesn't cover even what a textbook patient (i.e. someone like me who responds well to treatments and has maintained low disease activity for an extended period of time) experiences. For many others, complications and systemic manifestations of RD can be very severe or even deadly -- as we were so recently reminded by the tragic death of Glenn Frey. It's a sobering thought. Even though my disease activity is low right now, it won't necessarily stay that way forever. That's why for all of us, continued education and research are needed. Not just for better treatments, but for a cure. Today, please join me in sharing some facts about The Real RD and help destroy the misconceptions that are detrimental to so many patients:

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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!