Couponing is more than a hobby to me becasue I look at it as the way I can contribute to the money
needed by our family. I have Rhuematoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, I am unable to hold down a full time job but over the years I have learned that there are ways that I can be helpful without actually have a job. Do you know what RA is..Here is some info so you can better understand me or someone you know who has RA..
First let's discuss exactly what RA is. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. What that means is that my body's immune system overacts and thinks that my joints are enemy cells, and attacks them. This causes a whole bunch of not-fun symptoms including, but not limited to, bilateral stiffness, joint pain, migratory pain, swelling, redness/hotness of the joints, chronic fatigue, fevers, soreness, rashes, bruising of the joints, muscle pain, loss of mobility (ex: grasping a fork, combing hair, holding a cup, etc.), loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, anemia, cold and/or sweaty hands and feet, sensitivity to cold, etc. On top of that add the side effects of many of the medications prescribed to treat RA: nausea, vomiting, heartburn, hair loss, weight gain, dramatic weight loss, moon face, mouth sores, migraines, increased vulnerability to illness, and too many more to list.
RA is a disease with no cure.
Rheumatoid Arthitis comes with "flares" and "remissions". When I'm hurting, I'm "flaring". When I feel okay I'm in "remission". Flares can be brought on for no good reason at all. But sometimes they do have a cause, such as changes in the weather, over-doing it, cold weather, and stress.
I know what you're thinking, "man she's so young to have this." Wrong! Most people with RA are diagnosed in their 20's. In fact, there are some kids with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis that were diagnosed at just months old.
Needless to say all of this affects my life pretty dramatically. Sometimes I have to cancel on fun stuff to stay home in bed because the pain is too bad or I'm too fatigued. At one point the fatigue was so bad that I couldn't take a shower without needing a nap.
Does this mean I can't go out and have fun? Absolutely not. In fact, normally if I feel well enough to go out, I make sure I have the best time possible since I can't always go out.
There are some things that are different between me and a healthy 30 year old. For instance, I walk a bit slower than most. I prefer a more laid-back life. A more "stop and smell the roses" kind of fun. As Lily Tomlin said, "For fast-acting relief, slow down."
Does having RA make me less of a person? NO!! In fact, the pain & struggle does nothing but make me STRONGER. I am constantly surprised at the stuff life throws at me that I end up surviving!
Hope this helps those of you that aren't familiar with the disease. Below are some more facts and some other websites that you can check if you'd like to read more about RA. I particularly suggest the "spoon theory" if you really want to have an impression of what it's like to live with a chronic disease. And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! I'm very open & upfront about RA, and I have no trouble answering questions, no matter how trivial they may seem.
Seven Facts of Rheumatoid Arthritis That You May Not Know:
1.) RA affects 1% of the population and is three times more common in women than in men.
2.) One of most common reactions I get after telling someone that I have RA is, "You're so young to get that." This is really just a good testament to the average person's ignorance to the disease. RA normally affects people aged 20-50, but in cases of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis it can affect babies only months old.
3.) In addition to affecting the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, nerves or kidneys.
4.) Unlike "old people's arthritis" (or osteoarthritis), rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Osteoarthritis normally stays content attacking only the joints that have worn away, where rheumatoid arthritis will cause not only bilateral stiffness*, joint pain*, migratory pain*, swelling*, redness/hotness of the joints*, fatigue*, fevers*, soreness*, rashes, bruising of the joints*, muscle pain*, loss of mobility (ex: grasping a fork, combing hair, etc.)*, loss of appetite*, depression*, anxiety*, anemia, cold and/or sweaty hands and feet*, & sensitivity to cold*. On top of that add the side effects of many of our medications: nausea*, vomiting, heartburn*, hairloss*, weight gain*, moon face*, mouth sores*, migraines, vulnerability to illness*, and too many more to list.
[*'s indicate symptoms I've encountered]
5.) About one-fifth of people with RA develop nodules which are lumps of tissue under the skin (normally near the elbows).
6.) A symptom that differentiates RA from other forms of arthritis in diagnosis is symmetrical pain. This means that if the left wrist hurts, the right wrist probably hurts too. This is a strong indicator of RA.
7.) Doctors look for many different things to diagnose a person with RA. One major clue is the "RA Factor". This is a genetic marker called HLA-DR4, which is a marker that plays a significant role in helping the body distinguish between its own cells & foreign invaders. This isn't a fool-proof way of diagnosing RA, considering that 20% of the 2.1 million people with RA do not have the "RA Factor" in their blood (like me). Some other resources you might try:
http://www.arthritis.org/ The Arthritis Foundation puts on annual events, you can enlist with your local chapter & get information on local support groups, volunteering events, magazines, and tons more. It's a great resource & fantastic charity.
http://butyoudontlooksick.com/spoons.htm "The Spoon Theory" is a popular site among RA Sufferers online. I've found that by sharing "The Spoon Theory" with friends, family, etc. they understand my RA better. The lady in the story has lupus, but RA has very similar symptoms. The Spoon Lady (as she is lovingly referred to) also has merchandise such as "Arthritis Sucks" t-shirts, mugs, hats, and also has alot of links to information.
http://groups.myspace.com/SufferingWithRA If you're a member of http://www.myspace.com/, you are more than welcome to join the Rheumatoid Arthritis online message board group. This is a great place to talk about things and get feedback from many different members that also suffer from RA.
I hope this info is helpful to you and I am always up for questions to help you!!