A note from a patient: Don't do like I first,did,and waste your time and your money on too many of over-the-counter vitamins
Make sure you get good medical care combined with exercise. And then a saying that a good friend gave to me when I was
really in depression and having a hard time dealing with this, and she said to me, "Keep company with those who make you feel
better." And that's what helps me. I make sure I'm around people who care. I have a wonderfully supportive family, and that's
what keeps me going.
The ability for people to actually work with their physicians and take on some of the responsibility of managing their
disease on their own shoulders. I know in my own experience I have regular visits with my rheumatologist and my orthopedic
surgeon, but all the other time in between those visits pretty much the care is left on my shoulders.
I have really worked very hard in conjunction with my medical professionals to develop my overall plan, and I think
that if people can do that and learn to cooperate their care and manage it on a day-to-day basis, then the years and decades
will become much easier.
Fatigue ;Well, I think one of the things that has helped me the most is really is to pay attention to what causes the
fatigue, and then be very good at scheduling your time or managing your time and plan ahead.
Don't try to take on too much, but just take on little bits at a time, building up to a bigger assignment or something.
In other words, just sort of segment your time out, and that way you won't have too much to do all at one time and become
It's an ongoing battle, and when you wake up in the morning and you just think, "I can't do it," it's your attitude,
and you have to say, "I can." And it's just amazing once you do those sit-ups or that walk or whatever how you are able to
function and never give up that hope that you can function.
Sadness is an experience that all of us feel from time to time, usually having to do with some disappointment or some
loss. That will interrupt a person's mood intermittently, but gradually they get back to functioning in a normal sense.
If someone is beginning to develop a depressive illness, some of the biological things that happen are sleep begins to
be interfered with, eating habits change, and interest in every-day-life diminishes. Usually the normal things that the patient
is able to be involved in don’t seem as important.
They have decreased concentration, and they often feel irrationally guilty and ruminate about things. They're tearful;
they're crying; they feel more irritable. And, in an extreme sense, there are people who are worried about self-destruction
but yet afraid to mention that to anyone that they're close to or to their physician.
Getting support from family members and friends is very important. Often, feeling understood gratifies people so much
- they feel like other people care about them. It's often very important that they discuss the frustration and the depression
with their physician.
The doctor may suggest that they see someone like a psychiatrist so they can have an opportunity to really pour their
heart out about what's troubling them and what they're frightened of.
The other thing that needs to be considered
is the use of antidepressant medication, though not necessarily right away. This often can be quite helpful in lifting someone's
mood and also can be helpful in terms of pain control even though it doesn't necessarily do anything for the underlying arthritis
Not everyone needs a antidepressant,it depends on their coping skills. It depends on what their previous history has
been. If you have someone who has never been ill and all of a sudden has this diagnosis mentioned to them, the way that they
react to it will often reflect how they've dealt with other traumas in their life.
If there is someone who has had multiple illnesses, this additional illness can often give them an overwhelming sense
of "What's going to happen to me?" and a complete loss of control. People like to feel like they're in control of themselves
and in control of their health. When this starts to be preyed upon, everyone feels a little bit of loss of self and somewhat
of a loss of self-esteem. But we're talking about degrees here.
People living with rheumatoid arthritis have normal life stresses, as we all do, but we know that one symptom of stress
is muscle tension. As these muscles in rheumatoid arthritis patients pull on the ligaments, the joints, and the tendons, they
decrease mobility. This can lead to more pain, more depression, and more stress.
When a patient has an illness that's grossly interfering with their functioning, the important thing is to try and find
an area where the patient can feel some gain in what's happening - so they feel like some form of control is coming back into
That often helps the mood. "At least I was able to do this much today. If I practice this, maybe by next week I'll be
able to do a little bit more." There's a sense of pride and self-esteem in trying. There's a sense of gaining something over
the illness. I think those things are helpful. Learn to relax.
I believe stress does have an impact on my symptoms, and I try to control that by exercise and proper diet and enough
rest. As a mom with two children and a very active life, I'm not working outside the home now, but do you think I have a spare
moment? No. I am volunteering in their classrooms, I am involved in the PTA and I am an advocate for RA. I sing in my church
choir, and my husband's going, "What about time for me?"
So, it's a very busy life, and when I do fill my days too full, I do find that I get overly tired. I do have to stop
sometimes and get just a little extra rest. And when I do get overly stressed, I think that the symptom that crops up for
me is that I do get a little bit tired. I don't immediately have aches and pains and swelling, but I do feel it a little bit
in the fatigue department.
Perhaps you can, but I think you have to be more disciplined than most of us are willing to be. I still look back and
perhaps judge my own performance and abilities, but if I had followed the strictest guidelines of "do not add more than one
food, maybe add two foods a week. Wait longer periods of time between. Eat only organic food. Check what's in your vitamins
for additional additives."
I mean, if you want to be so extreme, perhaps you can control it, but it takes every ounce of energy you have to try
to go down that path.
And I believe now, having gone down that path (without success ), you need to be in closer communication with your doctor,
and finding out what your other possibilities are by asking, "What can I be doing in conjunction with good healthy diet and
exercise and vitamin regimes?" Because I don't know that I would ever have the kind of discipline to go down that strict of
I think one of the points that you really have to ask yourself is when you go and look for information about any topic,
you would ask somebody, "How do I do it? What's the best way?" And you would take their advice. And their advice is usually
based on the fact that they've done some research, and they know what helps the majority of people.
Now, that's not to say that diet might not alone help an occasional person with this. We would love diet to work. I wouldn't
have to use half the medications we use with the side effects. It would be so simple. But obviously, diet doesn't work , we
wouldn't be talking about this. Everybody would be on diet. That would be the end of the question.
"Whether a good diet in addition to medical care is important, I would never argue. But as a sole therapy, I don't have
any proof that it helps."
People with arthritis are frustrated. They don't want to feel bad. They don't want side effects. They're not sure what
to do. So that's where you have to ask the expert. And we really don't have any proof that diet, as a single agent without
anything else, does anything to stop arthritis. We wish it did, but it doesn't.
Whether a good diet in addition to medical care is important, I would never argue. But as a sole therapy, I don't have
any proof that it helps except maybe in the smallest minority (people allergic to certain foods ), and I would feel bad if
you went in that direction. Why don't you go in the direction of the majority?
Remember, you're not committing yourself for life. If you start to feel well, you can always stop it to see if you need
it. But that's the perspective. Put it in the same perspective that you would any other decision you'd make in your life about
anything else. Where would you go for information? How would you evaluate it? What would you do?
The harm with alternative therapies is not what it does to your body, but if you look across at a population study and
ask, "How much time from the onset of therapy did it take you to see the doctor to get the diagnosis, and what prevented you
from going to the doctor?" the number one thing that sticks out is alternative therapy.
The patients who take diet, the patients who take the copper bracelet, stay away from the doctor the longest period of
time and don't get a proper diagnosis. That's the harm in strictly, alternative therapies. It doesn't get you to the correct
I'm not saying that it may not have some role in addition to other therapy,( there are many good complementary therapies
that are helpful when used in conjunction with conventional therapy ) but it keeps you from the doctor. That's what the harm
of these things really is. You can't reverse a deformed joint.