The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for Rheumatoid arthritis

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Get your own list and answer and send it on at invisibleillnessweek.com

Prize Give Away! Fill out #iiwk09 meme “30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know.” Copy it from our web site here: http://invisibleillnessweek.com/?p=2301 – Share it with others via Facebook “notes”, your blog, etc. THEN… post a COMMENT on our blog http://invisibleillnessweek.com/?p=23 w/ the link to where you posted it and we are going to choose 2 people to receive a prize Sept 5th, 2009.

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  1. The illness I live with is: rheumatoid arthritis
  2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1993
  3. But I had symptoms since: a few months before diagnosis
  4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: everything-life was never the same and I am always in pain
  5. Most people assume: RA is an inconvenience, that is doesn’t impact every part of your life and every movement you make
  6. The hardest part about mornings are: getting up, I am very stiff and sore
  7. My favorite medical TV show is: It was “ER” for years. Stopped watching a few years ago
  8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: a jar opener
  9. The hardest part about nights are: actually sleeping, and getting all the pillows in the right places
  10. Each day I take about 20 pills (including vitamins)
  11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am open to ideas, but prefer to do my own research not get advice
  12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: invisible
  13. Regarding working and career: I was discouraged I couldn’t fulfill the plans I had, but I’ve found God had something better
  14. People would be surprised to know: how deformed my hands and feet are. That the arthritis is in every part of my body, not just “a place.”
  15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: Seeing the progression of the breakdown of my body, despite the medications and knowing the older I get, the harder surgeries will be to recover from.
  16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: go on roller-coasters! We recently went to Disneyland and I just “did it.” And climbing up slides at the park when my son was a toddler and needed help going down.
  17. The commercials about my illness: are nothing like reality. They are very deceiving about most illnesses I think.
  18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: being carefree, being able to walk on sand down to the beach and just walk forever along the coast.
  19. It was really hard to have to give up: being creative with my hands like cross-stitching, quilting, etc.
  20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: creative things on the computer like digital scrapbooking
  21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Run. Play with my son, throwing a Frisbee, playing volleyball, running on the beach.
  22. My illness has taught me: that life is precious and not to take moments for granted or to take the health of your family for granted. We never know how much time we have with those we love.
  23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: I’m so glad you are feeling all better now!”
  24. But I love it when people: actually follow through when they volunteer to help me with something. It’s so hard to ask for help, and then when the person changes plans at the last minute because it’s just inconvenient for them, it can be difficult for a person with illness to find a back up (I’m thinking of generalities here, not a specific situation.)
  25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “My comfort in my suffering is this: [God’s] promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:50 I put it in my emails and when I autograph books.
  26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: You are not alone in this. It will be hard, but the most important thing is to turn to God, not away from Him. And to find a friend who understands and will listen to you when you need to talk.
  27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: The amazing people you meet who have so much joy and strength in the most difficult of circumstances.
  28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Just drop by for 5 minutes with a latte or dinner.
  29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I want people to know they are not alone in their illness journey and that there is hope and joy despite the pain.
  30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: thankful that you cared enough to be informed about illness, because with 1 in 2 people living with an illness, there are many others you know who can use your encouragement and support. Thank you!

Find out more about National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and the 5-day free virtual conference with 20 speakers Sept 14-18, 2009 at www.invisibleillness.com

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Is Fibromyalgia a Spectrum of Conditions?

flower3As someone who lives with fibromyalgia, it is my secondary illness. This means I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years before fibromyalgia and for me, if my RA is under “control”, the FM isn’t as bad. If my RA is flaring like mad, my whole body aches and a good portion of it is the fibromyaglia.

Last winter when I had a bad cough for a few weeks it was the fibromyalgia that was the worst part. In the midst of a deep RA flare, the cough tighened my chest and abdominal muscles and the fibromyalgia made each breath excruciating.

The Fibromyalgia Spectrum – Part of the Big Picture in Understanding Fibromyalgia is an excellent article over at ProHealth.com that I recommend reading if you have fibromyalgia or know someone who does. The author is Dr. Pellegrino and it is an excerpt from his  popular book, Fibromyalgia: Up Close and Personal. (Note: I’ve not read the book and so this isn’t a recommendation, just information.)

Dr. Pellegrino has seen more than 20,000 FM patients in his practice at the Ohio Rehab Center, but perhaps his greatest credential is that he has been a fibromyalgia patient himself since childhood.

He explains that there are “Eight Subsets of the Fibromyalgia Spectrum” and what they are. One is actually “Subset 8: Secondary Fibromyalgia Reactive to Disease” which is what one alternative medicine doctor told me once and I’ve never heard said by another doctor since.

He explains, “Individuals in this category have secondary Fibromyalgia. They have a primary disease (for example lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) – and Fibromyalgia developed as a result of this disease. People in this subset probably wouldn’t have Fibromyalgia if they never had the primary disease. The primary disease requires treatment, and Fibromyalgia may improve with this treatment. However, the Fibromyalgia often requires its own treatment, and can continue to be a major problem even when the primary disease is treated or is in remission.”

Wow! Validation. What a concept!

He writes in the article/book:

Today I’m convinced Fibromyalgia is indeed a “broader” condition with various subsets. I believe this information is helpful in explaining why everyone’s symptoms are different even though they all have Fibromyalgia. This chapter addresses how the Fibromyalgia spectrum is part of the big picture in understanding Fibromyalgia.

>I encourage you to read more

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Medication Commercials – Are They Out of Hand?

We’ve all watched them, and most of us with a chronic illness have had a laugh or even a shout out to the TV. I’ve shared my irritation in the past that a person with rheumatoid arthritis (my illness) can be shown in a commercial from being practically bed-ridden to playing tennis and swinging the racquet over her head in what appears to be just days if not hours.

And most of us have been told by a well-meaning friend “I saw a commercial for ___. Have you tried that?” (Answer: Yes, I’ve been on it for 10 years… that and steroids and anti-inflammatories, and vocdoin and about 10 other things that would freak you out if I started listingthem…)

No, just kidding. I don’t actually say that part out loud and explain all that but I have said, “Life is not like the commercials.”

Here is some news:

Defenders of the direct-to-consumer drug advertising say this is a way to educate consumers and let them know of medical advances. But some critics say the ads do great harm, and reflect a pharmaceutical industry that has run amok.

This article/opinion piece from the New York Times has a debate on this issue with some key people. If you are interested in what the future of drug commercials could be, it’s an interesting piece to read.

Participants include:

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Interview with Lisa About Invisible Illness Week

Lisa Copen joins us today as the founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. This year it is September 14-20, 2009 and there are lots of ways to get involved, including a free 5-day virtual conference. Lisa is on a blog tour to help people know about the event and how it can specifically encourage you.

Tell us about National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. That’s quite a mouthful!

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LC: Yes. Often I refer to it as just Invisible Illness Week or NICIAW. Our
mission is to have a designated time, worldwide, in which people who live with chronic illness, those who love them, and organizations are encouraged to educate the general public, churches, health care professionals and government officials about the affects of living with a disease that is not visually apparent. Through programs and resources, we seek to recognize the daily challenges of more than 100 million adults and children who live with invisible illness.

Its also a great chance for people with any illness to be involved in a national
event to increase the understanding of their own particular disease. They can
use our event to blog about the emotions of living with their illness, for example, how they often may look perfectly fine but are in deep pain.

Explain to me what a virtual conference is.

LC: The virtual conference is a unique opportunity to “attend a conference”
without having to get out of your pajamas! The main event of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is this 5-day virtual conference–which is all completely free–September 14-18. We have 20 speakers who are experts in chronic illness and their specific area and each will be giving a 40-minute seminar and then taking calls from our listeners live. The seminars are M-F, 4 times a day, and will feature a variety of topics such as going to college, the challenges of marriage, applying for disability financial assistance, cleaning and organizing, finding the right job, faith, preparing for surgery, parenting, and many more.

You can listen to them all free live, or later on your computer, even download them from itunes. Or they can be purchased on a CD.

Really? So are last years programs available too?

LC: They are. Before last year we used a chat room and had written transcripts, but 2008’s can be listened to free from your computer, downloaded from itunes, or purchased on a CD.

I know a lot of us would love to attend a 5-day conference on how to better cope with chronic illness, but because of our illness, traveling, finances, sitting for so long, and other factors, it just isn’t possible, so this is perfect.

LC: Isn’t it? There’s a certain amount of irony that we began doing the virtual
conferences years ago, but now a lot of companies and organizations are choosing this option instead of an actual conference because of the economy.

Tell us why you started Invisible Illness Week? What made you see this as necessary?

LC: For a few reasons. I began Rest Ministries in 1997, a Christian organization for people who live with any kind of chronic illness or pain, because I saw the need to connect with others who are going through a similar journey in their life. We are also the sponsors of Invisible Illness Week.I witnessed a lot of people who were very bitter and frustrated because they felt so alone and invalidated in their pain. Some people even had spouses who questioned whether the illness existed at all.

But I also heard from family members, caregivers, doctors, churches, etc. who really did want to know how to communicate better with those who had a chronic illness. They tried to say the right things, but it was usually the wrong thing, and so they ended up just withdrawing from the relationships.

When illness and pain is invisible it can make it extremely hard for healthy
people to grasp the significance of how much it changes one’s life. It’s easy
for one with illness to become bitter when the people they love the most may
not even believe the illness exists or that it’s being embellished. It’s all
very sad, and I felt more communication was necessary.

People I know have explained this kind of thing to me before. It does sound familiar.

LC: It does sound familiar, doesn’t it? Even those of us who would say we cope
pretty well with a chronic illness still have moments when our frustrations
can get the best of us. It can be as simple as legally parking our car in a
handicapped parking spot and someone walking by gives us “the look”
of skepticism. Or maybe one of our dearest friends innocently asks, “So,
you must be feeling all better now, right?” There is a big difference between
being sick and having a chronic illness and most people don’t grasp that difference.

This is what motivated you to begin an invisible illness week? To increase the communication about all of these issues and emotions involved in living with an illness or pain that no one can see?

LC: Yes, I saw such amazing people who survive against all odds and still had
hope and faith. I wanted to give them an opportunity to encourage others who were going through depression or hopelessness.

It really doesn’t matter what illness we have, where we live, what age we are,
how long ago we were diagnosed, etc. The fact that most of our illnesses are
invisible and not seen by people gives us a lot more in common that most of
the physical symptoms of our specific illnesses ever could.

What illness do you have, Lisa?

LC: Rheumatoid arthritis is my main disease I struggle with. I was diagnosed
in 1993 at the age of 24. A few years after my diagnoses I started having symptoms of fibromyalgia and was later diagnosed with that. Unfortunately, I’ve never experienced any kind of remission that all the doctors hoped for, so the last sixteen years have been a real challenge. I know I could be worse off now and that in some ways I’ve been very blessed, but I’m also going through the emotions of my illness becoming more visible. My illness isn’t just painful every day now, but it’s hard to do dishes or drive because my hands and feet are becoming more and more deformed. I take a lot of medications that have slowed the disease progression down, but I’ve been in a new season this last year and have many surgeries in the near future.

I heard that you type with just a few fingers.

LC: Yes. I use about 3 fingers and my 2 thumbs. I have a voice program but
I usually want to talk too fast and it can’t keep up.

09_blogging-badge2How can people get involved with Invisible Illness Week and find out more information?

LC: I’m so glad you asked because just by getting involved in helping us spread the word, like by reading and sharing about this blog, is one way to be part of our grassroots effort. I hope its rewarding for people to know that they
are making a difference just by introducing others to the virtual conference.
Everything can be found at our web site National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week , including some fun items like buttons, bumper stickers, tote bags, pins, and silicone bracelets that say, “Invisible Illness, Visible Hope.”

This year’s theme is “A Little Help Gives a Lot of Hope.”

We are also accepting blogs from people to be featured on our site as a guest
blogger. And we have a place to sign up to commit to blog on the topic of invisible illness on one’s own blog. You can join our cause on Facebook and share it with others, tell people about our video, our twitter facts about illness, things like that. Tell your doctor, counselor, pastor, colleagues; we have brochures available too.

Some people call their local newspaper and share about the week, their support group, or their illness experience. Since it’s listed in Chase’s Annual Events journalists can tie in the personal story with the annual event.

Has social media made a difference in how you have been able to spread the word about Invisible Illness Week?

LC: Absolutely. Exponentially! For example we’ve done a series of tweets on
20 things not to say to a chronically ill person and 20 things to say. Our twitter hashtag is #iiwk09 to find Invisible Illness Week tweets easily. A lot of interesting conversations have been spurred by these tweets. Be sure to follow us @invisibleillwk on Twitter!

Over 1800 people have joined our cause on Facebook. We’re giving away prizes to people who blog and tweet on the topic.

We both know that there are thousands of people with illness who feel desperately alone and think no one possibly understands what they are going through. What would you tell these people?

LC: Truthfully, if I could I would just sit beside them and give them a gentle
hug. I struggle with the ability to sit and not say anything, as I typically
want to start problem-solving immediately. But I know most people feel that
no one is ever willing to truly listen to what they are going through and all
of the emotions involved with it. They don’t have anyone to talk to or be vulnerable
with.

Secondly, I would want to validate that the feelings that they are experiencing that no one understands–well, it’s true. Unfortunately, their experience is unique and no one can truly know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Illness can be an extremely lonely event. That said, though the illness may be a lifetime event, the isolation doesn’t need to be. There are a lot of ways to build relationships with people who do understand more than they may expect, they just have yet to be discovered. If you are unable to drive to a support group, there are many online groups where you will find comfort. The social network I began is at Rest Ministries Sunroom and I recently started Illness Twitters in order to connect people who twitter about illness or health issues.

And lastly, since my faith is in the Lord, I would want them to know that regardless of what negative experiences they’ve had with churches or Christians, they may want to give God a try. He can give comfort that we just cannot get from any person. And they can still have God’s “Plan A” for their life. The illness hasn’t messed it up and bumped it down to “Plan B.” I know
that sounds cliche, but I hear stories of this every day and have found it myself to be true.

You have a book out that gives people ideas about how to help a chronically ill friend, don’t you?

beyond-cassroles-bookLC: I do. It’s called “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend.” It’s actually a very helpful book because even though I wrote it, I still refer to it frequently for fresh ideas on how to encourage someone who is hurting. Too often I get stuck in the rut of not being able to think of anything other than another meal. Food is a nice gesture, but there are so many more creative and memorable ways  to show someone you care. We also have cute little JOY gift certificate cards that you can give a friend when you are offering to do something for them. JOY stand for “Just Offering You” and one
can fill out what they are able to offer (errands, laundry, taking your child
for a play date, etc.) and when the best time is for them to volunteer to help.

What a great idea. It seems like it would be easier to accept help if it was in the form of a gift certificate.

LC: Yes, that is the idea. Groups like a support group or a women’s ministry
will find these perfect, but they are also nice for anyone who wants to help
a friend and say, “Here is what I can do to help and a good time for me.”

Thank you again for joining us today, Lisa. Thank you for organizing Invisible Illness Week. I know with your own health issues and that you are also a wife mom it can’t be easy.

You are right, it isn’t, but its more than worth it! The people I meet or
email each day keep me going and I have a husband that is incredibly supportive.

I hope your readers will head  on over to National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and let their friends know about the free 5-day virtual conference. Its going to be a great time!

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I Don’t Feel Lucky That My Illness is Invisible, But Am I?

handOftentimes we only see the negative side of living with an illness that invisible to most people. But as time progresses, so does my own illness, rheumatoid arthritis. I can now see that there are advantages to having an illness that can be hidden or revealed, based on one’s own desires or certain circumstances.

I rarely see the changes in my own body, such as my hands or feet deformities, unless I see a reflection in the mirror, for example when I am trying to clothes in a dressing room at a store.

I’ve heard children ask their mom, “What is wrong with her feet?” as they’ve looked under the divider from a nearby dressing room. I can’t help but wonder how people don’t realize I have some sort of illness when they see my hands and fingers.

In the documentary about Farrah Fawcett’s journey with cancer, her son made a comment like, “I know she will be okay. She just looks so good.”

Those of us with invisible illnesses were likely yelling at the television because we too have heard, “But you don’t look sick.” But it was true. There were days when she did look like the blond bombshell we all remember from the posters. But there were many other days when she looked like someone fighting for her life.

There is no doubt it can be frustrating to look healthy when you are feeling like you have the flu times ten. And yet, if we were to really be honest, do we want to look as bad as we actually feel?

There truly are some benefits to having a disease that isn’t immediately noticed by everyone you come into contact with. Lets take a second look at a few of those perks.

[1] You get to choose who to reveal your illness to and who not to. Some people you may immediately confide in; others you may wait and see if they feel “safe.” Some people you may never tell about your illness.

[2] You can avoid unwanted advice. When your illness is visible, even the person in line at the grocery store feels the burden to share the latest cure for your condition or tell you what you should be eating. With an invisible illness, no one knows and offers comments unless you choose to mention it. And then you chose to open up that whole can of worms.

[3] You can do you job without preconceived ideas about what you can and cannot do. At some point you decide who to reveal your disease to, but if you are doing your job successful, you may be able to keep it personal for years.

[4] You aren’t on the receiving end of pity or sympathy stares. People who use assistive devices like a cane or wheelchair, or who have a visible illness, must learn to not care what other people (both friends and strangers) may think when they see them shaking, or struggling to walk.

[5] You can fake it! If you want to just forget your illness and go out for a night with friends, no one has to know how much medication you took just to be able to go out. You don’t have to explain why you aren’t dancing. It can seem like your life is constantly controlled by your illness, but ultimately, you still can choose to put on some fun clothes pretend to be healthy and carefree for a few hours.

Living with an invisible illness, or what some call a hidden or invisible disability, can have plenty of negative aspects and this article does not attempt to belittle them. However, to truly live life to the fullest, we must count our blessings.

Some days the simple miracle of being able to look healthy despite feeling terrible is worth acknowledging and accepting it for what it is.

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Life Disrupted Book is Comforting and Realistic

I have read many books on how to cope or live successfully with a chronic illness, and I am eager to read the ones that specifically address the emotions behind an illness, not just the illness facts.

Even some of the best books, however, don’t resonate with me in a personal way. And then I read Laurie Edwards “Life Disrupted: Getting Real about Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties.”

Not only did I discover a gifted writer who discussed everything from humanizing hospitals to difficult diagnoses, but also one understood the emotional roller coaster that I’ve personally been on since being diagnosed with an invisible illness.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of twenty-four, and ironically, I Laurie’s book was published the year that I turned forty. I wish I’d had this book years ago, but the impact the content had on me was not diminished in any way because of my age. I believe I related to the book even more, since I have already experienced so much of what Edwards writes about.

I’ve had an illness through college, dating, marriage and parenting. Through the past sixteen years I’ve trudged my way through all of these without a manual. Although I wouldn’t call Edward’s book a “how to” book, the validation that it provides through her own illness experiences, as well as her professional journalistic look at the sociology behind illness is exceptional.

It provides helpful professional information, with the hint of her diary between the lines. And I found a friend in one who copes with her illness best by burying herself in work. She writes, “As a college student I studied for finals and wrote newspaper articles from the ICU. In graduate school, I taught writing classes so fresh from being discharged that I still had a hospital bracelet on my arm. And all of this seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Why shouldn’t it?” (p. 142).

Edwards, a journalist by trade, (read her blog, “A Chronic Dose” here) is not afraid to put aside her professionalism and “get real” by talking about things that gals with illness can be concerned about, such as not being able to wear “cute shoes” or trying to find the energy to have a conversation with college friends. She even discusses gazing out a hospital window longingly looking at her dorm rooms. These things are a big deal when you are young. Emotionally we learn to live with illness. . . but it’s just so daily!

Edwards reminds us that those daily events of living with illness that can seem so significant are significant and not minor decisions.

How do we explain our illness when we are dating? When do we reveal it? How do we survive the embarrassment of healthcare situations that are a little more intimate than we would like? For example, when the home healthcare professional shows up is a bit too good-looking and close to our age? How do we become independent adults who care for our illness when our parents still want to be consulted? Is accepting our limitations giving in to our illness? How much of a caregiver should we allow our spouse to be? Should we have a baby?

Edwards has put together a wonderful book that will not only encourage and validate your emotions, but also inspire you to make positive changes in your own life. Her stories are never depressing (not an easy task for the best of writers) and self-pity is not in her vocabulary. Instead, her ability to laugh at her own circumstances, and share what she has learned on this journey so far, will encourage you, as her enthusiasm and joy for life rings through on ever page.

This is a book I will heartily recommend for years to come to people of all ages.

This review can be reprinted just cut out this sentence and leave this footer at the end. Thanks!

Lisa Copen is the founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and author of “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend.” Her passion is serving people through her Christian ministry for those with chronic illness, Rest Ministries, Inc.

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When Side Effects Are Dismissed

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Image via Wikipedia

If you have a chronic illness there is no doubt you’ve been on your share of medications. Half of figuring out how to “live” and not just “survive” is discovering which drugs–or combination of medications– can give you the best results, with the least side effects (and with affordability!)

Have you ever told your doctor about some odd side effects you thought you were having however, and were dismissed as “that can’t be because of the medication”? Doctors read the long lists of side effects. If the drug is available it means it has been approved by the FDA and therefore, the side effects listed often may only be for 1 or 2% of the population.

But what about all the medications that are taken for years and then quickly grabbed off the market, recalled… banned?

Here is a cool web site Ask a Patient. It looks simple (no fancy graphics here) but don’t let it its look fool you.

You can

  • Rate your medicine
  • View a Rx report card by drug category
  • Tell others about side effects you’re having
  • Read news and breaking reports on medications
  • Take a poll
  • Find out all kinds of patient info on medications
  • Find lots of the best medicine links around!

The post from e-patients.net stated last week week

A Research Letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine (June 22, 2009) gives the results of a patient survey conducted on the patient site askapatient.com. Over the course of three months, 367 people responded; more than 50 percent reported muscle and joint pain with fatigue associated with bisphosphonate osteoporosis drugs. . .

That is interesting enough, but the real point of the story lies in the contrast with data collected on a Web site frequented by physicians, sermo.com. One doctor posted a case of joint, bone and muscle pain in an influenza-like syndrome associated with a bisphosphonate. When other site visitors were asked about this reaction, more than half said other clinicians had never seen it.

I looked up a couple of the medications I am on. Seventeen people had rated Feldene, an “old” anti-inflammatory I’ve been on for about 16 years. I searched “prednisone” and 272 had written about it.

Just a personal note: remember, when choosing a medication, you have to decide what is best for you personally at this time in your life. No one else can make that decision and just as you can’t stress out about all of the side effects written on the drug inserts, don’t let patient feedback scare you away from a medication you may truly need.

When I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 24 (16 years ago), I was reluctant to take all of the recommended drugs because it said ulcers and such were common.

My doctor at the time took out his pen and drew on the paper wrapper on the patient exam table in the office. His first line was downward. He said, “If you don’t take the drugs, this will be your life. You will also likely end up in a wheelchair by the time you are forty.”

He drew another line that had hills and valleys and said, “We can’t guarantee anything with the medications, but at forty years old, you will likely still be walking.”

He drew a few “X”s on the second line. “Here is an ulcer. Here is another side effect.” Then he pointed to the lines and the X’s and said, “Pick one. Pick which life you want.”

I took the medications and have never regretted it. Rather than having them put me into remission and be able to wean off of them, I had to keep adding to them to keep functioning.

But I’ve never had an ulcer. I’ve been blessed to be able to handle medications pretty well without reactions or allergies.

That doctor and I had our disagreements and I eventually found a rheumatologist I work with better, but I will forever be grateful he helped me get past the fear of choosing to take medication despite side effect.

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