Gary S. Firestein, MD, of UC San Diego Medical Center speaks about innovative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis including promising new findings with inhibitors of signal transduction. It is good to know that there are new treatment options on the horizon for those whose current therapy is unsuccessful. There is not a one size fits all remedy for this disease. I think that it is important to have choices and options.
Now is the time of year when we pack things up and head out for a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Before you head out here are a few tips to make the trip a little easier with any kind of chronic illness.
- Make sure that you are well rested the night before traveling.
- Pack light. If necessary pack two lighter bags instead of one heavy bag. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the carrying as well.
- Make sure to keep a water bottle and healthy snacks along with you. The water will keep you hydrated and help keep the inflammation down. The snacks will make sure that you are eating something that will not cause more inflammation.
- If traveling by car, take frequent stops to stretch. Getting there a little bit later that expected is better than getting there sore.
- Remember to bring items that make you more comfortable( for example a special pillow or heating pad ) if you start to feel stiff and sore.
- If traveling by air, make the reservation early and don’t be afraid to make special requests like a seat up front with plenty of leg room. Some people like direct flights but it may be better to have a layover that will allow you to get out and walk around a bit and stretch depending on the length of the flight.
- Talk to you doctor and get copies of your prescriptions to keep with you in case something happens to your medication when you are far from home. Make sure you bring plenty of extra medication as well in case the trip lasts longer than originally planned.
- Wear comfortable loose clothing and comfortable shoes that are easy to take off and put on especially if you are traveling by air.
- Pace yourself. Make sure there are plenty of periods of activity followed by periods of rest. You don’t want to overdue things and end up sidelined and miss some of the fun.
- Relax. If you have forgotten to pack something there are always shops along the way to pick up whatever you may have missed. Don’t fret about the hiccups along the way it’s part of the adventure.
I have to admit I was a little nervous about my first visit with the rheumatologist. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and there was a certain amount of fear of the unknown. At the same time I was really hopeful that this doctor would help me get back to my old self again.
When I got to the office I realized that this was a practice of 4 rheumatologists and my mother had been to one of the doctors in the practice years before when she still lived in Rhode Island. At the time I really couldn’t remember if she liked the doctor or not.
The office was clean and the office staff seemed to be efficient and polite. I filled out all the necessary paperwork and insurance information and waited to see the doctor. Lucky for me the wait was only about 15 minutes. The nurse called my name and led me to the doctor’s office.
He was about my age and he seemed very professional. I learned that the practice was associated with Brown University Medical School and was a teaching practice. He seemed very nice. He asked me a few questions about what was going on with my body. I explained that it all started with my ankle and then my knee and then my wrist. I told him about the Lyme Disease, that we live in a area where there are a lot of deer ticks. He asked about family history and I told him that my mother has rheumatoid arthritis.
It may just be my impression, but it seemed that the minute I mentioned that my mom has RA, that was it. There were no more questions, no other ideas as to what was going on with my body.
He then led me to the exam room, where he listened to my heart and lungs and moved all my joints every which way. He squeezed my finger joints and wrists and then announced that he believed that I had rheumatoid arthritis.
My initial reaction was “What happened to Lyme Disease?”
He said no it was RA. He said that he wanted to do some more testing but he was fairly certain that it was RA.
I said something to the effect that I thought that Lyme Disease kinda jumped from one part of the body to the next and what about the fact that I had tested positive for Lyme.
He said that with my family history, he really felt that it was RA. He said that he wanted to put me on some medication that should make me feel better, while he did some testing. He told me to trust him, that he would help me feel better. That the medication would get me back to my old self again and that he would see me again in a few weeks with the test results.
At the time I was in so much pain and this man was offering some relief. I decided to have the additional test done and take the medication. It was only for two weeks and maybe this guy could help me feel better. After all the other doctor wasn’t really helping. I needed to be able to take care of my baby and I was sure that the tests would show that he was wrong about the rheumatoid arthritis.
He gave me a prescription for prednisone and told me to set up an appointment to come back in two weeks.
My instincts were telling me that this wasn’t right, but I told myself that this doctor was teaching at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, who was I to question his expertise. So I took my prescription and I made my appointment and I hoped that he was really going to make me feel better.
The next part of my story has had the biggest impact on my life. It has taught me a great many things and I can’t wait to share it with you.