About Me

Welcome to LivingRheum.  My name is Jo-Ann. I started this blog almost 4 years ago to focus on living well with a rheumatic disease.   I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 2000.  I am happily married to my college sweetheart Eric.  We have been blessed with 3 amazing boys Alex, Nate, and Kevin.  We live in a fairly rural portion of Rhode Island with our 2 dogs Daisy and Max and our rabbit Nala. For the past 20 years Eric and I have owned and run a Land Surveying business.  He is the Land Surveyor, I am the business.  So he is my partner at work as well as at home.  

I decided to start this site for people like me who not only were looking for support in dealing with the daily ups and downs of  arthritis but also as a resource for those of us who are looking for information on what can help us live healthier, happier lives with Rheumatic diseases.

When I was first diagnosed with RA I went through denial and then depression. I felt like this was happening at worst possible time (as if there is a good time for this to happen!).  My son Kevin was still in diapers not even toddling around yet.  He needed me for so many things and I felt like my body was not only failing me but him as well.  At that time I had two very active young boys to contend with as well.  I learned the hard way that things were not going to be the way that I planned and that we were going to have to make a great many adjustments.    At some point I decided that I could sit back and let RA take control or I could try to find ways to make my life better. 

After 9 years of immune-suppressing drugs and countless doctors, and finding my symptoms not improving, I started questioning my original diagnosis. I went back to when I first started experiencing symptoms and looked at what happened prior to my RA diagnosis.

Prior to my RA diagnosis, I had tested positive with Lyme disease and had been treated for several weeks with antibiotics. When my symptoms didn’t improve, I was diagnosed with RA. I was told that it was a false positive Lyme test.

So I began to wonder, what if it wasn’t a false positive Lyme test, what if they got it wrong. So I decided to consult with a Lyme specialist to try and find out if it was possible. After 3 hour consultation going through my entire medical history, he told me he believed that I had Lyme disease and wanted to run some tests. Lucky for me, blood test confirmed that not only did I have Lyme disease, but I also have Babesia and Protomyxzoa Rheumatica. I had a long road ahead of me, but there was hope that I could be cured.

And so a new journey began. Unfortunately, 9 1/2 years of uncontrolled inflammation has caused joint damage. I need a new hip and  there are deformities, but the future is hopeful.

I created LivingRheum to help others live well with rheumatic diseases and now I am hoping to educate people on Lyme disease as well.


7 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Pingback: Eric D. Colburn, Professional Land Surveyor » LivingRheum.com Goes Live

  2. ElaineKalweit

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with RA. She has painful swollen fingers and other aches and pains. She worked on a farm in Connecticut for a few years and was bitten by a tick, but never tested. She lives in NC now where they are not familiar with Lyme disease and has not been tested. I think she has Lyme disease. I’m going to insist she be tested for it. Thanks for your story.

  3. Jo-Ann Colburn Post author

    Thank you for your comment Elaine. Please know that a Lyme diagnosis should be made by a LLMD (Lyme Literate MD) because the best tests that we have for Lyme disease are less than 50% accurate. It must be a clinical diagnosis by a doctor that specializes in Lyme disease to be sure. I was one of the lucky ones that actually tested positive for the disease.

  4. mary stackhouse

    Hi! I just stumbled across your website – I am 33 years old, diagnosed with RA 1 year ago. I live in Minnesota. It took me 4 months to go to my family dr for the swelling/stiffness in my hands which was primarily in the mornings. He did a blood test for RA and the #”s came back positive. Went to see my 1st Rheumatologist in February 2012. That Dr. ran additional blood work tests on me and it came back very high for the RA factor along with another test that also showed that it was indeed RA (not sure what that test was called – but my Dr. said that only the severe cases of RA will test positive and I was positive.) So therefore I for sure have RA and there is nothing else this could be.

    He immediately put my on Plaquenil which made me SO INCREDIBLY SICK and miserable. I told him that I couldn’t take it anymore after 2 months of feeling like total crap. He then perscribed me Sulfaszlazine – put me on the lowest dose – after 3 weeks I starting feeling better – winter was over and summer was here – I felt pretty good – rarely had any flares and thought that I was feeling good enough to get pregnant with my 4th child. Got pregnant in June – (currently I am 30 weeks pregnant). I was excited cause I hadn’t had any flares for months – until I was around 12 weeks pregnant – and the cold MN days moved in – and ever since then I have been miserable. RA is supposed to go into remission during pregnancy – obviously not mine.

    In December My Dr. decided to double the dose for the sulfasalzine which didn’t help either. I started having flares in my right arm – couldn’t lift my arm/shoulder at all. Prednisone seems to help – however being on that every day is not good for me or for the pregnancy. My Dr. now wants me to start taking Humira – to inject it every 2 weeks. This drug has so many negatives – even the commercial on TV is nothing but negative – I just don’t know what to do – I have always felt like I was misdiagnosed but since the Sulfasalaze was working during the summer I thought that he was right?

    Coming across your blog has made me question if I have been misdiagnosed. How do I go about finding a LLMD to find out for sure?

    Thanks for help.
    Mary Stackhouse

  5. Jo-Ann Colburn Post author

    I think it is smart to get another opinion. If nothing else but for peace of mind. Here is a link to help you find someone near you. They helped me find mine.

    Good luck and please let me know how you make out.

  6. Dawn

    Some cures and relief can come your way with some determination and work. Try the gaps diet! Or The gerson therapy . Remarkable things have been said about vitamin c therapy Too. Wishing the best for you!

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