Category Archives: Decisions

Rheumatoid Arthritis: RA Factor: What Does it Really Mean

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What is an RA factor? Well to start, RA factor is a protein. This protein is made by the immune system to attack certain bacteria and viruses. The blood test to measure the RA factor  is used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, viruses and infections.   What I was told by my rheumatologist and believed,  was that my elevated RA factor along with my swollen joints indicated rheumatoid arthritis. Those two factors alone do NOT necessarily mean you have RA. In my case it did not.

An elevated RA factor can indicate increased autoimmune activity in the body that does not necessarily relate to rheumatoid arthritis. It is extremely important that all  the symptoms be considered before a diagnosis is made and no one test can indicate disease. High levels of RA factor can be found with patients suffering from viruses like Epstein-Barr and diseases like Hepatitis.

Other tests that should be done at the same time include:

  • ANA                          (Anti Nuclear Antibody)
  • Anti-CCP                 (Anti-cyclic citrullinated Peptide)
  • CRP                            (C-reactive Protein)
  • CBC                            (Complete Blood Count)
  • ESR                            (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or Sed Rate)

I will discuss these tests in future posts.

LivingRheum is Going Green for Lyme Disease Awareness Month

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The past four years I have spent talking about how to live well with chronic disease.The mission of this blog was to talk about not only living with chronic disease, but living as well as you can with it.

Initially I thought I had RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). I received a diagnosis in 2001 and I trusted the doctors.

I have learned a lot since then. A lot about myself, RA and Lyme disease.

In trusting the medical professionals more than myself, I spent 9 years being treated for a disease I never had. While other deadly diseases were wreaking havoc throughout my entire body. And to add insult to injury, the treatments that were supposed to help me actually made my body  the perfect host for these bacteria.

What I actually had (and still do) is Lyme disease (Borrelia Burgdorferi), Babesia and Protomyxzoa Rheumatica (AKA FL1953 or “The Fry Bug:)

That’s a mouthful for sure.

All three diseases are parasitic diseases that attack the joints, the central nervous system, the heart, eyes, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, uterus and spleen just to name a few.

These are serious diseases that have been marginalized by the medical community for far too long. The result has been thousands of people suffering needlessly for years unable to get a correct diagnosis.

There are many reasons for the failings in the medical community most of which are discussed in the documentary Under Our Skin. I would strongly suggest that everyone, whether you are sick or not, watch this movie. It truly is an enlightening film.

So in honor of all my fellow Lyme Warriors and in memory of all those who fought so hard only to eventually succumb to this insidious disease, for Lyme disease awareness Month, LivingRheum.com is going green for the month of May. And I will try to share as much information about this and other vector-borne infectious diseases as I can.

Arthritis Friendly Prescription Bottle Covers?

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So I request the arthritis friendly covers for my prescription bottles. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don;t. So I’ve made it a point to keep a few extras around the house in various bottle sizes just in case the pharmacy forgets.

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What To Do If You’re Not Happy With Your Rheumatologist

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What should you do if you’re not happy with your rheumatologist?

Well, there are a few things you can do. First off, I would talk to them. Sometimes it can be hard to find a new doctor, so it might be a good idea to try and resolve your issues with your current doctor. Explain the problems that you’re having and why you’re not happy. Remember that they work for you. It is their job to help you in the best way that they can. But they are human too, and may not realize how they may be making you unhappy. So give them the opportunity to be a better doctor for you and tell them what is bothering you.

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Under Our Skin: A Real Eye Opener

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something?

Have you ever heard the same message again and again and then finally, one day you actually listen?

There were many messages over the years that the universe was sending to me that I just didn’t hear. Maybe I was too busy to listen. Maybe I was just trying to get through the day. I don’t know why the other messages didn’t get through and this one did, but I will forever be grateful that I sat down and watched Under Our Skin.

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Hope and Chronic Illness

 

 

I had to share this quote, because it really speaks to me.

“There is no medicine like hope”

Wow.

Doesn’t that say so much?

According to Oxford’s Dictionary, hope is defined as “grounds for believing that something good may happen” and “a feeling of trust”. I think that in order to survive any chronic illness you need to have hope. A need to believe and trust that the current situation is just temporary.

I am a realist, I have read all the statistics and studies. I am aware of the scientific opinions. I know what I am dealing with.

But that does not stop me from having hope.

Hope is important.

Without it, what is left?

Hope sustains me. And so, when energy for me is a valuable commodity, I do not waste it. I choose to focus my energy on hope, and what will make getting through the day easier.

I believe that what you put out into the universe to get back. So I put out the belief that there is a cure out there, that another will never know the suffering that I have, that there is a scientist out there with answers to my disease that make sense. And that tomorrow, if even in a small way, is a bit better than today.

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