Tags: aches, advice, arthritis, fatigue, flare, pain, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology
I’m taking a ‘wildcard’ option today. The topic is ‘Biologics’ but I’m still on good old methotrexate and likely to remain so unless things get much, much worse, because biologics aren’t an option for mild RA in the UK. So there are two wildcard options – depression and advice. I don’t suffer from depression although a flare certainly makes me low and grumpy, so I’m going for advice.
What advice can I offer people who’ve just been diagnosed? Well, off the top of my head, here goes. I’m sure there are many more sensible things I could have said if I’d been more organised about RA blog week – but this is me!
- DON’T PANIC!Perhaps I should display this in ‘large, friendly letters’ across my blog, a la Hitchhikers’ Guide.
- Listen to your doctors and nurses, but don’t assume they know it all. (That’s for them to do and they usually do, but it’s not the case
- DON’T PANIC specifically about the side effects in medications. Most people don’t have any side effects. You might be lucky, you might not – but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. I’ve been lucky and had only the most minor of side effects, or none at all.
- Get advice from the RA community – local support groups, online support groups (such as Health Unlocked in the UK) and local or national charities e.g. NRAS in the UK, who I have found extremely helpful.
- Use what aids you need – and find out what aids are out there that can help you.
- Don’t be embarrassed to tell people about your RA and to use aids. Amanda John has written some terrific stuff over the years about dealing with embarrassment – or sometimes failing to do so.
- Find ways to deal with people – This can be HARD! Most people will be curious, many will ask stupid questions and even more will offer completely useless advice about their aunt’s cousin’s daughter’s dog who had RA, ate some honey and got better. It won’t help you to give a snappy answer, although it might feel good at the time. (I learnt this the hard way.) At the same time, try to find a quick way of explaining RA – true friends will listen to you harp on about for hours; the more acquaintance-level ones are understandably easily bored!
- Read blogs about RA – but remember everyone’s experience is different. Just because Carla, author of the terrific Carla’s Corner, has had to have multiple ops, doesn’t mean you will. Just because Wren has days when she can’t turn a page without pain doesn’t mean you will. But when you want support and advice the RA blogging community is a great place to be!
- Pace yourself! This is so hard! Fatigue is a big part of RA for a lot of people. ‘Pushing through it’ and ‘carrying on regardless’ DOES NOT WORK! You need to pace yourself. I frequently refuse to arrange to do something Sunday if I’m already busy Saturday – or vice versa, and I am pretty strict about keeping my work hours to a standard working week.
- Consider writing a blog. As you can tell from some of my more moaning efforts, it’s cathartic! It also puts you at the heart of the great RA blogging community, allows you to find new friends who really understand and empathise with what you’re going through, and allows you to moan at the blog sometimes if you feel you’re overdoing complaining to your loved ones!