Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rheumatoid Arthritis

I've been living with Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA since I was in my late twenties. Unfortunately, RA tends to be one of the invisible illnesses and many people don't know much about this disease. Frequently misunderstood, many believe that those who suffer from RA have "a touch of arthritis".

Misinformed people don't understand that RA is a disease and at times can be very dibilitating. Many people who suffer from this illness have episodes of severe fatigue making it difficult to even do the most basic things, like showering. Other times, the fatigue is not so severe, but it is ever present. Often mistaken for lazy, the emotional toil on a sufferer is almost as bad as the severe joint paind.

"Brain fog" goes along with the disease. What people with chronic illness call brain fog is when the memory becomes fuzzy and the thinking disjointed. Someone having an episode of brain fog may have trouble finding their own home or difficulty performing simple tasks. This is a temporary condition but in the middle of a brain fog, the person suffering from the disease may feel hopeless.

Since RA is a systemic, or body-wide, disease, the pain may move from joint to joint. Those unfamiliar with this disease often assume the person with RA is faking the pain since it never seems to be in the same area.

Many people with RA use handicapped placards because of pain in the feet, ankles, knees, and hips or severe fatigue related to this disease. Unfortunately because they don't look sick to the casual observer, people become angry with them for parking in those spaces.

RA, as a systemic disease, can affect all body systems causing anemia, heart disease, lung disease, increased incidence of lymphoma, and a host of other complications.

Even with the new drugs most people who have RA cannot remember a day without pain in spite of taking disease modifying drugs, biologics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, steroids, and pain pills.

There are many invisble, chronic illnesses like RA and the people who suffer from these diseases at times feel isolated. Fortunately there are a host of websites and facebook pages dedicated to bringing hope to those who suffer in pain on a daily basis.

One such website is Rest Ministries & Hopekeepers found at: This wonderful site has many books on chronic illnesses as well as Bible studies that address dealing with chronic illness.

Another source of hope for me, is 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." My hope comes from knowing that God will use me in spite of an illness that at times tries to steal my joy but my joy comes from the Lord, not from my circumstances.

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