One of the projects that I have been wanting to complete for a while, which I finally got around to doing this past week, was the creation of a “Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy Store”.
This store, powered by Amazon.com, is a selection of books, cds, videos, and health and personal care items that I think are particularly useful for those of us living with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune illnesses.
The categories and all of the products in the store have been hand picked by me. I probably own between 50-60% of these items…and the ones that I don’t have, I hope to purchase soon.
So when you get a chance, please take a look around the store. All of the browsing is embedded here on my blog. Once you are ready to check out, you will be taken to Amazon.com, where you can securely conduct the final step of your transaction.
Hope you like it! If there are any suggestions for items to add, please do let me know.
(There is also a tab at the upper-right corner of the page that will take you to the store.)
Disclaimer: I have not received any samples or compensation from any company or individual associated with the products in this store. As a participant in the Amazon Associates program, I do earn a percentage from the sale of any item that is purchased through a link on my website.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
Learn as much as you can about it and be as aggressive as possible with medications right from the start, regardless of the severity of your case. The disease only gets more resistant with time and you need to knock it out ASAP.
Do you use any mobility aids?
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
It has forced me to slow down, live for today, and enjoy simple moments much more. I enjoy my children and my wife a lot more. I try to surround all of them with moments they will never forget, try to do things with them that become traditions, etc.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
Bilateral knee replacement scars, finger deformities, elbow replacement scar, wrist replacement scar. Luckily I have had good surgeons so I am told I have really nice scars! I tell my kids I am a scar collector.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
I always pride myself on having a short attention span. So if I am upset or sulking I know within a minute or so I will be thinking about something else and forget all about what was upsetting me.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Imuran, Remicade (going to try Rituxan), and heavy doses of prednisone. I have rheumatoid vasculitis as well as RA so the heavy prednisone is important to keep this at bay.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
I am the proud father of 3 wonderful children as you see in my pictures. I have been out on disability from work since January of this year and God has blessed me with the opportunity to spend much more time with these guys and I am making the most of it. I have been married for 15 years to the most supportive and wonderful woman in the world – she’s my best friend and without her, I couldn’t be half as positive as I am.
I am a photographer living in New York City. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2008 and have decided to start a portrait project of people who have RA and other autoimmune diseases.
My hope for this project is that I can let everyone know that there are a lot of younger people out there who are dealing with these chronic, often painful, illnesses. Also, I think it is very important for the newly diagnosed to be able to see all of these beautiful, happy faces and know that they are not alone.
Working on this project makes me feel like we are all in this together and that none of us has to go through it alone.
Hopefully you are lucky enough to be in a territory that actually allows you to see the corresponding video. (Apparently globalization no longer applies to the internet – one of the most global things in existence today!)
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is happy to return from his ten-day break. When I started blogging in April of this year, I thought that I would write at the most one or two posts a week. Before I knew it, I realized that I had been writing a daily post for an entire six months! So when the idea of taking a break crossed my mind, I followed it without hesitation. The break would be good for me…and it just might give me the energy to blog for another six months. (Gulp!)
The break was great. I won’t be able to fit everything into today’s post, but I am sure that I will share more details in the coming days. As usual, I did not get to do nearly as many things that I had hoped to accomplish with my extra time. But I am okay with this – it was one more instance in which I could practice being rather than doing. For me, this is a big accomplishment.
As I continue to learn throughout my journey with rheumatoid arthritis, some of my biggest successes are often the most intangible ones – those moments when I am able to look into myself, and learn something new about the person who I am. Those moments when I can look around myself, and see the beauty of an older couple in the car next to me, laughing with one another, while stopped at a red light. Those moments when instead of waiting anxiously for my computer to boot – those seconds really seem to stretch out into minutes sometimes – I can go serve myself a cup of tea, and start my work on a note of calmness.
And while I was on break, I also got some time to reflect on my private versus public life. As with any good superhero, my true identity does continue to remain a secret…but this has not stopped me from sharing some of the most intimate details of my life with rheumatoid arthritis on a regular basis. (Actually, this has probably allowed me to be much more candid than I would have otherwise been.)
I have had no regrets about sharing the ups and downs, in’s and out’s of my life. I must admit, however, that I do sometimes fall into the outside/inside game.
Outside…as in: What will others think about what I write? How might sharing my story help others dealing with the same issues?
Inside…as in: What will I think about what I write, no matter what others might think. How will putting my thoughts down into words help me process these thoughts, and my feelings?
Whether readers of this blog notice this struggle at times, I do not know. It is not always present, but it does pop up every now and then.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, I wrote about the happiness I felt about starting to substitute teach. The thought of how others might react did cross my mind. Having worked for some of the largest technology companies, and with two Ivy League degrees tucked into my belt (and the corresponding student loans to prove it!), what could possibly be so exciting about substitute teaching on a part time basis?
But to me, that day meant so much. While I was still learning to juggle my rheumatoid arthritis with other commitments, I proved to myself that I could still accomplish a lot – even while in the midst of a major flare. I also looked at what I was doing from a new perspective: I might not be making the big bucks that I was previously used to, but I was gaining more insight into the inspiring world of education.
So I put my outside hesitation aside, and went forward with my inside motivations. When I returned home that afternoon, I was heartened to see my comments queue filled with many, many messages of encouragement and support.
On that day, I realized that this blog really is a two-way street. I used to feel like it was me on one side, and you the reader on the other side…with the obvious feedback through comments and email. But I was wrong. It is not about outside versus inside. Private versus public. This blog, at least to me, is about all of the above.
It is about all of us.
All of us living with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune illnesses – either directly or indirectly. (I speak from experience when I say that this disease is sometimes harder on those around me, than it is on me.)
All of us who deal with the fear that naturally arises when our bodies just don’t seem to work…and who continue to look for ways in which our minds and souls can pick up the slack.
All of us who silently cry when we see a loved one struggle to get out of bed in the morning. (And who just might cry out loud, when no one is looking.)
All of us who continue to work so that others may better understand the illnesses with which we live…while at the same time constantly trying to figure out these illnesses for ourselves on a daily basis.
While my break during the past few days did give me a much needed energy boost, the sentiments expressed above are what will provide me with the true motivation to continue blogging for what is hopefully a long time to come.
I’m glad to be back.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!