I Thank My Rheumatoid Arthritis For…

SunsetI thank my rheumatoid arthritis for allowing me to realize that learning how to ask for help doesn’t make me weak; it makes me strong. I thank my RA for showing me that life goes on, no matter what obstacles appear in my path. I thank my RA for reminding me, on a continual basis, about the importance of eating healthy foods. I thank my RA for teaching me that, in the end, having a “career” matters very little. I thank my RA for allowing me to accept that if I can’t do something today, I am not a failure…I will just try again tomorrow. I thank my RA for providing me the opportunities to experience the beauties of rebounding from the lowest lows, and in appreciating life for everything it is (and isn’t), especially after previously having wanted to “end it all” on more than one occasion. I thank my RA for allowing me to meet so many other inspiring individual–both in person and online–who understand the importance of always looking for the silver lining no matter what happens. I thank my RA for encouraging me to continue moving, even (especially!) on those days when doing so seems like the most impossible of tasks. I thank my RA for showing me just how much warmth can be gained by sitting in the sun for a few short minutes. I thank my RA for giving me the opportunity to learn how to work through negative emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt myself or others. I thank my RA for showing me that one of the most beautiful things about support is that is often comes from where we least expect it. I thank my RA (and it’s associated reduced income and costly regular medical expenses) for encouraging me to appreciate the joys of having a non-consumerist based lifestyle; double thanks for making me more frugal than I ever thought possible. I thank my RA for teaching me that while I may not be in control of what happens to my body, I can always be in control of what is going on in my mind. I thank my RA for demonstrating that quite often the biggest steps backwards are actually huge steps forward. I thank my RA for teaching me the beauty of physical, emotional, and mental stillness. I thank my RA for showing me that stress has no place in my life. I thank my RA for allowing me to realize that prioritizing my well-being above all else is not an act of selfishness; it’s an act of survival. I thank RA for constantly reminding me that I should take nothing for granted. I thank my RA for never letting me forget that laughter is indeed the best medicine. I thank my RA for showing me the importance of focusing not on the past and not on the future, but on the present. I thank my RA for teaching me that a smile is one of the most precious gifts that a person can give or receive.

I thank my RA for allowing me to become the person I currently am.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Guía De 60 Segundos Para Artritis Reumatoide

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RA Guy ¡Hola! Este soy yo, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy. Soy un superheroe que vive con artritis reumatoide. Mi enfermedad durara una vida entera, pero leer esta guía de AR tomara solamente un minuto – lo prometo. (¡Inclusive utilicé un cronometro, como los que utilizan en películas de acción!) ¿Puede uno obtener una mejor idea de artritis reumatoide en 60 segundos? ¡Tratémoslo!

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Question Mark Artritis reumatoide es una enfermedad autoinmunitaria que causa una inflamación crónica de las articulaciones (y algunas veces, los órganos). Una enfermedad autoinmunitaria es un padecimiento donde el sistema inmunológico del cuerpo erróneamente identifica células saludables como células invasoras. El resultado: el cuerpo manda anticuerpos ha atacar estas células saludables. (Suena como el Joker estuviera hablando… ¿ya te encuentras confundido?)

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Bat Signal Bueno, pretendamos que tu cuerpo es la Ciudad Gótica. Tu sistema inmunológico es Batman. ¿Tus articulaciones? Bueno, son pequeños batisignos. Batman – creyendo que la Ciudad Gótica esta siendo invadida – esta para siempre respondiendo a todos los batisignos y atacando todo a su alrededor, dejando en su paso muchos destrozos. (Nunca se da cuenta que estos batisignos son falsas alarmas.)

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Pain Ninguna palabra puede describir correctamente el dolor físico que artritis reumatoide causa. (Pero esta imagen mental, para mi, puede ayudar a describirlo: ¡Un camión de carga me atropella. Y entonces retrocede y me atropella nuevamente!) El dolor de artritis reumatoide es crónico y es algo que no puede ser aliviado con simplemente tomar aspirina. Este dolor es uno de los aspectos más debilitantes de vivir con AR.

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Inflammation El constate ataque a articulaciones que son sanas nos lleva a una inflamación – las articulaciones se vuelven rojas e inflamadas. Cuando las articulaciones están constantemente inflamadas eventualmente comienzan a cambiar de lugar. Esto puede llevar a tener desfiguración y daño en la articulación, que algunas veces puede ser permanente. Muchos de los síntomas de artritis reumatoide están directamente relacionados con este proceso inflamatorio.

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Hinge Articulaciones que constantemente están inflamadas por lo general empiezan a tener periodos extendidos de rigidez. Esto nos puede llevar algunas veces a una reducción drásticas de movilidad y fortaleza. Uno de los síntomas más prominentes de artritis reumatoide es rigidez en la mañana – y como una bisagra ensarrada, no podemos poner unas cuantas gotas de aceite para que las cosas estén mejor. (Ojala fuera así de simple.)

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Empty Guage Cuando artritis reumatoide está activa, una persona puede llegar a estar extremadamente cansada. En realidad – sobrepasa un simple cansancio y sube a un nivel de agotamiento. Esta constante falta de energía puede ser uno de los aspectos mas limitantes de vivir con AR. Generalmente, los periodos de actividad diaria deben ser reducidos y periodos de sueño y descanso deben ser incrementados.

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Dark Cloud Vivir con AR puede provocar muchos desafíos emocionales. Estrés y niveles de ansiedad pueden incrementar. Periodos de depresión, sentimientos de darse por vencido, y pensamientos de suicidio pueden darse mas frecuentemente. Afrontar una enfermedad crónica es difícil. Si sientes que tu o alguien que quieres pueda estar en peligro de hacerse daño, por favor busca ayuda.

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But You Are Too Young Artritis reumatoide no tiene ninguna relación con edad – puede afectar a gente joven y mayor de igual manera. Inclusive existe una forma de AR juvenil. Mucha gente confunde AR con osteoartritis, otra forma de artritis que generalmente es relacionada con edad. Entonces si realmente deseas dar un cumplido a alguien por verse joven, ¡adelante! (Pero por favor no te olvides, nadie es “muy joven” para tener AR).

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You Don't Look Sick Algunas personas que viven con AR pueden tener señales visibles de daño de articulaciones, o puede que utilice aparatos que ayude con su movilidad. Pero, en muchos casos de artritis reumatoide la enfermedad es invisible. Muchas personas no muestran ningún signo visible de AR. Entonces una vez mas, si quieres dar un cumplido a alguien por lo bien que se ve, ¡adelante! (Pero por favor no te olvides, personas con AR no necesariamente se “ven enfermos”.)

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Team RA Actualmente no existe ninguna cura para artritis reumatoide, pero muchos tratamientos están disponibles. Como Superman tenia a su Liga de Justicia, también RA Guy tiene su Equipo AR. Una estrategia de 360° es recomendada: reumatólogo, psicólogo, físico terapeuta, acupuntor, guía espiritual, terapeuta holístico, dietista, cirujano, y terapeuta de masajes.

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Yellow Star (¡Y ha diferencia de las películas, mis últimos cinco minutes no duran media hora!) Vivir con AR: ¡No pierdas la esperanza! Habla con un amigo, miembro de familia, compañero de trabajo acerca de AR. Visita uno de los muchos grupos de soporte en internet, fórums, y blogs que se encuentran disponibles para gente que vive con AR y sus proveedores de ayuda. ¡Juntos podemos concientizar a gente acerca de artritis reumatoide – solo toma unos minutos!

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Guía De 60 Segundos Para Artritis Reumatoide (pdf format)
Para descargar, haga clic derecho y “Guardar enlace como …”.

Esta información no es un sustituto de asesoramiento profesional y atención médica. Si usted tiene necesidades específicas, por favor hable con un proveedor profesional de la salud.

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10 Easy Steps to Becoming a Superhero

RAGuy
Welcome to Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy! Have you ever wondered how you too could become a real Superhero? Read the following 10 easy steps and find out!


1. You Already Are A Superhero!
First of all, if you are living with Rheumatoid Arthritis or any another autoimmune disorder, or are the caregiver of someone who is living with one of these diseases, then you already are a Superhero! (You didn’t think it was going to be this easy, did you?) Seriously though, let’s think about this a little more. By most definitions, a person requires actual superhuman powers in order to be deemed a Superhero. (A cool costume doesn’t hurt either!) I don’t know about you, but dealing with and overcoming the continuous challenges that rheumatoid arthritis introduces into our lives certainly does qualify as “superhuman powers.”


2. Do You Know What’s Wrong With This Picture?
If you mention Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, or Batman, most people know who you are talking about. Unfortunately, RA Superheroes still have to work a little harder in order to gain this recognition and have others know who we are. (Maybe this is why no one from Marvel Comics has yet to return my phone calls?) Does the following conversation sound the least bit familiar?

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According to all of the comments that have already been received, there can be no doubt that RA Superheroes encounter uninformed comments and a lack of awareness on a regular basis. Sure, this can be annoying…and sometimes even downright hurtful. Increasing awareness about our disease is certainly a challenge, but the ability to do so is definitely just one of the many powers that all of us RA Superheroes have!

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3. Help Raise Awareness: Are You Talking About RA?
At the Daily Planet, no one knows that Clark Kent is actually a Superhero. This same situation may hold true in your workplace, or in your personal life. Many Superheroes (including Superman himself) are concerned about not revealing too many aspects of their true identities, and this is perfectly understandable. When it comes to living with a disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is a fine line between privacy and awareness. How might others react? Will there be repercussions if my employer finds out that I am chronically sick? What about family and friends? There are many ways to talk about RA, both privately and publicly. Not only does talking allow us to receive the support and understanding that we need, but it also goes a long was in helping to increase RA awareness–which can only help all of us RA Superheroes. So in a way that is right for you, Are You Talking About RA?

Superhero Tip: Don’t forget to laugh!

“I got into a cage match with my immune system,
and my immune system seems to have won.” -RA Guy


4. Help Raise Awareness: 60-Second Guide To RA.
One of the biggest challenges of talking to people about Rheumatoid Arthritis is first figuring out a way to explain this disease. (It sometimes seems like a lot of the explanations that can be found online require some sort of medical background in order to completely understand.) Even after I was diagnosed with RA, I still could not fully comprehend exactly how RA worked, much less explain so to others. It was for this reason that a couple of years ago, I wrote the 60-Second Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis–which really takes only a minute to read! (It even has a countdown timer, like they use in the action movies.) Full of cool drawings and Superhero references, this guide is perfect to use when talking about RA with family members, friends, and co-workers.

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5. Help Raise Awareness: Real Profiles Of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Just as all of us have the power to raise awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis, we also have the ability to create an accurate depiction of the people who live with rheumatoid arthritis. Young and old. Male and female. Recently diagnosed and long-time RA veterans. There is no one “typical” representation of this disease. Some of us have no visible signs of our illness and might often be told “but you don’t look sick!” Some of us might have crooked fingers and other damaged joint. Some of us use different mobility aids in order to get around. Some of us have physical scars from joint replacement surgeries. Read and share some of the current Real Profiles of RA, or consider submitting your own. Let’s show the rest of the world what RA Superheroes really look like!


6. Have Some Fun: You Know You Have RA When…!
Being a Superhero is a lot of work. It’s important, however, to always make sure that there is enough time to have fun and to laugh. It’s interesting, how the exact same thoughts that can make us cry can also make us laugh. Case in point: You Know You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis When… What can you add to the list? Some of my favorites: Briana’s “…a thoroughly productive day means you only took 3 naps.” Or Bengta’s “…you’re walking in a crowd of people and fall to the back and realize you’re thankful that you’re not a gazelle on the Sahara desert because you’re pretty sure you would be picked off by a lion or something.” I myself can relate to 99% of the responses. (This one response broke my perfect streak: Megan’s “…your husband has to unhook your bra, and it’s only so you can change into jammies!”)

Superhero Tip: Don’t forget to laugh some more!

“Don’t you just love the meds? While Superman gets abs of steel,
I’m left with a stomach that seems to be made of tissue paper.” -RA Guy


7. Have Some Fun: Play RA Bingo!
Okay, I admit that there is absolutely nothing fun about being in a flare. But if we’re going to have to be in a flare, over and over again, we might as well try to figure out a way to have fun while we’re there. Not possible, you might be thinking to yourself? Then try playing RA Bingo, otherwise know as Flare! Don’t forget, RA Superheroes who play by the blackout rules do so at their own responsibility…and I am in no way to blame for anyone who might actually be looking forward to the arrival of his or her next flare. B-I-N-G-O…er, I mean, F-L-A-R-E!


8. Have Some Fun: Ride The RA Rollercoaster!
Ride the RA Rollercoaster! Just like an actual flare, with one major difference: on this ride, you can actually get off whenever you want to! This ride is not for the faint of heart…but then again, neither is Rheumatoid Arthritis itself. Enjoy (or at least, as much as you can!)


9. Join The Superhero Wall Of Fame!
Now that you have reached this next-to-last step, why don’t you show the world the Superhero who you are by adding your name to the Superhero Wall Of Fame! What type of Superhero are you? How long have you been a Superhero? What are some of your Superhero powers? In what city is your Superhero headquarters located? Proudly share your basic Superhero information, and read about all the other RA Superheroes located around the world. (All Autoimmune Superheroes and Caregiver Superheroes are welcome!)

Superhero Tip: Stay Strong!

“All of us who live with RA can work to change uninformed attitudes and perceptions. If we continue to share our stories and talk about what it means to live with rheumatoid arthritis, awareness will continue to grow. If we continue to be open about the physical and emotional challenges that we face on a regular basis, then maybe–just maybe, others will start to see our ability to accept the limitations that rheumatoid arthritis brings into our lives as a sign of personal strength.” -RA Guy


10. Don’t Lose Hope!
Even though this is the last step, it’s probably the most important one of ‘em all! The challenges we Superheroes encounter are serious, and at times they may seem too difficult to overcome. No matter what happens, though, it’s critical that we not lose hope. Talk to a friend, family member, or co-worker about RA. Visit one of the many online support groups, forums, and blogs that are available for people living with RA and their caregivers. Together we can not only provide each other the support that we need, but we can also work to increase awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis!

 

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