How I live successfully with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Here it is -- I'm condemned!

Nice of them to stop taking money out of my bank now that they've declined me, don't you think?
Nice of them to stop taking money out of my bank now that they've declined me, don't you think?

There's a big difference between what the doctors have to say, and what those of us who live successfully with this condition do



The results of my poll here on hubpages: Will lmmartin get health insurance? 100% of you said no. And 100% of you were correct.

And although 25% voted the reason would be no social security number, it is the 75% who said my pre-existing condition of rheumatoid arthritis who were correct. Of course, it might have come down to the lack of documentation if they couldn’t preclude me for health reasons.

According to my agent, the medical insurance companies are moving quickly to deny everyone they can before the laws change. It hasn’t even been a full two weeks since I applied, and they told me I’d have an answer in six weeks. The nay sayers have stepped up the pace of the machinery – get ‘em all denied while they still can.

At any rate, being as healthy as I am, and feeling as good as I do, I wondered why this might be an automatic preclusion, so I checked into the medical sites here in the U.S. to see what they had to say about rheumatoid arthritis (for the rest of this article known as RA.) And it depressed me. Apparently, I'm a lot sicker than I feel.

Rheumatoid Arthritis according the American Medical community

  • RA is an auto-immune condition, caused by the body’s own immune system mistakenly treating bone and cartilage as a foreign agent and attacking its own tissues, causing chronic inflammation of the joints.
  • RA is a progressive and systematic problem eventually leading to crippling deformity of the joints.
  • There is no cure for RA.
  • RA strikes women three times more often than men.
  • RA crosses the boundaries of all races and ethnic groups.
  • One source states 1.2 million, another states 3 million and still another states over 2 million people in the United States suffer from RA, including 200,000–500,000 children who suffer from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The condition is characterized by periods of flares, during which joints become inflamed, the patient experiences fatigue, loss of energy, lack of appetite, low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches, and stiffness, followed by periods of no symptoms known as remissions. Remissions may last days, weeks, or months.

The American College of Rheumatology classifies individuals suffering from RA as:

  • Class I: completely able to perform usual activities of daily living
  • Class II: able to perform usual self-care and work activities but limited in activities outside of work (such as playing sports, household chores)
  • Class III: able to perform usual self-care activities but limited in work and other activities
  • Class IV: limited in ability to perform usual self-care, work, and other activities

Treatment suggested for RA by the American College of Physicians.

"Class one patients may be treated with pain and anti-inflammatory medications alone. In general, however, patients improve function and minimize disability and joint destruction when treated earlier with second-line drugs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), even within months of the diagnosis. Most patients require more aggressive second-line drugs, such as methotrexate, in addition to anti-inflammatory agents. Sometimes these second-line drugs are used in combination. In some patients with severe joint deformity, surgery may be necessary.”

"First-line" medications

“Acetylsalicylate (aspirin), naproxen (Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Advil, Medipren, Motrin), and etodolac (Lodine) are examples of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Additional medications are frequently recommended to protect the stomach from the ulcer effects of NSAIDs. These medications include antacids, sucralfatee (Carafate), proton-pump inhibitors (Prevacid and others), and misoprostoll (Cytotec). Newer NSAIDs include selective Cox-2 inhibitors, such as celecoxicib (Celebrex), which offer anti-inflammatory effects with less risk of stomach irritation and bleeding risk. Corticosteroid medications can be given orally or injected directly into tissues and joints. They are more potent than NSAIDs in reducing inflammation and in restoring joint mobility and function.”

[My note] Long term use of aspirin may lead to thinning of the blood and bleeding disorders. Ibuprofen, Cox-2 and colecoxicib may cause gastro-enteritis, bleeding ulcers and bowel disorders

"Second-line" or "slow-acting" drugs
(Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs)

“Hydroxychloroquine(Plaquenil) is related to quinine and is also used in the treatment of malaria. It is used over long periods for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Sulfasalazine(Azulfidine) is an oral medication traditionally used in the treatment of mild to moderately severe inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis.. A number of immunosuppressive drugs are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They include methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) as described above, azathioprine(Imuran), cyclophosphamide(Cytoxan), chlorambucil (Leukeran), and cyclosporine (Sandimmune).”

[My note] Immunosuppressive medications can depress bone-marrow function and cause anemia, a low white cell count, and low platelet counts. A low white count can increase the risk of infections, while a low platelet count can increase the risk of bleeding. Cyclosporine can cause kidney damage and high blood pressure. Other side effects of any of these drugs may be vision changes, ulcerative colitis, cirrhosis of the liver, bone marrow deficiency, bone thinning, osteoporosis, hardening of the arteries ,and inflammation of the vascular system among others-- including death.

Conclusion

No wonder the insurance company declined me. According to all the information on the medical sites, there’s no hope. I will continue to degenerate until I can no longer look after myself. I will have to rely on these horrific sounding medications, with all the related side-effects, including weakening of my bones, osteoporosis (which one would think to be the last thing I want,) bleeding ulcers and gastroenteritis and that’s just in the first stage of treatment. Later, I can look forward to cirrhosis, kidney failure, vascular problems and premature death.

Not true

Such an attitude assumes that all persons with RA are equal. Some do progress at an aggressive rate, need all the treatment they can get, and die prematurely. Others, like me, live a long and active life and the ailment is nothing more than an unpleasant inconvenience – most of the time. In a flare period, it is a major inconvenience.

I was diagnosed with RA in my early thirties. My mother had it, as does one of my nieces. The tendency to RA is an inherited condition, particularly common in women.

As RA is an auto-immune condition, there are no hard and fast rules as to the progress of the disease. Everyone will present differently, and no one knows why. In my case, the degradation of my joints has never progressed beyond the small bones in my feet and hands, and most of that progress happened in the first ten years. I’ve been in remission for over a decade, without one “flare” in that time. This is a condition known to doctors as “burnt out” RA, and is common to over 30% of those originally diagnosed. Again, no one knows why.

It is my personal belief that “burn out” is directly attributable to choices I made to avoid the pharmaceuticals and to adopt life style changes under the mentorship of a naturalist – a ‘wellness” practitioner. But I will get to that later.

The last flare I remember happened when I was in New Orleans looking after my mother-in-law following her heart attack. Stress is a known trigger to flares, and believe me the situation was very stressful. On top of that, I had digressed from my usual diet and life style.

Flares are far more than aching joints. The entire body is involved, and while the joints are under attack, so is much of the rest of the body – it’s misery. After three days, and with a sick woman to look after, I needed help.

I went to see a doctor in a nearby clinic, who immediately insisted on my seeing a specialist. Possessed of good “out of country” supplemental health insurance, same as I have here and now, I agreed. For the first time since diagnosis, I was treated with modern drugs. He prescribed Celebrex, which he promised was much kinder to the digestive tract than older NSAIDs.

Two days on the drug found me curled up in the fetal position with my gastric system in agony. I was dehydrated due to terrible diarrhea, and the cramps and pain were unbearable. I called the specialist and told him I couldn’t take the drug. He said I should persevere and phoned in a prescription for a strong ant-acid to the nearby Walgreens.

By the fourth day, my husband flew down from Calgary to look after his mother. I was in the Mercy Hospital in New Orleans with severe gastro-enteritis, bleeding bowels and an inflamed esophagus.

This was the first, the only and the last time I ever took NSAID’s. The pain in my bones is preferable to that agony in my guts. And I will never take immunosuppressants. (Are you crazy – do you know what they do to you?)

My Treatment Plan and it will work for you

Contrary to what I found on the American College of Physicians website,("There is no known diet for RA -- and no correlation found between diet and the condition") diet plays a strong role in the progress and control of RA, as it does in any autoimmune condition, such as lupus or fibromyalgia. I fact, the regime I adopted almost thirty years ago works as well with those conditions.

If your skeletal structure is under attack and suffering from inflammation, it becomes an imperative to maintain control of your weight. The diet I was taught to follow automatically keeps you at optimum weight.

Rule 1 – avoid all dairy foods, particularly milk. Anyone over the age of two was never meant to drink milk, and none of us, of any age, were built to digest cow’s milk. There is only one exception to this rule, and that is natural yogurt.

Rule 2 – reduce protein intake and avoid red meats. Excess protein causes the build-up of uric acids in the body, and is an affront to your immune system. Try to limit animal protein to no more than four to six ounces daily and make this fish as often as possible– preferably fresh. I eat vegetarian at least three days out of the week, and when I do eat animal protein, I try to make it fish. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends that sufferers of RA eat sardines packed in oil every day (but I’ve never cared for sardines and don't. And I'm not saying I don't go out and scoff down a nice rare T-bone once in a while -- I do -- I'm Albertan for heaven's sake. But I feel it in my general health for days and pay for it.)

Rule 3 – avoid sugar. Sugar is an acid. Sugar is a poison to the body. And an interesting side effect of avoiding sugar is that it automatically eliminates processed and prepared foods. Try as hard as you like, you’ll never find any without sugars.

Rule 4 – watch your fats and oils. Avoid polyunsaturated oils and shortenings – like margarine. Instead use virgin olive oils, canola oil, grape seed oils – these have the omegas that will actually help heal your inflamed joints.

Rule 5 – eat lots of vegetables – there’s not a single one of them that will hurt you, and some, like avocados will help.

Rule 6 – when it comes to fruits, avoid the citrus fruits (sorry Florida) because they increase acidity.

Rule 7 – coffee, tea, wine, beer, alcohol in general – limit these. I tried to give them up, but found that in limited quantities, my body didn’t object too much. Hey, we have to live – right?

Rule 8 – get tested to find out what food allergies you may have, and then avoid those foods like the plague. Many of us have slight allergies we’re not even aware of, but when you suffer from an autoimmune disorder an allergic reaction can trigger a flare.

Rule 9 – exercise – RA is characterized by atrophied muscles as the joints degenerate. First thing in the morning – light stretches, lots of stretches then, limbering exercises, such as squats and twists. Weight training is very important, but never to excess. All exercises should be light, and often and never to the point of building up lactic acid in the muscles. Avoid impact exercises -- your sore bones, remember? Swimming is excellent.

Rule 10 – maintain manual dexterity. The hands and feet are normally the first areas of degeneration and it is important to keep up the dexterity. In my case keyboarding works, but you have no idea how hard it is for me and how much effort is involved to put words up here that make sense and aren’t full of typos. Trust me, when you read my writing, it’s been written at least twenty times, and edited forty. (And still they get by me.) I also crochet – not that I make anything; I just keep my fingers busy. Once that dexterity is lost, it’s gone for good.

Other hints – There are many supplements that are reputed to be of assistance, but I can’t attest to them as I have an aversion to taking pills or capsules of any kind. I rely on good diet alone.

There are excellent sites for natural wellness on the net, and I recommend everyone who is dealing with any chronic condition to check them out.

Prognosis

Here I am approaching my sixth decade and I’ve fought RA for almost thirty years. I can’t run, can’t jump, can’t ride horses anymore, but I can walk for miles and still hike in the Rocky Mountains. I walk every day for at least two or three miles. I’m limber, can still touch my toes, dance, do yoga. I’m strong. I can carry that fifty pound bag of dog food out of Sam’s Club.

My feet hurt a lot, but I’m use to the pain. I don’t believe that pain should be automatically masked – I can live with sore feet easier than with a shot digestive system. I can’t wear pretty shoes, and buy men’s sandals when I can find a pair small enough. But it’s only a minor problem.

There is no doubt that aging with RA brings about challenges, but in all humility I find I’m in better shape, stronger and healthier than many of the twenty-somethings I see walking around. I’m doing just fine thank you.

And I bet I outlive Ms. Fields who just wrote to tell me that I’m automatically declined health insurance, because I have RA.

More by this Author


Comments 45 comments

pgrundy 6 years ago

I'm sorry you had this bad experience with health insurance. I also can't get it. Many people can't. Basically, if there's even a ghost of chance a person might need to use it, that person will be denied. RA can be tough but it is clear from your hub that you are pretty tough yourself. Still it was painful to read this, because you shouldn't have to prove anything to anybody to get health care here. You deserve to have it even if you are not tough.

I spent 12 hours helping my daughter (who is 30) yesterday. She tore her knee ligaments and had surgery and now is off her feet and in pain until at least the end of December. Today Bill sees a specialist and may need another surgery or possibly two. He's been out a month already. There doesn't seem to be enough of me to go around lately, and yet I the things I do don't seem to help anyone for long.

I'm glad you can still get some care in Canada at least. We can all do a lot to keep ourselves healthy, but sometimes things go wrong and it isn't anyone's fault. That is one of the hardest things in life to face, I think.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

This hub resonated strongly with me. At nineteen I damaged my knee in a motor bike accident, and within two years I was walking with a limp because of the pain. There is a family history of arthritis, and it quickly became apparent that my joints might be heading down that very road with my knee leading the way! I had already seen my mum's hands become knotty and painful, and watched her struggle with aching knees and hips, and I needed to be sure that wouldn't happen too me. I read voraciously, and like you, I learned to avoid red meat, red wine, oranges and sugary treats. I became a vegetarian at 24, but now have the occassional fish meal. I never use margarine, although we use butter at home, and I always use a dairy alternative on cereals etc.

Now, at nearly 50, I can still tell the weather by my knee, but the disease has been held in abeyance all these years, and I'm very grateful for that. Diet may not always beat drugs, but it can never hurt to try that first.

And as to the health insurance? It's unbelievable that a moderate case like yours is considered to be a serious pre-existing condition, but I guess it's no surprise.


papajack 6 years ago

Immartin: I hear you. I too suffer from an auto-immune disorder and am therefore uninsurable. I remain on my wife's insurance since I was enrolled prior to this condition and it serves as secondary insurnace to my medicare (you know one of those terrible Government options)

Recently I've been going to see a Chinese MD and getting accupuncture treatments which have brought about major improvements in my well being. Of course these are not covered by any insurance because nothing from the outside world could have any validity.


ColdWarBaby 6 years ago

Most of the information you provide in your "treatment plan" would be very beneficial to anyone wishing to maintain their health. Prevention is the best medicine and a sane diet combined with an active lifestyle, including an exercise program, are essential.

It is not in the best interests of a for-profit industry to do things that cut into its profits. Health care and medicine are unquestionably among the largest and most powerful for-profit industries today. They are not interested in seeing a fit and healthy population. Their goal is to make sure everyone stays unhealthy enough to require constant treatment and to keep us alive as long as possible in order to suck every possible drop of profit from us.

I'm sorry to see you being victimized by this system but stay on the path you've found. You're flourishing in spite of it.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you everyone for your comments. Just so you know, I didn't really need the insurance -- it was part of my research into health care in the U.S. And it proved a point -- across the board, arbitrary refusals that are not based on the health of the individual, but on bureaucratic procedures are not in anyone's best interests (except of course the profit lines of the insurance companies.)

I'm sorry to say, and know I'll take flak for it, but after all the research I've done, I've come to one conclusion -- for profit medicine simply doesn't and won't work. The U.S. is the only economy I know of that treats medical care as a positive (credit) to the Gross National Product, when in fact it should be an expense (debit.)

I have adequate coverage for the time I'm in the U.S. (suppplementary "outside the country" plan from a Canadian insurance carrier with no deductible, no co-pay, coverage of my pre-existing condition) for the six months I'm allowed to be in my home here. So thanks for all your concern, but don't worry. I'm just fine -- and covered.

My husband is a little upset that I even applied. He is concerned that now I'm in the system as a "declined" person, I will never get insurance in the U.S. and it is his plan that we move to Florida full time in the next couple of years. I tell him not to worry -- my children and grandchildren are in Canada and I will simply have to spend enough time in Canada to keep up my medical. That way, if I should get very sick, I will just go home.

Still and all, it is a very strange way of handling things, and I have great difficulty in understanding the resistance to what would be a more efficient, cost effective and sane approach -- universal, single payer health coverage. (I can hear the comments that will earn me already.)


kartika damon profile image

kartika damon 6 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

I think this hub will help others with RA understand how their lifestyle choices may help control this disease and how the cure is often worse than the disease itself. Once that door to prescription drugs is open it can be a never ending battle with the side effects of the drugs themselves. Of course, the opening letter from Golden Rule clearly illustrates the company is not living by the "Golden Rule." And, I can imagine the insurance companies working overtime to reject as many people as they possibly can before the dreadful health care reform makes it illegal to deny coverage for preexisting conditions - I wonder if the cost for those with such conditions will be contained or through the roof!


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Karika,

I think your comment came in while I was still writing mine. And I hope my article is of benefit to those living with RA -- there is an alternative to pharmacueticals. Having said that however, some are smitten with a very aggressive form of the condition and for them careful use of immunosuppressors is necessary. But I believe that incorporating natural lifestyle treatments will not only help their condition, but also help their bodies deal with the drugs. As always, your comments and interest is greatly appreciated.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

lmmartin - Put a checkmark into the box next to "fine article." Gus


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Gus, as always.


enlightenedpsych2 profile image

enlightenedpsych2 6 years ago from n.e. portion of U.S. on Planet earth

I know this may sound hurtful with experiencing the excruciating pain associated with RA but be VERY GLAD damn GoldenRule Insurance company turned you down---they are the absolute worst third payor party insurance system out there that when I worked for a group practise of doctors whose UCR was constantly monitored--this company paid out in the longest time possible, at the very most less than 40% of what they actually owed and left the patient with well over 50% to cover. Now this was in 1992-2000, don't believe much has changed.

Check my hub on inflammation cure-all, IMO, and see if the RA responds to it better.

sharing the light,

miss erica hidvegi,

the Enlightenment Advisor


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you enlightenedpsych2 (whew what a pen name -- my poor fingers had trouble with that one.) Thanks for your input, and for the heads-up on GoldenRule. Again, let me repeat that the system here makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Visit my hub "The many ways Americans already pay for universal health care -- but don't have it."

And I must add, that the pain I experience is far from excruciating except under certain conditions -- and the four seasons in one day climate of Alberta contributed a lot to that -- which is why I am in Florida for the winter. I can live with it and do. And secondly, don't worry -- the application was only for research purposes -- I have adequate coverage by virtue of our Canadian system and an "out of country" travel supplementary plan.

Thank you so much for visiting my hub and I will check yours out. Every little bit of information helps.


LiamBean profile image

LiamBean 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

I'm really concerned that by the time Congress gets done with this "health reform" legislation only the insurance industry will truly benefit.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi again enlightenedpsyche2. Have just visited your recommended hub and left the following comment:

An excellent article, however my inner doctor tells me that since RA is an autoimmune condition, the last thing I should do is stimulate my immune system. Let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. I'm sure, though, that for many it is an effective alternate therapy.

Thanks for some interesting information.

Hi LiamBean, I fear you may be right. In fact, I feel it deep in my bones and it does nothing to deal with the other related issues -- the burden on American business owners for one. Does it make sense to add what truly amounts to a hefty tax on payroll at a time of high unemployment? Of course not. IF the answer to the uninsured is a subsidy on health insurance costs coupled with an edict of mandatory insurance for everyone -- or else -- of course the insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank. If it is public money -- then set up a public payer system and be done with it. Cut out the bloated costs of redundant and repetitive administration costs -- that alone will cover the added expense of those that cannot afford insurance. And most coverages are totally inadequate.

Well, I guess that's enough time on my soap box for today.


Patrice52 profile image

Patrice52 6 years ago

Thanks for the information. The last year I've developed arthritis in my hands to the point that it's getting hard to do a lot of things. I'm going to bookmark this hub to refer to later and try some of the natural ideas you mentioned. I too don't want all the (horrible) side effects of these medications, if I can avoid it at all.

Thanks again!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Patrice52 -- glad to be of assistance. Do remember, as with all natural approached to health, it takes time to feel the effects of life changes. There's no immediate changes, but trust me -- it's worth it.


izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

I just got diagnosed 8 months ago with RA. UNfortuantely, I have a high level in my blood and the dr tells me mine is aggressive. I first went to a naturopath and got food allergy test. I avoided everything they told me to, but my Ra got so bad I could barely get on and off a toilet because of swelling in my knees and hips. I had to have help from my husband to get dressed and I have a 2 yr old on top of that. I am currently on Prednisone- a steroid to curb the inflammation. They want me to be on other drugs to get off the Prednisone eventually but I am still wondering what to do eventually. You are very right that it seems once you get started on all the other drugs, it just continues from there with other problems. I'm stuck in limbo. The natural stuff didn't work for- I gave it 3 months. Even though milk did not come back as an allergy for me, I am tempted to give it up because I hear so much about it being bad for RA. I think that is my next step.

I will follow your steps listed above because I have been reading books by Dr. Weil and he says some of the same things so I will give it a try. DO you cut out wheat products too or does that follow in with sugars because a lot of wheat products have sugar in them? Also, I am curious what you eat for small meals or snacks- I eat snacks more than regular meals and find it hard to find snacks that don't have sugar in them.

You are an inspiration and thanks for writing this hub!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi izetti, It is not my place to suggest you should not follow your doctor's advice, but I can assure you that following the natural course will assist your body in resisting the arthritis. In the long run, once you are stabilized, the natural good health and common sense ideas offered here will support you while the drugs -- those that are necessary -- do their job. Remember on those bad days, the condition presents as inflammation followed by remission, and the trick is to support the body so that the remissions become longer and the inflammatory periods shorter and less severe.

Where do you live? I found my symptoms much worse in Alberta due to the ever changing barometric pressure there, than here in Florida. On my bad days, I found soaking in a hot tub helped considerably.

About food: I have not used dairy products or eaten red meat in years. For snacks I eat raw vegies and fruits, and occasionally whole grain bread. That's about it.

I know the 'in limbo' feeling you're speaking of, and how discouraging it is when in an inflammatory state -- how it affects the mind and brings on depression. Stabilizing RA is a long-term journey -- there are no quick answers. I am pushing 60 now, and I would say the last ten to fifteen years have been the easiest. You can't look for a solution in 3 months, or even 3 years. Just do the best you can; follow the best course for over-all good health; and take the fewest drugs possible. You'll find with time your pain threshold increases, and what drags you down today, won't tommorrow. Hardly encouraging, I know -- but the truth. You get used to pain.

I hope you find what will work for you, but keep in mind there is no quick fix. Look toward the long term, and grit your teeth for now. I wish I could offer more -- but I can't.

Thanks for the comment, and I wish you luck. Come back and tell me how you're doing.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

You are a very strong lady Lynda and this is reflected in your writing. You will have helped a lot of people with this condition by giving good advice and a positive attitude. I've rated this hub up.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you so much, jayjay40. Much appreciated.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Dear lmmartin,

I am so sorry to hear this! I feel for you. My Mother struggled with this - this is one reason why I shout so loudly about fitness - I know it would have helped her. It is a difficult disease - I will keep you in my prayers - the RA must stay away from your hands - I love your work here on Hub Pages.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you GmaGoldie

I am well --- truly. And I now have health insurance. Strange but the progression seems to be slower while in Florida. I'll continue writing, even if I must use voice control -- which is getting better all the time. Thanks so much for your kind comment.


peacefulparadox 6 years ago

I hope that with the passing of the U.S. health care reform act, anybody regardless of pre-existing condition can get medical coverage. Health coverage is a right of every citizen. It is crazy that the U.S. does not have this right.

RA flare-ups is another example where stress is bad for the body.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for your comment peacefulparadox -- and yes, stress is a great trigger for flare-ups, and not knowing if you can afford to pay for your health care is very stressful. I now have health care but with a rider that excludes anything stemming from RA -- which considering it is an auto-immune condition covers just about everything. Might come in handy if I get hit by a bus, though.


melwin 6 years ago

it was great to read your article. My mother who is 71 is receiving treatment in a mumbai hospital. she lives alone in an apartment. There are no support groups available and there is 100% dependence on medication. I am sure my mother is going to make some simple changes which I have explained to her after reading your article.


melwin 6 years ago

it was great to read your article. My mother who is 71 is receiving treatment in a mumbai hospital. she lives alone in an apartment. There are no support groups available and there is 100% dependence on medication. I am sure my mother is going to make some simple changes which I have explained to her after reading your article.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

The regime I've described here will do no harm and possibly a lot of good. No matter what the state of her arthritis, these suggestions will improve her overall health and that is always helpful. Do remember though, like any autoimmune condition, it will affect each individual differently. Thank you melwin, for your comment.


quuenieproac profile image

quuenieproac 5 years ago from Malaysia

I admire your courage and unselfish attitude to share information that can help others. God bless you and keep on writing great hubs!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you quuenieproac. Lynda


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

Dear Lmmartin, you really take such a good care of yourself. It is hard for many people to keep up with that discipline. I have learnt a lot from you.

I think, in whatever you do in life, you want to do it to your best, though it is never good (perfect) enough for you. :)


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you Ingenira. I do fall off the wagon regularly -- particularly when it comes to red wine... But I try. To do otherwise makes no sense. About perfection -- nope, never happen. That's what makes me want to be tolerant of others, so much to overlook in myself. Thanks for dropping by. Lynda


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I appreciated what you had to say about dealing with your condition as naturally as possible. I have allergies to a lot of medication so have had to try natural ways to cope. I had polio and so deal with the aftermath of all that. I also find that stretching helps a lot. As well, I use breathing exercises which are non-strenuous and aid in getting oxygen to necessary parts to facilitate healing. Our bodies give us clues along the way and if we listen there will be a lot we can do to make our life better. I wish you well. (I'm also a Canadian girl :)


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi FloBe, thanks for sharing your own experience here for us. Yes, our bodies will take care of us, providing we do the same for them. How true! Nice to touch base with another Canuck, even if this one is sitting Florida listening to the rain tonight. (Better than a howling wind and snow.) Lynda


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

Came back to read this article again because I have RA too. Over the course of months I'm not sure if I've found a specific food trigger yet, but whenever I eat much less my RA is better so there is something in my diet that is causing some issues. As compared to many months ago when I first left a comment here, I realize how important lifestyle is, but also I feel like I have some control over it- I just need to figure out the specifics so I am starting a "health journal" just to make note of things I do or eat and how my joints respond to things. My next goal is to get into swimming which should be interesting becaused I don't know how to swim. I've also found that relaxing self-hypnosis cd's work to tame my stress. Most of my body feels OK except my hands and sometimes my feet. I want to thank you again for this article and your inspiration.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you so much izetti. About the diet and possible problems. One thing I did was to selectively cut a food from my diet for three months and see if there was a difference. This way, over time I found out what affected me and what didn't. Hope this helps. I'm glad to hear you're doing better. With luck, these lifestyle changes should trigger longer remissions and possibly get you to the point of the condition burning out. As for the hands and feet, my feet will always be a problem. The damage there was too extensive to heal, so I live with that. But in the scheme of things, that's small.

Swimming is the best exercise and exercise is important in keeping up the strength and minimizing joint damage. Good for you!

I'm so glad you let me know this has been of help to you. Thank you. Lynda


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

The side effects of prescription drugs will scare you to death.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Yes, you don't even need to take them! Thanks Pamela N Red. Lynda


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

RA sure can put a lot of restrictions on anyone's life...I am a classic example of it!!

I liked the suggestions you have written for prevention...follow most of them!

I am also a firm believer of consuming aloe vera juice. It helps cleanse the system and keeps the digestive system running smoothly which is another good reason for our joints to stay swelling free.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for the additional information, Ruchira. Anything that keeps our bodies balanced is good.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Another of your informative and helpful articles, Lynda. I'm bookmarking this one to review as I begin to change my diet for the better. Thanks for the words of help and the heads up on otc medicines.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks, Peg. Hope you find it helpful. Lynda


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

If a symptom is only viewed from the physical perspective then the sufferer will view it as an inconvenience to be got rid of. These people turn to medication to treat the symptom.

If the symptom is viewed as a metaphor for an underlying emotional problem then the sufferer will view it as an opportunity to learn more about themselves as they seek to understand the emotional root cause.

One approach causes the sufferer to identify with the body and the other sees the symptom as a creation of mind and as such can be treated by the mind that created it.

Thank you.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Very nice Spirit Whisperer, but my mind did not create these swollen joints. I find such an approach to be too simplistic and suggesting that disease is caused by emotional reasons only does great disservice to those must live with it.

Far better to accept that disease is something that just happens, the luck of the draw, but seeing as you've got it, better find the best way to live with it, and that should not include swallowing huge amounts of pharmaceuticals which cause yet more problems.

Today's medical approach seems to be more about finding the right drug than the right life style.

Thanks for commenting here. Lynda


Shawna 4 years ago

Your health system in the US is unbelievable to me! One of the wealthiest countries in the world and your government is not looking after its citizens. Turned down by health insurance because of RA! Ridiculous!

MOVE TO CANADA!!! We look after everyone here. There is no such thing as being denied health coverage.

Shawna


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

My health system? My dear Shawna, I am Canadian and you are sadly misguided if you think things are so very different in Canada. All I ever got from Canadian physicians was another push to explore another pharmacuetical. Nothing was ever mentioned about life style, diet or anything else of real value. So please save your self-righteous congratulations. Canada's health system would have me drugged up and out and doing nothing for my health. While there may be no such thing as being denied health coverage (not true) there is nothing to say the care you get is the care you need. But thanks for taking the time to comment, anyway. Lynda

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