Making It Work: Jennifer's Story
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Jennifer is proof that you can have RA and a happy life. Watch this to learn more.
Transcript: I've had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 30 years. My life drastically changed when biologics hit...
I've had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 30 years. My life drastically changed when biologics hit the market because at that point I wasn't able to go up and down the stairs in our house and once I started on a biologic, things turned around. My life changed. I haven't had any side effects or complications because of the biologics but right now I'm at the point where the original biologic that I'm on is no longer working so I'm in the transition period from changing one to another, which for me is a very scary proposition. As you know, there are many side effects and you always worry about that. So, I'm hoping to get good results from my new one as much as I had with the old one. When it came to the point that I had to have a joint replacement I took it really hard. It was a very depressing time in my life because finally I thought the arthritis won. And then I had to come to terms with...it wasn't that the arthritis had won. I was still the super mom and super person that I had always been...I just had bionic parts.I also am a very big advocate of exercise. If you keep moving, your muscles will feel good, your joints will feel good and they'll last longer. I love the water because there's so many things you can do in the water you can't do on land. When my arthritis kind of reared its ugly head and I knew that being a French teacher and standing on my feet all day was not going to be an option, I kind of switched gears. My writing is very therapeutic for me because if I'm not feeling well; I can escape into the world in which I'm living. Whether I'm interviewing an author, I can escape into their book or if I'm writing my own, I can escape into my world. I think my attitude and my mindset is probably 90 percent of how well I do. I know I need to take care of myself. I have two boys at home and a husband. I want to be the best mom and best wife that I can be and I can do that by taking care of my body.More »
Last Modified: 2013-03-13 | Tags »
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Your quality of life with RA can improve greatly if you follow these RA lifestyle tips. Watch this video to learn about dealing with RA daily.
Transcript: Having rheumatoid arthritis can affect ALL parts of your life, but smart tactics can make your daily...
Having rheumatoid arthritis can affect ALL parts of your life, but smart tactics can make your daily activities easier to manage. PLAN AHEAD--as much as you can! Prep for several meals if you're having a good day. Select your day's outfit the night before. Do easy tasks in the morning, when you're still stiff, and save the errand-running for later in the day when you might feel better. ORGANIZE your kitchen and bathroom. The items you use often should be easy to reach. Put heavier items on lower shelves. Place common ingredients in easy-to-use, and open, containers. Instead of shampoo and soap bottles that can be hard to squeeze, try using pump dispensers. Continue your HOBBIES. If you enjoy traveling, don't stop. Just choose locations that you will be able to navigate comfortably and that offer accessible transportation if you can't walk to where you want to go. If you love to entertain, hold potluck parties instead of cooking on your own. WHATEVER makes you happy, keep on doing it-with modifications. Use your IMAGINATION. A wooden pizza handle can tuck in bed sheets, a long piece of ribbon doubles as a door opener, and a lazy Susan on a refrigerator shelf brings items from the back within reach. When you can't engineer a home-made gadget, you can PURCHASE one. There are many arthritis-friendly tools, from key turners, to zipper pullers, and even can and jar openers. PROTECT YOUR WEAKER JOINTS. Use your HIP to open doors instead of your hands. Hold shopping bags with TWO hands. You can even sit in a swivel chair to accomplish tasks at chest-level. Most importantly, know when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Let someone help! Physical activity is VERY important with rheumatoid arthritis, both to prevent joint damage and to maintain a POSITIVE attitude. But if you need a rest, don't be reluctant to ask a friend or family member to cook, go grocery shopping, or make the bed. Want more lifestyle advice? Check out other videos on managing rheumatoid arthritis.More »
Last Modified: 2013-12-16 | Tags »
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Sometimes, seemingly easy household tasks are a lot tougher if you're having a painful rheumatoid arthritis flare. Check out this video to learn what some people with rheumatoid arthritis deal with.
Transcript: JENNIFER: It makes I very challenging having rheumatoid arthritis because many people don't see that...
JENNIFER: It makes I very challenging having rheumatoid arthritis because many people don't see that you are hurting inside. And because of that others expect that I'm able to do certain things. Simple things. SHANNAN: It's the little things sometimes like, you know, emptying the trash when I have to tie up the strings. Sometimes that's painful. But I'm pretty stubborn so even if I'm limping and in pain, I'm going to do it. IRENE: I'm not a person that needs to get "poor me's, poor me's" from people. It's not something that I advertise. JENNIFER: Sometimes it gets very frustrating when people walk faster than I can walk because I can't walk that fast or expect me to do things that I can't do. SHANNAN: I get very frustrated when I can't open a jar. You know, when my husband's not home, I'm like, "I wish he opened this before he left!" but how would he know I can't open it? JENNIFER: The toughest part of the day for me is in the afternoon going into dinner-time because by that time I'm tired and I'm spent.More »
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Rheumatoid arthritis remission is an attainable goal for many people with RA. Watch this to learn from those patients we interviewed.
Transcript: SHANNAN: I have not officially ever been in remission my entire life. IRENE: I don't think I've ever...
SHANNAN: I have not officially ever been in remission my entire life. IRENE: I don't think I've ever been in remission. If anything, it's progressed. JENNIFER: The only time I was in remission was when I was pregnant with our first son. The second pregnancy did not go into remission and I had a lot of trouble with my hip. SHANNAN: I have done well on medications but not enough where I've had no disease activity. IRENE: The meds that I have taken in the past have not been working anymore. JENNIFER: Women with rheumatoid arthritis do have quite a few children because you are in remission. That's the only time in your life that you are, you know, if you do not go into remission on your own so it's, I guess, a self-induced remission. But it's a good one. SHANNAN: So basically remission, either way, whether you're on medicine and you have no activity or whether you're off...I'd say it's amazing and you're very lucky because I don't know what it's like. I hope to maybe one day get there. IRENE: I just hope that I can continue living independently and doing the things that I enjoy doing. JENNIFER: I hope one day that I do go into remission. It would be a wonderful feeling, I'm sure. I'm just hoping for a cure.More »
Last Modified: 2013-02-21 | Tags »
rheumatoid arthritis remission, rheumatoid arthritis cure, shannan, irene, jennifer patient stories, patient testimonials, dmards, biologics, people with ra, person with rheumatoid arthritis, woman with rheumatoid arthritis joint pain, joint stiffness
Watch this video to learn just how important RA exercises and physical activity is to people with rheumatoid arthritis. Get a personal peek into the lives of those with this joint condition.
Transcript: SHANNAN: Doctors always said stay active, so even walking, I was never one who was like, oh I'm going...
SHANNAN: Doctors always said stay active, so even walking, I was never one who was like, oh I'm going to be able to go to the gym and do these boot camps. I'd like to in theory. IRENE: Being active helps a great deal. The doctors always said to me considering how chronic the arthritis is my joints aren't very flexible. JENNIFER: Exercise is a huge stress reliever and I can always tell if we go on a trip with my family, I bring my yoga mat and yoga dvds because if I'm not in the water I know my body yearns for the exercise. SHANNAN: I absolutely love yoga, I've found in the last few years that I just developed my practice, I never thought that I would be able to do it, but I know that is just an excuse now. IRENE: I do yoga twice a week but I've done it way before I even had the arthritis. JENNIFER: The wonderful thing about yoga and relaxation is we know that stress causes inflammation so if you can get that stress out of your life, then you're feeling better. SHANNAN: It does come in waves where I have gone a couple months where I am doing it everyday, practicing as much as I can and then there comes months where, you know, I can't even get in any position. But then I carry over an aspect of meditation. JENNIFER: It's very frustrating with someone who has rheumatoid arthritis when you do go to a group exercise class because you feel like you never fit in because you know your body doesn't move the way a normal person's body moves. IRENE: I do know that even with my yoga, I can't do the things that I used to do. I don't have the strength in my wrists to do certain positions. SHANNAN: I love the water because there are so many things you can do in the water that you can't do on land. Exercises, like just simply balance exercises and the great thing is when you are exercising in the water nobody can see if you are doing the exercise right so no matter what you are doing it looks like you are doing the exercise you are suppose to be doing. SHANNON: Getting out of bed every morning is sometimes a task. I make sure I walk and do what I can. IRENE: I keep extremely active and I really think that is the key for me to be able to function at the level that I do. JENNIFER: As long as I can do some form of exercise and relax, cause as long as you relax and feel good then your joints feel good.More »
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The future looks good for many people with rheumatoid arthritis. Get a personal look at prognosis and what people with RA hope for.
Transcript: SHANNAN: I hope the future looks good, I mean, I see it looking good. I'm not going to let myself just...
SHANNAN: I hope the future looks good, I mean, I see it looking good. I'm not going to let myself just let myself lay down and take it. JENNIFER: I am concerned about my future because I do know that my body has taken a tole from having rheumatoid arthritis as a child. There's only so much that your joints can take. IRENE: I just hope that I can continue living independently and doing the things that I enjoy doing. SHANNAN: I'm going to make sure I continue to stay active, continue to experiment with my diet and remain as healthy as I can be. JENNIFER: I think my attitude and my mindset is probably 90 percent of how well I do because I don't like to take no for an answer. I'm determined and I want to live the best life that I can. I know what key components make that happen in terms of exercise, eating right, getting plenty of rest, taking my medicine and taking care of me. IRENE The point is not to project on this disease. I just take one day at a time. SHANNAN: I just let it take it's course. JENNIFER: I think my future will be surrounded by those who love me and it'll be a positive experience and it will be what I make it.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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DMARDs and biologic response modifiers help people with RA feel their best-- get a personal peek into a real treatment plan.
Transcript: IRENE: Initially I was reluctant to be on meds and for the longest time I wasn't. And then he said to...
IRENE: Initially I was reluctant to be on meds and for the longest time I wasn't. And then he said to me Irene it's time. SHANNAN: Back in the late 90s, when I was a teenager, the first biological thing to come out was enbrel. JENNIFER: Before biologics came out on the market, my arthritis was starting to get out of control. The biologics seemed to be the best form of treatment that I had for myself where there is little to no disease activity. Again, I've never been in remission, but I'm still able to function, it gives me a little bit of that energy. JENNIFER: It was amazing how my life turned around as soon as I was on the biologics. I was back to my usual Jennifer self, being able to walk the dog, being able to shop all day, being able to play golf. SHANNAN: Here I am at 28 with very little joint damage so I accredit it to that. IRENE: I realize that all this medication is not going to cure, it's just slowing up the progression.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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Irene has rheumatoid arthritis, but she doesn't let her RA impact her lifestyle. Learn about her treatments and hobbies.
Transcript: I've had rheumatoid arthritis for about eight years...but it's progressed. Initially, I was reluctant...
I've had rheumatoid arthritis for about eight years...but it's progressed. Initially, I was reluctant to be on meds and for the longest time I wasn't. And then he had said to me, "Irene, it's time." He says, "you're very active," and he says the disease is progressing. I was on the Enbrel at one time...it stopped working. He put me on Humira...it stopped working. I'm back on the Enbrel and it isn't doing very much anymore. Now he wants to start me on an infusion medication. I try to be knowledgeable about what's going on. I realized that all this medication is not going to cure...it's just slowing up the progression. I keep extremely active and I really think that that's the key for me of being able to function on the level I do. I've been doing yoga twice a week, but I've done it way before I even had the arthritis. I got involved a couple of years ago with a community production company and a group of us girls decided we're going to take a tap class. So, we do it for fun. I do notice that, like one of the tap numbers, you do like a hop and I have a hard time with the knee. I can't do. I live by myself. I'm on my own. And I've always been very, very self sufficient. If anything, I've been the caretaker. I was just on a trip to Guatemala and we were climbing the Mayan ruins and the steps were almost twelve inches high. I did what I could do and I refused to give into it and I climbed them...slowly and I used my hands to help me. I just hope that I can continue living independently and doing the things that I enjoy doing. I won't give in to this disease. I won't give in to it. It's not going to control my life. My RA is not me.More »
Last Modified: 2013-03-04 | Tags »
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Shannan has had rheumatoid arthritis her whole life. Watch this to learn about transitioning from juvenile arthritis to adult RA.
Transcript: I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was three. It took about three years to get the diagnosis. As a...
I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was three. It took about three years to get the diagnosis. As a child or even a teenager I would hide it as much as absolutely necessary. As I'm getting older, working in office type settings things will come out. It's very frustrating to not look like I have a chronic illness, people just assume I'm fine. I dress like the regular person, I try to keep up with everyone, I've done that my whole life. Back in the late 90s when I was a teenager, the first drug came out enbrel. And I was on that for a good run, I functioned well. Staying active is absolutely important as well. I love yoga. I've found it over the last few years and I've just developed my practice. I never thought I'd be able to do it, but I know that is just an excuse now. My doctors would always say stay active. Getting out of bed is sometimes a task, but I make sure I walk and do what I can. I limit my dairy intake a lot. I just feel better without it. Gluten, I've limited it as well, although with gluten I realized it needs to be all or nothing. I've done a couple cleanses in the last year, which do help. I've noticed that sugar is not good for me so, I've removed as much sugar as I can. Of course, you know, I allow myself a little every now and then. I've also found juicing...I really enjoy it. It makes me feel energetic. I mean, energetic for me. Starting my day off with a green juice is something that I would absolutely recommend to anybody with RA, to try it at least. I get very frustrated when I can't open a jar, you know, when my husband's not home I'm like, 'I wish he opened this before he left!' But how would he know I can't open it? It's the little things sometimes, you know, like emptying the trash when I have to tie up the strings. Sometimes that's painful. So, I found the grippers, different tongs, things like that to grab things. Putting shoes sometimes I need a shoe horn. Using a specific toothbrush, you know, that helps. People with arthritis their gums deteriorate quicker because it's hard to brush. I hope the future looks good. I'm not going to let myself lay down and take it. I'm going to make sure I continue to stay active, continue to experiment with my diet and make sure that I'm remaining as healthy as I can be. I owe it to myself, my family, my friends. I'm too young to let it take its course.More »
Last Modified: 2013-03-13 | Tags »
shannan, rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis joint pain, joint stiffness, patient testimonials, patient stories, people with ra, person with rheumatoid arthritis rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy-- it's a confusing topic. But it is possible to have children with RA-- just ask Jennifer. Watch this video to learn about how her 2 pregnancies went and how her family helps her today.
Transcript: While I was pregnant with my first son, I went into remission which was a wonderful feeling because I...
While I was pregnant with my first son, I went into remission which was a wonderful feeling because I had never experienced life without any pain. Those were a good 9 months or an enjoyable 9 months. After, my arthritis-it went back to how it was beforehand. There really weren't any changes for a while and then we saw the dip and that's when it was time to start a biologic. For our second son-I had to get off the biologics so that I could get pregnant. I started to have difficulties with my hip...not knowing what was wrong, whether it was inflammation or just the weight of the pregnancy. So after I gave birth to Sam, we had to wait to see the orthopedic surgeon and when I went to see him, he told me within a few weeks they were going to take my hip off. The weight of the pregnancy and most likely the weight from both pregnancies did my hip in. I just had to learn to accept that it was a blessing that I was able to get a hip replacement; it's a blessing that I was able walk and run with my kids and I felt no pain...so it was all worth it. I was the same super mom, super person that I had always been. I just had bionic parts. The toughest part of the day for me is going into the afternoon, going into dinnertime. By that time, I'm tired and spent. But in terms of having two boys, that's the time when they need me most because they come home from school. To them, they've always known that mom has arthritis and we have to make modifications. Sunday, it's time to go food shopping and somebody always goes with me so that somebody can run to the corner of the store to get things so that I don't have to walk that far. I love my family, I love my kids, I love my husband, but I have to take care of me first because if I'm not feeling well then I can't be of use to anybody.More »
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You can still participate in all your favorite activities when you have rheumatoid arthritis. All you need to do is make a few lifestyle adjustments. Watch this to learn how Shannan, Irene and Jennifer participate in their hobbies with RA.
Transcript: IRENE: I won't give in to this disease. I won't give in to it. It's not going to control my life. My...
IRENE: I won't give in to this disease. I won't give in to it. It's not going to control my life. My RA is not me. I was just on a trip to Guatemala and we were climbing the Mayan ruins and the steps were almost 12 inches high. I did what I could do and I refuse to give in to it. I climbed them...slowly. SHANNAN: I absolutely love yoga. I found that in the past few years and I've just developed my practice. I never thought, you know, I'd be able to do it but I know that's just an excuse now. JENNIFER: I love the water because there's so many things you can do in the water that you can't do on land. IRENE: I do tap dancing also. This has been something new in my life. A group of us girls decided we were going to take a tap class so we do it for fun.JENNIFER: Exercises...just simple balancing exercises and the great thing is when you're doing exercise in the water, no one can see whether you're doing the exercises right. So no matter what you're doing, it looks like you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. SHANNAN: I've learned that yoga is all encompassing and you make it your own. You know, it does come in waves where I've gone a couple of months where I'm doing it every day, practicing as much as I can and then there comes months when I can't even get in any position. But then I carry over maybe an aspect of meditation.IRENE: I keep extremely active and I really think that that's the key for me of being able to function on the level I do. JENNIFER: I am very surprised I became a writer but once I got into it, I love it. It's a nice escape.SHANNAN: It's definitely given me more empowerment by being...or getting involved with the Arthritis Foundation. Even like, the twitter universe. You know, finding people. I'm not the only one. There's people going through this. A day I'm having a good day, they're having a bad day and it's good to be the support system for each other. JENNIFER: A lot of people journal when they're not feeling well. It's very therapeutic and I find the same thing. My writing is very therapeutic for me because if I'm not feeling well, I can escape to the world in which I'm living in terms of whether I'm interviewing an author...I can escape into their world, into their book or if I'm writing my own, I can escape into my world. And sometimes my world is sunny and 75 and I like to go there.More »
Last Modified: 2013-02-21 | Tags »
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Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are managable, but not curable. That's why they sometimes interfere with a person's lifestyle and preferred activities. Watch this video to learn about 3 women who have had to adapt their life to their disease.
Transcript: Effective rheumatoid arthritis treatment can help you manage the pain and stiffness of RA. Unfortunately,...
Effective rheumatoid arthritis treatment can help you manage the pain and stiffness of RA. Unfortunately, however, medication doesn't always provide FULL relief, and from day to day you may experience symptoms that keep you from your favorite activities. In addition to joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis often causes fatigue and limits a person's mobility. Sometimes, these changes can dampen a person's spirit. But these three women have been able to adapt their lifestyle and pastimes to their changed abilities. If you find yourself unable to participate in the life you want due to your RA symptoms, talk to your doctor. Make a list of the activities you like to do and share it with your physician. He or she can work with you on creating a treatment regimen that may help you adapt in ways that allow you to meet your goals and once again do some of the activities that you enjoy.More »
Last Modified: 2013-09-09 | Tags »
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Every rheumatologist has that rheumatoid arthritis patient who successfully treats their RA. Watch to listen to one rheumatologist tell a story about a woman who collaborated with her to find the right medication.
Transcript: You know, every doctor has patients they remember for a variety of reasons, but some of my most memorable...
You know, every doctor has patients they remember for a variety of reasons, but some of my most memorable RA patients have been the most determined and committed. They just wouldn't accept anything other than their own best results. One of my most memorable patients was not really diagnosed for a very long period of time. I think before I even put her in the exam room, I said you have rheumatoid arthritis. She already had significantly decreased range of motion in both of her wrists, they were quite stiff, and painful and warm and swollen. So after I fully took her history and examined her and did her X-rays and labs, and then I said you have rheumatoid arthritis, we're going to start therapy. And she did pretty well with methotrexate alone as monotherapy, but she still had active disease, so the next step was to convince this woman, who was in her sixth, seventh decade of life, that she probably needs to be on a biologic, which is a very different discussion with someone who's that age versus someone who's 20 or 30. And she's done so well with this combination-it's really given her her life back. Another very very memorable patient of mine is a young woman who I saw for the first time in the office a few years ago. I remember her distinctly when she walked in, she was in tears, she wasn't really very fluid in her movement, and my immediate thought was, oh my God, this is going to be a very difficult case... as it turned out, the longer I was taking her history, and certainly once I got to her physical exam, I realized that she no longer had any range of motion in her wrists, she had tenderness and swelling in more than 10 joints, and I pretty much had the diagnosis within the first 15 minutes of seeing the woman. I started her on appropriate therapy, she responded beautifully, she went back to work, her joint symptoms completely melted away, her father called me and thanked me personally for taking care of his daughter, and to this day, I still have to say that it's been one of the most rewarding experiences. Patients definitely appreciate when there is a conversation about their diagnosis, their prognosis, their treatments. It's something I always stress in my encounters with my patients. I am sure that they understand what I've explained to them, that I give them an opportunity to ask me questions. To tell them to please write things down and bring them to our next visit. They need to understand everything about their disease and once they do, certainly from my POV, IT MAKES TREATING THEM MUCH much easier and more warding for everybody. That kind of back and forth as well as collaboration with surgeons and physical therapist sand other practitioners that we often enlist is really the best way to give patients their best management.More »
Last Modified: 2013-12-27 | Tags »
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