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Archive for April, 2016

A member of our local RA Support Group, and friend to all of us in the group, died last week – of complications of Rheumatoid Disease. Just like Glenn Frey did a few months ago.

She repeatedly had bronchitis through the winter, then, just as spring was in full bloom, she developed bronchitis again, but this time antibiotics didn’t help. She was hospitalized, then developed pneumonia. Two weeks later, she died.

Some would say it was complications of her medications – all those immune suppressants she was on – that were the cause of her death. But those of us who fight the same fight know: it was Rheumatoid Disease that was the cause.

Our immune systems are broken. Our immune systems have gone bezerk and are attacking our own tissues. Although the joint tissues are the most noticeable, Rheumatoid Disease affects the heart, lungs, eyes, ears, and kidneys, not to mention arteries and veins. It gives the patient overwhelming fatigue and brain fog. In fact, Airways Abnormalities May Represent Preclinical Rheumatoid Arthritis! This was an astounding piece of information to me when I first read it. Rheumatoid Disease may very well start in the lungs! [RAWarrior.com: Preclinical Rheumatoid Disease – There Are No Joints In The Lungs]

According to a recent study at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “RA is associated with a 40 percent increased risk of death.” [RAWarrior.com: Rheumatoid Arthritis Mortality] My own mother died of complications of Rheumatoid Disease (Arthritis) after fighting the illness for 15 years. She was only 59 when she died. Her grandchildren hardly got to know her at all. She was 15 years post diagnosis.

My friend had had RD for many years, and had the deep love of her only child – a daughter, who is totally devastated. I, too, was my mother’s only child, and was devastated by her death. Due to modern treatments, I have lived longer than I expected to. But the complications of the medications and treatments are taking a serious toll. Even though they are slowing the course of the disease, they are quite capable of killing me. So I see my Rheumatologist regularly, and inbetween times I see my Primary Care doctor. Then as joints give out, I have orthopedic surgeries – two so far and a third looms on the horizon.

We MUST find a cure for this disease! It robs us of function, family, friends. It ravages children, adolescents, mothers and fathers and grandparents. It is a leading cause of disability and loss of employment – not just in the USA, but across the world.

Rest in peace, my friend. You are no longer in pain. You are no longer crippled. You are free of this VILE disease that robbed us of you. God bless you and make your Memory Eternal.

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The thing most people do not understand is all the OTHER body parts affected by Rheumatoid Disease. [Arthritis is only one symptom of this condition, hence the gradual shift to calling it “Rheumatoid Disease.” Here is a non-inclusive list:

Lungs – affect the membrane lining the lungs, leading to pleuritis and fluid collection; rheumatoid nodules can form in the lungs, also.

Reduction in red blood cells = anemia.

Treatment to suppress the immune system may lead to low levels of blood platelets, a condition called thrombocytopenia.

Felty’s syndrome, a condition in which the spleen is enlarged and the white blood cell count is low in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Having Felty’s syndrome may increase the risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands.

Rheumatoid nodules under the skin occur in 20% of patients with Rheumatoid Disease. These can occur on elbows, forearms, fingers or heels.

These nodules can occur in the heart and lungs, also. In the lungs this can lead to hemorrhage.

Rashes of the skin

In the eyes, uveitis, iritis, scleritis and episcleritis can affect vision and eye comfort.

People with Rheumatoid Disease are also susceptible to developing Sjogren’s Syndrome which leads to extreme dry eye and dry mouth.

A collection of fluid between the outer membranes of the heart and the heart muscle itself – pericardial effusion. This is life-threatening!

Pericarditis – inflammation of the membranes around the heart – is life-threatening!

We who have Rheumatoid Disease are at increased risk of heart attacks just as people with type-2 diabetes are. We are also at increased risk of stroke. This is because inflammation of the blood vessels – both veins and arteries – can occur in about 15% of patients with Rheumatoid Disease.

WebMD has lots more information and much more detail than I included here. The thing to remember is, nearly any part of your body can be affected by Rheumatoid Disease with resultant symptoms which depend upon the part of the body affected.

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