Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

“A Rose is a Rose is a Rose” 
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”  Iris Murdoch (P. Lorenz, Positive Quotes for Every Day, (Publications International Limited, 2010, 161.)
My writer friend Patricia Lorenz shares these thoughts in her book, Positive Quotes for Every Day
"Flowers can linger in our hearts long after they wilt.  They are like the sweetest words, the most loving hug, the richest chocolate, and a heavenly hammock on a sweet spring day.”  Patricia ends with this comment: “Today I will give flowers to someone who least expects them.”  What a great idea.  I encourage you to bring a smile to someone’s face by giving him/her flowers.
P.S. Check out Patricia's book(s) for inspirational thoughts.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Treatments for Rheumatoid arthritis

Treatments of RA
One childhood memory involves my mother’s best friend, a talented artist who lost the ability to paint when her deformed fingers could not hold and control the paint brush. Over the past 50 years amazing progress has been made in the treatment of RA.   

Currently there’s no cure for RA but much research is being done in the search for a cure.  In the meantime, treatments can be used to bring a person’s RA into remission (periods of control when the person feels better and suffers less difficulty from the illness.) 

Readers can find information about the treatments for RA at the Arthritis Foundation website at More information about rheumatoid arthritis can be found at



Sunday, May 27, 2012

What doctor should I see and how is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?

What doctor should I see?  How does a doctor diagnose RA?  Many people will tell their family doctor/primary care physician about their symptoms first.  Many family doctors will send the patient to a rheumatologist (specialist in medical care of arthritis and autoimmune diseases.) for a second opinion.   

Diagnosis of RA involves multiple steps beginning with an examination which includes looking at a person’s joints and symptoms.  There’s no definitive blood test used to diagnose RA, but rather several blood tests which may be done in the efforts to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.  Information about the diagnostic steps can be found at

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects the entire body.  “RA affects joints when it causes the lining of the joints called synovium to overgrow and destroy the articular cartilage.  However, unlike osteoarthritis which mainly affects joints, RA affects the entire body because it’s a malfunction of the immune system.  Many people with RA become anemic, having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of hemoglobin which diminishes the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen.”  (SEHohler, Arthritis:  A Patient’s Guide, (Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Co., Inc, 2008, 17.)  People dealing with RA may feel sick.  They may find themselves becoming depressed.  As they deal with their physical symptoms, they may deal with grief and sorrow:  their former life doesn’t seem possible anymore and they grief the loss of ‘what I could do in the past.’  This is a normal grieving process for some people.  A person with diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis can find information, support and help at RA Connect at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What happens in rheumatoid arthritis and what are symptoms?

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? Symptoms include pain, swollen, reddened, sore and inflamed joints, being fatigued (even exhausted) and just feeling sick.   RA often involves bilateral joints.  (I mean the knuckles of both hands, not just one hand).  Joints frequently involved include jaw, neck, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet. 
What happens during rheumatoid arthritis?  The body’s defense system (immune system) goes awry and attacks itself.  Normally our immune system recognizes infection or foreign substances (non-self substances) and sends out antibodies (special proteins) and white blood cells which attack and destroy the infectious agent (germ, virus, etc) or foreign substances. 
In rheumatoid arthritis, this normal process becomes extreme and exaggerated. “The protective immune cells move from the blood stream into the joint.  Once inside the joint the immune cells begin producing enzymes, antibodies and cytokines.  These chemicals (enzymes, antibodies and cytokines) damage the joint, causing joint stiffness and pain.  The synovial lining of joints overdevelops, invades the deeper bone and destroys the cartilage.  Doctors call this synovial overgrowth ‘pannus.’  Articular cartilage on the ends of bones, is eaten away by destructive enzymes and the exposed raw bones rub together, causing pain.  The damage becomes visible on x-rays as the joint space becomes narrow and hollow spaces in the bones, called erosions, occur.”  (SEHohler, Arthritis:  A Patient’s Guide, (Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Co., Inc, 2008, 18.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

May is Arthritis Month--one type is Rheumatoid arthritis

I recently visited with an extended family member.  This lady has been taking methothrexate which controlled her rheumatoid arthritis RA) for several years.  She had noticed she was beginning to have symptoms (discomfort in her stomach—could she be having side effects from her medication?) She said when her husband looked up the drug and saw all the potential side effects, it scared him.  He wants her to stop taking the methotrexate.  She asked for my opinion.  I said, I think it’s a bad idea to stop taking your RA medicine; I would recommend you contact your rheumatologist and talk to him.  She said her next appointment is June.  My advice:  do not go without RA medicine for two months.   Call your rheumatologist’s office and talk to his nurse; tell them what is going on and get their advice.  Here’s my reason for that advice:  when uncontrolled, rheumatoid arthritis does damage to your body that you cannot see. 
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?  Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.  When a person develops an auto-immune disease, the body starts attacking itself.  With rheumatoid arthritis, more than joints are affected.  Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease (it can affect body organs including the heart and lungs).  As such, a person dealing with rheumatoid arthritis should have a doctor knowledgeable about this illness and able to direct the medical care.  For more information about rheumatoid arthritis, see information at

Saturday, May 19, 2012

National Women's Health Week--Osteoporosis Risks

I face an increased risk of osteoporosis.  Do you?  I recognize my risk factors are these:  being a white, postmenopausal woman of small stature whose mother had osteoporosis.  I have not started shrinking in height yet, but I recognize the danger I face.  I recently had a bone density test done.
Have you had a dexa bone density test?  How often should you have one done?  The baseline recommendation says at age 50-64 you should talk to your doctor/health care provider about having one done.  That’s true.  However, if you are at risk of osteoporosis like me, your doctor will recommend when and how often to have this test done.  My doctor wants me to have a bone density test done yearly. 
Other risk factors we cannot control include our age (especially being over 65 years of age), having auto-immune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or type-1 diabetes which involve medications (glucocorticoids) that increase the risk of osteoporosis.  
Risk factors we can control:  smoking, drinking too much alcohol (a maximum of one drink/day for a woman), skipping calcium and vitamin D rich foods and not exercising.  

Our bones are living tissue and our body constantly breaks down old bone and builds new bone.  We can add lifestyle things which will give our body the ingredients it needs to build strong bones.  These ingredients include:  calcium and vitamin D every day, a healthy diet and exercise.  More information can be found at
As women we care for our loved ones.  Are you caring for your body?  For a copy of Women’s health checklist, go to