Do you have a Rheumatology Care Team?

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What’s a rheumatology care team?

Last Atlantis LaunchWhen I wrote the About pages for this site, I discussed the team of doctors and medical professionals that a person fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis might gather around him. Like Diabetes, I realized that people with RA could need plenty of monitoring and advice. The other day, I read an article in The Rheumatologist  tweeted by the American College of Rheumatology. It Takes All Kinds: A look at the rheumatology practice team describes extensive collaboration between physicians, nurses, and numerous other professionals.

“The care of patients with rheumatic diseases requires physicians and health professionals with the experience and knowledge of complex rheumatic diseases. The collaboration of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, cognitive behavioral therapists, physical therapists, and others allows for the optimum outcomes for our patients.”

Creating a rheumatology team

With the end of the NFL lockout and an agreement between owners and the players’ union, teams are being quickly put back together. The Redskins re-signed Santana Moss today, the 26 million dollar man. My sons are sure delighted.

Can’t we do the same?

As I read Dr. Borenstein’s list, I used fingers to count what professionals I’ve found for my team. Once, I saw an RN at a rheumatology office. It was my first visit to the doctor who put me on Humira. I changed insurance to become their patient, mostly because of the competence and compassion of that nurse. Then she left to go work on a mission in Central America. I was not treated by another RN in a rheum office. I know lots of patients who are though, especially in the U.K. But if they see the nurse instead of a doctor, I’m not sure how that counts on my fingers.

We mostly have medical assistants here. I know they must do the best they can, but the ones I met didn’t know about RA. They thought it was odd that I’d lost weight, that I have fevers, that I take prednisone, or that I take omeprazole for NSAIDs . For a couple years, I tried to find a massage therapist who would learn about RA. I kept trying to explain that my joints are tender, but eventually, it wasn’t worth the trouble.

So, have you successfully built a rheumatology care team or is it a struggle?

If you’ve followed the blog, you know I’ve been surprised about how little is known about RA by many medical professionals, either in my own experience, from readers, or according to research. It was one of the hard facts I hated to face because it shows how big the awareness job is ahead of us. My good GP admits he doesn’t know a lot about RA, but so far, that’s been okay since he treats infections promptly. In this interview in RA Today, I talked about the importance of a counselor as a valuable team player to avoid depression even with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It helped, but the counselor I saw didn’t know about RA either.

Sometimes patients wonder whether collaboration exists. None of my docs have ever spoken to one another so I don’t know. I love a holistic approach, but can we find it?
ACR Tweet: she beats Rheumatoid Arthritis
Postblog:I believe people with RA are resilient fighters, doing the most that they can. As I was working on this post, there was a typical discussion on Facebook about a book that makes curing RA look easy. It’s posted on Twitter often. Meanwhile, a new article’s being tweeted about a woman who is beating RA by keeping busy (Beating Rheumatoid Arthritis). I was thinking how ironic it is most of us are extra busy with doctor appointments & trying to put together a healthcare team & wishing it really worked to beat RA – either busyness or the team.

Similar to the AF’s Beachcomber article, last year, it seems to say we won’t need that whole team of doctors if we’ll just try harder:

“The natural free sprit chose a healthy lifestyle and raw diet over recommended medicines in her battle with RA. ‘Saunas, rest, swimming and healthy eating are what help me the most in dealing with RA,’ Mel said. ‘Once I believed in myself again and the abilities I have, I felt I was physically getting better just by emotionally feeling better.’”

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 7:00 am and is filed under Living with RA / Managing RA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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