Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis Versus Mild Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Next week, the blog will be one year old. During this week, I’m sharing some personal thoughts.

Comparing severe Rheumatoid Arthritis & mild Rheumatoid Arthritis

I’ve experienced both sides of this comparison:  I’ve been told I have Rheumatoid Arthritis too mild to understand the struggles of others: “How else could you blog every day?” Other times, I hear about those Rheumatoid Arthritis patients who can work a full time job, wash dishes, or take a walk around the lake. They assume if they can do it, then I can too – even though many days I can barely walk to the bathroom.

Most RA’ers have been through some days that are very bad, but then they eventually respond to treatment. Some patients don’t respond to treatment as well and stay in that hard place. However, even a “good” response to treatment can mean very different things for severe RA and mild RA.

I’ve been working on designing a chart to reflect the response to treatment. The current gauge falls short. Imagine the difference between a 50 percent improvement in symptoms in mild Rheumatoid Arthritis affecting a few joints and a 50 percent improvement in severe Rheumatoid Arthritis that involves every joint. They are both called an ACR 50 response to treatment – or “success.” One person can practically get on with life as normal while the other can do little more than dress herself.

There may not be a way to avoid these comparisons since they are important distinctions. But people do ask me, “Where do I fit in?” Here is what I tell them.

3 points on severe Rheumatoid Arthritis v mild Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Differences are inherent with the disease both between patients and in the same patient over time. Some have RA in only certain joints; some have all affected. Some have periods of flare with lesser symptoms in between; some have unremitting symptoms. Some can run and ski while others use wheelchairs or crutches.
  2. There is a blessed sympathetic feeling when one person with rheumatoid disease (PRD) meets another who has a similar pattern.  But watch out for less productive comparisons such as: “Mine is worse than yours” or “If I can do this, then you can too.” What is implied? Are patients who claim greater limitations being accused of dishonesty?
  3. All Rheumatoid Disease (RD) is dangerous. All RD is a frightening and evil menace. Our uniqueness aside, we have this one common enemy: Rheumatoid Disease / Arthritis.

Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, mild Rheumatoid Arthritis, & common courtesy

How do you feel when someone tells you, “Well I know someone with RA who can do ___”? Or “Why do you need that handicapped parking space?” Hopefully, we fellow PRD can be sensitive to anyone else who has the disease since they have probably suffered enough without our judging them.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010 at 7:04 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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