“We Make the Most of Every Day With RA!”

Five women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) share their go-to strategies for making the most of every day with RA.

Health Monitor Staff
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By sharing key information with their doctors—such as how rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects their daily lives—these women have discovered the treatments and strategies that are helping them thrive. Read their tips here to get the most from your days!

“Make your free time matter!”
3-year RA patient: Lauren Marchi, Denver

  • Apply sunscreen liberally. Sunburns are even more painful for those of us with a chronic inflammatory disease like RA. On a trip to Florida, I got a sunburn on my legs that sent me into full flare-up mode. Lesson learned—I will put sunscreen on before I leave the house and reapply once I get to the beach to avoid the weeklong flare-up next time!
  • Get disability passes at theme parks. A tip for going to theme parks with rheumatoid arthritis—get a disability pass or a wheelchair (or both) for free. At Disney, I simply went to the Guest Services office and explained my condition. They were very sympathetic and provided a wheelchair option and a ticket to pass most lines. This allowed me to last a whole 12 hours at the “most magical place on earth.”
  • Traveling by air? Pack meds in your carry-on!  Little did I know how painful of a mistake it would be to put my medication in my checked-in luggage. I had no idea that the airlines would lose my bags! By the time I received my luggage, my very expensive medication had spoiled. Days later, I had a flare-up, and I could barely stand the pain! From now on, I’ll pack my meds in a carry-on.
Photo by Jeremy Madea

“Find what works for you!”
4-year RA patient: Barbara Searles, Lancaster, PA

  • Hit the pool. I switched last year to a more gentle form of exercise—water exercise. I can ramp up or down depending on how I feel—and no one in the pool is judging me because it’s all underwater!
  • Go to the pros for blood work! I decided to make friends with some people who do venipuncture at a local diagnostic lab location. The lab was fantastic! Friendly, professional, no waiting and most of all…really, really skilled at venipuncture: minimal pain, less bruising and no lumps.
  • Manage your meds. Consistent medication is a big help to my overall wellness. So I downloaded a medication reminder app to my smartphone. It’s my savior! 
  • Try an acupressure mat! For 10 minutes before I drift off, I lie on one. It seems to calm my nervous system and deepen my sleep.
January 2014