Living an Unbelievable Life With RA

Jennifer Vido hasn’t let her rheumatoid arthritis get in the way of living life to its fullest.

Jennifer Leonard
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Like many “super moms” these days, Jennifer Vido doesn’t have too much downtime. She takes her turn carpooling her two sons and their friends to school—in between reviewing books, writing a blog, working on a book, serving on the board of her local public library and even teaching a water therapy class for the Arthritis Foundation.

“My quality of life is unbelievable,” the 44-year-old Baltimore resident says. And that’s in spite of the rheumatoid arthritis that once necessitated a lift to ferry her up and down the family staircase.

Searching for help
Jennifer has never been a quitter—or a complainer, even after having to have her hip replaced—twice. Determined not to focus on her “limitations,” she pushed herself at physical therapy and forced herself to keep moving and stay positive. Her efforts and optimism certainly paid off. “I definitely felt hopeful!”

But once she was forced to give up her job as a French teacher because she could no longer stand on her feet for hours, Jennifer decided to take action. She became one of the first in the country to start a combination drug therapy for RA. The therapy included a biologic medication and the drug methotrexate. “The arthritis pain got better,” she recalls. But then came the side effects. “I got mouth sores, and my hair started falling out. It was a difficult trade-off. It seemed like the only way to feel good was to suffer in different ways.”

Jennifer bore up under the treatment, gargling salt water to battle the mouth sores and coping with the hair loss. Once a month, she had blood work to check her liver function. And every weekend, she “recovered” from her Friday- night methotrexate regimen.

After a few years of juggling pills and treatments, Jennifer’s doctor told her about new research that showed that a monotherapy drug plan was as effective at managing RA as combination therapy. That meant she could stop taking methotrexate, the drug causing her mouth sores and hair loss. With her treatment adjusted, the payoff came quickly.

“I was very tired on the methotrexate, but I thought it was my RA that was causing my fatigue,” she says. “Once I was just on the biologic, I thought, Wow, things are good!”

Today, taking just the one medication, Jennifer’s RA is under control and she’s no longer suffering the methotrexate side effects.

“I’m finally free! Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t rule me anymore!” 

April 2013