August 23, 2004

Arthur I Tis Everybody knows

Arthur I Tis

Everybody knows at least one person with Arthritis, and I bet your thinking of your grandparents or parents.

Did you know about half of the 70 million people (about 1 in 3) including 300,000 children that have Arthritis are under the age of 65?

Did you know that Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation’s leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15?

Did you know that Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability?

Did you know that Arthritis costs to the U.S. economy totals more than $86.2 billion annually?

Did you know that Arthritis refers to more than 100 different diseases?
For many people with arthritis, however, joint involvement is not the extent of the problem. Many forms of arthritis are classified as systemic, meaning they can affect the whole body. In these diseases, arthritis can cause damage to virtually any bodily organ or system, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and skin.

Did you know that I was diagnosed with Arthritis at age 16?

Yep that's right, at age 16 after 2 years of painful tests, many doctors and 1 knee surgery someone finally suggested going to a Rheumatologist just to rule out arthritis. What was to be just another doctor visit became my diagnoses, a name to my problems and the beginning of a life long journey. I was initially diagnosed with OsteoArthritis of the knees and hips, given Motrin and was told to come back when the pain got unbearable because at that time that was all they could really do for OA.

1 Ulcer and 20 years later the pain became unbearable so off to the doctors I go because I just knew there was more to my arthritis than just OA, my family doctor also believed this.

So April of 2003 off to the Rheumatologist I go, one that mind you was within my HMO plan. I was in the room with the doctor a total of 5 minutes which included her feeling my knee through my jeans and being handed a prescription for a sleeping pill because she felt if I slept better at night my joints would be better. Spoke with my family doctor again (he was pissed and will never recommend this doctor again) I ended up going out of network to the University of Michigan Rheumatology Division, my doctor is also a instructor. My new Rheumy asked questions, did a joint exam and came up with a couple possibilities but wanted blood tests to confirm. Next appointment, with blood results in hand I finally had a diagnoises. Ankylosing Spondylitis, a systematic disease that affects more than just the joints. It is a hereditary disease and I got it from my fathers side, he had it also. My sister has recently been tested and found to have the gene (HLA-B27) but so far the disease isn't active in her. The HLA-B27 tissue antigen is present in 90% of patients compared to 5-8% incidence in general population. I'm to the point where every joint is affected. Out of a month I have one or two good, feel my age days, most days I feel like a 65 year old, I also have a few days a month in which getting out of bed, dressing, walking, sitting, standing, just living is a challenge. I am currently on a DMARD (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs), which seem to be helping. But the drugs also comprimise your immune system, which means I get sick easier. But through research a whole new category of drugs have been found and are being tested and brought to market. I know people on them and most refer to the new drugs as "the miracle drugs". You may have seen commericals for Enbrel, Remicade and Humira.

So I bet your wondering why the heck am I telling you about this, well there is something you can do. There is a bill in the Senate and Congress called the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act of 2004. It is for providing funds for research. You can do your part by going here, filling in your zip code and a standardized letter comes up with your representatives and senators, you can add text or send as is.

Do it for that person you first thought of when I asked who you knew with Arthritis. It's easy, takes only a couple minutes and just might make you feel like you are making a difference!

Posted by Quality Weenie at August 23, 2004 04:13 PM