About a month or so ago I began participating in an ongoing patient research study about RA called YourCareMoments. How it works is I basically fill out a short survey after each time I see my rheumatologist or get RA prescriptions filled at the pharmacy or have any kind of RA-related treatment. The feedback from the surveys is then used by YourCareMoments to help inform pharmaceutical companies about what’s going on with patients who have RA–their experiences and opinions regarding doctor appointments, getting their RA medications, starting new medications. I do receive a small monetary compensation each time I complete a survey (about $6-7 per survey), which is nice, but what I really like about the program is that pharmaceutical companies are getting feedback directly from the patients who use their products. I think this is one good way to help bridge the gap that exists between patients and the huge pharmaceutical industry (which often has a bad reputation for not being very patient-friendly).
The pharmaceutical companies need to hear from patients and hear what the experiences are in their daily lives living with RA. Because RA is such an unpredictable and ever-changing disease, and it’s very specific from person to person, I believe it’s important for as many voices to be heard as possible, and that’s why I support this program. I want pharma to know what it’s like when I have my rheumatology appointments. I want them to know the hassle I sometimes have trying to get certain medications. They need to know that access to care and treatment and medications is often very difficult for RA patients. So! I want to let you, my readers, know that I’m participating in this program and I would like to extend a friendly invitation to anybody else who has RA who would also like to participate. So far I’ve had nothing but good experiences taking the surveys and working with YourCareMoments. It’s easy, convenient, and fast–I recommend getting involved if you have a few extra minutes to spare each week/month.
You can register to start receiving surveys by going here:
I finally finished editing the photos I took at The Walk to Cure Juvenile Arthritis a couple weekends ago. The event is an annual 5k walk that brings out tons of people to raise money to help find a cure for Juvenile Arthritis and support the kids and families who live with the disease. This was my fifth year photographing the walk for my local Arthritis Foundation chapter, and as always, it was great to see all of the people who participated in the event and to be surrounded by so many people who are dedicated to and passionate about arthritis advocacy.
I, myself, was diagnosed with RA when I was 18 (although I started having symptoms at age 17), so I was on the cusp of juvenile vs adult rheumatoid arthritis. My pediatrician gave me a preliminary diagnosis and immediately sent me to see an adult rheumatologist who I stayed with for the next 10 years. During the end of my teen years and into my 20s, I lived a very isolated and lonely life regarding my RA. I didn’t know any other teenagers or college-age people with the disease and spent these young years battling the physical and emotional pain essentially alone. To say it was hard would be a big understatement.
Volunteering at the walk this year, like the previous years, it made me feel happy to see all of these young people and their families coming together to support each other, and to nurture the friendships and relationships they’ve made over the years, as well as forming new ones. It breaks my heart to think of little kids having to deal with the intense, debilitating pain of RA, but I do feel better knowing that many of them are not alone.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t have said something so soon. Sadly and frustratingly, I’m back on prednisone–5 mg. My right foot and ankle are flaring up again (seriously, what is WRONG with THAT foot and ankle?!). I see my rheumatologist on Thursday so we’ll see what he says about it.
And in other painful health news, I’ve been battling a bad case of gastritis (I think) for over a week. Thanks to omeprazole (Prilosec), and an anti-nausea drug, and severely limiting my diet, it seems to be getting better. What relief! The constant nausea (with some vomiting) and stomach pain has been so horrible. But on the bright side, I have been losing weight. This isn’t exactly the weight loss plan I had imagined for myself, however. Another good forced diet change: no Diet Coke or caffeine!
And in GOOD NEWS, I went on my first bike ride a couple days ago! I had to make a few stops and take breaks (I’m weak from sickness and not eating hardly anything and not exercising all winter), but it felt so good. It was a lot colder out today so I chickened out, but I hope to go on another ride very soon.
I don’t want to have to get dressed and go out into frigid 7 degree weather now just to pick up a new Vicodin prescription when I’m not feeling well. But, I have to. Remember the good old days (before October) when your doctor could just call in the prescription to your pharmacy? Those days are dead. And I’m really crabby about it. I’m also annoyed by how inconvenient it is to drive and park at my clinic; it’s not a quick and easy trip. It’s a huge hassle. I hope a cup of coffee can give me a little burst of energy to leave the house.
In addition to the daily RA maladies, I’ve been sick with an upper respiratory virus thing since last Thursday–coughing, choking on snot, head about to explode, etc. So I REALLY do not want to have to drive all the way over to the clinic just to physically pick up this piece of paper.
I am thankful that I’m able to even have access to pain medication when many people in my situation aren’t so lucky. All right, I’ll shut up now so I can go get my meds and hopefully do something productive today that isn’t related to managing my health, since I did stay home from work.
I just found out that my hemoglobin level is low again (9). This could explain some things. Like, how I’ve been feeling so dragged-down tired all the time. But it’s often so hard to know what the source of the fatigue is. RA? Sinus problems? Lack of sleep? Depression? Anemia? Pain? Stress? ALL?
So, I’m back popping the iron pills. I hope this helps some.
I just want to say…I really love giving all of my money to Fairview Health Servicesfor my primary care. I mean, they deserve it. They always answer the phone right away and get me in for appointments quickly. They are so fast and efficient at RETURNING phone calls too, it’s amazing. I never have to call multiple times and repeat myself to several different customer service representatives/nurses/who-the-hell-knows-who-I’m-even-talking-to. No, of course not. If I call and leave a message for a nurse to call me back, she doesn’t forget me and ignore my message(s) and then never return my call until I have to call again, repeatedly taking up more time and effort and energy from my day(s). They are so considerate and on top of things and that’s why I happily give them large sums of my hard-earned money.
The nurses also never get any of my information wrong, like the medications I’ve had in the past, the history of my health issues, nor do they ignore the fact that I have a chronic illness–which makes primary care a bit more of a challenge than care for your “normal,” usually-healthy person. No, no–Fairview staff understand this and treat me with consideration and respect whenever I’m dealing with an additional illness or extra pain on top of living with the miserable symptoms and frustrations of RA.
So, let’s see here: I’ve had to go to my primary care clinic and urgent care 4-5 times within the last month, I think. Each visit costs me approximately $175.00 out of my pocket. I’d stop and do the math right now but it seems like a large enough amount and Fairview deserves as much as they can get for their excellent care, of course. So why even keep track? You know, I could probably start writing out insanely large checks each month or just send them my credit card to give some of their staff bonuses (especially the CEOs and Administrators) to help encourage and ensure the continuation of such personal, patient-driven, and fantastic care.