Friday, September 30, 2016

#RABlog Week Day 5: Great Blog Posts I Have Read This Week

Just One Voice,
Singing in the darkness,
All it takes is One Voice,
Singing so they hear what's on your mind,
And when you look around you'll find
There's more than
One Voice
 - Barry Manilow - 

When I was 16 years old, I was a huge (or in the words of Donald Trump, lol, YUGE!) Barry Manilow fan. His songs somehow had the power to make me smile and cry at the same time. There was so much truth and so much raw emotion in them, and a few, like Copacabana, even had a little mystery and humor mixed in.

In the same way, #RABlog Week is one of my favorite times of the year because it brings together a whole lot of different stories and perspectives from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients from around the world. We smile as we hear a story we relate to. We cry when we read of someone’s pain and struggles that are even more difficult than our own. We get some good advice from others who have been there and done that. We are inspired and encouraged, and occasionally, we even find a little humor. As writers, we begin as just One Voice, but then learn there are a whole lot more of us, and together, we sing a beautiful chorus.

With almost 40 registered bloggers and more than 50 entries (so far), I haven’t had a chance to read all of this year’s blogs, but I can share with you a few I have enjoyed, as well as some collective wisdom I found threaded through all of them.

Lene Andersen – A Seated View
Even though I had seen Lene around the RA blogosphere before, I didn’t understand her depth of experience with RA until I ran across her story last year on Health Central. At that point, all I could say was “wow.” She has been dealing with this disease since she was a young child, and yet despite all that it has cost her – she has not walked since she was 14 years old and she has had at least one life-threatening experience related to RA – she continues to not only smile and live a productive life, but also gives so much to the RA community.

Lene’s blog piece this week on biologics was extremely informative. Her key point, addressing the fears that all of us have about RA treatment options, was this: “Life is full of risk. I chose to take the risks because I wanted to live, not merely exist. My best option for that was medication.”

Rick Phillips - RADiabetes
What can I say? Without Rick, none of this would be possible. He is the founder of #RABlog Week and has an amazing website full of information on RA and diabetes. His “starting story”  was one of starting over after a terrible reaction to a biologic. Somehow, despite a very scary episode that could have ended tragically, he still finds something in it to laugh about, which is that the position of a computer mousepad can have great implications! I also love that at the end of each post he writes, he gives us a short bullet list of takeaways.

Writer Elise
I met Elise during last year’s #RABlog Week and I feel a little kinship to her because we are both professional writers and we both live in Texas. I really enjoyed her short but to-the-point post about going from being a reactive to a proactive patient. She has some good advice with regards to finding the right doctor to work with, bringing up some good points like “Don’t settle for getting by. Work with your doctor to find the right balance for you. As patients, we bring something to the table that most of our doctors don’t. We’re on the inside of RA. We can teach them things they can’t learn from books.”

Sam – My Medical Musings
Anyone who has read my blog knows that faith is at the core of my life. I actually began writing spring Sight because at the time I was diagnosed with RA, I couldn’t find any kind of uplifting source of hope online. I thought perhaps I could dig deeper into the Bible and find hope for my situation, and then share it with others as I journeyed along with RA. Then a year later, I met Sam. She lives on the other side of the world, in Australia, and her health issues are so tremendous, I can’t even begin to imagine how she deals with them. And yet, when I read her blog, I know exactly how she gets through. Like me, she holds onto her faith.

As we have followed each other online, Sam and I have become friends and sisters in Christ, who gives us strength. We encourage and pray for one another, and I will tell you she inspires me every day to notice the good things in life, rather than dwelling in the negative. This week, she shared her post “That Person” and it is one of the best posts she has ever written. If you want to be inspired to look at life with a positive perspective, check it out.

Common Threads
Before I sign off for the week, I want to point out a couple of things I noticed throughout all of the blog posts I read.

Medical diagnoses aren’t perfect. I was shocked to see just how many people were misdiagnosed before they discovered they had RA. The hard truth is that autoimmune diseases are still not completely understood by the medical community. That means we have to be patient while trying to figure out exactly what’s going on with our bodies. As I saw in the stories shares, eventually they get it right. We just need to stay strong and have faith that the answers will come…eventually.

Medications and other treatments can be painful, but they aren’t as scary as RA. I went into my disease scared to death about the types of treatment I might need. I had just lost my father to lung cancer and the idea of taking a chemo drug like Methotrexate or doing infusions terrified me. And yet, despite hearing some pretty bad stories of drug reactions and complications, it was RA that took away Lene’s ability to walk, and it was biologics that gave her back a better quality of life. Another of my favorite bloggers, Anna “Six Hips and Counting,” has had numerous surgeries for RA, but today she is an athlete! I have to remember that even if it takes time to find the right treatment, then even with the side effects considered, it will be better than a life with untreated RA.

There is always a chance for happiness, despite our circumstances, as well as opportunities to give back. I’ve seen it over and over again in this week’s blog posts: happiness is a choice. We can choose to look at the negatives, or we can choose to be grateful for the positives. We all have both the good and the bad in our lives. We can’t always choose what mix we get, but we do get to choose how we respond to it. And one of the best things we can do is to share the good, which offers hope, and to share the lessons learned from all of our life experiences. I’m grateful for all the writers participating in #RABlog Week, who have given of their time to do just that.

What were some of your favorite blogs this past week, either on #RABlog Week or elsewhere? If you are a new or regular reader of Spring Sight, are there any topics you would like to see me cover in the future?

#RABlog Week Day 5: Great Blog Posts I Have Read This Week originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

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  1. Love! Love! Love this: "There is always a chance for happiness, despite our circumstances, as well as opportunities to give back. I’ve seen it over and over again in this week’s blog posts: happiness is a choice."

    1. Yes, Cathy, it is so true! And I believe your site was one of the blogs that said it. :-)

  2. Thanks so much for the wonderful shout out, Linda! I haven’t had a chance to catch up with all of the post yet (there were so many), but I look forward to doing that over the next little while. I did read yours, though, and I was especially fond of your post about advice. I still cringe when I think of you peeling off the skin. And like Cathy, I lovelovelove that quote!

    1. Yes, that ironing story is one that has been stuck in my brain for many years (the scar was a good reminder). Needless to say, I listened to my parents a lot more after that! And speaking of happy, I love the big smile on your face in the picture under the post I mentioned! You look incredibly joyful. I'm so glad you're feeling better recently! :-)

  3. Linda, thanks for the kind words. We never would have been able to blog this week without you joining us.

    I hope you will mark your calendar for the last Monday in September 2017 when we will get the chance to do it all over again. :)