Author: Mary Mann

Surviving Covid-19 with RA

Those with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to become ill with covid-19 and they are more likely to be hospitalized or die. In addition, if you are on an immune suppressing biologic your  covid-19 vaccine will only be about 65% effective as opposed to the 95% coverage most people enjoy. The reason that a third vaccine will soon be available to those who are immune compromised is because those hospitalized with breakthrough infections are from the immune compromised group. This is not a booster shot. It is a third vaccine. Those with RA who are on an immune suppressing biologic will be eligible. Although those who had RA were included in the vaccine studies, those with RA who were on biologics were disqualified from participating.  So, there was no data on the effect of immune suppressing drugs such as the biologics on the effect of the vaccine. The vaccine is safe for those with RA. Protection from the virus is limited for those on the biologics. It has been found  that those with RA who …

RA In the kitchen

In the kitchen with RA When I was twelve, I road my bike downtown with my mom’s green stamp book in my pocket. I road my bike back home with my first Betty Crocker Cookbook . I still have it. Now I have many recipe resources including the food section in the  NY Times, All recipes and Martha Stewart emails, and King Arthur Baking Recipes. Now I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and my life has added uphill challenges. Between RA pain and fatigue, doctor visits and drug complications,  ambition frequently descends into the basic mode of  required activity. That activity is as basic as  getting dressed in the morning. Cooking?  Is it really necessary anymore especially when you add the difficulties of RA to the mix?  For some of us, it is. I like to cook. I like the taste of homemade meals. I like the fragrance of baking bread coming from the oven. I enjoy working with my tools and ingredients in my kitchen.  Fresh fruit and veggies. Organic chicken. Cream, buttermilk, unsalted butter.  Working …

TNF inhibitors

Next line in the treatment of RA TNF inhibitors/TNF blockers are a group of biologic medicines that suppress the body’s response to TNF. TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) is a complex protein produced by the white blood cells in response to inflammatory events in the body. Those who have rheumatoid arthritis may be given a TNF inhibitor as part of their therapy. This is the third article in a series about the treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. You can download the articles or you can read them on Marysarthritis.com. Many insurance plans may require that you start your therapy with a nonbiologic such as methotrexate (MTX). As troublesome as the side effects are in the beginning, methotrexate has a good success rate. When MTX isn’t enough the doctor may order a combination of methotrexate with sulfasalazine and/or leflunomide. A TNF inhibitor may be the added to the methotrexate. Although the TNF inhibitors are basically similar, they do have differentproperties. If one doesn’t work for you, another might. Your doctor will order a TB test and will …

RA Solutions Gardening

I have the misfortune of having a painfully, progressing rheumatoid arthritis. My RA started when I was older. An older onset RA tends to be more severe like it is trying to make up past time. After eight years, most of my joints are affected. I have neuropathy in my feet and joint damage in my hands and feet. I walk with a cane when I’m out and frequently use a walker to get around at home. I am disabled. It has taken me a long time to admit it. But the upside is that I can make changes to my life so that I can manage in spite of disability. The long cozy nights by the fire have given way to the longer days of spring. It is time to be out in the garden. My roses were amazing all through May. My clematis is covered in large dark blue flowers. Hosta fill one corner of my patio. All my herbs have renewed themselves. I enjoy the fruits of past garden labors and am …

Using Heat and Cold for RA

Heat and cold application can be a helpful tool in managing the symptoms of RA.  Have you mulled the idea of using ice or warm compresses to make your joints feel better, but was unsure what you should use so didn’t do anything? Should I use heat? Should I use ice? The answers are simple and unless taken to extreme, heat/cold applications are non-invasive, safe, and helpful for many arthritis sufferers. In sports medicine Ice is used for an immediate injury such as an ankle sprain. We have all experienced the call for ice after someone falls or is hit in a sports event. When applied to the skin, ice causes the local blood vessels to constrict. This slows down the circulation and will reduce new inflammation and swelling to the affected area.  Ice will also numb the area quieting pain receptors and reducing pain. Ice from the ice chest or a very cold soda can are usually available at a soccer game or similar sports game. It makes ice an easily obtainable, useful remedy. …