Dealing With RA is Like Having Another Job
One important thing I learned as a result of having RA is that there is never a dull moment – there’s always some new “adventure” waiting around the corner. The amount of time that it takes to take care of these adventures seems to compound over the course of the disease. In order to face these escapades, it feels like I’ve added another unwanted job to my life. An accounting of the time spent on RA demonstrates just how time-consuming it can become.
Adjusting to life with RA
Delays in starting the day
Having RA can make it feel like weights are attached to your body or goopy glue is inside your joints. Because of this, it takes time to get moving in the morning. No longer can I simply jump out of bed and be out the door after a quick shower and coffee. Now it may take 1-2 hours and that dearly cuts into the day’s schedule. Naps and going to be bed earlier have become the rule and not the exception and rest takes precious time.
RA-related doctor visits
It’s not uncommon to have at least one scheduled doctor visit per month. Depending on whatever RA-related symptom is raising its ugly head, multiple trips to specialists other than my rheumatologist can be common. In the past month, I’ve had several visits to an orthopedic surgeon for my elbow, resulting in an hour-long MRI, a return visit to discuss the results, and a cortisone injection procedure. Just this week, there was the Monday visit to an Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat) to discuss recent sinus issues caused by being immunosuppressed from RA drugs, followed by a CT scan on Thursday, and a follow-up visit to discuss the results. And that’s squeezed in between a scheduled visit to my rheumatologist to discuss how the latest treatment regimen is working and a fasting cholesterol test. On top of the time spent with health care providers, all of these visits take a tremendous amount of time in driving, parking, and waiting.
Maintaining medicine regimine
Taking medicines for RA is part of the “job description”. There’s the everyday routine of taking morning and evening medications and filling the pillboxes. Every week, I get out all of the paraphernalia to self-inject methotrexate. Since I take Rituxan, which is only administered via infusion, I am required to go to the clinic for 5-6 hour infusions. That pretty much wipes out the entire day. Then there are the regular trips to the pharmacy to pick up other prescriptions, on top of the time it takes to make sure that every prescription is refilled and continually stocked.
Going to physical therapy sessions
Physical therapy (PT) can be one of the most time-consuming tasks involved with having RA since it can attack joints and impair mobility. After having multiple joint surgeries, PT is always prescribed by my orthopedic surgeon. These usually occur two days a week and last at least one hour each.
Dealing with insurance issues
Dealing with insurance processing issues becomes very time consuming. Just today, I had to field a phone call from my clinic about an insurance approval for a CT scan. Sometimes, I feel like an accountant trying to understand the vast amount of paperwork involved in an explanation of benefits (EOB), doctor’s bills, pharmacy bills, and insurance coverage. In the past month, I’ve spent over 10 hours on the phone trying to get a drug co-pay assistance processed.
Coping with unwanted changes
Rheumatoid arthritis brings about many unwanted changes. Finding the time to deal with all of these changes requires an adjustment in schedule and takes precious time away from other important things in life. I just wish I got paid for this new job!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?