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What To Expect After a Rheumatic Disease Diagnosis

February 15, 2024 | Rheumatic Disease


After receiving a rheumatic disease diagnosis, it’s normal to have mixed emotions. You may be relieved that there is a name to your experience, hope for relief in the future, or fear about what your future holds. While it may seem daunting at first, there are many effective treatments and resources available today that can minimize symptoms and help you live a full life.

Here are four key things to expect after receiving a rheumatic disease diagnosis:

There Will Be a Learning Curve
As a new patient, you’ll need to invest time and effort into becoming an expert, just as you would in a new job. It’s essential to be patient with yourself as you navigate this unfamiliar territory.

The Path Forward Won't Always Be Crystal Clear
When dealing with rheumatic disease, it’s important to understand that you will likely need to navigate gray areas in your treatment. While this can be frustrating, learning to be patient and developing coping strategies can help you adapt and manage the challenges effectively.

You Might Have to Help Your Friends and Family "Get It"
As you navigate your journey with a rheumatic disease, you may encounter a lack of understanding from friends and family. You may have to help educate them by sharing valid resources from reputable organizations like the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and other foundations, which can provide accurate information and help your family and friends help you.

You Won't Have to Go Through It Alone
Finally, building a supportive team is crucial to successfully managing your rheumatic disease. Other than your rheumatologist, consider incorporating other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and nurses. Meanwhile, nonprofit patient organizations can provide peer support. Together, these resources can provide valuable guidance, expertise, and support as you manage your rheumatic disease.

In summary, reach out for support, find effective treatments that work for you, make lifestyle changes to manage symptoms, and stay positive on your journey with your condition. You can live well with a rheumatic disease.

Cheryl Crow, OTR/L

About the Author

Cheryl Crow, OTR/L

Cheryl Crow, OTR/L is an occupational therapist who lives with rheumatoid arthritis. She specializes in engaging patient education videos and other media on her Arthritis Life platform. Cheryl also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Washington. Cheryl can be found on Twitter at @realcc.

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