How do you feel when you are newly diagnosed with RA? For a 52-year-old woman in the WebMD Rheumatoid Arthritis Community, the answer is overwhelmed. She has trouble working, she feels like sleeping all the time, she’s scared, and she just wants to make it all go away.
The community responded with an outpouring of support and coping tips. A former triathlete recalled being so tired he once slept on the floor because he couldn't make it from a chair to his bed. Another, who owns her own business, recalled that within two months of her diagnosis, she couldn't bend her fingers. Many people could feel the new member's emotional issues as well as her pain.
But people also offered something only a community of peers could: Assurance that it gets better.
Some offered specific advice about taking a corticosteroid and methotrexate, which is commonly prescribed right after diagnosis:
- Give methotrexate time to work. It can take up to 10 weeks. Getting it by injection may help some people.
- For stomach issues, take oral methotrexate with food. Or talk to your doctor about taking something for stomach problems.
- Make sure to get enough vitamin D and calcium when you take prednisone.
Others offered lessons from their experience:
- The first year is the hardest.
- You may need to try a few drugs before finding the right one for you.
- Fatigue gets better as your treatments start working.
- If you aren't seeing a rheumatologist, start.
- See a sleep specialist. One man said it helped him go from falling asleep anytime he sat for more than five minutes to sleeping seven hours a night and waking up refreshed.
One member of the community didn't have advice, but just wanted to offer moral support. "I know it makes me feel better to know that I am not alone in the frustration and confusion of a new diagnosis of RA," the person said.