Like a trip I take somewhere, I mentally frame my RA as temporary, a sojourn. It is a mind game.
I refer to myself as a RA Sojourner. I recently realized this. Let me explain.
Merriam-Webster defines sojourn as a temporary stay.
I was thinking about planning future events including a family reunion, projects at home, and trips to visit relatives I haven’t seen in a long time. After considering commitments already made, I concluded my plans will take several years to come to fruition. It was at that point I realized my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was absolutely a factor in my plans, but I also realized I don’t necessarily think my RA will be a defining factor forever. I will admit having a chronic disease and managing the disease requires me to use some mind games, but I truly have hope researchers will figure out even better ways to treat the disease and perhaps stop it at it’s origin. And I’m not talking about false hope.
Not long ago I attended a Wilderness Medicine lecture. The researcher was giving instructions on treating shark attacks and other marine emergencies when she mentioned they were studying potentially new analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents found on coral slime. I had never heard of coral slime before, but it struck me that there is research happening on many fronts.
What is being discovered about the gut microbiome gives me hope for future RA therapies. Research has established that the gut microbiome greatly influences the immune system. In an interview with Rheumatology Advisor, Veena Taneja, PhD, associate professor of immunology in the Department of Immunology and Rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota discussed the latest insights about the association between the gut microbiome and RA. Studies have shown RA is associated with a low-diversity microbial profile and one study found an abundance of the microbe Prevotella copri in untreated RA patients. I am encouraged that very bright minds are investigating the relationship between the gut microbiome, the immune system and RA.
A study out of Yale University published in Science has discovered that a bacterium called Enterococcus gallinarium could migrate from the gut to other parts of the body causing an autoimmune disease. Could an antibiotic or vaccine potentially be used as a treatment for the autoimmune disease, in this case autoimmune liver disease and systemic lupus? Reading about these findings give me hope for better treatments in the future.
So that is a broad brush look at why I refer to myself as a RA Sojourner. I am mindful of my disease and work very hard to mitigate the effects on my day-to-day life, but I realized I naturally operate with hope for better, more exacting treatment in the future. I even have wondered if we will see a cure for RA in my lifetime.
Within the first few years of my practicing pharmacy, methotrexate came on the scene. I remember thinking that we finally have something that modifies the disease. About a decade or so later came the monoclonal antibodies and other biologics changing the treatment options for the good. Now, the research includes looking to understand the connection between the gut microbiome and RA. That gives me hope that my time managing RA is more temporary, a sojourn.
I invite you to sojourn with me. I would love to hear your comments!
And that I say is Arthritis Wisdom!
Take care. XXOO Cathy