I have had an amazing year. In September I got married, and my wedding day was about as perfect as it could have been. Nothing seemed to go wrong, and we were lucky to get the one sunny day that week, which meant that we could get married outdoors. This was followed by a honeymoon that fulfilled my lifetime ambition to visit one of the Hawaiian Islands (Kaua’i), an experience I shall never forget.
Nobody has a perfect life. When I was 20 one of my close friends committed suicide; something I don’t think I will ever be able to say I have fully come to terms with. However, had that never happened to me, I might never have come to work at NRAS, as I feel that the helplessness of that situation instilled in me a desire to find a job where I felt I was able to make a difference and really help people. A lovely phrase I picked up in Hawaii (land of the rainbows) expresses this as ‘no rain, no rainbows’.
Overall I think I have been very lucky in my life and with my health, and I like to think that I appreciate how lucky I am. Working on the helpline does help to keep me grounded, as I frequently hear terrible stories about the troubles that some people face in everyday life, whether due to their rheumatoid arthritis or other factors. Some of these people manage in the worst of circumstances to see the positives, and many of them will say that there’s always someone worse off than them. Having said that, everyone is entitled to dark days where you ask: ‘why me?’
The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown, though we are aware of some of the factors. There is a genetic susceptibility, and there can be environmental factors, such as smoking or heavy drinking. We also know that more women are affected by the disease than men, which points to a potential hormonal factor. Another common comment that has come through on the helpline was the view that some kind of physical or mental trauma may have trigger RA in some people. Previously we have tended to say that this is purely anecdotal, but that it comes up regularly, but recently we came across a study that seems to provide evidence for this, which may be of interest to anyone that thinks that trauma may have triggered their disease:
You may also find our articles on the genetic and non-genetic causes of RA useful:
With all the rain we’ve been having lately, the rainbows must be on their way!
Helpline & Information Coordinator