Comedian Matt Iseman discusses life with RA Clip 2
Balancing Raising a Family and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Josephreen’s Story
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Managing a family while keeping rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in check doesn’t mean doing it all — it means understanding what you can and can’t do.
That's what works for Josephreen Luk, the “Mommy With Rheumatoid Arthritis” blogger.
Luk, 37, who lives near Vancouver, Canada, was diagnosed with RA in 2005, while she was dating her now-husband. In 2010, she became pregnant with their first child, then gave birth their second child in 2013.
“Throughout the first pregnancy, I found that when I got stressed about certain things, my RA would flare," she says. "I learned to just enjoy the pregnancy and think how there’s nothing more important than this child right now. My body was more relaxed, and I went into remission for a while.”
Today, Luk works as a part-time accountant for a few medium-sized businesses that don’t require full-time accounting needs. This works out for Luk, as it gives her the flexibility to spend time at home with her two kids.
Focusing on What’s Important
Luk’s RA symptoms still flare on occasion — she particularly has trouble with her wrists — but she uses those flares as a reminder to listen to her body, slow down, and get more sleep.
“When something’s flaring or not feeling right or I’m feeling tired, I’ll take it easy, take some time to rejuvenate, and stop pushing myself," Luk says.
Luk has learned to prioritize, and along with that, she's discovered how essential this is to managing her RA symptoms. She makes to-do lists to help her figure out what’s most important. At the top are her children, who are still too young to understand RA and its limitations. “When my son asks me to sit down and play with him, I do it,” she says.
“RA can be ever-present in a family, affecting nearly every aspect of daily life,” says John M. Davis III, MD, a rheumatologist and an associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It can take an emotional toll on the entire family, too, so Dr. Davis recommends talking openly about it and how it affects each member. Older children, spouses, and other family members can learn to help by showing support — attending doctor’s appointments, recognizing when their loved one is in pain, and offering to help with daily tasks that RA makes especially difficult.
At the end of the day, Luk knows her top priority. “It’s spending time with my kids," she says.
Video: Comedian Matt Iseman discusses life with RA Clip 1
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