HED:New book offers humor and facts about rheumatoid arthritis

CATEGORY: HTH Health

AUTHOR: MORRIS

HED:New book offers humor and facts about rheumatoid arthritis

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

Don’t expect dry, scientific jargon in Tupelo resident Dianne Worthy’s new book, “Rheumatoid and Me.”

“When I was diagnosed, the first thing I did was go to the library after I quit crying,” Worthy said. “All I could find were books written by doctors. I couldn’t understand all the medical jargon, so it didn’t do me much good.”

She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 23 years ago, and has since become an expert on the disease that causes pain, swelling and destruction of the joints.

While recuperating from a series of surgeries last fall, Worthy got the idea to write a book of her experiences. It took a year of starts and stops, but she succeeded.

“It’s not a technical book,” 48-year-old Worthy said. “It’s more of a feelings book. It’s like a diary of my diagnosis and treatment and how I coped with it.”

Determination

The book doesn’t pull any punches. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, debilitating disease and it’s brought a good deal of pain into Worthy’s life.

“There’s no cure for it,” she said. “You might be lucky enough to get in remission, but it’s a chronic disease. The pain is always there. You get used to it block it out and go on.”

Unlike degenerative arthritis that usually strikes people in their old age, rheumatoid often hits people in their 20s and 30s.

Patients can’t control the disease, but they can control their attitude toward it. Worthy learned that from her mother, Beth Partlow, who was diagnosed with the illness in her 30s.

“I myself have ridden that emotional roller coaster of hope with its ups and downs. Mother taught me to fully embrace the ups and courageously accept the downs. Mother was always ‘fine’ that was her standard answer, no matter how terrible she felt,” Worthy writes in her book.

Worthy said determination and a positive attitude have served her well through surgeries too numerous to count. She’s also relied on her sense of humor to deal with the disease’s fallout.

“The ‘greenhouse effect’ of the casts must have produced these massive super hairs all over my legs. Somebody, please, get me a razor quick!” she writes.

On the job

Worthy hasn’t used her disease as an excuse. She’s worked as a full-time receptionist with North Mississippi Medical Center since 1984. Unless she’s in recovery from a surgery, she’s probably at her desk.

Worthy performs light typing on the job, but she was unable to type the manuscript for “Rheumatoid and Me.” She relied heavily on her sister, Karen Partlow.

“She’s been so helpful. I couldn’t have done it without her,” Worthy said.

With the book finished, Worthy hopes her story offers people a few good laughs while helping them cope with the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.

“The main thing is to let people with rheumatoid arthritis know they are not alone with this struggle,” she said. “There are people out there going through it day by day and it is important to keep a positive attitude as much as you can.”

Book signing

What: “Rheumatoid and Me”

Author: Dianne Worthy

When: Saturday, 2 to 3 p.m.

Where: Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore

Cost: $7.95