Friday, September 3, 2010

What I Learned From 11-Year-Old Caitlin

Remember that time I was 27 years old, went to the dentist, and had five cavities? And I determined it was because I sucked at being an adult and just hadn't been taking good enough care of my teeth? Yeah, about that.....

My cousin just sent me an article and (you guessed it!!) apparently several of the drugs that I am on for my RA (or have been on over the past couple of years) can lead to tooth decay. I haven't researched the issue myself, but the article is posted on The Arthritis Foundation website. Here is an excerpt:
One of the side effects of methotrexate, even at low doses, is dry mouth. Saliva in the mouth has an anti-bacterial effect. Loss of the cleansing properties of saliva can lead to the buildup of bacteria, and thus, to tooth decay

Prednisone also has the potential side effect of xerostomia (dry mouth). Prednisone is also a glucocorticoid, which can increase not only blood surgar levels, but the levels of sugar in existing saliva - which some dentists will attribute to an increased risk of tooth decay. In addition, prednisone can cause a leeching of certain minerals from bone - most notably, calcium - leading to a potential thinning of bone, including in the mouth. Thus, on many fronts, the side effects of prednisone can cause havoc to your oral health.

Here are some other drugs that can contribute to dry mouth: Naproxen, Motrin, Piroxicam, Diflusinal and most antihistimines.   
May I be the first to say: What. The. HELL?? My RA drugs are affecting my teeth??? It makes me want to get pretty mad about it. When will the surprises stop?? Is there any way that this disease is not going to affect my life?? What are you supposed to do when the cure is worse than the disease?? Why do I have to deal with all of this every single day of my life???
Bu then I discovered that the article is from a blog written by the mother of Caitlin,  a young girl who has been suffering from severe JRA since she was three. I just watched a heart-wrenching video about Caitlin getting her hip replacement at age 11. (But I was glad to find the video through a post her mom wrote which says, a year after the hip replacement, Caitlin is doing well and does not need her second hip replaced yet.) 

I have enough trouble adjusting to RA as an adult - I can't even image what it would be like to deal with it as a child. But Caitlin is a strong and inspirational little girl - she talks with poise and composure and acceptance about her condition in the video. She reminds me that I'm supposed to be moving forward, not looking back and grumbling.  I really hope to be able to learn more from Caitlin in the future, so I've added her mom's blog to my favorites (you can access it under "Resources"). In the meantime, I want to thank Caitlin for giving me perspective.  I hope she knows how amazing and strong she is.


Anonymous said...

I can tell you as one who suffered with this as a child, it's no different in the suffering, only in the getting adults to believe you truly are suffering and to get around, not being normal-like other kids. The wanting to play on a sunny day but you can't for your legs are paining so badly. To this day my legs are my nemesis. Children, believe it or not, get much more attention from doctors than we as adults do. We are told to bear up under the pressure. I think it's tough for all no matter what the age.

~Mariah~ said...

You're right Tammy - everyone has their own story. But it helps me to learn from the stories of others. ~;o)