Jim is a family man in every sense of the word. The primary caretaker for his two children, who are now in college and medical school, Jim works two part-time jobs and is passionate about managing the house and yard work while his wife works full-time.
“I’m pretty active. I do a lot of yard work and gardening. Twenty-three years ago, when my wife and I were first married, we started a tradition of home canning. Now I do most of it myself. I put up 150 jars every year,” said Jim. He cans tomatoes, sweet pickle relish, beets, hot peppers, salsa, and dilled green beans. “I also make my own sauerkraut,” he said. “I start it in the fall and jar it around the holidays.”
It was about six years ago when Jim noticed his joints swelling and began to feel pain to the degree that he wasn’t able to do landscaping and other activities that he loved to do. The pain was affecting the movement of his hands and wrists, especially in tightening jar lids when he was canning.
“I first went to a rheumatologist who told me that it was normal to have aches and pains with aging, but I knew this was something more,” Jim said. “I was only 45 years old at the time and wasn’t ready to slow down.” He sought the opinion of a second rheumatologist, who diagnosed him with RA.
“It was scary at first because I was worried how I would care for my kids and manage my responsibilities at home, but my doctor was so positive. He told me my RA was treatable and that we could start early to prevent joint damage. He was aggressive in treating the disease and introduced me to Vectra. My score at first was in the 50s, but it dropped to 28,” he continued.
Recently Jim came under the care of a new doctor, who switched him to a biologic. “Through the years we had added more medicines, and I was on a triple drug combo treatment regimen,” he said. “It seemed that things with my RA were starting to go in the wrong direction, and my Vectra scores started to go up, so we moved to the biologic. I have been able to get off of 78 pills per week – that’s 4,100 fewer pills per year I have to take! I have good days and bad days, but overall I’m feeling better.”
Jim recently participated as a patient panelist for an event put on by the International Foundation for Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis(IFAA). Jim was one of 12 RA patient panelists at the organization’s Drug Development Clinical Trial Patient Advisory Panel, who met in Dallas to share their journeys as patients with the goal of ensuring that research design meets criteria best suited for the patient community. Look for a future post on his experience at the event!
“I have participated in several patient events as a Crescendo Bioscience Ambassador and like to share my story and meet other patients. In my daily life, I encourage others who have RA to see their rheumatologist and to get the Vectra test,” he said.
“I do a lot of Facebook posting and send messages if I see someone posting about having a tough time. It’s important that we can support each other,” said Jim. “I make a point to stay positive.”
After switching to a biologic and reducing his other medications, not only is Jim feeling better, but the proof is in the numbers: his Vectra score, which was 43 in March, is now down to a 36. As Jim says, “It’s headed in the right direction.” You can learn more about Jim’s story and his gardening and canning activities at this link.
GO JIM!! You are #RedefiningRA!