stickpeopleLast week I had a great chat with Matt Iseman, comedian, TV personality, and someone who has lived with RA for over twelve years. It was sponsored by Joint Decisions, and a podcast will be available on the CreakyJoints website very soon.

Talking with Matt about how to make the best relationship with your rheumatologist was inspiring and energizing.

But the next day, I felt we had glided over an important issue that I don’t want to ignore.

The people I know who do the best with managing their illness and making a life that is a life they want to live have more than a rheumatologist. They have a team.

I know that having someone who specializes in autoimmune joint disease is essential. Without a rheumatologist, you will miss someone whose expertise and most up to date knowledge of research and treatments can offer you options that no other provider can have. Your rheumatologist is a central player.

But you need a group, a combo, a troupe of folk who all bring their expertise to your best care.

Take a moment and begin to list your teammates.

Who do you see? Your primary care doc? Another specialist? A podiatrist? Gastro person?

Now go beyond the MD’s. You may have a pharmacist – though in these days with most medication being mail ordered, your pharmacist may be the person on the other end of the help line. But often that person is a coach trained to think with you about medication and side effects and combinations. Use that person as part of your research group.

You hopefully go to a few alternative or complementary providers: acupuncturists, massage therapists, reiki workers – you know what works for you.

Maybe you see a nutritionist now and then. Or go to a trainer or have a wonderful yoga instructor.

Staying as well as you can be is not just a physical game – it involves your mind and your spirit. Your psychologist or counselor, the spiritual advisor you trust who supports your prayer and meditation, your mentor and members of your support group all contribute to team You.

One client of mine keeps a physical reminder of all these folks on a bulletin board near her desk. She pins up business cards, pictures, and whatever symbols help her remember that all these people care about her and are working with her to build her health and her life.

None of us can stay well by ourselves. We need the trained contributors, and the volunteers – our friends, our partner or spouse, our families, and the circles of those who know and love us.

Creating the best relationship you can with your rheumatologist is an important part of your care. Then don’t neglect to add in all the others who add depth and breadth to your healing.

Join me again on Joint Decisions on Oct. 15th when I talk with Matt and Dr. Callis about treatment options. We’ll be looking for your questions and input!