Shay Pausa interviews Deborah Norville, an award-winning journalist, and style expert Clinton Kelly on ways they advocate for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at NewWayRA.com
Over 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis. RA, as it is known, is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the tissues and joints. It is a chronic condition that can lead to complications like anemia and heart conditions.
Joining me in an effort to raise awareness of this disease is award-winning journalist and talk-show host Deborah Norville and co-host of the hit show “What Not to Wear” Clinton Kelly. Thank you both for joining us today.
Now Deborah, you are hosting your second season of the online talk show “The New Way RA”, which really focuses on helping people with RA improve everything from health to personal style. Why was it important for you to join this project?
Oh, because my mom had RA. When I was 10 my mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and in very short order I saw this woman who had been the head of the Girls Scout cookie’ sales and helping to run our family business go from being this amazingly vibrant, engaged woman to someone who dealt with so much pain and joint damage that she eventually became bedridden.
Back then there weren’t a lot of treatment options. There certainly wasn’t an Internet and I can’t tell you over the last couple of years I have worked on this, how many times I have thought, “Man, if this would have been here when my mom was dealing with RA how much different might her outcome have been.”
And so it’s just a privilege and a thrill to be a part of something that we know is making a difference in people’s lives because we hear from people – that’s the great thing about the Internet. They email us and let us know what they think.
I had a chance to look at the show and I have to say it wasn’t some dry medical show but really something engaging people about their lives, which brings us to Clinton Kelly who brings us style. So tell us, how is the show really different from anything we have seen before?
Well, it’s different in that it’s very targeted toward a specific audience, people who are living with RA, and that RA symptoms are very different depending on the person but a lot of women and men who are suffering from RA find that it’s an exhausting illness and there are days that you just don’t want to get dressed.
It’s hard enough to get out of bed and what I wanted to do is give people strategies for looking their best even when they are not feeling their best so that other people treat you with the respect you deserve and it’s important to have a couple of go-to outfits in your closet so that when you are not feeling great you can just put them on and know that you are going to get out the door in five minutes if that’s what you have to do – something like a microfiber Jersey dress is a really nice option for a woman.
Elastic bracelets - also another great option for her, you know, that she doesn’t have to worry about clasps or toggles. There are button-pulls; there are sock-pulls, lot of little gizmos and gadgets that just make life a little bit easier. So to be able to share those with Deborah’s help has been a great pleasure for me.
And Clinton, you have a personal connection with the condition as well, right?
I do. I have a grandmother and a close personal friend, both of whom are living with RA and so I know what it’s like for them. It’s a lot to deal with sometimes.
And I think the fact that Clinton’s input as a part of this program really says a lot about what the producer’s idea was, that, you know, RA, yeah, it’s a medical condition. It’s a chronic illness. The medical aspect is one thing but the idea of having a style component because that is a part of your life and so it’s really looking at RA from almost a 360 perspective, yes the medical perspective and we have great medical experts that we talk to, but also the relationship questions and issues that come up.
You are in a relationship, whether you are married or dating or what, but RA can sometimes get in the way – how do you negotiate around that? How much does your boss need to know when you have a chronic illness? Well the answer is, you don’t have to tell them everything. They only need to know what impacts on your ability to do the job you are hired to do.
So I think all of these different aspects come together with a really rich and really complete and informative useful website, newwayra.com.
Well that really gives us something I think about because there are a lot of chronic conditions and we should be looking at this in that really 360-perspective. Well thank you so much for this information. We will be sure to show it with our EmpowHER community, knowing how many people it’s going to help. Thanks so much.
Now if you or someone you love is living with rheumatoid arthritis you should visit our community here on EmpowHER.com. Just go to ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’ under ‘Conditions’. There you will find information about RA, treatments, and even have the ability to ask questions and get help from our community and experts.
I am Shay Pausa. Thanks for making EmpowHER part of your day. I will see you next time.