Monday, June 3, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogger Summit

The drug company Pfizer invited me to their first Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogger Summit in New York City last Friday.  When I received the invitation, I was a little surprised that my little blog had caught their attention.  I was excited, but had reservations about what their motives might be. After several emails back and forth, I felt very comfortable and decided to do it. (Thanks TWIST Marketing team.  You guys were awesome!)  I am glad I went.

Since I had a class to teach the night before, I took an early morning flight on Friday and showed up after the other bloggers had already shared their names, rheumatoid arthritis history, and blog information.  However, I was able to connect with a few of the gals at lunch. For lunch we were shuttled to Haven's Kitchen  where chef Seamus Mullen shared with us a recipe that will be coming out soon in a series of videos he is doing for Pfizer.  Our complete lunch consisted of cucumber gazpacho, kale salad, curry with bok choy, and almond cake.  Everything was gluten free! I instantly feel in love with Seamus as he used several of my favorite ingredients:  coconut oil, coconut milk, kale, cilantro, turmeric, and ginger.  I fell more in love as he talked about eating healthy fats, buying local and knowing your farmer, using a cast iron pot, and how everything we put in our bodies affects our rheumatoid arthritis. As someone that has been writing about these same ideas since I started my blog in 2008, I am quite impressed that Pfizer is sponsoring Seamus Mullen and getting this message out to others.  I think that as much as we want to spread the word about healthy eating as bloggers, sometimes people have to hear it from an "expert" before they will believe it.

After lunch we spent the afternoon discussing Rethink RA.  This is a program to help you have better dialogue with your rheumatologist.  While the website offers some information to get you started, the packet you can order for free has handouts that you can use to track your symptoms, medications, appointments, and questions you want to ask your rheumatologist.  It is worth checking out.  I only wish everything was online rather than having to order the packet.

Overall, I met seven bloggers in person and enjoyed hearing what everyone had to share.
Rheumatoid Patient Foundation

Since my flight didn't leave until the following day, I was able to finally meet up with my good friend Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy. We have been emailing and meeting on Skype for several years as friends and as fellow board members on Show Us Your Hands!  It was so nice to finally give him a hug in person after sending out cyber hugs for so many years.  Friday night and again most of the day Saturday, RA Guy showed me the sights of NYC.  I had a great time seeing the city and hanging out with a good friend.

My takeaway from this trip with Pfizer was to always keep an open mind.  Keep the channels of communication open between yourself and any source that may potentially help you and others. I hope that my perspectives were heard and appreciated.  It was a great experience.