Thriving or Surviving?

Sometimes I wonder why people with the same diagnosis can vary so dramatically in how they respond to treatment.  Same disease, same treatment, yet vastly different response.  What’s going on?

This spring I did some experimenting.  Here’s a picture of my corn one week after it was planted:

Here’s a different picture of plants that were grown with seeds from the same package, planted in potting soil from the same bag, planted on the same day, and kept side-by-side in the same greenhouse:

One would expect them to be the same size.  Obviously they’re not.

After six weeks, the difference was even more pronounced:

The only difference is the pots.

At three weeks, there was such a difference in how well the plants were growing that I begged more plastic pots from friends and transplanted most of the corn out of peat pots and into plastic.  The change in environment couldn’t make up for their slow start, but it definitely helped.  The corn that was always in a plastic pot was two feet high.  The corn that was always in a peat pot was about seven inches tall.  In between the two extremes, the corn that changed from the “bad” pots to the “good” pots took off and did reasonably well – not as tall as the corn that started in plastic, but double the height of the corn that never got out of the peat pot.

Lest you think this is a phenomenon peculiar to corn:

I won’t post more pictures, but you get the idea.  Everything did better in plastic pots than in peat pots.

There were minor differences with different types of potting soil, minor difference with different locations in the greenhouse (full sun vs morning shade), and even small differences between round and square pots.  The differences were small, and might be written-off to the variability of seed.  More research would be needed to know for sure.  There’s no question about pot-type, though.  The difference between type of pot was enormous with every type of seed I started.

All of which brings me back to people’s response to medical treatment.  Just as there are things that can help plants grow better, there are things that can help RA patients do better.  Exercise is good for people with RA.  Smoking is bad for people with RA.  Diet can make a difference for some people with RA.

Why is it so hard to find basic information about living as best as is possible with an RA diagnosis?  Probably for the same reason that gardening centers sell peat pots.  Change is hard.  It’s easier to go along with the way things have always been done than it is to stretch and try something new.

I know I’ve started three different series (and not completed any of them), but I believe I’ll be adding posts on little things we can do to help us thrive despite RA, instead of merely survive.