A day prior to her 51st birthday last year, Aline Keller fell in the shower. “Within one week I had so much pain and swelling in my hands and joints that I could barely walk,” she says. “I went through rigorous testing to see what was going on.” A couple of months later she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Aline suffered with extreme pain and swelling in her shoulders, elbows, hands, knees and feet. “I was having problems with sleeplessness, crankiness, moodiness and depression,” she explains. “Getting dressed in the morning was a chore, and taking a shower, getting into my car and driving to work was hard to face.”

Her physician in Yakima, Wash., sent her to Virginia Mason Medical Center as soon as he received her test results. “I decided to come to Virginia Mason because of the medical center’s reputation in the RA field,” she notes. “When all of this started I did not think life would ever be normal again. I think that if I would have gone anywhere else, I wouldn’t have had the same positive results.”

At Aline’s first visit with her rheumatologist, Jeffrey Carlin, MD, he told her about Benaroya Research Institute and suggested that she would be a good candidate for joining the rheumatic disease biorepository. “I met with Mohammad Pourmandi from the biorepository, who is very nice and informative. He is always there to meet me before my visits,” she explains. Aline has a blood draw every three months for her lab tests and the biorepository at the same time.

Learning About Research

The rheumatic disease biorepository is a confidential list of people with rheumatic diseases who are willing to donate a blood sample and provide health information to support scientific research. Donated samples and personal and family health information are used by scientists in the laboratory and in analysis to help scientists better understand the causes and long-term health effects of rheumatic and immune-mediated diseases, as well as to explore better treatment options that can be used by physicians in patient care.

With various medications and new immunotherapy drugs, Aline eventually began to feel better. “I resumed some of my daily activities like walking my dogs, fishing and hiking,” she says. “My life is not 100 percent like it was, and I still take pain medications and muscle relaxers as needed. But I have a lot more to look forward to on a daily basis than before I started my weekly injections.”

Learn more about BRI's biorepositories.


Originally published in BRING IT ON newsletter - Fall 2016

Living With A Disease

September 1, 2016

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