Dibs Baer is a New York Times best-selling author and celebrity journalist. The author/co-author of six books, including, most recently, Lady Tigers in the Concrete Jungle: How Softball and Sisterhood Saved Lives in the South Bronx, she was formerly the executive editor of InTouch Weekly, and has worked on staff at numerous other publications. While she has been published extensively across varied media, she’s best known for her celebrity interviews. Dibs and Lauren connected over a piece Dibs was writing for Creaky Joints, the foremost online publication for arthritis patients (including RA and fibromyalgia patients, among others). It came to light that Dibs lives with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and has for some time. It also just happens that she is transgender. The intersection of layers of invisibility in Dibs’ life became a conversation, and Lauren couldn’t help but invite her on the show to share more. Uninvisible community, meet Dibs!
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Tune in as Dibs shares…
- how her early symptoms manifested
- that fatigue comes hand-in-hand with chronic pain, and that these symptoms create mental health concerns of their own
- that her pain was largely in her extremities — hands and feet
- about the Frankenstein shuffle, as experienced by RA patients
- typical age of onset for RA
- that she lived her early years as an out lesbian, and came out as transgender around the same time she was diagnosed with RA
- that her family was very supportive of her coming out
- that she experienced body dysmorphia in relation to her gender identity, and had difficulty looking at herself in the mirror…and that this identity confusion was compounded by the onset of RA, which made her even more confused and angry at her body
- that she has healed mentally with years of therapy
- that she is still legally known by her female-identifying first name, although she goes by “Dibs” — and that this can become an emotional hardship when being called at doctors’ offices and elsewhere
- that she had her breasts removed in 2012, and is uncomfortable showing her scars at certain doctors’ appointments because she fears the judgment of others
- that her treatment includes infusions of methotrexate, a cancer drug — but used in MUCH smaller doses for RA treatment, as well as Remicade (an immune suppressant)
- that RA is closely related to psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis
- that one of the most common complaints among RA patients is not wanting to take methotrexate infusions — but in many cases, it’s a necessity for quality of life
- that getting an RA diagnosis made her start taking much better care of herself
- that she fears smoking may have triggered her RA
- that there is a high prevalence of RA among first responders from 9/11 — and she lived directly across the river from the Twin Towers and was in NY in 2001
- that she now plans each day around flares as they come and go
- that her treatments can cause gastrointestinal side effects, and that those can be difficult to work around day-to-day
- how difficult it is to have an invisible disability and maintain a 9-5 job
- that she has to plan her life around infusion scheduling — a constant 8-week cycle
- that the US healthcare system doesn’t help all people equally
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