"Dr. Gaylis isn’t satisfied unless I feel healthy" – Lucille Braha, 57, actress and painter, Plantation, Fla.

“When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 1987, there were few treatment options, and most of them had side effects that rivaled the disease itself. Because of that, my disease wiped me out, I had to give up my career [as a hairdresser], many of my hobbies, and much of my social life. But when I started seeing Dr. Gaylis, he said, ‘I know we can get you feeling better.’ In 2000, he convinced me to enroll in a clinical trial for the drug that’s now known as Humira, and within a month, my symptoms improved so much that I was able to enroll in acting classes, start painting and go out with my friends again. Today, I live a full, amazing life that I couldn’t have imagined 22 years ago. This isn’t to say that things are always perfect. But when I start to limp, find my hands getting especially stiff or my energy lagging, Dr. Gaylis tells me, ‘Lucille, I know you’re hurting, so don’t pretend. Let’s adjust your treatment and get you feeling better again.’ He’s constantly reminding me that I don’t have to suffer.”

Norman B. Gaylis, MD, Rheumatologist in private practice, Aventura, Fla.

“Not everyone likes a doctor as proactive as I am – but Lucille and I really complement each other. She likes that I’ve made it my mission to help her stay healthy, no matter what it takes. And she’s really a model patient, in that she realizes that RA is a lifelong disease that requires patience and a long-term commitment. Managing RA means many doctor’s visits, blood tests, injections and medications, but patients who understand that and make it a priority and a goal, as Lucille does, tend to have the best outcomes.” 

 

"I can be honest with Dr. Rhea" – Ken Brisbane, 46, hotel catering and conference manager, Nashville, Tenn.

“I was diagnosed with RA at age 19, and have had many rheumatologists since then. Some were complete duds: doctors who whisk you in and out of their offices in three minutes, barely waiting to find out if your meds are working. But I knew from my very first visit with Dr. Rhea that he was a keeper. He doesn’t just want to know if my joints are achy; he’ll ask if the long hours at work – where I’m often on my feet – are getting to me, and whether I can still keep up with my two teenage kids. Best of all, I know I can be honest with him. I don’t hesitate to tell him if I’m frustrated with treatment side effects, or if I’m just down about the fact that I’ve had RA for so long. But Dr. Rhea is always upbeat, and never chastises me. ‘Ken, we have more options,’ he’ll tell me, and before I know it, both my mood – and my health – will be back on track.”

Christian Rhea, DO, Rheumatologist in private practice, Nashville, Tenn.

“I find it satisfying to engage in my patients’ lives. More importantly, as Ken points out, learning whether someone can do things like pick up his grandchild, play a round of golf or work out gives me crucial information about whether the treatment is working. Plus, there’s nothing to be gained by scolding patients if they’re not taking their meds or making other healthy changes; I’m a physician, not a babysitter. The doctor and patient have to work together as a team, and Ken and I do just that.”