But, the emotional trauma soon revealed itself as yet another blessing in disguise.

“I quickly realized how stressful and detrimental to my health that relationship had become,” says Jamie. “I was always struggling to keep up, to hide my fear and hardship, to compensate for my RA. Being relieved of that negative stress was an enormous relief,” she says.

It empowered Jamie to be brutally honest about all of her relationships, welcoming those that are supportive and empathetic, and casting aside those that are burdensome and stressful.

Jamie put her experiences to work as a dating columnist for Complex.com, and it wasn't long before she caught the eye of CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter (formerly of The New York Times) – with whom she is now engaged to. “Brian took it upon himself to learn about arthritis and supports me unconditionally, which is vital to any relationship, but especially so when dealing with a condition that is aggravated by stress,” adds Jamie.

Positivity pays off

Although running several times a week was a great stress reliever, it ultimately proved too hard on Jamie’s joints – especially her neck. In July 2011 she had fusion surgery on her vertebrae to alleviate the pain. Giving up running was a loss. “It was a huge blow to me mentally,” says Jamie. But, as with all areas of her life, Jamie explored her options and discovered spin classes and Bikram (hot) yoga.

Today, Jamie's health continues to thrive. She takes methotrexate and prescription strength folic acid and sees her rheumatologist regularly. “I get a flare once in a while but I’m pretty in tune with my body so I know immediately what I need to do.”

“Jamie has a uniquely positive attitude,” says her rheumatologist Harry D. Fischer, MD, chief of the division of rheumatology at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “And she certainly proves how valuable attitude and the right nutrition can be to one’s health, especially with regards to RA. She is a true inspiration.”

She’s sharing that inspiration with others worldwide these days. In January 2013, Jamie began sharing her healthy recipes on a food blog. Scripps spotted it and turned it into a Web video series. TV Dinner with Friends began airing last fall on ulive.com.

Click here to watch videos of Jamie’s series.

Shot in her apartment, the series features Jamie’s favorite, easy-to-prepare dinner recipes. “Cooking is such a love for me,” she says. “It was something I couldn’t do for a long time because my arthritis was so bad. Not to be dramatic, but it was the cause of stress: not being able to do what I loved to do. Eating and cooking, what else is there?”

Jamie credits her mom for her love of cooking. “My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she cooked for the five of us. Every day I’d come and help her. It was always a labor of love. There’s something about feeding your family and providing for them in that way and then sitting down as a family to eat. The phone would ring [during dinner] and my father would give a look like, ‘Don’t you answer that.’ At the time, I hated it. But looking back, it was so special to have that time.

“It's easy to say now, but the journey that I've been on because of having RA has been a blessing. I now know what’s good for my body and my life, and what I need to do in order to remain relatively pain-free.”

Speaking of life, Jamie recently released an e-novel, Transit Girl (2013, Polis Books), which captures the Manhattan dating scene through the experiences of a New York traffic reporter. Autobiographical perhaps? “In parts,” says Jamie. “Transit Girl is loosely based on a year of my life.” Beyond the book, this is one reporter who doesn’t kiss and tell.

 

Jamie's “RA Strong” Nutrition

Here’s how this go-getter with RA stays energized all day long.

Breakfast: Power shake with chocolate vegan protein powder, coconut milk yogurt, peanut butter, water.

Lunch: Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and either hard-boiled eggs, garbanzo beans or lentils.

Dinner: “That's where I experiment, be creative and make new recipes for my blog … usually seafood and veggies.”