When Rita Campbell was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 31, she didn’t give up; she got focused.
“It was so painful,” Rita said. “I lost my grip strength. I couldn’t open a jar or turn a doorknob. I went to drive to work, and I just couldn’t.” Instead, a friend drove her to UC Medical Center. It was April 28, 1981.
Rita’s journey to become a journalist came to an abrupt stop as she battled her new diagnosis. She was bedridden for nine months. She couldn’t go to the bathroom, hold a cup in her hand or take medicine. Her daughter, still in junior high school, took off the final quarter of school to help her.
“Rita has had rheumatoid arthritis since a young age. And in addition, she has developed multiple joint complications from her underlying rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis,” said Christine Burrows, MD, medical director of the UC Health Internal Medicine & Pediatrics (Meds-Peds) program and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Burrows is Rita’s primary care physician.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes painful swelling in the body. An autoimmune disease is when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body.
A neighbor came to her aid by suggesting a specific treatment. Rita talked to her doctor about this suggestion and together, they found an answer that worked for her. “I felt like my body was new again.”
Born and raised in downtown Cincinnati, Rita has two children, seven adult grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. She loves to read spiritual books and is laser-focused on her spirituality and growth. “It makes me happy. It teaches me to be a loving person,” she explained. “I think that’s what made me want to go into a nursing field – because I cared about people.” Rita changed career course and went back to school at age 38 to become a certified medical assistant.
After good previous experiences, Rita turned to a familiar place to find answers to her debilitating pain: UC Health. With her primary care physician already there, she decided to consult with the experts once again at UC Health Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
“I’ve done a number of surgeries over the last 20 or 30 years on Ms. Campbell,” said Peter Stern, MD, UC Health orthopaedic surgeon and professor in the Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine at the UC College of Medicine. “Over my practice time, orthopaedics has developed into a number of subspecialities, such as hand surgery, foot and ankle surgery, etc.”
Renewed Hope with UC Health’s Orthopaedic Subspecialists
Dr. Stern recommended that Rita see Tonya L. Dixon, MD, UC Health orthopaedic surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine at the UC College of Medicine. Dr. Dixon is fellowship-trained in foot and ankle surgery and also is the only African American female orthopaedic surgeon in Cincinnati.