Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New health?

It's been nearly a month since my last post!  Bad blogger alert!  A few updates.

1.  Started fall more semester after this one (WHAT????)!
2.  Celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary yesterday:) that guy!
3.  Dare I say it?  I think that the methotrexate is working???
4.  After 2 weeks of illness (strep followed by bronchitis) finally feeling great and back working out!

Let's start with major flare-ups.  There I said it.  I'm not sure if any of you other RA sufferers feel this way, but it is REALLY hard to say that sentence out loud.  It's like if I say it...I will jinx myself or something...silly but don't you know what I mean?  It's like your afraid to embrace it.  I almost started to think that I made myself feel some wrist pain because I was so nervous that I was going to flare.  Well...I stopped that nonsense.  I am embracing the good.

I started a new workout program with my trainer and am excited to get rockin' on it!  I actually started it in August but August was such a wash out with my flare-ups, etc...that it really didn't amount to much.  I would like to maybe take part in a competition if I can get this RA under control.  Maybe that would help get RA out there as well.  I'm not sure that I've seen any write-ups on any bodybuilders/figure competitors who have spoken out that they are RA sufferers.  I know this might be a big goal, but it could be a great goal and maybe get even more people informed about RA.  I know some might be skeptical but what the heck...why not!

Looking forward to this weekend as the hubby and I will no doubt go to dinner and have a fun day together (hopefully checking out a new vegan restaurant that just opened).

Have a busy day planned today as I have to get some homework/projects done for school.  Lucky it's very interesting....I am currently reading "Unbearable Lightness" by Portia De Rossi about her struggle with an eating disorder, and then have a day planned of movies that deal with psychological issues (ie. What ever happened to baby Jane, One flew over the Cuckoos nest, Temple Grandin, etc)...should get me geared up for my neuropsych class!

Let me leave you with a wonderful quote that I found in a magazine that I cut out and look at OFTEN!

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are." - Bernice Johnson Reagon

Love that quote:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The game of RA

Sorry I've been so's been a long time since I've blogged.  Time for some updates!

Finished the intense summer class of Med/Surg 3 AND did well!  It was super stressful but I have never been so thrilled to finish something in my entire life!  Looking forward to the fall semester and a bit of a lighter load.

Started a new job!  I am finally in the healthcare field!:)...I found an amazing place to start my work in healthcare and am enjoying this new journey thus far.

The only downside to this summer of bliss is my nemesis RA!  I have had many ups and downs this past month.  I have begun my medication but have had many flare ups.  At my last appointment I pretty much limped into the Rheums office and was close to tears.  He could tell that I was very frustrated and tried to reassure me and told me to not give up....reassuring me that the medicine wasn't completely in my system yet, and that of course we would reassess in a few months in case we needed to add a biologic to my regimen.  Also, he instructed me to use the prednisone in a more effective way.  I have been very nervous about using prednisone because of all the side-effects one encounters.  He reassured me that this was not a "long-term" solution, but merely something to offer me comfort while we let the methotrexate kick in.  Taking his advice I am definitely feeling much better.

Here's the interesting stuff I've learned though.  The weather DOES seem to affect my husband has become the "weather bunny" and alerts me when a low front is coming through...because that seems to mean a flare up for me.  Also, I am thinking that after I take the methotrexate I have increased joint/muscle pain for the next day or two.  I didn't put this together until I did some research online and found that a number of people experience this.  This will definitely be something that I discuss with the Rheum.

Something else I want to comment on is the stress I've encountered with the RA and training for my new job.  Training for a new job can be stressful in and of itself, but add a disease that will rear it's ugly head with no warning?  Now that's a level of stress that I can't even begin to describe.  I'm sure those of you who have RA can relate to this.  There was a day of training where we were going to be practicing patient biggie right?  Well....that was a day where my left wrist decided it was going to flare up and not function.  This sent me into a major panic.  How was I going to get through this? How could I fake it without letting anyone know?  It's one thing to share your condition with co-workers that you've worked with for sometime, but it's a whole other story to divulge this while TRAINING for a new about lack of job security!!  Long story short, I got through it.  I think my endorphins kicked in or the universe was just looking out for me, but I got through it and was even told that I was "strong"....ha, go figure!  Thank god, all those weight lifting days I had done was paying off:).

I had my latest scare just this week.  On Tuesday evening (the day I take my methotrexate), I was at work on my 3rd official "on the floor" training, when about halfway through my shift my left hand/wrist started to become "nonfunctioning".  To make matters worse, I was on the Ortho floor....lots of patients with knee replacements, amputees, etc.  Luckily I was working with a precepter, but we were still transferring patients, etc.  The fear that I felt for those 4-5 hours was unbelievable.  I barely got through it.  The pain was intense and I was trying desperately to hide the fact that I couldn't move my left hand.  It was a struggle to say the least.  I have such compassion for those that deal with this on a daily basis.  It was so very frustrating and frightening.

I've decided RA is truly a game, and I am just trying to learn all the right moves so that I can manage this.  It's a strategy like chess, I need to plan ahead my meds and the days that I may need more prednisone.  Or plan what days I will be home so that I can relax on the bad days and let my body do it's thing.

This is a game that is neverending with constant, everchanging rules...I just need to start winning a few rounds!

Until next time....:)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2 more weeks...

I have 2 more weeks until this summer semester is OVAH!  I can't wait!  Finally got results of my 2nd exam back and I feel pretty good heading into the last 3, but I need to keep the momentum going!  After this little note I will be hitting the books!

Had a great weekend celebrating my hubbie's b-day early.  Went to the Chicago Diner for a late lunch yesterday.  De-lish!  Radical Reuben with a shared Peanut Butter Puck at the end.  It was so great...It's truly the best veggie/vegan restaurant in the city.  Topped off the evening with a little bit of shopping.  Got a pretty fun dress for my class reunion (in 2 weeks).  Now I just need to find a fabulous belt, take my old sandals to the cobbler (yep, I said cobbler...they do exist people!) and I'll be good to go.  I've been looking forward to that weekend for months now.  Less so for the reunion, but more so because I will be spending the evening with 2 of my dearest, oldest friends from high school.  We are actually sharing a hotel room and planning a fun evening together, topping it off with a late dinner after the reunion (so we can of course dish about said reunion event! LOL).  I need my girls and am so excited to catch up with them, so much to share.

I've been feeling pretty good lately as well.  I'm sure it's the Prednisone.  I am actually going to taper down a bit starting this week.  I just want to use as little as possible until this Methotrexate hopefully kicks in.  Thor my crazy thumb still likes to make his presence known usually sometime during the day, but my feet and wrists, etc. have been feeling pretty good...hope it continues.

I am making the hubby breakfast in bed this morning so I better close and get some studying in before I treat him to some yummy, blueberry/protein pancakes!  I am just going to throw something together and make it with oat flour and some protein powder to make it a bit more healthy (as he's been hitting the gym pretty hard lately, so I don't want to thwart his efforts).

Here's to another week closer to being done with this semester:)...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lions, Tigers, and Methotrexate....oh my!

Yep, I said it.  The "M" word.  I'm new at all this but I have gathered that Methotrexate is a hot button topic.  I'm not an expert and I believe that every "body" is different.  It's already hard to make decisions about your health without everyone judging or dismissing your choices, and I know this drug garners a lot of talk/discussion.  I just wanted to say that because I know we all have different and various viewpoints on the subject, but I'm just merely sharing my experience on this crazy RA journey, and I respect and admire all the decisions each of us have to make with this crazy disease.

SO having said that.  I went to the Rheum on Tuesday and am now officially beginning "treatment".  When I first met with the Rheum I was dead set against Methotrexate and I really wasn't happy about the idea of taking Prednisone either.  He gave me his thoughts and info, and told me to research/think about it, but that he wanted me to start with Methotrexate.  He shared side effects, concerns, etc.  So I did research and slowly came around to the idea of trying it.  ESPECIALLY when on Monday I could barely move my hand at all...nonfunctioning pretty much.

So...I took my first dose on Tuesday with some low-dose Pred (to help w/inflammation until said Metho kicks in).  Let me tell you that I've never felt so serious about taking a pill before in my life!  I literally stood there with the pills in my hand and paused, took a big nervous gulp and thought..."here we go".  It's amazing to have hope and fear all in 4 tiny little pills.  It's really interesting but I know that part of my initial reaction to the drug was..."Chemo drug?  Heck no!"  But then I remembered that most drugs have awful side effects and really what was freaking me out was the label "chemo".  It also freaked my husband out.  He's had experience with Chemo drugs as he is a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor.  But then I remembered how I felt when he was going through his treatment.  I hated what that chemo did to his body, but I also felt that it was the key to keeping my husband with me in the future...and for that I'm grateful.

So now I wait.  I must admit I felt a wee bit nauseated the next day and a bit yesterday...but nothing unbearable.  Thanks to the Prednisone my hands have felt MUCH better, and my sore feet are slowly feeling better as here's to hoping for some relief.

All in all it's been an eventful month for me.  I've been very lucky to have a lot of supportive people around me as it's been so stressful dealing with this prognosis AND school (which by the way ends in 2 weeks! Woo-hooo!).  I am looking forward to a little break before my fall semester begins...catching up with friends, cooking for the hubby and just enjoying life.  Because even with all the STUFF going on in my life I am a lucky gal and to not get up and be grateful for my day is a day's too short, no?

Okay, enough procrastinating, time to get on the bike and get some exercising in...:)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Me and my big thumb...

I've been studying all weekend.  Cardiology is intense.  Up next is Respiratory, which will be equally intense I'm sure!  3 more weeks until this summer course is over....3 more weeks!  That will be my mantra!

Did pause in the action to make the hubbie a delicious Vegan Un-beef stew.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, seitan.  Good stuff.  He very tentatively asked if I could make him "something" to take up with him (as he will be working out of town this week...he's often out of town during the week for work).  Poor guy, he hasn't had a home-cooked meal by yours truly in months.  Don't get me wrong, he can cook.  But as he says, "he doesn't like to, and he's not very good at it".  I on the other to cook, BUT with school we've agreed that all bets are off and I just won't be doing very much cooking.  It's a good thing we don't have kids as they would have to fend for themselves.  Ha!

Did manage to get a really good walk in this a.m with my little guy, Lenny.  Probably about 4 miles or so.  Took about 1.5 hours with all his piddling and breaks that he needed (It was rather hot, and I didn't mind the breaks either).  Am a little sore but all in all feeling pretty good.  Which brings me big thumb.  The thumb is just big.  I may have to nickname my thumb, and I don't mean thumbelina.  Like maybe Horst or Thor, or something big and burly sounding.  It's just so big!  The knuckle is like double the size of the other thumb.  The pinky has subsided but my right thumb is just plain stubborn.  Does anyone else have a perpetually inflamed big, swollen thumb or other digit that just likes to scream, "Mwahahahahah, I am RA and won't be ignored!"?

Yep, Thor it is.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Muscle & Fitness Trainer: BodyBuilding Diet For Muscle Gain And Fat Loss

A good article:).  I'm a big believer in the 5-6 small meals a day (plus it's fun).  You don't have to starve to be in great shape...working out means your body needs those calories to lift all those weights, etc.  Win win:)

Muscle & Fitness Trainer: BodyBuilding Diet For Muscle Gain And Fat Loss

Attack of the left pinky

It's official.  I'm over my left pinky.  I think we broke up around 3pm today when it STILL was hurting and typing at work continued to be difficult (and yes, it still hurts typing this).  Do you know how many words have a's in them?  A lot (darn you pinky!).

Okay, but in all seriousness it feels like I beat my hand against a steal door and it alternates between pain and tingling numbness.  I took ibuprofen.  That was a joke.  Didn't help at all today.  I need to wait until Tuesday and I get my ultrasound before I start the heavier meds.  I guess next week can't come quick enough if this is the downward spiral of my hands!

But on to something nice.  Just got the deluxe special edition goody package of the Beastie Boys new album yesterday.  I dare you to put the Beastie Boys and try to be crabby.  It's just not possible.  You can't help bopping your head looking like a fool amongst the other drivers on the road.  But it's worth it.

Another nice thing?  Taking the day off tomorrow work so I can study all day!  Which means that I can chill out on the couch for the next couple of hours and just watch "So you think you can dance".  It's a quality show people.  I'll admit I was skeptical, but those people are talented!  And the music is great too.  I tend to get teary atleast once during the show.  I know...I can be a total softie.

And I think the night should end with a bubble bar bath from Lush.  Ladies, you know Lush right?  The best bath bombs and bubble bars ever.  Plus a hot bath is good for our achy joints, and really good for de-stressing!

Hope all have a lovely evening and you find a way to relax...until tomorrow (when hopefully I make up with my left pinky:)...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 5th was...not just any other day.

Rheumer has it, it was just another normal day, or should have been.  BUT, it was the long awaited first appointment with the Rheumatologist.  It was basically going to be a confirmation of what I and another doctor had suspected.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis (insert dramatic music here).

Well, boo.  That sucks.  But at least I now know.  You see...I'm a planner.  A list maker.  I need and MUST have a PLAN.  While it sucks, I know that I'm fortunate that I was diagnosed early, and I can start meds soon to get the inflammation under control and lose some of the pain and discomfort (hopefully).

It started in February with a really sore palm/thumb that just didn't want to work right.  I thought it was overuse (as did the doctors at the immediate care center I went to when I just couldn't take it anymore!) I proceeded to take ibuprofen and move on.  Seemed okay for awhile, then my thumb decided to become swollen and stay swollen, and painful.  Then my other hand, middle finger knuckle. Finally, when I had a break in between semesters I went to an orthopedic doc...and the journey began.  On the 4th I started my day with dropping a half gallon of egg whites (eggology no less....EXPENSIVE) on the floor/inside of refrigerator while trying to put it back in the fridge.  I guess my stiff hands weren't ready to work so well that early in the morning.  In case your wondering, egg whites on a tile kitchen floor is NOT a good time.  Sticky, sticky sticky.  I swear it took me like a half hour to get that floor clean.  And then my husband was like, "Um, there is egg dripping downstairs."  Seriously?  Yep.  It somehow got through the floor (1940's house, 'nuff said).  Ugh.  Oh, and then there was the phantom drip from the fridge. Turned out I had managed to douse the side door with egg whites as well.  This was also discovered by said husband.  Oh, did I mention that he's vegan?  Ha.  The vegan is an egg white hunter.  I told him it was probably the vegan revolution coming down on me...let's destroy those egg whites! That'll show her!   Moving on...

So that's one part of my current life.

I guess I should give a little bit more about me since this is my first official blog posting.

I am currently in nursing school and halfway done!  This is the most stressful, sometimes fun, sometimes painful thing I've done in my life!  I am making a career change after being in the "entertainment biz" for 15 years.  It's hard to balance it all, but I'm making it work (I think...).  I'm a 38 year old married lady (see loving vegan husband above) with 2 fabulous four-legged boys (Jake and Lenny) and I love to lift weights, keep myself healthy, travel (especially to Maui) and cook/bake (but I don't really have time for the latter lately).

So that's me in a paragraph.  I promise there's so much more though!

I'm starting this blog to have a chance to share my journey, have a record for myself while on this crazy roller coaster, hopefully make you laugh or smile occassionally and maybe make sense of this new aspect of my life  with RA...they say support sustains you, so why not create a forum of friendship and support, right?

Until next time...