Author Archives: AllFlaredUp

10 Things About My RA Experience

Standard

I saw this on another blog and stole it because I thought it was interesting to mention the things I probably don’t think are bloggable on their own but are still kinda interesting.

Ten Things You May Not Know About My Experience With RA

1. When I was newly diagnosed, I ‘quit’ my first rheumy in a blaze of glory. He made me cry and his admin was giving me a hard time about releasing my records. I had a moment and called her a name I’m too ashamed to type here.

2. I have permanent erosions on the ball of my left foot. It only bothers me when I stand for a long time in bad shoes.

3. Before I was officially diagnosed, my feet hurt so bad that I really did wear tennis shoes with a business suit. More than once.

4. I have tried every detox diet for arthritis out there including the one where it has you chug saltwater to make you…um…use the bathroom. Which, FYI, doesn’t work. Chugging that saltwater and having NOTHING happen sucks. Waking up the next day 7 lbs heavier due to water retention…also sucks.

5. I can give myself shots, get regular bloodwork, and have had infusions and aspirations. They don’t bother me. But I’m terrified of tetanus shots, TB tests, and the dentist.

6. I didn’t really tell anyone I had RA for the first two years I had it. I’m still very protective over who gets to know the details.

7. The majority of my friends have no idea that this blog exists. Even still, I make a point not to mention specific or identifiable stories.

8. I’ve only ever let one person see me give myself a shot. It just feels too personal for some reason. I’d actually be more comfortable walking around naked.

9. I had weird hormonal things happen in the months before I started having symptoms. Pre menstrual depression so severe that if I thought you had looked at me wrong, I’d burst into tears. Even today, if I start or switch birth control pills, I have strange aches and pains for the first month or two.

10. The first two places I experienced inflammation were the arch of my left foot and my left pointer finger. In both cases, I literally woke up one morning and it felt like I’d been stung by a bee.

And there you go! Do we share any of these? I’d love to hear.

Guess who ran a 5k?

Standard

In the interest of keeping me honest, I will share this with you:

20130414-211345.jpg

Don’t judge: a gal’s got to have a little fun every now and then, right?

I’m excited to report that since my last jump rope escapade, I have completed my first 5K in four years.

I guess I should admit that it was relay style and that I only ran .7 miles but still: this lady who has struggled in the past to even walk normally ran!

I joined three friends for the Biscuitville Bowl, thrown by my fave restaurant from high school. If you’ve had Biscuitville, you’d know that it’s like Bojangles except BETTER. I highly recommend the butter biscuit and cinnamon apples. YUM. If you haven’t had Biscuitville, I am so so sorry.

Anyway. Each of us ran .7 miles but each leg had an obstacle. In viewing the course, I decided that the buttermilk slip and slide was the better option; other choices included a climbing wall followed by a sweet tea slide (falling hazard) running through tires covered in grits (slipping hazard), or crawling army style through jelly (um no…just no).

I was third and when my friend ran up and handed me the baton, I took off at NASCAR speed at a respectable pace. As I came upon the inflatable slip and slide, which was like a jump jump with lanes, I saw two ladies holding buckets of buttermilk. As I got closer, I saw them throwing the buckets on the runners in front of me as they ran and jumped to slide.

Immediately I thought OH HELL NO and as I ran to the entrance, I stopped. They readied their buckets and told me to jump as I looked them dead in the face and, like the good team player I am, said ‘you will not throw that on me.’ I jumped and slid maybe three feet, got up and jumped out and guess what? There was no buttermilk thrown on me.

The way I see it, RA patients can try hard but shit gets real if I smell like dairy.

I did still get completely covered in the front but I didn’t have to run the rest of the course with sopping wet milk hair. And believe, everyone else did.

The running wasn’t that bad. Was it as easy as it was 7 years ago? No. But I didn’t hurt and kept it to a moderate pace.

As I ran up the last hill to hand off the baton to my teammate, I saw a very unwelcome surprise. They were spraying us with flour.

I repeat: They were spraying us with flour.

So this RAer who is already nervous about running, who is already tarred in buttermilk, is gonna get feathered in flour?

I think not.

As I approached, I waved my hands and yelled ‘I have contacts in.’ Alas, nobody listened as I ran as fast as I could through the flour haze, eyes clamped firmly closed.

Still, I felt very accomplished when I gave that baton to my friend. My feet were fine, my knees were fine and even though I was covered in a buttermilk/flour paste, I was good.

Today, my butt and abs are screaming at me and I can’t decide if I’m sneezing out pollen or baking products. But my effort has earned me some guilt free goodness and happy thoughts!

Amazing what a little incentive does

Standard

And March comes in like a lion…with no blog posts…and goes out like a groundhog with death threatslamb…with no blog posts. Seeing as it is now April and it was seventy degrees two days ago and then it snowed today, let’s just pretend it is still March. Also, does the Secret Service investigate assassination threats on groundhogs? If so…oops.

I’ve been busy. Good busy, bad busy, busy busy. March brought some personal read:non-bloggable bumps but with the bad comes the realization that this disease has given me some perspective on dealing with things. Perspective being that I am a lot tougher than I think I am.

Along those lines, I have a big vacation planned with some girls coming up soon. In our pre vacay prep, they are all excited about hiking up this cliff where you can see all of the island as well as St Kitts and Nevis. Instantly, I’m dying a little inside thinking that I won’t be able to do it, that I’ll be a fun sucker, and they’ll be disappointed.

I stewed and over analyzed it as I usually do and then made a different decision: I started PT and working out with a trainer.

Y’all. I JUMPED ROPE tonight. Sure, it wasn’t pretty and it was only for a minute. I hit myself in the head and the shins multiple times. But it happened! A month ago, I wouldn’t have even tried.

I’ve been working hard at building ankle strength and shoulder stability. Does it make the inflammation go down? No. But working the muscles around the joints actually feels good (after) and I’m walking and moving much easier.

Two weeks into this new regime, guess who walked a mile in sexy black boots? This gal!

It might not seem like a big deal but I haven’t been able to comfortably wear those particular boots in over a year!

Working hard at rehabbing my body is not easy. I think back to when I was diagnosed, when I was literally in the best shape of my life, and get very frustrated at how weak I have let myself become. It’s not easy pushing like this in this ‘new’ body but it makes me mad at myself when six years into this mess, I see marked benefits in mobility after only a few weeks of concentrated, supervised effort.

So. No IronMan in my future but I realize that for my body, this needs to be a priority beyond hiking on a vacation. It’s difficult yes but I’m strong enough to do it. I just didn’t know it.

Kriss Kross will make ya…

Standard

Jump Jump!

Maybe I should apologize for writing that because I know all of us now have that song stuck.

It could be worse. Eyes slanted at a certain awful Miley Cyrus song.

Anywho. I got on the elevator at work the other day with a kid and his mother. As the door closed, the kid handed his mom his Sprite and his mom started laughing. He bent his knees and as soon as the elevator started moving, he JUMPED and started laughing too.

I smiled. I remember doing the same thing in elevators when I was little but had completely forgotten that.

They got off on the floor before mine. As the doors closed and I found myself alone for the ride to the third floor, I laughed and bent my knees.

As soon as the elevator dinged my floor, I too jumped. And my feet barely left the floor. The door opened and nobody was there so I jumped again. And again.

Three jumps. No air.

What?

I walked to my office stewing.

Since I’m one to beat a dead horse, I thought about it until I got home that night. Since when can I not jump? All of those ballet lessons where I used to FLY. All of those 5Ks I ran. I mean, RA certainly has me jumping through hoops; it doesn’t seem right that it would take away my ability to jump for myself.

Ri-dic-u-lous. As in ridiculous that I couldn’t do it, ridiculous that I was obsessed with it, and ridiculous that I’m writing about it now.

I got home and found myself barefoot in the kitchen. I held on to the counter, bent my knees, and jumped.

A little better. I tried jumping just on my right leg. A lot better. Switch to the left- tentative but getting there. I felt my body’s defense mechanisms kicking in, protecting the healing ankle sprain and permanent erosions on the ball of that foot.

Aaaahhhh. This makes sense now.

Ever the obsessive persistent patient, I found my tennis shoes and headed back to my lovely kitchen support counter.

Supported jumping commenced. Both feet, right foot, left foot.

Grand finale: unsupported sneaker jump in the kitchen. I didn’t jump high because I respect my body’s right to protect itself but…I was able to do it.

So why am I detailing my jumping madness for you all to read? Because the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that these little albeit highly modified victories are incredibly crucial to all of our morales. I feel just a little more in control of myself for engaging my own internal stubborn, obsessive insanity.

So yeah…

The Daddy Mac will make ya…

I’d like a reality show please.

Standard

Watching Betty White’s Off Their Rockers leads me to think that we as patients need a similar concept show.

The sick punking the healthy! Calling hilarious attention to all the things we deal with that they simply just don’t get.

After all, I’ve been punked by my immune system. It would be a shame not to pass that sh*t along.

I’ve been outlining my sure to be awkward and cringe inducing reality show concept.

Should it be a vote off like Survivor? The tribe has spoken: you clearly couldn’t hack it like we can. Or a single decision like The Bachelor? I only have one remaining rose and I will be giving it to…me. Because you get to watch and laugh but I am the one who gets to go home with it. I assure you that earns me a rose.

But not to steal anyone’s sparkle (who saw that? Have some dignity! OMG!), I much prefer a good old gag show. Why? Because I’d like karma to point out and fix what I consider are injustices of this disease by making us laugh.

Track with me here.

Pet peeve: athletes. Runners specifically. Because I miss it. How about we commandeer a 5K course and rough it up a bit? Not a mud run with visible obstacles. Better.Make people sprint through a field of cow pies with hidden holes, invisible tree roots and uneven terrain. That is what running is like for me now. A flat surface is scary and unknown…and this one time I twisted my bad ankle because I slipped on a nice wet pile of crap. That really added something to the experience of the ankle twisting.

Pet peeve: RA pharma reps who come in the office wearing sky high heels. Taunting me. How about we install some grated flooring in the lobby and watch them get stuck? Because that’s what high heels are now. I put them on and then can’t go anywhere.

Pet peeve: ‘just take a pill for that.’ Ok, I am obviously not going to recommend drugging anyone. But to understand that feeling of helplessness and frustration and anger, let’s get a gaggle of three year olds. Gaggle defined as 6-10, whatever the mandate is for safe class/daycare size. That should be plenty! We’ll treat them to a lunch of cotton candy and Mountain Dew and let them skip their nap. Then we will hand deliver them to the person who suggests ‘taking an Advil’ to watch for a couple of hours. We’ll pop in to offer helpful, know it all, busy body advice from time after time. ‘You just need to calm them down.’ ‘Its just a child, why can’t you just read them a story?’ And my favorite that I overheard at Target recently ‘Lady, your kid needs to stop crying.’ Throw in some condescending and judgy judgy looks. Maybe a surprise clown or two. I think that would be a fair comparison!

I think I’m onto to something. Now it just needs a name.

When a pet is more than a pet

Standard

Ten years ago on Feb 2nd, the cutest little two pound ragamuffin decided to allow me to adopt her. I had no idea what her name was so I resorted to calling various names out to see if she’d respond. I finally called out ‘Molly’ and she turned and nodded to acknowledge that I’d figured it out.

Ten years later, I can tell you that they vastly undercharged for the adoption fee. $65 was a steal…and if you offered me billions for her, I’d give you the stink eye.

This little companion of mine…

20130130-183022.jpg

Well, she has cuddled her cute little self up to me through so many serious times. Four job changes, three moves, two broken hearts, one deployment, one family suicide, and the aches and pains that come with learning who you are fresh out of college and new to the workforce. All of that would be a lot for one little cat to comfort, right?

Then top that off with one chronic illness, the loss of several beloved hobbies, the fear and temporary loss of identity, and the aches and pains that come with pulling yourself out of this.

I may laugh about how badly she can behave, but she really is a very good girl.

20130130-183839.jpg

The little (very unhappy) pumpkin knows my emotions better than I do. When I flared so badly several years ago and every time I’m sick or upset, she is in whatever room I’m in. I’m in bed, she’s in bed. I’m on the couch, she’s on the couch. I’m in the shower, she sits between the curtain and liner and hisses at the water. If I cry, she follows me around crying until I sit and she can crawl in my lap.

Her presence is calming and her antics are adorable.

She’s even tough on guys who come by.

20130130-184236.jpg

Well, that picture was her posture for the cable guy who was a stranger but still. Guy = protective. And unlike my dad and brother, she has claws and teeth.

I’ve noticed many patients rely on their pets for comfort. I’ve read literature that states pets are good for longevity, blood pressure, and happiness.

These are all things that are true at my house.

Happy 10th Birthday, Molly cat! I love you to pieces!

Healthy Lunch Success!

Standard

I don’t know about you guys but I struggle with healthy lunches. Sundays are my self proclaimed ‘cook for the week’ days which means that I start with the best of intentions of cooking healthy lunches for a whole week and then quickly lose interest/motivation.

By the time I finish my slicing and dicing and can opening and baking, I am beyond over it. And the thought of doling all the portions of (let’s be quite honest here) lackluster tasting nutrition due to chef incompetence into five Tupperware containers? I have been known to occasionally say screw it and instead eat somewhere healthy like Chipotle.

I particularly struggle with vegetables. To get 5 days worth of veggies prepared is like 15 ziplock bags and I just have no time for that nonsense.

Last week, I realized how much money I was spending on eating out for meals I had sitting in my fridge awaiting the trash can. I feel terribly wasteful even admitting that. So I am no longer allowed to do this.

Sunday night, I cut up two big bunches of broccoli, a bunch of carrots and a whole thing of celery. As I threw the last few pieces in the bowl, I already felt annoyed at the prospect of having to bag them up. So I didn’t.

20130129-162835.jpg

Yes, that is a week worth of veggies on my desk. There is also a whole container of homemade black bean cakes in the fridge. And yes, I am being teased mercilessly.

But you know what? It made things just a little bit easier and I feel good about sticking to the healthier side of life for once!