September shenanigans


Sometimes I really don’t know what to write about…and sometimes I think that the details of my life will bore you if I don’t have a lot to say about RA. It’s crazy how I compartmentalize. I rarely talk to the people I see on a daily basis about RA, yet I feel weird writing on my blog about anything unrelated.

I’ve decided though that living with RA makes all events relevant, especially when I’m feeling good. So here’s the skinny on what I’m up to right now!

A few weeks ago, I went to Washington DC to participate in the ACR’s Capitol Hill Fly in. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a yearly advocacy event that pairs doctors and patients together to meet with lawmakers to discuss policy that affects our community. We talked a TON about access to care, access to treatments and medications among other topics. I had a GREAT team and it was a lot of fun!



The funniest part? They called our team up to role play a meeting with a real live actual Senator. Did we know this was going to happen? Nope. While speaking about access to treatments/medications, I stated that due to Tier 4 pricing, my biologic medication is $700 per month. The senator frowned and said ‘that’s $8,000 a year.’ I smiled and said ‘actually, it’s $8,400.’

Many thanks to whatever spirit chose to inhabit me at that moment and do accurate math! On the spot! In front of people!

That will most likely never happen again! But I felt very smart. Yay for successful basic multiplication skills.

Next up, I just started xeljanz. I am a month in and quite pleased thus far. I realized last week that things that used to always have a dull ache no longer do. Plus, I am psyched to no longer have to give myself shots. Even though I’ve done it for years, I’m by no means a nurse and have bruised the heck out of myself many, many times.

This past weekend, my much better ankle cooperated and allowed me to visit Greenville, SC. Ok, it would’ve let me visit either way but I walked all around town with no issue. I saw several old friends and got to see my cousin perform in the Broadway tour of Once! If you’re thinking about going, I highly recommend. Very well done show!


And that’s the highlight reel! Oh yeah, and I turned 35 a few weeks ago. (Ugh)

Up next: how I’ve fallen off the fitness wagon since moving and how I’ll be jumping back in!

Blame the fog, and the blond


Just when you think it’s hard enough as a blond, add in the RA fog…

Stopped by Starbucks on my way to work.

Parked my car.

Walked inside, ordered and paid for my drink, received said coffee.

Venti nonfat caramel macchiato. Just what a Monday requires!

Walked out in my Monday morning stupor.

Pulled out my keys, pressed unlock.

Got to car door. Tried to open car door. Nothing.

Pressed unlock again. Tried car door again. Nothing. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Not my car.

Blond RA brain!

About that picture


A few months ago, I posted a picture on my Facebook page that I meant as an interesting look of someone who doesn’t fit into the uneducated stereotype of looking sick. Young. Fit. Working on fitness to build lean muscle to support joints.


For the most part, the response was positive. I had many, many comments where other patients offered up how they were staying active: swimming, walking, and even a few CrossFitters and mud runners. Those last two things are activities that frighten me…which means I’m dying to try them.

It was shared pretty widely on some bigger groups, and for the most part, the response was the same. Encouragement. Sharing what works and how to stay active. I loved it!

However, I was taken aback by a few comments on my page and on others who shared it. Comments where people said what I was doing was dangerous. Comments where people cautioned others to not look at my picture and hurt themselves.

At first, I thought WHAT? This is me! How could a picture of me even be construed as me doing something dangerous? I’m so scared of getting hurt! I mean, anyone who knows me knows that I go to great lengths to make sure I DON’T get hurt. And look at my wrists- I have to use the rope pull because my wrists don’t enjoy the regular handle. And while you can’t see it in the picture, I know that I was only doing 25 lbs.

After I got all the defensive out of my system, I realized a couple of things.

1. Most of you DON’T know me in real life to know how cautious I actually am.
2. Most of you don’t know the modifications in the picture because you can’t see the weight I’m pulling nor have you seen me try to use the regular grips.
3. They have a valid point.

So yes, I am certainly trying my hardest to build as strong of a body as I can to support some limitations, but I also don’t want to make anyone think that you should just jump into pumping iron (LOL if you’ve ever seen me lift weights- I use a spotter, wrist straps and there is lots of whining sometimes) without doctor approval, research, supervision and good old common sense.

I’m not really sure what else to say. Take a picture as that doesn’t happen very often. 🙂 But I want to be clear that those few comments didn’t go unnoticed, and I want to make sure that I am responsible in writing my story with the clear understanding that we all have different capabilities and comfort zones. Yes, I’ve always been one to push it. No, I don’t see that changing.

But if I’m not telling you about modifications and what I do to make activities safe for me, please call me on it.

Cupcakes if you use profanity. 🙂

Where have I been?


I have a good excuse this time. 🙂

Two weeks ago, I moved back to Charlotte, NC. It’s been a long time coming…

I moved to Greensboro, NC two years ago for professional reasons. Yes, I learned a lot. Yes, I was very pleased with my doctors, my trainer , my nutritionist etc…Yes, I met a handful of people who I hope to never ever lose touch with…


Greensboro and I were not compatible for many reasons. I like diversity. Diversity of people, diversity of opportunity. I sadly found myself in a place where I worked so hard to live well but had no real quality of life as far as opportunity. I have been absolutely miserable since day one. But that is subject matter for another entire blog and one that I will not be writing as I don’t want to dwell on negativity. I also think that would be disrespectful to the people who live there that I love. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for them.

On the flip side, I will admit that my misery allowed for laser like focus on my health. I never would’ve stopped to make time for cooking, training, and educating myself on true wellness. And now that I’ve had that opportunity, I don’t intend to lose sight of that. So while I can say some pretty brutal things about my time there, thank you Greensboro for giving me the space to get a real handle and make great strides in my health.

I am blessed and lucky to work for a company who let me transfer back. And that I have done.

The last few months have been exhausting . Being in two places at once is hard on someone 100% healthy. Throw RA into the equation and you know how that goes.

I took all of last week off to settle in and let’s just say I did a fair amount of unpacking but I did even more resting and taking it easy.

I was flaring pretty badly up to the day of the move, and it was gone within two days. I always underestimate the value of taking time for yourself and allow me to say: be ye not so stupid!!!

Stay tuned for more regular blogging. I’m still in the phase where I’m walking and driving around with a big stupid grin on my face about being back here. But I still have lots to say and hope to be able to say it with more frequency now that I’m back where I need to be. 🙂

My Indian name would be She Who Falls On Her Ass


If I were an Indian.

I have always, ALWAYS, been a klutz. If you are curious as to who could trip, fall, face plant, or otherwise maim themselves in the safest of situations…I’m your girl.

Back in my super fit dancing days, I was performing at an outdoor venue, hit mud, slid, fell, got mud in my hair (and EARS), and got right back up and finished.

I busted going down wooden steps in slick shoes at a child’s birthday party and dropped F bombs in front of a bunch of 3 year olds. Parents love me!

I fell down a handicap ramp. For serious. Who falls down a handicap ramp? ME.

I wiped out in a gravel driveway a few years ago. I tripped on the flip flop the was on my foot.

I ran for a ringing cellphone in socks on hardwood floor. My nose broke my fall as it grazed down the side of my ottoman. Rug burn on noses sucks. Just thought you’d like to know.

My coup de grace wasn’t a fall but more of a midair collision. I was tubing at the lake. My friend and I were sharing a tube meant for one person. Hello Darwin Award! The driver accidentally slung us into wake. We flew up in the air, hit each other hard, and hit the water. Thank God for life jackets! I could hardly move for three days: my right side and her left side were badly bruised and banged up.

To clarify, every one of these falls happened post arthritis diagnosis minus the dancing example. Sure, I fell prior but the falls weren’t as memorable and none resulted in permanent injury. I thought all of it was funny until I slipped on unmarked standing water in the entrance of Target. I had no problems with my ankle before that, and two years later, it’s still not the same.

It’s fair to say that the idea of falling now, thanks to Target, is frightening. To be honest, it really shook me up and I may have completely freaked out. I sometimes felt like my own safety police, trying to identify fall risks and determine ways around them. I built the idea of falling into the WORST. THING. EVER. and it really controlled what I did for a very long time. It was exhausting.

It’s also fair to say that increasing physical activity increases your risks if falling. I have been well aware of that for the past year and a half, and refuse situations that I think will inevitably lead to me laying myself out on the ground. No box jumps is my mantra.

This past week, I fell.

We were doing standing lunges: feet together, step out with one foot, knee to the ground, stand up. Repeat on other leg.

Easy right? But klutziness doesn’t discriminate between easy and hard, and it certainly doesn’t care if you’re afraid of something.

We were doing a long circuit with high reps. My second time through, I was on number 28 of 30 standing lunges. I was tired. My muscles were fatigued. I remember thinking ‘two more so let’s do your best and touch that knee to the ground.’ Note to self and others: it’s ok to hold back because you’re tired.

I stepped out with my left (bad ankle) leg, bent my right knee so that it was touching the floor, and the muscle around my right knee completely cramped/spasmed as I was coming up. At that point, both my legs turned to jello. I still innately don’t trust my left foot but I was able to pull it back underneath me and into a squat position.

I think I would’ve stayed upright if it’d been the other foot, but I feel like I still compensate some with my right so trying to shift some weight to a leg that was mush?

Ass. On. The. Ground.

I sat there for a second and assessed how I felt: I didn’t hurt. It was a true muscle cramp and unlike the Target fall, once I hit the floor and let the muscle relax, I felt fine.

Dignity and pride were both a bit bruised and bloodied.

The next day I was still fine. And the next. And then I was weirdly excited!

I fell! On the ground! And the world hasn’t ended! And it happened too quickly for me to even think about it!

I swear that there’s a point to this post. I talk a lot about fear in a previous post: fear of injury, fear of failure, fear of even trying because maybe I wouldn’t be able to.

As I continue on this path, I am constantly having to assess where these fears are coming from. What I’m learning is that many of my limitations are ideas rather than physical.

Facing these fears is some pretty heavy sh*t for all of us, and all of our fears are different. Those feelings are there for a reason but in my case, the reason isn’t always valid. Yes, it is absolutely necessary for us to protect ourselves and our bodies, but not at the expense of being fearful of life.

I have fallen lots of times (cringe). Only one of these times did it result in a serious injury. Yes, it is ok to be upset about an injury and protective of a body that has minor limitations. But no, it’s not ok to let one bad thing keep you from moving on with life.

Sometimes I swear I’m my own worst enemy!

TL/DR: I fell on my ass and didn’t die.

Modifications and getting creative


So…how does one with RA successfully do a full workout, creaky joints and all, and how does one afford all of this on top of pricey medication?

That, my friend, is something I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out and am still modifying to this day!

Let’s start with the easy part!

I have problems with both wrists, my left being worse than my right, and at times I have a hard time holding on to more than a minimal amount of weight with my hands.

If I had to do a full push-up to save all of humanity, I’m pretty sure we’d all end up dead. I apologize, humankind.

But in trying to strengthen a body with RA, there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in ‘girl push-ups’. There is also no shame in modifying them in other ways.

I do girl push-ups but had a really hard time at first. Not hard as in I couldn’t do them, but hard as in it has been so long and I couldn’t understand how to do them.

With years of dance, I always had a mirror to adjust and correct myself. If everyone else looked like a graceful fairy and I looked like a jumping cow, I noticed and fixed it quickly. I don’t recall Tchaikovsky writing a piece for a jumping cow dance in The Nutcracker!

Anyway, I tried and tried to figure out why it was so difficult and awkward with my trainer. He’d tell me to bend my elbows and correct my posture but I wouldn’t understand because dangit…I thought I was bending my elbows! I thought I was…because I couldn’t SEE what I was doing.

We worked out in a room with a mirror one night and I happened to catch a glimpse of myself trying to do a push-up.

Y’all, I looked crazy! To best explain it, I had my arms positioned in a way where my arms would go up and down, but it was almost a biceps push-up (arms underneath you) vs a regular push-up where your arms should be a T.

I looked like a velociraptor.

I saw this, moved my arms out, and suddenly it was much easier.

So try checking yourself in a mirror before you decide to try a modification. What feels right in the body you have now may not actually be right.

I have no clue why I positioned myself that way except maybe that my posture has changed and that that position was my new normal.

While I can do ‘girl’ push-ups, I felt more comfortable doing push-ups with the following postures:


Using a barre or wall or even a kitchen counter


Using straps

Doing them this way allowed me to control how much of my body weight I was supporting by adjusting my feet/distance from the wall/rings.

Note: my trainer tried to get me to do this and I wound up with rug burn on my face. So… don’t try this unless you’re sure you can!


For free weight, I use wrist straps.


Instead of gripping all the weight with hands that may have a hard time holding on, it distributes the weight between your hands and wrists. Honestly, I have awful wrists and it doesn’t hurt them. You wrap it on and roll the weight into the strap. Much easier!

For legs, I don’t really have any modifications to share other than if it hurts, stop! We have been successful in finding modified exercises for every lower extremity that sometimes bothers me.

Edited to add: I learned recently that I’m afraid of stepping down backwards. I’ve been practicing stepping down backwards off of a step class bench with nothing stacked to make it higher. There is no physical reason I’m afraid; it just scares me because I can’t see it. Doing this in front of a mirror has really helped me trust that motion more.

So let’s talk price…

Personal training isn’t cheap. The only way I can afford it is that my gym allows payment plans. I may owe them my first child!

Other tips:

A good friend of mine couldn’t afford – personal trainer so she posted an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to teach her how to workout for free. Of course, she got all kinds of SKETCHY (read: hilarious!) emails but in the midst, she got an email from a Health and Exercise Science professor at a local college who said he’d be happy to. She vetted him on the college website and it worked wonderfully.

Which leads me to my second suggestion. Reach out to local sports science programs- I know where I went to school, majors had to work with people in the community on developing programs. Primarily, they worked with disabled children. But I can certainly see working with an RA patient to be very relevant to their curriculum.