Month: August 2013

Cancer and RA in older people.

I visited my rheumatologist today. I am in a flare. My feet are the usual problem, as are fingers, toes, ankles, shoulders. My wrists are too, but I still can do downward dog. New is my right pointer finger, swollen, painful. Because of the surgery she can’t add a biologic.  She said after the cancer is removed, my joints might improve. In an older person who develops sero negative RA, she strongly suspects cancer. She had mentioned this before. She said when the immune system is not working properly, cancer is also likely. She was right. Hopefully, the surgery is uneventful and the RA settles down. Her instructions were to stop the methotrexate the week before surgery. If my incision looks good, I can resume the methotrexate a week after the surgery. ( I will not be seeing the surgeon for two weeks following the surgery.) The surgeon wants me to stop the meloxicam a week before the surgery and resume a week after the surgery. The surgeon is seasoned, highly respected and board certified …

My son said I needed to set the RA aside

My son, who was trying to be helpful, said I needed to set the RA aside while I deal with the cancer. Sounded like a good idea to me. Wish it could be so. I have been more fortunate that many with my RA. I am functioning. I do have energy most days. My pain varies but it manageable. I have a few small deformities. They are not big ones. I have an excellent rheumatologist. I have an excellent endocrinologist.  Yes, it is amazing. I can even spell these big words without looking them up. Added to my collection of experts is an excellent surgeon with a warm and friendly attitude. She is board certified with  special training in endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic. She also has  extensive experience with thyroid surgery. I will feel confident in my slumber under her knife. I expect to wake up, vital neck structures still intact. This is so very reassuring to me. Today I had an ultrasound of my neck. Thursday I have my last PT with Christine. …

The cancer surgeon

This was my scariest doctor appointment. My BP which is boringly normal shot up to 140. I was anxious. Fortunately, my son was with me to help keep the perspective and lend a reassuring arm. I was scared because this was the next step. I wanted to feel this woman was the right surgeon for me. She is. Dr Vasquez is a board certified surgeon with an endocrinology specialty from the Mayo clinic. She was energetic, thorough in her explanation, reassuring. I liked her. Like my other specialists she loves what she does, is knowledgeable, and is personable. That is a relief. Next I will need my lymph glands in my neck mapped. This is to see if the cancer has spread outside my thyroid. This will determine the extent of the surgery. I have my appointment on Monday. This is the next step in staging. If negative, no worries. If positive, lots of worries. So I will be glad when it is done. My surgery is in October. This is a relief too. After my …

I have cancer

The good news is my Rheumatoid Arthritis is doing much better as I settle into methotrexate/Plaquenil/meloxicam/prednisone combination. I am back to downward dog(my favorite in yoga). Thought I would never get there with my wrist involvement.  Sooo very happy to be there. The bad news is that I have thyroid cancer. At my age I’m not so lucky. Seems the best time to get it is between 17-45. Before and after those ages it can be very aggressive. I had a new spot on my chest x ray (January to April). Cat scan was done. Several spots plus spots on my thyroid. Echo was next. Even worse. Spot in my neck also. And after 39 sticks with needles guided by an echo, the diagnosis was confirmed. Standard treatment is to take the whole thyroid out. I see the surgeon tomorrow. I will probably have another echo of my neck lymph glands to see if the lymph glands need to go also. Wish me luck. Seems I need it.

Symptom Management

Lene Andersen wrote a book in 2013. It is called Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis.     She is amazing. Her RA started when she was 4 years old. She is now in her 40’s. RA was treated differently back then. By the time she was 17, she was wheelchair bound after having both hips replaced.  She struggled with her RA and she still has very big obstacles.  Her life isn’t an easy one. However. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Then she adapted to work from home. She works with Health Central. She helps others with RA. Now she is an author. Her book is full of practical information on dealing with RA. It helped me. The cover reads ” Tools for Managing Treatment, side effects and pain”.  Pain management tool box, fatigue, fuzzy brain, osteoporosis, medication side effects, managing infection risk, nausea. This is a practical book with practical solutions. A good read. “I call it ‘Having a Swish.’  It means doing your best not to wallow in the self-pity pool. Every now and then …

sulfasalazine did not work

After a week on Sulfasalazine, I lived with constant nausea. Lost my appetite. Lived in a fog. Enough was enough! I stopped taking it and I do feel much better. Nausea is receding. The fog has lifted. I feel human again. This morning I did my yoga routine. Tonight I walked Jimmy, my 100# dog. I got a good days work in. Orders to lab, photographing a HS senior, setting up a new assignment, scheduling new appointments and on it goes. I am plowing through all the Eve Dallas series by Robb.  I am up to #14. About 20 plus more to go. It’s really like one book that keeps on going. Nice escapism. Dependable. I am still on the methotrexate and plaquenil and prednisone and meloxicam. Those I can tolerate. They do help me. There is a fine balance between RA symptoms and medication side effects. Thank goodness my balance is better.

RA prednisone update

Tapering prednisone is not easy. The .5mg at a time is helpful. I am at 10.5mg from 12.5mg. I was at a point where I only had feet that were not entirely happy. Now I have pings in my hands and wrists. I also have a little stiffness in my hands in the morning. I started the sulfsalazine recently so hopefully that will be helpful. I do feel better doing a little yoga routine in the morning. My back feels much better. I love the feeling of flexibility. It feels really good. My body seeks foods with liquid in them. Grapes and cherries taste good. Chips and artificial foods have lost their appeal.  

Yoga and flexibility

Yesterday when I posted I forgot to enter a title. The title became 406. Now it is up to date and worth checking out.                                                                                                                    https://marysarthritis.com/2013/08/04/helpful-information-about-ra/ Today was a day off from work. Pain free, except for feet issues in the morning, all gone by noon. I am back to my humble yoga practice. The joint flexibility feels really good. I took many yoga classes over the years. Eventually, I developed my own routine. When RA hit me, it was impossible to do downward dog, a favorite. In fact I was so bad I couldn’t do any yoga. Fatigue wore me out. I worried about my flexibility. As I started to feel better, I started a therapeutic yoga. I am developing a routine that will keep my flexibility. It feels so very good. Having my home practice is wonderful. It is still wise to take classes. It is refreshing and prevents sloppy habits from forming. Yoga in a small group has its own rewards. I remember my first yoga class. It was at a health club …

Helpful information about RA

Helpful information about RA RA is an inflammatory poly-arthritis (affects 5 or more joints). RA is an autoimmune disorder. There are well over 80 disorders in this category including diabetes, lupus and multiple sclerosis. With an autoimmune disorder, the body sees its own cells as foreign bodies. The body’s defense system goes on attack. In RA the membrane (synovium) lining the joints become thickened. Inflammation, swelling, serious pain and stiffness result. RA is a systemic disorder. It affects more than the joints. With release of certain chemicals into the bloodstream, extreme fatigue is common. A low grade fever can be present suggesting inflammation. RA can affect many places in the body. Joint damage  can occur quickly. Once the joints are damaged, deformity and pain can last a lifetime. The goal of aggressive treatment is to avoid joint damage while at the same time relieving pain. RA presents differently in different people. Onset may be sudden and affect many joints. It may sneak up on you by starting in a small joint in fingers or toes. …

RA and tramadol

Tramadol is an accepted treatment for the pain of RA. It is a synthetic opioid analgesic.  Some consider it safer than anti-inflammatory drugs for older people.  There is less a risk for cardiac problems and for stomach bleeding. Dr. R prescribed Tramadol for me three months ago when I was having pain problems. I am on 50mg every 8 hours. It definitely helps me. It is odd but I feel better on it. I have more energy. My pain levels are better. When I started it I was careful about driving. Now I take it when I get up, in the afternoon and in the evening. There are no issues with being drowsy. It is the opposite. I think more clearly. There is less of the methotrexate fog.