Year: 2015

A celebration of Recovery 10,000Waves

About as high as you can go up into the mountains in Santa Fe on the road to the Ski Basin is tucked a high-class Japanese Spa specializing in bodywork and skin care. Ten Thousand Waves.  My destination. Just what I need. I desperately need. My treatment choice is NOSE TO TOES. A Mother’s Day gift certificate from Chris and Katie. I live in Albuquerque and this would be my first road trip in three years. I gassed my Tin Lizzy, my 5-year-old Mini Cooper Clubman. Pepper white. Turbo. Added bottled water, spa directions.  Put on my winter jacket. Ready to go. Finally!  This is November. I headed toward I-25. Sunny day. Cool. I am on the road.  I am also on the recovering end of a devastating year. The year was 2013. Almost three years ago. I had been diagnosed with a severe rheumatoid arthritis followed by two different diagnoses of cancer. Surgery. Radiation for each. Pills forever. No relief for the RA until this year with the start of Orencia. It is a …

Test Week

Since my Rheumatoid Arthritis and my two cancers were diagnosed in the same year, it is logical that  milestones occur the same way.  In one week I had  tests for my two cancers. On Monday I had a Thyrogen shot in the butt. The medication  acts like TSH, a hormone  that  normally stimulates your thyroid. ( $1400 each without insurance, $135 each with). Tuesday I repeated Monday with another shot. On Wednesday I went to nuclear med for a radioactive pill.  I am not radioactive. I feel like I am. I am also given two containers of MOM. The tech said it was a mild laxative. One tonight. One Thursday night. it wasn’t mild. I was also instructed to eat lightly. On Thursday I went to Radiology Associates of NM for a diagnostic mammogram. I do love this place. Friendly people. Coffee. Special cute patient gowns.  I felt that I would be fine, but I had the vivid memories of when I was not. So I still worried. Lucky me!  There was no sign of cancer. A …

Walking with Wisdom Woman

RA Attitude After an MRI of my lumbar spine. Seeing the bad news. Being sent to yet another specialist. Spine and Pain Clinic. I was totally discouraged. In the same small office complex, I visit my rheumatologist, my neurologist, my oncologist, my palliative care nurse and now a pain doc. And this is just one of the office buildings I visit. I was discouraged because I could see it as another proof that my body was falling apart. Am I on a steep slippery slope looking downwards? Scary. I was scared. Then, as if by magic, my Irish-French Canadian genes kick in. What to do? A long time ago I had come to the conclusion that I needed to keep my primary focus on the activities of my life.  My writing. My family. My friends. My Hobbit House Projects. I would not ignore my medical issues. I would care for them well. And then I would bring my focus back to the activities of my life. Sometimes I could do more and sometimes less. It …

Ruth explains RESET

The delicacy of the mahogany writing desk. Petite. Leather inlay surface. Slender wood turned legs. Just right for Ruth.  She sat back straight in her neat smoothed dress. Her eyes twinkled in greeting. “I need help,” I said. She glanced toward the strait backed chair next to the desk. I sat. “I am discouraged. Exhausted. Defeated. Weak. Worried.  In pain. All of it in a jumbled pile in my mind. Too much.” She smiled her little smile as she looked into my eyes. “It does sound like too much,” she agreed.  “It weighs like an anchor on your soul leaving you feeling stuck. You need relief.”  She understood as always.  “Maybe it is time to RESET yourself. You are overloaded with tough stuff.” “Let’s have tea and sit in the big cozy chairs, “she suggested. As we sipped our tea and munched on lemon cookies with buttercream frosting, she explained the process. The first and most important RESET step is the Purge. The purpose is to empty the mind of all concern. Meditation can be too …

Ten things to know about methotrexate and RA

  Methotrexate has been used for RA since the late 80’s.  It is the cornerstone for RA treatment and considered to have an impressive safety record. Methotrexate is classed as  a DMARD, Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug. It decreases pain and swelling. It can lessen joint damage and consequently long-term disability. Methotrexate is taken once a week usually in pill form. The injectable form is reserved for those who don’t tolerate the pill or to extend the effectiveness of the drug. Self injection is not hard to learn for those who need it. It can be easy to do with a prefilled  auto-injector that comes in a variety of doses. The auto-injector is useful for children with JIA, too. Methotrexate is frequently paired with other DMARD’s. Plaquenil, an anti-malarial drug is often used. Sometimes Sulfasolazine is added, too. Drugs used in combination with methotrexate are usually more effective. Methotrexate is also paired with the biologics including Orencia and Rituxan. The biologics become more effective when teamed with methotrexate. RA can continue on its destructive path when there are no obvious symptoms. It’s reassuring …

Ruth has RA, too

  I love Ruth. I smile when I see her and Ruth always smiles back at me.   Her blue eyes twinkle with a happy secret. I would like to know what Ruth knows. She always looks the same. She wears a blue dress that looks just right. Her hair is neatly parted to the side. Her hands are folded on the front of her dress. Polite. Neat. Helpful. Ruth works in a  bookstore that has many books both new and old. There is every book you could ever want to read in Ruth’s store. The bookstore also has excellent coffee.  There are  big cozy chairs for reading.  It is a good place to spend lots of time. Ruth works in the best bookstore. I met Ruth at her bookstore. I was looking for a hard cover copy of Preston and Child’s Relic. Great book. It is everywhere, paperback, kindle, nook. The hard cover copy is not.  It is hard to find. I have read it but I wanted a hardcover for my library. Of course, I knew …

RA Tool Hand Exercises

Another asset in our RA tool box is hand exercises. We need to maintain our flexibility and our strength. Deciding that I needed to be able to do more for myself, I asked my Doc to send me to the Albuquerque Health Plex Physical Therapy Hand Clinic. Wow!  is all I can say. My hands were thrilled with the weekly professional paraffin wax treatment. I learned a set of exercises that will help me maintain my hand function. I do them daily. They can be done anywhere.  Below are instructions for a few. I was fitted for hand orthotics custom made for me. I have them for night use when I am in a flare. My hands are protected while I sleep. I asked and I received. I am also fortunate to have a physical therapy department that is expert in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Finger Walking Place fingers and wrist on the table palm down. Hold thumb in hitchhiking position. Walk each finger one at a time toward thumb. Return to original position …

The RA Flare Bitch

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt Creepy is an understatement. This one slinks into the room with her sharp edges and razor eyes ready to do her damage.  She stands there  hands on her hips, all powerful. Her mission is to destroy as much as possible. “Where shall I start?” she considers. There are so many joints to choose. She will not listen to a single excuse and she doesn’t hesitate. She carries out her angry, hurtful work. She does not smile and she stays as long as she likes. The evil, Flare Bitch. I am always glad when she leaves. : “Creepy.”

gardening notes

Albuquerque will be 95 today. Yesterday it was 98. We missed the set of super hot temperatures for July. So we are just catching up. Blue skies. Nice. This is the Rio Grande. We have plenty of water in it this year. And now we have more. Torrential downpour came later this afternoon. Reminds me of Miami. I am happy to see the rain. I would dance it it but the lightening forbids it.  I have those big office wastebaskets to gather water where it comes down the hardest. This is great for my RA as I just need to scoop the water in a little bucket to water container plants. I feel like I am doing a good thing. I have passed out of the RA Flare Fog. Don’t know if it is residual from the Medrol Pack or the Orencia starting to work. I am cheering for the Orencia. Feels so good to move.  Hope it lasts for awhile. Back out in the yard. This is Apricot Sunset. Climber. Strong and beautiful.  Roses …

RA Web Sites

Like everyone else with a serious diagnosis, I need to know more than the few words my doctor tells me.  And like everyone else, I search the internet. The internet is jammed full of information. However, sorting through it can be a challenge. Some of the sites  give the same standard information. Some of it is dated information. Some of it includes assumptions. Still it is possible to find helpful, reliable sources. Here are some I find helpful.  Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center will give you all the scientific information that you will need.              http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/arthritis-info/rheumatoid-arthritis/ PubMedHealth The link:    Rheumatoid Arthritis  at the US National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library.  Always a valid and helpful resource. RA Warrior A community support site that relates the experiences of those with RA, offers a great deal of helpful information, and current  discussions on RA. It is a big site and well worth a visit. Kelly Young is the author.  Visit the RA Warrior at     http://rawarrior.com/  WebMD This is an amazingly helpful site. …