Year: 2017

Too old to have RA

Thank God for my rheumatologist. She has been supportive through thick or thin.  Originally, she said she thought I had Polymyalgia Rheumatica because of my age and shoulder involvement. I didn’t have it. I have elderly onset rheumatoid arthritis (EORA) which occurs in those over 60, frequently has an acute onset and includes shoulder involvement. My inflammatory markers at the time were sky high. That was me. I proceeded to become symmetrical and have  followed the classic RA pattern. I am also RF negative. My RA seems to confuse the other doctors that I have seen recently.  Some think I am just too old to have RA. Some think because my inflammatory markers are not elevated that my RA is under control. Some think I can’t have RA because I am RF negative. Many otherwise well informed doctors do  have outdated information about Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have sero-negative RA. My RA has never been under control although since my hip replacement I do feel better. My RA is under 5 years old. My feet are …

Back from my hip replacement

My hip replacement didn’t turn out to be as smooth as I would have expected but my hip joint is fine and all the severe pain I had before the surgery is gone. It is a relief and makes the experience I had well worth the effort. The surgeon said my hip was warn out so I’m very glad he decided to do the surgery. During Thanksgiving week I overdid walking with the cane and sitting too long. So yesterday during my physical  therapy appointment, my therapist and I decided I needed to stay with the walker when I went out and use the cane for practice only at home. My pain had increased and I wasn’t doing as well. Back to the drawing board. Time to let the inflammation in the hip heal and to follow the rules.  And to rest more. I enjoy doing my assigned exercises. Resting more is hard. I have had two RA flares since surgery. One was in the Rehab center as they had skipped my methotrexate dose. Why? …

RA Hip Replacement

I am hopeful that my summer long saga of pain and futility are drawing to a close. My surgery is two weeks away. I am grateful to Ruth and her practical approach to problems. It is reassuring to me. After all my worry and anxiety,  I know I will be fine. I have only one more item to check off my list. It is an appointment to see my surgeon’s PA. My dentist gave me a pass. I had no oral infection. My primary met with me and did his part. I participated in a two-hour hip class which was informative but also made me anxious. I met with the anesthesiology nurse. I passed all my labs. My worries My RA will become a worsening problem as I will be off Medrol and meloxicam starting Sunday. My RA feet are badly affected as are my ankles. My tendons in my legs are also a problem when I walk. My hands, wrists and shoulders are also problematic. After taking the hip class, I became concerned that …

On becoming the bionic woman

I wonder how many of us are walking around with replacement parts. Joint replacement has become common and it is successful surgery. I have several friends who have both knees replaced or both hips replaced and they are fine with it. And now, I am about ready to embark on my first joint replacement. My left hip will be first on the chopping block. This is a bad visualization. I am trying hard not to think about what the surgeon will be doing. It is scary and gruesome. A Frankenstein thing. Instead, I am focusing on the bionic woman thought. I will be in much better condition once I complete the rehab process. I will have a fabulous new joint. Won’t I be lucky? I will. I have spent the summer in extreme pain. My doc had a tough time identifying my hip issue. After all, my hip had good range of motion without pain. An MRI revealed my hip deteriorating badly plus a bad labral tear with pieces loose in the joint. My pain …

The Gut RA Connection

By now  most of us know  that our intestinal system is home to trillions of  bacteria busy doing their job populating their ecosystem in the lining of out intestines. Collectively they are called the gut microbiome or gut flora. The beneficial bacteria in the gut have names that we see on the list of ingredients in a good yogurt such as  lactobacillus acidophilus. These bacteria help maintain a consistent environment, protect the body from foreign invaders, communicate with the immune system and the brain. The gut microbiome is complex and gut imbalances have been implicated in the development of RA as in other inflammatory diseases.  “Larger-than-normal populations of  specific gut bacteria may trigger the development of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and possibly fuel disease progression in people genetically predisposed to this crippling and confounding condition,” according to Mayo Clinic Researchers. An imbalance in the gut microbiome coupled with a genetic predisposition to RA may be the initiating factor in the RA disease process. There is a lot of research being done. Using probiotics  medically as …

Real Life and RA

Having a debilitating, chronic disease makes me much more aware of others who struggle to have a normal life with a chronic disease. For those who have RA,  pain is a central issue. The exhaustion that comes with inflammation is also the issue. Life becomes a daily struggle for those who wake up in pain, and who need to make that pain manageable so they can carry on with their daily duties of children and/or work.  Depression is common among those with RA. Easy to see why. I am not easily depressed. I can see too many of the little pleasures of life that make it worth the downside. But there are moments when the struggle to put pain in its place becomes just too much to live with. That is a big, clear signal for a time out. I can have a time out and so can many who have family to take the children or have a job where hours are flexible. But there are many who are  scraping by so need to …

RA feet and orthotics

My RA started in my feet. About 20% of patients are introduced to RA via painful feet and about 95% of RA patients eventually do have feet involvement.  RA struck my poor feet first.  Diagnosis was slow as my primary doc, an internist, later said I was too old to have RA and that the pulses in my feet were strong so my feet were fine. Once I was diagnosed. Methotrexate (MTX) was my first RA drug. The dose was gradually increased until I reached the max of 25 mg/week.  I tolerated the nausea and diarrhea which eventually passed.  MTX helped me but by this time my feet were in a lot of pain and I walked with great difficulty. I was sent to a podiatrist who declared right off the bat that he didn’t do foot surgery for RA. Fine, I thought. I had read about the horrors of RA foot surgery and I wanted none of it. I did need to know what would help. He did three things for me. He ordered …

RA Fog

Last month I finally filled out the form for the Arthritis Foundation, made out my $20 check and mailed it in. A few days ago I received my first copy of Arthritis Today. I was surprised and impressed. It is a small magazine, not cluttered by pages of ads.  The focus of the magazine is to be helpful to those with arthritis. It is. There are interesting and helpful articles. I enjoyed the article about Clark Middleton. He was the DMV guy on the series the Blacklist. Funny character. He had juvenile idiopathic arthritis as a child. He had many joint replacements and continues today with methotrexate and a biologic. His is the story of a man who has accomplished a lot while coping with a debilitating disease. The article on Brain Fog reminded me of methotrexate fog. That was a hurdle for me as I settled into methotrexate treatment. I was a sharp business woman. I had to be in order to stay in business for over 25 years. I had always done my own …

Being in a funk with RA

I have to admit I am in a place where the mind is willing but my RA body is not. I have been living with extreme pain for a month and I have been trying to manage it myself.  Yoga, pain medicine on schedule, more medrol.  All for naught. I had sent an email via My Chart to my rheumatologist but I had no response.  It seems to be a situation where I have no choice but to call her.  Last I talked with her she was mad at me because I brought the statistics on Actemra to her. So asking her for help is a stretch. However, I have gone through my resources and they are not enough. So I will call. Living with chronic pain is bad enough. The worst of it is how immobilizing it is. My hip joints are deteriorating as is my spine. The worst of the pain is in my left hip and I bet it is where the sciatic nerve passes by the hip joint. I am okay …