All posts filed under: Self Management

What is it that I do to help myself

Our core and why we need it

  Our core is our foundation. It is the stabilizer muscles. It links the upper body with the lower body. Our core  keeps us upright, agile, and able to perform all the daily tasks that constitute our lives. The core muscles are located in our trunk. Our core is a muscular corset that keeps our organs inside, our backs upright and our bodies able to do their job.  It lets us twist and bend.  A strong core will keep us in good shape as we age and when we are ill. With a strong core we are less likely to fall as we get older. We are less likely to have back problems. We use our core when we do housework and when we play golf. We use our core when we play with our children and when we have sex. The quality of our activity depends on our core. The core comprises groups of muscles with strange sounding names. The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis; the obliques, front and side,  lower lats, erector spinae, running …

RA in New Mexico

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis in New Mexico. Are there advantages to living in New Mexico with RA? Sure there are. The climate is high desert and very dry. Humidity is tough for many situations. It is frequently hard on the joints.   Less humidity is a good thing. Another one. New Mexico is sunny. Our brains love light. Light helps to keep us happy. RAers need happy help. Sunflowers are like happy pills. They make us smile. New Mexico is a good place to have RA.

My favorite RA Book

When I had a severe episode of RA in December 2012, I was in so much pain that coping day to day was my only focus. As the diagnosis of RA was made clear and treatment commenced, I had to learn as much as I could. I also needed to understand my situation. I turned to the best book I could ever recommend to someone who is new to RA. It is called The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis by M E A McNeil The book explains a lot. And equally important it helps a person shape a healthy attitude toward  RA It helped me take charge of my illness in a healthy, positive manner. Another pain free day. I am in paradise!

Stronger with exercise

  October 2019 I am amazed that I feel so much better. It has been a gradual process, a yearlong process. Recovery from the treatment of a rare uterine cancer is long, discouraging at times and scary at others. I say scary because the fatigue and the use of a brain that seems murky and sluggish is not something I would want to live with permanently. My fear was that this mental and physical slowness might just be permanent. So, I am relieved, quietly jubilant. My spark has re-ignited and I feel alive again. I am now able to go to the gym without being worn out for the day. My legs are stronger. I am becoming sturdy. I am reading again. I just finished Educated by Tara Westover and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her evolution from a brain washed, isolated child into a creative, educated and accomplished woman is inspirational. In the last few months I have found a comfort zone in riding the recumbent bike for 45 minutes three times a week at Planet …

Living with RA

  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered a chronic disease. A characteristic of chronic disease is its disabling features. Walking may become more difficult. Activities like dressing, preparing meals, performing personal hygiene and completing household chores become harder and harder. Life becomes increasingly challenging until a person hits a crossroad where they make changes in his or her life or gradually slips down the slippery slope into a dependence that requires custodial care and no turning back.  RA is known for making life challenging in many ways. Like cancer, diabetes or all the other autoimmune diseases, being able to live with RA starts by making changes to our lifestyle. Pain management is a big concern for those with RA. There is no going around the fact that pain is a common feature of every day RA life. There has been much written on managing pain. Managing pain is possible with the help of professionals skilled in pain management. The topic requires its own space although these suggestions will help lease the burden of that pain. For …

RA, Movement and the Slippery Slope

I need to give you some heartfelt advice that is as close to a warning as I can get. My horrific experience this last year with a hip that was totally worn out put me in a dangerous situation that was as close as I had come to spiraling down the slippery slope to forever. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Those of us who have an autoimmune disorder understand what I mean when I say I have an overwhelming, incapacitating fatigue when I have a flare. Over the last five years I have learned to slow down when the flare signs start to blossom. To take care. So, this last year as the RA pain plus the pain in my hip increased, I did just that. I slowed down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a flare that passed with additional Medrol and rest. It was a bone on bone raw joint pain that worsened with each passing day. I became debilitated. I was weak. I was living in pain. My doc provided OxyContin and tried very hard to …

RA and Yoga

My first yoga experience was about 15 years ago. I belonged to Riverpoint, a sports and wellness club in Albuquerque. All classes were included in membership price. The evening I was at the club, a yoga class was just starting. I thought I would give it a try. I knew nothing about yoga. No mat and no clue. I walked into an advanced class. I was so very fortunate to have an excellent, progressive teacher. She welcomed me. I was also welcomed by her class.  I took classes with her for about four years before she headed off to Costa Rica. She believed people should start where they are at. She said yoga is not competitive with yourself or with any one else. I learned good form. I bought a yoga mat and thanks to her I still have a yoga practice. The first two years after my RA diagnosis I tried classes and just couldn’t do it. My feet and my wrists hurt too much. So I stopped. Looking back I could have done …

Gardening and RA

April is a great month for gardening in New Mexico. Sunny, 70’s. Roses blooming. Oklahoma Red bud a riot of color. I am enjoying every bit. This week I planted a Lady Banks rambler on my back fence. There have been times when I never thought I would be able to kneel and happily dig in garden dirt again. Right now I can and I am very happy. In the four years since I was diagnosed with RA, I have learned to modify activities of my life. In the garden I have a kneeling pad for my knees. I buy the smaller size plant so I don’t need to dig a bigger hole and don’t need to haul as much garden soil. I have learned not to buy more than one or two plants at a time. And most importantly, I will relax with a cup of coffee and a book as a rest when my planting is done. The Lady Banks Rose is white and luscious. This is an old rose that was originally brought …

Four years with RA

It was four years this month that I was officially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Learning to accept my situation and learning to manage my disease was not easy. Pain is constant. It just varies in intensity. Fatigue is overwhelming and was constant the first few years. The RA process of medication trial and error was discouraging. Medication side effects were hard to tolerate. Underneath it all, the knowledge of living with a progressive disease was disconcerting. Add to the mix, I was diagnosed with stage three thyroid cancer and breast cancer the same year that I was diagnosed with the RA. Both included surgery and radiation treatment. Yet here I am four years later. I am still struggling but I am surviving and maybe thriving. I wake in pain. I go to bed in pain. Pain is discouraging and even depressing. Many of my joints are affected by RA. Fingers, toes, feet and hands, elbows, wrists, shoulders and jaw. So, I am blanketed in pain. I take meloxicam and methylprednisolone for inflammation. I take gabapentin …