All posts filed under: medium posts

Lockdown Update

We are still locked down. We go to Costco and to Smiths. We travel out with our masks and our hand sanitizers. Those we meet are friendly and have smiling eyes behind their masks. If a person depended on reading lips to understand another, they are currently out of luck. Who would have guessed? Certainly not last September. Life changes so quickly. My garden is winding down. The squirrels are fat and happy after eating my tomatoes. The roadrunner couple I saw having sex in my back yard now have healthy teenagers who are as aggressive about eating birds as their parents. Our quail population is booming. They love quail blocks and nest along side the squirrels on a little used side of my property. I make bread every couple of days. I have many recipes for rye bread, but rye flour is now unattainable. Not enough planted by the farmers for the current demand. I also make a lot of oatmeal bread. Lucky for me. I make my own buns for bratwurst. I also …

No more methotrexate

RA Dilemma Number Five There is another dilemma to face when you have rheumatoid arthritis. I was surprised by this one. After all, I have had RA for seven years and feel I have covered a lot of ground in that time. I know infection posed  a very high risk while taking RA meds. My mind thought flu or maybe pneumonia. This one started five months ago. Suddenly and out of the blue, my right breast developed a lesion and stated to drain. I felt feverish and went to see my oncologist who sent me to the breast surgeon oncologist down the hall because she was the one who had the ultrasound machine. She came in, introduced herself and looked at my lesion. She instantly knew that it was caused by necrotic breast tissue due to radiation for breast cancer. The radiated tissue gradually degenerates, expands until it pushes through the delicate breast skin and drains. It cultured positive and I was sent to the wound clinic. Eventually, it was determined that the only solution …

Seven year anniversary and infection

It was seven years ago this month. I was acutely ill with my first encounter of rheumatoid arthritis. My illness had not been given a name yet. A week before that I had seen the ER doc who started me on prednisone and who was  sending me to the rheumatologist that I would see in about another week. I had very little sleep. A few hours a night at most. I was in excruciating pain. Life was not good. I can look back with a sense of relief. I no longer have the kind of pain that made me think I had broken glass shards in my joints. It took several years after my diagnosis for my RA to settle down. I never went into remission. My inflammation has always simmered. Methotrexate was my base. I finally settled into 25 mg subq once a week. It helped. After a few years my pain was never quite the same as it was originally. My feet became central to my discomfort. Custom orthotics and Dr Comfort shoes …

Infection and off methotrexate

I stopped taking Actemra. I had only two doses this time. Last week I stopped taking methotrexate. I had been on it since 2013. All this was at  a suggestion from my oncologist who was helping me battle a severe breast infection. The infection started in October 2019. I went to a wound clinic for a month. I had surgery to debride necrotic, radiated breast tissue 13 December. Then the infection returned. Perhaps it had never left. I also developed a severe cellulitis. The cellulitis covered my entire breast or what was left of it. Now the cellulitis is down to a couple of inches. The whole thing was caused by  the radiation treatment that I had for breast cancer in 2013. The radiated tissue became necrotic and infected. It is not uncommon. I wonder what part my RA drugs played in this long standing dilemma. This infection has gone on for three months. I do know that methotrexate should be stopped while a person is on an antibiotic. Methotrexate should not be used at …

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.

MS an autoimmune disease

MS

MS usually affects those who live in the colder northern countries. I was born in the  border town of Fort Covington, just a walk down the street to Canada. And then I grew up in another nearby border town. In the winters our temperature dropped below freezing and stayed there until March.  My mom was Irish and my dad French Canadian. My brother was just like me. MS usually starts somewhere between 20-50 years. Just like RA there is an elderly onset MS striking those age 60 and above. Children also develop MS. MS is an autoimmune disease where the T cells of our immune system think the cells of the myelin sheath, the nerve covering, is foreign and must be attacked. This arbitrary attack affects the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerve and creates a a variety of symptoms. More women than men have MS. Genetics play a role. MS interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Walking becomes difficult. Hands may lose their grip. …

More About RA Drug Orencia

Orencia Abatacept Abatacept, trade name Orencia,  is a biologic medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Ads for it have been on tv.  It reduces the inflammation that causes some of the symptoms of RA. It is also used for adult psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Response to expect                                                                                                                     According to clinical trials of Orencia use, up to 75% of patients had a 20% improvement at six months . About 50% had up to a 50% improvement. About 13% had a 75% improvement. In these studies, methotrexate was also being given. Pill, shot or IV?                                                    …

More about RA drug Actemra

Actemra     Tocilizumab     TCZ Actemra is a biologic drug used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is also approved for giant cell arteritis, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA), systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Response to expect                                                                                                                              At 24 weeks of weekly injections, 69% of those with RA had a 20% improvement in  symptoms. Additionally, 47% had a 50% improvement and 24% had a 70% improvement. That leaves 31% with no improvement. None of the biologics work for everyone. Pill, shot or IV? Actemra is a rheumatoid arthritis drug that is a large molecule. What that means is that Actemra would not work as a pill and must …