All posts filed under: post2

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 …

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!

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 and the Bread Machine

In December I had the urge to make bread. It was the same urge that I had several years ago to start knitting. I knitted everyone a beanie, or a wrap or a special heart to say I cared.  I am still knitting. I am working on a blanket project that is over half done, a wrap for my Watertown, NY sister-in-law and a fluffy, bright red beanie for a friend. Now I am adding breadmaking to my list of activities. I researched bread machines on the internet. Found the one I liked, a two-pound Oster and added it to my wish list. Eventually, Amazon made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. In December during my hip replacement recovery, I became the happy owner of an Oster bread machine. The bread is made in loaf form, has nine plus settings and produces perfect bread mostly by itself in a little over three hours. Along with the machine, I ordered The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German. It was her first book and I …

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 …

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 …

Coping with the Symptoms of RA

  Beginning with the first symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I have lived in daily pain. It has been over four years. It has been a long time. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. My body is on a suicide mission to destroy the linings of  the movable joints in my body. It is a scary disease in that it is unpredictable and it is progressive. I spent the first two years with severe fatigue/malaise. And it was as bad as the pain. This malaise is caused by cytokines, products of inflammation. Cytokines circulate in my bloodstream spreading RA damage. Add that to a high level of pain and it can be overwhelming. I wake to stiff, painful joints. In the morning as I walk painfully down to the kitchen to make coffee, there are times when I have become angry and tired of it all. I start the day in pain and I end the day in pain. It is too much. My feet are becoming deformed and I find it difficult to …

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 …

Knitting and RA

Last summer I had a strong urge to take up knitting again. I hadn’t knitted in many years and wasn’t sure I remembered how. I bought a book for teaching children how to knit and learned quickly that knitting was like riding a bike, once learned not to be forgotten. I enjoyed the projects. Easy. Big needles. Satisfying. The basket in the picture was one of the projects. Circular needles. A few years ago I was sent to a  hand clinic for my RA. I learned a series of exercises to strengthen my fingers, hands and wrists. It was the most helpful process I had had for my RA. I still do the exercises. I have added knitting as another way to exercise my hands. I enjoy projects simple and repetitive and I enjoy projects with complicated precise instructions. I usually knit a bit every day. There are times when I can’t knit. My hands are too inflamed. Sometimes my shoulder is too inflamed. So I just stop for a bit and carry on when …