All posts tagged: RA Fatigue

Surviving Food, Nutrition and RA

This is the first few pages of the nutrition section in my up coming book Self-Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Surviving Food, Nutrition and RA We all know that good nutrition is an important part of staying healthy. Most of us have limited knowledge on what constitutes eating well. Our problems are many when we try to figure this out. What is good nutrition? How does it fit into our family style? How do we manage when we have pain and fatigue? How do we manage when our budgets are limited?  To complicate matters, each of us is unique both in body make-up and in our responses to our environment. We need diets or food plans that work for us individually. It is a given that a good diet will help you manage your RA. Good food will help. You might already realize your particular dietary needs. Some will do better on a vegetarian diet. Some will do better without dairy. Many will thrive on a Mediterranean diet or an anti-inflammatory diet. Some are gluten intolerant. Some …

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 …

Vitamin D deficiency and RA

The first doctor to test my vitamin D level was my oncologist. My level was 60 ng/ml. He suggested I lower my supplement amount. I lowered it to 2000U. My next test level was 16 ng/ml. He said,” Just keep doing what you were doing before you changed it.”  I raised my supplement to 4000U and my blood levels have been normal since then. Without a supplement, I was deficient in vitamin D. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D deficiency is common in those with RA, type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Additional factors that influence vitamin D levels in those with RA include corticosteroid use. Drugs such as prednisone and Medrol can reduce calcium absorption and impair vitamin D metabolism. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is also linked to malabsorption of vitamin D.  I am on both drugs and I do take the above supplement. Those with RA who have a deficiency of vitamin D will have difficulty concentrating, pain may worsen, fatigue and depression increase. Vitamin D is a hormone involved in bone and calcium metabolism. …

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 …

The Classic Symptoms Of RA

The Classic Symptoms Of RA Symptoms may vary during a day and from day to day and from person to person. The unpredictability of symptoms makes daily activities harder to plan. The following are symptoms common to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Pain is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. Pain comes in many forms in the same person. It is sharp as the edge of broken glass. It is burning. Aching. It is incapacitating and it can be unrelenting. Consuming. Sometimes it is excruciating. The middle joints of the fingers, the knuckles, wrists, the joints in the toes and the feet are affected. The shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles, and the hips become affected. The cervical spine is frequently affected. The lumbar and thoracic spines can be affected but less commonly. Pain may make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Pain may increase as the day wears on. Pain can wake you in the middle of the night. The trouble is that the pain is not isolated to one spot. It encompasses many joints …

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 walk …

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 …