All posts tagged: RA team members

RA doctor visit

Here in sunny Albuquerque we are expecting the thermometer to hit 104 this week. It is that time of year where hanging out in the house is a good idea. 90 is livable but once it passes 92, it is just too hot. My son is keeping the garden watered so we won’t have any plants that succumb to heat stroke. I finally connected with my RA Doc.  After x-rays, blood work and an exam, she can see the excruciating pain that I am in. She is thinking hip replacement. Tomorrow I have an MRI. I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon early in July. In the mean time she ordered Percocet and said to call if I needed more. I guess this is the holding pattern until the next step is reached. I am amazed that the pain is so immobilizing. I am still trying to do some restorative yoga, but there is something not moving the way it should so I am going with forward bends and shower wall push ups. Maybe …

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 …

Massage and RA

Garrett is amazing.  He is tall and lanky. Arty. Welcoming. He is a student at the ABQ School of Massage and he gave me a massage at their free cancer clinic. I remember my first experience. Coming out of the massage room, I felt renewed. Massage therapy started as a new adventure for me.  My RA needed help.  So did I.    Massage therapy seemed like a good thing to try. I made the appointment. After the first massage,  I received an email from Garrett asking if I would be the subject of his case study on Rheumatoid Arthritis. I would receive six free massages. He would ask me questions about my RA.  Of course, I said yes.  I needed another tool in my RA toolbox. I am a lucky woman.  My adventure continues. Today was my 5th massage. I follow the routine of each massage. I check off my choices on Garrett’s  before pain scale sheet. Next I undress in the massage room and slide under the sheet and blanket.  Lights are low.  A quiet space.  …

The challenge of Feet

My rheumatologist sent me to a podiatrist, a foot doctor.                 Charming man. Once a client of mine.        X-rays were ordered, the podiatrist way. Standing. Weight bearing. Three views each.  For the third view I climbed steps  and was x-rayed  at foot level.   A  much better test than the standard foot  x-rays. Results: persistent degenerative changes with in the feet bilaterally. I admit that this was expected. What happens next?  My doc said surgery is not the answer.  As my feet get worse he feels steroid injections would be helpful. Now it is important that I wear shoes that fit  well and offer good support.  I should also wear special inserts (Motion Control performance insoles by Prothotics). I got the inserts first.  They are so much better than anything you will find at Target or Walmart. They have support for feet in areas that are thinning in RA. He suggested our New Balance store or REI.  New Balance was closer. They fitted the inserts and fitted …

Wrapping your head around RA

When I was diagnosed with RA, I was too sick to understand the long term implications. I was grateful at the time to put a label on the devastating attack on my body. I love books and have always looked to books for solutions as well as for pleasure. Soon after my diagnosis, I purchased the book, The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis by M.E.A. McNeil. With RA there is a major shift in your life. What to do? How to cope? What to think? It is overwhelming. This book set me on the right course. It helped me organize.

RA tools-Massage

In the proper spirit of being the manager for my RA, I thought about what tool I could use to help manage my RA. Top on my list was massage:  Helps the pain-tense muscles to relax. Stimulates the lymphatics. And best of all is a thoroughly relaxing experience. Today I had an hour massage at ABQ Medical Massage Therapy. It was an Oncology Massage. I have several cancers as well as RA and they do open a few doors. The massage was given by Sean, a senior student. I was directed to a quiet room. Asked if the room temperature was okay. Offered water. And directed to disrobe to my comfort level. I go to my panties. Lay down on the table which was warm and cozy. Covered up with a sheet and a light blanket. When Sean returned, he adjusted my head pillow and placed a pillow under my knees. Quiet music. Sean worked his magic as he worked my body into relaxation. Peaceful bliss. I felt pampered and happy. When I was diagnosed …

Mojo Energy

Today I graduated from my Thrive Program. More energy. More attitude. Better balance. Sleeping improved.  Mojo ascending!   The last couple of years have been tough for me.  RA that won’t settle down. Two surgeries. Two radiation treatments. I needed a jump start to get me off the couch and back in the game.   My plan is working. For the last 7 weeks I have been in a program where I am in a class or working out 5 days a week. I graduated early as the class is normally three days a week for 10 weeks. The great thing about this program is that although it is scaled to physical recovery, it is a thorough workout. This is week eight. My plan changes a little. M W F  I am in group exercise at the Presbyterian Healthplex in Albuquerque. Friday is zumba day. Tuesday and Thursday I lap swim at Defined Fitness. I started yesterday at 18 lengths. This is a lifetime program. It hasn’t been easy. I have been worn out. Have had …

Rheumatoid Arthritis a training ground for cancer

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A training ground for cancer. That is how I think of it. When I was diagnosed last year with RA, I read everything I could find on the subject. I was trying to figure out where I stood with the disease. My favorite book was M.E.McNeil’s The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis. The value of this book is that it offers an approach, a way of thinking, to come to terms with a chronic, progressive disease. It gave me the same help when I had to come to terms with the diagnosis of two different cancers. • I journal regularly, expressing myself and establishing a timeline. • I think of my medical providers as my team that does include my pharmacist, physical therapist as well as the 6 specialists that I am seeing currently. • I see myself as the head of my team. I have confidence in my team. Each has a role. My role is to be proactive, to do my part. • I am able to accept my current situation, relaxing …

How to tell a charlatan

I met my first  charlatan last week. I’m sure I’ve known other ones.  A charlatan presents as someone who is an authority on a subject when in fact she’s not. She often times is looking to profit from her faulty information, but not always. This woman approached me at a cancer class. She said my cancer was caused by an imbalance in my body. She could cure me. Doctors were clueless. Nurses were clueless, too. I really needed to go to her program and learn about the acid-alkaline diet. ( A friend had already given me a book on the subject.) I would be better. I would feel better. She didn’t have a card and mentioned she did a lot of other things. She wrote her info on the back of one of her other cards. Contact me, she said. To me the fundamental  sign of a charlatan is her attitude that she know best and that all the other resources in the world are bogus. There are too many good resources in the world. …

RA visit to physical therapist

Monday I had my first appointment with physical therapist, Christine. Dr. R had sent me for the evaluation. She thought instruction in the warm pool of the Health Plex would help me. I had other motives, too. My first concern was stability when walking. My second was avoiding losing the flexibility I had worked so hard to maintain over the years. My third was getting enough physical activity while dealing with RA fatigue. Christine talked with me, checked me over. She has already reviewed my chart.