Monday, April 12, 2010

Feeling Inspired

Even with the weather warming up and the day being longer, I have had absolutely no desire to start work on our yard, which is definitely not like me. The past few years I have been out there as early as possible, sometimes probably too early, getting vegetables and flowers ready to plant. But this year I have not even had an inclination to walk out the back door let alone begin to dig in the dirt.

Part of the reason is probably that it seems like so much work and after the RA diagnosis and the fatigue, any kind of work is a horrendous thought. The soil is so sandy it reminds me of the beach and the latest rain brought out a ridiculous amount of weeds. Here are a few pictures of what I am working with:

And that is after my husband spent a hour working on it with the weed whacker last weekend.

But yesterday I found the inspiration I needed to get back out there at the local farmer's market. We were walking down the middle of the stalls when I noticed a new vendor with buckets and buckets of lilacs, my absolute favorite flower. They bring back so many memories of childhood in Illinois, when my sister and I would spend hours outdoors running through the neighbor's yard filled with lilac bushes. We would go to sleep at night with the smell of lilacs floating on the breeze through the open window.

I have searched for lilacs in various nurseries in California, but have never been able to find any even though they supposedly grow well here. But I was in luck yesterday because she had a few small plants left and I didn't even think before handing over the money for it. I bought a variety called Sensation that will have deep purple flowers with white at the edge of the petals. It may take a few years to really start producing flowers, but it will be SOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it!

As soon as we got home for the market, I threw on my gardening clothes and dug in. I began by moving some flowers from the hanging baskets on the front porch to larger metal drums that I use for planters in the front yard. Then I moved to the backyard and began moving empty pots, pulling weeds, and starting another spot for compost. I also fertilized all the new trees from last summer which took a big hit during the last storm and lost most of their leaves.

I ended up spending about two hours outside which I knew was probably pushing it, but I was not ready to stop. Once I went inside, I took a long, warm bath to ease the pain I knew would be coming and then relaxed with a book for awhile.

A couple hours later the torture began. The seemingly unending aching in my feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and hands. At one point my husband held me and kept asking what he could do for me, while I just cried. He pushed me to walk a couple of blocks to one of my favorite hamburger places, which really did help. He was cute when he kept looking over at me and saying, "See, we just needed to get that blood circulating!"

I had a hard time sleeping because I just could not keep comfortable, but I do not feel too bad today. Well, to be completely honest the back of my thighs are screaming every time I take a step, but I think that has less to do with the RA and more to do with the fact that I have not exercised in forever. But I still do not regret a second of the work I did.

Hopefully I will have some amazing garden pictures to share soon, although I will only be spending small amounts of time outside working each day for right now.

Take exactly as directed

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the beginning of the year, I was extremely hesitant to begin taking any kind of medication for it because I was already taking several medication for my anxiety disorder and adding another one to the mix was not appealing at all. I was also hoping that I could find some magic diet, etc, that would help with the symptoms.

I filled the prescription for plaquenil, but left the unopened bottle sitting on my nightstand for over a week. It was a meeting with my primary physician to discuss my appointment with the rheumatologist that truly changed my mind. We talked about how the joints can still be deteriorationg even when someone has no pain or inflammation, which really scared me, and the plaquenil can help prevent that deterioration.

It can take up to six months to see results when starting Plaquenil, but symptoms can start to lessen before that. I actually began to experience less joint pain after a month, but still had the fatigue and fever.

I have not experienced any side effects, but I will have to see the eye doctor this summer to make sure there is no retina damage. The problematic thing about plaquenil is the process of taking it. I am really good about taking it in the morning because I have to take my other medication at the same time and if I forget those I get a migraine, so I never forget. I am having a hard time remembering to take it in the evening (most effective time is twelve hours apart) and had to set an alarm to remind me. I also found out that I must take it with a full meal or else I will become extremely nauseous. I tried taking it with a small portion and milk, but neither worked.

I realize that remembering to take a pill twice a day with a meal is not too much to ask when it could possibly help with a chronic illness, but then I came down with that nasty respiratory thing that I mentioned in an earlier post. Most evenings I went to sleep extremely early and missed the alarm. I also had no appetite after leaving work and even the thought of food made me feel sick to my stomach, so I could not take the plaquenil without making that worse.

This went on for almost two weeks. Almost the exact moment I felt over the illness, my joints started screaming at me. It could have something to do with being sick, but I have a feeling that if I hadn't missed so many evening doses, I would not have had such a bad flare.

It's been about a week since I began taking the plaquenil twice a day again and it definitely feels like I am starting over again, but I guess you could say I learned a lesson.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tossing the TV out with the trash

Okay, not really because Rommel would ring my neck if I really did get rid of the TV, but it seriously would be the best thing for both of us. I think that I have watched more TV in the last month than I watched last year!

I come home from work, set down my purse, and turn on the TV in the bedroom to see what is on. I might make dinner if Rommel is lucky and then move to the living room to check what was recorded on the DVR. Finally I turn off the TV and then head to bed. Between being sick, dealing with the insanely achy joints and the other ever changing symptoms of the RA, and just being down right lazy, that's pretty much all I want to do.

I will add that I try to work on some crochet or embroidery when my hands feeling pretty good, but that is all.

But things felt different today. I actually felt ... wait for it ... BORED with lying around watching TV. I haven't had as much back pain since I met with the physical therapist last week and he gave me some daily exercises to stretch out my neck and shoulders, so I am not experiencing as much fatigue. Plus I had a massage today, which always makes things better.

I came home with my muscles all relaxed and headed to the bedroom. I clicked on the TV and ended up watching "Say Yes To the Dress." But after a few minutes I ended up glancing around the room like something interesting to do would pop up. I called Rommel hoping that he would be home from work at a decent time so that he could entertain me, but he was slammed and did not think he would be home until really late. Obviously desperate, I even considered climbing on the elliptical to burn up some energy. And I have a serious hatred for that machine!

I decided the pups really deserved to get out for a little while. Lately I have not been able to walk both of them by myself because the pulling is too much for my wrists, but Rommel has been working a lot of late nights, so there haven't been any walks at all. As soon as I grabbed the keys, Simba and Sunny were running to the basket where we keep their leashes. Luckily there were not too many other dogs out for walks, so they were really well behaved and we had a good time.
Now that I am sitting here with the pups passed out at my feet, I actually feel like I accomplished something tonight and that is a good feeling. I may also be sitting here watching "Ghost Hunters," but I know that I want to keep this feeling going. Even if I only accomplish something small, I want to accomplish something each day.

This is the view when I leave for work every Saturday morning and what I would prefer to be doing. But these three are also the reason I keep going.