Thursday, September 23, 2010

You know you have moved up in the world

when you find yourself owning one of these beautiful pieces of work.

Yes every box is full, but that includes supplements which I will take separately from my prescriptions so they do not interfere with them. Now I just need to remember to take everything throughout the day. I had a hard enough time remembering to take my plaquenil in the evening.

And just for fun - a picture of Zooey. She was obviously very overwhelmed with watching me fill up my new pill box. Not even six months old and my sarcastic nature has already rubbed off on her.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have been feeling so miserable that I moved my rheumy appointment up a month. I will write about how the actual appointment went in another post, but I ended up leaving the office with a prescription for methotrexate.

I knew methotrexate would be the next step if plaquenil was not doing the job, but I was not really prepared to walk out with the prescription. It's a serious drug and quite a bit of what I have read about methotrexate is truly scary stuff. The phamplet the doctor gave did little to settle my nerves either, especially when it began with "used to treat cancer" and "forced abortion for ectopic pregnancies."

Instead of going online and reading all the drug descriptions and side effects, the first thing I did was log onto RA Chicks. I figured that reading women's first hand experiences with methotrexate would be the best place to start. The number one thing I took away from the forums was that taking it is a question of whether the benefits outweigh the side effects.

Then I went to Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, which has a large section specifically on methotrexate. It was probably the best resource I have found to prepare me for taking methotrexate and definitely helped to calm me down.

After all my reading, I decided the best way to approach taking methotrexate is preparation. Obviously I cannot control how I will react to the drug, although they say those who expect the worst side effects are more likely to suffer from them, but I can try to make things as comfortable and easy as possible for myself.

So this is what I have done or am going to do before my first dose (a lot of these came from RA Warrior):
  • Prescription for folic acid to take daily
  • I got my first flu shot.
  • Omeprazole magnesium (generic Prilosec) in case of heartburn, etc.
  • Pink bismuth tablets (generic Pepto-Bismol) in case of nausea.
  • Peppermint candy in case of metallic taste and nausea.
  • Crackers and other comforting foods for an upset stomach.
  • Cleaning - I have been trying to get on top of my cleaning so that I do not have to worry about it as much next week if I do not feel well. Swiffer and disinfectant wipes have become my new best friends.
  • I have also been getting a little crazy about preventing infections, which I have read is important to do when on methotrexate. I loaded up on antibacterial hand gel and even bought one of those touchless soap dispensers.
I am going to take my first dose on Saturday evening. I know that sounds like a bummer of a weekend, but it will work out best for me. I will take it before I go to bed because they say you can sleep through the worst of the side effects and it will be far enough away from the time I take my other medications that they will not interact. Then I have Sunday off, so I can lounge in bed all day if I feel like it. I will also have my very own nurse, otherwise known as my husband.

I realize that my plans probably sound a little much, but since I started making them my anxiety level has gone down a little. And if I do happen to have a bad day on Sunday, then I will have everything I will need to take care of myself.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness

I found out about Invisible Illness Week, which happens to be this week, on Nessie's blog lipstick, perfume, and too many pills. After reading some of the articles and watching a couple of videos, I knew I wanted to participate.

The first way I decided to participate was to fill out "30 things you may not know about my invisible illness."

1. The illness I live with is: Rheumatoid Arthritis
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2010
3. But I had symptoms since: 2009
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: realizing that I will have to physically pay for anything I do. If I do too much around the house, I might be exhausted for the next couple of days. If I work in the garden, I will be in pain for hours or days.
5. Most people assume: I'm complaining and it can't be that bad.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: still being exhausted after a full night's sleep
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: laptop - blogs are a big part of letting me know I am not alone in this
9. The hardest part about nights are: trying to fall asleep when I am uncomfortable due to pain
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 11
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am completely open and looking, but I have realized that I must also embrace conventional treatments to prevent joint/bone problems in the future
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I honestly don't know.
13. Regarding working and career: I love the people I work with and being busy. There is also the fact that I would probably be sitting on my ass, bored out of my mind at home if I did not have to get up each day. But sometimes it is just so exhausting and people do not know how difficult it is to get through a full day of work.
14. People would be surprised to know: quite a bit of the time I am trying really hard not to cry because of the pain or malaise
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: more limitations - I already limit myself a lot because of my anxiety and now it feels like there are just that many more things that are off limits
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: keep going - I know that millions of people keep going on with life each day despite their illness, but I was so overwhelmed at first I did not think I would end up being one of them.
17. The commercials about my illness: only show elderly women even though it is commonly women between 25 and 50 that develop RA
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: long walks with my husband, walking the dogs any time I wanted, taking on big projects at home
19. It was really hard to have to give up: taking on big DIY projects at home
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: I have always been a reader, but I have been going through books like crazy lately.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go on a long hike with my husband and the pups
22. My illness has taught me: I can't control everything and I need to stop trying so hard to be control all the time.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: My (fill in with random body part) hurts sometimes. I think I have that too!
24. But I love it when people: tell me I have a great attitude.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Smile, breathe, and go slowly - Thich Nhat Hanh
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Don't believe everything people write or say about RA. When there is not a cure to an illness, people can basically say whatever they want.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: It has not been that long since my diagnosis, but I feel a push to do whatever I can to get healthy. It may not always be my number one priority, but it is more of one than ever before. Believe me, I never would have braved a swimsuit and got in the pool with a bunch of seventy year old women for an aquatics class before.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: My husband becomes my nurse.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: awareness and understanding is always a good thing
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: like I might have made a small difference

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Los Angeles Zoo

Yesterday was a difficult day pain-wise, but the weather was so nice this morning that Rommel and I decided to go to the Los Angeles Zoo for a good walk. To be completely honest I have always been conflicted about zoos, but once I begin wondering around from exhibit to exhibit, I become enthralled just like all the children do. It began to get warm and I started to feel a little weak, so we only spent about sixty minutes there, but it was good exercise.

Here are some of the pictures I took -

I also took a video of the howler monkeys who were very, very vocal this morning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Aquatics - calling my name or not?

Last week I was browsing Southern California's Arthritis Foundation's website and their Quality of Life Programs. It just so happens that the local YMCA has an aquatics class for arthritis. I called to ask about it and the person in the aquatics department could not give me any information besides the class time and that I would have to be a member to take it. Luckily they offer a free seven day pass, which means I could try it out before committing to a membership of fifty dollars a month and a registration fee.

But before trying the class I would have to undertake one of the most difficult tasks a woman ever has to face - buying a swimsuit. Even worse, swimsuit season is basically over so there is almost nothing available in stores. I found a tank and short set on the clearance rack at Target, which would be good enough to at least try the class.

There were two different classes, one at noon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the other at two on Tuesday and Thursday. Because of work, Thursday was pretty much my only option.

So on Thursday I went to the YMCA. I put on my swimsuit, sucked in my stomach, and walked out to the pool. I was there pretty early, so the lifeguard told me I could get in and swim until the others got there. The pool was a wonderful eighty-five degrees and I floated around for the next twenty minutes. Slowly the pool filled with older women that obviously knew each other. Eventually someone asked if I meant to be at that class and I had to explain the RA. The class was mostly stretching which felt good, but I began to get really cold and my hands and feet ached very badly. I still thought it was worth it though and decided I would try it again.

It turned out that I only had to work a half day on Friday, so I packed my gym bag and decided that I would go to the noon class. By the time I was ready to leave work, I had pretty much talked myself out of going, which I am notorious for. But I also knew that this was the perfect opportunity to go because I could come home and relax afterward the class, knowing that I did something good for my body. This time there were quite a few more people and a different instructor, who once again asked if I was in the right place. This class was much more involved and even though it was not really intense, I felt like I got more from it. Again my hands began to ache again because of the cool water and having to grip the side of the pool for some of the exercises hurt. I was also a little disappointed that I was not able to converse with anyone at this particular class because only the instructor spoke English to me, which definitely made me feel out of place.

I am interested in continuing the class, but my work schedule is the first problem. It would have to be altered if I want to take that particular class because my lunch is sixty minutes long and so is the class. There is no way I could drive there, take the class, shower, and drive back in less than ninety minutes. My boss has already let me switch one of my days off, so I am hesitant to ask for more. Plus I really do not like scheduling things over my lunch hour because it is that much more exhausting and sometimes I really need that time to rest.

But I did find out that they have a low impact aquatics class in the evening. It is not the arthritis class, but there would be other benefits to the class. I might meet some people closer to my age group for one. I enjoyed the older women I met and they definitely appreciated that I was able to explain who the Situation was, but it would be cool make some friends. I also would not have to rush at work, etc. I would have a couple of hours after work to even take a nap if I want to.

My other worry is how I felt after the classes. My hands ached quite a bit after the first class and even worse after the second. We went out Friday evening and between the extreme heat and a general bad feeling, we ended up going home after an hour. I felt even worse on Saturday. My right was swelling and I was in pain throughout work. We tried to go out that evening, but once again I felt weak and nauseous. Same thing Sunday and I left work early today.

It may be a coincidence that this awful period falls right after taking some swimming classes, but it does worry me. I may complain a lot but I have not felt this bad in a long time. Pain is one thing, but feeling weak, nauseous, and dizzy is too much. Especially when I feel fine one moment and awful the next. I told Rommel that I will probably make an appointment to see the rheumatologist in the next couple of weeks instead of waiting until October. I keep saying that I would rather stay on the plaquenil feeling the way I do instead of trying something else that might not work and deal with new side effects, but I might be willing to take that gamble now.

So the aquatic classes are on the top of my list, but will have to wait for awhile. Instead Rommel and I are going to try to walk more, etc., to get some exercise.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Who steals a Buddha statue from someones yard? I mean, come on. Rommel says that I should not be too upset because the moron that took it will be dealing with bad karma, but I am still pissed. At least it was a crazy heavy statue that would take at least two people to move.

The whole thing is so ridiculous I almost have to laugh about it. Maybe one of them dropped it on their foot as they shuffled down the street, now that would be funny.

I actually have a lot to write about, such as the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program, but I think it can wait until tomorrow.