The great outdoors

May 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment

I had a very outdoorsy day yesterday, and it was a good job too as the indoor start to the day really did NOT go well. My friend Weeny and I had arranged to go on a guided botanical walk in my local area (some hour’s drive away from her), and she was picking me up at about nine thirty – or that was the plan. I got a call from my friend at eight thirty, and that’s when things started to go pear shaped; Heck, I thought, something’s gone wrong and she’s not coming.

Weeny: Hello?

Penguin: Hello?

Weeny: Well… are you OK?

Penguin: Fine thanks.

Weeny: Well … I’m waiting to leave!!

Penguin: Erm … jolly good.

Weeny: HRUMPH!!

Penguin: Oh … was I supposed to ring you and say I was OK?

Weeny: Well I thought you were!

Oops – I thought we’d agreed I’d ring her if I wasn’t well and she thought I was going to ring either way. Bad start as at this point she was already running slightly late, having waited for me to ring.

So before she arrived, and feeling fine, I thought I’d make myself useful for a change and put some washing in the machine. A bit later on I went to make a coffee, slipped on a small puddle of unexpected water on the kitchen floor and fell over enormous cat, who was less than impressed! Having established that I was still in one piece and so was he, I thought I’d better see where the water had come from. You guessed it – the washing machine. The door seal appeared to be leaking. I pressed the door and it stopped – let go and it dribbled again – pressed the door and it stopped, let go and it dribbled again. O-K, so I stand here all morning leaning on the washing machine, or I bung a few towels under the door and forget about it and leave it for poor hardworking hubby to sort out when he gets home. Well, since at this point my friend is due to arrive any minute I decide on the towel option.

Once that was sorted, and enormous cat apologised to, I thought I’d better get some suntan cream on, as although the weather didn’t look all that promising, I didn’t want to risk it. The suntan lotion leaked too.

OK, I’ll be honest, it didn’t actually leak but somehow I managed to squirt it all over me and all over my t-shirt. Expecting the doorbell to ring any second I frantically scrubbed at the t-shirt, realised it was hopeless, changed rapidly, reminded myself I was supposed to be having a fun day off and managed to calm down and de-stress, only to realise that Weeny was now fifteen minutes late! Round about this point the doorbell did finally ring and there she was, standing there going, ‘Come on penguin, mush-mush, we’re late!’

‘OK, OK,’ I said. ‘Don’t panic. I’m ready. Got my camera. Got suntan cream on, got my jacket, got my notebook and pencil, got my RAC card … keys … erm … where are my keys?’ I think Weeny thought I was joking since there’s a longstanding joke relating to her and lost keys, but alas, I really couldn’t find them. Five minutes later they turned up … in the door.

Needless to say we got stuck behind every slow-moving vehicle in Norfolk and neither of us had thought to bring the mobile number of the chap whose walk we’re going on, but dead on ten o’clock (which was when we were due to meet him) we rolled into the car park … and we were the only car in it! Right – so is it the wrong day, wrong place, what’s going on? Weeny was just about to phone her hubby to get the mobile number for the walkies chap when I had a flash of inspiration.

‘Weeny … you know his instructions said “go over the level crossing and it’s the car park on the left”? Well … what if we went over the level crossing the other way? Then it would be the car park over the other side of the crossing from this one …”

“Oh yes,” says Weeny, “there was a car over there…”

Sure enough, we turned around and went back over the crossing and there was a much larger car park with one solitary car in it and one solitary man scrabbling about on the ground with a huge camera trying to photograph a small plant. That’s got to be our man, we thought, and sure enough it was.

After that the day went much better! We spent a fascinating three hours learning about and looking at a variety of plants with fantastic names like Smith’s Pepperwort, Tower Mustard, Stork’s Bill, Shepherd’s Cress and Mouse-ear Hawkweed … and we had Mr Expert to ourselves, which was a bit of luck! (For us – not for him, from a financial point of view, but he never made us feel that we were wasting his day!) Best of all, my RA was totally quiescent – the idea of me spending three hours on my feet a few months ago would have been quite laughable (in a depressing sort of way, rather than a ‘funny ha-ha’ way!)

After a splendid morning we headed back to my place for lunch – both starving after all that fresh air and exercise. Of course we got stuck behind all the slowest moving vehicles in Norfolk AGAIN, and sat there hurling abuse at them and shouting ‘Oy – can’t you see we’ve got an emergency here. We want our LUNCH!’ A very nice lunch it was too, and then off for another stint of outdoorishness, this time butterfly-spotting on another local nature reserve. We didn’t have much luck with that – we were looking for three particular species which we know for sure have been in that area over the last few days. We didn’t see the faintest sign of two of them. The third, Green Hairstreak, we caught brief glimpses of flitting high up in the scrub – and I mean brief. Just enough to go ‘It’s definitely green!’ Still, even though we didn’t see what we were looking for, we had a lovely afternoon in the sunshine, and did see a few other interesting things.

Then I headed home to hubby, who said, rather woebegone, ‘I suppose that means you won’t want to come out for a walk with me this evening?’ So out we headed again – to yet another local nature reserve, for a brisk walk to our favorite bench and back before dinner.

I must say I felt SO much better yesterday evening than I generally do after a day in the office, and I slept like a log!! Still, something has to pay for the days off. :-) And although I did find myself getting pretty stiff today, back to being stuck in the office again, apart from that the RA has remained blissfully quiet. Long may it last. I don’t know if it’s the change in the weather or what, but I’m making the most of it. We’ve been out almost every evening this last couple of weeks, and a fair bit over the weekend. Who knows, at this rate maybe I’ll even lose a bit of weight in time for THE wedding. Then again, given that Weeny brought some rather yummy Greek Salad for lunch … maybe not.

Is Omega-3 all it’s cracked up to be? Well, maybe it is, for arthritis.

May 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
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Very interesting article in the New Scientist this week – thanks to Maggie for pointing it out – about Omega-3, the promises, the facts, the bits in between … It’s not only about joints, but all the things that it’s claimed Omega-3 can help with, and what proof there is, or isn’t, to substantiate them. It seems that ‘isn’t’ mostly about covers it – but when it comes to arthritis, “There is evidence that omega-3s’ anti-inflammatory properties remove morning stiffness and reduce the amount of anti-inflammatory drugs needed [...] but it doesn’t stop the progression of arthritis and it does not protect the joint or prevent further deterioration. It only dampens down the pain.” Well, I don’t think anyone’s actually claimed that it does stop the progression of the disease, and hey, anything that reduces morning stiffness and dampens down the pain is a plus in my book! Guess I’ll keep swallowing those horse pills then!

So much to post about, so little time

May 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 6 Comments
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It’s been ages since I posted! First of all I was on holiday (fab) and then I was back (less fab) with intrays (both virtual and paper) bulging at the seems, even though ‘the boss’ was doing a sterling job of dealing with stuff while I was away. My stress levels weren’t helped by the tax office sending out wrong info about maternity pay just when I needed to look into it, as ‘the boss’ is nearly half way to having a baby! Their calculator told me I could claim back about 10% of what I paid out in statutory maternity pay – which worried me a bit, since I’d thought I could claim back 100%. Turns out I CAN claim back 100% – but I had a stressful week or two before I found that out. Then they decided to keep me on my toes by telling me I’d not paid April’s PAYE, so I had to waste time phoning them up, only to be told ‘Oh sorry – the computer is accidentally sending out non-payment notices every time someone sends in an end of year tax statement.’ Marvellous!! Work itself has been pretty stressful too – but at least busy, which as usual I have to keep reminding myself is GOOD THING!

On top of all this I’ve recently heard that a good, and local, friend of mine has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She also has RA! As my friend Weeny would say, ‘You really must stop going for those buy one, get one free offers!’ Seriously though – you’d think RA would be enough to cope with!

As to the good ol’ RA, it’s MOSTLY been behaving itself. I thought I was in for a holiday flare as I watched my hands getting redder and redder and more and more swollen as hubby drove us down to Dorset, but a few hours after we had reached our friend’s house, where we were to stay the week, they’d settled right back down. Perhaps my body suddenly went ‘Hey, chill out penguin – you’re on holiday!’ Had a blipette (florette, flarette?) this week, probably due to finding out about my friend’s cancer, but again it hasn’t materialised into a flare, thank goodness.

I’ve also just had a thyroid test (again) because I’m feeling tired and FROZEN all the time. While this MIGHT have something to do with the fact it’s bloody cold and we’re getting early April weather in mid May, I’m frozen even when it’s quite warm, so I think there’s more to it than that. The only time I’m really warm, in fact, is when I’m having a hot flush. Imagine the fun of dressing for a day of being 90% frozen and 10% boiled – it’s kinda tricky!

I think there’s about six things that could be expanded on in separate posts here, not to mention an interesting bit of info about blood tests that Maggie sent me before I went away and that I’m still planning to blog on at some point. But meanwhile it’s nose back to the grindstone – a rather grim mixture of interviews on child abuse and prostitution, and a disciplinary hearing! Oh well – it can’t be chocolate every week – last week was mostly all about chocolate, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain!

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