Hip hip hooray!

August 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 5 Comments
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I’ve just been to see my GP about a very painful hip that’s been bothering me for about four weeks now and getting worse rather than better. (There’s little point in going until one is a few weeks into the pain as they just say ‘Come back if it’s not better in a few weeks’ if you do that!) I had been getting rather low thinking that the methotrexate increase wasn’t working – but in the back of mind I was wondering if it was arthritis at all. When I saw my rheumy nurse for the monthly blood test a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the hip pain and said, ‘Honestly, I don’t think it’s arthritis – I have plenty of movement in that hip. I could dance the can-can if I had the legs for it!’

Still, it’s funny how one’s mind can almost split into two on things like this; (well, my mind can, anyway). One part of me was thinking ‘Of course it’s not arthritis’ while the other part was thinking, ‘Doom, gloom, despair! My methotrexate increase hasn’t worked – there aren’t many options open to me if it doesn’t … will I end up in a wheelchair?’

Anyway, I saw the doc today and she confirmed that it’s NOT arthritis (or at least very unlikely to be, anyway) – far too much movement in the hip. She has referred me for physio for a dodgy ligament (technical term, that!) but the chances are, she thinks, that it’ll clear up in another few weeks by itself – so I’ll just cancel the appointment, because that’ll probably take three months to come through anyway!

The hip pain (and associated other pains including referred pain in the knee) has been making my life a misery and continues to do so. I have to limit the driving I do because it’s incredibly painful – it also affects work, but I’m very very happy it’s (almost certainly) not arthritis … though I would like to know what on earth caused the ligament to get upset because I haven’t done anything to it!

 

Blood test delay – well handled?

July 19, 2013 at 11:47 am | Posted in Me | 2 Comments
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I went into the surgery for my blood test yesterday. I got there in good time and signed in, waited until ten minutes after the appointment was due and went up to the desk to make sure the auto sign-in had worked properly. The receptionist asked who the appointment was with and I didn’t know as it wasn’t my usual nurse, so she found me by my name and assured me I was signed in. I then asked her whether I was the next patient and she said there was one person in front of me.

While not delighted, at least I knew there was a delay so I went and sat down again. Ten minutes later another receptionist called out ‘Is Pollyanna Penguin here?’ and I went up to the desk. It was now 20 minutes past my appointment time. She explained that the nurse I should have been seeing wasn’t in and that another nurse had hoped she could see both sets of patients but was (understandably) running late. She assured me I would be seen if I wanted to wait, but said that otherwise they could re-book for a week’s time, if that was OK.

This is a vast improvement on the way things ran a year or so ago, when the receptionists would just let you sit there all day, and if you went up to ask what was going on they didn’t know! I’ve had a couple of bad experiences like that in the past, so I thought this was a pretty good way of handling it.

The only thing is … when I went up to ask after ten minutes they knew the situation, so I wish someone had thought to tell me then. I know, I know – it’s only another ten minutes, right? But still, I had a busy day yesterday and I could have spent those ten minutes more productively at work than sitting in the doctor’s waiting room playing Angry Birds and feeling like one too!

But what if …

May 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 13 Comments
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So I’m increasing my methotrexate. Flippers crossed that all will go well, I won’t get any nasty side effects (except maybe appetite loss, which would actually be a great benefit!) and it’ll keep my disease in control for at least another five years … but what if it doesn’t?

Well I asked my consultant this at my last appointment. He’d said, ‘I’m happy to increase your methotrexate to 17.5 and then to 20 but after that we’ll have to start considering other things if that isn’t doing the trick’.

So I asked him point blank what other things? ‘Oh’ he said airily, ‘there are lots of other things available.’ Well it’s now or never I thought and said what’s been on my mind for a while: ‘I know about biologics, but I won’t qualify for them on the NHS, will I?’ He looked a bit startled and then had to admit that no, I didn’t stand a chance. With my fabulous blood results that never show anything wrong, I’ve got no chance of being offered them at all at the moment.

So … where would I go if the methotrexate doesn’t work or causes problems? Well, I can add sulfasalazine to the mix and see if that does any good. ‘Some people are on three DMARDs’ said the consultant, but even he didn’t sound really convinced about it.

So what it boils down to is that with the usual NHS foresight, if the methotrexate increase doesn’t work and then the sulfasalazine doesn’t work, I would have to wait until I was in a really bad way, unable to work, probably unable to walk (given that feet and knee are the worst bits of me) before they’d even deign to consider me for other treatments. As usual, let’s not make the effort to keep people OK and working – let’s wait until they’re falling apart before helping, even though surely doing it that backwards way doubtless ends up costing ‘the system’ more in the end!

Well, back to crossing those flippers and hoping it never comes to that!

Healthline Blog Awards – never mind me, vote for Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior!

January 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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Good news – there’s a rheumatoid arthritis blog currently in the top FIVE of the Healthline blog awards. The bad news? Well, I could say, ‘It’s not me’ but hey, I post a few times a year and witter on about biscuit making, so I think Kelly at Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, who really does work at making an informative and blog for suffers, and increasing awareness of RA, deserves the kudos more; no, the bad news is it’s not number one … yet. So please do go and vote for her!

And do bear in mind that while you’re at it, you can vote for me too … and all my online ‘mates’: Wren and Andrew and Carla and all the folks in my blog roll; because you can vote for as many people as you like each day, although you can only vote for an individual once a day!

And if you have an RA blog with a handful of votes, like me, and you know you’re never going to get to where RA Warrior is, why not get behind her as well and get your readers voting for her … or her and you! :-)

How do I not overdo it tomorrow?

January 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
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Today was my first day back at work – knee flare seemed to be pretty much over: the swelling had gone right down, it didn’t feel terribly hot, but it was achy now and then. Hurrah.

However, now the other knee had started to ache – RA, or just a reaction to me walking ‘funny’ because of the left knee flaring? I don’t know – but to add to the mix, today being my first day back at work meant it was also the first day since the holidays where I haven’t spent a significant amount of time with my feet up – and I’m really feeling that this evening, as I sit here typing with an ice pack clamped between my knees, and the heat pack waiting for me in bed!

Here’s the thing though – we’re moving offices tomorrow!

Fortunately hubby has the day off and has been volunteered, slightly unwillingly but with good grace, to be my feet, and the facilities manager in the building is also going to help us lug stuff, and then my two colleagues are both fairly fit … so hopefully I can pull out a conductor’s baton from somewhere and just direct operations!

Knee flare

December 29, 2012 at 11:22 am | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 6 Comments
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Well, whadayaknow? A knee flare turns out to be some kind of strange ‘dance’ move: you can see it here. Unfortunately it’s also what I’m having one of right now …. I’m dancing too: from the freezer to the microwave and the microwave to the freezer … mostly on one leg.

It started on Boxing Day evening – that’s Wednesday for those outside the UK! Just mild stiffness going upstairs – didn’t really think too much about it. Progressed to serious stiffness Wednesday morning which I assumed would pass of during the day. It didn’t. It got worser and worserer. By Wednesday evening it had started to be painful as well as stiff. I took paracetamol and grumbled.

Thursday my mum was doing a lunch for us and some friends. Splendid meal, good company but my sociability somewhat dampened by knee pain. That evening Mum asked if I did ice-packs or heat packs? DUHHH! Why oh why do I always forget those things?!

Pretty much since then I’ve either had an ice pack or a heat pack on it, or I’ve been moving around on it. It makes a huge difference. I can’t believe how stoooopid I am sometimes! But on the bright side, at least it’s starting to mend – or if it isn’t, then at least I’m starting to feel better.

Blogroll tidy-up

December 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments

I have had a bit of a tidy-up of my blogroll. I’ve removed most of the blogs of people who haven’t posted for over a year – but if you’re someone who just posts really infrequently but still has a ‘living’ blog, and you’re miffed that you’re not on there any more, just drop me a note and I’ll put you back on! :-)

I have also added a few ‘new’ blogs – not new at all really, but new to me, in particular a couple about other forms of arthritis than RA. And I have finally got around to adding Carla, who should have been added AGES ago – sorry Carla, but at least I got there in the end!

Want to recommend a blog that’s not on here? I’d be delighted to hear from you. It might take me a while to get round to adding it, but I will do so … one day!

Second shoulder injection

December 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, fibromyalgia, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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Well, I’ve had my second shoulder injection. It was a week or so ago now, and it’s definitely working. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re a heck of a lot better than they have been.

This was an injection into the tendon, not the joint, guided by an ultrasound scan so they could see exactly where the steroid injection needed to go.

The advice in advance with this one was don’t drive and do rest for 48 hours, so hubby kindly took me into the hospital on his day off. We decided to go a whole hour early in case of parking difficulties, so of course we parked with ease! But when we came out an hour later, it was heaving and I was really glad we’d made the decision to go early.

I don’t know why they bothered sending out instructions in the letter to wear loose and washable clothing, since it turned out I had to take off the top half and put a gown on anyway, because my bra strap  was in the way!  That was only mildly embarrassing, when the gown flapped about because the nurse couldn’t find the tabs to do it up!

Then I sat down facing the radiologist and the screen, as instructed, and he scanned the shoulder with ultrasound. He confirmed the tendon was indeed inflamed, pretty much exactly where I thought it was, but happily not torn. Then he got me to put my arm in an incredibly uncomfortable position and keep it there, and took out a scarily huge needle. ‘Focus on something else, Polly’ I told myself as it came towards me.

‘Just a little scratch,’ said the doctor, cheerfully.

It was more than a little scratch but not madly painful. ‘Don’t think about the BIG, SCARY NEEDLE Polly’ I said to myself, ‘ la, la, la, think of little gambolling lambs and mountain streams. La, la, la …’

‘Look,’ said the doctor cheerfully, ‘You can see the needle on the screen!’

Mmm, thanks mate, just what I wanted! And sure enough, there it was, a long, straight stiletto floating about in the various incomprehensible (to me) wavy lines of the ultrasound. Actually it was quite fascinating to watch – for a bit. Then it started to jigger about alarmingly, and whether it really was jiggering about inside me, or whether I just thought it was and it caused me to tense up, I don’t know, but suddenly it was really, really painful. I must have made a that’s really, really painful face because the doctor realised it was hurting and said he’d stop for a bit.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I have a ruddy great needle in part of my anatomy I’d rather just press on, so to speak, and get the job done, especially if the alternative is to sit and rest for a minute with the needle still stuck inside me – so I said no, it was fine, and he carried on. Actually the pain did diminish, so perhaps I had just tensed up for a bit.

While this was going on another doctor came into the room and apologised for having been absent. ‘No worries,’ said the radiologist, ‘you haven’t missed anything. It’s just a shoulder. Boring.’

I gave a little involuntary chuckle, which went straight over the doc’s head but the nurse quickly added, ‘Not that we’re saying you’re boring!’

At that the radiologist did have the grace to look mildly embarrassed, and he said, ‘Oh believe me – it’s good to be boring! We do hundreds of these procedures so I know exactly what I’m doing. You don’t want something rare!’

Well, that was fair enough I thought.

‘By the way,’ I said, ‘when the instructions say “rest for 48 hours,” what exactly does that mean?’

‘Whatever you want it to mean,’ said doc with a kindly smile. ‘There’s no scientific basis to it. Just see how you feel and what you feel like doing.’ So I did. They day after the injection it didn’t hurt much so long as I did nothing but veg about and be a couch potato, but it did hurt if I did ANYTHING with it. So I didn’t do anything with it. I watched an entire season of Dollhouse (thanks Maggie) and let hubby wait on me when he got home! The following day I thought, ‘I’m fine – I’ll go into work’ so I did.

MISTAKE! Two hours at work and my shoulder was in a lot of pain – so I went home again. (Advantage of being the boss!) By the next day it really was much better and it’s continued getting better and better so far – so flippers crossed that will continue!

 

A Tragic Tale of Eggs and Woe

December 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Me | 9 Comments
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Health warning: This post has nothing to do with health.

Why do I do it? Every year at round about this time, fooled by a mixture of Christmas Spirit and the Great British Bake-Off perhaps, I make the same mistake: I believe I can cook … or at very least bake. I’m sure I used to be able to bake, once, a long, long time ago, before hubby, before RA, before old age … well OK, middle age, but I’m feeling old right now. Maybe I’m just imaging it though. I know I did some nice scones … once …

Anyway, my one cook-athon of the year is New Year’s Eve and I fancied making some biscuits as well as my usual main meal.

biscuits

This year I’d carefully ruled out all the things I knew I couldn’t tackle on the cooking front – out went anything to do with melting sugar (after several burned saucepans and unbelievable pongs over previous years); out went anything to do with melting chocolate, (after several attempts at mousses that turned into gritty messes). But this recipe, courtesy of The Telegraph, looked simple enough.

Even though it looked simple, I thought I’d better try it out in advance.

I think I was mistaking brevity for simplicity. The brevity, I soon realised, was due to the fact that the recipe was written for people who know how to cook. How silly of me to think I was one of them. Mind you, I probably didn’t help myself because I was using our new food processor.

You start off in this recipe by making a meringue mixture. I’ve done that before. I’m sure I have. Heck, I make Snowqueen every year*. But I’ve always used a hand whisk.** This time I wanted to try out the new toy. It has a main bowl, a midi bowl and a mini bowl. Knowing how eggs fluff up when they’re whisked, I thought I’d use the main bowl. Hah! Other people’s eggs might fluff up – mine sat there for five minutes looking, well, runny – just like they had five minutes before straight out of the egg. Funny, I thought, it’s really not whisking very fast at all. I thought it would go much faster than that.

‘ Doesn’t sound well,’ commented Hubby, from his perch in front of the telly.

I gave it some thought and decided that it clearly wasn’t working in the main bowl, so perhaps I should try the midi bowl. I put the midi bowl on the kitchen counter, took the main bowl carefully off the food processor and tipped the egg into the midi bowl.

At this point it would have helped, really helped quite a lot, if I had remembered that there was a hole in the middle of the bowls for the motor to go through.

food processor bowl

A bowl with a hole

I didn’t quite have egg on my face, but I did have it all over the kitchen counter, on the glass counter saver (which didn’t save the counter) and dripping onto the floor, which hubby had only washed a few hours before.

Taking a few deep breaths and staying calm, so calm that hubby doesn’t actually even know about this bit, and won’t until he reads the blog, I decided there was still about an egg’s worth left in the bowl, so got another egg out of the fridge, added the white to the midi bowl and plugged the whole lot into the food processor  Or at least that’s what I thought I’d done. It went whir, whir and nothing moved. At this point I dragged hubby away from Warehouse 13 to come and investigate. We stood scratching our heads and trying to make the various bits of whisk look like the whisk in the instruction book, which, as is the way of these things, is nearly all picture with very few words. After much head scratching and some hilarious attempts at combining the bits, I realised that a key component was still attached to the main bowl whisk, now sitting in the sink.

So I whisked the eggs into soft peaks. They made beautiful soft peaks. Then I added the sugar. Well, it doesn’t tell you in the Telegraph recipe that you have to add it a bit at a time, because it’s written for people that can cook. If you don’t add it a bit a time, the whole lot collapses into a runny mess.

It collapsed into a runny mess.

‘You’d better see if Delia has a fix,’ suggested hubby. I knew there were no fixes when a whisked egg has un-whisked itself, but I thought I’d have a look anyway. Basically her advice boiled down to ‘Don’t under-whisk the eggs – but don’t over-whisk them either or they’ll all collapse. And add the sugar an ounce a time, whisking all the time.’

Nothing else for it but to start again. Hubby, supportive and sympathetic, suggested I stopped and had a coffee first, but no, I knew better, I wanted to carry on.

soft peaksSo, more eggs, this time into the bowl without mishap, more nice soft peaks.

‘Make sure you can turn the bowl upside down and the eggs don’t fall out,’ says Delia. So I did that. Only I’d forgotten that the whisk was in bits and a bit fell off when I turned the bowl upside down. I made a grab for it. It was HOT. I managed not to screech so hubby doesn’t know about that bit yet either. Still, things were looking up; the eggs looked lovely. Woohoo.

I started to add the sugar a little bit at a time. I was really careful. Really, really careful. Itty-bit at a time – whisk, whisk, whisk – another itty bit. I kept checking. It looked lovely. Glossy, peaky, beautiful … I kept adding sugar, I kept whisking …

Can you see what’s coming? I was being so careful that I’d completely forgotten the ‘don’t over-whisk them or they’ll collapse’ bit.

It collapsed into a runny mess.

Lightly iced enormous cat

Lightly iced cat

On top of that the kitchen was in an unbelievable state – it looked like it had snowed indoors. If you’ve ever cooked with icing sugar you’ll know what I mean. Even enormous cat was liberally decorated with icing.

I threw a wobbly – hubby supportive and sympathetic – ‘There, there penguin, it’ll be OK.’

‘IT WILL NOT…’ (I’m a real charmer when I get into a bad mood!) ‘ONCE IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE!’

‘Well time to stop now. Sit down and have a coffee’

‘LIKE I HAVE  A CHOICE? We’ve run out of BLOODY EGGS!’

So I had a coffee – with ill grace! And hubby, bless him, quietly went and washed everything up before I even realised what he was doing!

Maybe it’ll be Snowqueen for New Year’s Eve pudding again then …

Or maybe I should stick to what I do know how to do: crochet.

Crochet flower earings

Crochet flower earings

* A meringue-based ice cream. I’d forgotten that I actually buy the meringues ready made from the supermarket.

** Later realised this was to whip the cream for the Snowqueen. Cream, I can do.

Crash bang wallop

September 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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I’ve been cruising along very nicely thank you for the last few months. I made the mistake of getting used to it I think … Great, I feel fine  … let’s get on with stuff then. Well, you only live once, people to see, things to do, natural history surveys to complete, courses to go on, friends to see … Spanish to learn, embroidery competitions to enter.

Next time I see my rheumatologist, I thought, perhaps we can talk about reducing the MTX.

When will I learn?!

It started a couple of weeks ago with sudden, severe pain in my right thumb. Then it went away. I didn’t see it as a warning sign – I’d got too used to being footloose and flare free. Then it came back … and then other bits started to hurt too … ooooooooh-k, maybe this is a flare, I thought.

And it was.

Fortunately not a terrible one – one of my flare-ettes/aka fizzles, but bad enough to act as a little reminder. It’s over now … I think … but I’m back to being careful …

Well, apart from botanical drawing class an hour’s drive away on Saturday, more natural history recording on Sunday, interviewing tomorrow …

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