Reason to be cheerful – revisited

August 13, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
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I was just revisiting my first ever post, about reasons to be cheerful, and I was pleased to see that most of them still stand (the last one doesn’t and one other … if you read it, and if you’ve read some of my other posts, I’m sure you won’t have trouble guessing which one no longer stands! But the point is there’s obviously a lot to still be cheerful about!

While I was at it I thought I’d revisit the nearest post last year to today’s date, and guess what? The car broke down then too! Now that time it cost me an absolute fortune, so another reason to be cheerful is that it’s really not so bad this time. (Although to be honest the car really has got to the point where I should be thinking about replacing her.)

And a final reason to be cheerful is that I’m SO much better, health-wise, than I was this time last year! I was having a terrible time with the RA then – giant puffball knees, every joint aching (or at least it seemed that way) and probably as yet undiagnosed fibromyalgia on top of that! This year it seems that maybe they’ve finally got the medication dosage right (for now anyway) and I’m really doing very well indeed. If that’s not a reason to be cheerful then I don’t know what is! Here’s hoping it lasts – and wishing all my virtual and actual RA friends a similar and long-lasting outcome!

Now if only we could hear a bit more about that ‘one injection cure for RA’ that was being so hyped this time last year …

I’m bloody glad I’m not flaring!

August 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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I can now claim to know the car park at the hospital where I have physio quite intimately. I know how many spaces there are, I know what sort of trees surround it, I know the view across the fence over the corn field, I know there are blue tits and great tits and some sort of finch foraging in the trees, I know that the oak tree has a few early common spangle galls on it.

No, I wasn’t doing some sort of strange nature survey of the hospital car park – I was waiting for the RAC! Yes, the car has broken down AGAIN! Having lost my marbles and my rag, I have now also lost my car! (Well, hopefully not permanently, but it’s in the garage.)

My wonderful hubby drove out to see if he could help and,although he couldn’t, he waited another hour with me until the RAC arrived. It was a 2.5 hour wait in total – not fun.

Fortunately the RAC guy (who was nowhere near as lovely as the adverts would like you to believe, but OK) got the car going – but I had to take it into the garage because it was still showing faults.

I was patting myself on the back last night thinking how well I was coping with all this … but when I got home it all finally hit me. I felt absolutely exhausted, headachy, aching all over, sore hands, sore feet … hmm, so looks like a fibromyalgia AND RA flare, I thought. Lovely …

But no – I made myself get an early night, convinced myself that the car would probably be OK,managed not to worry too much and … well, I’d like to say I feel a million dollars today but that would be rather overstating things, but AS YET I am flare free. Yippee!

I can’t promise that’ll still be the case if there’s real car disasters on the horizon, but I’m OK for now!

Could be that having just had physio helped too!

Dreaming-v-Sleeping

July 5, 2009 at 7:43 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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I love the song Dreaming by Loudon Wainright III, although he must have written in it one of his more depressed moments and it usually makes me cry, but I realise that I definitely can’t agree with the sentiments (which is no bad thing!), and in particular the last verse, so here’s his last verse and my fibromyalgia and RA-induced response!

Given that last night I dreamed I was a vampire with amnesia who had no idea why a friend of mine had vanished, because I’d forgotten I’d had her for breakfast, you can see why I’d rather have a good bit of deep sleep!!

Part of Dreaming by Loudon Wainright III

I’d rather be dreaming than sleeping
Just sleeping you’re just as well dead
In dreams I can fly
In dreams I don’t die
That’s why I lie here in this bed
Just sleeping you’re just as well dead

Sleeping by Pollyanna Penguin I

I’d rather be sleeping than dreaming
I think about dreaming with dread
In sleep I can heal
In sleep I can’t feel
That’s why I lie here in this bed
No sleep and you’re just as well dead

Coping with Fibromyalgia as well as RA – part 2

June 29, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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One really important positive I forgot to add to my last past was that because I already have RA I’ve been through so much of the crap that other people have to deal with when they first get their fibromyalgia diagnosis! I already know ALL about pacing myself (OK, so I don’t do it so well, but I know all about it), I’ve already learnt to deal with the guilt that comes of telling friends I don’t feel well enough to visit or whatever, and I’ve already learnt to live with the, ‘You can’t be ill – you look fine,’ attitude of people that don’t know me well. Perhaps most importantly, I have learned to tell my loved ones when I feel like death warmed up, and not to expect them to know as if by magic. Recently the importance of actually telling them when I felt pretty good also dawned on me – after weeks of feeling lousy, if I have a good day it cheers me up enormously, so it’s important to share some of that cheer with hubby, my mum etc!

Fibromyalgia AND RA … but there’s light at the end of the tunnel

June 28, 2009 at 10:00 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 3 Comments
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Well, I had my consultant appointment on Wednesday – saw one of the registrars who was really nice, listened, sympathetic, examined properly, no sarcastic comments or comments about how lucky I was to have RA mildly. (I figure no one’s lucky to have RA – full stop!)

She did drop a bit of a bomb-shell though, or so I felt at the time – that my symptoms indicated fibromyalgia as well as RA. Fibromyalgia symptoms are aches and pains in the muscles around some joints, serious fatigue and a feeling of general unwellness … sounds quite simliar to RA in many ways, only muscle based, and one of its old names was in fact muscular rheumatism.

Having got over the initial shock and feeling of oh hell, something ELSE to contend with, I can see some reasons to be cheerful though!

1. My sister-in-law has had fibromyalgia for quite some time now – grim for her, but it’s handy for me to have someone I can talk to who really understands what it’s like.
2. It’s not like having RA twice over – which was my initial feeling. Fibromyalgia (which makes you feel generally crap and all over achey, and actually affects muscles) is not progressive and not (if you can crack it) permanent.
3. The current most popular theory about fibromyalgia is that it’s fundamentally caused by a lack of deep sleep. People with fibromyalgia may be insomniacs, but just as often they’re people who seem to get plenty of sleep, but it’s REM sleep (dreaming sleep) rather than deep sleep, and that’s not good enough. And the good news is there ARE things I can do that can improve my sleep.
4. There IS a drug that’s often successful in curing fibromyalgia if given in small doses (amitriptyline) but it has some unpleasent side effects including weight gain, the last thing I need! But before I try that there are also things I can do to try to balance my own sleep pattern. These are getting aerobic exercise (kinda tricky with RA but I’m working on it), having a regular routine and going to bed at similar times each night, reducing tea and coffee (a real challenge for me, but as most of it is instant and decaf I don’t think it’s much of an issue really) and possibly trying a supplement derived from griffonia (griffonia simplicifolia) seeds, called 5 htp, which increases seratonin in the brain and may help to improve sleep.

5. Because there are things I can actually do to help myself, however challenging they may be, I actually feel empowered – I feel I have a chance to kick this latest thing right back, whereas with the RA I feel, I suppose, pretty disempowered; I just have to lie back and hope the meds work.

So … right now I’m feeling surprisingly positive about the whole fibromyalgia side of it. Let’s hope I can keep up the exercise, regular bed times etc. and that that actually does do the trick. As to the RA, I’m on an increased dose of methotrexate although the consultant was wondering if I was just one of those people it wasn’t going to be great for – but having had a very good response to it early on, she and I both think it’s worth a shot to give it another few months on a higher dose. After all, in the UK on the NHS with mild RA, there’s not much alternative!

Thank heaven for little labels

June 6, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments
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I was doing some transcription the other day and a ‘health professional’ made a comment that some patients ‘do like to cling to their little labels’. She was referring to people who say ‘Oh, I’ve got x, so I can’t do y’ without either making the effort or looking for ways around the problem, but it got me to thinking what a relief my ‘little label’ was! Having had months of unexplained pain, a maybe or maybe not blood test result, and no firm conclusions (which is typical of RA because it’s very hard to diagnose with any certainty) I was developing a fear of some doctor turning round and saying, ‘Frankly my dear, it’s all in your head’; not because I thought it was, but because I knew damn well it wasn’t! I was also worried that friends and family would be thinking much the same thing. Now I’ve got my ‘little label’ if I feel so inclined I can turn round to a friend or a colleague or, as today, the vet, and say ‘Sorry I can’t do x, ‘cause I’ve got RA’ and be reasonably certain of a sympathetic reaction … in the latter case a nurse to carry a very heavy cat back to my car for me! ‘Sorry I can’t do x, ‘cause I get this funny unexplained pain in my arm’ is likely to get nothing more than a stony look that says ‘what a bloody hypochondriac’.

Not everyone feels the same. At a local Rheumatoid Arthritis Society meeting recently and was chatting to a very nice lady there who mentioned that she was on a particular treatment for painful muscles, as well as her RA problems. ‘Oh,’ says I, recognising the name of the treatment because a friend of mine has the same stuff for the same condition, ‘is it fibromyalgia?’ ‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘but I don’t like to use that word because then it labels you, doesn’t it?’ I can see her point. Fibromyalgia is the baby of these aches and pains illnesses – a relatively new term, only ‘invented’ in 1976, plenty of doctors still believe ‘it’s all in your head, dear.’ Just because the term wasn’t coined until 1976 doesn’t mean that the illness didn’t exist before then of course. In fact it was probably part of what was known as ‘rheumatism’ as distinct from ‘rheumatoid arthritis’. Or maybe it is a new condition (although the evidence doesn’t seem to point that way). One of the fascinating facts I learnt at the meeting was that apparently rheumatoid arthritis didn’t exist prior to about two hundred years ago.

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