Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring has sprung!

The pollen is everywhere here! In the air, on the ground, in one's hair and up one's nose.  I am hoping that we will get some rain to wash away this particular batch.  And along with the deluge of pollen has come the humble bumblebee.  Bumblebees are here where I live and I am happy to see this important creature.

I know that my winged friend has been under attack these past few years.  Science isn't exactly sure what or why the bumblebee is having such problems but for whatever reason, they have been fading off.

I really believe that the bumblebee can teach us alot about ourselves. To me the delicate intricacies of this creature reminds me of the intricacies of our immune systems. Science isn't 100% sure if this decline is due to environmental factors, disease impact, or perhaps even a change in the very DNA of this creature.

It all sounds so familiar to me personally. I have read very similar stories about what may trigger autoimmune illnesses: environmental factors, an illness that sets the autoimmune system to permanently continue to fire off inflammatory warriors, or perhaps it is already built into the DNA of our existence.

And so I watch with amazement, awe and a alot of pride the journey of my comrade. Yes, we have much more in common then I would have ever thought.  We are both fighting for our lives!

More reading on spring things:
My RA Garden

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In the joint

In my heyday joint stirred up lots of images: being locked up in jail, using the toilet, and yes of course...the long weed thing that one could illegally smoke.

I am surely dating myself with this information but I am proud to be who I am. I look forward to growing older and wiser....wiser being the main focus of my thoughts hence forward.

This post and hopefully more in the future will focus on my joints. Those bony things that ra just loves to devour at times. I think it is important to share my joints because often I wonder if I am alone in this ever continuous attack on my body and in particular on my joints and now tendons. And, I remember early on wanting to have comparisons to look at when I was traveling this ra road. It is true that we know many search engines that can pull up pictures but I have yet to find any resource that details one person's joints from head to toe with ra. This is my intent.

And so here goes....

This little joint is not suppose to be attacked by ra. Ummmmm....I differ in this opinion. First of all it has been attacked since the onset of my illness and second, this particular joint has been given a fancy name for its battle which is supposedly non ra related.

The joint I am referring to is the distal interphalangeal joint. Whewww...what a mouthful :-) This particular little happy camper is located on my right pointer finger (I am so technical).   The ASSH (American Society for Surgery of the Hand) site is a source I recommend you can use with if you plan on having ANY hand surgery at all!

And so this little joint has been battling this war for 14 plus years and has had a crown name of it's own. In fact, 8 of these joints out of 10 are in on the war. Medicine Net describes this phenomenon quite nicely...

"A very common early sign of osteoarthritis is a knobby bony deformity at the smallest joint of the end of the fingers. This is referred to as a Heberden's node, named after a very famous British doctor. The bony deformity is a result of the bone spurs from the osteoarthritis in that joint. Another common bony knob (node) occurs at the middle joint of the fingers in many patients with osteoarthritis and is called a Bouchard's node. Dr. Bouchard was a famous French doctor who also studied arthritis patients at the turn of the last century. The Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes may not be painful, but they are often associated with limitation of motion of the joint. The characteristic appearances of these finger nodes can be helpful in diagnosing osteoarthritis."

I have been blessed with both! Whohooo! And let me tell you, they are painful. I am doing the node dance right now. But I still beg to differ on exactly what these nodes are! In all scientific reports they are labeled under the term osteoarthritis. But I ask, why in the world would these appear in early onset ra? Could it be that so often ra is divided up into nice little compartments under other illnesses names? And perhaps, doesn't this then divert the exact cause of all these illnesses and thus the severity of damage ra can inflict? But alas, that is something that needs to be put into a book not on an itty bitty post here.

But I will give my two cents of guess work here....perhaps because I was deficient in Vitamin D, this contributed to these nodes. Mmmmmm....Murphy's scientific data collection at work here. Common sense that is. Unfortunately vitamin d deficiency was not known until rather recently in autoimmune illnesses. And perhaps had I been tested much earlier in my disease activity, some of the impacts of ra might have been mitigated. Can't say for sure but is an interesting thought for me to ponder.

And so I leave this post with one thought for you...Have I had my vitamin D and calcium levels tested lately? If not, please do so. 

Further Reading:
Vitamin D and RA

Iz dont'z carez whatz thatz doctorz sayz....Moomeez ain't gonnaz goes on noz dietz. 
mmmmmm....looks like sausages!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Liebster Blog Award...I am blushing

I am doing the I won dance! I have been awarded the Liebster Blog award by Make This Look Awesome by Pamela Curtis. She suffers with Autoimmune hypophysitis and does a fantastic job of chronicling her illnesses and the ups and downs of living with chronic diseases.  In her case it is very tricky as her particular primary autoimmune disorder plays havoc with the endocrine system which regulates just about everything.  This chronic autoimmune disease attacks your pituitaryy and can have devastating effects on many areas of the body including horrific pain at times. Her strength, courage and determination have inspired me.

In taking a clip from her own words, "I've had a lot of really scary experiences in dealing with my chronic illness. I battled MRSA for a year following a surgery. I've experience chronic levels of pain most people don't even know exist. I've beaten the odd many, many times over. And I'd be lying if I said I came through it unchanged in who I was."

This award is bestowed to bloggers who inspire you and have less than 200 followers. As Pamela explains, "the Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning ‘Beloved, Dearest or Favorite’." Thank you Pamela for honoring me in this way!

And so now, it is my turn to honor those bloggers that have become part of my online family and that I have enjoyed reading and getting to know.  As part of this tradition, I pass the Liebster wand to them in recognition of their contribution to our online health community (family) and for their courage and strength to continue on.
To accept the award you should:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.

2. Post the award to your blog.

3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value.

4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

I am happy to nominate the following bloggers (part of my online family) for this award and to recognize all that they do to inspire and contribute to the online health community.

Lyda is a  "20-something girl who grew up with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Now I'm married, we have two kitty children and I get myself into all sorts of shenanigans. This blog is about those shenanigans".  She is also trying the Paleo diet currently to improve her health. And oh, did I mention, she is living in Hawaii and I can vicariously visit there daily through her lovely included.  And she shares some yummy recipes as well :-)

In her blog, Adrienne chronicles her life with ra and what goes along with it. Her blog is "a place of education, advocacy, storytelling and humor".  I have no doubt I enjoy her blog so much because we see eye to eye on many things including that humor is the best medicine.

This blog details the practical and often sometimes emotional part of living with chronic illness and in particular ra and fibromyalgia but almost all of her blog posts will help anyone with any chronic illness.  She says it best...

"Like many of you, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia have touched my life.  They have changed my life and they have made it crazy at times.  When I look in the mirror, I don’t see the same person I saw four years ago. I have changed in more ways that I could have ever imaged before chronic illness came into my life.

What I am is a mother, a legal assistant, a health blogger, and patient advocate.  What I am not is superhuman. I am here to give an honest view on live with RA and FM from my perspective.  If it helps just one person, I have done more than I thought I could."
You have helped many more then just one!
Jan writes soulfully about her day to day trials with ra. As she explains it...

"In May 2011, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, after six months of suffering from joint pain and fatigue with no known reason. It seems best to put thoughts, information, and my complaining on a different blog than one supposedly dedicated to my yearning for God."  

Personally I think God knew exactly what he was doing when he sent you online with your ra Jan.  You have been not only a personal inspiration but you have brought a light into the often dark ra world for I am sure many more then just me.

On this blog, we are constantly transported away via a motorcycle and Tharr's escapades on his good days with ra.  Besides working a full time job, having a family, Tharr still has the energy to take to the trails. I love his inspiration and determination to recapture everything that ra might have taken away from him. He has learned to adapt, medicate when necessary, and above all ride on into life. For this I admire him and I love to ride along with him. I am by no means a motorcyclist myself but I still enjoy the ride and gain knowledge and power through his blog! Ride on Tharr...ride on!
I hope by sharing some of my favorite blogs, you too will begin to enjoy all that these bloggers are and all that they do for our online community. Hats off to all of you that continue to blog daily and share your world online!

I need to beat myself with a wet noodle...I almost forgot one of my most favorite bloggers...

Living with RA

Nan has been there so consistent and writes with such feeling and knowledge about chronic illness. Yes, I know that this makes six but oh well, no one said you can't do more :-)  Besides, I tend to break the rules. Nan deserves this award and of  course I just had to add her. I have no doubt that if you peek in on her blog, you too will grow to love her blog as I do. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


There are so many decisions in life that have to be made and when one has a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, the decisions begin to mount up all too quickly. And often these decisions can come with consequences that no matter how hard we try to determine them, they are like fleeting shadows that we just can't see or get a hold on.
I have two children. One is thirty and one is twenty. When I was in my twenties and thirties I was fortunate. I didn't have ra. I didn't even know that ra existed. We had no relatives that were infected with this disease. I had no clue.  I was first diagnosed when I was 42. My children were already born, I was well into parenthood and enjoying it immensely.
Recently both of my children are showing signs of a chronic inflammatory disease. It may not be ra but I know those sneaky relatives love to come in and take over lives. The genes have been put into place, the dna turned on somehow, their fate sealed. It breaks my heart just thinking of this possibility and it angers me too. I had no clue! I had no way of knowing I would pass on a set of possibilities if I didn't know I was carrying the detonator inside my DNA!
Decisions. Always decisions to be made. I often ask myself now if I would have allowed myself to conceive if I had known I was carrying this broken DNA. Would I have knowingly brought children into this world with the possibility of inflicting them with the pain and yes suffering I have endured. This is such a personal decision and I know of many ra patients that are actively seeking to get pregnant. I pass no judgement in this post as all decisions are personal ones and ones that we all contemplate long and hard. We search our souls deep, we question the medical knowledge out there, we turn over the decision like we are looking at a precious polished pebble. We make that decision carefully and toss the pebble. The ripples begin…
I love my children without question. I have had such a rich life, such a meaningful life because of them.  In my case the decision will always linger in my mind and often in my torn heart like a wisp of smoke. Something I was not given the choice to make, something that I can't quite grasp, something that slowly fills my soul with trepidation and sadness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Cat's View

A humurous tribute to our two furballs Mango and Moomee...sisters!

Iz controllinz yourz brainz....feedz me...feedz me!

Youz finally up...aboutz time!

My turnz nowz.

Iz ahere to helpz youz with thatz ebayz listingz...
Cat for salez...startingz auction...25 kittyz treatz perz days.
Iz heardz that Moomeez...
Iz ain't for salez....Mangoz haz pridez ya knowz! Fifty at least!
Whatz! No wayz! I amz not doingz that song...Singinz Inz the Rainz!
Diz herez iz a mathmaticalz puzzles to keepz yourz brainz active :-)
Iz dunz nowz....nappyz timez. Turnz the lightz out onz the wayz out!

More Moomee and Mango shenanigans: