Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Crazy Cat Lady Is Born!

They arrived in a white round bucket screaming and hollering in my son's SUV.  He found them abandoned at a foreclosed property that he was inspecting. And as most kids do, he brought them home. Except this kid is 30!

I called everywhere to source a rescue agency.  We have several wonderful ones here in my hometown but none are accepting kittens right now. is spring. Need I say more! They are full of kittens that need adoption.

What to do? What to do? I called out of my area, in the area that the kitties were found and did find a Humane Society that was a low kill shelter. Mmmmmm....what does low kill mean? Well, from what I could find out, they only killed sick kitties. Luck would have it (or Murphy's law) one of the kitties was sick with conjunctivitis. Should I take the chance? Would they put this little weebie one down? There are no guarantees and personally I just don't trust that they wouldn't.

But I have ra and just getting up in the morning can be a problem. Am I really up for this? My family are not rescue lovers and if I took on this project I would be on my own pretty much.

Their eyes called to me...meow! Meow! MEOW! SAVE US!

The Crazy RA Cat Lady is born!

More epic adventures of her trials and tribulations to follow...

Monday, April 23, 2012

When You Wish Upon A Star...

As you probably know by now (and if not, you will now), I have this bucket list that I regularly work on to keep my dreams alive.  Just less then a year ago I was working on a trip abroad with my daughter.  Unfortunately that isn't going to happen exactly as I had hoped but you know me....I NEVER give up my dreams.

OK, I may not get to the Eiffel Tower as hoped or even Italy to feast on their yummy looking foods. But dog gone it, I am going somewhere! We have modified our trip and are now trying to make our way south to Disney World.  We have been there before and loved it so much, we decided that if we couldn't do France we would do Epcot and take a trip around the world instead!

The reservations are booked (haven't figured out whether I will rent a wheelchair or buy one and bring it with me this time) and I am in the throws of trying to figure out how to pay for this trip. It is like 1/6 of what a European vacation would have cost us and thus the change in plans. Yes, the economy is tight here in my home too but we have already been putting away for our dream trip (see how to earn a little extra cash), so we have a good chunk of the Disney Trip saved already.

Slow and steady will win this race! The target date for this trip is December.

Since Spring is officially here and we have had rain for the past 7 weekends in a row, I am now officially ready for our bi-yearly yard sale. Slow and steady....slow and steady (ABC'S of an RA Yardsale). In the past I would have had our sale only in the garage but since my daughter now has a newer car and needs to park Bee-Bee (the car's name) safely away at night...I now only having two days to set this one up. This should be interesting is all I can say. My new strategy is to label/price items inside my home and pile them all over my living room until the two day set up which starts tomorrow.  At which point I plan on calling in my elfs...I mean family members. Just thinking about this is making me tuckered out. Wish me luck! I am going to need it!

But when I get tired, when I get fed up, when I think I just can't do it anymore...I will wish upon a star and remember...

Dreams really can come true!
We just have to believe!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In The Joint...Part III

Onward and upward on the joint travels!  So far I have covered all my finger joints and today I will be debuting my wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

My wrists are probably the worst joints impacted with ra.  And for me they cause quite a few problems in regards to doing anything at all.  Between the swelling, tendon issues, and often pain, I have alot of problems doing everyday things such as lifting anything except maybe a coffee cup. Well having that limit pretty much puts me dependent on everyone and anyone who might be kind enough to vacuum, carry groceries, clean the bathtub, etc. Yup, I have to admit...I HATE my wrists and their lack of fortitude in fending off the attack of ra.

And because of their whimpiness, I am often forced to wear such horrid gear as the "wrist splint". Still no improvement out there on fashion forward sox splints (if you are wondering what in the world I am referring to....check out my blog post entitled RA Junk Art.

Traveling just a bit up the road to the next joint...technically speaking the elbow joint, we find this means that the humerus is connected to the ulna and the radius. Humerus...I wonder if that is what adults were referring to when I was a kid. I was told it was my funny bone that would hurt so much when I banged it the wrong way. I found no humor in that at all!

The Southern Orthodpedic Institute's above diagram illustrates this rather nicely. Their website is packed with different problems we autoimmuner's might expect to encounter when inflammation and elbow joints are involved.

Once again the ra monster has been nibbling away regularly on both my elbows. Right from the onset, my right elbow was completely hit with the ra. It was hit early and to this day suffers from permanent joint damage with limited range of motion. No ra medication has slowed this joint damage for me personally.

I remember when I first went into an elbow orthopedic doctor for a cortisone injection into my right elbow. At that time it was giving me such a sharp pain that I would almost drop to my knees.  After xrays, he explained that the ligament was getting hung up on a jagged joint and that was causing the intense pain when I tried to move it a certain way. He gave me the injection (which by the way helped immensely) and offered me several surgeries to try and not only correct that problem but my elbow extension problem as well.  He did also say that the surgery would not stop further joint deterioration. I opted not to do the surgeries at that time as I was dealing with throat problems which took precedent in my book.

In regards to my shoulder joints, I have not had them xrayed...ever.  But I have noticed I am lopsided lately and their appears to be inflammation in particular on my left side. I am wondering, in my case, which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Or rather, the tendon or the shoulder problem. I am guessing here, but I strongly suspect I have alot of tendon and possibly muscle damage going on and believe it is my tendons that might be causing the lopsided tilt.  During our picture taking, my daughter kept asking me to lower my right shoulder as she said it was sticking up. Ummmmm...well...that isn't possible, that is just my stance with ra.

For all of these joints, the only help I have found to date has been the wrist splint or cortisone injections. However, it is my understanding that these types of injections should be limited to three over your life time per joint.  Based on that information from my old orthopedic doctor, I have been holding off on these injections for as long as possible. If I do the math, that gives me one injection about every ten years per joint based on hitting the 85 year mark or there abouts. about endurance!

But as with so many things we raers deal with...even that number is about as clear as mud. If you want to go in for a mud bath to wash off any doubts, I suggest you further read up on this subject.

I would love to hear from any of you out there that have come up with an easy way to clean a tub. I have yet to figure out a way to do this without having to suffer for days afterwards. Calling all Heloise's helpful hints!

And once again my beloved Moomee just had to get in on the take...
"Lookz Gamz Gamz...Iz canz doz thatz tooz! Movez overz, youz blockingz thez cameraz!"
"Andz herez myz elbowz jointz. Aint'z itz prettyz?"

Further readings on In The Joint:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Fear is defined as:


An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening: "farmers fear that they will lose business".

noun.  dread - fright - apprehension - funk - awe - alarm
verb.  be afraid - dread - apprehend - funk - be afraid of

I have probably experienced more fear in the last 14 years of my life then in my entire lifetime pre ra.  When I was first diagnosed I was fearful of losing my job, being too sick to take care of my children, taking the medications that go along with treating ra, becoming too much of a burden on my husband and least I not forget, I was most fearful of the pain associated with my ra.

I am not sure why fear goes hand in hand with a chronic illness diagnoses but it does. And although it is something that becomes manageable right along with the illness, it can take a long, long time to manage.

I am proud to report that I have conquered one more fear recently and this particular one has not a thing to do with ra. I have always had this fear…..

yup…the fear of heights.  I am not sure exactly when this fear snuck into my life but I really believe that after battling so many health fears over the years, conquering this one was the next natural step. I was actually surprised at just how easy it was to get onto The Sky Wheel and take the height challenging ride.

And yes, my heart still was pounding, my blood pressure probably went up a tad bit but I chalk all that up to excitement of the best kind.  It was awesome! 

And if by chance (betting you do have some) you have any fears over being diagnosed with a chronic condition like ra or life threatening condition, here are a few tricks (well rather steps) I did along the way to overcome my fears:

  • Realize that it is normal to be fearful at times.
  • Become a pro-active patient.
  • Submerse yourself in knowledge about your disease(s).
  • Don't worry if you have to fire a doctor here and there…it goes with the territory.
  • Medications are a part of the plan but do know the possible side effects so you know what to expect if they happen to you.
  • Surround yourself with support including online, face to face (friends and family that believe in you).
  • And last, if it all becomes to much…don't forget their are professionals out there to help you overcome your fears.

Did I mention, what a view…. tell...what do you fear (or feared) and have you been able to overcome that fear?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In The Joint...Part II

The journey to discovery continues as I try to portray my personal joint story here.  Last we left off, I exposed my distal interphalangeal ra joints.

Today, I will move on to proximal interphalangeals and my palmar digitals (refer to hand diagram below). I prefer to call them my joints in keeping with my KISS principles. Who comes up with these crazy names?

I will take a guess here and incorporate the joint on our thumbs, which although it is the joint next to a thumbnail, as part of the proximal interphalangeal family. So, with this theory (the picture here didn't tell me) I have ten members in this family. All of them have been doing the ra swell dance. Honestly though for years and years only the right five members participated in this line dance. It hasn't been until about three years ago that the right side of the family put out an invitation for the left side of the family and they accepted.  Wish I could have intercepted that particular invitation!

So I would like to introduce you to my left handed family members:
Joe here will do the honors for his side of this dysfunctional family group:

"This here is our family wall photo. As you will notice our thumb leads the way with a sufficient amount of inflammation with Jeb and Ted following behind (formally known as the ring and middle finger)." And along with Jeb and Ted comes swollen veins. This I have yet to unravel. I am not sure if it is from so much wrist issues or something else going on. Oh well, if anyone out there has similar issues and has unraveled this mystery...please share.

"Next, we move onto the individual walkway debut of each joint so that the audience can get a close up view for comparison sake."

And as humble and unobtrusive as Joe has been over the years, Josephine has been an entirely different character all together.  She started her intrusion into my life right from the get go. If you have the interest, you can read up on how she (My New RA Story) actually introduced me to ra. Damn her anyway!

Drum roll please.....

And least we not neglect the distol family member....

Most rheumatologists look for the "traditional" signs of ra.  One being, swelling in joints that are symmetrical (meaning the same joint on each side of the body). There are many other symptoms of ra and for a better understanding of this disease, you can read Pub Med Health or research it online.

But as Murphy's law would have it, my joints were lopsided and showed ra primarily on the right side of my body. It was only because, at that time, I had a wonderful general practitioner who immediately honed in on the problem and ordered the correct tests which proved positive. For this I am very grateful.  I can't tell you the hundreds of people that take years and years to get a definitive diagnoses and suffer in the meantime.

Early on I did do lots of things to ease the pain of my finger joints including: hot and cold compresses, paraffin wax baths, and hand splints to help stabilize the joints.  Today I lean more towards only icing them and splints which I use quite often now.

Hmmmmm....have you ever had surgery you may be asking?  Well, no not really. But, I will admit right from the get go that early on and to this day, I have been offered a myriad of surgeries.  My motto with that scenario is....If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I know, I know! Alot of you will be yelling that your surgery helped you. We are all individuals, our health is individual and what works for one may or may not work for another.  And in my particular case, my ortho doc did say that the surgeries would not stop the ra damage.  So why bother is how I felt and still feel.

Now, don't mistake me.  If my fingers get to the point that they stop working, you can rest assured I will then consider surgery.  So far, although they move painfully most often, they still keep moving.

And have I had to make adjustments?  You bet!  I have to modify just about every single thing I do every single moment of every single day.  In fact, that is why I started this blog.  To share how I modified things in the hopes to help others.  Why reinvent the wheel I always say.

So, I hope you have enjoyed meeting my often pain in the....errr...ummmm....joint family!  And until our next meet up at the joint....Moomee has a few departing words.

Lookz atz myz prettyz joint!  Prettyz jointz! Andz noz inflammationz eitherz. Thatz whyz catz rulez!
Yezzzz...I knowz...I knowz!  Butz likez I sayz....Iz aintz goingz onz noz dietz!  Henceforthz, thatz lumpz iz a jointz!  Hearz mez?

Helpful hint: To remove permanent magic marker from skin, use rubbing alcohol. Works every time! Can you tell I was once a mother of teenage children...snicker...snicker.

Pull up your stool for more in the joint:
In the Joint