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Hope

A Simple Resolution

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My hope for 2015 is to simply be a better person. By strengthening my relationship with God, this can be accomplished. I aspire to be stronger in my faith, to allow God to fill my heart, and allow Him to speak for me.

In turn, I will treat others better and take better care of myself.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gold Medal

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I often exclaim to my husband “Guess what?! I didn’t take any pain medication today!”. Does that mean I didn’t have any pain? Not necessarily….

Pain medications are prescribed for a very simple reason- to eliminate (or reduce) pain so you can live your life. Sure, it’s always a good plan to be on the least amount of medications possible. But shouldn’t the goal be to also be in the least amount of pain possible, with or without the use of medications? Why then do I feel like I need to prove that I can go a day without popping a pain pill? Last time I checked, there were no awards or gold medals given out to those who persevered through pain instead of just taking a prescribed aid.

I need to remember that right now I am fighting a real jerk of a disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis)…a disease that manages to disrupt so much of my life. As I wait for the big drugs to hopefully do their job (Orencia at the moment), why shouldn’t I take whatever I need to, to try to live my life to the fullest?

Starting today, my new exclamation will be “I didn’t have much pain today!”. I’ll be waiting for my gold medal.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Brush It Off

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To most people, these two brush handles look pretty similar. They’re both for round brushes which a lot of people, like me, use to blow dry their hair straight.

To me, someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, the brush on the right is far superior. Why? The handle is made of this squishy gel that my swollen, achy fingers have no problem holding on to forever for the 10 minutes it takes to dry my hair.

I bought that brush years ago, way before I got diagnosed with RA (3 years ago). I now wish everything could be encased in that wonderful gel: pens, whisks, vacuum handles, heck even my toothbrush!

I would love to hear what products have made your life with Rheumatoid Arthritis a bit better!

Rheumatoid Arthritis

6

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Tonight marks my 6th Orencia injection. A little part of me expects my body to do a total 360 within minutes of the injection. I almost expect to feel the Orencia go through my body, fixing every joint, reducing all of my pain, and waking me up like a cup of coffee should. I basically expect Orencia to turn me into a superhero. And yet, it’s done nothing.

I know..be patient. Wait. It takes a few months. I’ve heard it from my doctor, my husband, the little voice in my head, and from the makers of Orencia, thanks to their timely mailing reminding me not to give up.

I’m not giving up but each day I wonder what the end goal is. Is it for me to feel 100% free of Rheumatoid Arthritis? Is that even possible? Or is it for me to just be able to function a bit better, hopefully for a long time? Are things going to get worse?

I’ll wake up tomorrow and gingerly get out of bed, secretly hoping that the Orencia has given me superhero powers over night. And maybe, soon, it actually will.

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Knitting Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Worst Part

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Rheumatoid Arthritis sucks. But lately it’s not the constant pain and swelling or the overwhelming fatigue that’s got me down. It’s that RA is keeping me from doing things for other people. That makes me mad.

I love loved to knit. You wont find many of my knitted projects in my house. Why? Because I enjoyed knitting for others. Baby blankets were one of my favorites. I loved picking out bright, non-traditional colors of yarn and working them up into a soft, beautiful blanket. I love hearing from friends and family, years later, about how much their child loved the blanket from day one.

And then there are prayer shawls. I made my first one nine years ago when my Uncle died unexpectedly. I needed to do something so I started knitting. My Aunt wrote me the most wonderful letter a few weeks later telling me that my cousin, who was 8 at the time, had been falling asleep with the shawl every night since his Dad’s passing. Fast forward to less than a year ago when my Aunt was diagnosed with cancer. She texted me that the prayer shawl had been with her, in her bedroom, for all of these years. Now that she was facing another battle, she was using it more than ever. I can’t explain what it meant to know that something I made was cherished year after year.

My second prayer shawl was made for my dear Aunt Melanie. My Aunt Melanie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in the Spring of 2013. Again, not knowing what to do, I started to knit. I thought of all of the colors she loved and surrounded herself with and made sure my yarn reflected that. I wrapped up the shawl and put it in the mail to her in Virginia. I was unprepared for how much my Aunt would come to love and depend on that shawl. My Aunt wore it nonstop..she would text me and tell me she had it on at chemo and again to watch football on the weekends. She absolutely loved it. My Aunt Melanie fought a short but courageous battle with cancer and passed away in November, 2013. She passed away wearing my shawl.

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I think of knitting daily. I started knitting square blocks a few months ago, in hope that “little” projects somehow wouldn’t cause me as much pain as larger, heavier ones do. Every week or so I’ll pull my knitting basket out (which makes my cat ecstatic) only to find that nothing’s changed…my fingers fall asleep holding the needles, my hands and wrists ache after just a few stitches. And now knitting is 100% out until mid-November at least, since I have a ligament tear in my wrist.

I feel guilty that I’m not knitting. I have two people, who immediately come to mind, that I would love to make prayer shawls for and plenty of babies that I would love to go yarn shopping for. As each week month goes by, I lose a little hope that I’ll ever knit again.

Kittens

Choices

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I finally had allergy testing done today after years of medications, infections, and countless sneezes. I had the standard (I’m assuming) 59 pricks done to both of my forearms. Am I allergic to the standard outdoorsy culprits? Yup. Am I allergic to cats? Yup. Wait. What?! Yes, I’m allergic to cats.

I’ve always had a cat in my life since I was born 34 years ago. In the summer of 2013, we got George, JungleGeorge. He was four months old and the cutest thing ever. 2013 was a rough year for me medically. My rheumatoid arthritis was (still is) rearing it’s ugly head, I had a horrible infection that lasted from March to September, and was also diagnosed with asthma. All while still pumping insulin to manage my Type 1 Diabetes. Through it all, I had George. He laid next to me for countless hours while I tried to rest as much as possible. He didn’t (and still doesn’t) judge my never-ending Netflix streaming.

Months later he continues to bring me, and the rest of my family, tremendous joy. He joins me for breakfast each morning, sits right in the middle of my yoga mat at the worst times, greets me at the door when I get home, and sleeps at the foot of my bed every night (and only bites my feet every once and awhile).

Today the allergist said, “no more cat in the bedroom” and to “limit my contact as much as possible”. I initially decided I would abide, told my husband and kids the bad news. They were heartbroken (maybe that’s too dramatic of a word, but let’s go with it) for George (and maybe a bit for me)..he inevitably would sit outside my door and cry all night long.

And then I thought about it. Was I going to avoid the cat who does nothing but want to make me happy , all because of a single prick of my skin? Was I going to upset him by not petting him, brushing him, letting him sleep with me? Was I going to give up the one thing that gives me comfort in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep because I’m in so much pain? No.

At some point, you have to take your doctor’s advice, do a little research/thinking of your own, and then make a decision. Have my allergies changed at all since getting George? Do I feel even the slightest bit different when he’s near me, when I hold him? No. Did I have asthmatic symptoms before George? Yup. Did they change after getting him? Not at all. If I hadn’t gone to the allergist today, would I ever have considered getting tested for pet allergies? No.

So Jungle George will continue to sleep at the foot of my bed as long as he wants (or until my husband knocks him off), whichever occurs first.

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