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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Is it ok to fail?

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Today I had to call out. I am typically good at putting on a brave face and getting myself to work. With my multiple surgeries over the past few years, I only took off the actual surgery day, and sometimes the day after, and was right back to working full time, teleworking if I had to. But today? I had to call out.

I’ve had a rough few days with my joints- could be the weather, stress, something I ate, or the simple fact that Rheumatoid Arthritis is a bully of a disease and will ultimately get its way.

I feel like I failed. I feel angry. Disappointed. Isolated.

But mostly, I feel weak. I feel owned by my body and the diseases that plague it. The physical pain has slowed me today- I don’t feel mentally sharp, I feel emotional.

And I don’t like it.

But have my years of pushing forward despite my illnesses, given me an irrational view of “success”? So much so that needing to take a day to rest makes me feel like I’ve thrown in the towel on working forever?

Society shows “normal” people taking DayQuil to get to that important meeting and taking energy shots to get everything on their list checked off.

Even the latest Enbrel commercial shows a child who “gets his Mom back” after she starts taking the medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis. My daughter watched that commercial and asked me if I’ve ever tried Enbrel (yes).

I try to show the good and bad of my diseases- the injections, the gym triumphs. But I need to do a better job. I need to show days like today- a day where I called out of work and have not moved from the couch or eaten a single thing. Because if someone out there is “pushing through” because they’ve seen my feeds, then I’m doing a disservice to them, my disease communities, and more importantly, myself.

So yes, sure, I failed today. I failed to push myself to go to work despite horrible pain and stiffness. I failed to hold back my tears and act like everything was fine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Type 1 Diabetes

It Must Be

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Growing up with Type 1 Diabetes, I was always aware of how I felt and if those feelings were due to my diabetes. Did I feel dizzy? Thirsty? Tired? Confused? These could all be easily attributed to a low or high blood sugar. Once diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I added more physical feelings that I could attribute to my disease. Pain, stiffness, muscle aches, popping, cracking, etc. I am constantly putting those feelings into a bucket- the diabetes bucket and the RA bucket. Occasionally there is the “normal human” bucket where a cold, for example, might fall but even the normal bucket spills over into the disease buckets.

what-are-the-symptoms-of-ebola-because-i-am-pretty-sure-i-have-some-of-them-like-this-itchy-index-finger-f72f0

Being a parent to children who currently don’t have any major health issues when I do, can add a strong element of fear to my life. I question everything- “Didn’t he just go to the bathroom twenty minutes ago?” Must be diabetes. “Her knee keeps hurting, yet nothing happened to it.” Must be arthritis. “She keeps sleeping in on the weekend.” “His hands are really achy today.”

No, I don’t spend all of my time analyzing their every move or every sip of water they take. But these little thoughts pop into my head from time to time. Is there anything I can do to prevent one or both of them from developing an autoimmune disease? No. So why harp on it? Because I don’t want them to suffer. Of course I don’t want them to suffer having a disease, that’s obvious. But what I mean is that I don’t want them to suffer through waiting for a diagnosis. With Type 1, my parents were repeatedly told that I had a virus, to let it go. My father, a type 1 diabetic himself, eventually had enough and tested my blood sugar at home. I was immediately hospitalized. With Rheumatoid Arthritis, I spent months going to multiple doctors, telling them something was wrong, only to be told that I had tennis elbow and was favoring my joint. It took me not being able to walk anymore for someone to take me seriously and run a battery of tests. I don’t want my children, or anyone, to experience that fear, that unnecessary pain or stress on their body.

So if I can’t control who will get which disease, what can I do? I can advocate and educate. I can share my diagnosis stories, my disease symptoms, with anyone and everyone. I can share what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned with parents, doctors, friends, family, strangers. I can empower my own children to research their concerns and know that every question they have is important.

2,016 Miles in 2016 Rheumatoid Arthritis

Looking Backward to Look Forward

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Sometimes you have to look back to look forward. Today is one of those days for me. I worked all day, no major pain, things seemed good. Went to the gym after work and everything seemed to stop. My feet hurt (they haven’t hurt in months), my body felt slow- every step felt like I walking in mud. I couldn’t get a rhythm going on the machine- I tried for 40 minutes to get a good workout in and I eventually threw the towel (into my gym bag of course haha) and went home.

Once home, I stopped to think. A little over 4 years ago, I couldn’t walk up the stairs to my bedroom as I had done immediately after coming in my front door tonight. I couldn’t stay awake to get my hair cut- the gym wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. I had to take time off of work because my Rheumatoid Arthritis was so out of control. I work full-time now and can’t recall the last time I took off due to my RA.

I have been pushing myself nonstop. I go to the gym the day after injecting methotrexate despite my body’s protests. I get so pale that my husband has to come check on me mid workout. I cry some days driving to the gym from work because my pain is so great.

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I tried to find the reason. I need to understand things. I need to have answers. Five years ago, I was running myself to death- working crazy hours, including overnights and weekends, plus trying to care for two young children. I ignored the times my body tried to tell me something was wrong- I ignored the aches in my feet and the deep ache in my elbow until my body stopped. My elbow stopped bending, my feet stopped allowing me to walk up or down stairs. My body had had enough and forced me to listen.

Tonight my body gave me a reminder to stop. So tonight I’m going to listen. I’m going to celebrate what I’ve done this year in my journey to walk, dance, crawl my way to 2,016 miles in 2016. I’m a bit behind but I know I’ll catch up. I’ve moved over 400 miles since the beginning of this year despite knee and hip problems. And as I sit here, on the couch, resting, I’m damn proud of myself.

2,016 miles in 2016! (1)

Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

MedNexus Review

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**This is a sponsored post- opinions expressed are based on my own personal experience**

If you’re like me, you may have found your first visit to a physician, especially a rheumatologist, a little overwhelming. I left my first visit with pamphlets/brochures about RA and medication options. My doctor told me that he knew I would go home and immediately go to google.com..he asked me not to but said to please share with him anything I had looked up so he could weigh in.

I won’t tell you what comes up when you google a disease. You’ve probably done it. And if you haven’t, I’d be willing to bet that you have looked up your health symptoms before. Sore throat, fatigue? Must be cancer, right? No! It’s hard to find quality information and to not have to spend time wading through articles and sites that have nothing to do with what you initially searched for.

This is where MedNexus comes in. MedNexus is a medical search engine that promises to provide greater accuracy and clarity. Their engine selects the most clinically-relevant and useful content for you.


One of my favorite things is the MedNexus homepage. Simple and easy to navigate. I don’t have to waste time looking for where to begin my search. I wanted to search “Rheumatoid Arthritis”.

When you initially start typing in your search criteria, the site starts listing questions that are relevant to your disease. Similar to Google’s autocomplete function, this can help you answer questions you hadn’t even thought of yet.

Upon searching for RA, the following questions started to come up:

  • What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
  • How do you diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?
  • How do you treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
  • What are lifestyle tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
  • and many more..

If you ignore the suggested questions and just search, your results come up. Search results are broken down into the following categories:

  • Health Topics- general information from trusted sites
    • Joint Deformities in Rheumatoid Arthritis (Arthritis Foundation)
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission, Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications (Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
  • Published Research- links for publications written by physicians
    • HIV/AIDS and Rheumatoid Arthritis (Autoimmunity Reviews)
    • STAT4 and the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (New England Journal of Medicine)
    • Biological Drugs and Risk of Infection (The Lancet)
  • Forum Discussions- health websites with forums- user opinions
    • Insurance Quotes for RA Sufferers, Painful Feet Advice, Diagnosis Delays (Arthritis Care)

Prior to viewing your search results, one of my favorite features appears:


Overall, I find MedNexus to be a wonderful site. I like that search results come from reliable sources and can be filtered into categories that make sense. I hope that you’ll visit MedNexus and please keep in mind that the site hasn’t been up for very long, so they are constantly adding additional medical conditions.

If you’d like to give MedNexus your feedback, please click here to take a short survey.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Power

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If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for places to track your Rheumatoid Arthritis disease activity. I have a journal, my planner, apps, etc. I track my activity and sleep on my Fitbit and try to compare it to my notes. What a mess. Nothing has ever given me a quick picture of how things are going. 

Enter Arthritis Power from Creaky Joints. Up until recently, you could only access this wonderful tool online but now it’s an app available for downloading.  You answer a few short questions and gain valuable insight into how you’re really doing over time. Not only can you share this information with your doctors but the data collected can be used for various research projects to help fight this awful disease. 

Here’s a screenshot from the app. I often tell my doctor that my fatigue has not changed. But this actually shows her that things have been roughly the same for the past few months:

  
Have you downloaded Arthritis Power? 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

It’s a Miracle!

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So. Much. Pain. Orencia is really not enough for me and with my second wrist surgery next Friday, I’m off NSAIDS.

When I was picking up my prescriptions this morning, I went to the “home health” aisle looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. I already have compression gloves, a TENS machine, pain killers, topical pain relievers, and a brace for almost every part of my body.

I saw these:

I’d been meaning to order IMAK compression socks for awhile..they’re only carried online..I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Yes, these look cheesy (as seen on TV) but I was desperate!

Did they instantly make me feel like I could go run a marathon? Uh, no. Did I feel like I could walk around my house and not be on the verge of tears? Yes!

Maybe it’s a placebo effect or that I’m  reaching that little part of the day, between the morning stiffness and the afternoon pain and fatigue, when things are bearable. Either way, I’m pleased to have discovered a tiny miracle at my local a Walgreens.