RA After Bodily Trauma

To sum up a long and complicated story, I was in a car accident at 3am on Monday. My airbags deployed. My car was totaled. A trip to urgent care on Tuesday ruled out spinal damage, but I did get a diagnosis for bad whiplash. I’m taking muscle relaxers that make me feel groggy and bleh (which is the most accurate description I can muster at this point) so I don’t feel like writing much this week.

Since the accident, I’ve noticed two things. One being that I could potentially have Raynaud’s disease. It was -12 degrees with the wind chill factor the night of my accident. By the time the car was towed away and I was done talking to the cops, my feet were in so much pain that I couldn’t walk. The defrosting period was even more painful. It felt like someone was stabbing my feet repeatedly with a knife, and no amount of moving or sitting or rubbing my feet helped.

My second observation is that after Monday morning, my joints started feeling hot and swollen. I’m pretty sure I’ll be having a full blown flare soon. I’m wondering if the crash pulled me out of remission, since people often say that they were diagnosed with RA after a traumatic injury.

I made an appointment with my rheumy, so we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll be parking myself on the couch for the weekend.


Having a Conversation

I love my rheumatologist. I trust his advice and the decisions he makes regarding my treatment and often don’t question his reasoning behind those decisions.

But before finding him, I was subjected to the ignorance and stupidity of many doctors. I went through 5 general practitioners before I took it upon myself to do Internet research and make a first appointment with my rheumy. DrugFacts-MedicationProbThe scary common theme among those doctors was that they were willing to write out prescriptions for just about any reason. There were prescription fish oil tabs, NSAIDs, aspirin/codeine concoctions, antidepressants, and a slew of other drugs that, in hindsight, make my liver do flips just thinking about them. But ya know what? I never questioned them. I blindly trusted the “MD” after their names to mean that they were automatically right and that I shouldn’t ask questions.

January 26-February 1 is National Drug Fact Week, and I’m taking a moment to remind you that you should start a conversation with your doctor about your medications. Here are a few statistics:

  • 700,000 ER visits each year are from incorrect medication usage (Source: AmericanHealthCare.com). I don’t know the specifics of this fact and whether or not this includes people who take shared prescriptions, but it’s worth mentioning that you should never take any drug that hasn’t been prescribed to you. Shared prescriptions don’t take into account your weight, age, level of health, and drug interactions. Assuming that you’re taking your own prescription, ask your doctor questions. Ask him to repeat instructions (Do I take this daily? Twice daily? On an empty stomach? Should I not take it with orange juice? What are possible side effects?). Don’t rely on the label on the bottle to tell you what to do, and don’t feel ashamed or worried that you’re wasting your doc’s time.
  • 2/3 of all doctors’ visits end with a prescription being written (Source: TalkAboutRx.org). Clearly, I’m not telling you to develop a distrust for your doctor or that you should refuse to take your medication. But this is why a conversation is needed. Make sure the prescription that you’re being given is truly needed and not just his way of dismissing you from his office.
  • On average, at least one drug is recalled in the US each month (Source: Reuters.com). My mother was on an RA drug DrugFacts-Recalls2called Bextra for years before it was taken off the market in 2005. She claims it was the only drug that ever worked for her and controlled her pain, so of course she didn’t care about the possible side effects it could have. However, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally do some research on your medications, just to see if they’ve been under scrutiny lately. American Recall Center has a wealth of information about drug safety and current pharmaceutical lawsuits.

I’m not condemning all doctors or prescription drugs. I’m thankful for the quality of life that my doctor and medication have given back to me since my diagnosis. But I make sure to read up on every prescription I take, and I urge you to do the same.

 


Blogging and RA Remission

After a series of never-ending anxiety attacks a few weeks ago, I realized I needed to put on my big girl pants and get my life together. But that’s not the moral of this story. I took to the Internet in the midst of my anxiety attacks to search for a way to manage my anxiety without having to resort to medication. I already take more pills than I’d like to, thanks to my immune system.

If you type “Natural ways to cope with anxiety” into Google, one of the most common suggestions is to keep a journal of your feelings. That’s such a no-brainer that I felt stupid for not thinking of that on my own. And it’s not like I don’t have 21,484,o86,102 blank journals lying around. I get at least one for every birthday or gift-giving holiday (writer problems, except not really).

So, here’s the interesting thing. I found this article by Maud Purcell on PsychCentral.com which says the following:

There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Did this blog lead me to remission? I always thought of it as a place to rant about how much my life sucks sometimes. I never considered the idea that it might be a form of physical therapy. Would I still be almost bedridden if I never took the time to write here? Food for thought.

So, I guess I’ll have an anxiety journal and an RA blog. If it helps, then it’s worth the extra effort, no?

Leave a comment below if you journal for your health.

 


2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Guest Blogging- RheumatoidArthritis.com

A few months ago, I received an email from the people behind RheumatoidArthritis.com asking me if I’d like to be a guest blogger. They apparently found this lovely little blog and liked what they saw. So, I did it. This is the story that went live earlier this week.

I’m truly humbled. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a blog about my achy joints would become anything more than a place where I could post my grievances. Yet I’m constantly getting comments and emails from readers telling me how much my posts have been helping them (I know I’ve said this before. It just still hasn’t fully sunk in).

Anyway, let me know what you think about my guest post. I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my holiday break now.


Random Thoughts on Pant Buttons

Dear Clothing Manufacturers,

Until today, I hadn’t realized how awful some buttons are. Have you ever stopped to think about that stupid little hidden button most dress pants come with? You know the one I’m talking about: it’s the little clear one on the inside of the waistband that’s always in the weirdest spot. It’s supposed to hold the extra material down after you fasten the buttons/clasps right on top of the zipper, right?

You know what I think? I think you put that evil button there just to mess with people like us. I can barely get the important buttons on my pants/shirts/pea coat fastened sometimes. Why would you ever think that I’d want to spend time on a button that, in theory, only I know about or see?

I try not to use the damn thing. My pants have held up just fine on those days. But then my OCD kicks in and I’m obsessing over the fact that I’m not utilizing an item the way it was intended to be used, so I try to awkwardly fasten the material over it until five minutes have gone by and I am still no closer to victory than I was before.

If you’re making a quality pair of pants, then your zipper should hold up just fine. Save yourselves the trouble of sewing on an extra piece I don’t really need. In turn, you will save my sanity.

 

Sincerely,

Disgruntled Pants-User


Crafting for Nimble Fingers

My jewelry crafting station. I like to hoard things.

My jewelry crafting station. I like to hoard things.

This post has been a long time in the making, but here we go. Since my business, Hybrid Rose Jewelry, is about to turn two years old, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the battle between RA and crafting.

Three years ago, I was sitting around having a nice little pity party for myself. RA seemed to be taking so much away from me. I’d always been the Martha Stewart type and the thought of not being able to spend my free time making stuff was horrifying. Out of this fear grew an impulse to learn every single crafty thing on the planet. Like, to the point of becoming OCD about it. If A.C. Moore and Michael’s had stocks, I could’ve been rich. Might as well use it before I lose it, right?

In some ways, I think crafting is what saved my not-so-flexible hands. Doctors often tell us RA patients to move around as much as possible to keep our joints from getting stiff. And while I love to dance around the house or go for walks when it’s possible, I hate doing hand exercises.

Baby blanket I made for new parents.

Baby blanket I made for new parents.

Alright, alright, I hear what you’re saying. Alyssa, you’re kidding me, right? My RA has progressed so much that I can’t even pick up a drinking glass or chop an onion, and you want me to work with tiny little beads and stuff?!

I totally get it. My first jewelry project was awkward. I couldn’t pick up the microscopic-sized seed beads. There was a mess on the floor from where I dropped most of them. It was horrific and hilarious at the same time. I kept trying new things until I found what worked for me.

So, these are some of the things I can still do despite having stiff old lady hands:

Knit/Crochet. My mother swears that knitting is easier on her arthritic hands than crocheting, so that’s

Hands down my favorite necklace.

Hands down my favorite necklace.

what she sticks with. I prefer crochet and have no problems whatsoever. I tried using the ergonomic-crochet-handle-attachment-thingies that they sell in craft stores to help people who have issues gripping the skinny hook, but I found that they put more pressure on my hands than just trying to grip the hook itself. Know your limits. If my hands begin to hurt after 30 minutes, I stop. Walk away, try again later.

Jewelry Making. I prefer working with chains, large beads, and large components, which are all easy to grip. I can still work with seed beads on occasion, so long as I use beading needles and a bead spinner to help me pick them up. Invest in a good set of tools. They make great pliers that help with grip.

Floral Arranging. Again, it’s all about the tools.

Scrap booking/Paper Arts. You may have a hard time using paper punches if you’re sitting down. Try bending over the puncher and pushing down with both hands to give you more leverage.

 

What crafty things do you still do, even with RA?

 

*All photos are my own.*

 


Prose, Poetry, and Coffee

As the title explains, I will post my prose or poetry on a weekly basis (or whenever I feel so inclined). And to jazz things up, I’ll post book reviews too. (I just threw coffee in the title...so *annoyed face* I've gotta clean that up...with my tongue. I love coffee.)

The Clovers Project

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