Tag Archives: inflammation

Product Review: Pure Energy Band

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

So Mom came home from an afternoon shopping trip a few months ago and dropped a small box into my lap. “I want you to wear this every day,” she said to me. The box contained a small rubber bracelet with two holographic circles. The package read Pure Energy Band for Pain, Inflammation, and Circulation. “Did you really spend money on this?” I asked, completely skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I totally support alternative healing. Still, I found it hard to believe that a piece of rubber could provide the results that the box claimed.

Mom paid $20 for the bracelet, though a quick Google search showed me that these little things can cost as much as $50. Crazy, I thought. I put the bracelet on anyway, since I was in the middle of a flare and desperate for some relief.

I’ve worn this thing religiously every day for 6 months now and haven’t taken it off for more than 5 minutes at a time (since the band is rubber, you can shower with it). I’m not really sure the bracelet is as effective as the claims make it out to be. For one, I can say with 100% certainty that you’re still going to flare and feel pain. However, my flares are not as frequent anymore. But even then, I’m not going to attribute that to the bracelet because there are too many other treatments that I have to factor in to how I’m feeling.

Bottom line: Purchase at your own risk. If you’re looking for something to stop your arthritic pain completely, this isn’t it. Save your money. And like I said, I can’t guarantee that the changes I’m feeling have anything to do with the bracelet. Personally, I would never spend my money on one.


Ginger and Joint Pain

Can you tell I’m trying to be clever with my titles? Anyway…

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

I got over the funk that my last doctor’s visit put me in. I’m not happy about my current situation, but I had my pity party and now I’m sucking it up and moving on. However, a recent surgery has made me reevaluate pain and pain medication. It wasn’t anything too serious. I had a piercing when I was younger that turned into a hypertrophic scar, and I had to have it removed. I opted for an in-office surgery with local anesthetic rather than going to a surgical center and being put under anesthesia. It was a great time for me to find out that I have a slight tolerance to local anesthetic. My doctor had to stop the procedure every so often to give me multiple injections of Lidocaine.  But I’m getting off track again…

2 hours later, I was sent on my way with 30 stitches in my ear and a prescription for Codeine. I have to admit, I was a little concerned at the idea of taking it. I hate popping pain meds, even Tylenol. I’m already taking 2 prescriptions twice a day, why take anything else? Thankfully, I only needed to take one Codeine tablet a little after I got home. Otherwise I was up and doing fine the next day. But the Codeine got me thinking…can I find an alternative to dangerous and highly addictive pain medications? I’ve read a few blogs written by people with RA who have to take the strongest pain killers out there. They write about how awful the withdrawal symptoms are and how they wish they weren’t taking narcotics.

I started doing some research. I found a few great natural remedies (and I promise I will write about each and every one of them at a later time) but the one that stuck out the most was ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and I thought that if I combined using it with my anti-inflammatory prescription, I would see better results than taking just the prescription alone.

Here’s what I do: I buy only fresh ginger (usually three or four roots at a time) from the local

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

supermarket to use in tea. I put a root in the fridge for use that week. I chop up the other roots into smaller 1 inch pieces and throw them into the freezer (that way I don’t have to put stress on my hands by trying to cut frozen ginger and I don’t have to worry about it rotting). When I’m ready to make my tea, I peel a piece, throw it in a mug with a green tea bag, a pour the hot water in. I put a small plate over the cup while it steeps so that the oils from the ginger don’t evaporate. Steep it as long as you normally would steep your tea. I love ginger, so I just leave it in the bottom of the cup and eat it when I’m done drinking the tea. I do this every morning, and I’ve noticed that I feel less stiff in the morning than usual. Before it used to take 10 minutes to get out of bed each morning; now I can get up as soon as my alarm goes off.

Ginger is supposed to help with more than just achy joints. I’m not a doctor so don’t take my word for any of this, but I’ve read online that ginger is good for colds and the flu, as well as morning sickness, migraines, and heartburn. Of course, check with your doctor to make sure that ginger won’t interact with any of the medication you’re on, but ginger tea is certainly worth a shot.

First Rheumy Visit of 2013

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

I’m going to allow myself to have a small pity party in this post, if you don’t mind. My first visit to the doctor this year sucked. I love my doctor, don’t get me wrong. I always tell people that the man is not allowed to retire or die, because I want him to take care of me forever. I just wish he had better news for me today.

Even though I haven’t been in pain much lately, I’m showing signs of joint damage in my hands. If I place my hands on a flat surface, you can see a dip in my knuckles. Now, I’m being forced to make some pretty big decisions.

He wants to switch me to Methotrexate for a few months, then possibly to Enbrel or Humira. He told me he wanted me to put some serious thought into taking the more aggressive approach, so I have until my next appointment in May to make the call. Here’s the dilemma: if I don’t go on the new treatment and stay on the Plaquenil, my joints are going to continue to get worse. If I opt for the new treatment, however, he told me that it’s not very likely I’ll be able to have children, since none of these medications are “baby friendly,” as he calls it. Even worse, it’s possible that we’ll run out of treatment options that much sooner, meaning there won’t be anything left to help me when I’m, say, 40. I’m devastated. Mom’s a mess. My friends are speechless. My family is trying to convince me to freeze some of my eggs so I can become a mom someday.

I thought I was doing so well. As much as I don’t want to start taking chemo drugs or risk my fertility, I don’t see any other option. I need my hands. I’m a writer and, more recently, a jewelry designer. I’m 21 years old, I need to be able to go out and make a living for myself without having to depend on other people to care for me.

I’m too young for joint damage. I need some more time to think and get my emotions in check. I also need to do some research on Eastern medicine. I’ll be damned if I have to get old before my time, and I’ll swallow any amount of roots or barks to slow that process down. Meanwhile, could you send some good vibes/prayers my way? It’s been an awful, highly emotional week for me. Maybe you think I’m being over-dramatic or selfish, but I do realize there are people out there who have it worse. I have a friend with terminal cancer. I know myself, and I know eventually I’ll start looking at this situation with a positive attitude. I just need a little push to get there.

Toothaches and Turmeric

So while this may not necessarily be a post about RA, I feel that it might be beneficial to everyone. I have had the absolute worst toothache for the past month. When I went to the dentist I was told to prepare for root canal, cavity filling, and wisdom tooth extraction (he was also trying to subtly hint that a tooth whitening procedure would be beneficial as well). That’s all fine and dandy, but this work is going to happen over the span of two or three months! I’m in pain now! I’m also in shock, because I’ve always taken great care of my teeth. I guess this is what happens when you don’t go to the dentist as much as you should.

Anyway, when I eat anything hot or cold, my teeth hurt. When I eat anything chewy, my teeth hurt, which absolutely sucks because I need to chew gum to stay awake in some of my classes. When I wake up in the morning, my teeth hurt. Tylenol wasn’t really helping, and I couldn’t take Aleve for fear of overdosing (I take prescription Celebrex, which is an NSAID/sister drug to Aleve). However, I noticed that the pain was not as bad when I took my Celebrex regularly. I only have to take is as needed, but this cold weather has been making my joints stiff.

And that’s when it hit me: turmeric! No, I haven’t completely lost my mind. My logic was this- if  an anti-inflammatory like Celebrex is helping with the pain, then my tooth pain must be mainly from inflammation. I don’t know if this inflammation was due to my messed up teeth or a flare, or if one was influencing the other. All I know is that I prefer natural remedies whenever possible. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory/antibiotic, so why not give it a try? So, I got a bottle of the stuff out of the spice cabinet (we have quite a few bottles, since that was my go to herb when I was sick for an entire month) and poured some in a dish. I slowly added drops of water to make it into a thick paste. Then I took a q-tip and used it as a brush to put the paste on my teeth. You can use your fingers too, but turmeric tends to turn your skin yellow.

I’ll admit that for someone who does not particularly like the taste of turmeric or is new to it, it takes some getting used to. I know that some people like to use clove oil on their teeth instead, but turmeric is just more accessible for me and can be found in pretty much any grocery store. Anyway, I had instant Orajel! You have to keep applying depending on how much you salivate, but it beats the throbbing pain of a toothache.

This won’t be my last post on this miracle spice. I’m thinking in my next post, I will talk about the natural, non-prescription things that help me deal with the pain. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!

Are You Sure This is Normal?

I wrote this yesterday, but didn’t have time to post it. However, I am feeling much better today.

I will be frank: I feel like crap.  I have been since Monday. I’ve been nauseous. I haven’t eaten anything substantial in four days.  I haven’t had a good night’s sleep either.  My joint pain and eye inflammation are nonexistent, but have been replaced by horrible back pain and a feeling of dehydration (even though I drink 3 or 4 water bottles a day).  I don’t think I have a stomach bug because the nausea is too sporadic and Pepto Bismol doesn’t help whatsoever.  I’m definitely not pregnant. I refuse to go on WebMD and use their symptom checker, because it will probably tell me I have stomach cancer, which will add a panic attack to my list of symptoms.  Stress? Possibly, since it’s the end of the semester, but I’ve been pretty chill lately.  Medication? Nah, doubt it. I haven’t changed prescriptions, and I doubt medication I’ve been on since November would start affecting me now. The only thing left that I can think of that these are just new RA symptoms that I’m experiencing.  This whole experience got me thinking though: how will I be able to tell the difference between “just another RA symptom” and something more serious? Mom gave me some pretty decent advice: “Start paying close attention to your body and how you feel, that way you will know when something is really off.” She’s right in the sense that I should start noticing things more, but even serious medical conditions can creep up on a person. Does this mean I will be running to the doctor every time something feels strange or off balance? Will I be able to catch something serious in time?

The problem with RA or any other autoimmune disease is that it affects your entire body, and you don’t know what it will attack next.  I’ll admit that I broke down in tears last night.  The anxiety of not knowing what is going on with your body, on top of the fact that you don’t feel well, totally sucks.  It took my boyfriend and a huge mug of chamomile tea to get me to calm down.  Poor Avi is so worried about me, but he does his best to keep me smiling, even when things are scary or upsetting.

I think the rule of thumb I’m going to follow is this: until a symptom becomes so intolerable that I can’t function in day-to-day life, then I’ll just suck it up and keep going. If it becomes too much, then I’ll see a doctor.  I see Dr. M every 3 months anyway, so if the symptoms keep up I’ll just talk to him.  Hopefully I’ll feel better by tomorrow. I’ve been going to work and school all week, so I guess there’s no need to panic right now. Living with the unknown can be tough, but I guess life goes on. It’ll all be okay in the end.

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