Tag Archives: remission

Yoga and My Injury

yoga-241614_1280I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in a car accident and was worried that my RA would jump out of remission. Since, then I’ve been working hard at physical therapy to try and feel “normal”again, or at least get back to the point I was prior to the accident.Up until last week or so the pain in my neck and lower back was still bad enough to ruin my mood regularly.

I’ve been commiserating with a friend over our various aches and pains: she broke her back years ago and has  foot problems, and I’m a health mess in general from my RA and now from my accident injuries. She convinced me to start taking yoga with her. There’s a new studio a 15 minute walk from my house and they were offering a new student special. She brought me the class schedule. “We’re doing this. We need to,” she said.

Given my track record with yoga, I didn’t think this plan was going to go very smoothly. Doing yoga in front of my TV was always torture enough. Was I really going to attempt Downward Dog with my old lady joints in front of other human beings? Could I keep up with the pace of the class in general?

We signed up for our first class, Yoga Basics, this past Saturday. Quite honestly, if my friend hadn’t pushed me to go and she hadn’t been sitting on the mat next to me, I probably would have never done it. But I’m glad I went.

I walked out of that first hour long session feeling euphoric. I considered the possibility that I was only feeling a placebo effect, but I’ve gone back three times since and I’m still floating on a cloud after every session. No one there is judging my old lady joints. I’m stretching out muscles I forgot I had. And even though it’s only been a few days, I’m already beginning to feel stronger. I managed to do a plank for 30 seconds Monday night without falling!

I’ve experienced other benefits from my short time as a yoga student, but that’s for another day. What matters most is that I’m able to function normally again. No stabbing pain in my neck as I lean over a child’s desk. No back pain when I need to stoop to pick something off of the floor. I’m feeling stronger than I have since I was 18 years old. Best of all is that my creaky joints aren’t bothering me much anymore, except on rainy days. I’m still not letting the RA win.

 

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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.

 


Turtle in Peanut Butter

I hated running as a child. HATED it (and I was on the track team, go figure). I always finished last, was easily out of breath, and I knew I’d be limping for the rest of the day after a meet. In hindsight, running would probably have been less stressful if I had been aware of my RA.

Taken from Facebook

Taken from Facebook

Naturally, one would think that I would continue avoiding it at all costs. Except, after 10 years of a strict no-running policy and two years away from physical activity in general, I had something to prove to myself.  If the rest of my life is changing, why should my exercise routine stay the same?

So last week I decided it was now or never. I needed a way to de-stress fast. I called up my friend, downloaded the Couch 2 5K app, and headed to the park. The meme to the left is a wonderfully accurate representation of how that session went. And you know what? It doesn’t matter anymore.

I was out of breath. My sides were hurting and my muscles were on fire. I wasn’t sure I could run another step. I couldn’t keep up with my friend at all, and she kept doubling back to meet up with me so that we could at least do the walking portion of the program together. I could have made an excuse at any time, blamed my joints for being uncooperative. But I got up and did it.

In hindsight, it was never actually about running. My goal isn’t to run marathons or break records. The goal was to find a freedom that I thought was long gone. Two years ago, I could barely pull myself out of bed each day. Walking was difficult and stairs were impossible. Exercise? Ha…

I’ve come a long way. I accomplished a goal I never thought possible. The fact that I I’ve been accomplishing it without any sort of joint pain is just an added bonus. Every lap around the track is one more win against RA. This disease has taken so much away from me, but I’m drawing the line here.

Old me had to turn down plans with friends because it required walking more than a few blocks. New me is walking 4 miles a day and running for twenty minutes on top of that. That freaking rocks, and it’s better motivation than the 87492856875445211268089237 purple “Participant” ribbons I’ve collected. I’m getting my life back.

 


An Update

It’s January, and thankfully I’m still in remission. As cold as this winter has been (it was -14 one day) I’m still managing to navigate through each day with pretty much no pain or stiffness. I thank the fish oil caplets and turmeric I’m taking religiously for that. But even with all of this good news about my health, I can’t help but feel a little anxious. How long is this going to last?


Remission Possible

Last week I had my quarterly appointment with my Rheumatologist. I’m not going to lie: I was freaking out. I’ve been anxious every day since I got my blood work done two weeks prior to that visit. I’m always a mess prior to my doctor visits because of the “unknown” that comes with these appointments. I might think I’m fine, but my rheumy might see otherwise as he examines my joints.

My biggest fear was that he would think it necessary to put me on a stronger medication like Methotrexate. That’s the last thing I want to put in my body. I already felt awful about taking my prescription anti-inflammatory. I suppose it comes from belonging to a family that believes in the power of homeopathic treatments. Or maybe it comes from all of the black box warnings that come with my anti-inflammatory.

I sat in the doctor’s office nervously tapping my foot. Was I about to receive news that would flip my future upside down? Or would I instead be told that everything looks decent enough and that I could stay on my current treatment plan, but that there was no real improvement? The second scenarios is just as frustrating as the first. The second scenario shows no change, no progress. It doesn’t bring a person closer to pain-free days. It just means that your medication is doing the bare minimum. The only thing working in my benefit was that I wasn’t in pain at that moment in time. I hadn’t felt anything more than some random aches for a week, and I’m pretty sure those aches were a result of many hours spent on the computer.

My rheumy called me into his office then. He asked me how I was feeling, as always. “Better than usual,” I said. He took my hands and began examining them.

“Your hands look great,” he said, feeling my knuckles, “no inflammation whatsoever. Are you taking your anti-inflammatory?” I shook my head. “That’s a great sign,” he continued, “no pain?”

“I haven’t been in pain at all for a week. I started taking fish oil.” He continued examining my elbows and knees.

“Well, I don’t know how much the fish oil contributed, but I think you’re in remission. Let’s look at the numbers.” He pulled out my report and started reading off the results, comparing them to the last test. “I think you’re in remission. Keep doing whatever you’re doing.”

Remission. When I first diagnosed, that was the thing I wanted most in the whole world. Now three years to the month of my diagnosis, I’ve achieved it. I was floating on a cloud, and I wanted to tell the entire world how happy I was. I ran to my one on-campus job just to tell my boss the good news. She had been trying to help me find natural cures. I told every coworker who would listen. And even though I’m not the kind of person who likes to air all of my business on Facebook, I posted about it there too. 70 people “liked” my status and congratulated me. I was touched that people cared, at least enough to comment with congratulations and well wishes.

Now, how did I really know when I was in remission? I knew it was for real when I picked up a skinny Papermate pen and could sign my name without pain. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I sat in my room and sobbed. This was real.

I know it’s not permanent. Remission isn’t a cure, only a period where the disease lies dormant. I may flare again next week. I may not flare for another few months or years. But trust me when I say that I’m making the most of this moment, the fact that I’m in little to no pain, and that I’m seriously loving my life right now.


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