What Smoking and Rheumatoid Arthritis have in common

Smoking is found to be the largest trigger of RA

Smoking is found to be the largest trigger of RA

I always knew I didn’t like smoke and I often offended people when I spoke up about it.  Now I wish I had simply done a better job at avoiding second-hand smoke all together.  Complaining did nothing for my health.  Dating smokers and working in restaurants which exposed me to smoke may have triggered my RA.  Watch this video and learn about how studies with identical twins and lab mice can teach you about smoking and environmental toxins.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Part Two

When your disease gets you down

Pain can bring out depression

Pain and Depression can go hand in hand

When it comes to chronic disease, we all have setbacks. Since last Wednesday I’ve been experiencing a flare. It’s honestly the first that I’ve had in a very long time that was quite this bad. It could be due to stress or medications or both. Compared to how I used to feel before alternative medications, this flare is a breeze. I can still lift my shoulders, tie my shoes and walk without wincing. Flares can vary so you never know what you’re going to get. For me, having Rheumatoid Arthritis can sometimes feel less of a joint disease and more of a systemic disease. For those of you that don’t know, RA can affect the organs just as much as the joints and it can mimic other diseases like Lupus.  I can see what’s happening to my joints….my fingers get more swollen than usual, but when it comes to my organs I can only guess what’s happening.

These last few days I’ve been getting up in the morning and feeling like I’ve smoked a pack of cigarettes. I don’t even know what that would feel like but I’m guessing this feeling is similar. There’s a sense of congestion and heaviness, accompanied with some discomfort to breathing especially if I bend over and especially when I first get up. Just like my joints, this feeling lessens as the day goes on. There are times that it feels like my heart is beating harder or having trouble….could it be Pericarditis? I simply don’t know. And there are moments when my sides have dull aches as if someing inside me is a bit more swollen than normal. Times like these I can only guess what’s going on. Without insurance, there is no way of knowing without going to the doctor and paying an arm and a leg.  Seeing that I can barely afford my supplements on my own, I simply can’t afford a doctor’s visit. Besides, I know the answer to the problem…..reduce the inflammation in my body and everything will be solved, including my sour mood.

If only it were that easy. I could take some Prednisone which sits in my cupboard. But after a year of trying to get off that stuff, no thanks. I’d rather not feel even more moody than I already feel which is what Prednisone would do to me.  Flares are bound to happen from time to time. I have been lucky to avoid having a flare for the past six months or so. I’m also lucky that this one isn’t all that bad. When I did have a doctor I had the same complaints: chest pain and congestion, rib pain, organ pain, and just about everything and everywhere hurt. Knowing that I have the least amount of pains now that I don’t have a doctor, it makes it all the more simpler to not worry and just keep going on with my life. A flare will eventually subside.

Extreme tiredness is another problem that accompanies most chronic diseases. It doesn’t seem to matter how many hours of sleep I get, I’m still tired. I can say however, the more I sleep, generally the less pain I wake up with. Depression is the other thing that pulls me down. People close to me try to perk me up and they say, “Don’t let yourself get depressed.” It’s hard to have that kind of self control. You go to lift something and you realize you don’t have the strength. You plan a day of activities to realize you don’t have the energy. You have aches and pains and have no way of relieving them. People want to spend time with you but you don’t want to spend time with them…..you are at a loss for words and feel like you might fall asleep in their presence. You find yourself stuttering. You spend more than your share of time in the bathroom to accomplish nothing. (Inflammation of the intestines can make you very constipated). People cook you food and you barely eat. I think faking the way I really feel takes its toll and adds to the depression. People ask on the phone, “How are you doing?” You answer, “Fine and how are you?” But the real answer would depress other people. “I feel extremely tired and sad that my weekend was taken away from me.” People don’t want to hear that so you hold it in and take one for the team, the chronically ill team that is.

What’s it like to have a chronic disease? Well, honestly it really takes it’s toll on your body and spirit,  especially when you’re going through a flare. The pain, the medications, the tiredness….none of it is easy. I can say that since I’ve been treating myself with alternative medications I feel WAY better than before, when I was on chemotherapy drugs and steroids. But even this path isn’t easy for reasons like expense, feeling alone on this particular path, and the amount of pills I have to take can be annoying and tiring.

At first I thought twice about writing an entry like this. After all, it can make people feel uncomfortable. But then I thought, why can’t I just be honest? Why spare other people and hold in these emotions?  Is this too much information? Perhaps it is but I don’t care. At least you know when you come to my blog you’ll get the truth and the real me.  Thanks to all out there, who visit.  You are my support and I appreciate you.

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis OUR fault??!! (A venting story)

Normal Hands vs. Arthritic Hands

Normal Hands vs. Arthritic Hands

Written by: Lisa (anonymous last name) Edited by: Sarah Keturah

I have a wonderful group of well-meaning friends. They all know about my condition, which my mother and my mom’s mom also have (my grandma had all her knuckles replaced several years ago and has severely deformed hands).

Nevertheless, I keep getting these emails and such about WONDER DIETS that will PURGE MY SYSTEM of the RA. How if I eliminate fungus (mushrooms, antibiotics) I will heal. How if I give up this or that or balance my chi or add yin to my yang or take up underwater basket weaving that I will have a miraculous recovery. PUH-LEEZE!

Did I drink too much Diet Coke? Was it my years of smoking cigarettes in college? I didn’t start eating red meat until I was in my 20s. Maybe I never should have started?

I don’t know. I’m just so FRUSTRATED. I don’t want to waste time on wondering WHY or HOW the RA happened, because now I have it and I have to live with it.

I am all for trying anything to help. Hell, I’m even trekking to Montana to see a Native American shaman this summer to see if he can pull the negative stuff out of me :-)

But I feel like people are looking at me with question marks in their eyes, peering into my soul, wondering *if* anything is wrong with me.

Maybe this irritates me so much because I wonder the same things, too. Sometimes I wonder if anything is wrong with me.

I see my swollen hands and have dreams about pain when I’m asleep. When I have flares I cry. I feel defeated by RA. But I can’t help but wonder … what is it?!

I am sero-negative so far (dx’d six months ago). My sed rates were up, but then went down at my last test. I want PROOF. I just want to know WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

And I want the people I love to quit questioning it. I don’t have the energy to try every stinkin’ diet, fast, medication or method. I am TIRED (the doctors call it “fatigued”) and I am SORE and I just want to make it through the day and change my baby’s diapers and get dinner on the table and clean clothes in the drawers.

Can’t I do that in peace, without having to wonder if I CAUSED MY RA?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Love you all, my kindred spirits.

Soft hugs all,
Lisa

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