Now as you runners know, "pain-free" is a relative term. But considering that I spent this week recovering from my recent flare of rheumatoid arthritis, I'd say that today I am 99% pain-free. I took a couple days off work to rest, recover, and process the changes in my treatment plan. I saw my rheumatologist on Monday. While I am going to continue on the same regimen I've been on for a while, including the steroids and methotrexate injections, she also started me on Humira.
The time off work gave me a lot of time to recover, but also to think. Once again, I am feeling overwhelmed. One step forward and two steps back. I have a stack of bills and medical statements to go through. I am worried about the cost of this new medication. I have a house that needs attention and a husband working 6 days/week. I have a marathon to train for. Oh, and I have a job that requires me to be healthy. It's all a bit much.
As the week went on, I started to feel much better, both physically and mentally. I made my workouts my priority. Worked on some blogging stuff. I enjoyed the sunshine. Hung out with the dog. Made dinner for my family.
And I focused on the positive.
I also educated myself on my new medication this week. You've probably seen the ads for Humira and other similar medications. Humira, along with all the other "biologics", is really expensive. These medications aren't first line treatments for any of the autoimmune diseases. It takes a treatment failure, similar to what happened to me, to qualify for these meds.
A nurse "ambassador" from the company that makes Humira called me this week. We talked for quite a while and she had all kinds of information and advice for me. One piece of advice made me pause. She told me that I might find it helpful to "keep a symptom diary" so that when I have a good day, it will really stand out for me.
|Cocoa, my dog "ambassador", reviewing all the educational materials sent to me regarding Humira.|
Maybe I'm not as bad off as other patients. I can't say that I've had any bad days. Sure, I've had days, like this past Sunday, where I don't feel well. I was hurting pretty bad and had a really tough run. I spent most of that day resting on the couch. But I reminded myself that there was a run--even a bad run is better than no run, right? The sun was out and it was warm. Both my boys were home for dinner and I made strawberry shortcake for dessert. There was a lot of good happening in my life that day.
Maybe it's because instead of focusing on how I feel, I choose to focus on the good. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal. Things could always be worse. I'm afraid that if I kept a symptom diary, I'd focus more on the negative. Writing down all my symptoms? Focusing on how I feel? By doing just that, can you see what might happen?
I said all of this to the nurse. I also told her about my background as a runner and that I had a marathon on the calendar for June. For a brief moment, she was speechless. She then told me was going to send me a welcome kit and an information packet. There would be that symptom diary, in case I wanted to use it. I listened politely. Maybe what she was suggesting would work for most other patients. But I'm not most other patients.
I refuse to be defined by this disease. I can't control what is going on inside my body, but I can control how I react to it. I'm afraid that if I succumb to focusing on my symptoms and defining my days as "bad" and "good", that there will be more bad days than good days. After this most recent flare, I can see how this could mess with a person's thinking.
Kind of like running, right? Running has taught me so much about staying positive. You don't line up for a race, thinking about how bad you feel or how it's going to be a bad race, do you? I don't. Prior to the starting gun, I think about my preparation, my experience, and my goals. That's how I plan on approaching this disease. I could focus on the bad, the pain, the fatigue--or I could think positive thoughts. Maybe I'm not going to win this race, but I'm going to run my heart out.
This past week, I stuck to my workout schedule. As I recovered from my flare, on Monday I skipped my yoga class at the studio and did a Yin practice at home. I found that holding the poses for the 3+ minutes was really helpful and calming. Wednesday, I went back to the studio, where our class focused on the 3 warrior poses. How perfect was this? It was as if the instructor knew what I needed. If you follow me on instagram, you know that I've been loving my warrior poses--the grounding, the stillness, the strength, and balance--it's all beneficial.
Becky is wrapping up my strength cycle. Next week is my final week and then we move on to marathon training! This week we did all three lifts: squat cleans, back squats, and deadlifts. The weights were lighter than they have been to "rest" me for next week when Becky will have me max out on my lifts.
I didn't miss a run this week. I pushed my distance to 6 miles both Tuesday and Thursday. Mentally, I needed these runs. They weren't fast--since my goal was to finish, not to fly, I'd tell Marcia that I used 2d gear for these. Tuesday's run was warm and humid. I can't remember the last time I ran in shorts in February!
Thursday's run was interesting for the dramatic weather change that occurred in the hour I was on the path. I headed out into the sunshine and wind. When I turned around at the halfway point, the sky was clouded over but I had the wind at my back. I flew home. But before I finished, I kicked up into a handstand. It took a couple of attempts but they felt easy and when I landed it and held it, I felt strong!
On Saturday, only Steph was brave enough to run 8 miles with me in the blustery, cold conditions. We ran up Payton's Hill twice and circled around the suburbs, stopping once for a pit stop at a clean gas station bathroom, and twice for some Tailwind. Our mile splits were all over the place, depending on our position in the wind. This was a tough, character building run, and we were thrilled to get it done! I felt great the entire time.
This week ends on a high note. Today was a gift. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm feeling better and my optimism is returning. Even if I'm not symptom-free, as long as my symptoms don't affect my activities, I'm good. The lessons I've learned from running apply to managing my rheumatoid arthritis. Fingers crossed that I am on the road to remission, or at least an intermission. Positive energy!
How was your week? Did you experience all 4 seasons like we did here in the midwest? What season are you in now? How do you deal with adversity? Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person. By the way, I'm married to Mr. Glass Half Empty! Opposites do attract.
Have a great week! I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap as well as Ilka and Angela for their Sunday Fitness and Food Link Up. Be sure to show our hostesses some love.