async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: rheumatoid arthritis
Showing posts with label rheumatoid arthritis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rheumatoid arthritis. Show all posts

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Keeping On...

Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for roadID and receive complimentary products in exchange for sharing my love for them. I am an ambassador for RA Healthline and receive compensation for my participation. This post contains an affiliate link.

Stormy weather, a virus rages on, looting and riots in downtown Chicago, political turmoil...every day it's something new. I've been really busy at work doing school physicals, which this year more than ever have revealed deep emotional issues in so many of the children I care for. Life's really been tough for everyone. I'm grateful for the warm weather and the sunshine; for friendships and love, and these days, I'm especially grateful for running. My escape into the woods in particular gives me peace and clarity. That feeling mostly stays with me upon my 're-entry' into the real world once again. I try to bring my best to each day. 

How are you holding up?

Wednesday's trail run

Friday, July 3, 2020

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Good morning! Let's catch up over socially distant coffee. I'm still loving my Dunkin Donuts with a splash of half and half and a scoop of GLG collagen. What will you be having?

Last time for this view...

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Why I'm Adding the OMRON TENS to My RA Toolbox

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with compensation, an OMRON TENS Therapy Max Power Relief Unit, and an OMRON Focus TENS Therapy for Knee Unit in exchange for my evaluation and honest opinion. 

May is Arthritis Awareness Month. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I do my best to maintain an active lifestyle. Due to RA, I often have aches and pains but I try not to let it stand in the way of doing what I love. I've tried all kinds of non-medicinal remedies for pain relief, all with varying results. I like to say that I have a 'toolbox' of things that I can access when I need to and I'm always looking to add to it!

A few weeks ago, I received the OMRON TENS Therapy Max Power Relief Unit and the OMRON Focus TENS Therapy for Knee Unit to try out and review. I shared information on the devices here and tried to learn as much as I could about TENS. Since then, I've been using both of the devices daily.



Sunday, May 24, 2020

Muck, Ruck, and WTF

Disclaimer: As an All Community Events ambassador, I receive free entries to their events.

Maybe it was the relentless rain, maybe it was the sad-to-me news that my parents sold the lake house, or maybe it was the continued stress of the pandemic, but this week, I had an uptick in RA symptoms. Boo! It’s been a while since I’ve felt the beast. In a strange way, the timing was good since I’ve been trialing that TENS unit. Let’s just say that the TENS got a lot of use this week. On Friday, I finally had to break down and take some ibuprofen, which definitely helped.

In spite of it all, or maybe because of it all, I managed to get my runs and workouts in. I received news this week that my CrossFit box is opening up in June, but that things will be dramatically different. I’m a little reluctant to go back to group workouts. I understand that they will be limiting the class sizes to 8 and there will be distancing between participants. I’m just not sure if I’m ready. I’m glad that over the past couple of months, I was able to get a home workout routine established and I’m content to continue that for the time being. 




Tuesday, May 19, 2020

11 Must-Have Items for Runners with Arthritis

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

While it might seem counterintuitive to have rheumatoid arthritis and be a long distance runner, there are many of us with RA who manage to keep on running. I was a runner for many years before I was diagnosed with RA. While I've had my struggles with disease flares and joint pain, I've made it work. So many people have told me that running is going to destroy my knees, but my believe has always been that arthritis is going to ruin my knees, not running. Research backs me up on this. As long as this body lets me run, I'm going to do it.

It's Arthritis Awareness Month and I'm sharing some favorite items that keep us arthritis warriors moving. I'm a member of 2 very positive and motivating Facebook groups, Runners with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Athletes Beating Rheumatoid Arthritis. I polled both groups and asked the members to share some of their favorite items that help them manage RA while they keep on running.



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

10 Reasons TENS is a Great Option for Managing Pain

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with compensation, an OMRON TENS Therapy Max power relief unit, and an OMRON Focus TENS Therapy for Knee unit in exchange for my evaluation and honest opinion. 

An avid long distance runner for most of my life, a few years ago, I started struggling with running. I could barely run a mile or two without having to stop to walk. A year earlier, I endured a prolonged bout of plantar fasciitis. There had been ongoing trouble with my left big toe joint, forcing me to alter my stride so I didn't land on it. Then a Baker's cyst popped up behind my left knee. After consulting the sports medicine specialist on and off for a couple of years for all these issues, she put the pieces of the puzzle together. On the morning I was scheduled to have diagnostic blood work drawn, I woke up with a painful, swollen right toe.

Being a medical provider is a blessing and a curse. That morning, I knew what my blood work was going to show--and it did, definitively, with a sky high rheumatoid factor and other abnormal numbers in my results.

I had rheumatoid arthritis.

After receiving the news, I shed many tears but was determined to get on top of my diagnosis. I was fortunate to be able to obtain an appointment with an amazing rheumatologist within a week of my diagnosis. She told me that I had an aggressive form of the disease which required aggressive treatment. I was started on steroids to get my symptoms under control, as well as methotrexate, a medication used to manage the inflammation associated with RA. She also told me I could take NSAIDS for my pain.

Over time, the methotrexate was stopped and I was started on an arthritis prescription for long-term use, which I continue to take to this day. My disease activity is well-controlled, but I do deal with pain and stiffness on a daily basis. I've been able to continue running and other activities as my body dictates. I'm not a fan of taking pain medication. I prefer to try non-pharmacological pain management strategies, such as ice, heat, compression, massage, and stretching before resorting to taking medication.



Sunday, May 3, 2020

100 Miles!

This month, I hit the 100 mile mark for the first time since January 2018, totaling 107 miles for the month.  In spite of all that is happening now, what with COVID19, races being canceled and social distancing, as far as running goes, 2020 is turning out to be pretty good so far. I'm ok with not running a ton of races, as long as I get the chance to tackle that 50k trail race in September!

I runfess...that I chased that 100 mile benchmark for socks. Smartwool had a Strava challenge where if you logged 100 miles running, you were awarded a $25 gift card. I'll do anything for good running socks. My sock obsession was once again satisfied. So was my ego!

Monday's recovery run where I hit 100 miles for the month.


Friday, May 1, 2020

The Best Part of Waking Up...

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! I'm so ready for a hug. Virtual coffee dates have been so much fun but they're just not the same as face to face. Wouldn't you agree? I'm trying not to complain--I know it could be so much worse. It's just lonely. While we wait for this virus to ebb, we'll just have to the best of things with our virtual options.

I'm still drinking my Folgers--as Linda called it last time, 'nurse coffee'. You know, the hard stuff. Go ahead, make fun of me. I actually don't think it's that bad! I'm putting my collagen and some half and half in today.

As I mentioned in my Runfessions post last week, April felt like the longest month. It didn't help that we had so much rain and wind. Before all this happened, I thought how nice it would be to have some time off. Be careful what you wish for, right?

source

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I'm the Reason You're Social Distancing

Yep, it's because of me.

I'm the reason you are being told to stay home and to keep your distance from other people. It's because of me that you have to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds while singing Happy Birthday or Raspberry Beret. It's all my fault that you have to wear a mask or a scarf when you go out of the house.



Friday, March 6, 2020

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! I've got some good stuff brewing. I picked up this bag of Allegro Girls Gotta Run Coffee at Whole Foods last week. Girls Gotta Run is a foundation started in 2007 with a mission to empower girls in Ethiopia through education and athletics. GGR starts working with girls after age 12 to keep them in school by providing them with scholarships, trains them in athletics, teaches them life skills, and assists their mothers in building a business. This year, the first class of girls graduated from the scholarship program--100% of them are going to college.

Allegro Coffee has been involved with the program since 2015 and this year has pledged $10,000 from its sales of Girls Gotta Run coffee. International Womens' Day is Sunday, March 8--what an amazing way for Allegro to empower these young women! This is a cup of coffee you can feel good about drinking.

Plus, the coffee is really good! I'll have a little half and half in mine, if you please...




Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Activity Hangover

As I've increased my mileage and upped my weights, I've noticed an increase in my RA disease activity. Physical activity, including running and strength training, can cause inflammation. In a person without an autoimmune disease, the inflammation brought on by vigorous exercise can lead to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In those of us afflicted with RA and the like, not only do we get DOMS, but we can get an activity hangover.

Just like a hangover from being overserved at the bar, an RA activity hangover can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms like nausea, fatigue, stiffness, and joint pain. The activity hangover is due to excess products of inflammation in the body. For the past couple of weeks, on and off, I've had these symptoms. I guess you could say I've been overserved at the bar--the lifting bar, lol. Yet, I keep going back for more. Deadlifts? Make that a double, coach...

I'm pretty sure that having an activity hangover is the reason I struggled at last Sunday's Auto Show Race. That 10 miler I ran the day before apparently was equivalent to too many glasses of wine. Was it worth it? 

Of course it was. After all, no good story starts with "I went for a walk"...

On Monday, I debated going to CrossFit because I still felt yucky. I woke up feeling stiff, achy, sore, tired, and a little bit queasy. But like I always do when I don't feel well is I decided to TRY. I was able to finish that workout strong! No regrets. Sure beats laying around on the couch. What's an RA warrior to do?

Avoid foods that cause inflammation. Eat more foods that reduce inflammation. Drink lots of water. Most important of all: take and respect total rest days.

The best remedy? A little hair of the dog: gentle movement. Gentle stretching and yoga. Hangover be dammed. Contrary to what you might think, laying around only increases the joint stiffness. I've found that once I get moving, I do feel better. 



Friday, February 14, 2020

Loving...Not Loving

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a long time since I've done a loving..not loving post. I figured that there was no time better than the day of love...or not love, in some cases, to share what's been making me happy lately. My cup doesn't always runneth over with love, though...



Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Not Every Race Has Bling: 8 Lessons Learned from Running 2019

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and my experiences should not be used for your medical decision making. I would refer you back to your medical provider. 

Coming off 2018, one my highest mileage years ever, the bar was set high. There was no reason to think I couldn't ride the wave through 2019, right? 2019 started off really well for me, with a half marathon in January, followed by an indoor marathon relay. The polar vortex didn't slow me down!

No, but rheumatoid arthritis had other ideas. In February, I received the shingles vaccine after which I had a reaction. For most people, the vaccine reaction is short--about 24-48 hours, but for this RA warrior, the vaccine triggered a prolonged flare of my disease. For the next 4-6 months, I battled severe fatigue, joint pain, and loss of endurance. While the flare slowly resolved, it was frustrating and I received very little support from my rheumatologist, save for multiple rounds of steroids.

Taking charge of my health, I changed my diet, reducing the amount of 'inflammatory' foods and eating mostly plant-based. I also learned about and started a medication that could help with some of the pain I had been experiencing. I sought out a second opinion from a different rheumatologist and switched my care to her. Time will tell if she's 'the one' for me.

As the year winds down, I am back on track and feeling really good. While I continue to have mild symptoms that remind me that yes, I do have RA, this is the best I have felt in a long time. Instead of doing a traditional recap of all my races--you can find all my recaps on my races page--I wanted to share a few highlights along with some of the lessons I learned over the course of the year. Because running is always teaching us old dogs new tricks.



Sunday, December 1, 2019

Race Recap: Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon

As an ambassador for All Community Events, I received a free entry to the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon. My opinions are my own.

"You're having a bad race too?"

I was taking a walk interval at about mile 10 during the recent Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon. The runner on the path next to me, who was also walking, looked unhappy. When I told him that I was run/walking this race and actually, no, I wasn't having a bad race, he didn't answer.

I thought to myself about how lucky I was to be out here, running a half marathon. I get to do this! When my walk minute was up, I started to run again.



Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday Runfessions

Doesn't this feel like the longest month ever? With 5 Thursdays this month, I thought Thanksgiving would never come. Hopefully, all of you survived your day with your loved ones and are now recovering from your food coma or hitting the Black Friday sales. Me, I'm at work because illness never takes a day off.

I'm thankful for Marcia and her monthly Runfession Sessions. It's time to cleanse the soles and start this holiday season off with a fresh slate. Do you runfess? It's pretty painless...



Friday, November 1, 2019

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! Once a month, Deborah and Coco host a coffee chat where a bunch of bloggers talk about what's going on in our lives. Besides running, that is! I'm having a cup of that yummy Colectivo Co-Optiva that I picked up again in Madison last week. Don't you love regional coffees? Do you take anything in your coffee? I've got half and half over here...


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Second Opinion: How Do I Know Which Way to Go?

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to give medical advice, but to share my personal experience. You should always consult your medical provider for any concerns regarding your health. In addition, I am pro-vaccine and am not advocating for anyone to avoid a vaccine based on my experience.

Last February, I developed a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare that never seemed to end. Initially, I wasn't sure what was going on but my endurance was suddenly gone. Poof! It was as if I never had run a step in my life. My heart would beat into the red zone if I moved any faster than a walk. I was experiencing an uptick in joint pain and such severe fatigue that I could barely climb a flight of stairs without having to stop to catch my breath. Running became such a challenge that even the run/walk intervals I had used successfully in the past weren't helping me.

Was it the weather? Or something else? As the symptoms continued, I thought about everything that could have caused this flare. Then the light bulb went off. I had received a shingles vaccine week earlier-- could that have triggered an immune response that fueled my disease? Upon the advice of my rheumatologist, I held my dose of Humira the week before and after receiving the vaccine so that my immune system would properly respond to the vaccine. The day after I received the vaccine, I developed a fever and body aches. I figured it was just a typical vaccine reaction. I initially felt better but after a week or so found myself in a full-blown disease flare.

Unfortunately, this flare lasted for months. A course of steroids would tamp down my symptoms, but as soon as I stopped them, the flare would fire up again.

A long time runner, I have always used my runs to measure my health. I might wake up in the morning and feel bad, but if I have a run scheduled and it goes well, I know that I'm well enough to go to work and proceed with my day. I think most runners are in tune with their bodies and can read their symptoms pretty well. As a nurse practitioner, I joke that I have enough medical knowledge to be dangerous. The bottom line is that I have the ability to figure out what is happening with me.
If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I struggled with running and other endurance workouts for most of this year. I dropped down to the 5k in many of my planned races as well as DNSing races that didn't have a shorter distance as an option. It was disheartening as well as discouraging. In August, I wrote a post titled "Can I Even Call Myself a Runner". I was really depressed and frustrated. I thought I might not be able to run anymore.

My rheumatologist downplayed my symptoms. Among the other things she told me, she said that since my inflammatory markers were normal, my symptoms weren't due to an RA flare. Frustrated with her response to my concerns, I decided to seek a second opinion. Even though there was a 6 month wait for a new patient appointment with the rheumatologist I wanted to see, I was willing to wait. I knew that the flare would take time to resolve and that there was nothing magical to make it go away. I just wanted to find a provider who would listen to me.



Sunday, October 13, 2019

I Haven't Got Time for the Pain

Carly Simon sang it back in the 70s. Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins updated it and is forever immortalized on a meme.  I tweaked it to fit my week. I had a rheumatoid arthritis flare this week. Fortunately, the flare was brief. Because I don't have time for pain!

It's been a busy week! Let's get right to it.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Random Friday Thoughts

Guys, I got nothing for today except a bunch of random thoughts that alone don't add up to a whole blog post. It's been a busy, big couple of weeks. This week has been all about recovery--both physical and mental. Indulge me while I share some of my ruminations from Wednesday's run.



Friday, August 9, 2019

How to Partner with Your Doctor and Take Charge of Your Health

As an athlete, I've always been someone who likes to be in charge of my body. I'm also a nurse practitioner who works in a primary healthcare setting, managing patient care. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago, I looked for a specialist who would provide the medical care I needed but would also partner with me in medical decision making. In the early days of my diagnosis, I was more passive as a patient, letting my doctor order medications and treatments she deemed necessary. As time passed, I did the necessary homework, reading up on my disease and treatments and asking questions.

I took a more active role in my treatment plan when a serious side effect occurred with one of the medications I was taking. My doctor wanted to continue the medication but at a lower dose. We debated the pros and cons and in the end, she discontinued the medication. With my most recent disease flare, during which I had severe fatigue, we discussed options of how to best manage my symptoms. I agreed to a trial of a new medication. After 6 weeks of the medication, there was no improvement and I developed tinnitus, a non-reversible side effect. During those 6 weeks, I combed through the medical literature on my condition and symptoms. When I returned to see my doctor, armed with knowledge, I was prepared to discuss my perspective, as an athlete and as a patient. While she stopped the tinnitus-causing medication, alternative medications she wanted me to start would have further impacted my ability to exercise. There was an alternative medication I had learned about and when I presented it to her, she liked it.

Several months later, I can say that I am feeling and doing much better.

I see a lot of posts on social media from fellow athletes who have health problems, ranging from injuries to chronic illnesses like mine. As a health care provider myself, I can say with all honesty that not all medical providers are willing to partner with their patients to develop a plan of care that is customized to their needs. There are also patients who are willing to take a passive role in their health care and follow whatever their physician tells them. I am also amazed at people who refuse to follow conventional, proven treatments for health conditions. While there is a place for alternative medicine, it is as an adjunct to conventional medicine, not as a replacement. There has to be a happy medium here!

How do we partner with our doctors (and nurse practitioners) and still take charge of our health?