Pain Management

“The best way out is always through.” -Robert Frost


Pain.

I’m talking about the arthritis kind and the heart broken kind. Both have their way of knocking you on your butt at the most unexpected of times.

Last weekend I was in my car driving down to Orange County to visit my brother, with plenty of time on my hands to think. I thought about how, even if it was possible, I wouldn’t want anything to take my break-up pain away. The pain represents how invested I was in the relationship and how much I loved that guy. The pain is proof that something significant occurred over a lengthy period of time. It represents wonderful memories and a period of personal growth. Sure, it also symbolizes a broken relationship that no longer exists in its previous form… But I can deal with a little bit of pain, knowing how much I got out of the relationship.

And if I could have someone take away my arthritis pain? I’d pass on that, too. I know some of you must be thinking that I’ve gone completely bonkers. Perhaps that’s a little bit true, but let’s break it down.

Because of my arthritis, so many amazing things have entered into my life that I would not have experienced otherwise. I’ve met friends through a young adult support group that I can’t imagine not having in my life. I’ve gone to Washington DC to advocate for funding for arthritis research and experienced the satisfaction of participating, at a national level, in efforts to make the health care world a better place. I’ve met kids who have JA, Lupus and various other arthritis diseases and have been inspired by their ability to cope with the hardships that go along with having those challenges as a child. Just like in my relationship, I’ve seen and connected with people who have made a great impact on m life.

I choose to manage my pain by walking right through it. Sometimes I step on a piece of glass, often I narrowly avoid crushing a little flower that’s blooming in the middle nowhere, and sometimes I trip and fall, but I always get up. Of course, given my RA, the getting up takes a bit of effort, both literally and metaphorically.

ArthritisFriend Is Back In Action

Hello loyal friends and newcomers.

I wanted to share something with you this morning. It is darn tough to keep up a blog! I’m disappointed that I haven’t posted much in the last few months, but I’m not gonna dwell on that. It’s time to put my arthritic digits to the keyboard and get writing again! With that, I am posting a quick note to let y’all know that I’m getting back into the swing of things. It feels good to say that. Look for a new post (or two?!) this week! As always, thanks for your support.

Plus, I wanted to give a special shout out to the new arthritis friends I made recently. You guys are the best.

Be well,
Sheryl

Transformers, Shia LaBeouf, and My Rheumatoid Arthritis

What do these three seemingly unrelated things have in common?

They were all in Westwood, California this afternoon. Shia LaBeouf (Megan Fox, if she’s more your style) was presumably attending the premiere of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, at the Mann Bruin while I was tending to my rheumatoid arthritis at my rheumatologist’s office.

All this Hollywood fuss nearly made me late to my appointment.

Only in Los Angeles…

Red Carpet for the Transformers Movie

Treat Your Gums Right and Your Arthritis Will Follow

Gum Disease Linked to RAI ran across an interesting article about how gum disease might be linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis. A recent study concluded that when patients received treatment for their gum disease, their RA symptoms improved. From the article:

The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found treating gum disease was linked with reduced joint pain, fewer swollen joints and less morning stiffness in patients suffering from a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis.

Take care of those gums!

Via UPI [Treating gums helps rheumatoid arthritis]

Arthritis Patient Seeking Dr. Right

Happy Valentine’s Day, arthritis friends!

“Doctors” is a popular topic at my young adult support group meetings. I’m lucky that the two rheumatologists I’ve seen for my arthritis have both been excellent. But, more often than not, people I know tend to complain about their doctors.

For those that are not so lucky to have a great rheumy, it might be worth your while to check out RateMDs.com. You can browse doctors by city and specialty, and you can also look up specific doctors. I wouldn’t use this tool as your only source of information about a potential doc, but I think it could be a helpful resource, especially for someone who has just been diagnosed.

Say you get a doctor recommendation for a rheumatologist and he/she has mostly negative reviews on RateMDs.com, you might want to seek out another recommendation or do some further homework before making an appointment. Of course everyone’s perception and experience is different, so keep that in mind when doc hunting.

If you are curious like me, you can use look up your current doc to see what other people are saying about him/her. I plan on adding positive reviews for the two rheumatologists that I’ve seen, and a negative review for my ex-GP who once looked up my symptom (altered sense of taste) on the Internet. Um, I could have done that for free at home in my pajamas.

Three Simple Ways to Find a Rheumatologist

  • Obtain a referral from a doctor you trust and like.
  • Call your local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and ask for a doctor recommendation.
  • Find a support group for the type of arthritis that you have and ask people in the group for doctors that they’ve had a good experience with.

Just like you wouldn’t settle in a romantic relationship, don’t stay with a doctor you don’t like. If you feel that you don’t get good care from your doc, don’t give up. Search for a new one, even if it takes seeing a few bad doctors to get to a good one. Stick with it, your health is worth the trouble.

This Valentine’s Day, give your doctor some love, or find a doctor you may start a beautiful relationship with.

RateMDs.com

Educational Seminar On Sleep for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I am worthless the next day. Sometimes the pain from my arthritis prevents me from getting a quality night’s sleep, other times, I prevent myself from getting a good night’s rest by simply staying up too late.  So, I was excited to learn that a great site called CreakyJoints (from their website: a community for people of all ages with arthritis) will be hosting a free patient education seminar about getting a good night’s sleep on Thursday, February 12 from 7-8:15 p.m. ET. Participants have two options for joining.

Register to participate by clicking here. For more information about the event, click here.

If any of you out there have your own tips about resting well at night, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Six Tips For Managing Your Osteoarthritis

Hello fellow arthritis friends! I have been under the weather lately and have been quite remiss in following my schedule of regular postings. I came down with a virus about two weeks ago, which kept me off my regular dose of Enbrel, which in turn cause a bit of a flare. Ah, the fun of having a weakened immune system! But I am feeling better and am back in action.

Here is a USA Today article to get you started with. This piece offers some basic solutions on managing osteoarthritis.

"Most people accept osteoarthritis as a part of aging and have this misperception that there’s nothing you can do," says Patience White, chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation and a rheumatologist in Washington, D.C. "There is no quick fix, but there are things you can do."

The six tips are as follows:

  1. Watch your weight.
  2. Keep moving.
  3. Treat your pain.
  4. Try a supplement.
  5. See a physical therapist.
  6. Don’t rule out surgery.

I’m adding a seventh tip: Know your disease. Learn all you can about your disease and the recommended treatments. Ask your doctor questions. Get second opinions. Talk to other people who have Osteoarthritis. It’s trite, but true: knowledge is power.

If you have a tip, please share it in the comments.

Anti-inflammatory Effects of Turmeric Are Unproven

I am not one who has tried a lot of alternative food or supplement therapies to ease my rheumatoid arthritis pain or symptoms. I enjoy hearing about what works for some and what doesn’t work for others, but rarely do I feel motivated to investigate anything beyond that. I think this is partially due to the fact that it seems like an overwhelming task to determine which foods or supplements have a a positive impact on my disease. Plus, the prescription meds that I take do a pretty good job of keeping my disease in check.

Outside of my medication, I manage my disease by trying to stay active, eating healthy, and getting proper rest. I don’t always do any or all of those things well, but I feel like I can easily control those factors. Besides, those three things, plus taking my medication is enough for me to worry about. 😉

From time to time I hear about foods/supplements or foods that “do an arthritic-body good.” Turmeric is one that often gets a lot of attention. The LA Times has an interesting article about how there really isn’t enough hard evidence at this time to make the claim that Turmeric is useful in helping fight various diseases.

For the most part, the tantalizing possibilities are still unproven, says Greg Cole, a UCLA professor-in-residence of neurology and associate director of the university’s Alzheimer Disease Center who has been studying curcumin for several years. “It does a whole lot of things in a test tube,” he says. “For people, the data are pretty weak.”

Cole agrees that there’s little downside to trying curcumin. Because the compound is so poorly absorbed, he sees little potential for harm. Studies have found that people can take 7 grams a day without side effects, although it’s possible that larger doses, or use over longer periods of time, can upset the stomach and perhaps increase the risk of bleeding.

Have you tried Turmeric or other supplements? Have you notice an improvement in your disease? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Read the full article here.

Cool Tool For Those Who Try “To-Do” Too Much

To-Do List ManagerI have trouble sitting down to relax because my endless to-do list is always tugging on my sleeve. I think this is partially due to my genes. I also believe that the Fatigue Factor contributes greatly to my obsession with getting stuff done. See, I have a hard time accepting fatigue as part of my Rheumatoid Arthritis [this will likely be dissected in an upcoming post]. Accept it or not, I experience fatigue on a fairly regular basis. Instead of coping like someone who has had arthritis for 11 years, I am often stubborn and pretend like the word “fatigue” does not exist. This is not a good idea. 🙂

One of the keys to getting things done is locating that delicate balance between figuring out what must get done today and what can be done tomorrow. It’s best for an arthritis warrior to asses their to-do list on a regular basis so that it remains manageable.

A simple little web app called Now Do This makes creating and executing a to-do list a whole lot easier. Here’s what I like about it:

  • You can’t look ahead at other tasks, thus preventing an opportunity to be overwhelmed by your list.
  • This tool is not meant to hold your entire to-do list for the year. But it is a lovely place to house a few important tasks that must get done in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Multi-tasking is not an option. Focus on one task at a time, then move to the next item. Besides, multi-tasking never works as well as I’d like it to.

When you complete the list, the words “all done” appear.

Guaranteed to make you feel accomplished whether you walked a 5K or remembered to buy kitty litter.

How do you manage your to-do list? Share your stories and tips in the comments!

Now Do This [via Zen Habits]