Recomposing Myself

I’m trying to take better care of myself these days. After my most recent wicked rheumatoid flareup  I determined that if it at all helped with the pain and swelling it was time for a major lifestyle change in the form of an anti-inflammatory diet. I had an inkling that I was screwing myself with what  I was eating, so  I finally got my shit together and read the books my Sister gave me on the subject.

I’ve cut out red meat, dairy, gluten, sugar and nightshade veggies. I still take a small amount of milk in my coffee (which is the one thing I have cut back on but refuse to give up)but will probably switch to coconut milk. I have noticed a decline in symptoms since starting the diet six days ago. This, I’m very certain is also from the Enbrel kicking in. 

I was pretty stiff this morning and have some pain and synovitis but the diet seems to have taken some of the punch out of the swelling. I realize that pain is never really going to disappear but it has been diminished lately. Except over the weekend when  I cheated on my diet at my friend’s wedding. I felt that the next day for sure. 

So, been cooking lots of fish and chicken and various beans, lentils and brown rice as well as loads of veggies. Fruits and nuts (you are what  you eat) as well. I’ve been managing to keep my cuisine pretty interesting so far, naturally I’m happy about that. I’m currently enjoying a lazy day of giving my joints a break for once.

Chilling with my kitty and pondering what to prepare for dinner. We shall see. This diet is rough but  I want to give myself whatever edge I can on my disease process. At least  I still have coffee. If I can just get back to using the elliptical every other day I’ll be in good shape 🙂

I continue to be immensely excited about Iron Maiden live in June. As well as a few other upcoming shows. I might just try to get another jacket project going soon now that my hands are relatively calm.

That’s about all  I have for now. 

Blessed Be-

Thom

So it begins….

I’ve never really had many issues with fatigue until now. Of course,  I’ve always been a fairly heavy coffee drinker. Also, up until a month ago I was prescribed pharmaceutical stimulants for ADHD. I had to stop taking Ritalin recently due to recurring hypertension. For a long time the meds kept it in check but one day while on Ritalin I checked my pressure and was absolutely terrified by how high it was even with b/p meds. At that point I decided to just give it up and deal with the fog to the best of my ability.

I didn’t really notice much of a difference at first. My endurance was still pretty good and I kept pretty active. My job is pretty physically intense and has generally helped keep me relatively fit. I still find it difficult sometimes but can usually power through alright.  I still drink coffee but have cut down to two or three cups a day.

Lately though I’m noticing fatigue creeping in. Not dramatic but definitely there. For instance,  I get winded more easily and get lightheaded when I reach the top of a flight of stairs.  I hadn’t really thought a whole lot about it until the last week or so.

As a matter of self interest I try to get lots of sleep because it helps keep me sane. Lately though I sleep but wake up feeling more exhausted than when I went to bed. I’m usually getting seven or eight hours so I don’t think that I’m oversleeping.

A few days ago I had to be at work at eleven AM. I woke up stiff as hell and basically dead to the world.  I had my usual two cups of coffee and could still barely open my eyes.  I felt like a freaking zombie for lack of a better word.  I had an energy drink on the way to work and was still on the verge of nodding off for the first two hours I was at work.

Most of the time the first cup of coffee is all it takes.  That day was the most tired I can recall feeling in my adult life.  Even ten milligrams of prednisone didn’t perk me up any, which it almost always does. That was the first day it really sunk in that I have an autoimmune disease.  The swelling joints hurt but this is the first time it’s really slowed me down or messed up my game.

Two things are looming on the horizon in the next month :

1. The steroid is helping the swelling and the pain as well as helping me push through the fatigue but I’m going to have to stop taking it soon.

2. I’m going to start on some kind of DMARD (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drug) soon. These generally are some sort of immune suppressant type of drug. This has the possibility of making me more susceptible to illness and infection. 

I don’t know how my body is going to react to these changes and things have the potential to get really rough soon. Of course I’ll keep being a good little soldier,  but I have no idea what this is going to mean for my working life.

All I can do is hope for the best. I already have bone erosion in my hands so I’m not going to be an idiot and not treat it. I just hope it works and doesn’t ruin my quality of life.

Here’s hoping and praying.

-T

Rheumatologically Speaking

So yeah, my appointment with the Rheumatologist finally came. I’ve been eagerly awaiting getting to the bottom of the situation with my hands. I spent the first twenty minutes at the Diagnostic Clinic filling out intake paperwork,  then I went upstairs to meet my new Doctor.  He asked me about the problems I’ve been experiencing,  took a detailed history and upon examining my hands and other joints had two words to say : Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I’m not gonna lie,  I’m a bit shook up. I’m glad to have caught it relatively early on, but it’s still a bit scary. I’ve seen what advanced RA does to joints and it’s horrifying to say the least.  The first line meds to treat it are essentially immune suppressants.  It’s much more than arthritis,  it’s an autoimmune disorder that manifests itself in a plethora of ways including arthritis.  What it means is that my immune system is attacking my joints.

I brought lab results and xrays and these proved to be the clincher for the diagnosis.  He looked at my xrays with me and said ‘See these shadows near the joints? That’s decalcification.’ I don’t have a ton of bone erosion yet but ANY is frightening enough.

The Rheumatologist is pretty cool.  Nice laid back Black Man of about forty or so. He told me, ‘I can’t cure this for you, but it can be managed and long periods of remission are possible.’. He gave me paperwork for a bunch of lab tests and said ‘For the next few months you and I are going to be BFFs.’. We shook hands and he sent me on my way.

As I said, I’m a little funny feeling right now.  It’s starting to sink in.  But I’m not going to use over it or let it screw up my program.  I’ve worked too damn hard to turn tail and run.

I’m a little scared but I refuse to let it conquer me. Time to activate the Celtic Fire in the blood. I’m coming up with strategies for taking it easy on myself and am not going to bus tables more than two days a week.  Non-consecutively. I have to make money but I’m not going to kill myself to live. Hosting is relatively easy money and I’m fortunate to have added it to my restaurant skills.

Aside from that news, life is about the same. Upped my Wellbutrin due to some creeping depression and feeling far better for it. In love with my Boyfriend and life. That’ll do.

So I have a connective tissue disease, BFD.
Time to let Mr. Berserker out of the bag,  methinks.

Until we meet again,
Thom
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