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Pride Goeth Before…

Last week I was traveling for business. While walking between a restaurant and the hotel I stepped off the edge of the sidewalk into unexpectedly deep grass and took a header. There was a moment when I almost caught myself and then realised that I would probably do less damage if I just let myself fall onto the grass. I scraped my left wrist on the pavement but otherwise was fine. My left shoulder was very unhappy with me, however, and it took a few days to settle down. Mostly I was just embarrassed since I fell in front of coworkers, but I know that during my monthly call with my nurse she’ll ask if I’ve had any falls, and this time I’ll have to say yes. It’s been a while, and I know it’s a very real risk with RA. I am still regaining the mobility lost due to foot issues and am still getting up to speed on my reclining exercise bike (which I am loving!). It’s just frustrating when my body fails me, especially when I feel like I’ve been doing so much better. I was recently reminded that I can be a bit stubborn (*ahem*), and that definitely applies to what I can, or can no longer, do. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. (or one step off the pavement, in this case.)

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New Year Check-In

…a bit belated. I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I updated, but the holidays will do that to you.

I barely know where to start, really. We had cycles of very cold (for my region) and then unseasonably warm weather which played havoc with my arthritis, in particular my hands (not to mention things blooming unseasonably, so allergies are in full swing already). The tendinitis “trigger thumb” in my right hand has been very painful and even with wearing a splint at night it still wakes me up at times. In fact, my overall pain got so bad that I went on a ten-day taper of steroids to help put it in check (which I loathe doing). It helped, for the most part.

All this has been a bit more hectic since my rheumatologist has left the practice and relocated outside of my area. I haven’t met my new “temporary” doctor yet, but had to get bloodwork done to renew my prescriptions. Thanks to changes in my supplemental medical coverage this ended up being a three-way paperwork fest which was finally resolved as of this morning and resulted in me missing only one week of medication. It has been stressful, to say the least, in addition to trying to dodge round after round of colds and flu at work. I had actually managed to accrue some sick time at work and then had to use it all on a chest cold that took out half of my team (luckily I had a light variant, but I am constantly wiping everything down with antibacterial cloths).

Without going into too much detail, I also began seeing a women’s doctor again. With the medications I take it’s not safe if I became pregnant, but the medication I was taking was having significantly bad side effects. Just as I get a referral and have an introduction appointment I’m notified that the new doctor’s practice and my health insurance have not renewed and the end date is alarmingly soon, so I was in a rush to get my meds changed before the cost-off. I was able to my medical appointment done and now am adjusting to the new medication, but I feel like it’s a taste of the direction that women’s medicine has been going in this country for quite a while now. I’m not going to go into politics here, but it added significantly to my stress, which I did not need in the least.

In good news my left foot is much better with just a little stiffness in the early mornings, which is probably the new normal. My Christmas gift to myself was a reclining bicycle, and hubby’s gift was cleaning up the spare room to make space for it. I only used it twice last week, so my goal for this week is three times. I have had to start much slower than I expected (10 minutes 30 seconds and 12 minutes 30 seconds respectively) but I am still adjusting settings. Building up my thighs will help my right knee not overextend, so it’s better not to push too hard. I feel like it is already helping my lower back which has been particularly bad this past week- so any progress there is welcome.

Not much else going on, really. I haven’t seen The Black Panther yet thanks to an unfortunate migraine yesterday, but will definitely see it this weekend- I’m so excited! It looks gorgeous and everything I’ve heard has been glowing so far.

One other gripe- I am still trying to adjust to diet to help avoid kidney stones. Hubby asked for a list of what I *can* eat since the list is getting so short. I really wish he was joking. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Oh- and I received all my medical statement summaries for last year. Without insurance I could have covered my prescriptions and had $5,000 left of my income. Which means that with my medical bills I would have been $35,000 in debt. I am grateful every day for my insurance- I honestly don’t know how I would be able to work full-time without it (which of course is it’s own source of stress, since I need to keep working to qualify, not to mention that hubby is covered under my insurance).

*sigh*

Alternate Title: Headcolds in the Office

I have been sick pretty much non-stop for three weeks now. I’m not sure if I relapsed or picked up a new bug when I went back into work, but right now any day without a nosebleed is a win. I am sure the family will be thrilled to have my stuffy-headed mumbling at the dinner table Thursday. To top it off, the fire alarm went off at work and we had to evacuate- into the rain. I had my umbrella but not my sweater and by the time I found shelter to put on my poncho I was already wet. *curses and shakes fist* I am looking forward to Thanksgiving however, if only for a four-day weekend where I (hopefully) won’t be too sick to enjoy it.

I go back to the urologist next week for the results of the kidney stone biopsy. I had an x-ray of my digestive system done but I won’t have those results until I see the doctor. Wish me luck!

Honestly not much else is going on. Hubby and I ended up having a nice dinner-and-movie for our ten year anniversary despite me being a sodden lump, and then we were able to drag our friends out the following weekend for the same by arranging a babysitter at our house (MIL to the rescue!). It’s only their second date without the baby since he was born, and he just turned two!

I still cannot find my fitbit anywhere and now wonder if it fell off somewhere rather than been stolen by the cat. The second option is still the more likely, but I just can’t find it anywhere. If I replace it that’s the sure way to find it again… *grumble*

Speaking of gifts, I am belatedly getting my gift-giving list together, thanks to people’s wishlists. It might be “cheating” but I’d much rather get someone something they want rather than a wild stab in the dark at the last minute thanks to cold medicine. I would like to try holiday cards this year- especially for New Hampshire family since I just visited them, so hopefully the long weekend will give me a jump-start for that… *crosses fingers*

Victory!

I’m so relieved- my latest liver panel came back normal! It was definitely the cholesterol med that was stressing out my liver. I still need to deal with the high cholesterol, but I really didn’t need liver disease and/or failure on top of everything else right now. My rheumatoid meds put me at high risk, which is why I don’t drink alcohol- it’s just not worth the risk.

I am officially up to four doctor appointments next week to match the four this week. I let hubby hear my crinkly knee and I now have a doctor appointment. I had picked up a knee wrap from the pharmacy but it barely fits and doesn’t restrict my knee movement at all. It still doesn’t hurt and I don’t feel anything, but I’m starting to hear it going up stairs at well. This is the same knee I messed up in high school, but I’m sure all the limping from the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has contributed.

In other news, I still can’t find my FitBit Alta. I took it off for the shower and Scout stole it and I can’t figure out where he hid it for the life of me. At this rate I suspect it’ll turn up whenever we move  next.  :\ It’s a good thing he’s so darn cute.

Updates

I saw the podiatrist and it looks like my plantar fasciitis is totally cleared up. The spiral fracture is healing, and he showed me a different way to tie my sneaker so it will put less pressure on the break (I wish he had showed me that sooner). Oh, and walking barefoot is bad which is… something I do a lot. I don’t know that I can commit myself to a 50$ pair of fancy (and ugly) “recovery” flip-flops to wear in the house. I probably will eventually, but hopefully I can find a sale or something. The tendon in my heel is getting better, and I only need to wear my night splint 2-3 nights a week now. Yay! I do have to keep up with my icing and topical treatment, which I am not as religious about as I should be. Argh.

Wednesday night about 6:30 I started getting a frighteningly familiar pain in my side. I checked the pharmacy hours and ran out to fill the pain prescription the hospital gave me. Sure enough, it was another kidney stone. Thankfully, I did not start throwing up this time (which would have landed me back in the hospital), and I was able to doze fitfully between cramps until it passed around 3 am. I slept in the next day, but I did manage to work four days that week, which is probably the most I’ve managed in over a month. If you factor in all my doctor appointments and lab tests I’ll be short a day this week and next as well.

Saturday night I fell asleep with a headache and woke up with it still in the morning. I fought a migraine most of the day until I gave in and took the prescription med for it. I really dislike the nerve buzzing I get from it, but it kept things down to a dull roar when our friends came over with their 2-year old. I hadn’t seen them in weeks and really didn’t want to reschedule again or have to hole up in my room and not socailize.

Oh, and I have a cold. And menstrual cramps, which is just adding insult to injury, really.

Mostly, I am badly fatigued. I’d like to blame it on cutting out all sodas but it’s not caffeine withdrawal. I’m worried it might be related to my liver issues. I get my follow-up bloodwork done on that today and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I haven’t updated here in a very long time, mostly because no news is (usually) good news.

The other option is when I’m hit by one thing after another and it takes a while to get to a place where I can actually look back and summarize what’s going on.

Sadly, recently it’s been the second option.

Let’s start with plantar fasciitis. (Yes, I know I spelled it wrong in my Categories tag- I’ll fix it… eventually.) A few months ago (? six? I honestly don’t remember how long this has been going on) I started having severe pain in my left foot that made it difficult to walk. Since starting with a podiatrist I have stretched, iced, medicated, gelled, electro-therapied, splinted, spent way too much on increasingly specialized sneakers, inserted and padded my foot. This has gotten me to be mostly mobile but with possible Achilles tendon issues and a stress fracture in my foot. (Remember the Year of Foot Fractures? Sadly, I do.) In all, I am better than I was, but not being able to walk reliably has led to weight gain that I really don’t need. I am progressing, just very slowly.

Hurricane Irma. That worked out much better than expected, with my pharmacies being very proactive in making sure I had enough meds until things were back to normal (apparently they learned some painful lessons with Harvey that they didn’t want to repeat). I am deeply grateful for this. The aftermath was hot, muggy, and I chopped off my hair. We had water but cold showers could only do so much and my hair. Just. Didn’t. Dry. A minor injury on my spouse’s part kept me very busy and I was pretty exhausted by the end of it all, despite work being closed for a week.

My rheumatoid is doing well. Sadly, my liver is acting up. My biologic medication can impact my liver. Tests are ongoing. I am already off my cholesterol meds and have blood work scheduled next week so wish me luck.

And hey! A hospital visit! I went from “Hmm- maybe that sushi I had for lunch was off” to “oh crap- is that my appendix?” within 20 minutes last Thursday. There was a LOT of throwing up, which is one of my least favorite things to do. My throat was wrecked for days from it all. I ended up with an ambulance ride to the hospital for what turned out to be a kidney stone! Fantastic! I ended up only being there around 8 hours and the stone passed on its own. I only picked up a mild respiratory cold while I was there, and was singularly unimpressed with morphine’s lack of impact on kidney stone pain. They were going to keep me in observation overnight when the pain suddenly stopped (I thought they had finally put me on The Good Drugs, but no).  I have to agree with most folks who have experienced a kidney stone- this is probably the new “10” on my pain scale. I continue to be pissed as hell at how tiny the stone actually is (3 mm. Yep- I have it. Going to see a Urologist next week. Whee!)

I… could say a lot more about my whole experience. The EMT who couldn’t get my vein because it kept rolling- I forgive you even if it meant blood running down my arm and terrible bruising, but dang I could have lived without that on top of everything else. I am wearing long sleeves while it heals- the bruising for my IV is already gone. Overall, for an unexpected admission I did pretty well. Hubby was fantastic and grabbed my medical emergency sheet and stack of prescriptions, which was useful. Mostly it was a lot of waiting. Hopefully, I just need to drink  more water *crosses fingers* because there are more stones in there and I VERY much want to never go through that again. I was just grateful that it waited until I was back from the rural mountains of New Hampshire or that would have been a much, much worse experience.

And then there’s the fact that my right knee sounds like crinkling cellophane when I walk down stairs. I don’t even have an appointment for that yet since there’s no pain and I’m pretty sure they’re just going to tell me it’s arthritis. I’m dealing with one crisis at a time here.

In good news a cold front came through so we have cool, dry weather and I got to wear one of my sweaters today- yay! And I am forever grateful for my insurance- we are still covering hubby’s medical bills from his ambulance ride and hospital visit for a sliced finger (the night before Irma hit no less. We waved at his room as we left the hospital after my stay). Overall I am- tired. And my stomach is easily made unhappy, but I am much, much better and dealing.

Oh! And no allergy shot for me this week- I picked up four fire ant bites over the weekend. Thankfully, this is my last vial- once I use it up no more allergy shots! It only took five years!

Lots has been going on health-wise but I’ve had a hard time writing about it (or about anything). I am working on giving myself permission to not feel guilty about my lack of posts, but it’s a work in progress. However, since I have some good news to share, I thought I would finally write something.  :}

About six weeks ago I started Enbrel. It’s been a challenge (mostly, a challenge to deal with my fear of needles so I can self-inject once a week). It’s not getting easier, but I’m more confident that I’m not going to do myself serious injury in the process. It’s hard to say how much impact it’s having- it’s still pretty early in treatment, but my energy is better and the arthritis in my feet and toes is hugely improved, which helps me get on the treadmill and is always a good thing. I do find myself getting fatigued more easily and sleeping more/taking naps on weekends, but hopefully that’s just part of the adjustment process (whether to the medicine, the exercise, or both).

The biggest positive outcome is that I am now off the sulfsalazine (which didn’t seem to have any effect on my RA whatsoever). That means four less huge pills a day and they’re not turning my hands and other pills yellow any more. Yay! If all continues to go well in the next couple of weeks I can taper off of Prednisone (which would make me SO happy).

It’s hard to think that I have been trying to treat my RA for nine years now and we’re only just starting on biologics. I track when I stop medications, and it’s a long list of trying different things with only partial success. It’s not a magic cure (if only!), but the rate of temporary remission is fairly high and I have hopes. It’s not likely that I’ll ever be 100% pain-free, but any reduction is welcome.