Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Kneecap Went on Vacation Without Me

After an hour in the sports medicine waiting room this afternoon, APL and I finally met a very nice orthopedist who gave us some good news: there doesn't appear to be any permanent damage in my knee and crutches won't be necessary!

She says what happened was patellar subluxation, which basically means that my kneecap thought it would be a good idea to pop out of the socket and then changed its mine and popped back in again. (So turns out Pop Goes the Knee(sel) was a very appropriate post title.) This was highly painful and my knee is still traumatized from the event, but there is nothing physically wrong with my knee right now except bruising and soreness.

While she said that this could happen randomly and to anyone, she also said that people with RA are slightly more likely to have this happen because recurrent swelling of the knee can make the muscles that hold the kneecap in place weaker. However, I haven't really had trouble with my knees since I was very first diagnosed with RA, so maybe this was a random event for me.

In any event, the treatment is to wear the knee brace, walk gently on it, and start physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles to reduce the likelihood of this ever happening again. So I'll see the physical therapist on Monday.

Thank goodness I don't have to keep using those crutches. RA + crutches = sucks real bad! In addition to the pain already in my knee, the crutches made my fingers hurt from gripping and my wrists and shoulders hurt from supporting my weight. I only used the crutches for half a day, but I am 100% exhausted this evening.

The news could have been so much worse. To be honest I was pretty nervous and freaked out about this whole experience and what it might mean for my future if my joints were already starting to fall apart, despite treatment. So I'm sure some of the exhaustion I am currently feeling comes from worry too. So, though my knee is still killing me despite the vicodin I took a little while ago, I am extremely grateful that there is no permanent damage in my knee.

And I'm super thankful for APL through this whole thing - coming running to me when I cried out, bringing me lunch and coffee at the law school, chauffeuring me around, and helping me through all the waiting rooms and doctors appointments. Looks like I picked a good one!!


Just remembered my other favorite moment from yesterday:

As the nurse was putting the brace on my knee, she asked "are you two boyfriend and girlfriend?" (which is sort of an awkward question to begin with, I think. What if he was my brother? What if, as APL pointed out, we had just met and he was taking me to the doctor because he was trying to "hit that"?)

I think the ordinary response would be "No, we're engaged" or "No, I'm her fiance" or "No, she's my fiance."

But, instead, APL replied: "No, we're fiances."

Can you even use that word in a plural format? If so, may I please immediately change my Facebook relationship status to "Mariah and APL are fiances"? ~;o)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The good news: The doctor didn't find anything obviously wrong with my knee.

The bad news: The doctor didn't find anything obviously wrong with my knee.

Things that happened at student health today:

(1) The receptionist knew my name (from how many times she's seen me in student health in the last year and a half) and offered to get me a wheelchair (as soon as she saw me limp into the room.)

(2) The nurse pushing my wheelchair to the exam room smashed my right leg - the one with the broken knee - right into a doorjamb while trying to back me into an exam room. That hurt. A lot.

(3) My doctor's first reaction when I told her what happened to my knee was to ask if I called my rheumatologist. This is probably not a good sign.

(4) I have to admit that I am quite good at dealing with pain (from lots of experience) and I am generally able to laugh and stay in good spirits no matter what (especially when APL is there with me). Unfortunately, I think this makes doctor's take me less seriously about how much pain I am in. Even though I told the doctor I was at a "10" on the stupid "1 to 10" scale, she still didn't seem to think I was suffering all that much.

(5) However, I did cry while the doctor examined my knee ligaments - bending and prodding and poking at my knee. It really hurt and all this pain is actually pretty scary. I'm still having trouble dealing with the fact that I was perfectly fine one minute and on the floor sobbing the next, with no warning whatsoever.

(6) The woman working in the radiology lab actually asked me if I worked at student health because my face looked so familiar. No joke. I guess I'm in there even more than I thought I am.

(7) They gave me a knee brace with joints and crutches. That way I can transfer some of the pain in my knee joint to pain in my already messed up finger joints. Truly awesome. I'm ditching class tomorrow so that I can see an orthopedist before we leave for the funeral on Thursday. Wish me luck.

(8) It took us 45 minutes to get my vicodin prescription filled at the pharmacy. By the time we left student health, we had been there for two hours and had been to pretty much every department in the whole building: reception, doctor exam room, nurse exam room, radiology lab, pharmacy, sports medicine...

(9) I just got off the phone with APL's mom to update her on what kind of shape I'll be in this weekend. Apparently APL's brother's girlfriend is on crutches too from ankle surgery. APL's mom said it didn't look very good that both of her sons' had girlfriends on crutches. This is, at least, amusing.

(10) Poor River is terrified of the crutches, whether they are moving or just leaning against a wall. She won't even walk past them. She keeps crying when they are in the same room with her.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pop Goes the Knee(sel)

I've been meaning to sit down and blog for several days now, but somehow our days seem to be filled to the brim since we got back from Australia, with both happy and sad things.

The happy: the outpouring of well-wishers over our engagement! Facebook messages and emails and phone calls from people we hardly ever get to talk to!! Considering we've been together for seven years I had no idea people would be so excited that we got engaged. So that has been a lot of fun for us. I also had my 27th birthday, and I'm happy to say that I think I'm in a much better place than I was last year. We also got a visit from our good friend RK which included a visit to the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, which is always a good time!!

The sad: APL's grandmother was hospitalized and sadly she passed away last week. We fly back to LA on Thursday. APL and his cousins will be pallbearers at her funeral on Friday. My heart goes out to APL and his family - which, after seven years, is really my family too. And now that we are engaged they are soon to be really my family, so I am so glad we will get to spend some time with them this weekend.

But here's what made me finally sit down to blog - I just did something to really hurt my knee.

I didn't actually do much at all - I got up from my desk to shut the door to my study and then I went to sit back down in my chair. But as I was in the process of sitting my right knee seemed to pop outwards, it stopped supporting my weight, and I fell to the floor. As someone who deals with large amounts of pain on a regular basis, I have to admit that takes a lot to bring me to tears. But whatever happened in my knee had me sobbing instantly. It hurt so much it was all I could do to call for APL, who came running, followed by River, both of them scared from the tone of my voice. I was scared too. I never had that much pain all at once for seemingly no reason.

I guess I'm ok for now, though. My knee hurts a bit less and it is iced and elevated. I'm going to try to stay off it tonight and I already made an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow afternoon. So I guess we've done everything we can for now. All there is to do is wait and see how it is in the morning.

It's funny how in times of physical pain and frustration my first thought these days is to turn to this blog to clear my head. Especially when it seems like everything happens at once, or bad happens on top of bad. I've been writing this blog for a year and a half, and I can't tell you how much it has helped me deal with all the difficulties I have faced in that short amount of time. It also means a lot to me to have the love and support of people who read this blog. So thank you all.

Updates on my knee as soon as I can - I promise.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


APL just forwarded me an interesting news story about a new drug development on the RA front, which is always good news! The new drug is called Actemra and has just been approved by the FDA.

Though it is a biologic, like Remicade and Enbral (and Humira), it is the first arthritis treatment to operate by blocking the activity of a protein called interleukin-6 (rather than TNF).

So there is still hope out there for people having trouble with current treatment options! (Though perhaps don't look at the price tag, because that part isn't very hopeful.)

Read the whole story!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


As those of you following this blog probably already know, APL and I have a very unique relationship. So it obviously makes sense that APL gave me a very unique engagement ring!

The green stone in the middle is called tsavorite. Tsavorite is a green garnet, which is my birthstone and also the month we got engaged. I'm totally in love with it. And him.

A Very Engaging Vacation!!

Well, we're finally back in Boulder after an amazing three week adventure Down Under! I'm not going to lie: I'm physically wrecked from all the traveling it took to get back home (30+ hours). Not to mention the body strain of the 3 weeks we spent living in the back of a van. Even though the camper was a major step up from hostel backpacking, we were still roughing it quite a bit. I think I have basically slept most of the past 48 hours that we have been home, and literally every joint in my body hurts. But it was 100% worth it!

Christmas in Byron Bay was a bit weird. For one thing, it was essentially the same as every other day except that half the people on the beach that day were wearing Santa hats! The only other difference was that the whole town was closed. We had Christmas dinner at a curry house, as it was pretty much the only place in town that was still open.

While I finished up my class, we spent a lot of time exploring the area around Byron Bay. We visited the town of Nimbin, which APL described as "Marijuana Disneyland." It was...interesting. We took a walk in the beautiful rainforest of Nightcap National Park and got leeches in our shoes! (Ewww!!) We explored the beaches both north and south of Byron Bay and found they were all gorgeous! We made one attempt to go SCUBA diving in Byron Bay, but were sadly defeated by 15 foot swells and an icky bout of sea sickness.

I took my exam on New Years Eve and we left Byron Bay, which was absolutely overflowing with New Year's party people. Not our style. Instead, we drove many hours north and welcomed the new year, just the two of us, in a quiet campsite in the middle of a dark forest in Byfield National Park.

The next morning we welcomed 2010 with our first wildlife sighting - some kangaroos!! Later that day we saw literally thousands of enormous (and slightly terrifying!) bats, hanging off trees in broad daylight! We then traveled to the Town of 1770, where Captain Cook first landed in Australia. From there we took a tour on a LARC, a Light Amphibious Resupply Cargo. A LARC is basically a boat/jeep that drives straight off the beach into the water. APL particularly enjoyed this part, and now says he wants a LARC of his own. It was great fun.

We also spent a day SCUBA diving on the very southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, which has literally been my dream vacation destination since high school. Though we had a lot of rain on this trip, we were lucky enough to get a gorgeous sunny day for diving, which made for better visibility. Between our two dives we saw a billionty gorgeous and brightly colored fish, a five-foot sting ray, an enormous fat shark, three manta rays (which I had never seen diving before!!!), two large sea turtles, and one baby sea turtle who swam with just me and APL for a few minutes. It was awesome. A perfect day on my dream dive site!! (Though, I have to admit, halfway through the second dive I completely ran out of steam - that gear is heavy! And the diving was actually a lot harder on my joints than I expected it to be. But I was so happy to be there that I just ignored the pain and took a lot of vicodin the next day.)

From there we took a tour of the Bundaberg Rum Factory (which smelled amazing) before venturing inland. We spent a day at Bunya Mountains National Park, where we got to see some wallabies close up and feed some wild birds, which landed on my head. (Ew!) We were also on the lookout for giant stinging trees and 11kg pine cones, both of which can kill you. (Australia is particularly good at having things that can kill you!!) We went wine tasting at a tiny winery, basically the owner's backyard, where we bought a bottle of wine to share with RK when she visits next week!

We ended up back in Brisbane a day before we needed to return the camper, so we decided to make a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. I am so glad we did, because it was so much fun! We both got to snuggle a 3-year-old koala named Zap - she was amazing!! We also saw a sheep dog demonstration, and were amused by how much the working border collies reminded us of our River. We got to feed and pet kangaroos as well. I even made friends with a kangaroo, who let me give him a back-scratch for a full 10 minutes! And APL really enjoyed seeing the birds of prey in flight.

Our last night in Brisbane, in our hotel room, APL and I were laying in bed talking about what an amazing trip it had been. Then APL asked me if we had done everything I wanted to on the trip. I told him yes, the trip had been perfect. But he said there was still one thing left for us to do. And then he slipped a ring on my left ring finger and asked me to marry him!!! I was honestly so surprised that I actually asked him if he was serious before saying yes!!!

So now APL and I are home and engaged!! We are both really excited to have something so wonderful to look forward to. And I can't even begin to explain how happy I am that I will have APL by my side for the rest of my life.

Best. Vacation. EVER.