Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Knee Needles

I'm writing this blog post from the lodge at Loveland ski area. I wish I could say I was able to hit the slopes with my dad and APL, even just a little bit, but sadly I am still having a lot of trouble with my knees. 

After almost two weeks of taking oral prednisone, my knees are still killing me. It was getting difficult to stand in the kitchen long enough to make a meal or unload the dishwasher. It was getting difficult to drive. Even sitting on the couch seemed to hurt - not that I get to do much couch sitting while chasing aflyer my one year old! Though my rheumatologist asked me to check back after trying the oral steroids for three weeks, I didn't think I could make it that long. It felt like my knees were only getting worse. 

So I emailed my rheumatologist and last Friday I went in to have cortisone injected directly into each of my knees. It wasn't exactly a pleasant prodecure. Those needles are pretty long and went pretty far into each of my knee joints. The pain was sort of like a zing that traveled through my whole body. But I figured it would be worth it if my knees would stop hurting so much. 

Friday evening my knees felt way more swollen and stiff than before - which I guess makes sense considering they were literally filled with a foreign liquid! But I wasn't exactly expecting to spend Friday afternoon and evening more or less crippled on the couch in the family room. Thank goodness APL was there to help me wrangle OZL! After about 24 hours or so, my left knee started feeling a little bit better. But my right knee (the one that has gone pop so many times) is still pretty painful four days later.  

I'm pretty sad and frustrated about it because I guess I sort of thought that cortisone injections were as close to a magic fix as possible. I thought I might be able to enjoy my dad's visit in less pain and maybe even ski a few runs with him. I emailed with my rheumatologist yesterday and he says to wait a few more days - maybe the cortisone will still kick in. But if it doesn't it could mean that I have an internal injury in my right knee - though I don't remember anything weird happening. I suppose if my knee still hurts in a week or so I will probably need some X-rays. 

In the meantime I guess there is nothing to do but wait and see. And try to enjoy the scenery. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Parenting Amidst The Pain

I know someday I will need to explain my RA to OZL. I often wonder how it will come up. Will I be able to explain it so he understands? How will he react? I have always planned to be honest with him about it, because I truly think that honesty is the best policy. But that doesn't mean I am looking forward to it.

In any event, a fellow blogger at RheumatoidArthritis.net, Asha LeRay, recently wrote about how she told her four year old daughter about her RA. Because I strongly believe there need to be more resources out there for parents with RA (or other chronic pain) I wanted to share her post with you! 

Best Health Blogs of 2013

From This Point. Forward. has been nominated for the second time for Healthline's Best Health Blogs of 2013 contest! There are lots of amazing health blogs on the list over a range of topics and health issues - so please check out the contest and vote for your favorite!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Articles on Answers.com

You can find a complete list of all the articles I have published on Answers.com by clicking here. Below is a list of the new articles I published in the month of November.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Jumping Through Insurance Hoops

The hoops we have to jump through to follow healthcare and insurance procedures can be very frustrating, especially when we are already feeling our worst. I wanted to offer a few tips that might help.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Means To An End

Last weekend the weather was quite nice, so my mom and I went out into the backyard to to start attacking the one hundred billion leaves that were blanketing my lawn. Unfortunately my knees have been in so much pain lately that I found myself wearing double knee braces. And I only was able to do a little bit of raking before I had to give up and sit down.

I tried to remember the last time my RA pain had been this bad. Luckily, this blog is like a health timeline for me, so I scrolled back through my posts until I found the last time I was wearing double knee braces: right before my wedding and then again on my honeymoon.

There was a reason I was in so much pain at that particular time. Although I didn't make it public at the time, when my wedding rolled around I had already been off methotrexate for more than six months. I needed to get it out of my system so that it would be safe to conceive OZL. And although I stayed on Enbrel until I found out I was pregnant, Enbrel alone just wasn't enough to keep my RA completely under control. During the six months leading up to my wedding and the four months it took to get pregnant, I dealt with massive knee pain, excruciating hip pain, and extreme fatigue.

Luckily, I did experience at least some remission during my second trimester. But, by the time I hit the third, I was dealing with a huge pregnant belly and hip pain, hand pain, and major morning stiffness (not to mention a couple pregnancy complications). In the end I was put on bed rest until I hit 37 weeks, and OZL was brought into the world a bit early, which ended up being better for both of us.

I nursed OZL for three months until I reluctantly stopped so that I could start taking Enbrel again. Getting back on the Enbrel made a major difference in my quality of life and ability to be the mom I wanted to be. But since that time I have dealt with flare after flare because I never went back on the methotrexate.

Why? Because we want OZL to have a sibling. I have two siblings and APL has one. Neither of us can imagine our lives without our siblings and we really, really want OZL to have the opportunity to grow up with at least one brother or sister.

I never went back on the methotrexate because it was too much of a time commitment. It would take several months before it even started helping, plus however long I stayed on it to get the benefit, plus six more months to get it out of my system again before it would be safe to try to conceive another baby. We decided we didn't want our children to be so far apart in age. And, while we probably would have preferred to wait until OZL was a little bit older to start trying for a second baby, in our world the longer we wait the longer I end up dealing with RA that isn't completely treated. Which means I am living with more pain and more fatigue. So, after weighing all of our options, we decided to start trying for baby #2 when OZL turned one in May.

It has been seven months and unfortunately we are not pregnant yet, though I will admit that for at least two months my ovulation lined up so closely with my RA flares that we weren't even able to try. We are trying to remain optimistic, but in the meantime my RA has gotten worse and worse - to the point where I am wearing double knee braces just to stand in my own backyard.

The Enbrel just isn't enough on its own, and over the counter NSAIDs aren't helping. So I finally went to see my rheumatologist yesterday. With my options for medications severely limited by my desire to get pregnant, I agreed to try some prednisone (i.e. Satan's tic tacs). Prednisone and I have a long love-hate relationship. It is wonderful because it usually works great to give me less pain and more energy, but with prolonged use I get almost all of the nasty side effects. A few years ago, after being on prednisone for more than a year, I decided that the side effects were way worse than the benefit and swore never to use it again. But, of course, there are only so many options - especially when trying to conceive.

I know that I need more than just Enbrel to keep my RA under control so that we will have a chance to have a second baby. I am really hoping this will be a temporary commitment to prednisone, perhaps a month or two until I am pregnant at which point hopefully I will get some remission and not need it anymore. I don't look forward to moon face or weight gain or insomnia or blood pressure issues. But I do really look forward to growing our family - and that will make it all worth it in the end.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is It Time To Retire Walking For Arthritis?

This is a very interesting point of view: is it time to retire walking for arthritis? 

Even though I agreed to be the honoree for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk this year, I sort of tend to agree with the point he is making.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stuck In The Middle

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I belong to a demographic of arthritis sufferers who receive less support, recognition, and resources than they ought to.