Friday, April 6, 2018

Everyday Health: The 10 Best Arthritis Blogs to Keep You (and Your Body) Moving

I'm very excited to share that this blog has been selected by Everyday Health as one of their ten best arthritis blogs! I'm honored to be selected alongside some of my very favorite arthritis advocates. 

You can check out the full list here:



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Postpartum

I tried to post this yesterday. But I just couldn't figure out how I felt, so I couldn't really think of what to say. Honestly I'm still not sure.

Yesterday the baby and I went to see my rheumatologist. While I'm definitely doing better than I was at this point postpartum with either of the boys, there's simply no denying the all too familiar twinge in my toes, the ache in my knees, the whole-body morning stiffness, the nightly anxiety dreams that always seem to accompany the onset of a really bad flare...

Cimzia is a wonderful pregnancy- and breastfeeding-friendly treatment option, and I'm so grateful for how much easier things have been this time around on it. But the reality is that it just isn't enough to control my RA indefinitely by itself. I've know that was the case from the start. But Rituxan, which is by far the best treatment I've ever been on, isn't breastfeeding-friendly. So my option if I want to keep breastfeeding is daily prednisone until I wean and switch to something stronger. And we all know how I feel about regular prednisone. And, in any event, there's no guarantee that the prednisone will even be enough to keep things under control.

For some reason, I can't really seem to figure out how I feel about the whole situation. On the one hand, I'm really doing a lot better than the last two postpartum periods, so I can probably afford to push it a bit more. On the other hand, with three kids to care for now, it's even more important for me to be functioning as well as possible. 

Perhaps most importantly, I can't seem to figure out what I actually want. On the one hand, breastfeeding is so much easier and I really love the bond it gives me with my baby girl. And even if things get worse than they are now for me physically, it luckily doesn't look like we're on track for it to be nearly as bad as my last two postpartum experiences. On the other hand, not breastfeeding would be so much easier, and I know full well that I can have an equally strong bond with my daughter without it. And, since I've done so well physically in the past year or two, even a small flare feels unnecessary since I know there's a treatment out there that could potentially make it stop. Each option feels easier than the other. Each option feels harder than the other. 

All these unknowns have been causing me some serious anxiety. It feels almost like having PTSD - based on pain and struggle I've experienced in the past I'm worrying about pain and struggle that hasn't even happened yet and might never even happen at all. And logically I know that doesn't remotely make sense. Logically I know I'm doing a lot better this time, I have more options than I've had in the past, not breastfeeding is perfectly fine, and mostly everything is going ok. But somehow my subconscious is having a difficult time remembering that, especially in the middle of the night. 

So for now I'll take the prednisone. I'll take the anxiety meds. I'll talk to the therapist. I'll take it one day at a time and see how it goes. I'll try to give myself space to figure out what I want. I'll try to give myself time to figure out the best decision for me. And I'll try not to beat myself up about any of it.

After all, my little girl is here. She's two months old and healthy and her brothers adore her. My family is whole. And that's most import of all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Introducing mZL!

I've been rather remiss in updating this blog as I've been just a tiny bit busy these past few weeks! Baby mZL (lowercase m since her initials are the same as mine!) was born via scheduled C-section on January 26 at 8:21am. She was 7 lb 5 oz and 20 inches long. 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know we've had a rough start this first month. After about a week at home I was re-hospitalized for postpartum preeclampsia, which I didn't even know was a thing until it happened to me. I don't think living with a chronic illness made me any more susceptible to this particular pregnancy complication, but I do think it made me a lot more likely to ignore unpleasant symptoms because I'm so used to feeling crummy. I spent several days soldiering on with a crazy headache before APL insisted that I check my blood pressure and call my OB. And it turns out it was a good thing he did.

My OB asked me to come in immediately. I expected them to check my blood pressure and send me away with a prescription for blood pressure medication - instead I was admitted immediately to labor and delivery to start a 24 hour magnesium sulfate IV. It was not a pleasant experience, but luckily I was able to keep mZL in the hospital with me so we could keep breastfeeding, though my mom or husband had to stay in the room with us while I was on the magnesium. I spent three extra days in the hospital before going home for the second time. The experience was a reminder of how important it is for me to prioritize my own self care as a mom - because if I don't take care of myself I won't be able to take care of anyone else, no matter how much they may need me. 

Then, just last week, mZL and I had to spend a night at the Children's Hospital. She was napping one afternoon when I looked over and noticed that she was extremely still and her face and hands looked a bit blue. I picked her up and she was very sluggish, and it took a few minutes to get her pink and angry again. Our pedi sent us to have her heart and lungs checked - and let me tell you: getting a 4 week old to "lay still" while covered in wires for an EKG is no picnic! Luckily they ruled out any major issues and she is doing just fine now, but it was definitely very scary. 

It has certainly been a very eventful first month, and I'm very much looking forward to things calming down and settling back into a routine going forward. In the meantime, here are a couple more pictures!



Monday, February 26, 2018

New Study Finds No Link Between Rainfall and Joint Pain – What Do You Think?

There are many people who live with RA, who I know and trust, who have made a connection between symptoms, like pain, and the weather - but this study seems to debunk this commonly held belief. What do you think?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Cure RA?

A recent study from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California has determined that old world monkeys could be key to a new, powerful RA therapy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fitness for Fatigue

We’ve all heard it over and over (and over and over) again: it’s so important for people living with RA to exercise. Physical fitness can be extremely useful in managing many of the symptoms that come with RA, including fatigue. But does anyone else think this advice is easier to hear than actually follow?

Monday, February 19, 2018

January Rheumatology Network Articles

My assignments for Rheumatology Network include reporting on recent scientific studies about rheumatoid arthritis and other related diseases. Although these articles are intended primarily for a physician audience (and thus can get a bit technical and jargon-y) I know patients are also interested in scientific advances - so I still want to share links to these articles! But if you ever have additional questions, please don't hesitate to let me know!

No differences observed in patellofemoral joints of asymptomatic patients and those with pain.

New Criteria for Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathies
Recently published EULAR/ACR classification criteria generally perform better than previous criteria.

Treatment Targets Show Promise in Psoriatic Arthritis and RA
A look at the role of the C5a-C5aR axis in the onset of inflammation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Cannabis as a Treatment Option

As local governments move towards legalization of marijuana, many patients with RA and other chronic illnesses are curious about cannabis as a potential treatment option. For this reason, I was very interested to attend a talk at the 2017 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting called “Cannabis in Society and Medical Practice.”

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

For Previous Cancer Patients, Biologics Don’t Increase Risk

For those with RA, new research has demonstrated that treatment with biologic medications does not increase the risk of a second cancer malignancy.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Biosimilars: To Switch or Not to Switch? That Is The Question!

If you’re interested in new and emerging treatments for RA, you’ve probably at least heard the term “biosimilars.” But what exactly are biosimilars? And what should you do if your doctor recommends one?