Cycles for Change

April 11, 2012

Minneapolis, MN 2012

Yesterday I began taking photos again for the non-profit Cycles for Change at one of their Learn to Ride classes. Despite the very chilly weather, it was great being outside and getting back into the swing of photographing these bike classes and events. All of the students were young adults; half had never ridden a bike before and the other half were fairly new riders. It was heartwarming and humbling to see the students trying very hard just to ride a bicycle. Many of them are immigrants and want to be able to ride a bike for exercise, transportation, and to help make integration a bit easier, it seems. As Americans, most people learn to ride a bike as a kid and don’t give it much thought afterwards. I was silently (and a few times not silently) cheering them on yesterday remembering my own frustrations and excitement as a child trying to finally ride my bike for the first time all by myself. Yesterday’s class only reinforced how impressed I am with Cycles for Change and the work they do in the community. Volunteering there also makes me want to be healthier, more physically active, and maybe even a “real” biker someday.

Speaking of bikes and trying to be more physically active (despite these bad ankles at the moment), I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to stick to my goal of a bike ride a day (yet). But! The sun is shining this morning and I think I will bundle up and head over the Palmer Lake and its three-mile bike path. I’ve been wanting to go on some rides in the morning but so far I haven’t been able to drag my butt out of bed early enough. Tonight I’m photographing one of Cycles for Change’s Bike Library orientations. This is another excellent program offered to members of the community through the organization and various other Twin Cities organizations. I’m looking forward to it!

Here’s a nice recent article about Cycles for Change if you’re interested:

“Cycles for Change: Changing names, changing lives in St. Paul”

Update

April 3, 2012

Palmer Lake, Minnesota

Spring is here and change is in the air, it seems. Lots of things are happening right now – good and bad. My long-term temp job at Fairview just ended last Friday so now I am unemployed again. I have a few job applications in the works, so hopefully I’ll get some good news regarding those. My RA has been flaring up out of control over the last few weeks – my ankles are really painful. I’ve been taking 20 mg of prednisone and it doesn’t seem to be working, so I’m really worried. The doctor’s office is supposed to call me back today sometime. Still waiting. My knees and hands have also been bothering me somewhat so it seems RA is probably the culprit regarding my ankles. My surgery ankle (the right one) has been especially painful. I’m almost tempted to wonder if something else is wrong with it. The D.C. trip is coming up in two weeks and I just hope and pray that my ankles will calm down significantly by then. My remicade infusion is scheduled for Friday so I hope this flare-up will get better once I have that.

Good news – Despite the current flare-up, I’ve started riding my bike again! I rode around Palmer Lake (about three miles) two nights ago and it felt really good to just be outside and getting exercise. My goal is to try to go on a bike ride at least once a day, even if just for a short ride. I want so much to be healthier and to lose weight. I know I can do it if I work hard enough. Sticking with healthy eating and exercising is the challenge though. Cutting out Diet Coke again is another difficult challenge. Ugh.

JAM 2012

March 11, 2012

Image

The Juvenile Arthritis March, Bloomington, MN, March 3, 2012

I finally got around to uploading the photos I took last Saturday of the Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM). I think I managed to get some good ones. Check them out on Flickr if you’re interested! Also, all the kids (and some adults) wearing orange T-shirts have some form of arthritis.

JAM 2012 photos

I’ve been trying to get more involved doing arthritis advocacy work and recently I’ve been sending emails to my senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. urging them support various arthritis issues and legislation. Here’s the transcript of the email I sent today to Representative Erik Paulsen (R). I have no idea if he actually reads any of these, but I figure that it can’t hurt to try, so I’ll keep sending them. Hopefully someone is reading them.

If you want to send an email or letter to urge your representative to support this legislation, click HERE.

Please Co-Sponsor the Patient Access to Critical Therapies Act!

March 9, 2012

Dear Representative Paulsen,

As someone deeply concerned about arthritis, I am writing to ask you to
become an original cosponsor of legislation to improve access to the
critical treatments that can keep me, and my loved ones, active and
productive citizens.  Biologic drugs can now prevent patients with
conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriatic arthritis,
from becoming disabled, seriously ill, or even dying.

Unfortunately, many health insurance policies are moving these critical
medications, such as biologics, into “specialty tiers” that utilize high
patient cost-sharing methods known as “co-insurance”.  This
fourth/specialty tier now commonly requires patients to pay a percentage
of the cost of medication – anywhere from 20% to 50%, which can often be
hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month for a single medication -
rather than a fixed co-payment amount.

Congressman David McKinley is introducing legislation later this month,
the Patient Access to Critical Therapies Act (PACTA), that would treat
these specialty drugs the same as Tier III non-preferred drugs.  Under his
legislation, commercial health insurers would impose the same co-payment
obligations for specialty drugs as they already do for Tier III
medications.  Providing insured patients access to these treatments will
allow me and many more of your constituents to remain in the workforce,
raise their families, and avoid becoming permanently disabled or seriously
ill.

I urge you to step forward and become an original co-sponsor of PACTA and
support your constituents who have chronic, life threatening, and
disabling conditions.  Please contact the Legislative Health Assistant in
Rep. McKinley’s office, at x54172, to become a co-sponsor of this
legislation.

I have been on several of these “specialty” biologic drugs since about
2003 and I am also constantly in debt and trying to keep my head above
water to pay for these medications. If I don’t have the medication I will
most certainly become crippled. There are so many people out there in
similar situations to mine, and it’s not fair that we must be at the mercy
of the insurance companies and the drug companies just in order to live a
relatively normal life. People shouldn’t have to suffer because they can’t
afford to pay for medications. Please help.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Angela

JAM 2012 – tomorrow!

March 2, 2012

JAM team members, Bloomington, MN 2011

Tomorrow morning the Arthritis Foundation, Upper Midwest Region chapter, will be hosting its annual JAM (Juvenile Arthritis March) fundraising walk at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. I will be arriving at the event at an insanely early hour to get ready to take photos of the walk. This will be my third year photographing JAM and I’m looking forward to it, of course! It’s always so wonderful to see all of the families and kids who participate to raise money to find a cure for arthritis. Coming together as a group for an important cause really is an inspiration (maybe sappy, but true). I’ll post some of the photos of the walk soon – hope I get some good ones!

For more information about JAM and how to get involved, click here:

2012 Juvenile Arthritis March: Mall of America 

We’re going to the condos

February 29, 2012

The West Bank, Minneapolis, MN 2012

It’s not Monday, I realize (sorry, I’m so terrible at keeping with a posting schedule), but here’s another update. Tapering off the prednisone is done for now, thankfully. I’ve been totally off of it for about a week  – let’s hope this lasts for a long time! My ankles are doing very well at the moment. I also haven’t been drinking caffeine for a few weeks, which I really think helps keep my arthritis better under control. I can’t prove it, but I have a sneaky suspicion that if I started drinking a ton of coffee and Diet Coke again my ankles would get worse. I shouldn’t be drinking caffeine anyway so this is all good news.

Last weekend I actually left the house and took some photos of the West Bank area in Minneapolis. The tower block apartment buildings I keep taking photos of really fascinate me for some reason. I suppose I find their bleak architecture strangely romantic in a Cold War/Eastern Bloc sort of way (don’t ask, I’m weird like that).

What do you do or want to do when you’re not busy managing your arthritis? I keep trying to remind myself about how important it is to make time to do the things that actually make me happy in life. Photography is one of those things, of course.

Check out the new photos I posted if you’re interested: Flickr photos

It’s icy and snowing here today so I think I’ll just stay home from work. Yes!

Arthritis Advocacy Summit

February 17, 2012

Ok, I did it. I registered today.

I’M GOING TO D.C. IN APRIL!!! Whooo!!!

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