Just Say No?

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Self-portrait, circa 2012

If only it were that easy to “just say no” to bread, pasta, bagels, donuts, pastries, sweets, SUGAR–all of the delicious carbs that steroid medication (prednisone) makes you crave.

If only I could “just say no” to my doctor when he advises that I increase my prednisone dosage (once again) to help get a flare-up under control.

The prednisone/steroid battle is a tough one, as many of you already know, because despite its nasty side effects, it’s hard to say “no” to a treatment that is very effective and fast at reducing inflammation and pain.

I almost don’t even want to write about this for fear I’ll jinx myself, but I’m going to anyway. I actually have GOOD prednisone news to report: I’ve been slowly yet steadily tapering down on my prednisone over the last several months and I’m now down to only 1 mg per day. ONE! Which is only one milligram away from NONE! The thought of being able to get off prednisone again, after many years of being trapped on it, makes me so happy and relieved.

But there’s a catch (of course). Since yesterday, both of my feet and ankles have been mysteriously and severely swollen, causing major discomfort and an increase in my pain. I’m trying to not freak out about this, but I am afraid that I’m going to have to bump up my prednisone dosage in order to “fix” this problem. Up and down…back and forth…one step forward and two steps back…it’s all so frustrating and demoralizing.

What can I do right now? Anything? I admit that my diet hasn’t been very good lately, and I wonder if it’s at least somewhat to blame for this flare. There’s one good way to find out, of course: get back to following a strict vegan diet and without cheating. Cutting out as much refined sugar (well, all sugar) as possible is another important thing I should be doing. And, starting tomorrow, I will do it. All of it–even if I have to tape my mouth shut. It’s only been two days, but I’m already very tired of dealing with these two bloated and painful lumps that used to resemble feet.

 

To-Feel

 

Lists
Source: Instagram

I have so many “To-Do” lists yet I always feel unorganized, overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed. Maybe it’s time I start making some new lists?

TO-FEEL:

  1. Healthy
  2. Hopeful
  3. Peaceful
  4. Grateful
  5. Creative
  6. Inspired
  7. Excited
  8. Content
  9. Relaxed
  10. Loving

Dreamland: The Opiate Epidemic

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Here’s my latest article for RheumatoidArthritis.net about an excellent book I recently read, “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by journalist Sam Quinones.

“Dreamland: RA & The Opiate Epidemic”

The book is a fascinating and eye-opening account of the current “opioid crisis” and  basically the mess that our country is in right now regarding the shockingly high number of people addicted and overdosing on opiate drugs. Quinones, a former reporter for the L.A. Times, meticulously explains the origins of the crisis, including the “pill mills” (pain clinics) of the 1990s, the explosion of OxyContin onto the market also in the ’90s, and the rapid rise of black tar heroin trafficking from basically one small region of Mexico–the state of Nayarit, which is on Mexico’s western coast.

Even though the book deals with a lot of serious and heavy material, it’s definitely worth reading. And it’s a page-turner, which surprised me. For a rather long and dense non-fiction book, I found myself flying through it. I’ve also been recommending it to everyone, even those who don’t personally have a chronic illness or suffer from chronic pain. There’s so much sensationalist media coverage of the “opioid crisis/epidemic” right now that it’s difficult to know and understand what the real facts are. Sam Quinones’ “Dreamland” is a fantastic place to start, I think.

And please, let me know what you think of my article and the book if/when you read it!

Happy World Arthritis Day!

dontgiveup
Quote source: Instagram

In case you don’t know, today, October 12th, is World Arthritis Day. It’s late afternoon right now in Minnesota and the day is nearing its end, however I didn’t want to completely forget or ignore this day. Other RA friends and acquaintances of mine have been posting stuff all day long on their blogs and social media pages about how arthritis affects their lives. Regarding my own RA story, I recently (well, three months ago) reached an important milestone: the 20th anniversary of my RA diagnosis. I wrote an article for rheumatoidarthritis.net about it, if anybody would like to read it. Click on the link below to read a bit about what it feels like to have RA for 20 years.

“Happy (?) Anniversary, RA”

Thank you for reading it and this blog, despite how little I seem to be posting here. I hope you can find something worthwhile and good to take away from my story.

And, if you know anybody with RA, or have it yourself, please give that person (including yourself) a gentle hug today.

-Angela

Rheumatoid Arthritis Studies!

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Hello everyone!

I’m now a CureClick Ambassador, which means I get information about studies and clinical trials for RA (and other diseases). I hope to help find participants for the studies by sharing them on my blog and social media pages. As many of you with RA know, continued research, development, and approval of new drugs and treatments for RA (and other diseases) is desperately needed for the patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. As drugs fail for certain patients or become ineffective over time, we need to have more options. Clinical trials, and participants in these studies, are therefore crucial in the development and approval of new drugs.

So! I just found out about a rheumatoid arthritis study/clinical trial that needs participants. If you have RA, click here for more info and to see if you qualify:

LOCAL RESEARCH STUDIES FOR RA 

Please consider participating! All of your “rheummates” need you. :)

Thank you!
Angela