‘Talk About Your Medicines’ Month

So I was recently approached by a woman that is the Community Awareness Coordinator with the American Recall Center.   She helps to educate individuals on recall updates but also is an advocate for medicine safety.  October is Talk About Your Medicines Month and she asked me if I would do a post for her about my medications.  She gave me a guide with some talking points in the event that I needed assistance with a topic(s).  After giving it a little thought I knew that I had a great blog post regarding medicine safety.

As someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease, aka RA or RD, I do take several medications to calm my immune system, reduce inflammation and help with pain.  One of those medications is Methotrexate (MTX).  I’ve taken it since August, 2001.  Initially I started taking it once a week in pill form.  Several years ago – probably around 2011, I discovered that it came in an injectible form.  I’d been having some issues with being sick from the pills and I asked my rheumatologist about it.  He thought injecting MTX was a great option for me since we’d been splitting the 5 weekly pills of methotrexate into 2 doses during the week instead of one dose as a way of making it more tolerant for my system.  What I discovered was that instead of feeling sick one day per week, I was sick two days per week.

I started on the injectible form during the summer and immediately noticed how much better I felt!  No more sickness.  And because I wasn’t being sick and purging the medication, I started feeling much better because I was absorbing more MTX.  The RA definitely retreated and I needed less pain meds and less anti inflammatories.  Everything was fine until earlier this summer when  I started getting sick again.  So much so that I actually left work at noon one day and went home sick.  I don’t do that often.  A couple weeks later the same thing happened and I was very sick again.  The most ill I’d been since started the injectible Methotrexate.

I went into my medicine supply to look at the little bottles that I’d been given.  I had a number of different sizes that the pharmacy had given to me for several months.  I compares all the bottles – from the old supply and newer doses and I noticed a difference in the small print on some of the bottles.  Over the years I’d always had MTX that had preservatives in it.  I could reuse the same bottle a number of times and store it in the cabinet in between doses.  I noticed that some of the bottles said “preservative free” on the label.  I had never been given this type of med before but I suspected that if I was re-using a bottle of preservative free meds, I could be getting sick.

I stopped at the pharmacy the next day and the pharmacist confirmed that I had been receiving MTX with preservatives in it since starting to take it in 2001, but for some reason the form had changed recently and while the lettering on the bottle noted the change, nothing in the notes on the script explained the change to the meds or that I wasn’t supposed to reuse the bottles.

Problem solved.  Lesson learned:  Be very observant about everything as it pertains to your prescriptions.  Ask questions.  Trust your instincts and most of all, remember that it’s your body and you will definitely know if something is wrong.

Phat Chick is Back!

Yes, I’m BACK! How many times have I said that?  I guess more than once.  Life gets in the way, no matter how hard you try not to let it.  This winter has been a long cold one in New England, and that got in the way of outdoor exercising somewhat but the dog and I still got outside regularly for walks in the woods.  I took several  pilates classes and will continue doing that, but I had stopped the private training with Sargeant Cathy early this year.  I had wanted to get to a couple of her classes and made it to like one and logistics and life got in the way.

I’ve been down with the flu for almost 2 weeks – as you know, with the Rheumatoid Arthritis medications, getting sick can be grueling and this was no different.  But I spoke to my girlfriend this morning and told her that I was going to class at Sargeant Cathy’s after work today.  My friend said she wanted to come and we hung up.  Five minutes later she sends me a text to say that Cathy would do a joint training for the two of us later this afternoon before the class instead.  That’s what I thought – INSTEAD.  No, after doing an hour of ropes, kettle bells, elastic bands around our ankles and the bosu, we stayed and did Strength Training class as well.  So I did an hour and 45 minutes before I totally lost it and quit.  It’s been 3 months since I took a class and I’m still recovering from the flu.

But I did it  and we’ve set up a regular time each week for a joint training session and I’m sore already, but it’s a good sore.

So stay tuned and keep your eye on this blog.  I told Cathy that having a friend beside me made me work harder, and my friend JG thought so too.  Here’s to beginnings.  Again.

Lastly, because I live in New England and listen to sports radio, today was devoted to commemorating the 1 year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Boston truly is BostonStrong.  So proud of this city!!

New Year, New Post

                        http://www.fitbit.com/one

Phat50chick is still alive and thriving!!  I’m still Phat, but I’m happy and feeling really good.  Haven’t felt this good in a long time.  RA still makes me ache a bit, but for the most part I’m in a good place physically.  For Christmas I got a fitbit.  I have wanted one for a long time, and I’m loving it even more than I thought I would!

It’s tracks steps, stairs, activity and calories burned.  It syncs with the laptop and my mobile phone so I can keep track throughout the day.  I can add my food to the log to know the calories that I’m consuming.  Best of all, it will log my sleep and tells me how long I was asleep, how many minutes was I restless and how many minutes was I awake.  I have a long history of poor sleep, so this has been eye opening to me!!  No more blaming my fatigue on RA, the meds or getting older.  I truly am a restless sleeper and I do wake up very often during the night.  Not sure what to do with this information about my sleep, but I’m going to watch the patterns and chat with my primary care physician when I see him next.

I visited my rheumatologist this week.  He was so impressed with my progress.  We talked mostly about skiing as he is a skier.  And yes, I’ve done some skiing this year and most of the days I’ve skied, I haven’t had to take any pain meds.  The only day I did was the day AFTER I went bowling for the first time in 10 years.

So while there are days that I want to cash it in and step off the treadmill, I believe that I’m thriving right now and I need to keep doing what I’m doing.  RA be damned!!

New Month, New Post

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I have to give myself credit.  I’m still at it.  If I have one thing, it’s stick-tuit-ive-ness.

IMG952620I’m still going once a week for a private session with Cathy the training nazi, and this fall I committed to trying to hit one additional class each week.  I managed last week, but last night there was no class, and tonite?  Well I was tired, forgot to take my meds and was achy, so I came home and walked thru the woods instead.

Any results?  I’ve been doing Weight Watchers for 6 weeks and I’m down 5 pounds.  Not much, but all my clothes are loose and I feel good.  It’s never been easy for me to lose weight – I tend to lose every other week.  And I’m not making excuses, but The Red Sox just won the world series which meant a lot of nervous baseball watching and after all, it is a game of consumption, right? It was hard to sit home watching without munching occassionally.

Weight watchers at least makes me aware of everything I put in my mouth.  I understand the ramifications and try to make trade offs.  But the fact is that it’s just hard.  Especially as you get older.  I can’t work out like I used to.  I don’t have the time every day to devote to activity.  Some days I don’t want to do it.

But I’m still making the attempts.  Slow and steady it’s going to come off.

And the Red Sox did just win the World Series!  Hot dogs and beers all around!!

Moving on

Today was one of those bitter sweet days.  I had a number of good things interspersed with a couple of bad things and it left me not knowing how I felt about the day overall.  First, I had two meetings at my office.  I’ve worked at my current company for about 15 days short of 25 years.  We were acquired and this office is closing as of Thursday and I move to another office and employer starting Friday morning.  I got my marching orders today, and was told which group I will be working with.  Although I’m not going to be with any of the people from my current company, I’m optimistic with my new assignment.

Also good was the conversation I had with my long time boss, someone I considered a mentor over the years.  We’d had a rough go since the acquisition and I felt like today we cleared the air and I got to thank him for putting up with me and supporting me for almost 25 years.  I have to admit I felt really good after that conversation, but I had a lump in the throat.  The fact that I’ve stayed there for 25 years truly shows what a special place it was to work.  I will miss it.

Then I went over to the new office for my weekly weight watchers meeting. That was sad. My weight was up.   I really felt like I was good this week – I counted my points pretty carefully and while I didn’t hit the gym, I had almost 5 hours of walking this week.  I truly felt despondent and discouraged with today’s result.

But then I got shown my new office and it’s very nice, spacious, with a window and nice furniture.  Brought in a few boxes and will be proud to show up there for work on Friday. Hopefully this next work chapter will be a satisfying one.

I then spent an  hour with Cathy, my trainer/bitch.  Amazing how out of shape I felt after missing the past 2 weeks while sick.  But we’re back on track and I’ll be better next week.  Also the Red Sox won tonite.  So all in all, I guess the good outweighed the bad today.  I am doubling up my efforts to count every morsel of food I eat this week, drink my 8 glasses of water, and continue to exercise like I have been.  Oh, and perhaps quit eating the carbs that aren’t fruit.  Those are a killer.

Crap.  Pizza lunch tomorrow at work.  The final lunch.  See, I never can win.

Wine is a fruit, right?

If wine is a fruit, then I had 4 servings last night while out with some girlfriends.  I had been shut in the house for 10 days being sick and it was my first night out and the wine tasted so good and the company was terrific.  These were grade school friends; the three of us had experienced divorce after age 40 so we traded stories over wine and salads.  It was just so pleasant that the wine just tasted so good and I wanted it to keep flowing.

Of course I just tracked it in my weight watchers points tracker.  I was honest about it as well.  The wine was 20 points toward my daily 28 points.  So my indulgence cut into my weekly extra allowance.  Fortunately I have a low key weekend planned and plan on some exercise – which gives me some points back.  So when I got home from work this afternoon, the dog and I went out on an hour long hike in the woods.  It was a warm, crisp fall day – perfect for a hike.

I also wanted to report on my Tuesday weigh in.  I missed last week’s as I was so sick,so this was my first since starting and I was down 4 pounds.  I was happy with that – it’s hard to behave when you’re sick.  I actually struggled because I wasn’t eating all my points every day and WW really wants you to eat them every day.

Good, I still have 8 points left for today!!!

Tuesdays

weight-scale

Tuesdays are my weigh in day.  I don’t have a functioning scale at home – mine needs a battery and I haven’t purchased one because I don’t want to deal with the frustration of the scale right now.  In the past I would step on the scale every morning and naturally it fluctuated every day which frustrated me beyond belief.

So I decided that for the first 3 months, I would weigh in only on Tuesdays at the office during my WW meeting.  I was pretty jazzed over the weekend because I had been very good with my points and had some leftover this week, and hadn’t even touched my activity points.

My efforts will have to wait until next Tuesday.  I’ve been flat on my sick bed with some ailment – cold, flu, allergies, RA flare.  I don’t know.  All I know is that when I don’t want coffee or food, it means I’m sick!

It also means that I have an appointment with my primary care doctor tomorrow, even though I just saw him last week for a check up.  My body doesn’t fight bacterial or viral infections by itself.  My RA meds suppress my immune system, and enbrel in particular promotes bad sinus infections.  I’ve smartened up about calling the doctor sooner, rather than later because even if I think I’ll feel better tomorrow, or want to, I never do without something to help me kick it out of me.

So back to tracking my points and hoping for good results next week!!  Stay healthy!