Snow Day

Traditionally the first weekend after New Years has always been my favorite weekend to ski.  The hard core regulars are there but the casual skiers are home.  It’s not so crowded, and always an enjoyable weekend to ski.

Alas, this year that’s not to be as I wait for my surgery on a total knee replacement.  But there’s a silver lining to my cloud.  It’s a snowday and I am happier than anything to be snowbound with Mr. Phat with our brand new kitchen a little post holiday organizing and football later this afternoon.  We made breakfast together and the whole house smelled wonderful.  Later we will roast a chicken with some vegetables for dinner.  Yum.  What more could a gal want on a snowy Saturday?  Oh right, a nice cozy great room with a roaring wood stove. Life is truly good my friends, no matter what the circumstances are.  My silver lining is being in my comfy home surrounding by warmth, good smells, the man I love and our dog.

My other silver lining this week?  My eating.  This is a diet blog, right?  I did a lot of reading last week about food and the immune system.  My immune system has definitely been out of whack since summer.  Changing RA meds hasn’t helped my immune system.  Being sick and stopping my RA meds intermittently most likely has contributed to this yoyo effect.

So this week I eliminated all the inflammatory foods from my diet – dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol and legumes.  The latter is no biggie as Legumes aren’t my favorite food.  I also fasted during the day on Tuesday and Wednesday and had coffee, tea, water and bouillon during the day and salad or eggs with protein for dinner those nights.

I have already been able to cut my prednisone does in half and my goal is to be off of it shortly.  At some point in the near future for several weeks prior to my February 15 surgery date I’m going to need to be off all RA meds.  I’d like to have the inflammation as minimal as possible prior to that date.  I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you’re in a snow zone, relax and enjoy.

TKR

TKR = Total Knee Replacement.  I admit to blaming much of my recent pain on RA, which has been more active this year, but in reality my left knee has been problematic since the end of ski season last year.  I’ve limped most of the year and kept thinking that changing RA meds would magically fix it.

Denial.  When a coworker stated recently that I’d been limping for months and when was I going to do something about it, it hit home.  I shed a couple of tears as the reality hit that the knee wasn’t going to get better.  I knew that the cartilage was gone and I was bone on bone and that no medication is going to fix that, but I was still hoping.

I called the orthopedic and saw him this past week.  A few new x-rays were enough to show how bad it has gotten and the doctor and I agreed to schedule surgery soon.

So February 15th I will be undergoing a total knee replacement and it can’t come soon enough.

Wishing all my WordPress friends far and near a happy, healthy and peaceful 2017!!  Happy New Year!

12/20/16

Sick again.  It appears that I have no immune system.  Or that it’s not very effective these days as I’m home sick again.  I just got out of bed at 11:30.  The very sore throat has subsided a bit, I don’t have a fever today, but there’s a little congestion.  And major fatigue.  I got up this morning hoping to go to work for about half a day, but I knew I couldn’t do it and I did not want to spread germs.  I rescheduled several appointments and went back to bed.

It’s been extremely frustrating dealing with this.  I did just ask on one of my RA forums if anyone is on Xeljanz and are they having similar issues.

The good news?  When I’m sick, my RA seems to be a bit more in check.  I think that my immune systems starts fighting the germs and lays off attacking my joints.

Sigh.

That’s all I can think of to call this post.  More of the same.  I’m not a complainer and that’s what I told the Rheumy yesterday when I saw him.  And he knows I don’t complain. I’ve been sick twice this fall, and mid November was probably the flu which I’m finally recovered from.  So I started my Xeljanz again, for the third time, but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on my pain and inflammation.  I had a blood test this week and he said that the markers for inflammation were elevated.  I’ve been taking prednisone which suppresses the tests, so he knew I was worse than what the tests showed.

I was actually back using my cane one day this week.  I’m tired of limping.  I did put on a pair of skis last Saturday but I wasn’t able to ski.  I’m not sure that I will be able to ski this season.  Which has always been a priority but I know that I can’t make my decisions based on my ability to ski or not.  Walking is enough of a benchmark.

The Rheumy suggested that I change from the twice a day 5mg Xeljanz to once a day 11mg dose.  Today is my first day trying that.  I am willing to try anything and know that small tweaks are sometimes all that is needed.  I haven’t given up hope.

 

 

Personal Training

I haven’t written about my training, or my trainer in quite a while.  Cathy was very gentle and kind with me through this summer as I went through my RA Flare from Hell.  I still made it most weeks, but we didn’t do much that was significant – some stretching and a little weight lifting and then she would massage or use her tiger tail on me, which helps get the kinks out and just made a suffering gal feel better.  She was always empathetic with me and I don’t think she thought I exaggerated my pain.

Now that I’ve changed meds and hopefully am feeling better, she has started gently moving toward more aggressive workouts.  Well gently until this past week when she whipped my butt!!  We used kettlebells and I worked like I haven’t worked in almost a year.

Finally I yelled “Uncle.”

img_0164

I feel fortunate that I have the time and expense to devote to my weekly training sessions.  I think they help me immensely with understand that I don’t have as many limitations as it appears.  She pushes me to work beyond what my head may say I can do.  She works on my balance alot and I’m incredibly thankful for all the time we spend together.  Especially this weekend when I spent both days up and down a ladder painting our kitchen that is undergoing renovations.

I bitch and swear at her, but Cathy is truly awesome.

 

October

October 1.  Where did September go?  I’m sitting enjoying coffee looking out the window at the rain.  Fall arrived this week in all her glory. While I will miss summer, fall has great colors and smells associated with her, how can you not embrace it?

Probably a good time to update you on my medication.  I started the Xeljanz just over a month ago and it immediately helped the pain and inflammation, but it also was very difficult on the digestive system.  I also supplemented the Xeljanz thru September with a little bit of prednisone – I had a lot going on and needed to be as pain free and mobile as I could.  I felt pretty good for the the month, other than the upset stomach and relied very little on pain meds.

Visited the rheumy 2 days ago.  We both had reached the same conclusion which was that we didn’t want to give up on the Xeljanz too soon.  He has had such success with the medication.  He gave me a script for 5mg pred, told me to take 1/2 or 1 each day and only take 1 Xeljanz and not 2 per day.  I started that regimen yesterday and waited until after breakfast to take the Xeljanz.  Yesterday was  a pretty good day so perhaps we’re onto something.

Let’s hope because today and tomorrow we finish emptying the kitchen and Wednesday starts the demolition.  I am the painter for the renovation so I am going to need to have my legs in good working order to paint the walls.  Wish us luck.

Lastly, I wanted to let you know that Mr. Phat and I got married in September in a very small, secret, midweek ceremony.  6 adults and 2 children.  We had a fabulous day.  After 10 years of being together we decided it was time.

dsc_0881

Labor Day Weekend

I’m relishing three days off from the bustle of the office.  I will say that it appears I have made some progress on my RA flare this week.  Monday was such a terrible morning that I called the rheumy at 9:06am and was told that he could see me at 10:45.  I hurried up a client meeting and headed to the office.  The doc took one look at me, my hands and knees and I felt his empathy.  He knows I don’t complain so he knew that I was having a tough time.

We both agreed that the Enbrel has stopped being effective.  Eight years is a long time to have a successful experience with Enbrel so it was time to move on.  Which answered my question from writing last weekend – when do you know it’s time to switch.  He suggested I try Xeljanz, by Pfizer.  It’s a pill that you take twice a day and he has had some patients that have had some success with it.  He gave me a 30 day supply and said if it worked, we can figure out the health insurance and get it prescribed.  The health insurers will pay for it only if you’ve been on a few biologics that have stopped working.  Enbrel was my third (I’ve been doing this since 2001).

He told me to start Thursday which is my usual Enbrel day, but I cheated and started Monday night.  Tuesday I felt worse than I’d felt Monday, but I persevered, even going to the gym.

Wednesday when I woke up, the painful stiffness I’d been experiencing in my fingers wasn’t there and my knees felt better.  Thursday was even better, and my boss saw me walking around commented how well I was moving.  I walked the dog that evening when I got home.  First time I’ve done that in at least a month.

I have read online that it works quickly.  However some patients get inital relief from it and then it loses it’s effectiveness quickly.  It also is one of those medications that has the long list of side effects.  It suppresses the immune system, so I will have to continue my diligence with illness.  But for today, I think that I can get outside and do some yard work and the rest of the long labor day weekend will be spent clearing the kitchen cabinets to prepare for the renovation that starts in a few weeks.  Oh Joy!

My takeaways from this week are that I am fortunate to have a doctor that can see me on the same day.  I was so happy that within a 2 hour time frame, he could see me.  I’m also happy that there are alternatives.  As he said, 8 years ago there were only about 3 products to choose from.  I’ve used all three, so fortunately there are newer alternatives on the market.  I’m also fortunate to have gotten almost 8 years of remission with Enbrel.  And I put my fitbit on this morning for the first time in months.   Onward and upward – enjoy the weekend folks.