Monday, Monday

Good morning friends.  I’m doing fine except for the itching!!! It’s driving me nuts!! I have been itchy since the second day in the hospital, right on the incision, around the incision and all over my body.  Benadryl doesn’t really help, half a pain pill helps when it’s really bad, and mindfulness works only to a point.  Naturally it’s at it’s worst when I lay down, so sleep has been elusive of late.  My fitbit says I’m sleeping about 4 hours a night.  No wonder I’m tired during the days.

Three more days and the staples come out and I cannot wait!!

April Showers

It rained here Friday night and yesterday.  Cold, damp, rainy day.  I treated myself to a day in my PJ’s.  Did a few things around the house, did some reading, watched some sports and the movie Patriot’s Day.  It was better than I expected.  I had read some harsh reviews when it first came out, but I thought it was well done and I shed a few tears.

And tomorrow is Opening Day for Baseball.  I’m excited for a new season and my Red Sox.

My knee?  The new knee is just over six weeks old.  Boy does it feel good.  I get an occassional twinge of pain, but all in all it’s terrific.  I saw the doctor last week and he was very pleased that I could fully straighten and bend the knee.  The only issue was some dissolvable stitches that had not quite dissolved all the way and were poking their way thru the scar.  So he had to gouge in there and clean them up.  OUCH!!  Not pretty.

My primary reason for the visit wasn’t to check on the new knee however, but to talk about the other knee.  The “Old” knee.  The formerly good knee turned very bad knee.  I feared he would tell me that it was too soon to consider replacing the other one, but since I’ve been seeing him for that knee since June of 2009, he was emphatic in his agreement with me that now’s the time.  I am bone on bone and the pain is excrutiating.  Sleep eludes me most nights because it’s too painful and movement wakes me up.  There is no meniscus in that knee and I’d had it glued together with Hyaluronic acid injections for about 6 years, but the injections are no longer covered by my health insurance and the orthopedic wasn’t confident that it was the best choice.

So…. drum roll please…… I will be having the other knee replaced on May 8th.  I wish it was tomorrow.  In the meantime, I will be working very hard for the next 5 weeks to catch up on my clients from being out for the first knee, and I need to get ahead for the upcoming surgery.

So end of the summer I will be back in action, running fitbit weekly challenges and maybe taking in a round of golf.  I wonder how the new knees will impact my golf game?

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.

 

 

 

Steps

I’ve been mostly a downer lately on my blog.  Talking about RA Flares, cortisone shots, medications, including pain meds, and sinuses.  It was a tough winter for me, but all in all, I managed.  I can afford my health insurance and my medications.  I can afford to see the doctor.  I can afford a personal trainer to help me feel better.  And I am feeling better.  I’ve been hitting close to 10K daily steps more frequently.  Then there’s this which Fitbit sent me earlier this year:

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I took 2,709,353 steps in 2015!!!  That’s 1148 miles!!  Which is 22 miles per week on average!!  The step challenges I participated in last year really helped propel me.

Then this week I got this from Fitbit:

Screenshot_2016-03-30-20-04-56 [390922]

Since getting my fitbit 12/25/13, I’ve gone 2500 miles!!! Even I think that’s commendable for a full time, chronically challenged person.  And I have this one to thank for taking alot of those steps with me:

20160327_094420 [390500]

I’m going to keep moving no matter what!!!

Winter Finally Arrived

It’s taken a few extra weeks, but winter made an appearance yesterday and today.  We had snow flurries all day yesterday, which amounted to about half an inch at home.  Today was bitterly cold.  Didn’t take me long to hit my slovenly winter stride.  I had a challenging work day yesterday and got home to the woodstove cranking, and asked Mr. if it was OK to sit in front of the TV and binge watch something.  Which is what we did and it seemed very theraputic.  Tonite I had my session with my trainer and she kicked my butt with kettlebells.  You can burn up to 1200 calories per hour with kettlebells.  I lasted about 20 minutes before I yelled Uncle and we started on other exercises.

I did ski for an hour over the New Year Holiday.  There is a dearth of snow in Northern New England, and not much opportunity to make snow with the warm temperatures recently.  But there were a couple trails open at our mountain and Mr. and I ventured out early and got 4 runs in before it got crazy busy and we were concerned about colliding with someone on our first day out.  There will be many more days this winter to ski.  But I will say that my legs felt very strong for the first day out.  I can thank my trainer for that.  We do a lot of quad work and while I’m still Phat, she says my legs are very strong.  And they feel strong and tight.  Not so much my core.  Sigh.  Someday.

I hope you all have a great start to 2016.  I am working on some health improvements and I will talk about them in a future post when I have more information  – the RA is fine, but I need to assess some of the meds and the side effects.  For now, I’m busy planning a busy upcoming weekend with my family celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday.  Hard to believe she has reached that milestone.  But also feel fortunate to have two parents that are healthy, mobile and with it.  I know that can change quickly so we appreciate it while we can.

Thanks

Not to be redundant, but I need to give some thanks today, Friday as I finish out the week with my first Fitbit Workweek Hustle Challenge with Bridgette from Bridgette’s Digits and not only did she rock her steps this week, but she made me step up on mine as well.  No pun intended.

Screenshot_2015-11-27-14-53-48This is where I am today at 3pm – the day after T-giving, with a total over 60K for the past 7 days and it’s because of her motivation, and the challenge.  I’ve already been out and walked the dog for 2 and a half miles, run a couple errands and still have 9 hours left in the day.  Bridgette and I have been neck and neck this week in our friendly competition and we confessed that it was both fun and motivating.

So Thanks Bridgette.  You’ve come a long way this year.  Last year I know you couldn’t imagine yourself taking 5,000 steps a day, never mind 10K or even 20K.  I know that you have shaped up big time this year and I’m very proud of you.  I’m happy that I had you to kick my butt around this week – not sure I would have done half this week without you breathing down my neck.

If you want to increase your steps – an activity tracker is a great way to challenge you to move more!  Which I needed today after a day of eating.  This was our contribution to the Thanksgiving spread:

antipasti

Mr. Phat’s Antipasti

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend Everyone.  Hope you had the chance to Opt Outdoors today like I did and that you’ll participate in Small Business Saturday tomorrow.  What great concepts!

Walk Across America

As part of a work wellness program, Blue Cross/Blue Shield had a challenge called Walk Across America.  It was a 9 week event and the idea was to get 10,000 steps each day for a total of 630,000 over the entire Challenge.  Participants formed teams and we had weekly updates.  My results are below:

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Not only did I hit the goal, but I exceeded it.  And walking that much for 9 weeks, after doing a 4 week challenge in the spring has made my legs tight and strong.

Here are some of the ways I got my steps recently:

bSailing along Narragansett Bay.  I know it seems that I wouldn’t get that many steps sailing, but getting to and from the boat and to and from a restaurant and loading and unloading gave me alot of steps.

IMG_9087  IMG_4857

We had a beautiful day.  The couple that own the boat are old friends and she has RA.  She’s one of my only really close friends with RA and we are on the same meds and I think probably have about the same level of disease activity – which is that we lead busy, active lives and try not to let the RA keep us down.

IMG_1270   IMG_1276

One last Trip to Fenway Park for the last home game of the season.  This involves a lot of walking through the city.  The Red Sox have not had a very good season.  Better luck next year.

With all this walking, I should have lost some weight.  I definitely slimmed up a bit, but all this activity can’t be done without some eating.  And we’ve had some good eating, including a trip Friday night to Frank Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, CT.  20150925_182318 That was the summer sensation pizza.  Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Garlic and Basil and Mozzarella.  They’ve been making pizza since 1925 and it’s the very best I’ve eaten.  I wish I could say that was all I had……but it wasn’t!

My favorite way to get steps through the entire summer was like this:

abbieOn the bikepath next door with Abbie the Jack Russell.  Those walks should be able to continue until the snow flies!!  Gotta keep my legs in shape for Ski Season?!?

DSC02405It’s coming quickly!!!