Four Month Follow up

Good Morning.  Happy Sunday.  It’s a beautiful day in New England which makes me feel a bit guilty for all the hurricane ravaged communities that are trying to bail themselves out.  Or for people who lost everything.  I can’t imagine.  I sell insurance for a living and only once did I have a claim where people lost everything and it’s heart breaking.

I thought I’d give you a run down of my final check up with my orthopedic surgeon.  It was exactly four months from the date of my second knee surgery.  He was happy that I had full range of motion in both knees.  He also said a couple of interesting things.  He said that some people with 2 replacement knees have trouble walking down the stairs normally.  Which is something I have issue with but I am not sure if my brain is holding me back or the movement itself.  I am going to try to figure that out.  He also said that most people with knee replacements don’t get on their knees.  Well I observed my father get on his knees in July and he’s had 3 sets of replacement knees (long story).  That alone gave me the desire to not be outdone by the old man.

I started training again with my personal trainer three weeks ago.  On the first day, she asked me if there was something I hadn’t done that I wanted to. When I asked her to help me get on my knees, she knew exactly what to do.  She put down a weight bench that I could use to lean on and I got on my knees next to the bench and was able to pull myself up.  While it wasn’t exactly comfortable on my knees, it wasn’t painful.  I felt accomplished and when I explained that to my surgeon he was so very impressed and stated that I must be an outlier.  And I believe that I’m an RA outlier.  I try hard to live my life with as little interruption from the chronic disease that I’ve had for 20 years.

Thanks goes out to my dad for giving me the courage to go through all of this.  It was his mother who had RA and never complained.  I also have to thank my bitchin’ personal trainer Cathy.  I love working with her so much and she gives me the courage always to keep reaching for the brass ring.  She said the day I walked back into the gym after surgery for the first time was the only time she’d seen me with a normal gait.  She said I had a confidence she hasn’t ever seen.

Music to my ears.


Staples out, rehab continues


You can see the metal parts that were put into my knee 2 weeks ago during a total knee replacement.  To me, it seems pretty clean and neat.   I saw the surgeon yesterday and the staples came out of the incision.  I have to admit that the incision is very ugly but I’m told it will recede and I’ve sent Mr. phat to the pharmacy for some oil or cocoa butter to soften it and help healing.  The doctor said that my movement is very good.  I really have to work on straightening the knee.  Bending is great, but straightening it hurts.  Unfortunately the other knee is very painful of late.  Obviously overuse has worn it out.  It has no meniscus, so will need replacing at some point down the road, but I was hoping a bit later as opposed to sooner.

I have several options at this point with the non surgical knee.  I can try another injection of Synvisc, which acts as a cushioning agent.  I’ve done that two times over the past 6 years with good success.  Sadly my health insurance doesn’t cover it and it’s expensive but I will check with my pharmacist and determine the out of pocket cost.  I can also have a cortisone shot, but that’s a real bandaid and very temporary.  Lastly, I can sign up and have another replacement.  The latter option I have a lot of reasons why it’s a good idea, but the honest truth is that I wanted to be able to wait a year or two before going thru this again.  Time will tell.  We shall see how the non surgically repaired knee responds to being back on my RA meds and sleep on it and make a decision down the road.

The surgeon said to walk as much as possible.  So I’ve just done a little much needed housework to loosen up my legs and done some stretching.  He said to continue the home rehab exercises and see how I do.

Each day gets better.  I’m sure that will continue.  Thanks to all of my readers for all your support and good wishes.  It means more to me than you know.

National Pain Report

So I’ve been following the National Pain Report for several months and I like what they’re reporting.  They’re definitely an advocate for chronic pain patients.   The  national pain report published a blog post  today which critiqued last nights AC360  Town Meeting by demonstrating how the show stigmatized those with chronic pain.  The founder and head of the US Pain Foundation who wrote this particular blog posts correctly states that we need to advocate for better solutions that are covered under our medical care.  He asked readers to write to the 2 producers of the show last and try to show how we are real people.

Which I did.  Even though I didn’t see the show, I did want to say that I’m a 55 year old professional woman with a busy job and life.  I’ve had RA for about 20 years and I function very well.  I see a personal trainer weekly (paid out of my pocket) and I used to get massages monthly, but can’t pay both for massages and the personal trainer.  But damn a massage would feel good.  My hot tub is a great tool but it’s not working and we don’t want to throw another $600 to again fix the same problem on a 10 year old hot tub.

Pain meds?   I told the producers that I take between 6 – 10 per month on average.  That’s all.  That’s all I’ve ever taken once I got rheumatoid under control.  I saw a rheumatologist for years who lost his license to practice and his livelihood because he got addicted to pain meds.  I need an occassional pill to take away the pain so that I can be a productive person.  I’m single and responsible for myself.  If I can’t work, I don’t have income.  I refuse to be disabled, so there are days that I need to push on and meds are part of my war chest for those days.   But I’m not going to abuse them.  It’s been 18 years and I’ve not done it yet – I’m not going to do it going forward.

So enough about pain and opioids, although I’ve had my share of pain the past few weeks.  I finally went and had my painful knee xrayed and there’s a lot of osteo arthritis in there.  Not really much of a surprise is it?  I have RA, which deteriorates joints.  I’m 55.  Female. Overweight. Active.  Not Graceful.  Or Gentle.  I fall.  My knees are toast.  Seeing the ortho next week for some discussion.  In the meantime I’m still trying to walk and icing my knee and trying to take pills only when it’s unbearable.


New Year’s Resolution


Where have I been? Well as you can see, I’ve been busy.  My favorite season is finally here!  December was a brutally busy month – it’s always a tough work time because my office is so busy working commercial insurance renewals and this year seemed tougher to get competitive pricing from underwriters.  We also had a big event with my step son-in-law finishing at the academy and becoming a State Trooper.  We’re very proud of his achievements.

Also December is Mr. Phat’s birthday so I had a small dinner party one weekend, and then of course there’s Christmas.  By New Year’s Eve, Mr. and I had done enough entertaining and socializing, we ended up sitting alone in our house with some dinner and champagne. It was, by far, the funnest evening of the month.  We sat together and giggled together all evening – went to bed and woke up to watch the ball drop.

As a rule, I don’t make resolutions.  I’m not very good at keeping them.  However, this year I did make a small resolution regarding my office and my job.  That one I will be able to stick to as it’s just a slight behaviour change – nothing big.  In addition, I had some unexpected help in the “getting healthy” department from Mr. Phat who decided to try out something he read about in Men’s Health online.  He’s doing 30 days of drinking strictly ice water.  Which is so big for him because he loves Pepsi and when he thinks he’s had too much of that, he switches over to juice or vitamin water.  I suspect he consumes 500 – 700 empty liquid calories per day.  So I’m doing it along with him, although I cheat with black coffee in the AM, and did have 4 glasses of wine this weekend.

Plus, I had 2 weeks off from the trainer due to the holidays.  But that all ends tomorrow afternoon when I head back in for some more butt kicking.  Wish me luck 😉



Sunset in Nantucket

Life can be interesting.  The connections you make can seem so random at times and then other times they make you stop in your tracks and wonder.  Which is what happened to me today.

My previous post was a guest post from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  The writer had found my blog and liked that I talked about chronic illness and exercise.  He was trying to publicize his organization’s blog and asked me if I would let him guest post.  Before agreeing, I did check out their website and did wonder what an overweight, 50 year old woman with RA would have in common with cancer patients – particularly those with Mesothelioma.  But I had nothing special to post about since I’m still a Phat Almost 51 chick with RA, and agreed to the guest post.

This morning I went to see a long time customer of the insurance agency where I work to renew his business insurance.  Business has been tough for this blue collar business the last few years with the economic downturn, but the two owners have tried very hard to keep the business going and are always so pleasant to me even when it seems that I’m always there looking for money.

I sat with one of the owners this morning and while we discussed the state of the economy and the business in particular,  he mentioned that he had a major health problem occur this year.  When I prodded him about it, he said he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma and had a lung removed earlier this year.  He had recently started back to work part time and the past 2 weeks he’d been going to the Y.  He described using the elliptical machine and at first could only do one minute at a time, with a minutes rest in between.  He’s worked up to 4 minutes before needing the minute rest and said his body is still healing and it’s frustrating but he thinks he might be starting to feel better.  Plus he wants to work his remaining lung to strengthen it.

I don’t talk about my blog on the job much – and certainly not to a man that’s a few years younger than my father.  But I divulged that I had a blog about RA, and being overweight  and mentioned the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliances guest post about how good exercise is for cancer patients.  We shared some discussion about our health issues and exercise as well.  It was a very moving meeting and it stayed at the top of my mind for the balance of the day.  Coincidence?  Really?  I just don’t know, but it sure makes me wonder.

And it made me want to exercise!  My personal trainer Cathy kicked my butt this afternoon!! Ouch!!


Yes, I have a blogroll now!!! I have stated several times that I’m not very tech-savvy. Not only that, but I don’t like to read directions.  Especially when it comes to computer how to’s.  But I wasn’t feeling well tonite and I skipped my monthly Women and Wine Networking Dinner and while Mr. Phat is watching Planet of the Apes, I decided to spend time in the office putting up a blogroll.  I was determined to do it because there are some of you bloggers that I’ve been following for a while – well before I entertained a blog and then some of you I have discovered since starting my blog.  You all help me in many ways – make me laugh, give me some insight, make me feel not quite so alone and encourage me.

So feel free to hover over some of the links to the right of my cyber friends.  I feel as though I’ve known some of you forever and that we’re good pals.  Keep on doing what you’re doing.

On another note – I have felt good this week other than that RA malaise today, and I’ve been to the gym and ate On Plan and within my points so far.  When I got home today, I did what I try to do when I feel lousy – I went out for a walk with the dog.

It helped.  It really did.  Talk to you on Friday after my weekly weigh-in.

Holiday Hurdles


I work in an insurance agency and we represent a large number of insurance companies and this time of year is deadly for dieters in my office.  Every day brings more junk  goodies from different insurance companies that gets deposited in the kitchen.  I managed to avoid the cheesecake from last week.  I admit that I caved when the big tin of three-flavored popcorn showed up, but I had a little last week one day at lunch and this morning had a little bit.  That’s a hard one for me to resist.

Today an employee had brought in weekend party leftovers, so there was a tray of party pizza, some spinach pies and desserts.  I had brought in a salad and did cave and had a small piece of party pizza with the salad because I was hungry.  This afternoon a large basket came in from one of the companies that had cookies, candies, peanuts and pretzels.  My office is not really filled with slim and fit people.  We could do very well with not having this stuff sent to us.  I believe that many people eat mindlessly because it’s there.  I try to really be deliberate with the free food I consume and also appreciate that as a sales person, I can leave the office and not have it staring me in the face all day.  But if someone has trouble saying No, this is not a good time of the year to work in my office.

That being said, I recorded my lowest weight since starting this diet in August at my last weigh in.  I ate modestly all weekend, even with a couple glasses of wine with my mother and a couple of cocktails after shopping on Saturday that tasted Oh So Good!!  And I’m back at the gym regularly.  It feels great and I’m feeling great but it’s going to take some good will power to avoid the Christmas office goodies pounds.