Saturday musings

roomba

I’m vacuuming as I write this.  Seriously.  I purchased a Roomba earlier this summer.  We had given one to my parents at Christmas. They’re hard to buy for and my husband hit on the idea, we researched and bought it for them.  And they love it.  They talk about it regularly – I think mom called it an amazing little machine.  So I had some coupons and gift cards and I bought one.  We also love it.  My kitchen floor has never been so clean.  We dock it in the kitchen in a corner and Mr. Phat will start it up when he takes the dog for a morning walk and shuts it when they come home.  A large part of my house is one level and I can vacuum the 40 foot long great room, the bath room and the office at the same time.

I’m not sure why I started out talking about my roomba except to say that as I’ve gotten older, it makes sense to find ways to make our lives easier.  I still have a full time job and I’m not ready to give it up, so I can’t get to house and yard work like I used to.  Mr. and I know that we really need to hire landscapers to help with the yard if we are going to stay living in our home for the future.  I’ve thought about a maid service, but the roomba helps out and our house is small – I can keep the house fairly clean.

I just ordered a telescoping window cleaning set that was marked down to 1/3 the price. It hooks to the hose and helps clean the windows while you stay on the ground.  I can definitely use a tool like that.  Now if only I can find one that will clean the gutters!

I’m feeling good.  The knees are really almost pain free.  I’m walking about 7000 steps a day and haven’t had a chance to increase it.  I need to carve a little more time out of my day for walking to get to 10,000.  My RA is better, but I still ache in the shoulders, wrists and fingers each morning.  Increasing my dose of Methotrexate has definitely helped ease the RA pain.

I’m glad I’m feeling better because Mr. has lyme disease.  Sadly his is the classic misdiagnosed case.  We live in the woods.  There are ticks everywhere.  He’s had tick bites and has found them on him, but never had a classic bulls eye.  He did have a rash last year that the doctor said was excema but we don’t think that now.   He’s felt lousy since February and we kept asking the doctor about lyme.  He had several negative lyme tests back and our primary care sent us to the cardiologist, the urologist, the neurologist and then wanted us to see a rheumatologist.  We saw a lyme specialist instead who said that the mainstream medical community is missing the boat on lyme.  According to him, it’s an epidemic and they won’t acknowledge it exists unless you get a positive lyme test.  The lyme test protocols are 40 years old.  The disease doesn’t follow the same pattern.  It’s very frustrating and debilitating.  Mr. started an antibiotic, supplement regimen and we are hoping for some improvement soon.

That’s my update for today.  It’s raining hard here so I can do some work inside and read my book about Lyme Disease.  Have a great day and weekend friends.

Mid Summer update

View from lunch yesterday in Stonington borough in CTstonington

Tomorrow is 11 weeks since my second knee replacement and 22 weeks since my first.  Feeling good.  I just went on a walk with the dog and realized that I was at a normal walking pace.  It felt good.  I’ve been doing 6000-7000 steps per day and hope to start upping that a bit.  At this point, the most uncomfortable thing I do is stand still.  When I stand still, I feel pins and prickly pinches in both knees.  But otherwise I’m moving along very well.  I went out in public the last 2 days wearing shorts.  I’ve decided I don’t care about the scars.

My RA?  I wish I could say it was better but it’s not.  I’m still very achy every day and mornings are tough.  I saw the rheumatologist this week and he suggested increasing the amount of methotrexate I inject each week.  Today was the first morning I tried that.  We shall see. The dose I was giving myself before wasn’t lasting the week so that I would dose a day or two early, which didn’t thrill my doctor.

The stomach upset that comes with restarting Xeljanz XR has mostly stopped, so I hope that I will soon feel the full effects of the medication.  The doctor said that 2 major surgeries was probably a shock to my system and my immune system is a bit out of whack.  Good point.

Summer 2016

Once again summer has gone fast!!! It always does, doesn’t it?  Considering I haven’t felt my best, it’s been a good summer.  My RA flare is continuing and I feel it every morning when waking up.  The stiffness in my fingers and thumbs is real. And painful.  My knees hurt as well, although they seem a bit better than earlier this summer.

Acupuncture?  I’ve had 3 sessions and I’m not sure that’s what enabled me to walk all around Chicago last week for 5 days, or if it was sheer determination and stubborness.  We walked to dinner 4 nights, once even for 1.5 miles.  I would start the day with pain meds and might add another in the afternoon.  I walked slower than in past trips, and was more deliberate in my steps, but I walked nonetheless.

Cocktails and snacks with two nieces, dinner with good friends one night and 2 business dinners with Mr. Phat and lunch with some gal pals kept me busy for 5 days.

I have a few more acupuncture visits that I’ve paid for and will decide at a future date whether to continue.  My primary thoughts at this time is when is it time to change biologics?  I have been on Enbrel for 8 years.  I was in remission for most of that time, but no longer.  Is it time to explore options?  That’s what’s facing me going forward.  I’ve been trying to be patient to see if the flare resolves itself because as far as biologics go, the devil I know is better than the one I don’t know.  But when is it time to switch?

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Here’s Mr. Phat and I taking selfies with the kids on Molly’s 2nd birthday this week.

 

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Here’s lunch along the river in Chicago one afternoon with old friends.  One of which has RA so we were able to share strategies.

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This is from yesterday.  We spent the afternoon at the Sergio Franchi Memorial concert in Stonington CT.  What a fun event!!

Truth is, I don’t have much to complain about.  I’m doing OK.  RA be damned.

I’m not Superwoman

My favorite season.  I love summer – I love being outside working in the gardens, and having dinner on the patio.  But since my last post I’ve not had enough of gardening or dining on the patio.  The pain in my left knee (formerly my good knee) got excruciating 2 weeks ago – too painful to walk again and I had to resort to using a cane, which hurts my pride, but I’d rather move with a cane than not move at all.

I had to get a cortisone shot at the walk in clinic because the pain made me cry out loud which also isn’t my style.  I set up appointments on the same day with my rheumy and ortho docs.  I prepared myself for a new knee – I thought that I had a block of time  this summer that could accommodate a new knee.  That’s me:  The planner.  OK, the control freak.  And I went in saying “I’m ready, let’s schedule this sucker.”

No such luck.  The knee pain was not due to the deteriorating knee, but was an RA flare.  A Flare? But I don’t get flares!!  I’ve not had a real flare in years.  So I was in denial for a few days as I waited for the cortisone to grab hold and help me return to my balls to the wall lifestyle.

No such luck.  It’s not going to happen I realized.  So this morning I caved in and opened the Medrol pack that my rheumy had prescribed for me and told me to use if I didn’t feel better in a week.  Basically its a 6 day, tapered course of prednisone which I swore I would never ever take again after finally getting off it in 2008.  I said I never would do it.  It’s a super drug – it will attack any inflammation in your body and rid you of it!! But it also is a stimulant.  Keeps me awake for days and swells your appetite.  And your body grows to love it, which makes it hard to get your body off it.

I broke that promise to myself, but the pain last night in the left leg – the entire leg – due to the flare was excruciating.  Took 3 halves of a vicodin pill before the throbbing receded enough for me to sleep.  My dog is stressed because our normal routine has been upset and I’m not walking her.  My routine is upset because I haven’t been walking.  And I feel the RA attacking my wrists too.  It was time to take the prednisone and see what it does.

And 5 hours later the knee and wrist are already feeling better.  So the Doctor is right.  And Mr. Phat  is right.  He said “you didn’t cave. you took something to help you feel better.  It’s OK!”

Superwoman I am not.  But maybe soon I can begin participating in life again.  Especially since the caterpillars are getting ready to cocoon.  (see previous post)

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.

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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!!!

What Have I Been Doing?

This Phat54chick has been very busy.  Which is why you haven’t seen any posts from her until this morning.  Today is one of the first days with NOTHING on the agenda in a long time.  And by NOTHING I mean babysitting the grandkids later this afternoon while their parents celebrate their 6th anniversary.

After our visit to Cape Cod earlier this summer, Mr. Phat and I decided to install an outdoor shower.  We thought it would be an easy, inexpensive house upgrade.  It was neither, but worth every penny and sweat equity.  20150907_113222

20150907_113239We had help from a plumber friend who did the plumbing work.  We had help from a carpenter friend with the fencing, but Mr. and I hauled 3 yards of stone – that was bull work over a couple of weekends.  I spent most of a morning staining the fence.  All in all, it’s been a great home improvement and it was fabulous last night to take a shower under the stars.

Image  20150919_095027I needed a shower last night because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in tomatoes.  We got 2 large bushels that I peeled and put in jars and today which I have to put in a water bath for 45 minutes.  Will take all day into tomorrow as I can only do 6 at a time, but I always feel accomplished when done and the freshness of the tomatoes in February is something that can’t be duplicated.   Mr. makes Sunday Gravy on a regular basis for family dinner and these tomatoes are the keystone.

Several weeks ago we celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday IMG_1111We call her the button, because we say she’s cute as a button.   That weekend we also went to a concert fundraiser at Sergio Franchi’s Estate in Stonington CT.  It’s something we might not have done, but were given tickets.  What an afternoon at the estate listening to his music and viewing his classic car collection.  20150829_152324 20150829_152411

Mr. and I  also had our annual anniversary trip to Fenway Park to celebrate our first date 9 years ago.  I tweeted out a picture of us with #myfenway and Fenway Park obliged by putting us on the jumbotron which made us laugh for the rest of the night.

Image1  We also ventured nearby to the TPC Boston one day with friends and we got to watch the golf pros.  Beautiful day weather wise and my girlfriend and I got to watch our boy crushes.  db Image2

OK, that’s not my girlfriend, that’s Mr.  We had a great day and lot of walking.  Which is what this blog is about  – me, health, RA and staying active.  I’ve had a good number of days with results like this.  Screenshot_2015-09-09-20-29-35I’m still involved with a work challenge for 8 weeks which is 10,000 steps per day.  I’ve managed to keep up and average over 10K steps per day.  That is over in a week, but I will keep up that pace until the snow flies.

I’m going to leave you with some of my favorite end of summer New England images.  I love September because we finally get the chance to be locals and partake of the bounty that is New England – be it seafood or the landscape.

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Looking forward to Fall!!!