Friday, January 30, 2015

Food Choices Does it Really Matter??

I've been feeling really great. I've noticed thought that the better I feel and the longer I feel that way the more lax I get with eating the things that help me stay that way. A friend of mine was just saying the same thing. We never think when we are eating well how well our body is responding to it. When we are eating like "crap" and start to feel the results of that we immediately can link it back to our diet.

I started playing League tennis. Just a club league but considering how far I've come from my initial diagnosis it is really amazing. I stick to my motto (and this is by no means the best advice for anyone besides me), if I can hold the racquet than I am playing.

So as I was playing more and feeling great I started not drinking my Tart Cherry Juice as regular as I was (my tingling and numbness then returned quickly as did my pain level). I took some of my vitamins and if I got around to it I would manage to take the Boswellia and Tumeric. Normally though by the end of the week I had taken very few.

Needless to say I started to feel pretty awful. And of course, I had a flare. Not a major one, but enough of a flare that I wouldn't have been able to play if I needed to and of course I was back on prednisone which I try to avoid if I can help it. I call them Satan's Tic Tacs.

I am incorporating some new things as well as I work my way through this last little flare to continue through league tennis to eventually get to the USTA league level.

1. Sticking to the vitamin regiment: Multivitamin, B complex, Folic Acid (prescription), Vitamin D (prescription, seems everyone with a auto-immune disease has a Vitamin D issue. Makes me wonder about sunscreen), Milk Thistle to keep my liver function good, Magnesium (helps with cramping and sleeping), Boswellia and Tumeric (all for RA and inflammation. Vitamin C at a maximum dose because the flu and cold are everywhere and I want my body to be able to fight it, and Biotin to keep my hair good.

2. Juice Plus. I am on a 4 month run to truly evaluate this for you all. I've heard rumors that it can reverse RA or at least make your body run at a optimum level. I tried before but the timing was really bad, it was after the fall where I injured my back. So now I am trying again. Let's see what happens. I'm about two weeks in.

3. Increase my intake of healthy fats. The healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, seafood, and olive and peanut oil.

4. Limiting my caffeine. Of course eating like garbage leading to a decrease in energy are no mystery. To compensate (I do have a insane schedule, working and homeschooling and my daughter is a competitive dancer and tennis player herself) I've been loading on caffeine. Not that I am doing away with it entirely (or nobody would want to be around me in the morning) but I am definitely cutting back!

5. If I can't understand it then it doesn't need to be in my diet. So many gluten free food choices have words I've never heard of before. I will leave them on the shelf. I'm not sure we are fully aware of the effects these "mystery ingredients" have on our body.

6. Trying to add more of these foods which also work as fuel. Gluten Free Oatmeal, Cherries (I don't like cherries or the tart cherry juice I drink but I am trying to add dried cherries. The benefits are just too plentiful not to do), Kale (love Kale in salads, with spinach, in my smooties which you never notice is in there, or simply making kale chips), bananas (not my favorite thing but if I freeze them and add them to that smoothie I don't notice), chia seeds (you guessed it, adding them to my smoothie), nuts/walnuts, wild salmon (especially good for rheumatics), and sweet potatoes.

The smoothie has been the best addition to my diet. I use a milk base (it used to be Almond Milk but I've been using Coconut milk lately), frozen strawberries and blueberries which work better in the smoothie but this time of year is just tough for fresh produce, chia seeds, juice plus caps, kiwi (is I have one), spinach or kale, apples (doesn't matter if they are mushy this way), and honey. I don't like honey so I hide it in here. I've been reading a lot about the benefits of taking honey and cinnamon together for osteoarthritis (which I have in my knees). This has really been a great mixture for me and I am drinking it daily.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Feeling Groovy :-)

Lately I've been hearing more and more rheumatics say the "R" word. Remission. Whether it is medical remission or not it is just awesome to hear. Reminded me to open a blog myself, add to the list.

I am feeling pretty awesome! I haven't taken prednisone in weeks, I haven't had a flare in two months, most pains goes away in minutes so many days of no pain meds (and remember I am a tennis player so I do put a hurting on my knees). It feels great to be back on this side of health. I feel so great in fact that I started to play in a club doubles league. And we started off with a win no less. Every time I am out on the that court I realize how truly blessed I am to be feeling good enough to do this. That fact alone lets me enjoy myself so much more and not get wrapped up in winning. Next step, USTA league. We are looking to join an established team.

I've started getting back to my strict exercise, diet, and training. I've been utilizing the blender to increase my fruits. My recent favorite is Almond Milk, Frozen Strawberries, Frozen blueberries, Kiwi, Banana and my Juice Plus pills. Riding to help my knees. I have gel shots lined up very shortly. That should help the osteoarthritis and get me through summer tennis as well. I believe both knees are getting done.

I've been doing some reading about alternative RA treatments. One being the alkaline diet. Will post all of that soon.

Staying RA Tough.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Human Beings Seek Pleasure and Avoid Pain

How true is that statement? I know as a rheumatic it's almost laughable that we won't feel pain somewhere. It reminded me of my bi-weekly injection of Humira. It has gotten to be less painful so that truly helps the "dread" of taking it but I still tell myself it's 5 minutes of pain for 2 weeks of relief.

But what if that pain is meant to teach us something. What if that pain is meant to be used to get us to change something? What is enduring that pain and rising above it, learning to control it, brings us pleasure we never dreamed was possible?

I know that's a lot of "ifs". I used to always get wrapped up in them myself. So the questions.....

1. What if that pain is meant to teach us something? I can't say that I welcome pain. I don't. I remember growing up I would always avoid doing crunches in gym. Just complete hatred toward them. Complete. Honestly though, from that pain comes unbelievable strength. You have probably heard of it....core strength. Controls everything. Can the same be told for rheumatoid pain? My daughter started to play tennis 8 years ago. She was 5. I started to dabble playing again so that I could help her. Then I had major foot problems (I fractured it first, never broke anything before, then I tore the ligaments, then started to get recurring bursitis in my toe, then a ganglion cyst, it never seemed to end for about a year). Then I was asked about three years ago to start playing with a group of ladies. I learned I LOVE TENNIS. End of that summer I tore my first meniscus, left knee. Ended up having surgery. Next summer....same blasted thing, other knee. I opted not to have surgery this time after researching. Good decision. I rehabbed it back to health. I still struggle with it, but biking really manages it well. The end of the next summer.......RA reared its ugly head. If you haven't read my other posts I will tell you it was horrible. I would lose my hands for days at a time. I called it the three day swing. If you want to read my full RA stories you can read back. Too much to condense. Now I am on Humira and doing well. Weening off of methotrexate. I was first to the court once over the summer and posted a pic of the empty court. The caption was "every time I step on that court I am thankful because I know there will be times I cannot." Would I have that attitude if I didn't have to deal with RA and all of it's ugly symptoms? Maybe, maybe not, but, I do know that I am very grateful to feel well and be able to play!

2. What if the pain is meant to show us we need to change something?
This one I know very well. If not for the RA I never would have figured out I am celiac and that my gluten intolerance was killing me. I always thought I ate healthy. I have learned that I did not eat as healthy as I thought. I always read labels. Going gluten free forced me to really "investigate" the labels that I read. I am now a gluten free vegetarian and despite the RA I think I am finally in the best health I have been in my adult life. I never would have changed the way I eat had it not been for the RA. Being a vegetarian I ate much Morningstar, Boca, Gardenburgers, you know soy products. ALl gluten. I never realized how much of my diet was gluten and that is what was poisoning me. I never would have stopped taking great health for granted.

So yes, we definitely seek pleasure to avoid pain. I am no different than anyone else. What I have learned however is to learn. I have never had a "why me" attitude and I won't adopt one now. I have never wonder why I have this disease, it just is. I totally want the pleasure but will endure the pain to get there.

(I have said it a million times, if you have 200 RA patients in a room you will have 200 different RA stories. My story is just my story).

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Can't Believe Its 2015

Something about the end of year makes me want to write. I always seem to be in "that" zone. So here I am end of year, last of year end "stuff" happening (including my numbness appearing here and there in my right ring finger). All leading to what is on my heart. So I'm taking off the rheumatoid blogger status and putting on my musician writer status who happens to be a rheumatic.

I remember one New Years Eve when I was about my daughters age (12) I was in the bathroom crying at midnight. Just didn't want to see such an awesome year go. I don't think I have ever shared that with anyone, parents and husband included. I remember feeling a little ashamed. My mother was never one for hanging on to the past. You accept life as it is and move on. My mother suffered much loss at a very young age. That is actually how her and her sisters ended up being raised in New Jersey and not in New York. It seems as I age New Years Eve has taught me a lot of lessons. I am realizing nothing is for certain, except as my mother would say death and taxes. We live and we learn, that's what it's all about.

What I learned about Rheumatoid Disease, at least my own personal wonderful version.
When I think I have it figured out it evolves and changes. I remember December of 2013 thinking "this isn't so bad." It's controlled on little meds. Then I fell in 2014, slipped on a wet floor and landed on my back. It kicked up to a higher level. Whoa, was that eye opening. So this year I am smart enough to know that I don't have this disease figured out. It will change. I will change with it. There will be good days and there will be bad days. The tiredness however is sometimes the biggest challenge now that my flares are much more mild and manageable. Never compare yourself to others. If there are 200 rheumatics in a room you will have 200 different stories. Your disease is unique to you and you alone.

What I learned about relationships.
Some people just aren't healthy for me, even if I've known them for half my life. I guess I am saying I am learning to let go. We all have those people, always seem to be in a revolving door, good then bad, mad then happy, here and not here. As a rhuematic I realize that I have to let people go. Peace is just too important. There are people I've known all of my adult life that I realize its time. My mother was a person who stressed "Actions speak louder than words." What does that mean? It means don't tell me I'm important to you and then have your actions show otherwise by not taking time to reach out. With that I am finished. Doesn't mean they are bad people, doesn't mean they don't have good intentions. It means they don't measure up to my standards of what I require to be my friend. Tough tough lesson. Took many years. I wish them all well.

What I learned about health.
It is now a JOB. The health we took for granted in our 20's and 30's is gone. It is now a job. Our food has changed so much from it's original form and we have yet to learn what it does in our bodies. Research. Know what is happening. Be sure to eat well, exercise.

What I learned about faith in hard times, wandering, coming back, and wavering yet again.
Another moment of "I thought I had this figured out." I don't and probably never will. I cannot fully understand the mind of God. I can however resolve to put my trust fully in the Lord and accept that bad things happen to everyone. I am not special therefore they will happen to me as well. No pity party here. God will get your attention when you wander, one way or another.

What I learned about living in the moment.
I've said it many times before. Every time I step on the court I realize I need to enjoy the moment. There are times when I don't want to get out to play and I think of all the times I wanted to play and couldn't. Thanksgiving comes to mind actually. Shoulder flares, couldn't play like I would want to. We hear it all the time, life is fleeting, you never know when it comes to an end. It is all very true. Enjoy every moment. My daughter actually spent her first New Years Eve with her friends and not her parents. Can't believe she grew up so quickly. So if you have children you know how quickly the years go by. Live in the moment. Enjoy every moment and give thanks to the Lord because in the blink of an eye it can all change.

Happy New Year!! May it be blessed.