Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rheumatoid Disease - There is Hope!

#RDBlog Week 2018

It's that time of year again and, as usual, there is more I could write if only I had the time. So, I would like to kick off my participation by telling you what I want you to know most: there is hope!

I began this blog four years ago after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid disease (or rheumatoid arthritis, as many people know it). At that time, I had no hope. I took the information the doctor gave me and found a few sites online that gave me more knowledge about the disease, and became terrified. I had already begun the process of self-diagnosis, looking up what it meant to have a huge degree of pain in my hands at feet, especially early in the morning. When the doctor gave me the news, I was dismayed but not too surprised.

I'm not sure which scared me more - the disease itself or the medications to treat it. I had just lost my dad to lung cancer and saw him go through enormous pain and suffering being treated with chemotherapy, so the idea of taking methotrexate was terrifying. Biologics were just coming onto the market and while some people were having remarkable success with them, others were having life-threatening scares with reactions that left them in the hospital. Fortunately, I was able to put off taking any anti-rheumatic drugs for awhile, as I got used to the idea of having RA.

Six months after my diagnosis, I had shoulder surgery on a rotator cuff I had torn. When I wasn't recovering on schedule, the orthopedist told me I had to get on a DMARD (anti-rheumatic drug) or I would not do well, as he already found erosions in my shoulder that were caused by my RA. I went on Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine). I have been on it ever since, with few if any side effects. It's not conclusive if it caused my psoriasis, yet another autoimmune disease, but it's mild enough that I have decided I can live with that as long as my RA is under control using the Plaquenil.

When I was first diagnosed, I cried because I thought my life outdoors with my husband would be over. I am here to tell you that it wasn't and it still isn't! Since that time, we have hiked in the Canadian Rockies, the Grand Canyon and Costa Rica. We still paddle the bayous and lakes in and around Texas, and I went whitewater kayaking (just Class 1-2) in Arkansas for the first time two years ago! We even joined the Banff Canoe Club when we were on vacation there.

Life with RA means you have to take care of yourself. You have to go at a slower pace, eating right and getting plenty of rest. Stress can really take its toll, and so you have to manage it. Exercise is important, but you have to pace yourself or you might throw yourself into a flare. I have learned that RA is the weirdest disease ever, too, because your pain can migrate all over your body! I have experienced RA symptoms not only in my hands and my feet, but also in my neck, knees, elbows, hips, jaw and even in my armpits! I have learned that ice packs, heat packs and anti-inflammatories are my friend. So are massages....mmmm, so good! And don't forget other people with RA as well. I couldn't have gotten through the past few years without the support of my friends, both old and new. RA has given me the gift of friendship with some wonderful people who are blogging about their disease as well. They inspire me to keep doing what I'm doing!

If you read this blog, you'll see that it is spiritually based. While those of us with RA can give you all the tips in the world, God can give you something more: peace. There is something about knowing He has everything under control, even when we can't see it or feel it, that gives me the ability to keep pushing through the hard days. I also find a lot of gratitude with Him by my side. Even though my life has changed, I never forget how truly blessed I am.

I will be writing more this week about specific topics chosen for this year's #RDBlog Week. In the meantime, feel free to click through old posts of mine, or head over to Pack Health, a support organization I write for. I shared some tips for living your best life with RA there for #RDBlog Week 2018.

I hope you come back here to visit and please leave your name and a comment so I can get to know you as well! Praying you will have a blessed day. ((Gentle hugs))

Peace, joy and love to you today,

Linda

Rheumatoid Disease - There is Hope! originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on Facebook. 

6 comments:

  1. Linda, I am overjoyed you have joined us again this year. I think your suggestions

    "Life with RA means you have to take care of yourself. You have to go at a slower pace, eating right and getting plenty of rest."

    We have a wonderful life in Christ, even if we sometimes forget it on tough days.

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    1. Thank you, Rick! I always enjoy getting together with you and other members of our blogging community this time of year. God bless and keep looking up! :-)

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  2. Slowing down means you can do more in the long run. Love this blog.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lene. Yours was the first really hopeful story I found online when I was first diagnosed and you remain a source on inspiration for me. I can't wait to read more from you as well!

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  3. Once I got my RA under control, I found that I could do many of the same things I used to do. I just have to plan ahead and as Lene says, go slower. I still get frustrated by the slower part though.

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    1. I hear you, Sydney. When I went to the Grand Canyon this past spring, I was really bummed seeing people coming up the trail from the bottom, knowing it would be very risky for me to try to go down and then all the way back up that steep ascent. I did go down just a little way, though, enough to get some great photos and felt good about doing what I COULD do! By taking the easier paths, I was able to cover more territory and I didn't flare up. When you can find that sweet spot, it's wonderful! Wishing you the very best in many more, albeit slower, life adventures!

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