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Good News & Bad

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I went to see my rheumatologist yesterday and I told him that I didnít think the Rituxan was working because Iíve been having a lot of joint pain for the last two months (ankles, knees, elbows and shoulders predominantly).

But, he said that my sedimentation rate (inflammation factor) was at 40 when I was first diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and now itís at 5 so therefore, something is working and he believes it to be the Rituxan.

So, thatís the good news but it doesnít explain all the pain Iíve been having so I asked him about it and he looked at some of my joints and didnít see any inflammation and then he squeezed them and they hurt a lot! So, he thinks that I may have developed a secondary auto-immune disease, which is common apparently and this one he thinks is fibromyalgia, which is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding joints, fatigue, and tenderness at specific sites in the body.

I can definitely speak to the fatigue. Iíve been tired for weeks and it doesnít seem to matter how much sleep I get. And, I know that my shins are tender because whenever the cat stands on them when getting comfortable enough to lie down on them, it hurts so maybe heís right but I must say Iím not thrilled about this new development.

Anyway, heís prescribed me a low dose of Amitriptyline, which is an anti-depressant that is sometimes also used to treat pain.

And, then Iím to go back to see him in a month to see if itís helping.

So, thatís that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 3/4/2010 4:48PM

    It isn't unusual for a person with an auto-immune disease to have multiple diseases. I think my doctor called it "overlap syndrome."

My rheum has told me I have fibro as well as the lupus & RA. It's no fun getting a new diagnosis. I'm sening you big hugs emoticon gentle ones though.

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    I have a lot of joint pain too. Hope you feel better emoticon

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1888MICHELLE 3/2/2010 8:40AM

    CFS and FM are almost as bad as the RA. My heart goes out to you. Just get plenty of sleep and eat well...it does help.

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MUSIC66 3/2/2010 6:43AM

    so sorry to here your bad news hope your new meds work.

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MOLLIEMAC 3/2/2010 6:39AM

    Joanna, so sorry. The antidepressant will help strangely enough as it will allow you to have a really deep sleep while letting your muscles relax and become less inflamed. All the best...MJ emoticon

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JHADZHIA 3/2/2010 6:27AM

    So sorry you got this awful news :( I hope that works for you. Yet another thing RA sufferers have to put up with, like we don't have enough already. The question is why wouldn't Rituxan work for it as well since it is supposed to be an immune suppressant??? You will be in my thoughts.

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"Why can't I lose weight?" - Reason #1

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From Best Health magazine:

"The weekend effect - To combat overindulging on Saturday and Sunday, pay attention to portion size, weigh yourself daily or at least Friday and Monday and watch your alcohol intake, which provides empty calories and lowers your food inhibitions. Researchers have found that people don't realize they eat markedly more on weekends, particularly on Saturdays, when they tend to consume more fat. Those extra calories slow weight loss."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JHADZHIA 2/4/2010 7:12AM

    Ah yes, the dreaded weekends! I don't go out to eat and I don't drink any alcohol, but I do indulge in some of Mom's great home cooking! She has a husband who can eat large quantities of high carb high, fat food and not gain an ounce. He doesn't like greenery -meat and potatoes man -etc, etc. He can eat a huge meal -the portions are amazing, and be snacking an hour later!! So Mom has to big batch cook -for him! She freezes portions -one of which would give me four meals!! I do bring my own food, so only eat one indulgent meal a day -I stay there on my days off!
Hope you hva a good day and get back on track!

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DDOORN 1/21/2010 8:48AM

    I've usually been a once-a-week scale person, however I'm finding that weighing in during / around weekends has been QUITE enlightening!


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JACOBSS914 1/21/2010 8:18AM

    It is true, I find tracking has helped me the most. At least I have the information to make the decisions with. And if I am going out, lots of pre-planning. It might not go quite like I want, but if I have a plan I am more likely to stick with it.

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ZORGLUBB 1/21/2010 6:55AM

  Ooff, this is so true. And add the effects of wine or beer we might have during the weekends. Give me two glasses of wine (any more than that and I fall asleep!) and I start to make bad judgements about food. It is very frustrating.

To combat this, I do my weekly weigh -in on Mondays. Helps me to stay on track during the weekends if I know I will have to deal with it on Monday morning at the scale.

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2010 - A Year of Promise

Friday, January 01, 2010

Well, I just figured out how many days I exercised in 2009 and it's 253, which my husband says is good but I'm not satisfied with it so I want to exercise a minimum of 300 days in 2010. Of course, I'm not off to a good start because my back is achy today and I'm wearing my heating pad but if I feel better later, we may go for a walk.

2010 is going to be an exciting year for me with a few trips planned. The first trip is in February (Feb. 5th to 12th) to Jamaica with my Dad. We will be staying at the Rosehall Beach Resort. Here's a link to it:


And, then I'm going to be celebrating my 50th birthday in May so I'm planning a trip to Ste. Anne's Country Inn & Spa in Grafton, Ontario with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and aunt-in-law. Here's a link to it:


My mum took me here once and we had a great time except for the spa treatments I received (massage & facial) because they hurt but the food was good and I loved the hot tubs, sauna and pool so I'm looking forward to going again.

I'm thinking we could book one of their cabins. I specifically want to book the Sentosa because it comes with its own personal hot tub but we'll see:


And, then it's my sister-in-law's 25th wedding anniversary so we have to plan something for that and it's my Dad's 80th birthday in September so we're planning on going to a resort in the Kawartha's for that.

I just hope that Jake (hubby) isn't laid off again this year so that we can afford all of this. Although, I've said that I could pay for my spa myself, if necessary.

Anyway, that's my exciting year. I just hope that I feel better this year than last year and that everything goes smoothly!

Happy New Year!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 1/1/2010 8:58PM

    Good goals and lovely times ahead for 2010!

Sending wishes for the happiest, healthiest year YET! :-)


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JHADZHIA 1/1/2010 1:09PM

    Wow, sounds like lots of fun!
Its sound like you need to find one of those full torso heating pads that you can sleep all night on. When I feel particularly achy, this low heat, safe heating pad has helped me wake up feeling better than I when I went to sleep. The muscle spasms I was having in my foot, for example, are gone now. It was a Christmas gift my sister gave me, and its been the best gift I have ever received! Its made by Sunbeam and she got it at WalMart. Many is the time I have gone to bed feeling cold and achy and waking up feeling better. Tip: I always turn it on under the covers 15 minutes before I go to bed to warm everything up!
I hope you have a great New Year!

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Stressed Out? Try These Powerhouse Foods to Get Back on an Even Keel

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This article was published on ASAP (American Society of Administrative Professionals) website and I thought it was worth sharing:

These days, everyone is under an increasing amount of stress. People who have jobs may be worried about losing them. People who have lost jobs are stressed about finding new ones. This type of constant anxiety can lead to headaches, stomach problems, irritability, fatigue and frequent, hard-to-shake colds, to name just a few physical responses.

Believe it or not, one easy way reduce the symptoms of stress is to eat better. A well-balanced diet can actually help reduce tension, boost the immune system and improve health and wellbeing. Add some of the "stress-buster" foods below to your diet, and see if your stress levels don't dropóand your peace of mind increase.

Carbohydrate-rich foods
Carbohydrates trigger the release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which relaxes the body. Complex carbohydrates that can have a calming effect include rice, beans, pasta, potatoes, breads and lentils. Each of these foods soothe without bringing us down as sugar does. (Eating foods high in sugar, a simple carbohydrate, can initially be calming. However, sugar enters and leaves the bloodstream so rapidly that all-too-soon causes us to "crash.")

High-fiber foods
Fiber-rich foods have the potential to increase serotonin levels. Plus they are digested slowly, which can help control blood sugar, improve digestion and clear up constipation. Excellent sources of fiber include whole grains like bulger wheat, quinoa, oats and brown rice, along with fruits and vegetables.

Fresh fruits and vegetables
Green, yellow and orange vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system and replenish stressed-out bodies. Dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale are full of antioxidants, substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which can calm the nerves.

One of the healthiest foods around, blueberries are high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress.

Low fat or skim milk
Milk is high in protein, which keeps blood sugar stabilized and contains tryptophan, which is essential for the synthesis of calming serotonin. This is why a glass of milk before bed really can help you sleep better.

Because even mild dehydration can stress the body, causing headaches, muscle weakness and lightheadedness, it is essential to drink enough water throughout the day. Drink a glass of water with each meal and between meals, and drink more before, during and after exercise.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GNUATTITUDE 3/2/2010 8:24PM

    Great reminder! Thanks for posting.

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MOLLIEMAC 12/17/2009 8:31PM

    Thanks Joanna- we all need this info at this time of the year....MJ BTW- blueberries are a daily item in our house, doesn't hurt that they grow most everywhere in NS and we can buy huge bags of frozen ones year round....MJ

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My Rheumy is a Funny Man...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

...but very honest with me (I think).

So, last time I went to my rheumy in September, I think, I told him I was really tired all the time and he said that was because my hemoglobin was low, which could be caused by the disease (rheumatoid arthritis) or it could be caused by my medications or it could be caused by a combination of both.

So, I know that my sisters suffer from low iron, which causes fatigue so they take iron pills for it. So I suggested that if I did this, it might help and he completely dismissed it because he said that the conditions I was living with wouldn't react to an increase in iron so there was no point in even trying.

But, I figured it couldn't hurt so I started taking iron pills AND Vitamin B12 and lo and behold, I actually started feeling more lively during the day.

So, I told him about it at my appointment yesterday and he implied that it was his idea and he was glad it worked! LOL!

I also told him that I had stopped taking my Sulfasalazine since it was causing my arms to be itchy all the time but since I stopped it entirely about a month ago, my right ankle was painful a lot of the time and I wondered if he would prescribe Imuran for me, another DMARD? But, he said that although the medication pamphlet he gave me showed very few adverse side effects, he knew from experience with other patients that after about 5 years on it, a lot of them developed skin cancer so he didn't prescribe it anymore. So that's good that he's honest about that, right?

I then asked him to prescribe me Percocet for those days when nothing else works and I'm in serious pain. It doesn't happen often but it has happened. I know it's an opiate. And, I know it can be addictive. But, I also know that I wouldn't abuse it; I would only take it if absolutely necessary! But, he warned me about the possibility for abuse and then told me that sometimes patients accidentally OD on it because one doesn't do the trick. He also was concerned that someone might break into my house to steal them because he said "on the street", 50 of them are worth $2500! But, in the end, he wrote me a prescription for 20 of them and I'm to take them only when abolutely necessary and to only take them as directed and to ensure that I don't broadcast that I have them to prevent someone breaking in to steal them. (I'm sure this blog doesn't count since none of you actually know where I live - LOL!)

In the meantime, he told me to book my next Rituxan infusions, which I have booked for December 30th and January 14th. The first one is when we're closed for the Christmas holidays anyway so I don't have to waste another vacation day on it. However, I have to waste a vacation day for the second one because I'll be back at work then. BLAH!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CEESNOW 12/12/2009 11:08AM

    I read your post about the low iron and picked up some iron and B12 this morning to try.
Thanks for the tip!

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1888MICHELLE 12/10/2009 8:51AM

    Yikes! Glad that he's open to discussing things with you. Some are soooo arrogant that you just want to smack them. Hope the shots will give you some relief.

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JHADZHIA 12/8/2009 5:58PM

    I suffered from a very severe bout of iron deficiency anemia once. It was brought on by extreme stress. That is when I learned my condition could cause this as well. I was so low that only one in 4 oxygen were carrying hemoglobin which is why I couldn't stay awake and kept falling asleep. My Dr. was surprised I wasn't haven't breathing difficulties. So she put me on high doses of iron, which gave me severe diarrhea. Eventually, I went back to normal, but now try to avoid stressful situations. At least your Dr. will prescribe something serious for pain. I am just told nothing will work for the pain I have as well as the addiction song and dance. The worries about someone stealing it, that is new lol.
I hope you feel better, maybe you need a vacation to Hawaii too!

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