RA BLOG Week: RA/Rheumatoid Disease and Mental Health

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A Lot on Your Mind by Evan Sheline

If you get a cold or the flu, it’s okay because in a few days or a week, you will return to your healthy self. In those days, it will be physically and mentally draining. After all, no one enjoys being sick even if it for a week. Imagine the nightmare of becoming ill with something you can not get rid of. Imagine the pain comes in all variables to be described as nagging aches to excruciating to kill me now. You can’t do all of the things you use to do and what you can do has to be modified. How will you continue to survive and thrive in this world? How will you continue to provide for your family? Will you be able to do all of the things you planned? Will people think you are lazy or have given up if you can no longer work? What about your dreams? What about your goals? What is this new diagnosis? And another one and another one as a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. What the hell is happening here? Friendships and relationships change. Marriages change. You’re too young for this. You were thinking about enjoying your retirement…without pain. What do we do now? Why me? I am sick of hurting. Can I have a day of no pain???

The matters of the universe swirl in your head and the weight of the world is your shoulders. The impact of RA on your mental health can be devastating. It was for someone like me who was already an emotional human being who has lived through some very tragic moments. Now what? Another thing to hide. Another thing to deal with privately. I don’t want people to know I am depressed. I don’t want people to know I am anxious. I don’t want people to know I stand on the ledge of suicide. They will label me weak. And you don’t want to be labeled weak in the African American community. Or crazy. We associate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as “crazy.” Ah, the stigma.

What do I do? How do I deal with the mental impact of RA? I try to take it day by day. I put on my brave face and walked boldly into the psychiatrist’s office, the one that has a brown face like me, and I said “I am sinking. Drowning in this sea of emotions and pain. Help me.” And then we went to work. Because seeing a therapist is WORK. A good therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, knows the tools you need to cope with life’s tragedies. It does not, DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE WEAK, it means you are smart to seek help. And those who say you are “weak” or “crazy’ are the ones who are in need of help and don’t even know it. I use the tools my therapist gives me. Daily.

I practice yoga to help mind to focus on what is right in front of me.  It helps me to control my breathing. It helps me to control my thoughts. It helps to keep me in the now.

Meditation. Get you some. It helps me to see into myself. I can assess myself. I can create my future. I can pinpoint in my body my issues.

Prayer. It is my lifeline to my Source. It is how I talk to someone, when I can’t talk to anyone.

A personal relationship with the Creator (yes Source, yes God and not the God of this or that religion, but GOD). A deep, committed relationship, a bond, a sealed union. This relationship gives me strength. It empowers me. It serves me. It is my refuge. It is my stronghold. It is a friendship, a parental relationship, that has stood the test of time with unconditional love…mostly on God’s end. God has never wavered in love for me. Even as I tossed and rolled like a raging sea.

All of these things keep me grounded and honestly, above the ground.

~Nikki

#rablogweek2017

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RA BLOG: Just Not Tonight

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Sciatica nerve, joint pain, fibromyalgia and pinky finger falling asleep along the side of hand up to the elbow, makes for a “hades” of a night. I had to get up and get an ice pack for my back. I did get up and I made it to church. There were some hard hitting pains there, too and in RA Warrior fashion I answered “I’m fine.” The pain for me has been on off today but now it seems like I am going to have a fibro and RA flare. They both move around the body. So, as I prepare to wrap up my night and prepare for a bumpy ride, I hope you know that in those nights, midnights, early mornings, you are not alone in your suffering. Some warrior, of some illness is suffering, too. Someone is praying for the subsiding of pain, too. I pray for them, too.-Nikki

Does Weather Affect RAD(Rheumatoid Arthritis Dis-ease) and Fibromyalgia?

 

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The hurricane is influencing the weather here in my city. I can feel it and it doesn’t feel good at all. I really need my hands today. You can’t tell me weather doesn’t affect joints or muscle. I don’t understand after all the research and patient information, discussions about humidity and barometric pressure, why doctors have yet to admit this and state it as fact. What more evidence do you need? It may not affect everyone, but it is a fact for many of us.

Yesterday, I took every unnecessary item out of my purse and I still could not put my purse on my shoulders very long. Switching it back and forth I felt like throwing it across the store. But, that may get the attention of security and brand me a “crazy lady.” I don’t want to be the talk at the table of employees of my local grocery store.

As I pray and donate to the victims in Houston, I put my pain in prospective. I think of all of the autoimmune warriors there who are experiencing a stress I pray I never have to feel. And today we pray for New Orleans. We do not want it to be Deja Vu. As for me and my unpredictable, growing pain in my hands, wrists, forearms, feet, and ankles today, I sit aside many things on my “to do” list and whatever I accomplish today will be enough.

~Nikki

RA Blog: What’s For Dinner?

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One of my favorite, simple, and easy things to make for dinner is pizza. We all know cooking with RD (RA) or any other autoimmune disorder can be tough and almost impossible. We want it to be quick, easy, and as healthy as possible. You want it now as well if you have had a prednisone dose (most of us are extremely hungry because of this steroid for pain)!

Well, this may or may not be healthy depending on what you put on it and what type of crust you use. In the one above it’s a veggie pizza. You can buy veggies already chopped or chop your own. You can look in the fridge and just throw whatever veggies you have on the pizza. Think outside the box and take a chance with veggies like carrots and cauliflower. You can buy any type of crust you like or even make your own with cauliflower. I used a flatbread crust for mines. You can choose your sauce and add cheese. The one below is a buffalo chicken pizza topped with bacon. Pizza nights for us are usually on the weekend or it can be whenever you are just not feeling up to cooking a big meal. Add a salad and enjoy.

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When making the buffalo chicken pizza, I bake a boneless chicken breast (season it with Tony’s seasoning), cut it into pieces (slices or chunks, most of the time my daughter does this because of my hands), and let it soak in a buffalo sauce. Any buffalo sauce will do. I let it soak for about 10 minutes and then I toss them onto the pizza. Baking times are usually on your crust package. Once it’s done, I top it with bacon (optional of course) immediately so it can stick to the cheese as much as possible ( I cook the bacon while I am baking the chicken).

~Nikki

RA BLOG: Winterizing Rheumatoid Arthritis

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year alright! But, tell that to Rheumatoid Arthritis! For many of us the cold weather causes our pain to increase and our activities to decrease. I don’t know about you, but my pain also increases over in the night when temperatures are dropping. It took me a few years to realize preparation makes things smoother even when your RA is unpredictable. We winterize our homes and I said to myself “Self, what about winterizing RA? Share what works for you and ask others to share what works for them!” So, here is my list of things that work for me. Please feel free to share yours.

  1. Clean your gutters-Clean your nightstand…and keep cleaning it! As soon as I clean my nightstand and it’s picture perfect, I blink and it’s cluttered again. In the middle of the night who has time to fumble around and knock over the water bottle. Which takes everything else along with it as you search for the lamp. (Do purchase a cheap lamp for your nightstand. Bright light in the middle of the night makes harder for you to get back to sleep).
  2. Get a container from the dollar store. Place your water bottle, pain medication, fuzzy socks, compression gloves, etc in it. Everything you think you will need at night. I have a fashionable pill box in for my purse. I find that if I take it out at night I forget to put it back in or if I put it back, now a pain pill is missing if I need it when I am out. So, I have a pill box (or get a ziploc bag) with about 5 pain pills in it and toss it in the bucket. Everything I need is in that container for the night. The good thing about he bucket/container you can take it with you to the family room!
  3. Reverse your ceiling fans! It helps circulate the heat in the room.
  4. How many times have I forgotten my gloves? I can’t keep count. So I keep an extra pair of gloves in the glove compartment.
  5. Get some winter boots with a good treading for snowy days. We really don’t need a fall! Our gait can be a bit “wobbly” at times.
  6. Blankets are our friends. A blanket in the room where you watch TV or an extra blanket or quilt across your bed comes in handy.
  7. Exercise. You may not can walk in the cold and well, there goes your exercising routine. However, marching in place during commercials or doing some for of exercises indoors will keep your joints from getting stiff. My fibromyalgia seems tightening my muscles more in cold weather. So I do much more stretching via yoga. I love yoga.
  8. Open the curtains and blinds. A dark home can be a bit depressing and when things are not going well for us, pain and etc., a lighten mood is welcomed. Especially, by our loved ones who live with us! No bah humbugs here.
  9. More pain equals less cooking. If you can, when you are feeling well or have help, cook in batches and have a plan. Soups, chilis, casseroles all make cooking less of a task in the long run. Also, a few frozen dinners never hurt anyone.
  10. Breathe. Meditate. Grab a good book. Tell winter how much you love it and you are glad you are here to see it. Don’t let RA make you “hate winter” or the holidays. Think on the things you still love about winter. I love the cozy feeling. I like the fireplace going or all of the different chilis you can save on Pinterests that you never make! LOL

~Nikki

If you have any tips please share!

RA BLOG WEEK: This is Thriller

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Pain, but no gain. Pain meds, but no gain. I can’t say I have taken Opium for pain but, I have taken Tramadol for severe pain. I take a prescribed Naproxen that really doesn’t do much for my pain. I can only take it as needed but, it’s always needed. I do the best I can to get through the pain. You cannot take Naproxen everyday and you cannot take it when you are on Prednisone. So, I take Prednisone when I am in a flare. I take Naproxen when I am in pain and it makes it dull. It’s still annoying and uncomfortable.  I’d rather suffer than to take Tramadol because it helps greatly with the pain but, as my Granny use to say, when you are without your whits, “It makes you foolish.”

We experience pain everyday and that is hard for people to believe. It is hard for doctors to believe and I wonder are there any doctors with RA and Fibromyalgia? A scientist? A research technician? Perhaps you can confirm.

A low grade pain in between the webbing of your fingers for 24 hours and three or four days can drive you up the wall. A pain in your hip or sciatic nerve will have you walking like the zombies from the Michael Jackson video Thriller. But this is not THRILLER this is worse. This is life most of the time, from here on out, until they find a cure. Until then, here’s to heating pads, ice packs, massages, pain meds, herbal remedies, prayer and whatever you need to get through it.

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~Nikki

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing:God & Anxiety

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I didn’t see in the Bible where worry, anxiety, having cares is listed as a sin. I don’t know if in your religion, if it differs from mines, if it is listed as a sin or not. I do know in most Christian cultures, or so I have heard it preached it is a sin to worry. You know “You are doubting God if you worry because you don’t believe he can do xyz or you don’t trust god enough this is why it’s a sin to worry.” So on top of your worry/anxiety/depression you are now doubting God and you have trust issues. Great. That helps. However, I don’t see it or it doesn’t read to me as a sin but, it does register to me as not a good thing.

This morning I didn’t go to church as last night I began to feel anxious about going to church. I have not quite figured out where the root of those thoughts or even began to process those thoughts. This morning I simply asked God a loaded question/statement, an offering of thoughts so to speak: “Is being anxious a sin? If so, I certainly don’t see scripture list it as a sin and what about those who suffer from anxiety? I do see plenty of scripture on how to deal with anxiety. I see some don’t worry and don’t be anxious is that a command or is that comfort? Even when I see “be anxious for nothing” or “do not worry” it still doesn’t say it’s a sin. Because in the mind of an anxious person they have to feel more guilt about now sinning. Has the church ever thought about that? I guess not because many don’t acknowledge anxiety or depression as a real illness. Everything not understood or involving science can possibly be evil.” Whew.

Did I get an answer? Yes. It is not a sin to worry. It is not a sin to be anxious. It is not a sin to be depressed. BUT, it is not good because it can lead to what one may call sin but not only that, it can lead to bigger issues: mentally, emotionally, physically, even death i.e heart attacks and strokes, cancers and illnesses/dis-eases.  It can affect friendships and relationships. It can affect your job and hinder your progress. Impede your destiny. Even parenting! Etc. (yes, I believe the mind is connected to emotions, connected to the body).

Gee whiz God! I am just glad it’s not a sin so I don’t have to feel guilty. That is enough right there to set some free and allow them to get help. I was recently told by my doctor it seems as if I am experiencing some anxiety, possibly anxiety and panic attacks. I had no idea what was going on. So I am new to it all and as always I am a seeker of knowledge to gain an understanding.

There wouldn’t be so many scriptures combating worry/anxiety or depression if God didn’t know we were all different and some of us would experience these things in life. I also said to God this morning “How can I cast my cares if I don’t know what my cares are?” You see, anxiety or depression may not always have a source at the moment. It may not always have a reason you can put your finger on right away. God’s answer to me was “You don’t need to know because I already know.” And that, eased my mind.

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This is my blog. These are my thoughts. You have a blog. You express your thoughts. Thank You. Love you.

~Nikki