Day 5: RA/RD Blog: Buddy

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Buddy – Who’s your RD buddy?

I don’t have a pet or object, blanket, etc. that helps me, perse. What I do have is a Rheumatoid Disease group that I am a part of. This group is very interactive and supportive. There are people in it from all over the globe. For it to be so large, it seems tightly knit. It has it shares of woes, but those fires are usually extinguished by the administrators of the group. GREAT ADMINS is what keeps a group GOOD.

I found this group upon the return of RD, when it came out of remission. The Arthritis Foundation and Creaky Joints kept me informed. But, it was the community of Patients Like Me and RD Online group that is more like a buddy. I also go there not only when I am at my lows, but also at my highs and to uplift, support, others. It’s a give and take, an ebb and flow of the group that keeps me going.

~Nikki

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DAY 4: RA/RD: Community

 

Community – Our community is often hard on each other, even going as far as accusing others of not having RA when they can physically do more than others. How can we educate our own community on RA and how it affects each one of us differently?

I find the ones who seem to do the most accusing are the ones that are:

  1. Uneducated about Rheumatoid Disease and only know the basics, if that
  2. Have not learn to accept the spectrum of which they fall on as it relates to RD

We can educate our own community by blogging and joining RD groups and posting informative information as it relates to RD and from credible sites. We have to stick together and celebrate those who don’t have it as bad as one of us may have it. Also, there is someone that has it worst than you do and one must be grateful. We must learn to find the silver lining in our diagnoses. Sometimes, that means just being glad that we are still alive and here with our loved ones.

~Nikki

 

 

Day 3: RA/RD Blog: Disability

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Discuss your feelings about our position within the disabled community with variable disability.  How do you deal with limitations that are present some days and not others?

It’s a strange thing. One moment you’re seemingly okay and the next you’re in pain. You never know when you’re going to have a good day, a good few hours, or when pain and brain fog is going to kick in. You don’t know what part of your body is going to hurt and for how long. It’s enough to drive some mad, to depression, to anxiety, to God. 🙂

When I perceive I am going to have a good day or a good few hours, I start to do things I normally don’t do and sometimes I do them in a hurry just in case something swells or starts to hurt. A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling normal. I mean after I moved around, I still felt normal. I don’t know how to describe it, except feeling like I felt before RD. I didn’t know how long it would last so I started some intense cleaning of the kitchen, the downstairs bathroom and I made it to the living/den area before I began to lose stamina.

I deal with it as it comes. I no longer get angry. I do however, get upset sometimes. Especially, when it’s really something I want or need to do. I have to put it off or cancel. It’s hard to make plans, but I am a firm believer in making plans and following through. When I can’t follow through is when I am the most disappointed.

We also have to deal with people who may see us doing “regular things” or enjoying the life we have and question if we are really disabled. Disabled people have a right to enjoy their life, family, take vacations, shop, and do whatever they can on the level they can, when they can. You have no idea the things people go through in 24 hours.

~Nikki

Day 2:RA/RD Blog Week ADJUSTING

Adjust – How do you adjust to the affects of RD on your career, dreams, goals?

Wow! What a loaded question. In the beginning it was devastating thinking about all of the things I may no longer be able to do. My exact thoughts as I had a melt down were “What about all of the traveling I wanted to do? What about sewing and fashion? What about writing my books and traveling as a motivational speaker?” How on earth would I be able to do all of that if I can’t even hold down a 9 to 5 or 9 to 1?

I first acknowledged my disappointment and sorrow as some things died and somethings were modified. I was in awe when hidden gifts and talents emerged, came to life,  such as my abstract art and crocheting. They both happened on a whim although painting was always in the background. I was in Hobby Lobby exploring the option of crocheting after I saw someone with a crocheted scarf. There was a woman in Hobby Lobby, a customer, that was in the same department and I asked her about it. She was so happy to share with me how to get started. I worried about my hands so I researched and reached out to a community of crocheters and knitters and they recommend so many crochet hooks to use and so much advice on what to do about hurting and swelling hands. It dawned on me that there are crafters who have RD and other illnesses that have blazed this trail. I am not alone.

The biggest challenges I face when writing and learning patterns is brain fog and I have a hard time connecting things in sequence or remember directions that I read or are being shown to me. I have to sometimes read it over and over. It can be VERY frustrating. Like throw the crochet hook against the wall or crying because my hands are swelling and I am trying to type a chapter for a new book. The best thing about working on my career as a writer is that I get to decided when I can write. I keep a notebook in my room and I use my phone’s note pad to jot down ideas that come to me. I am looking into voice typing software as well. At times I may be experiencing concentration problems, anxiety or depression. I can decide not to work on a project or to write or paint. However, painting is therapeutic. I like to wrap the spongy tape around my brushes or crochet hooks to make them comfortable for my hands. I pave myself.

Being disabled has limited my income, but it has not limited the God I serve. I work on my writing and try to re-invent myself as a speaker and author. I take it day by day and try not to worry about if I become successful will I be able to do it. What if I have a flare and can’t make an event, or show up on set, flying can drain me, etc. etc. I dial it down a notch and remember I am not at that bridge yet.

~Nikki

 

Day 1: RA/RD BLOG WEEK: DEALING

Dealing – How do other diagnoses impact your RD and its treatment?

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I was on my second and current Rheumatologist when I found out my previous Rheumy had diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Imagine my surprise! I developed diabetes AFTER my diagnosis of the RETURN of Rheumatoid Arthritis DISEASE. I was first diagnosed at 8 years old and it went into remission after middle school and returned when I was 35. In the process of a surgery for Halladux Rigidus (Nodule develops on the big toe joint and causes PAIN, erosion, etc.) they doc said “Oh I removed the build up and I could see the arthritis and OSTEOARTHRITIS.” I also found out this year I have osteoarthritis in the joints of my fingers.

How do these things impact my RD? The fibromyalgia and RD was hard to differentiate in the beginning. I would have muscle pain and joint pain and I didn’t know if I had muscle pain because of the joint pain or if I had joint pain because of the muscle pain. It turns out that fibromyalgia, or any other thing I have can cause my RD to flare or cause me pain. My body is so confused about what is pain, when the pain requires an attack or not, how to receive pain and process pain, it doesn’t know what to do and when to do it.

It has made treatment very challenging to make sure some meds do not interfere with others. Some meds are used for the same thing. Also, when one thing is out of whack, like diabetes, it causes neuropathy and then fibromyalgia can kick in. Also, if I am dealing with anxiety or depression it can cause flares with fibromyalgia and RD. I have had both to flare at the same time and it is like being in a blizzard or a natural disaster of the body.

What makes the difference for me, or how I deal, is to differentiate between fibro and RD and I did that by learning (reading and researching from CREDIBLE sources) about each one. I treat fibro with pain cream, ice packs or hemp oil massage. I use pain medication or steroids for RD pain. I address diabetes by managing it. I address anxiety and depression by seeing a therapist and applying the skills taught to me by him that helps me to cope. I am spiritual and that helps SO MUCH. I meditate. I pray. I take pain meds for joint pains. I take my meds regularly ( I was not doing this at first because I hate pills but now I even take an injection I give myself). I put my CPAP on at night to help me to rest and if I need sleep meds I take them. REST is important in helping to prevent flares, pain and it’s important to rest to recover from flares.

It’s “alot” I know, but it is my life and I believe to approach it from a realistic and faith-based perspective gives me the balance I need to stay afloat.

~Nikki

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In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, including joints. In severe cases, it attacks internal organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects joint linings, causing painful swelling. Over long periods of time, the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.
While there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, physiotherapy and medication can help slow the disease’s progression. Most cases can be managed with a class of medications called anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS)

Organization. The Little Things.

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I admit it. One of the things that I can never seem to keep organized is nail polish and all of the things that I need to do my own manicure and pedicure. It’s more of a challenge for me than ever to do my own pedi and mani because of the problems I have with my hands. I will go to a nail shop when I have the money and when I do not, I have to grin and bear doing it myself.

Which leads me to organization. I know it doesn’t look like having my nail polish in a crate, piled on top each other is “neat”, but I don’t mind it not being organized by color. I am just happy to have it all in one space! So,  I had a tub laying around and decided to put all things pedi and mani in it and add my crate to it. After I gather things from everywhere (linen closet, different buckets, and my room. I now store this underneath the bathroom sink. I actually had NOTHING under there. DUH ME.

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~Nikki

Disabled. Doesn’t Work. Still One Phenomenal Woman.

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She said, “You chose a person that is disabled and doesn’t work over me.” As if being disabled and UNABLE to work made me the lesser choice. It didn’t help that he didn’t come to my defense with tenacity, anger, and “pissoffity” (extreme pissed off-ness). But you know what did help? Knowing who I am regardless of my disabilities and the inability to work.

“Life ain’t been no crystal stair”  is something Langston Hughes mother would say to him. I truly understand this poem at the age of 44. I look back over my life and it’s been filled with tacks, splinters, torn up boards, and no carpet. I’ve been reaching landins’, turning corners, and going in places where there is no light. In other words it’s been filled with one challenge after another, heartaches and heartbreaks. It’s been one bad break after the other. It’s been filled with PAIN and TEARS. I’ve been sad and lonely. I have been alone in a room full of people and lonely in a relationship. I’ve had bad things happen to me, #metoo and saw a dream die after a hysterectomy. I’ve been made a fool of and made horrible mistakes. I am sure anxiety and depression was here before I had a diagnoses and to mention some childhood drama and trauma. Teased, talked about, and bruised. Diagnosed at 8 with JRA and it made it’s return in 2010 as Rheumatoid Disease and brought Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and unexplained shortness of breath. Nope. Life ain’t been no crystal stair. And nope, that ain’t all folks.

However, I have raised a beautiful, bright, and intelligent daughter that is now in college. I have written three books. I returned to painting abstract art as a “black woman” and that may seem strange to some of the people in my circle. I have learned how to crochet. I have accepted my role as a spiritual teacher. I have found my authentic self. I keep rising from the ashes. Sometimes I am still standing and sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me, but I am still alive. I still believe in true, real, authentic love even if I never get to have it on this earth because I believe I have had it in another lifetime. I have learn to live fearless even when I am feeling fearful. I have went without so that my daughter could have. I love to give to other people. I love to fight for the underdog. I have traveled with friends and family and there are sunrises and sunsets engraved in my mind forever. It doesn’t really matter what someone says, even if it hurts. Even if it rubs salt in the wounds of dealing with being a different woman than what I use to be. I still know who made me. I still know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not less. I am MORE. In fact I am a better woman because of all that I have survived and I look forward to spending the rest of my life thriving (with or without a man but hopefully with the one that matches my level of love and maturity).

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

~Maya Angelou

~Nikki