RA Blog: The “Eyes” Have It

giphy

I woke up Saturday morning and noticed my right eye was a little red. When I returned home later on that evening both eyes were turning red, began to itch and I had pain behind both of them. Like RA in it’s grand fashion…it all happened suddenly. I have had itchy eyes before, swollen eyes, and this. I knew what it was.

It rarely happens to me, but for some it happens more often. I thought I would leave a link to an article that discusses all of problems that can occur with your eyes involving Rheumatoid Arthritis. Please take a moment a read it.

What did I do for my eyes? A cold towel, eye drops, and a naproxen for pain. They were better yesterday and today they are irritated this morning. I will have to give my doctor a call if they do not clear. I have never gone longer than 3 days.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/living-with/rheumatoid-arthritis-eye-complications/

~Nikki

 

RA BLOG: Winterizing Rheumatoid Arthritis

winterready_blog_ai_lg

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!

Easy White Bean Chicken Chili

picsart_11-17-07-29-51

 

This was suppose to be a recipe from Food Network, but I looked at everything that needed to go in there and I was thinking “Nope! I do not have time for all of that so I changed it. I have RA and Fibromyalgia for starters, and I was just not in the mood to do too much. So here is what I did. It looks nothing like the original recipe. I really went out on the fly.

1lb of dry navy beans

6 cups of chicken broth

2 boneless chicken breasts

1 1/2 cup of fresh spinach or however much you would like! (frozen spinach-note it will add more water to your chili and dilute your chicken broth)

1 tsp of white pepper

1 1/2 cup of red bell peppers chopped (I already had some frozen in my fridge plus I thought it would bring color along with the spinach)

1/2 tsp of garlic salt

one package of chili seasoning ( I think I should have used two packs or at least a half of another pack)

The first thing I do is read the reviews of a recipes. I knew right away the problem with the way some people did their recipe. If you have dry beans soak them over night! They soak up liquid/water. If you try to soak then a few hours or not at all they will soak up your chicken broth and you will need to add so much more broth. And more than likely, people added water which dilute the seasoning and the chicken broth. Therefore, rendering their chili bland!

I seasoned and baked the chicken instead of pan searing it. I used 5 cups of chicken broth and beans to a pot and brought them to a boil and let them simmer for 45 minutes. I then added the chicken, the sixth cup of broth and packet of chilli seasoning. I simmered for another hour. I then added the spinach, red bell peppers and simmered another 20. ( you will warm it up over the next few days or freeze). It tastes delicious with shredded pepper jack cheese or mozzarella or whatever you like. We had garlic toast with ours. This was easy and you can take your time.It’s a good recipe for those of us who may not be able to use our hands to do so much cutting or standing for long periods of time. We ate it the first day, the second day and then gave some away. I had it for lunch after a few days later. I was thinking you could add other types of white beans, vegetables, but don’t forget to soak them and to add more broth. Letting it simmer down more because you don’t want it as a soup….or do you?  I do have a plan to kick this recipe up a notch next time.

~Nikki

 

 

Anxiety: Getting to Happy, Thanks, and Giving

15230785_10155531689623266_2264308434370629756_n

Wednesday I was certain I wasn’t going to Thanksgiving Dinner. I just did not want to be bothered with all of the noise and hoopla. I’d experienced a really bad night of anxiety and insomnia Tuesday night. Worst in a long time, maybe of all times. Later on Wednesday evening I began to feel better, but not enough to change my mind.

When I woke up Thursday, I felt okay. I forced myself to have breakfast with a friend. I got dressed and made it to my family’s house with a plan in mind. If it gets to be too much, I can escape to my parents room or I can leave. To my surprise, my mother was much calmer than usual. She usually is high strung. I was grateful because I don’t operate well in panic and hype mode. I gave by putting ice in the cups, rolls in the oven, arranging the food. It was hectic getting food in a small space with almost 20 plus people. So, I went outside and sat until the line died down. Cool fall air and peace. I was happy as my nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, eyes lit up when they saw me and they ran to give me hugs. I was happy to see my latest 6 month old great nephew for the first time.

I gave thanks for good food as I escaped to my parents room to eat in peace as I watched HGTV and Unsung. Only to be interrupted by by wobbly walking one year old great nephew as he looked in on me and came to my plate for anything I would give. He’s not hard to please and out the door he went.

I made it. I made it back to my house with my sanity in tack and a to go box for breakfast this morning. I am thankful I did not experience the agitation of anxiety.

~Nikki

Fashion Confetti: RA and Unbreakable Fashion

12096502_10154293733793266_1511876642162303827_n

2015. This was Janet’s last stop on her tour (Memphis) if I am not mistaken before she discovered she was pregnant! It was a great show I will never forget

I’ve wanted to do a blog piece on fashion and RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis and also other illnesses such as Fibromyalgia (which alters what you can and cannot wear at times). I thought this would be the perfect example. In this photo I was forced to compromise a fresh pair of sneakers for my heels because I had surgery late August last year on my right foot due to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was still healing which took about 7 months and I am still pushing my limits. There are some heels I will never see again and there are some I am still holding out hope for.

I can understand many women who willing gave up heels, but being who I am and my love for all things fashion I wasn’t willing. To each her own! So I did the physical therapy and I took it a step further by doing foot exercises by ballerinas, athletes recovering from foot surgery, and whatever I could YouTube lol!!! Yes, please admire my dedication to heels. (laughing hysterically). However, my gait has changed and I cannot where certain heels (yet? ever? who knows) and also my balance has been off due to damage of RA and Osteoarthritis. But like a captain who goes down with his or her ship is how I plan to go down with my heels! Yet, I have found many fashionable ways to rock my sneakers as I love shoes period!

~Nikki

12038518_10154294511863266_3419174541448826215_n
Photo is property of Nicole Jackson and not to be reproduced, copied, or shared without written consent

P.S. When I arrived at the show Janet did her entire performance in sneakers! I was like see, great minds think alike!

Before You Get to the Edge. RA BLOG

5d6bdf2e17ea429f197829f8568895b3

What do you need to do as a person with a chronic illness or dis-ease before you get to the the edge? The breaking point? The split second before bad attitudes, mean words, a frown forms across your brow, and just plain funk kicks in making your home or work atmosphere an unpleasant place. Before you have to “back track” and make apologies, amendments, and atonements, here are two question that may help you. But first, let me explain how this came to me this morning.

After my second night of restless sleep, I laid there pushing myself to get up or my daughter would be late for school. I slept with the breathing machine on (CPAP machine) and it was annoying all night. Tossing and turning with the “so and so” cord tangling around my arm and head. The wisp mask, even with the soft, light rubber around it, was hurting my face because fibromyalgia was awake, too. When I finally snatched it off this morning, I was tired before I got up.

When we have restless or painful nights it can make us feel defeated before we even roll out of bed. Defeated, before we get our day started. It can make us pessimistic, angry, moody, and we can began to bark out in frustrations to family, friends, significant others, children, and coworkers. I sat up on the side of the bed and thought to myself “I feel horrible. I wish I could get more sleep. Oh well.” To the bathroom, get dressed and I sat on the side of the bed putting my shoes on and I realized I was frowning. I felt heavy as I moved around. And then I asked myself a question that I already knew the answer to:

WHAT’S WRONG? WHY ARE YOU IN A BAD MOOD ALREADY? (your answer may vary but give yourself the full blown answer. Not the short answer)

Answer: I did not sleep well. I am upset that I cannot go back to sleep. I do not feel like being upbeat and chipper. But, I have to send my daughter off to school in the best mood possible.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TODAY? WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE DAY AND IMPROVE YOUR MOOD? (Your answer may vary drastically depending on the situation and day. You could be working, a full time at home parent, work for yourself, etc)

I need sleep! But I can’t go back so I need peace and quiet. I need the least amount of conflict and chaos. I can limit phone calls to and from people that are prone to give me bad news or talk too long, news and social media. I can eat a good breakfast. I can sit outside this morning for 30 minutes. Sunshine improves my mood. I can tell my daughter the truth.

Yes. Tell the people in your life the truth.

Me to my daughter: “Morning. Not to chipper or talkative this morning. Sorry. Rough night.”

Her: “Oh. It’s okay Mom.”

So before you get to the edge…

WHAT’S WRONG? – TELL YOURSELF THE FULL VERSION

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO FOR MYSELF TODAY THAT WILL MAKE THIS BETTER//GET THROUGH THE DAY?- NAME IT. LIST IT. DO IT.

AND BONUS: TELL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL WHEN IT’S REALLY BAD OR IF YOU’RE  JUST NOT UP TO PAR THAT DAY. I know we are always feeling bad most of the time and we don’t have to let people know that. However, when it’s one of those days when you wake up and can feel the ANGST check it (address it) before you walk out the door of your room.

~Nikki

 

 

 

If You Must. RA Blog

5869c79a5ee4df9ddec28a8ab4d356c8

The last two years for me have been very difficult times. I have been fighting for disability. I have not worked because I cannot hold down a fulltime job and all savings have been depleted. I had a new diagnosis in 2015 of osteoarthritis in my right toe (I had surgery for halludux rigidus) and this year I saw a report from one of my doctor which stated osteoarthritis in both knees (and decrepitus). Every time I go to the doctor or have tests I have anxiety attacks. I was tested so much this year for breathing problems ffinallyit was diagnosed as sleep apnea and dyspnea. I went to the doctor last week and I was told I need medication for diabetes. Also, a few months ago, after being tested numerous times, I now have peripheral neuropathy in my lower limbs and carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and upper limbs. Bouts of depression are often.

I have had plenty of reason to look back woefully, angrily, and puzzled. Recently, in gathering medical records, my pediatric doctor office was able to find my diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid   Arthritis. I thought I had it since I was 12, but the symptoms began at 8 and diagnosis was at 9. I read the letters and I noticed how kind, compassionate, and thorough the specialist who informed  my doctor of the findings as they communicated back and forth. In reading those forms I cried because I began to remember vividly those painful and uncertain days. It also gave me a clue as to my left eye having blurring problems I had forgotten it started when I was a child. It is so intermittent and this year an ophthalmologist saw the problem. The one sentence the pediatric rheumatologist stated was for girls, at such a young age, rheumatoid arthritis has a “smoldering effect.” Yes. How right he was.

How can I look back, if I must, forgivingly? I’m not sure exactly what top forgive. In looking back then and now, longing for when I was okay. The window where I felt no pain. The time when I knew exactly where I wanted to go and all I wanted to do. The place where I was so optimistic About going in my life and that “here,” whereII am now, is a place I never saw because I never envisioned it. And I am not talking just for the diagnosis of RA and the other laundry list, but life overall. As my therapist said last week, break it down, piece by piece, to not get overwhelmed. I guess I forgive it piece by piece and understanding I had no control at that young age over a disease and I don’t have much control over it now. I do have control over how  deal with it and which direction to go forward. Looking forward prayerfully…no problem. I have no choice as far as I am concerned to constantly pray about my future. I try my best to be in the NOW and remain grateful. Though it is very, very hard at times.

~Nikki