RA BLOG: Bad Blood

It started as a good day yesterday. Even though, it was raining cats and dogs. I managed to take care of a few errands. I started to feel my energy wann around 3:30 P.M. I was going to go home and take a nap before a birthday dinner of a friend. Well, when I got up I felt my shoulder ache. No time for this. I took a shower and asked my daughter to put some cream on it (it’s like a icy hot) because I did not want to take pain medication. It wasn’t 5 minutes after she put it on I began to itch like crazy…all over my back and face. I knew I was having an allergic reaction and it was possibly setting off an itching flare (unexplained undiagnosed flare the doctors can’t determine why or cause). So, I took my last Benadryl and a Fantominide cocktail which calms itching fast (learned that from a nurse in the E.R. when it happened the first time). I had to cancel my plans to go out…so much for margaritas!!! But then around 11:00 P.M. I started itching again…and I had to throw on clothes, make a mad dash to the grocery in rain to get more Benadryl because I was out! My parents are aging, my brother was at work, and other siblings are older than I am blah blah blah…I was on my own. I never want to bother anyone i.e. friends because they live too far and even if they live close…they don’t seem as if they want to be bothered if that makes sense. I’d much rather you bother me, than I bother you.

I made it home. Texted family I was ok. I woke up this morning, but could not get out of bed. Talk to Mom, didn’t tell her I couldn’t get up (didn’t want to worry her=she’ll call everybody-everybody will call me-I don’t want to talk). I got up to shower and discovered my shoulder still hurts, including, hip and knee. I make it out the shower, to the kitchen, put breakfast on at 10:15 and soon realize, I can’t stand long so I push it and sit. And write to you…

I spent money for a very famous fashion show today because fashion is my first love. I did not have money for the all day events and I don’t think I would have lasted anyway. But, to now think I may not even be able to make it to this world renown fashion show is gut wrenching. It is this very moment, well, all night really, I wonder if I can do it. If I can still pursue fashion with this evil disease and at my age of 42. I think about giving up. I think of all the problems that would come with it. I think…if only I was not deterred at a young age to NOT pursue fashion, I would already be doing it and perhaps well established. I know I have the gift. I may not know #@$% else about myself, but I do know that. That is the one thing I have always been confident in and comfortable with.

Getting dressed, doing my natural hair, painting my nails, wearing heels, forcing myself to walk straight, walking a long distance…

For the first time I contemplate if I am in over my head trying to reach for a dream that will not die…

~Nikki

 

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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: Enthesopathy/Enthesitis

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It started in January and it has not left me yet. I thought it was “just” joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis in the left hip giving me a hard time and keeping me tossing and turning at night. Surely, it will go away. It didn’t and I tried prednisone because I thought I was having a flare. That didn’t do much. I tried naproxen and it didn’t do much either. It got really bad and then during the day, instead of going away it just dulled and would flare at time. I called my rheumy.

“Come in for a shot!” Oh no! I didn’t want that! But as I went the next day, he examined me first and said, “No. You don’t need a shot. You have an inflamed ligament. Let’s try physical therapy. Once in physical therapy, I learned the name of this condition: enthesopathy. The inflammation of it is enthesitis. I have that.

“In medicine, an enthesopathy refers to a disorder involving the attachment of a tendon or ligament to a bone. This site of attachment is known as the entheses. If the condition is known to be inflammatory, it can more precisely be called an enthesitis.”

Last night was awful. It had been nagging a few days. The new pain medicine did nothing. I got some relief with the heating pad. My concern is that this could be a permanent condition and there could be damage as I researched credible sites that said this could be possible for those with an autoimmune disease.

As I try not to worry about it much, and face these things head on, it is very difficult when RA seems to present an obstacle course on top of the obstacle of life.

~Nikki

RA BLOG: Limiting Pity Parties

Pity has a pit that is hard to get out of once you fall into it. If you’re going to dance around it, do so from a distance and make it less than often.-Nicole Jackson

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I can tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself, never feel sorry for yourself, or that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. Either you do or you don’t or you use to. Perhaps you have a different personality and you never felt sorry for yourself. If this is you, then I might suggest you have some compassion, some empathy, or try to understand those that do.

Feeling sorry for yourself can lead you into a pit. There is a difference when it comes to having a pity party…parties must come to an end and the sooner the pity party ends the better. You see, if a person falls into a pit of pity then that is a very dark place. Some never make it out and it turns into a debilitating way of living and approaching life. It’s all about what you use to could do and all about what you can’t do now. It focuses on what RA or an illness or disease has taken away from you and not what you still have left. Or what you can obtain now! It’s all about your problems, never about solutions. It’s about “I can’t before you try” or a “I tried once and I’ll never try again.”

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve had some pity parties way before Rheumatoid Arthritis exploded into my bones. I am sure it was the talking of wise people, encouraging people, that said a combination of “You’ve got to get over this, get over it, feel what you feel, don’t feel, etc.”that lead me to a method that has lessened my pity parties and the time spent in them. The method for me is, depending on what has happened and the depth of it, is: PUT A TIME LIMIT ON IT and start shutting the party down. I can’t tell you not to throw one in the first place, I don’t control how you feel no more than you can control how I feel. But, if you are going to go there, know that you can’t stay at this party too long and no one else wants to stay too long either!  Your party can turn into a PIT! I limit myself to 5 minutes to a few days and then I have to, I must start working my way out, regardless of how I feel. REGARDLESS OF HOW I FEEL.

You work your way out by moving, physically. You work your way out with prayer. You work your way out with telling yourself the TRUTH about yourself (who God says you are) and not who others say you are. You build yourself up and instead of tearing yourself down. This is how you get out of the pit or shut the pit party down. You see a therapist, you see a pastor, you use the skills, you get a self help book, or you surround yourself with a support group. Whatever you have to do, you do it!  (But, it’s hard Nikki…well, don’t let that stop you)

~Nikki

 

 

 

RA BLOG:Hoping to Look Back and Forget

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This is fresh off the press this Saturday evening as I am trying my best to wind down from disturbing news I received in my mailbox. Let’s start with this week has been pretty exhausting. A rollercoaster with more lows than highs and all that has been running through mind is “Please, God, let me off of this thing.” No such luck.

My daughter’s 16th birthday is coming up and I have been stressing over how to make it special for the past few weeks. I am going through the disability process in Tennessee and I have been for the last two years and two months. Before I was diagnosed with RA (diagnosed with JRA as a child), I was a working single parent. I promised my daughter to take her to California when she turned 16 as it’s somewhere she had always wanted to go. Well, we know that is not possible during this time. So, we planned to go somewhere closer and with the help of my brother to drive. I can’t tell you the amount of stress, struggle and strain it has been to gather finances from all over the place. To beg and borrow it seems to make this happen. I received terrible news from the school that my daughter had been placed in Algebra II instead of Algebra I and they are just now discovering this! She’s in a honors program. No wonder my poor child had been struggling! And I had been so hard on her. I was livid! Today, I opened up the mailbox to find she would not be allowed to continue in the program because of her GPA. I was outdone. She will have to take summer school class for Algebra I because she must have it. But, how unfair for them as Algebra II is the main cause of her GPA drop. I sent an email to the principal and hope they can see their error and what it has cost my daughter.

Today, I feel my depression in the shadows. I have done the best to keep it at bay. I cannot tell her this right now as she is so happy about taking a trip in a week or so for spring break to celebrate her 16th birthday. She will be crushed and I do not want her spirits crushed. My daughter is very smart and bright. And today…with RA, financial stress, and worried about my daughter’s future, checking the mailbox daily waiting on a word for a day in court about my case, it all just seems to be weighing on me. It’s a bit too much and I just hope someday I can look back and forget the last two years of this hell.

~Nikki