Unfortunately you can’t always blame your joint pain on RA. I am (un)lucky enough to be blessed with both RA and osteoarthritis (OA). Read more in my article on RheumatoidArthritis.net here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/oa/
Before I catch you up on the health news, please let me just say that I’m feeling exceptionally privileged. This blog has been selected again for Healthline’s Top 20 RA blogs. I often feel a lot like Groucho Marx who quipped, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” But in this case, I somehow made it among the ranks of many who I feel represent the best of the best of RA bloggers. It’s certainly worth your time to visit the terrific group of bloggers who made the list. Thank you, Healthline, for the honor and for all the great information you provide.
So today was a follow-up with my knee surgeon. His normal schedule is a follow-up appointment at 30 days. Because of the excessive swelling I had, I saw him one week after the surgery and now again two weeks later.
I’ve always recovered well from surgery and felt like I was doing okay this time. I’m not quite where I’d like to be, but I put that down to being impatient. The doctor says I’m behind what’s considered normal, but I’m pretty much on track for a patient with rheumatoid arthritis. There’s still some swelling in the knee. I have good extension, but I’m only just past 90 degrees on flexing my knee. You need to be at about 125 degrees to get up and down out of a chair or out of a car comfortably, so I still have quite a bit of room for improvement. He prescribed some additional physical therapy, which will be outpatient (I go there) instead of home health (where the therapist came to see me). There’s a facility that I really like that has a therapy pool so I will go back there. The therapist also works with you the entire time of your appointment instead of some places I’ve been where they just sit you on an exercise machine and tell you how many reps to do then leave to go do something else.
Tomorrow I’m driving for the first time. I have a final check up with my back surgeon and my husband is not able to take me. I am much less nervous about driving than my husband is. Honestly I think I’ll be fine with the mechanics of operating a car (even in Dallas traffic). If I have any concerns at all, it’s that I still get quite tired with just a bit of exertion. Spending 2-3 hours getting dressed in “big girl clothes”, driving across town, getting an X-ray, then sitting around a doctor’s office will no doubt tucker me out. His office is close by the physical therapy facility so I had also planned on stopping by there after my doctor’s appointment to get my sessions set up.
And when I think about my knee recovery, I have to remember that I am still recovering from the back surgery I had just a few months ago. I’ve probably overtaxed my “recovery genes” to the point that I’m probably not as able to bounce back as quickly as I’d like.
I think the only other news is that I was surprised a couple of days ago when the medical equipment rental company called to tell me they were picking up my continuous passive motion (CPM) machine and ice system. Apparently the insurance company will only pay for three weeks of use. I was using the CPM four hours a day. Now I need to find some active exercise to replace what I’ll be missing. I did go ahead and bite the bullet for the ice system (although I found the exact same one on Overstock.com for $80 less ….).
I was feeling pretty abandoned because the day they took the CPM was also the last day of my home health physical therapy visits. So I guess it’s good that I have additional physical therapy ordered to help keep me on track.
Pain levels are good and I am walking around the house without a cane or other assistance so I am making progress. I started back on my Arava last week and had my first Orencia injection a few days ago, so that should help me feel better overall as well. Now it’s just a matter of time and work to get back to 100%.
I think that’s something to think about and a topic I thought about doing an entire post on. If you have other kinds of surgery — say you have your gall bladder or your tonsils out — you have the surgery then you kind of lay around and take it easy until you feel better. When you have a joint replaced, the surgery is the easy part. The real work starts after surgery because you have several weeks of dedicated exercise to make sure that you get the full benefit of the joint replacement. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to have the surgery if you’re not willing to put in the work afterward.
So I’m doing well (at least for a Class-B RA patient …). I’m ready to be up and about and that counts for a lot.
Again, I appreciate the well wishes and warm thoughts. Thanks for checking in.
Happy New Year. It seems like it’s been a while since I posted (or for that matter, had a chance to catch up on the many other blogs I enjoy). I have been working on a project that’s taken my nights and weekends and just finished up today. So, whew, let me catch you up on recent events.
December brought two doctor’s appointments — my normal rheumy check up and an impromptu visit to my knee surgeon.
The rheumatologist appointment went well. Even with all the stress in my life, my RA has stayed petty much at bay. It appears that my current cocktail of Orencia and 10 mg of Arava is helping. My major complaint lately has been fatigue, but with everything going on, it’s not surprising that I’m tired.
The knee surgeon is a bit of a different story. My left knee (the one that had surgery in March) has been bothering me. It’s not RA related (at least not directly). It’s very specifically painful and it’s painful when I put weight on my knee. X-rays revealed increased osteoarthritis in the knee and narrowing of the joint. The only real “cure” is a knee replacement, but we’re not there (yet). What I didn’t do, and should have, is ask the doctor to compare these X-rays with the ones we took in March. That would show us how quickly the knee is degrading. As it was, it was the Wednesday before Christmas, so the doctor did a steroid injection to help me through our annual Christmas trip. It did help through the trip, but it’s pretty much quit working a couple of weeks later. We’ve been moving out of the house this week getting ready for our major renovation. All the lifting, packing, toting, etc., etc., etc. has really taken its toll.
The next step(s) on the knee is (perhaps) a series of Hyalgan injections. These are given once a week for five weeks and help replenish the natural lubricating fluid in the joint. I’ve found some other medications (such as Synvisc) that don’t require quite so may injections. I see the surgeon again in February and we’ll discuss the options. Of course all of this has to be pre-approved by the insurance, so I’ll know more in February. Unfortunately, neither Hyalgan nor Synvisc actually “cure” the osteoarthritis and eventually the knee will have to be replaced. With my current situation, being on COBRA, I need to think about this.
In other news, as I mentioned, we’re getting started on the major house renovations. The movers will be here all this week, then we’ll demolish all the floors and subfloors next week. New flooring the following week, followed by new paint, and new kitchen cabinets. Sometime in early February we’ll be done. In the meantime, we’re camping out in an extended-stay hotel. If this doesn’t throw me into a flare, I don’t know what will.
So, good-bye and good riddance to 2012. While my RA was pretty well-behaved, the rest of the year seemed like it was one round of bad news after another. I lost my step-mother in January, had knee surgery and shoulder surgery, lost a good friend and co-worker and inherited her department to manage, had a major water leak that requires replacement of all the floors and subfloors in the house, and got laid off. I’m hoping that 2013 is a much better year for us all.
Happy New Year. Thanks for checking in.
This is my 7th day on the Paleo Diet. (Thank you, Cateepoo for the inspiration.) It hasn’t been a full week, but I thought I’d provide an update.
So far everything’s been good. Here are the highlights:
- I’ve lost 3.5 pounds so far (official weigh-in isn’t until tomorrow, so I’m hoping for a solid four pounds).
- As I sit in front of a computer most of the day, I’ve had issues with my legs and ankles being swollen by the end of the day. On Paleo, this has all but disappeared. My husband who has started Paleo with me, has commented he’s had the same experience. Whether this is because of the reduced inflammation or that lower-carb diets have inherent diuretic properties, I’m not sure. It could also be the reduction in processed foods, eliminating a lot of salt from my diet. Whatever the reason, it’s a great improvement in my life.
- The best news is I’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the pain and swelling in my joints. My knees, which used to wake me up with screaming pain every three hours every night, haven’t so much as twinged. I can even go up stairs in relative comfort.
Downsides? You have to be a bit creative when eating out. Some of our favorite things to eat out, while relatively healthy, included grains and/or dairy, so we’ve had to find some alternatives. A lot of people have sugar/carb cravings by now, but (knock on wood), that hasn’t been my case as of yet. I will say that late afternoon the other day I was in the company break room refilling my water glass. I turned to leave and was staring straight at the bank of vending machines and all their goodies. I was a bit hungry and the M&Ms looked really appealing.
So, so far so good. I go back to my rheumy in about six weeks. If things continue trending the way they have, hopefully we’ll have good news to report.
I hope whatever’s on your menu today brings you blessings. Thanks for checking in.
Visit with the neurosurgeon went about like I expected. He’s ordered a top-to-bottom MRI of my spine next Monday (4 days from now), then I see him a week from today (Thursday) to go over the results.
And although I don’t know anything definitive, I feel better because I have a plan, I have appointments, and I have a defined time when I will know what’s going on and what the options are to do something about it.
Hope you’re making progress in your life as well. Thanks for checking in.
Well, we’re making progress.
We’ve gotten the estimate in from the jeweler on fixing the wedding ring, so hopefully by this time next week, it should be good as new.
I had a follow-up with my shoulder surgeon yesterday. The bad news is that they weren’t pleased that my physical therapist had me doing some of the exercises she did. Apparently she interpreted the instructions a bit differently than they had intended. However, I don’t think I have a problem with that. I think a bit more vigorous PT regimen when I first had the shoulder replaced would have saved me some of the scar tissue and tightness I developed and which resulted in the subsequent corrective surgery. The good news is that all is well and I’m released until next January when I start my annual check-up routine (unless something else goes wrong!).
I see the neurosurgeon next week about the spine issues. I suspect the following week will bring MRI’s or other imaging studies and probably the week after that a diagnosis and treatment/surgery plan. I don’t have time in my life right now for that, so possibly sometime in June I’ll actually get around to scheduling any more surgery. (And to think my goal for 2011 was to stay out of the surgical suite.)
That’s it for now. Hope your week is ending on a good note. Thanks for checking in.
So, I’ve been having this weird pain in my right hip since having rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder last year (go figure). Woke up out of surgery and my hip was killing me. I lived with it for a while, finally had some X-rays taken (since that’s my replacement/artificial hip), everything looked good. I took Celebrex, then prednisone, it got better. I got off the drugs, it got worse. I’d take prednisone for something else, it’d get better. I’d get off the prednisone, it’d get worse. So this has been going on now for a while, and it’s really starting to bother me. Getting dressed in the morning, getting in and out of the car, etc. has been killing me.
In addition, my lower right back has also been hurting. Same activities — getting dressed, getting in and out of the car, etc. bother it. Put them both together and it’s really starting to bother me. So I went in to see my orthopedic surgeon who replaced my hip to see if he had any words of wisdom. I almost expected him to send me for some PT or perhaps inject my back.
Taking a step back in time a couple of weeks, when I had my physical, my PCP looked at my chest X-ray and commented that I have bone spurs on every one of the vertebra in my back (at least that he could see of the X-ray of my chest area). And based on the tests when I was diagnosed with RA, I also knew that I had some arthritic involvement both in the cervical area as well as the lower lumbar area.
Back to present.
The spine, not so much. All my vertebra have bone spurs. Most of them had narrowing between the vertebra. Some of them, the space between the vertebra was almost gone. And I’m supposed to have a lumbar region that curves, but it doesn’t. It’s practically straight.
So I get to go have an MRI and see a Spine guy who is also a great Surgeon.
I said [to myself], that other “S” word that has four letters and ends with a “t”.
I watched my brother go through several back surgeries the last few years and found out that his son, my nephew, just had surgery on the spine in his neck. I guess it runs in the family. (Oh joy.) The really bad thing about all this is that regardless of what they do, it’s just a temporary fix. The degeneration has started and it’s not going to go away. They can make some repairs to the current damage, but the damage will just continue.
Hope the “s” word in your life today is “smile.” Thanks for checking in.
This little ditty was inspired by my visit to the rheumatologist who told me that the problems I’ve been having with the joints in my hands are caused by osteoarthritis (OA) rather than rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
(To the tune of Old MacDonald.)
Carla’s Corner has arthritis,
OA, RA, Oh!
With an ache-ache here,
and a pain-pain there,
Here an ache, there a pain, everywhere an achy pain.
Carla’s Corner has arthritis,
OA, RA, Oh!
Hope the rest of your day is a lot less corny than this post!
Thanks for checking in.
I just recently got a Kindle. For those of you who aren’t sure what that is, it’s a small, thin, electronic device sold by Amazon to which you can download thousands of books as well as subscribe to various periodicals. I like to read when I travel or am sitting in a doctor’s office (the only two times I get to read for pleasure), but I hate carting a book around. Worse yet, I hate to leave on a trip when I’m at the end of a book, because then I have to carry both the old one and the new one. My Kindle, even with its new black leather cover, is smaller than any hardback and lighter than most paperbacks. And the good thing is, if I finish a book, within a minute I’ve got a new one downloaded from Amazon. Cost of the books range from free to about $10 for NY Times best sellers.
You know what I like best?
It has a little button on the bottom that lets you change the font size. That means I enlarge the type and I don’t have to wear my reading glasses. (smile)
I absolutely hate glasses, but I’m finally of an age where reading glasses are no longer an option. I’ve taken to wearing progressive contacts during the week at the office, but on the weekends, or when I’m otherwise not working, I like to give my eyes a rest from the contacts, so that means reading glasses.
So I guess you could say that my Kindle, like my glasses, is an assistive device. It helps me keep up with current fiction in spite of my failing eyesight. And it’s a really cool assistive device.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy (www.rheumatoidarthritisguy.com) talks about thinking of his sleek new crutches more as a fashion element than an assistive device. Although like my Kindle they certainly are both. The difference is, my Kindle isn’t viewed as an assistive device. With my Kindle, I’m not an over-the-hill woman who needs her granny glasses to read. Instead, I’m an in-the-know techno geek with the latest gadget.
Now if they could just do something with the rest of the assistive devices in my future. Instead of canes and orthotics, perhaps they could invent some really neat jet-propelled or hover-craft shoes that would just let me zoom effortlessly wherever I wished. (Yeah, I know, still hung up on the shoes.)
Or maybe we just all need to work a little harder at perceiving those assistive devices as the super cool inventions they really are. I work in communications where perception is reality. And like RA Guy, we (and others) need to see our assistive devices as marvelous inventions that open the door to freedom and self-reliance. They liberate us and save us from being condemned to a life of isolation and dependence.
So twirl that cane, scoot that scooter, and smile with the knowledge that you’re members of a secret club of true super heroes with more gadgets and gizmos than Batman.
Have a good weekend. Thanks for checking in.
Okay, so we get back from Las Vegas on Sunday evening, and my husband who goes to cardiac rehab 2-3 times a week comes home Monday night after rehab and says he lost two pounds while in Vegas. NOBODY loses weight in Vegas. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen. My husband, who is not a boastful guy, couldn’t help but be pleased with himself so I heard about the missing two pounds multiple, several, more times than I wanted to last night.
I was good on the diet yesterday, but didn’t really exercise. I did stretch my shoulder like I’m supposed to, which is a start. I also am getting back into my water-drinking habit and have substituted a can of V-8 juice for my regular handful of crackers for my mid-morning snack. So at least I’m getting more vegetables and fewer calories.
Today I packed my workout bag with my swimsuit. I have great intentions of going to the health club after work and walking in the water and am looking forward to the sauna and hot tub to help relieve some of these aches and pains. However, we’re supposed to have horrendous thunderstorms about 5:00, so the inclination is just to head home. If I do that I promise I’ll get on the treadmill — even if my knees do hurt.
This Friday is four weeks since my last Simponi shot, so I’m “eligible” to take it. However, I think I’m going to push it to the full 30 days — Monday the 12th, then next month take it on Wednesday the 11th. I used to take my Humira shots on Wednesdays and I want to migrate my Simponi shots to Wednesdays as well. Why? Because I don’t normally travel on Wednesdays and since both Humira and Simponi need to be refrigerated, it makes my life easier. And if for some reason I am traveling on Wednesday, it’s doubtful that I’ll be traveling both the day before and the day after, so I can slide the shot one day or the other and not have to deal with it.
The issue is, I’d really like to take the shot TODAY. If this injection delivers the relief of symptoms that the first two injections did, then I am more than ready.
So the diet and exercise goals are good, let’s see if I can keep up with them. Thanks for your encouragement and for checking in.