MTX and Booze – Back Together Again?

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Methotrexate has been a core drug in the fight against RA. However, patients are generally warned about drinking any alcohol while on it. A new study, however, suggests that it may be possible to enjoy that glass of wine or cocktail.

Read my full article here at rheumatoidarthritis.net: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/mtx-and-booze-back-together-again/

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Is Pain a Disease?

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It’s understood that disease is a symptom — it’s a signal that something’s wrong. However, there is a significant number of people that suffer from chronic pain and, partly because of this, the discussion is now turning to whether pain, itself, should be classified as a disease. As with a lot of things, there is good news and (maybe) not-so-good news in this. Read more in my article at rheumatoidarthritis.net: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/is-pain-a-disease/

Helping those in medical need due to Hurricane Harvey

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The Global Healthy Living Foundation (www.ghlf.org) has sent a list of links below that can provide assistance to those needing medical assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. In addition, this link (Take Action Now) will provide you with the phone numbers and talking points for the governors of Texas and Louisiana to ask them to request the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) activate its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP). This program will ensure that eligible patients can receive their desperately needed prescriptions at no cost from participating pharmacies.

As a resident of Dallas, we were largely unaffected by the Hurricane, but we are now receiving thousands of evacuees as people are able to leave Houston for safer ground. These people need all the help we can give them.

Thanks for anything you can do.

Helpful links to share:

 

A is for Achalasia (Probably)

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I am really so frigging tired of having something wrong with me all the time. Sometimes it just seems like all I do is go to doctors and do tests and take medication. Now it seems there is a good chance I have yet something else new. And not just any old everyday something, but a “rare” disease that has no cure, is progressive, and the probable solution is some fairly serious surgery.

I reported earlier that, thanks in part to RA, I had developed problems swallowing and imaging showed a narrowing in my esophagus. I went through two separate esophageal dilation procedures where, under anesthesia, I had a tube inserted down my throat that had a special balloon that inflated and stretched out this narrowing. While those procedures returned my esophagus back to normal size, they didn’t solve the problems I’ve been having swallowing.

I went back to see my gastroenterologist (who, next to my rheumatologist is one of my favorite doctors of all time). It turns out that when I had the barium imaging done, the radiologist left of a very important piece of information. The imaging showed a distinctive issue (called a bird’s beak) that is basically only attributable to achalasia.

Basically achalasia is caused by damage and/or destruction of the nerves in the esophagus. This, in turn, prevents the esophagus from working correctly and the opening to the stomach from functioning as it should. Guess what one of the leading culprits of this nerve damage is? Right. Inflammation.

I am going in next week for some definitive testing to rule out some other, less serious spasm conditions. It’s called esophageal manometry. It’s not pleasant, involving a tube down my throat while I’m awake. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/esophageal-manometry-test. While it takes a couple of weeks to get the interpretation back, the test will definitively tell us what’s going on, so I’ll know whether I’m suffering from a rare, incurable disease or simple run-of-the-mill spasms. Oh, and Medicare will pay for the test, but won’t pay for the doctor to read the test results. Sigh.

One of the things that apparently helps is taking a calcium channel blocker which is often prescribed for high blood pressure. I’m already taking one of those, so I can’t say it’s helping much. Interestingly enough, another thing that helps is peppermint oil. So for the moment, I’m mainlining peppermint Altoids. (Seriously. I wonder if I can get Medicare to pay for them?)

In other news, my TKR knee continues to plague me. I’ve given up and my doctor has ordered some nuclear imaging scans (requiring blood draws and injections) which I’ve scheduled after the esophageal manometry, sandwiched in between Labor Day and my next infusion. Between all that and my upcoming flu shot, I am once again going to feel like a pin cushion.

I really, really hate this crap.

I hope your days are going better than mine seem to be at the moment. Thanks for checking in.

 

The Frustration of “Can’t”

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Even as a child, “can’t” has been a four-letter word that I’d rather not have in my vocabulary. Finding out that I can’t do things because of RA has been a particularly painful lesson for me. I elaborate more on my latest article for rheumatoidarthritis.net, here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/the-frustration-of-cant/