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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back to Work with Rheumatoid Arthritis

When I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2005, I was a workaholic and still am in many ways, however, I realize now that my body never lies. It cries out when I am over worked, stressed, tired, or simply not taking care of myself.  Since then, I have been very careful to maintain a balanced lifestyle, prioritizing and safeguarding my time to be fruitful in the areas that matter most to me.

It's been 2 weeks since I've been back full-time to my desk-job working with spreadsheets and numbers. This is an area, I actually ENJOY :) Believe it or not, but I LOVE numbers and thus, my days pass quite quickly. An excel spreadsheet to me is like a canvas to an artist. There are days though that I can feel my RA acting up, from either not watching my gluten free diet or not getting enough sleep.  I am the type to work past the discomfort.  Thank God, my job is in the health and wellness industry and I am reminded daily, to take the time to do a yoga class for myself. Do I?

I try and for now, that's good enough for me as I transition to full-time work and my children to day care. The key I think is not to demand too much of myself, but accept.

Total acceptance from head to toe, inside and out is my goal right now. It use to be a successful woman in heels and a power suit, but now my goal is to accept myself wearing the least clothing as possible in a sweaty hot room doing Bikram Yoga.

LOL It's funny where life takes you, the neccessity life reveals, the challenges it poses. In the end, it all makes sense. I need to accept every part of myself and to do that it starts with the part I hate about myself and that is............... my feet!  My feet swell when my RA acts up. I sometimes walk with a limp. They are deformed from the RA and I was very serious about surgery to fix them. However each time I attempted to book an appointment, Life sent something my way. First time, I was preganant, so I had to cancel. Second time, my father passed away.  I don't believe there will be a third time, as I am obviously not suppose to get surgery. I am to accept them and what better way to do that than baring them naked in a yoga class.

So I am trying to incorporate yoga in my work schedule without being too hard on myself, knowing it is for my own good and the benefits will not only be physical. Perhaps more regular yoga will also help with this nagging upper back pain, build confidence, and bring peace to my mind and body.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Health Update - Maternity

Just noticed I've been so busy with the kids I haven't even had time to post!

My RA overall has been under control with Enbrel and thank God it still works. However, My rheumatologist suggested during my last visit that we add on another medication since I complained of neck stiffness but I declined as I know  I would be fine if I had taken my Enbrel dose. It's just I'm breast feeding and though my specialist suggested that Erika is old enough to digest the medication and not be affected by it; my gut just tells me the less is better.  Of course she and my 3 year old need a mobile healthy mom, so it's a fine balancing act.  As for yoga and excersize, I haven't made time to go and regret not taking these steps of self care more seriously.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spot Light on Rheumatoid Arthritis Research for Cause and Treatment and Cure

Recently there seems to be more exposure and spotlight on Rheumatoid Arthritis Research.

1. In June of this year, more than 14,000 people from over 110 countries gathered in Madrid, Spain to attend the largest rheumatology event in Europe, the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR 2013). 

2.  New York Times featured a  Three Part Q & A on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Both articles seem to highlight the importance of taking our medications and the effectiveness of biologics. Many RA patients also commented on Diet and Exercise as crucial steps to better health and maintaining the disease. 

PTSD & Rheumatoid Arthritis

What I failed to see but am quite positive is that there is a positive correlation between PTSD and RA.

Here are a couple of studies I found online:

My Own Journey - Healing Process

I visited my Rheumatologist today to review my blood work. He was happy to see that my Rheumatoid Factor has decreased from 400 to 30!!! 

Currently I take my Enbrel on an as needed basis (1 - 2 / month), avoid foods that I'm apparently allergic too, but did not know (gluten, mushrooms, eggs), bikram yoga as my form of exercise and meditation.  In addition, I've been through multiple counselling sessions to heal my traumatic memories using EMDR, CBT, and grounding exercises.  - One of the keys to my healing I believe is calming my nerves literally, by practicing deep breathing, working through my triggers, and listening to my self better.  An area that is not yet spoken of in these recent discussions. Perhaps its still an area the light needs to shine on for most.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Product Review: Safety First Espresso Swing Gate - Terrible!

I bought the Safety First Espresso Swing Gate from Walmart for $74.88 thinking to spend a bit more and invest in something safe and esthetically nice for our home.

However, after drilling holes in my walls and banister, I realized that one of the bolts to the gate had a manufacturer defect and didn't fit properly causing the gate to warp.  - See below - I exchanged for another one.

My husband installed it this time and had the SAME problem.

The gate is quite flimsy and the hardware a terrible match - I wouldn't trust this product.

Frankly most items I've used from the brand Safety First has been quite disappointing other than their nail clipper.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Finding Cause and Cure for RA (cont.) - Bikram Yoga ?


Back Ground: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) is an autoimmune disease where a person's immune system attacks itself, specifically the synovial fluid in the joints, causing inflammation, stiffness, and in most severe cases immobility and deformity.

What is the Cause?

Research shows that the cause of RA is UNKNOWN.  However, I've done my own personal research, and have compared my findings to my own personal life events, environment, and triggers.  This is my own conclusion.

I believe RA roots from trauma. When we experience trauma, our nervous system automatically responds and tells our brain & body to either 1. Fight, 2. Flight or 3. Freeze. (further reading: Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine, Phd)  However, unlike animals who shake out the trauma, most humans are left still traumatized inside. We can continue our life as if nothing happened, yet easily find ourselves living in a hyperactive life full of stress as if it is our norm (our own familiarity). This hyperactivity speeds up our immune system with it, combined with the excess stress, our immune system begins to attack itself. It also then begins to attack familiar objects as if they were foreign and can manifest itself into "allergies". 

A book titled "When the Body Says No" by Gabor Mate, suggests that internalized stress and repressed feelings, will manifest itself into illnesses, one of so called mentioned, Rheumatoid Arthritis. See: Pychoneuroimmunology Post

Steps to Healing...

I believe the key to healing involves integrating our mind, body and spirit, allowing God to breath "peace and stillness" into every living cell that still shouts  "HELP".   In addition, loving ourselves enough to eat healthy, sleep at least 8 hours a day, drink 6-8 glasses of water and recognizing our own limits. 

Since I've discovered my own allergies "gluten & eggs", (see: Natural Path Allergy Test Report Post), diet plays a huge roll, eliminating foods that causes further inflammation.

Finally I have been doing bikram yoga once a week for the past 5 weeks. In the heat, as my heart races, I am at the same time, STILL, telling myself that I am safe. My body becomes stronger, my joints more flexible and mobile, and best of all, my mind at peace.  During the savasna pose (rests), I lie in stillness, thanking God and myself for every breath I take.

It's been 5 weeks since I've taken my enbrel injection. Do I flare? .... Sure I do. I notice joint stiffness when I burn the candles on both ends, staying up late night and waking early to care for my toddler and my 5 month old baby. However, I feel better after a yoga class, and the joints that hurt the night before are better the next day.

I will keep you posted and if truly Bikram Yoga will help enough that I can be drug free and since I still breast feed, my baby drug free too. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why Does Death Not Wait?

Why Does Death Not Wait?

Why not just a couple more days

So we can at least see his face

Burried within, I have so much yet to say

Why leave now, in such a haste?

Did you know?

Why didn't you call?

Why not wait just a couple more days?

I really wanted to see your face........ and say

"Daddy..................I love you! I forgive you! Thank you!"

You came and went away... again....  but this time you are not coming back.....

Why not just a couple more days?

Death does not wait... 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Second Birth Story

Erika 1 Minute Old

I believed when I was forewarned by my doctors, family and friends that second births would be FAST! However, I did not think it would be THAT FAST! WOW!
I woke up at 5:00 am with what I thought might be Braxton Hicks, but they were a tad bit stronger so I wasn't sure. I timed 3 of them 10 minutes apart and called my Douala at 5:30 to let her know. She said if they start becoming closer together and stronger to give her a ring again. As soon as I hung up the phone they started to become closer, so we left the house right away to drop off our toddler at his grandparents and head to the hospital.
When I arrived, I seemed ok. I even contemplated whether to fake more pain or not so they will take me in for sure and not send me home! When they took my registration information, I asked right there if I could sign the papers for the Epidural right away instead of having the asthesist read me a long list of warnings and waivers while I labor in pain.
Anyhoo, the registration lady, said no, she didn't handle that and that I would have to ask the nurse. They rolled me into the assessment room, where my Douala and mid wife came to meet me and to check how far I was along.
Apparently I was 5cm dilated already! Amazing ! I asked her this time, "Can you please make sure i get the epidural? It's really important to me that I get the epidural, ok?"  She said "yes of course" and left the room to make arrangements to admit me to a proper hospital room.
My contractions after the exam went from a scale of 3 to 8 and I started howling my "OOOOWWWW", "OOOOOOWWWWW", "EPIDURAL PLEAAAAASSEE!!" - a nurse came in and said ok, lets get her in the chair and they started to roll me to the assigned room.  She asked if she should stop during my contractions but that would mean my Epidural would be delayed, so I said "No No, just go go!"  As we were in the elevator, I started to feel the urge to push, but was afraid to let anyone know, as they might not give me my Epidural! So I howled away as they pushed me to the bed. At this point I was screaming "No, I'm pushing! I don't want to push, No!!!" 
I heard someone ask if I wanted Gas and I said very firmly "NO GAS, I WANT THE EPIDURAL NOW!" But ofcourse, that was not possible, as I wasn't even on the bed yet, nor got an IV  started. 
As I was climbing onto the bed, I heard "Stop pushing, I can see her eyes!!!"
OMG! I thought. What??? My body was on autopilot really and I didn't know how NOT to push. My Douala shouted "look at me! breath short breaths, hah hah hah hah" I used all my effort to open my eyes and look to focus on short breaths and not pushing for the life of my child, I needed to do this.  I was afraid for my baby's life, not sure why, but just was. So I did everything they told me.
As soon as I climbed on the bed, (on all fours), I heard, "ok, you can push now" and just like that after a couple of pushes Erika was born!  I was shocked, stunned, and thankful that we were both alive! For some reason, I doubted my body, had morbid fears of one of us dying, and fears that Erika would be born missing fingers or toes. I was afraid of the pain of not having an epidural and before I knew it I gave birth absolutely drug free!
She was PERFECT! I didn't even tear below! I entered the hospital at 6:45 and she was born 7:46.
7.4 Pounds and Absolutely Healthy! (see her 1 minute photo above)
There it is short fast sweet and miraculous! And to be very honest, it didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would.