Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Aha! A theory

I think I may have found my trigger, or should I say 'my most-of-the-time-trigger.' This is great, but it also causes a few interesting questions. Let me explain and see what we can come up with.

So my latest flare-up had been pretty intense on my level of flare-ups, and definitely being the longest and worst since I was diagnosed with RA. My pain was constant. At my worst I struggled to get out of my bathtub and slept/rested most of my time home. While at my best I was able to make it home with enough energy to make super and stay up later to spend time with my boyfriend.

Looking back, I now realize that I had started to feel better when I listened to my body. Most days I just rush through, doing what needs to be done or stressing over one thing or another. I have the normal stresses at work and home, and this is what made the light ball turn on: and I have my "explosion" moments.

These moments are usually caused when I try to shove responsibilities off(causing more stress because I am thinking about them and worrying) as well as suppressing certain emotions. I'm not saying this causes RA or fixing this will stop flare-ups, I'm just saying that I believe my flare-ups may be triggered by stress.

I have been feeling pretty good for the last week. Actually, I have been feeling great(great enough that upon waking on my days off,  I've been doing dishes, clean, cook AND bake all before noon). Then yesterday evening I had an argument over nothing - the stupid, pointless ones usually had with your significant other ;) - and by the end of night I was feeling like total crap. This morning I was in pain and I half limped home from work. My shoulders are sore again and I am so totally exhausted.

So, there are a few other things that might possibly lead into this theory of mine.I didn't sleep well the previous night due to a howling cat outside and the guy above my apartment seems incapable of getting up in the morning without us banging on our ceiling so he might(after half an hour of listening to the horrendous sound of the alarm clock) get up. Food. I don't feed my body enough of the good stuff. I know I need to focus on better nutrition, and when I eat sugary foods, junk and lots and lots of carbs, well, there's little room left for the good foods. So diet is also very important.

All in all, my conclusive list of what I believe to be my RA triggers are:
  • Stress
  • Suppressed emotions--especially anger
  • Sleep--bad sleep = added fatigue and more stress
  • Food--we are what we eat
  • Diet--same idea as food

Friday, May 13, 2011


I had my doctors appointment today, and the end result is blood work, x-rays on my hands and a prescription. I haven't been in to see my GP(general practitioner) in almost 4 years, so he said he would have to pull my file to remember the details of my previous diagnosis. He said he is interested to see what my previous x-rays are like compared to what these new ones will be, to see if there has been any damage.

So I'll be on Naprosyn two times a day, and if that doesn't help he said I can increase it to three times a day. I have to admit that I am kind of upset about being on medication. For those who don't know me, I have a huge issue with taking things that are man-made. Call me a conspirator, or crazy or whatever you would like, but I just can't see how something that is supposed to help your condition but just adds more problems to your list of conditions is supposed to be good for you(did that make any sense???).

I feel like I am being defeated, one little step at a time. Yes, Naprosyn doesn't have a huge list of side effects, but it still has some. I just wish that RA was something that would fix itself on its own or be fixed with something as easy as a supplement or a diet change or exercise or yoga or meditation. I feel like I am turning my back on my own ideals and beliefs, but I don't know what other choice I have. On the one hand, I don't want to live in pain for the rest of my life and on the other I don't want to take medication. Maybe I am just seeing everything in black and white.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Visualizing RA

Today was a rough day at work where I spent most of my day limping around work. I was surprised by how much pain I was actually in, when this morning the pain was around a 2 on the 1-10 scale and I thought I was going to have a great day, but by 9am it had been closer to a 7.

When I got home, I limped to the bedroom to rest and found that my boyfriend was still home. We laid in bed talking for a little while, and I have to admit that I was kind of hurt by one of the things he said.
My boyfriend is a very well meaning guy, who has been incredibly supportive and, well, awesome. He has good intentions, and believes in the body's natural abilities to heal itself. He asked me why I don't just meditate and ask my body to heal itself, to take away the pain.

This sounds like a great idea, but what in the world would make him think that I don't already do those things? I've tried meditating, most nights it is the only way I can quiet my mind enough to go to sleep. And as for asking my body to heal itself from RA and to take away the pain, well, of course I have tried. I think he gets this idea from several stories of people who have cured diseases like cancer by visualizing the disease being taken away, like in one example a woman with breast cancer visualized a white dove taking a piece of her cancer away each night.

One of the hard things about this is that cancer is usually in selected spots in the body, unless it has progressed to the final stages and is throughout most of the body. So in a way, it can easier to visualize a white dove taking away a piece of cancer each night. But how do you visualize a white dove taking away joint pain, or inflammation or correcting the immune system, when all of these things effect your entire body and not a localized spot? How do you take away something that you need(immune system)? 

So now it has me thinking, wondering how a person would picture their RA? I have trouble visualizing mine. I don't know how to remove something like this...It's not like there are mutated cells in my body causing this.

When you try to visualize what your RA looks like, can you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Medicinal Marijuana For RA?

Marijuana has always been a touchy subject for me. I have to admit that I had my experimental times as a teenager(but hey, who doesn't?) and was turned off the idea of marijuana. Yet when I sit and think about the possible side effects/long term effects of the prescribed medications vs marijuana, I have to admit, the idea of the green plant doesn't seem as bad.

I am not saying that marijuana has no side effects, because it does. It just hasn't caused any deaths, unlike NSAID's. I was interested to find that a mouth spray developed to treat people with MS called Sativex is a cannabis based drug that has also been shown to be effective in managing pain and inflammation in people with RA.

I wanted to take a quick look at some of the possible side effects of both Sativex and we'll use a generic NSAID: Nu-Naproxen.I chose Nu-Naproxen because it was the medication I had first been put on when I was originally diagnosed with JRA.

The possible side effects of Nu-Naproxen are as follows:
  • abdominal or stomach cramps, pain, or discomfort (mild to moderate)
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • headache (mild to moderate)
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • itchy skin
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • spinning sensation (vertigo)
  • vomiting
Above list of side effects is from

The possible side effects from Sativex are as follows:
  • abdominal pain
  • burning sensation in the mouth
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • flushing
  • forgetfulness or poor concentration
  • headache
  • increased appetite
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • sore throat
  • soreness or stinging sensation in mouth
  • tiredness
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual taste in the mouth
  • vomiting
  • weakness
The above side effect information was found at

Both of these drugs have similar side effects, although the Sativex has several more side effects than Nu-Naproxen. Both of these drugs can also cause problems for people who have heart problems, or issues with other organs such as kidney or liver problems. The one thing that makes me personally believe Sativex would be better than Nu-Naproxen is that stomach ulceration, bleeding and perforation can occur at any time in patients that are using  Naproxen, and this is not an issue with Sativex(although possible intoxication is an issue).

So when it comes down to it, I guess it is just another drug to choose from. I would love to know if anyone has used medical marijuana(or a drug made from marijuana like Sativex) and how you did with it.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Yesterday was a wonderful day and I was beginning to think that my flare-up was coming to an end. Although I was still in pain, the stiffness didn't last longer than an hour or so after I got out of bed and my energy levels were through the roof! I was goofy, laughing and felt great. By 8:00pm or so Sunday night I was starting to feel tired again, and the pain was getting worse.

Today I feel like crap(pardon the language). The stiffness has lasted most of the day and my energy had been okay in the morning, but now I am totally wiped. I had a lot of things I had wanted to get done today but am too tired to even get them started.

I heard back from the Arthritis Society today and was told the only way I could start seeing a rheumatologist again would be to have my doctor refer me. Unfortunately, my doctor can take up to 3 months to get in to. I haven't been there in years, but am hoping they might be able to squeeze me in soon. If not, maybe getting a new doctor will be on the to do list.

I'm concerned about how long this flare-up seems to be lasting, and how bad it is. The last two flare-ups have been really bad, but I don't know what that could possibly indicate. I feel defeated and upset because this isn't something I can control, and I am so used to being in control of my life. It bothers me that I am willing to give into medication that in the long run, may end up doing more harm than good. I don't know how people live like this every day. I just keep telling myself to hang in there and it'll get better, the pain always improves to some degree or another. Some days the idea of it getting better helps, and days like today, it doesn't. In the end, we will all make it through.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Is there a third option?

Maybe I am just having one of those days, but I feel like I am having a moment of realization. I am seriously beginning to wonder if RA can be managed by diet, exercise or any other non-medical form. Yes, I know that some people respond well to changes in their diet, or increased exercise, ect ect, while others respond to medication. I am just wondering where do I sit between these two options. Is there a third option?

I don't want to go on medication for the pain or to help prevent any further problems caused by the RA. I mean, when I sit and think about all of the "possible" side effects, is it really worth it? What would happen if I just decided to flat out say no to all possible medications for the rest of my life? Is my liver, stomach, kidney or other vital organ worth living pain free? Does medication really help or just temporarily off set the problems associated with RA?

So where do people like me sit? People who don't want to take medication but aren't really seeing a permanent change in RA with diet change?

One Year Aniiversary Reflection

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of me starting this blog, and let's be honest, I know I haven't been writing as much as I had originally planned!

The last year has truly been a learning experience, and although I haven't really come any closer to finding a way to manage my RA without the use of medication, I still believe that it is possible. Looking back over my posts I have noticed how negative I feel now compared to how I was then, so I think I'll start ending each post with a positive thought. After all, how are we supposed to go about our day when we look at everything with a negative twist. It kind of takes the joy out of living!

I've focused a lot on diet and food that could be possible triggers to my RA, but I have been shying away from the one diet change that I think would probably benefit me. I would love to have the strength to cut dairy and gluten from my diet, even if it was only for a few months and then to try them again to see if it might be causing some of my flare-ups. I guess I have been afraid to try, or afraid that I might actually have a reaction to these things. To be honest, I love cheese. And bread. I eat rice pasta sometimes, and it isn't too bad, although the texture is a little odd. I think that it is something I need to try, though.

So the positive thought for this blog is....
"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." - Willie Nelson

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Possible RA Flare-up Triggers?

It's been a while since my last post, but not much has changed with my condition or any new information that I have found. I am no longer on a reduced meat diet nor vegetarian, and have found that overall, my flare-ups are still about the same.

For the last few months I was doing great. I have been going to the gym and eating healthy on and off(even though I know I should be doing it regularly). I am not sure if maybe my RA was in remission, or if I was doing something that had been helping to keep inflammation down and the pain to a minimum.

The last two weeks, however, my RA has been making itself known. I think there are a few contributing factors to the recent flare-up, which could be:
a) It has been raining for the last 18 days, with several low pressure systems(I live in Atlantic Canada and this is our wet season).
b) I have been eating a lot of dairy lately(mostly cheese).
c) I have been eating/drinking foods and drinks higher in sugar(pops, chocolate, cookies, ect)
d) I have been eating more starchy foods lately(white pasta and white bread)
e) I haven't had a flare-up in a while

Do you find any of the things listed can cause flare-ups in you? I am not sure if any of them have led to my current flare-up, but it is always a possibility.

I have noticed that the last few flare-ups that I have had have also included a lot of pain in my shoulders. There is also a spot on the back of my neck/spine that is very painful during my flare-ups, but I am not sure if that is due to the inflammation or not. It is the spot directly below the neck between the shoulder blades on the back of my neck, do you know where I am talking about?

I am not sure if I may have the RA in my shoulders, and would like to get in to see my doctor but I DO NOT want to be put on any form of medication. That is simply not an option for me.