Sunday, June 14, 2015

Blah


It has been a dismal spring for me, I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. I lost a uncle, a good friend, continue to struggle with my RA and have a new job bid that I have 5 tests that I must pass to keep the job. Forgot to mention the flooding here also.

I always looked up to Uncle Jim. He played pro baseball for 18 years with 12 years in the majors. He was a switch hitter and right handed hit 117 home runs, 401 RBI with a .240 batting average. As a left hander he hit .270 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. When I was young, he was larger than life to me. I remember watching him play on tv, then every winter getting to see him. Once he retired from ball, he moved back close and I would go spend the night at their house. As a matter of fact, on his farm is where I learned to ride a motorcycle. 


I'm switching meds next month and hoping that will bring me some relief. We are going to Colorado in September and I have to feel better for that trip. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Update to May Update


The day after posting my previous post, May Update, I received a call from the lab at my rheumatologist. Rachel first asked if doc had talked to me about my lab results and I immediately start thinking the worst. I told her no and she went on to explain that my blood work shows abnormally high disease activity. They would like to do ultra sounds and then look at either adding or changing meds. 
I will see where this next adventure takes me ... hopefully it gets me back to feeling like riding again!   

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May Update


I can't tell you how many times this has happened, I know I'm not the only one this happens to ... I went in Wednesday for my 12 week rheumatologist visit. I felt surprisingly good for working 9 days in a row and after blood work, examination and talking with me told me I was doing very well for how long I have lived with RA plus my age.  When I woke up the next morning, both hands and all fingers were swollen and hurt severely. I went on to work that day but could not close either hand to make a fist. Friday was better, I could close my right hand up ... not the left though. It's just frustrating to go see the doctor on a good day when just before or immediately after flare up.

I guess overall I'm doing okay but having a lot of little problems. I am starting to think of changing meds again and hope for the best. I hate changing meds but I also hate thinking that this is the best I am going to be for the rest of my life. Of course that could be a short time ... I might get hit by a train on my way to work tomorrow. Bwahaha, sorry ... couldn't help it. 

I have had some balance issues while on my bike and it has me sort of gun shy for the time being. I actually dropped my bike at a stop sign in a one horse town late last year and strained and strained trying to pick it up, to no avail. Just as I was about ready to give it up a young guy pulls up (seriously the only vehicle I saw in the town up to now) and he jumps out to help me pick my bike up. As we are both straining he looks at me and says, "damn! this thing's heavy".  I thanked him and pushed it off the side of the street when lo and behold a police car drives by slow looking at me. Had we been slower or he faster, I would have likely been issued a ticket. A fellow ADV rider dropped his bike last year (while in Oklahoma - where I was at the time of this story) and a police car pulls up so he thought he was going to help him pick his bike up. Instead he writes him a failure to maintain control ticket, gets in his car and leaves him with his bike still on its side in the road. True story.  Anyway, I'm not selling my bikes, but you know it's pretty bad if I have only rode 3-4 times all year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

RA Inspired Tattoos


My jackass friend RA has been treating me a little better since it has warmed up this spring. I finally got started walking again everyday and have been doing a light workout with weights three days a week. It's not much of a workout but it feels good to feel like doing something again. It does NOT feel good to be mowing and weed eating again. The only part of winter that I like is not having to mow! It's funny how life thumbs it's nose at you, I had wanted a large yard for years. Then a mere four years after we built our house on three acres, I was diagnosed. Mowing has been a love/hate thing ever since. 

Our sweet little dog Misty, is 17 now and somedays it's hard to tell which one of us is moving slower. She has arthritis and despite that and her age, she still insists on making every step I do around the house. She has outlived two rescue dogs that we took in and still loves to aggravate the cat. She is always so excited to see me when I come home from work. If I find a girl that pees in the floor every time every time she sees me walk in the door, I'll marry her. 

Healthline has a cool slideshow about RA inspired tattoos that you can check out here: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/rheumatoid-arthritis-tattoos#2  Along with photos, there is a brief description about each tattoo. If any of you have an RA inspired tattoo, Healthline is accepting submissions to add to their slideshow. There is a link on the first page of the slideshow if you are interested in participating. I myself am too big of a chicken to have a tattoo. Yep, don't like needles ... not gonna happen.

I got out early today on a solo ride down to Booneville. I had located (through tons of research and google maps) the old Rock Island train depot. It partially burned around 2000 but what was saved of it still sits there. I will have photos of it on my next post. The train tracks were pulled up in the 1980's but you could see where they once lay. I would love to take the drone up for an aerial view to see if you could follow the old train bed out of town. However it sits right next to the US Post Office and as paranoid as everyone is about drones, I could see it turning ugly quick trying to fly there. 

In looking back at the past, I am proud of what I got to do before being diagnosed. By looking at what I once did, compared to what I can do now, drives me to do all that I can today. I don't want to look back five years down the road and wish I would have done this or that while I could still do it. Those of you who have your youth and health, the world is yours ... go enjoy every minute of it. I was once like you and never thought anything would happen. It does, trust me, so live and enjoy life every day. We know not what tomorrow brings.
Accidental drone selfie while flying at an abandoned bridge.
Little dawg asleep styling in her new sweater.
Throwback racing photos: me picking up an overall trophy at John Zink.
Husky 430 racing a hare scramble.
Never liked being this out of control while racing but it made a good picture.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Live, Flare, Reset


I am finally back to feeling like ... at best, a second rate human being (my normal) again. People who don't live with a progressive disease can not understand that statement but I'm happy to be back to this point after my last flare episode. After my last rheumatologist appointment, my blood work came back with abnormal CRP and low vitamin D.  I am now taking a prescription mega D pill once a week. I would like to share a link I found on vitamin D that has some facts that I didn't know, perhaps it could help you as well: http://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-d-101/

I am FINALLY getting the bike out tomorrow and planning to do a solo 150 mile ride south. I have no particular place to ride to ... just south. Often times these turn into good rides because you don't have any set destination or way point. My bike has been neglected over the winter and both bike and rider are ready to get out on the road (or more importantly back roads). 

I have been adjusting to flying my new DJI Phantom2 Vision and love it. I was excited about my first flight, I eased the control stick forward, and the Phantom2 lifted off of the ground. I eased it up to about 10 feet and let go of the sticks. I watched the GPS adjusting to maintain the exact spot, in spite of the wind, where I let go of the sticks at and then took it up to around 50 feet and then ran it through some basic maneuvers, the controls are very responsive. On the fourth flight, I decided to test out the return to home. If the transmitter link is broken, the Phantom will fly itself home using GPS based on where you "homed" it at before take off. I took a deep breath then flipped the transmitter off with the Phantom2 hovering just a few feet from where I homed it and about 10 feet off of the ground. Next thing I know it climbs to about 75 feet and then surges forward then stops. I'm frantic by now thinking it is going to do a fly away on me ... I have zero control of it at this point. Then it turns left, backs up, hovers a while then starts descending slowly. It came down, at most, a foot away from where it took off. My heart rate slowly returned to normal. Here are a few photos from Natural Dam last week.




Monday, March 2, 2015

All Flared Up And No Where To Go


As far as RA goes, I would have to give myself a C. I'm not doing the best but then again I'm doing better than others. I keep hoping that they will unveil a miracle RA drug in my lifetime but I am losing hope for me. I still wish for it for future generations of RA patients though. 

I am just coming out of the most severe flare ups that I have had in two and a half years. It hit me all at once and had me in bed for the larger part of two days this past week. I can walk comfortably again and have use, without pain, of both hands again. My back and left shoulder along with hips are still hurting but I can function with them like they are. I had to call in and take an emergency vacation last week. That pisses me off more than the flare up. I had no other option but I hate burning a week of vacation due to hurting or being sick. I have FMLA that I use for a single day once or twice a year but I don't get paid when using FMLA and I couldn't afford missing a whole weeks pay. Thanks RA, you suck.

My DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone should be here today. I did manage to go out and start my bike yesterday afternoon and let it charge a little bit ... man did it sound good just idling on the driveway. I'm pretty sure I heard it say "come on, lets go for a ride". Even though the roads were primarily clear, we had a combination of rain, freezing rain and snow, it was way too cold for me. I just pushed her back into the shop and shut the door, waiting for a better day. I hate RA and I hate winter! Haha, guess that makes me a hater.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Run To Failure


My four days off this week intersected with feeling the best I've felt in a good while and temperatures in the 70's. This allowed me to do a 173 mile solo ride Sunday and boy did it feel good to get back on my bike. I enjoy other things but none compares with climbing on a bike. Monday was spent with my wife at the shooting range and driving around looking for things to photograph (she hates bridges and abandoned places so we looked for something for her) followed by going out to eat and yesterday was spent flying drones. We had a close call with Steve's $900 Phantom2 when it lost satellite signal (for GPS) temporarily. Steve got it back just before it went out of range and had to manually fight the GPS bringing it back in. Steve fought it back and crashed into some tress on approach by design. It was some small trees on the creek back or rocks. One tip of a prop broke but everything else was good. Lesson learned, do NOT put one up with just three satellites.
Oh, I also found the remains of the old Lancaster swinging bridge. I had to do some hiking into the woods to find it, the bridge was washed away and never rebuilt. All that remains today is the south pier. 
I played hard on my days off, was exhausted and in bed by 8-9pm every night. I'm hurting moderately this morning, not a bad thing since I have a rheumatologist appt today. I can't tell you how many times I have been hurting in the past and on the day of my appt, I feel good. I know I will pay for the extra activity later this week but it will be worth it. I'm starting to feel like the old business strategy ... run to failure then take some down time for repairs.
Drone hovering just above the water.
Frog Bayou from 240 feet up. 
The south pier of the old Lancaster swinging bridge.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2nd ... Not Just For Groundhogs

February 2nd is Rheumatoid Disease Awareness Day. Sad that in this day of so much knowledge at our fingertips, like no other generation has had, and most people still believe that osteo and rheumatoid arthritis are closely linked. People often think all arthritis is osteoarthritis, and often say, "oh, my granddad had that" which is terribly frustrating to anyone with RA. RA is a serious auto immune disease. Despite taking a biologic injection and chemo, I hurt every single day. The inflammation caused by RA can lead to heart, lung, and eye damage. Joint deformities are common in RA often times lead to joint erosion and displacement. While my fingers and toes are hooking and turning, I'm actually lucky to have only one small nodule on my left hand and one on my ring finger of my right hand. Although small they are very painful when bumped or hit. RA affects mostly women although there are many men living with it as well. Another interesting fact, RA typically affects women more severely than men. We have bouts of intense disease activity known as flare ups that can last from a few hours to a few weeks. I had one that lasted 6 months in 2011. Fatigue is a very serious symptom for me. I never feel rested and rarely have energy to do anything. I wake up just as tired as when I went to bed the night before. Add in brain fog and balance problems too. On average, RA will shorten most patients lifespan by 3 years or more.