Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This Week Is My Kind Of Winter

After a rough start to 2015, I am feeling better. I have been reluctant to talk about my RA the last couple of posts because I get tired of feeling like I'm whining about it. The cold/wet weather has made it very hard on my RA. Compound that with smashing the crap out of my hand two days before New Years Day.  My hands hurt everyday from RA but this was a different, you can see how swollen it was (my hands not really that fat). Long story short, some three weeks later it is still tender if bumped (pretty sure one of the top bones in my right hand was cracked) but the swelling is back down and the puncture wound is finally scabbed over.  I have had elevated pain in my hips and shoulders while my hips have had a tremendous amount of stiffness. They are some better, then again we have had mid 60's temps for a week now. 

I got out on the bike Monday and hunted down an abandoned bridge to shoot. It was, supposedly, once a through truss but only the piers and some main beams remain. There is a grist mill stone inserted in one of the east piers making it very unique. Went back Tuesday with the drone to shoot it and another bridge. While hovering in front of the grist mill stone saw a nest of something inside. Then about 130 ft up, three hawks came to check the drone out, we suspect thinking they had an easy lunch. All of the turbulence around the drone scared them off but they kept an eye on the drone from a distance.
Abandoned West Fork Cedar Creek bridge.
Grist Mill Stone in one of the piers.
Some main beams still on top of the piers.
Drone pic
You can see some type of nest inside the stone.

Monday, January 5, 2015

(No) Fear Of Flying

Well. it's been too cold to ride but I have found something to pass the time away til it warms back up ... I now have two drones. Steve picked up his new $900 Phantom 2 drone today and brought it over. So we did what guys do best ... pulled it out of the box and slapped it together as quickly as we could not bothering to read the instructions. It has built in GPS, a compass. wifi extender and the transmitter has a clamp for your cell phone. You download an app and your cell phone controls, through wifi, the camera. You can literally watch on the phone where you are flying from the drones perspective. It has real time readouts on altitude, wind speed and direction, and you can aim the camera all from your cell phone. Oh, I almost forgot the best part ... it's huge but it's fast! If I ever get to where I can no longer ride, I can see getting into this much deeper than I already am.
On the night flight we did, we noticed, on video playback, about halfway down our street a truck stopped and sat for several minutes, we assume watching the bright lights going back and forth then hover over our house. The truck then proceeded toward our end of the street but slowed way down when approaching our house. We thought of Randy Quaid in Independence Day saying "I picked a hell of a day to quit drinkin'." lol
Phantom 2 with transmitter 
View from 190 feet over our house
Sunset from 200 feet up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed". Research has proved that brain chemistry is affected by bright light, although the exact process is not clear. It is a real illness that affects as many as 6 out of 100 people in the U.S. Even 10 to 20% more people may experience a milder form of SAD. 

There's no denying that I get the winter blues ... but winter is still two weeks away. The past five weeks have been unseasonably cold and overcast here. Last week was ugly all four of my days off. After I went back to work, the sun popped back out and three of the four days I worked, it was in the mid 60's. It was supposed to be 61 and sunny here today so I had planned to go for a good long ride. I even prepped my bike last night after getting off work. This morning it's 37 and foggy with the forecast now saying we might see just a little bit of sun in the late afternoon. So much for riding today ... again. 

I do have a new toy coming and it will be here in two days. I have thought about one for quite a while and they have finally come down in price. I ordered a Heli-Max 230si video drone to use (after I get comfortable with flying it) to video fly by's and fly overs of abandoned bridges that I photograph.  A co-worker has a small one and brought it over to play with recently. The bottom photo is from a video clip shot from 80-100 feet above our house. The Heli-Max that I have coming shoots both still shots and video at 720p. I will hopefully have some videos and stills of bridges from up above them. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November, Just Go Away

It has been a rough November for me. From a 10 day long severe flare up due to intense cold weather, losing a former co-worker to problems from getting a crown (I can't help it ... I hate going to the dentist) put on. I am ready for November to be gone! The cold weather we had really has me dreading this winter now. 

I only managed two rides for the entire month but made the most of them. I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. May you be surrounded with good friends and family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Brain Fog On Vacation

I find that during my flares, I sometimes have trouble with memory and speaking.  A 2010 study by NCBI, in The Clinical Journal of Pain found that people with RA who were in a lot of pain scored poorly on tests of planning, decision-making, and working memory. In a 2012 study by Arthritis Care & Research,  nearly one third of people with RA scored low on a series of mental tasks. Thinking issues may also affect physical function, making it harder for people with RA to go about their daily activities. Brain fog feeds off of fatigue so I try to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. During flares, it is not uncommon for me to sleep 12-14 hours. It used to frustrate me sleeping that long but I learned it's what my body needs. 

The reason I brought this up is this week while riding my motorcycle, I was having a flare hit me about 230 miles into my ride. While my RA was not liking me being on the bike I was still 70 miles from the motel. I was running 70 mph entering a turn before I realized it. I grabbed both brakes hard and saw there was no oncoming traffic so I let myself drift up into the other lane through the turn. Needless to say I slowed down to the speed limit for the rest of the ride back to the motel. This was my fault, I know my reaction time isn't as good during a flare up ... it just slipped up on me and I got away with it. I just didn't realize that my flare was serious enough to impact my thinking already.

Cut our 3 day ride a day short due to t-storms moving into where we staying at. Had a great time and the fall colors were everywhere from just starting to full on to a little past peak color. We camped out at the Marion Countryside Inn and rode 305 miles the first day which is double what I try to hold my mileage to. All was good until ... I tried to get out of bed the next morning. No need in trying to identify the culprit ... it was my entire right side from the hip down. My hurting places had hurting places on them. It was ugly but after working for about 5 minutes, I was just about to get myself out of bed when ... I get a cramp in my right calf. Are you kidding me? I quickly slid what refused to bend out of bed and did the frankenstein stand up and walk until the cramp eased up. Whew, that was fun, now I just have to shower, gas the bike up, eat breakfast and ride 200 miles back home. Haha, I made it, and it was worth it, but I'm paying for it today!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

RA Tip#37

After being on RA meds for close to 11 years now, I have the routine down pretty well ... or do I? This past Wednesday was shot day, I give myself an injection of humira every other Wednesday. I have always iced my leg down to numb it before the injection at the suggestion of my rheumatologist. I take the shot out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 10 minutes before injecting it. I was preparing my lunches for my work week, baking chicken and cooking vegetables and forgot about it. The shot had been on the counter for close to 25 minutes now when I remembered it. I didn't want to let it sit out for another 5 minutes while numbing my injection site and besides with it warmed up this much the humira would be warmer and probably offset not numbing my leg. I wash my hands and clean the injection site with an alcohol pad. Now remember, I have never not numbed my leg for the injection but ... I'm not scared. At the exact moment the liquid entered my leg, my leg felt the same temperature as it is 30 feet off of the surface of the sun! I considered yanking the needle out of my leg but knew I needed to just man up and ride it out. I pulled the needle out of my leg as soon as it was all in and let out a string of cuss words that would make a sailor jam his fingers in his ears and say "lah lah lah lah lah". In closing I would like to say that I will ALWAYS numb my injection site from that day forward. Just remember, I do stupid stuff and write about it so you don't have to.

About 100 miles into my ride Sunday afternoon, I was riding a patch of asphalt and passed a guy on the shoulder of the road. I slowed and turned around to check on him. I pulled up behind him and asked if he needed gas or help. He smiled real big and said thanks, he just stopped to stretch his legs. We started talking and turns out he was from Tulsa and knew some people I use to race with from over there. Super nice guy, we must have talked 25 minutes or more on the shoulder of the road. Oh. almost forgot the best part, he was riding a black Moto Guzzi V7. Ultra cool retro bike. Face it ... people that ride are just way cooler!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Is Wrong With People

Having an invisible illness, as in my case RA, has it's advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that no one sees you as really being sick. It happened to me at work again last week, a co-worker told me they wish they had what I had, they would get on disability and quit work. They went on to say that it looks like what I have isn't too bad! I push myself hard to continue enjoying life. They don't know that I hurt every damn day, that my feet feel like they've been hit with a sledgehammer most days, they don't know what it's like to have pain wake you in the middle of the night and not be able go back to sleep, many nights just the weight of the sheet on my feet hurts them, they have never felt your joints feel like they're on fire during an intense flare. A perfectly healthy person willing to trade their good health in so they could sit on their no good, lazy ass and get a check for doing nothing! I'm really not an angry person, I have developed a adverse reaction to stupidity.

I had three days off this week and was fully flared up in both shoulders. Monday morning I couldn't lift my left arm over waist high. After doing nothing Monday and Tuesday, I have good range of motion in both shoulders this morning. I want to ride today so bad but the responsible part of me says no, you have to go back to work tomorrow. I hate it when responsible me makes sense! 

I have had the forest maps out and between them and google maps I located another iron truss bridge to go shoot and an abandoned schoolhouse from 1905 to go visit. Taking down time isn't always a bad thing.

I have also been reading about the restyled Suzuki V-Strom 650 and have to admit I'm interested. I wish it had a 21" front tire but I still want to look at and throw a leg over one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RA Strikes Back

We had a cold front blow in cooler temps and thunderstorms last Friday. I have been in agony ever since, affecting my hands, fingers, wrists and elbows. My jackass friend RA has laughed at the Tylenol Arthritis and Aleve that I have taken in hopes of settling him down a notch or two. And if that weren't enough he has been playing hide and seek with me. You know ... you go to bed with one hand hurting worse and when you wake up ... TADA!  The other hand is now taking center stage in the rheumatic S&M freak show! 

Then, on top of the pain, fatigue has just hammered me! I have slept a little over 24 hours over the past 2 nights. On average, I will get 22-23 hours for 3 normal nights sleep. I am hoping that I'm nearing the end of this unruly flare up but we have more storms and temperature changes scheduled to roll in Thursday through Saturday of this week. Holy cow, I don't have time for this stuff ... I have a life to live!

I had a nice ride planned for today. I was supposed to ride down south 120 miles to hunt and photograph an abandoned iron truss bridge sitting by itself in a field. That will have to wait til next week now. I do have new stuff coming for my bike preparing for my upcoming week off in October.

The photos below are of my cousin/18 year old road racer. Awesome kid!