Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Friends Old and New

I talked with a friend this morning who has been struggling. She was asking about drugs that I have used, Humira is wearing down for her. I told her "I'm sorry you're in pain" before I realized the irony of that statement. Despite taking high priced, high powered drugs, we still hurt, at least I hurt every day. It takes extra pain for me to admit that I "hurt".
I have been where she is before. The drug just doesn't work for you any longer but you keep telling yourself I'm just in a flare right now. Once I get past it I will be fine ... but getting past it never comes. It's scary just thinking about changing meds due to fact that even if you and your doc do pick one that will help you, it often time takes weeks, if not months, to see the full effects of what a new med can do for you. This means that, in most cases you have put off changing meds for 3 or maybe 4 months, then switching and waiting another 3 or 4 months to see if it is going to work for you, you have lost nearly a year of your life. And it's not just the losing time, you are in varying degrees of pain for this time frame as well. I wished her luck and asked her to keep me informed of how she is doing once she switches.
I met a, new to the sport of adventure riding, guy quite by accident a couple of weeks ago. We have spiders and ants and had a company come out to spray the house, shop and yard. The guy freaks out when he gets out of the truck and sees my bike in the driveway. He has the same bike and is new to our area and looking for places to ride. So I took him on an easy 75 mile semi-adventure through the edge of the city, out through farm land and then rode down next to the Arkansas River for a few miles stopping at a lock and dam. Then I took him through an abandoned camp ground that would make a good setting for a slasher type movie if it would have been night time. It is gratifying to see someone new to the sport get so excited over what I take for granted riding. Plus he lives less than 4 miles from me so we will be riding together more this fall.
Spent the day on the lake last week, different view of a bridge.

Plane buzzed us and waved it's wings after Donna waved at it.

This crane was none too happy with me taking his picture,

A little forest road action.

A piece of abandoned highway we rode.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Foiled Again

I had my infusion yesterday. It typically makes me fatigued and sluggish, so I just came home and cleaned up in the shop and got my bike ready to ride. It feels good wanting to ride again ... perhaps that would be more appropriately stated "feeling good enough to ride again".
Ah, so much for good intentions. My infusion hit me like a ton of bricks. I am working nights temporarily so I stay pretty close to my night schedule on my days off. I went to bed at 3 am this morning planning on being up and leaving on my bike by noon. I got up around 11 as planned and did a couple of things I needed to do then sat down on the couch. I was so tired, I told Donna that I was going to lay down for a little bit longer. I woke up at 6:30 this evening. Yep ... I slept 13 hours and I'm still exhausted. Nothing new for any of you living with RA, but it sure can get in the way of having a good time.
I went out to the Blue Moon Observatory in eastern Oklahoma last week for my first attempt at shooting the Milky Way. I found Blue Moon on dark sky finder and it turns out that I have rode by it many times on rides and never knew it was there. Dave Alford owns Blue Moon and doesn't want people coming up to his house just to look around and I don't blame him. Dave was a super nice guy and had many stories to tell as it started getting dark. Once it was dark, we all got serious and I was somewhat pleased with my first attempt. I want to shoot the Perseid meteors this week but the forecast for the peak days are mostly cloudy nights.

Almost showtime as the triangle pops out in the evening sky.

The Milky Way with a meteor crashing in on the top left of photo.

A satellite streaking across.

My favorite shot of the night.

Swung to north to get the Big Dipper and the lights of a far off town burned
 in on a 30 second shot. It was pitch black to look at the horizon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank You Healthline

I was pleasantly surprised to find that RA Adventure Rider made Healthline's list of the Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs of 2016! I have not been as persistent lately but will strive to get back on track. Thank you Healthline and Nicole.
After this months infusion, I received a call about my blood work. My D was low ... no surprise there. My B-12 was also low ... not much of a surprise. Oh, and my thyroid was low ... ok, you got me there. I had to go back in for more blood work last week to verify that my thyroid is indeed low before we make a move (more meds I assume). However, not to wish a bad situation on myself, but I'm kind of excited about it. Low thyroid can lead to hand and foot pain, fatigue, unexplained weight gain (15 lbs since last fall) and extreme sleepiness. Of course there are several more but these are the (my) main ones that jumped out as soon as I began researching it. If it is low, and I can get it back under control, maybe ... just maybe, I will feel a little better and more like doing things again. See what I'm wishing for now?
I got the bike out for only one short ride but again, it just felt good to be riding. I need to pull some maintenance on it soon but just can't make myself get out to the shop and do it. Hopefully this is the low thyroid problem ... I hate thinking that I have become this lax on bike maintenace and repair. I have always enjoyed working on my bikes in the past.
I have been photographing downtown at night and am enjoying the challenge of shooting after dark. There is a bit of a learning process, more trial and error but with digital, you see instant results and can make corrections and continue shooting. In the old days you had to send film off then wait 2-3 days before seeing how bad you screwed up. Plus film and processing wasn't cheap.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Road Trips

I have been feeling better over the past month and on last months visit to my rheumatologist, I go in once a month for an infusion and blood work, discovered what I already knew. My swelling and inflammation is down while my vitamin D level is also down. I am used to my D being down, no big deal.
I got the bike out two weeks ago and rode over west to photograph an old bridge. Very unglamorous ride, all asphalt with little to see but it sure felt good to be back on the bike! I'm not sure which of us was happier, me or my bike.  I did a short ride down by the Arkansas River last week and am going somewhere tomorrow. I'm not up to doing long rides yet but very happy to feel up to being able to ride again.
I met with Greg last Tuesday and we headed out at dark to do some light painting at a waterfall close by. It was our first time and we learned quite a bit. The photos at the bottom are of that.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm Back!!

Man, this spring has hit me hard. I have not felt good at all, in fact, I have not rode my bike since the last real ride I did with Mike and Greg back in February. Pain and fatigue have had me down. Then, amidst thoughts of selling my bike since I don't feel like riding, last Monday the rain just stopped and the heat lit up. Suddenly I am feeling back to MY normal (not everyone elses normal) and I have got more done around the yard, flower beds and shop in the past 10 days than I have done all year! I am going to ride next week and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. I guess I have been borderline depressed over it thinking the new, stronger infusions weren't working. I haven't even kept up with my blog and I have no doubt lost some followers over it. I hate that but I really do appreciate everyone who has e-mailed me checking on me. You know who you are and you brightened my days by doing so. So, I'm back and hopefully next week, I will have a couple of new tales from the road and photos.
Speaking of photos, I have a new Nikon DSLR with a couple of long lenses. Here are a couple of shots I have shot with it so far. Not sure I want to carry this camera with me on the bike just yet.
Sunset from my front porch last week.

Time exposure shot downtown Fort Smith.

Moon shot with Vivitar 650-1300mm, this was zoomed to 900.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Winter 2016 ... Mild One But A Rough One

Nicole at Healthline sent me a link that might prove useful. If it can just help one person it makes it all worthwhile. 7 Tips From People With RA :  http://www.healthline.com/health/ra-stories 

It's been a long while since I have posted anything. I have had a couple of people checking on me and I do appreciate it. I am doing better on the Actemra but it has knocked my immune system back to where I have caught everything that has come along this winter. I had the stomach flu mid January and thats the hardest anything has hit me in a LONG time. At one point, with the exception of running to the pot to either sit on it or stand over it to hurl, I slept 35 hours straight. I have also had a sinus infection, a common cold and just as I thought I was about to be semi-normal again ... BAM, bronchitis!

Through it all though, my RA has been pretty well managed and I am thankful for that. With the exception of my work days, I average 24,000 steps per shift on work days, I am doing well. I have less fatigue and reduced joint pain. I'm also sleeping better through the night and that is a big help. Any time you can get up feeling more rested in the morning just means your day is going to be a little easier for you.
Then there's that moment when you open a letter from your health insurance company and have been turned over to a claims research center for treatment for "severe pain in your joints". No sh**, I live with serious joint pain every damn day. Haha, I thought that the rheumatologist after my doctors name combined with joint pain would be a dead give away but that just shows how much I know! The crime is my health insurance is going up every year more than my cost of living! Don't see anyone investigating that though. When the lady with the claims research center found out that it was for treatment of RA, she immediately apologized and told me that she was closing the case out. I understand there is a lot of fraud on both sides of the fence with insurance companies. What set me off is that I have been treated for RA now (same insurance company the entire time) for over 12 years and been using the same doctor for over 11 years ... and now they are going to question it?
Temps have been pretty good but I have only managed two rides so far this year but that will change soon. I have a ton of bridges and a few ghost towns in Oklahoma bookmarked along with three weeks of vacation. I got to ride with Greg and my old racing buddy Mike a couple of weeks ago. We rode down to and over the tunnel on I-49. I thought it was going to be a photo op but it was more of a big let down than anything. It was so grown up with trees and fenced off so you couldn't get closer for a better photo.Greg and I are going back up there when it warms up, he saw the train trestle out of Winslow. We both want to get some photos of that.

From on top of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel over Interstate 49

Friday, December 25, 2015

My RA Advice To You

I have lived with RA/RD for 13 years now. I have run the gamut of emotions while putting up with my jackass friend. Determination, hate, sadness, pain, anxiety, stress, etc. It's frustrating (yet another emotion) that in this day of information at our fingertips, most people still think osteo and rheumatoid arthritis are closely linked. The one thing I have not done is give up. At first I was full of energy and commitment to beating this disease. I have tried numerous diets, OTC meds, every witch doctor remedy from do good friends and the internet, workouts (I still walk every day and do a mild dumbell workout on days I am able to), hot showers, cold showers, and so on.


Through it all I only have one simple piece of advice to offer anyone living with this disease. Enjoy every good day you have to the fullest. You may not be able to do what you once did but that's alright. Don't fight the bad days, the important thing is to not give up* and let RA/RD win.
*Giving in on bad days and resting or sleeping is not giving up.

I got the bike out and did a short ride two days before Christmas. It was 69 degrees and I was feeling ... just ok. But I was not going to let a gorgeous winter day keep me inside. Once out, I began to feel better, riding has a way of doing that for me. I did a short ride that took me up into the edge of the Ozark National Forest. Despite all of the rain we have had, the dirt forest roads were pretty dry. On the way back into town, I stopped to visit the old abandoned Colonial Motel.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Moonshiner's Cave

I was supposed to meet Greg at 10am Tuesday morning to ride out to Devil's Den state park. That got pushed back an hour due to a furniture repair guy running late. When we finally did head out on our way it was 11:30 ... not the kind of start we were looking for. We had the possibility of rain moving in late afternoon so we wound up slabbing I-49 for about 20 miles. Again, not the way we wanted to get there but hey, at least we're riding today.
Once off of interstate things started to get better. We were in search of an old cave in the Ozark National Forest. Soon we found the sign and parking area. It took walking down 3 different trails before finding the right one. We had some directions but they turned out to be about as useful as a can of dinosaur repellent.
It was not a brutal hike but not easy either ... at least not for a fat old man with rheumatoid arthritis. Up and down hills strewn with rocks, ruts and vines. I was also hiking in motorcycle boots (not a good move on my part). We hiked, tripped and slid our way through the forest before finding a small waterfall. After taking pictures we hiked east of the waterfall and there it appeared before us in all its crude but glorious state ... Moonshiners Cave. We spent the next hour taking photos from every angle you could take. After exploring inside and out, on top and down below, we finally started the long hike back out.
Once back on the bikes, Greg wanted to stop at Artist Point to get some of their spicy mustard. We also had to check in with Corky, the resident Cockatoo and he was in rare form today. Dancing, strutting, whistling and talking ... and throwing the ink pen in the floor. He's hilarious and works for the attention he gets.
It was heavily overcast and turning darker as we left Artist Point. We lit the throttle up and just beat the rain back home. It was a good day and yes, I'm paying for my fun now, but it was worth it. 

Getting ready to hike to the cave.
Small waterfall on the hike to the cave.
Moonshiners Cave

View of waterfall and front of Moonshiners Cave.

Front door plate says 1905.

The hike back out was long and steep for an old fat man with RA in motorcycle boots!

Meet Corky