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!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Take That RA!


Wow ... so much has happened since my last post. I didn't intentionally ignore my blog, it just sorta happened!  I have had a rough year with my RA. After going gluten free some 4 weeks ago I have noticed a pretty dramatic change. While my pain has only reduced slightly, I have so much more energy and actually feel like doing things now. I had a rheumatologist appt last week and he was equally excited about it. We were going to switch meds but after seeing that I was doing better decided against it, as did I.

I have felt the best I've felt in a year right now and I'm taking full advantage of it. I have been riding several times plus finishing up with a few more things on my bike. I have a set of Oxford Heated Grips and a Touratech Headlight Guard laying on my work bench. Also a lower dash kit and 12 volt plug are next up to be ordered with an Alumiracks rear rack. 

I woke up at the crack of 8 this morning to cool temps for this time of year in Oklahoma. It was 68 as I fired my bike up and pointed northeast. I met up with Greg on the way out of town and we rode out to the Ozark National Forest. We stopped at Oark for breakfast and then rode further into the forest only to discover the swinging bridge over the Mulberry River had been destroyed. I loved walking it and hope it will be rebuilt. We rode some more good dirt before popping back out to asphalt and the ride back home. Rode 195 miles today and I feel great ... take that RA!

Abandoned church house we found last week.
Abandoned church house we found last week.
Resting the bikes on the Mulberry River bridge.

What is left of the swinging bridge at Oark.
Greg strapping on his helmet after breakfast at Oark.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good News


I had two spider bites on my eyelid, it was not shingles after all. I was just going off of how I felt the previous time I had shingles (in the exact location the bites are). The bites itched, were painful to touch, I had a low grade headache Sunday and my eyelid was swollen like with the shingles so I just assumed the worst.  Not sure where I got the bites, we have our house sprayed 4 times a year and it is extremely rare to see a spider (or any bug other than a fly) in the house.

I lied on my previous post ... I forgot that I got out early one morning. Two weeks ago I did a short solo ride and wound up riding part of an abandoned highway that has now been bypassed. I was surprised to find all of the road signs still in place despite huge boulders on each end of the road denying access to it. On the south end I just squeezed my bike between the large rocks and as I approached the north end I thought I might have to turn around. The wide part of my bike was just above the top of the boulders but if I did not have folding footpegs, I would not have made it in between them. It was nice seeing nature reclaiming the road and covering the signs up but I figured I had better move on, I met an elderly man walking on the road, and as I approached him running all of 20mph, I waved and said hello. He said nothing and gave me a dirty look so I thought he might be calling the law on me for being on "his" road. lol I was doing nothing wrong, wasn't tearing anything, up just riding slowly and taking some photos but I just don't trust someone who can't smile back after speaking to them ... then again, some people just don't like motorcycles. Can't we just all get along?






Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shingles Part Two


Six years ago I started this blog on living with RA as well as some ride reports. It was going to be worth it if I could inspire just one person to continue to do what they enjoy despite living with a chronic disease. In an unexpected twist it is I who has been inspired and touched by so many I have talked with and who have left comments and sent emails. I also recently turned over 100,000 visits to my blog ... a milestone I never expected to see since I don't promote or push my blog. Thank you to all of my followers and guests.

I have been enjoying the benefits of feeling better since my last post. Three weeks ago I started my second attempt at going gluten free and am doing much better with it this time around. While I can honestly say that my pain level has only been reduced slightly (any relief is good) I am amazed at how much more energy I have now. While my fatigue has not been completely erased, it is wonderful to feel like doing things again! In addition to having more energy, I have lost nine pounds in eighteen days. I wished everyone could experience how much better I feel. I am now questioning whether I should go on with the switch in meds or stay with the Humira a little longer. 

On the down side ... shingles again. This is my second bout with them and they are quite painful. Not to mention I have them on my left eyebrow so I have to go see an opthalmologist to make sure they do not spread into me eye. Impatiently waiting on these miserable things to be gone!

I got the Lexx exhaust installed on my bike and after a few rides am really liking it. It has a deep thump, not annoying loud like my 09 with the FMF Powercore was. I ordered the Trail Saver Quiet Core that Lexx offers and it does quiten it down about 4-5 more dbs. I took it back out for now because the stock exhaust with the spark arrestor insert is perfect for my taste.

I have not been on any rides with the exception of riding to work. I do have several good rides planned and if I continue to feel good this fall, I want to do a Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico loop I found. Several old bridges and lots of windmills (old style) on the route. Also have a ride down to the Oklahoma/Texas border shooting some old bridges laid out. Now if my RA will just cooperate for a little while.
Black Kettle National Grassland in Oklahoma

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bad To Good In Half-a-Day


It has been rough since I last posted. I haven't felt like riding or even working on my bike in 4 weeks now and this past Saturday I was hurting bad enough that I called in FMLA (first day this year). I went to work the next day, my last work day for my week, and began feeling better mid-afternoon. 

Monday I had a list a mile long to get started on ... if I could just get two or three items crossed off I would feel good. It was one of those days where things just fell into place and combined with feeling good for a change, I got most of the list crossed off plus pulling the tank and seat on my bike and wiring up new driving lights. I followed that up by a quick trip to my GP to get a new prescription Tuesday morning then I came home and mowed and trimmed our three acre hacienda. after that, I cleaned up and went to take some tests at work that I was behind on. I can't explain why I'm suddenly feeling better so quickly ... I am just enjoying it for the moment. 

Cool note: Phil, one of my followers here bought a KLR and is loving riding again. 
Uncool note: Phil is also struggling right now with his RA and rides one day at a time like me.

I did take my bike out for a quick 40 mile ride Monday with the new lights. To quote a riding buddy who also lives with a chronic illness, "it feels good to feel good for a change." I have a new exhaust ordered that should be here Thursday. That will be the last big item I need for my new bike. The only other thing I need is for the Cimzia to work well when I switch meds!
New lights I put on Monday

Monday, July 14, 2014

Patiently Waiting Is Killing Me


It has been four weeks since I have felt up to riding and this week is no different.  After doing some research and talking with a few people who have used Cimzia, I am prepared to start it in seven weeks. I usually dread any med changes but feel if it doesn't work, it won't be any worse than where I am right now. I'd like to thank Andrew at Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis for his posts and helpful information on Cimzia.

In addition to feeling major league fatigue, you know the kind where you wake up from 8 hours of sleep every bit as tired as when you went to bed the night before, I got overheated at work Saturday. The door at the front of the press has been broken for three weeks and the heat from the warehouse just comes right in on where we work at the front of one of the presses. It has been hot but Saturday the temperature hit 101, not sure what the heat index was. I thought it was just me but toward the end of the shift Sean, who works the front of the press with me, told me that the heat had got to him as well. 

I have spent the day inside today researching some old abandoned iron truss bridges to ride to and shoot this fall once I start feeling better. One will be a stretch (for me) to ride in one day but I will try to get Randall and/or Greg to go with me. I found another one that was washed downstream and is supposedly still sitting in the creek bed.

btw, I may force myself to get out and do a short ride Wednesday before I start back to work Thursday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crossroads


I once again find myself at a familiar place with RA. I have been struggling with it for the past 6 to 7 months. I had a lengthy visit with my rheumatologist Monday complete with extra blood work. After examining my shoulder and hands he said inflammation doesn't look that bad and asked if I could get up on the examination table. I got up and walked over and stepped up to get on the table and he said, "you aren't moving well at all!" He also said that he was sure we could get me back to moving and feeling better. I go back in 10 weeks, if I'm not showing signs of improvement, I will be switching medicines again. It appears I may be going with Cimzia next. He gave me literature on it and I will do some research on it online as well before going back.

I just have to get better. I'm having 1 to 2 good days for every 5 to 6 bad days; I just can't go on like this. It's frustrating when you want to go do things but you just don't have the strength or the drive to do it. Fatigue is really been hitting me hard. I wake up every morning  just as tired as when I went to bed the night before. I even have to force myself to go riding lately, and you know how much I love to ride.

I'm not whining, nor I don't want anyone’s sympathy. I just want everyone to understand that, even though I don't complain much about RA, that it is a very real part of my life. I have had comments made in the past that I don't really have RA or I couldn't go ride motorcycles like I do. The bottom line is I hurt every day, but I still get up and push myself to go to work, mow the yard and yes ... lately even to ride my motorcycles.

Perhaps I will feel up to riding next week. Anyone who knows me knows I'm hurting pretty bad when I don't feel like riding at least one of my days off. I have been doing some research on fire towers in our area and may try to hunt some up to photograph this fall. I can remember climbing a couple of them with my dad while out hunting years ago. I remember finding one, just out for a weekend drive with him, back down towards Russellville (I believe) and it was so tall that I chickened out on going to the top of that one. I only made it a little over halfway up on that one. Haha, the things you remember later in life.

Below is the Rich Mountain fire tower that we stopped at last fall on a ride. You can climb it a couple of days a week, but the day we were there it was locked up.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Silver Bridge Ride


It was going to be a hot day so we decided to start early to help beat the heat. It was a balmy 80 degrees at 6:45 a.m. but it was partially overcast. I rode out some 40 miles and met Tony at Silver Bridge in Mulberry, Arkansas. It is a beautiful three span through truss bridge that was built in 1912. It was full on hot by the time we met at 8:00 a.m..  We took photos and walked around, across and under the bridge before heading out. 
Just up the road about a mile sat an abandoned house on top of a clearing that overlooked a valley and several mountains in the background. It struck me as such a beautiful place (I love photographing old abandoned places) that I turned around and went back to shoot the old home place. 
First panarama pic I've ever shot. Silver Bridge
Silver Bridge over the Mulberry River.
Abandoned house I turned around and went back to shoot.
Tried to get Tony to cross here but he didn't trust my judgement.
The old Boy Scout camp.
The appropriately named Long Bridge.
Inside the Oark Cafe.
Breakfast ... and no, I couldn't eat all of it!
What my knee sees.
Shores Lake Bridge. Closed for business...
... for a hole in the bridge.
It felt 10 degrees (maybe more) cooler when we rode into this.
My KLR parked road side while I shot some pictures.
We next headed for an old swimming hole/party spot. I was riding with someone who grew up here so I was getting the inside on places that I never would have seen. The water was too high and rolling fast to cross here today but we found plenty more to do. Next we stopped at the old Boy Scout Camp down on the river. By now we were hungry so we rode over to Oark and ate breakfast. As we were leaving we ran into two riders from KC and talked with them a good while. I've said it before but I'll say it again, I love riding, no doubt, but I also really enjoy meeting and talking with people out on rides. I truly believe 95% of the people out there are good people away from jobs, stress and money problems. We headed to Shores Lake next but 1 mile from the lake, the bridge was closed. No problem, we rode over the rocks at one end but they were too close to the guard rail on the far end for my 650. Tony squeezed through and we parted ways leaving me to take the long way back home.
Pulled back in to the house with 203 miles but it was seriously hot out there by this time. My RA griped and grumbled all evening and night but I feel better this morning. I finally have decided which exhaust I am going with and the company has gone bankrupt. Supposedly it has been bought but I can't get in touch with anyone that can tell me if I can still get a X3 exhaust or not. Just my luck.