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.

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!