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.

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.