Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Good Old Fashioned Ass Kickin'

RA changes us, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  It depends on what we have inside of us that determines which it shall be.  I never saw myself as a strong or successful person until RA came along.  In my pre RA days I never had to fight to maintain any degree of normalcy, it brings out who you really are.  It also shows us that what we once thought was important, often times, really doesn't mean that much now.  It is hard living trapped inside a body that now is exhausted all day, every day and refuses to bend causing even the smallest movement to often be met with excruciating pain.   It doesn't make sense how you can break an ankle and head to the ER ... no big deal.  However, walking through the kitchen and hitting a knuckle on the counter top can drop you to your knees with pain. Real, honest to goodness, intense pain ... not drama queen, I want some attention type pain.  Welcome to my life.

I suppose I needed it, I had almost forgotten what an intense flare up felt like.  Last week we had a cold front blow through, the one I blogged about riding after work just before it hit.  It seized my joints up and provided me with a level of pain I haven't felt in a good while.  My right hand swelled up (including my wrist) so that I could not close it to make a fist.  It literally felt like I had a broken bone in the top of my hand connecting to my wrist.  I could only walk straight legged (you know, the Frankenstein walk) Monday and most of Tuesday.  I couldn't even hold a cup with my right hand, since I am right handed and do everything with said hand, drinking coffee with my left hand provided a bit of a thrill at first.  The hot tub only provided about 30% of the relief it normally does, Voltaren Gel didn't do much (it did keep the dogs away though, they don't like the smell), no help from Tylenol Arthritis or Ibuprofen.  Nope, I had to take care of this flare up the old fashioned way ... wait it out.

Also extreme fatigue nailed me.  I slept 14 hours Monday and 13.5 hours Tuesday.  Even the dogs were looking at me as if they were saying, "holy cow, get up.  Lets play ball, take us to town, something ... anything besides going back to bed!"  It has been a few years since I have slept those kind of hours.  I am used to mild flares and will occasionally sleep 10-11 hours every now and then. 

Yep, to summarize, I had my ass handed to me by RA last week.

But you know me ... I got off work Saturday morning, slept 4 hours and climbed on my bike for a FURA ride (stole that one from Mary).  I am not completely over the flare and it hurt considerably climbing on and off of the tall seated demon, but the rest of the 115 mile ride was great.  A new personal best for me ... 87 mph (140 kph) on a dirt road.  Besides, it was 67 degrees today and I'm too old to waste fun days!
Headed south Saturday riding forest roads to the top of the taller mountain ahead.
I like riding through small communities, this one still has a water tower.
I would never get tired of living here looking at this every morning!
You know me ... I love iron truss bridges.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tofacitinib

There is a new drug for the treatment of moderate to severe RA.  Tofacitinib was approved by the FDA this past week ahead of schedule.  Tofacitinib provides a new treatment option for the debilitating disease of RA who have had a poor response to methotrexate, Badrul Chowdhury, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.  The most common adverse reactions in clinical trials were upper respiratory tract infections, headache, diarrhea, and inflammation of the nasal passage and the upper part of the pharynx.  In clinical trials, tofacitinib was associated with an increased risk for serious infections, including opportunistic infections, tuberculosis, cancers, and lymphoma. The drug carries a boxed warning regarding these safety risks, the FDA said.  The drug is also associated with increases in cholesterol and liver enzyme test results and decreases in blood counts.  I am currently doing well with the MTX and Humira combo but I sincerely hope this helps those who have trouble with or simply can not take methotrexate.

I have been hammering out miles on my bike over the past 4 weeks taking advantage of our gorgeous fall weather.  I have put in 1100 miles, not including today and tomorrows rides.  We had a cold front push through yesterday morning.  My last night to work last week was Saturday night and I got off at 7am yesterday morning.  The temp at 7am was 74 and although I was tired, I came home after working a 12 hour shift and put on my gear and headed out for a quick ride before the cold weather moved in.  It felt great but the 30-40 mph winds were whipping me like a rented mule.  It can be a little unnerving to come into a turn at 60 mph just as a wind gust pushes you over a couple of feet while leaning the bike through the turn.  I only put in 45 miles before the lightening and rain moved in, but it was a nice relaxing ride with almost no traffic out early Sunday morning.

On a ride last week, I was headed out to the west and had been wanting to visit the Skullyville County Jail, so I loaded the coordinates in my gps and headed out.  I was amazed that it is in as good shape still as it is.  The jail was added to the National Historic Register in April, 1980.  It replaced the original jail in 1888 (original jail was built in the 1850's) at the same location and the walls are rock, 2 feet thick.  It has one door, heavy iron bar, and one tiny window with iron bars.  While I was stopped there, an older gentleman stopped to see if I needed help and I told him I was just taking some photos of the old jail.  He told me that he wished they would open it up so you could actually get inside ... "there's a lot of history in there", he said.  He told me one of the stories passed down was that Jesse James had been held overnight by Pinkerton agents in the original jail here.  Not attempting to glamorize Jesse by any means, but it was kind of cool thinking you were walking around where Jesse did in years gone by.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doubtful

Always looks better in person than in a photo.
Swimming hole at Redding.
Oklahoma road, half gravel, half asphalt ... I call them graphalt roads.
Considering I have been off of my MTX and Humira for 3 weeks due to a double infection, I have been doing remarkably well.  My hips and left hand have been hurting quite a bit more than normal, far from pain free but not bad.  I am also noticeably more stiff after just sitting for a few minutes, I resumed my normal medical routine last week so I am waiting for the meds to help with this.  I also got my flu shot last week, I am a firm believer in the flu shot now. 

I have been pushing myself pretty hard due to the near perfect weather over the last 2 weeks.  In the last 3 weeks, I have logged 930 miles on my bike plus I am heading out Tuesday morning after voting.  I hate the time change that has it getting dark at 5pm now!  The daylight is nice, but at this time of year, the warmth of the sun is more important.  I was out last Tuesday in a riding jersey and my light riding jacket and was a little warm in the middle of the afternoon.  The sun ducked down behind the mountains and within minutes I was shivering and still 45 miles form home.   Needless to say a hot shower was the first thing I did when I got home. 

I also got to spend a day with my parents last week.  I talk to them a couple of times a week, try to get up to see them every 2-3 weeks, but this was different.  I drove up north and picked them up then took them for a drive over to the Ozark National Forest with all of the fall colors out.  I took them to Oark to eat, then on to the swinging bridge.  Mom almost ran to it saying, "it's been ages since I've walked across a swinging bridge".  My dad worked at the canning factory at Oark before being drafted and going to Korea.  It was really nice seeing them remember days gone by and enjoy themselves.  


I am seriously considering getting a KTM950 Adventure now.  My wife is no help in the matter, she said "go get it".  The only thing holding me up is the weight (additional 5o lbs) and the seat height is 1/2" taller than my 650.  I have lost a lot of strength after living with RA for 9 years and well ... I have to tip toe to touch the ground with my 650 now.  I want the extra power and superior suspension and while I could manage the 950 with no problems right now, I don't know about next year or 2 years down the road.  I hate RA, it once again has me doubting myself. 
Found an abandoned bridge I was looking for.
Approaching it, I thought I could ride across it.
That soon changed as you can see what kind of shape it was
Mom on the swinging bridge.