Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chronically Awesome

Living with a chronic disease means we have to work harder at everything than normal healthy people.  It takes more from us to simply get out of bed in the morning, exercise, do our job but this also includes having fun. My riding is no exception. I do not ride pain free, however the thrill I get every time I ride far outweighs any pain I experience. Once it cools down to where I can enjoy riding, Donna may not see me til it starts snowing. My daughter informed me yesterday that we have been over 100 for 27 consecutive days now.  The forecast for the next 7 days ... over 100 everyday.

I saw my rheumatologist two weeks ago and told him about being off of the MTX after surgery (for quicker healing) and I noticed that I felt better, had less fatigue and more energy.  He was excited and immediately suggested I try just the Humira and stop the MTX altogether.  I was a little leery of this so we agreed to cut the MTX back from 5 pills a week to 2.  I have to admit that over the past 2 weeks I have had more energy however it seems that I have had more problems with stiffness and pain than I normally experience.  I am hoping it is just a coincidence, but I am afraid I am going to have to start bumping the MTX up a little to find where I need to be to balance pain and stiffness vs having less fatigue and more energy.

I spent most of Saturday with my daughter.  She took some photos, she is in the early stages of starting her own photography business, of me for a magazine interview I did with Health Monitor about staying active while living with RA.  I am very lucky that, so far, I live with a mild version of the disease and that I CAN stay active.  Living with the disease varies greatly from one to another.  I think this is something that most outsiders do not understand.  Just because I can exercise and do some things that help me doesn't mean it's right for everyone.  

I am nearing the completion of my dual sport conversion, check out my 525 Bike Build link for all of the details.  Still have just a couple of things left to do to it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Nightshade Experiment

This is a post that I have been planning on writing for some time.  Around February of this year, I started experimenting with a nightshade plan.  Vegetables are part of a healthy diet, however "nightshade vegetables" contain alkaloids which can impact nerve-muscle and digestive functions. In addition, they can also compromise joint function.  Nightshade vegetables are in the Solanaceae family of plants. Among the most common, there are some 2800 nightshades, are tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers of all kinds, except black pepper. Tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, Tabasco sauce  and tobacco are also classified as nightshade foods.

I do not adhere to a strict nightshade plan, having cut some out altogether while cutting back on others from the list.  I have to say that I did notice a difference soon after starting my altered nightshade experiment.  

What I am avoiding is:  eggplant, and peppers, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne,  blueberries (not a nightshade, but contain solanine) and tobacco (not hard for me since I don't smoke, dip or chew).  I find it hard to give up tomatoes entirely and while I eat a lot of sweet potatoes (ok - not on the list),  I just can't eat an occasional steak without a baked potato.

While potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant are frequently blamed for causing arthritic flares,  according to Ronenn Roubenoff, MD, a nutritionist at the Tufts University School of Medicine, studies have shown this occurs in only 1-2% of patients.

I have to say that I am feeling better after 5 months of this plan.  I plan on continuing on my altered plan, maybe going further with it in the future.  Five months ago I could not eat a sandwich without potato chips, now, I don't even think about wanting potato chips any more.  Is it right or would it work for you?  Hard to say, but there is only one way to find out.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Quick Update

It has been a while since my last post and I apologize (sorry Deb).  I work a different shift now 6 days a week and while the 8 hour days are easier on me, I have no free time anymore.  I am doing better now and just saw my surgeon this past Friday morning.  He has cleared me to do anything I want so I am finally ready to start riding this year!  
So, as my pain is leaving me from the pre and post op procedure, my RA is once again starting to show it's ugly side.  Not too bad yet but it just wants me to realize it is lurking over my shoulder again.  I go to my rheumatologist Monday morning and am going to ask about cutting back on my MTX.  While off of them after surgery to help with the healing, I had more energy and felt better (except for the pain of surgery) than I have in a very long time.

I have new goodies on my bike that include a soft seat kit, which I have been planning on getting since I bought the bike.  Anyone that rides a KTM knows that the seat is basically like sitting on a 2 X 6!  I also put a keyed ignition switch on my bike for peace of mind on overnight rides.  This way the bike is not sitting at a campground or in a motel parking lot hot, just waiting for someone to hit the electric start button and ride it off.  When we were racing and one of us could not get our bike started, Mike and I would ask "is the key on?" ... now Mike can ask me that seriously.
We had a very rough night last night, we had to put little Maggie, our Australian Terrier down.  She had not been herself for 4 or 5 days and had very labored breathing when I got home last night at 7pm.  We took her to the emergency vet in town and after running blood work and doing x-rays, discovered her kidneys had shut down.