I am fighting back against Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) with natural foods, stress reduction, and by embracing my inner flower child (making everything from scratch, and eating all those yummy natural foods)in addition to my medications. All of this is carefully balanced with my busy life as a homeschooling single mom of 2 boys, the exhaustion that RA brings, and a very limited budget. I would like to share my journey with you, so that it may benefit you as well, or give you a better understanding of what it is to fight this disease.

My RA Journey

Hello, and welcome to my blog.  This is my first venture into the world of blogging and all that it entails, so please bear with me as I attempt to learn as I go.  

Let me begin by telling you a little bit of my story:

I have lived with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) since early 2004, during my first agonizing flare-up of pain in my hands and feet.  I went from knitting, sewing, spinning, and working 2 jobs, to being barely able to function.  It was Christmas time, and I had just gotten over a really bad case of bronchitis and sinusitis.  I had just turned 31 a few weeks before, and the pain came on it the span of just a couple of days. Since then, I have had periods of remission, and times when it was managed, punctuated by many painful flares lasting weeks or months. 

 I have been on low dose Prednisone and Plaquenil since my diagnosis.  I tried Sulfasalazine, and did not react well, so discontinued.  Until 2007, I took Relafen (an anti-inflammatory) but discontinued using it after having serious side effects linked to long term use of anti inflammatory drugs. During my pregnancy in 2008, I had to go off all meds except Prednisone, and had a prolonged and intense flare.  After I weaned my youngest, I went on Methotraxate.  I had previously avoided this med, since it is not advised if you have any chance of becoming pregnant, and because the thought of taking a cancer drug scared me. I have used Ibuprofen for pain management until recently, when it started causing me to have a lot of swelling in my legs, feet, and hands. I am also on Vitamin D, Iron, Calcium, and Folic Acid as prescribed by my doctor. Even though the pain can be intense, my case is considered to be mild, since I have minimal joint damage at this time. 

Autoimmune diseases can bring friends with them, and in 2007, I was given a tentative diagnosis of Sjogren's   Syndrome.  For several years (long before I had any RA symptoms), my salivary glands would occasionally swell up to the size of a golf ball or larger.  This would be accompanied by extreme pain, fatigue, and low grade fevers.  Sometimes there would be large bumps behind my ears as well.  I hears diagnosis ranging from atypical Meningitis, to virus, sinus drainage, and abcess.  Leading up to the diagnosis, I had a flare up that lasted several weeks, and finally got a referral to a specialist  The Ear Nose and Throat specialist who finally made this diagnosis decided against doing the biopsy needed to make a final diagnosis because. the treatment is pretty much the same as for RA. The saliogram (x-ray with contrast) he performed to rule out any other cause was one of the more interesting and uncomfortable tests I have had! He said if I had future flare ups of Sjogren's symptoms to either see him or my Rheumatologist for treatment with higher doses of steroids.  

I see a Rheumatologist every 3 months, for blood tests and monitoring of my joints and symptoms.  She is good at what she does, even though she reminds me of Lillith from the  Frazier and Cheers television shows.  Unfortunately, she is kind of old school in her beliefs about the disease.  Her only focus is my joints themselves, and she is slow to make changes in my treatments.  When I have asked her about the other symptoms that I have, like extreme fatigue, feeling generally ill, and low grade fevers, and back problems, she does not address them.  When I have asked her if stress management, diet, or supplements would help, she did not want to discuss it.  I have considered finding another doctor, but at this point I have no insurance, and she is willing to work within my budget limitations.  

Recently, I have been suffering through a prolonged painful flare up, and the doctor is hesitant to prescribe any anti-inflammatory meds because of the reactions I had to Relafen and Ibuprofen.  She increased my prednisone dose, but that is a less than ideal situation, and is only for a short term.  In my desperation to get my pain levels under control, and to avoid further complications from the disease, I began researching foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.  I have already made some big changes, and am starting to see encouraging results. As I am muddling through trying new things, I invite you to learn from my successes and fail

Over the next few weeks, I hope to add content quickly.  After getting the basics on here, I hope to add new posts 2-3 times per week.  I would be honored to have you subscribe!

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