Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Arthritis Month!

You probably know someone with a form of arthritis and may not even know it.  A lot of people with arthritis don't look outwardly sick or "challenged" in any way.  Note:  we're not all disabled, we just have different things to over come daily.

To many, the perception is Grandma or Grandpa with enlarged finger joints or someone using a cane.  I have a cane, actually three, and a walking stick, a walker and crutches.  My goal every day is not to use any of them.  And I'm a grandmother.  I was diagnosed with moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis about seven years ago not long after I turned 50.  I've had the osteoarthritis in my knee since I was 16 caused by an auto accident.  One invasive surgery, 9 "scopes" and a complete knee replacement have enabled me to regain greater functioning in the knee and in life.

I am the face of arthritis.  It takes me about 45-60 minutes every day to start to function "normally".  My hands hurt and I have to exercise them to make them open and close.  My feet and ankles refuse to bend allowing me to walk "normally".  Shoulders ache so lifting and reaching is out of the question.  Exercising and medicine are my best friends.  Pain is omnipresent but controllable using meditation, exercise and medication.

The list of medications taken during this last seven years is long:  Plaquenil, Methotrexate, Humira, Enbrel, Cimzia, Mobic, prednisone and Orencia.  Unfortunately it seems that combinations of drugs eventually quit working and/or the body becomes immune to them.  The next group of drugs are infusions and generally require time in the doctor's office to have them.  A good discussion of the different classes of drugs is here:

A suggestion to help your friends or family with arthritis, do a random act of kindness.  Help bring in a bag of groceries, weed  a flower bed, mow a yard, move stuff to lower shelves in a cabinet or pantry, or just hand them a hot drink to cup their hands about and chat.  You'll make a difference this month for that person.