As My Joints Turn

My Autoimmune Soap Opera

I recently posted about my big diet change.  For about one month, I stuck to it like glue.  I had one cheat day that clocked in around 2200 calories, but overall, I stuck to my plan of 1200 calories or less.  I removed gluten, dairy, and salt.  I also limited carbs and sugar.  I was proud of myself.  My hope was to lose weight AND to see if any of my autoimmune arthritis symptoms would improve by a change in diet.  The first week, I did see a reduction in swelling.  I attributed that to the low/no salt.  By the second and third week, the swelling was back and the pain was still pretty high.  Regardless, I stuck to it.  Determined.  I’ve gained 30 pounds over the past few years due to lack of mobility and the use of prednisone for both pain/swelling and upper respiratory issues.  If I am being honest…..I treat my depression with food, too.  I was determined to get my life back on track and get healthier.

Then I went to see my rheumatologist.  I proudly got on the scale and guess what happened…..I gained 4 pounds.  GAINED. FOUR. POUNDS.  My heart cracked.  My rheumy  and I discussed other potential diets.  I’m going to crack open the Plant Paradox soon to see if removing lectins helps me reduce inflammation.  I left with a script for blood work, The Plant Paradox on my kindle, and a deflated ego.

I posted on facebook and so many people jumped in with suggestions.  I needed to get feedback from people but each one stung a bit, because again, I could only see my failure.   I didn’t start this diet willy nilly.  I met with a nutritionist and weighed the options of meal replacements vs. other diets.  I seldom do anything for my health without thinking about it long and hard.  So this diet was not a spur of the moment decision.  Finding out I gained weight got me thinking that my thyroid levels were off again.  That is a good excuse right?

Well, I got my blood work results back and guess what….I’m hypothyroid again.  You see I have a thyroid but due to Graves disease, I needed to “kill it” with radioactive iodine.  I’ve been fairly regulated for almost 20 years  with medication, but now the lovely menopause is wreaking havoc with my hormones.  Oh, and I’m also anemic.  So all the cards are falling into place as to why I am so tired all the time.  Why weight keeps packing on the pounds no matter what I do.  It’s all so depressing.

Living life with multiple illnesses criss-crossing is so exhausting.  I feel like I never have a good day.  I feel like I am losing myself in the non-stop chronic life ride.  How sad is it that blaming my thyroid for weight gain makes me feel better.  This little tiny organ can at times, make my life miserable.  It’s not my fault, right??  I put forth a solid effort only to come up short.  Today, I’m being miserable and sad.  In a day or two, I’ll refocus and try again.  This life is the eternal two steps forward and one step back.

Venting done…………

 

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Photo credit:  Dr. Doni @ https://doctordoni.com/2014/05/how-well-is-my-thyroid-working/

Well, it’s been a week on the “get-healthy-by-removing-everything-you-love-from-your-diet” diet.  I’ve stuck to a reduced salt, low carb, low sodium and mostly gluten-free diet (I didn’t realize one of the meal bars I got had gluten and I had 2 over the past week).  Just to refresh, I decided to try a significant diet change to see if my symptoms from arthritis and fibromyalgia improved.  On Day 7, I’m not seeing a major change.  I have had a bit of a reduction in ankle swelling, but the pain is pretty awful.  I really hoped that by reducing the swelling would help to reduce pain.  Sadly, I now can feel just about every

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Less swelling but more pain. Ugh….

bone in my foot because it aches.  Walking is still a major chore.  I’m not giving up on the diet even though I am semi-miserable without my favorite foods.  Wish me luck as I continue on in my quest to lose weight and help my ankle hate me a bit less.

On another note, I am in the process of writing a book called, “Making Lemonade”.  It’s about my journey with Georgia Grace and how her chronic illnesses changed my life in many ways.  After her recent life-threatening bout with bloat, I decided that I needed to get professional photos taken for the book cover sooner than later.  I didn’t know that the photographer would then write a blog to accompany some of the photos.  I have to say, my heart swelled a bit reading it.  My heart swells even more when I look at the photos.  Now I have to choose.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a pet photographer,  check out Pet Imagery Lauren Kaplan Photography.  She is as amazing as her photos.  Also, check out her blog and let me know if you have a favorite photo!  I’m having a hard time choosing.  http://www.petimagery.com/new-session-favorites-georgia-grace-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-ridley-creek-park-pa/

I learned through the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network that a company was looking for bloggers to try out their new pain relief product.  I read about the device and decided I wanted to do a test trial.  Lucky for me, Saringer Life Science Techologies chose me to review their new contrast therapy device called Benepod.

I received the device, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I was so excited about this product that I felt the need to videotape my review.  Check it out!

 

 

In summary, I feel that Benepod is a great tool to use when you don’t want to use more pain relieving medication.  It is very calming to your pain receptors and thus, masks the feeling of pain.  The pain relief lasts long enough for me to complete other tasks and to fall asleep.

Pros:

  • small and lightweight
  • easy to use, requires no extras to use (no lotion, tape, etc),
  • safe to touch (but do not leave it plugged in)
  • does what it says and relieves pain/takes the edge off of pain,
  • can be used with provided charger or a portable charging device
  • automatic shut off after 20 minutes
  • cost is $49.00 on Amazon.

Cons:

  • Requires electricity to work which can make it inconvenient in some places
  • shape (it doesn’t contour to certain places like elbows, so it can be awkward)
  • you must hold it on your body (it does not attach and you have to move it around)
  • it does make a noise, so it can be heard by others if you are using it in public.

Benepod is not a cure or a treatment, rather, it is a tool that you can use to help provide some temporary pain relief.  I recently had minor surgery that required stitches.  When the numbing wore off, I had a horrific burning sensation that caused a big fibromyalgia flare. I was in sad shape but could not take more pain medication.  I didn’t dare put the device near the stitches, but I used it up and down my arms to help with the fibromyalgia pain.  After 20 minutes, it took the edge off the pain. It was the only thing that helped me fall asleep that night.

Thank you to Benepod for giving me this device to trial.  I am a fan.

To learn more about Benepod, click here:  https://www.saringer.com

To purchase Benepod, click here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0784Y9KZK

 

In closing, please know that I was not paid for my review.  I did however, receive the Benepod device for free.  I would not recommend it if I didn’t find it helpful in my fight with chronic pain.  I consider it a good tool for temporary pain relief.

 

31178444_457029181416779_6550401244723150848_n-1Today I was in a lot of pain.  My ankle and feet were so swollen that I could barely walk.  Each step I took felt like I was walking on a joints made of glass that shatter with each step I take. I try not to complain about my pain. I try to wave it off when people see me limp and ask if I am ok.  I try to focus on other stuff to avoid breaking down in tears.  I try not to wish that I was normal and healthy…..because I know that wish will never come true.

I no longer hold out hope that I will ever feel better.  I guess now, I just try to hope for a good day once in a while.

The swelling in my left foot is so bad that it has me worried.  I did some research and I am fairly certain that I have edema.  I am seeing my rheumatologist in 2 weeks and I decided to try some different things to see if I can clear up this swelling.  I can easily call my doctor, but I know the treatment will be prednisone.  Instead, I decided to go gluten and dairy free with no/low sodium and low carbs to see if a change in diet could help reduce my pain and swelling.  I am also wearing compression socks, taking short walks hourly, and keeping my leg elevated as much as possible.  So far, I’m seeing no improvement or change whatsoever.  Worst case scenario, there will be no change and I will have to cave and go on a dose of prednisone.  Best case scenario, I’ll lose weight while I begin to feel better.  Regardless, I figure it will give me some good data before seeing my rheumatologist.

Everyone claims gluten free makes you feel amazing.  This is my third round of  the gluten-free diet and honestly, it’s never done anything much for me.  When I tell gluten-free people that, I’m told “You must not be doing it right.” (Like I can’t figure out which items I am eating have gluten or not??)  I know people have good intentions, but it’s just so infuriating.  It makes me want to chow down on a big old bowl of gluten in front of them while wearing a shirt that says, “Gluten is my spirit animal”.

I’m so very tired of feeling grumpy because of pain.  I guess it’s time to be grumpy because I can’t eat my favorite foods!  LOL  So wish me luck as I try to feel better through a change in diet.

 

Yesterday was stressful.  I decided to get my nails done after work.  Before heading to the salon, I stopped by the house to walk the dog and give her some medication.  It was too early to feed her and give her insulin, but I figured I’d only be gone for 2 hours, so I had plenty of time.  I got home later, fed the dog and watched her INHALE her food.  She was also INHALING water.  I noticed it, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  She typically inhales her food.  About 20 minutes after she ate,  I tried to give her medication and she refused it.  I thought she might be annoyed that I had left her all day and didn’t push it. We went outside to chat with neighbors and when they tried to give it to her she also refused to take her medication from them, too.  Weird.  Georgia’s medicine is wrapped in food and she NEVER refuses food.  I looked at her and noticed she looked chubby.  Really chubby.  My neighbor agreed and we checked her belly.  It was HUGE.

So what did I do……I googled “swollen belly on dogs” and guess what popped up.  BLOAT (click on the word to learn more about it). Now, I was aware that large, deep chested dogs get bloat.  Georgia is a medium sized Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, so I thought it couldn’t be what was wrong with her.  My nurse neighbor looked at her and said Georgia didn’t seem to be in any pain and it not worry about it.  Um….that didn’t happen.  My neurotic brain worried.  All I could think about was the book/movie Marley & Me.  If you have seen it, you know how serious bloat can be.  I sat with my neighbors thinking “If I take her to the vet they are going to think I am insane”.  Georgia wasn’t acting sick.  Only her belly was big and she refused a treat.  She wasn’t drooling or crying out in pain. After staring at her for 15 minutes, I jumped up, carried her to the car and rushed to the Veterinary ER hospital.  Thank God that I did.

Georgia did have bloat.  Not enough is known about the cause of bloat, but her ER vet guessed that her hoovering of food and water allowed too much air to get into her belly and it was too much for her little body.  She had a tube placed down her chest twice to try to release the gas.  We were lucky that her stomach didn’t twist (Dogs organs are not as static like ours.  The gas can cause the stomach to twist/flip over and effectively cut off the esophagus and lower intestines, thus trapping the gas and causing death).  The tubing only reduced the size of the gas bubble a tiny bit.  The ER vet estimated the bloat was 5 ribs long.  (Think of a regular sized latex balloon that you have to blow up and tie. That is how big the bloating was.)  The vet told me he couldn’t hear Georgia’s heart murmur because the gas bubble was preventing her heart from getting enough blood.  He left me for a minute to research any drug interactions that treatments could have on Georgia.  She takes 6 prescriptions for some serious illnesses including syringomyelia, heart disease, hip dysplasia and diabetes.  Basically some treatments for bloat could kill her because of her preexisting conditions. While pacing in the waiting room, I looked up and saw my baby’s picture on the bulletin board.  IMG_7757This is where she fought for her life when diabetes ketoacidosis almost took her from me.  I’m standing there, feeling devastated and suddenly I hear a loud BURP.  I had to laugh because it was LOUD.  Who knew a burp could be such a good thing?  The vet was thrilled when I told him and said that it could mean she was starting to turn in the right direction.  Another x-ray revealed the gas bubble went from 5 ribs long to about 3.5 ribs long.  We could clearly start to see her heart and liver again on the film.  The murmur could be heard (who would think that would ever be a good thing??!!!).

Even with this good news, she was not out of the woods.  Georgia stayed over night at the hospital (and boy was she mad about it!).  I was told they would call me if she made a turn for the worse.  I signed a paper giving permission to do emergency surgery, if needed, and to resuscitate her if her heart or breathing stopped. I then left my baby with people I did not know….. praying this wasn’t going to be the end of our journey together.

I couldn’t fall asleep and tossed and turned most of the night.  The phone rang around 6:30 am.  Even with my morning stiff joints, I flew to answer it. My knee is still aching from that movement this morning.  I was told that the medication Georgia received helped her to clear the bloat and she could come home.  It’s so hard to get my body moving in the morning, but I was pushing as hard as I could to dress quickly.  I was hurting from the lack of sleep.  It was a miracle my dog survived the night AND honestly, it was a miracle I could actually get my fingers to hook my bra this morning.  I had to scoot down the steps because walking down the steps would hurt my joints too much.  Having RA in an early morning emergency is so difficult.

I got to the vet hospital as quickly as I could. The vet tech reviewed the three pages worth of directions to follow to try to prevent bloat from occurring again.  There is no guarantee that I can protect her from this again but I will do my very best.  When it was time to go, they asked if I needed help getting her to the car.  I did, but I said, no.  It hurt like hell, but I carried my girl to the car myself and drove us home.  We were both exhausted.  She climbed in my bed, but as soon as I got in, she left.  Georgia is apparently holding a grudge.  It’s funny because she was so happy to see me what I picked her up.

 

It’s okay.  She can be mad at me all she wants.  I’d be mad if someone shoved a tube down my throat twice and my mother left me with him overnight, too.  I’m truly thrilled she is still with me to be crotchety.img_7768

 

Tonight my nerves are still shaky.  My hands and elbows are really sore, and my knee is still screaming every time I move it.  Being Georgia’s mommy is probably not good for my health, but loving her is good for my heart.

 

My health has not been the best lately.  Hoping to make some big changes soon to improve my health.  Just taking a moment to wish all a Happy Easter and Happy Passover….or if you don’t celebrate either, Happy Sunday!!  Wishing you the best from my furry family.

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Milo, Jaxson, and Georgia Grace

 

Be well! xx

There is a HUGE snow storm coming tonight and tomorrow. Large amounts of wet, heavy snow is expected. The meteorologists are all over the place with totals but my joints are predicting anywhere from 1-99 inches!  Hahaha.  I had to run to the store to get my “milk and bread”. Then had to run other errands so that all the creatures in my home have food, etc., during this storm. With two more stops to go, I started to feel the ankle screaming. Heck, even my toes were hurting (that’s a new achy place on my body). I can post a scary pic of my ankle, but I’ve already done that before.  So I decided to write a poem.  I’m going stir crazy just thinking about being snowed in.  I hope it makes you laugh.

 

‘Twas the night before the snowstorm and all through my home,

Not a body part wasn’t aching. Not a joint, nor a bone.

My legs are propped up on the ottoman with care,

In hopes that relief would soon be there.

The dog was curled up all snug in her bed,

While visions of snowy walks dance in her head.

With me in my jammies, and the cats in my lap,

We all settled in for a long winter’s nap.

But the dropping temps began to settle in my bones,

Each time I stood up was with creaks and with moans.

I looked out the window and what did I see,

Gleaming white snow looking right back at me.

As I watch the inches pile up all through the storm,

I’m hoping my electricity stays on so I’m warm.

How beautiful and peaceful it looks in the night,

Although by tomorrow it will require all of my might.

To clear it away so my car I can drive,

Walking carefully on ice without a swan dive.

Once the snow is cleared and I’m back on the couch,

I’ll prop up my legs and try to ignore the ouch.

Snowstorms and spoonies are not a great team,

Thank goodness for wine and pain relief cream.

So to those in the Northeast I wish you the best

Spring is coming and then we can rest……hahaha  Just kidding….then the rainy season and humidity starts.

 

Be well my friends!

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Georgia is the only one who loves the snow in this family.

 

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