RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS PART 1

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is when the immune system begins producing antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attacks the body’s own tissues.

In Rheumatoid Arthritis the immune system attacks the joints causing inflammation. This causes the tissue that lines the inside of the joints (the synovial) to thicken causing swelling and pain.  Left unchecked this will damage the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joint as well as the bones themselves. Over time the joints become painful and stiff.  Left untreated the joints become deformed.

Symptoms of RA may come and go.  During periods of increased inflammation and other symptoms is called a flare which can last a few days to a few months. With prolonged periods of inflammation, RA can affect some organs in the body:

Eyes: Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light

Mouth: Dryness and gum irritation or infection

Skin: Rheumatoid nodules (small lumps under the skin)

Lungs: Inflammation and scarring can lead to shortness of breath

Heart: Pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining), increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Blood Vessels: Inflammation that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs

Blood: Anemia

 Early signs

Spotting early warning signs can help people get treatment as early as possible. The early warning signs of RA include:

  1. Fatigue:  The 1st sign is feeling extremely tired and lack of energy.  They may also feel depressed.
  1. Low grade fever:  They may have a slightly raised temperature that sometimes accompanies the fatigue.   This comes before any noticeable effects to the joints.
  1. Weight loss: Possibly when someone is feverish, they lose their appetite, consequently this causes them to lose weight.
  1. Stiffness: This type of stiffness not only affects the joints in the fingers but a general feeling of stiffness when you have been still for a long time especially in the morning.
  1. Joint tenderness: Typically early signs of RA first show joint tenderness in the hands and feet.  In the hands, the joint in the middle and the base of the finger feel tender, and in the feet, the joints at the base of the toes may feel tender.
  1. Joint pain: Joint pain usually starts in the fingers, wrists, and feet is a sign of RA.
  1. Joint redness: Inflammation in the joints may give them a red appearance.
  1. Joint warmth: Even before the redness or swelling occurs the joints may become warm to the touch.
  1. Numbness and tingling: Numbness and tingling may affect the hands and feet caused by the inflammation pressing on a nerve resulting in loss of sensation.

As RA slowly progresses:

  1. Joint swelling: Joints that look swollen in the hands and feet are typical of RA and tend to be more apparent as RA progresses.  You may see subtle swelling in the early stages.
  1. Decrease in range of motion: Damage can affect the ligaments and tendons especially in the wrist. As time goes on this makes it hard to bend and straighten them.
  1. Joints affected on both sides: For the majority of people with RA it typically affects the same joints on both sides of the body, but not all.

There is no cure for RA.  Doctors recommend early and aggressive treatment since any damage already done cannot be reversed, but they may be able to slow the progression of the disease. That being said, being an auto immune disorder, suppressing the immune system with medicine is essential for controlling RA, however, that causes a much higher risk of infections. (Suppressing the immune system is suppressing the body’s defense against infectious bacteria and viruses.)

In Part 2 will be about diagnosing and how RA is treated.  The more I research this disease the more it sucks.  However, I feel the more informed I am the better prepared I’ll be if anything serious should happen.

Have a Great Day!

Donna.

 

For further information here are some links:

Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319810.php?sr

 

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RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND FIBROMYALGIA

Recently I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA).  I thought ‘no couldn’t be’ I already had Fibromyalgia(FM), Vitiligo (which is also an autoimmune disease), Depression and Severe Anxiety Disorder. I don’t need this.  Then my mind starts going:  Was I misdiagnosed in 2006?  Did I have RA all along? They have many of the same symptoms.  Could you have FM and RA at the same time?

Not that I don’t believe my doctors, but I ALWAYS research anything they diagnose, prescribe, etc. Believe me, more than once I have made the decision not to follow their advice or take the prescription. I go back and talk to them about other options. Most have agreed to accommodate me, a few annoyed that I don’t just follow their directions. However, over 95% of the time there are no issues.

(ex: my gynecologist gave me a prescription that had a warning that *could cause blood clots. I had a deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in my leg, that went to my lungs causing a pulmonary embolism back in 2012. I went back to him and asked for something different citing my concerns. He didn’t think I should worry about it. but I refused to take it) 

I’m now questioning whether or not I had RA all along and not FM.  I had nodules on two of my fingers for years.  Possibly before the FM.   I have carpel tunnel syndrome which started back in 2007 but I never did any repetitive motion long enough to cause it.  However, RA can cause it.

So the question remains, could you have both? The answer is yes you can.  I was stunned to find out that 20-30% of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis have Fibromyalgia. While many symptoms are similar, there are a few ways to distinguish between fibromyalgia and RA.

Joint pain, swelling and inflammation is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, but the pain of fibromyalgia is widespread impacting half of the body.

Both conditions can cause sleep disturbances and fatigue, but sleep problems in people with Fibromyalgia tend to be more draining. The fatigue in RA is from inflammation and anemia.

Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disorder.  Even though it causes severe pain it doesn’t cause any damage in the body unlike Rheumatoid Arthritis which attacks the joints and can be severely debilitating.  RA can also attack the lungs and heart.

I felt great before I went back to work.  Now I have the RA to add to the list.  It only took a year before everything came crashing down.  If it wasn’t for my doctor noticing me rubbing my hands while sitting in his office, I don’t know how long or how deformed I would be before I would be diagnosed.

Funny how life changes.

Have a great Day!!

Donna

 

 

 

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“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Most people in Canada and the U.S., and possibly UK and other English-speaking countries know this phrase:

“If it ain”t broke don’t fix it”

Meaning if all is going well don’t change it!

I should have taken that advice 4 years ago. Back in 2014 I was feeling great. All was well. No pain. My depression was in check, I was happy. In fact I was getting bored. Writing this blog wasn’t enough.

So I decided to go back to work. I should have caught the subtle clues that it was a bad idea. 1st of all the insurance company that was paying my disability couldn’t find my file. I was basically a write off, meaning they didn’t think I was ever going to go back to work, so my file was stored somewhere. It took 6 weeks to find my file since I didn’t have a case worker any more.

Then they had to contact my work to see if they would take me back. That took another 2 months.  By this time I starting getting subtle feelings that my depression was poking its head back but I just brushed it off. It was Christmas time which is a stressful time anyways.

Then I got a bad case of the flu. I was so sick when I started I had to take a day off the first week back. It just went down hill from there.

From getting into a car accident on the way to work to full-blown anxiety, depression and pain, to having a complete hysterectomy cause all tests were saying I had ovarian cancer. (the mass was benign but that is another post)

A lot has happened since the end of 2014 until now, including new diagnosis.

To make a long story short I’m no longer working.  I should’ve taken up a hobby or volunteered.

I’m excited about updating this blog with a new theme, new categories and new posts.

I hope you will enjoy them and I’ll look forward to your feedback.

Have a Great Day!

Donna

 

 

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ANNIHILATION: a Movie Review Nails the Reality of Depression

The following review caught my eye in my Firefox ‘recommended stories’.  I would read all the reviews from people who went to see a movie just before I watch it.  I never give much weight on movie critics as it is just one person’s opinion.  This one is different.

How Annihilation Nails the Complex Reality of Depression
by Angelica Jade Bastien

I haven’t seen this movie but, the way she compared Annihilation to depression and explained the destructive nature of the illness in this review caught my eye. I do believe that “you can never return to the person you once were in the wake of trauma.” You feel like you’re fighting a brick wall every second of every day to do any task. So the thought of giving up is real. Is huge. It doesn’t feel like your own body anymore.
Here is the link to the review.

http://www.vulture.com/2018/03/annihilation-movie-depression.html

I don’t think I will be watching the movie anytime soon. I’m just coming out of a third deep depressive episode that lasted over 2 years. After reading the review I’m not ready to go deep down there right now. I couldn’t watch the movie Cake. I’m still healing.

Have a Great Day!

Donna

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy-New-Year-2014-magical-quotes-wallpaper.

My wish for you is to be Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, full of Love and at Peace this new Year and many years to come.

Have a Great Day!

Donna

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