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32 Responses to “Life of a Professional Patient, Blog #5; Little Victories”

    1. Pam says:

      I’ve had two of those procedures done. Am going tomorrow to have the RFA done (burning the nerves completely).

    2. Regarding flares. I’ve been in a 4 month long flare, yep, 4 months. So, Am I flaring or is it just a full time battle for me? I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do care about, comfort while battling the flare. It has sucked the life out of me. I’m exhausted beyond all reason and some days can’t make out the fuzz in front of my tired eyes. Only through prayer and the love of family and friends am I able to continue to deal with this. I hope your injections work. I had them long ago and it lasted only two days…just two days. A year later, surgery. Oy. Hugs. Tammy

      • Hi Tammy, this should last a few days. If it works, then we do a more permanent one – where it takes the nerves a long time to grow back. Like Pam did I guess.

        • Judi says:

          Kelly Im so sorry for what your going through! Your brave! If you need business cards my husband is an old printer and we will do them for free for you…Thanks so much for what you do here on your wonderful site!..Judi

    3. Judi says:

      Im so sorry ur flare has lasted 4 months!…Are you on steroids? When i have a flare its the only thing that will help besides the shots like Kelly got! I dont take steroids on a daily basis…Long term it will cause your bones to be bad! Hoping you get some relief! Judi

    4. Tanya Tudor says:

      I obviously have to much time to sit and think about this stuff, lol. When I woke up on 4/09 screaming and unable to move I had total faith that I would quickly be pain free. 1 1/2 years later I found this site and Thanked God I had found a few other that had never had significant improvement in their condition. I totally took to heart Kelly’s statements about it being a never ending flare. I can only speak for myself but I no longer believe that I dont flare. (Minus my 1 week from IV solumedrol) I am always in pain, I have many many tasks that require assistive devices and those I can not do no matter if my life depended on it.
      I do flare though. During those times I can’t even lift the sheet off myself to get out of bed, I eat soup through a straw because I can’t open my mouth side enough for a spoon. And on and on it goes. Every minute of every day is a changing adventure with this disease. So my best may not be your best, but I still have times that are worse then other.

      • The more I think about that question, the messier it is. To flare or not to flare? For me it might be called moving flares?? I might have joints like some of my fingers that are stiff & painful all of the time – pretty much unusable some days at a 9 – less on some days but never below a 6. I have no joints un-affected. Then I have other joints which are tender if you touch them at all times & painful if they are used. But if I sit very still, they don’t hurt that bad; still they are very far from normal. I have a fever almost every day the last few years, a sign of flare. I could say more, but to me, what I have every day is like what other people describe to me as a flare. It is also called “uncontrolled RA” or recalcitrant RA. It does not ebb, but only progresses. However, it can alternate over a period of weeks or days or months exactly which joints are worst. There is never a moment that I can do even half of what I did before this flare. But, I remember the 3 decades of flares that only lasted 3 days & left me feeling normal in between. I don’t care what it’s called personally. I want it to stop. I’m ready for a pause.

        • Tanya Tudor says:

          Oh Kelly, I didnt mean minimize it. See I need to learn brevity. My simple point was that this disease fluctuates sometimes every minute of every day. It is a matter of degrees. And boy do I agree, I want it to stop.

    5. Dee Maxwell says:

      Tanya, I was overwhelmed when I read your comments. I’ve been so consumed with how my life has changed that I forget sometimes that it could be worse. I will pray for you, Tanya and you, Kelly and everyone else that never has a moment of relief. And I will pray that I remember to count my blessings. I’m so sorry that I complain and feel sorry for myself when I could be much worse. Kelly, thank you again for sharing your experiences and knowledge. You will never know how much you help!

    6. Mary says:

      I used to wonder about flares and the fluctuations of the disease. In particular, I never really had a *good* day for many years, while I was still working. When I quit working and finally took some rest, it was 3 months later that I noticed that I wasn’t hurting as much.

      That was about twelve years ago, and over time I have had times with lots of disease activity (lots of flares, different joints, etc.) and times when I had little or no pain. For a couple years I took Arava, which was great, but when I worked on a high profile, high stress campaign, I had lots of fun but ended up very physically exhausted. A week after the campaign office closed I came down with pneumonia, and since then have been reluctant to take anything else that messes with my immune system.

      My doctors say I’m not so much in remission as that the disease has already destroyed most or all of the cartilage, so there isn’t as much for it to attack. All I know is, rest is really a big key factor. No one likes to change their lifestyle and do less, but at some point the pain meds will put me to sleep anyways.

      It also sounds like you haven’t found anything yet to interrupt the course of the disease medically, reduce the number of flares, etc. You might ask your rheumy about Arava (generic name is leflunomide) as a DMARD possibility – it was really helpful to me. Short term (!) doses of prednisone can also be help break through resistant flares.

      BTW, I consider each inflammed joint to be a “flare”. The presence of inflammation is what makes the difference. It sounds like you have basically had flares on top of more flares, for quite a long time. Stiffness is something else altogether, although the two usually accompany each other somewhat.

      Oh yeah, on exercise and flares: Do at least gentle exercise on the non-inflamed joints. While joints are tender and hot, rest is best for those joints but do try to do something for your range of motion each day.

      Hope some of this helps you and/or others. I’ve lived with the disease for over 20 years, had multiple knee replacements, auto fused wrists, and like you, there isn’t a joint that isn’t affected.

      • Chelsea says:

        Mary, tell me about your “autofused” wrists please! Do you mean they eventually fused on their own or did you have surgery to fuse them? If you had surgery, how do you think it turned out having two fused wrists?

    7. Jean Harrison says:

      I would like to throw in some hope. Seven years ago I experienced hip pain so severe that my daughter had to prise me off the couch & take me to the hospital. I spent 10 days as this pain jumped from joint to joint. I researched my options and like Kelly chose the Methotrexate as it fought the cause rather than the symptoms. I took a very low dose fearing any effect on liver & kidneys (one disease was quite enough). There were times when I had so much fluid in the joints my bones were pushed apart & I couldn’t stand. There were times when I needed to use both hands to bring a half cup of tea to my lips (a full cup was too heavy). RA can be a real bitch, 20 minutes to ease out of bed; no comfortable position while you are in there. I took the methotrexate & an MSM supplement and tried as best I could to balance the PH levels in my diet. I took years but today I am totally pain free most of the time. I have occasional flares when I catch a bug or if I overdo the physical activity. I am totally weaned off methotrexate. My formula for staying symptom free is
      a) avoid stress
      b) get good quality sleep
      c) practice gratitude – this sounds odd but I’m convinced it works. Each morning you wake up feeling a little better – earnestly think “I am so grateful for this easing of the pain.” Apparently if you are smiling & positive it is not possible for the brain to produce the stress hormones that so cruelly work against RA sufferers.
      I can touch my toes – run up and down stairs – go salsa dancing. I am 64 & loving life to the full. It IS possible to be pain free. Does this mean I no longer have RA? I don’t think so, if I push it too hard I can still get a flare up – but heh, these are so mild in comparison to the past. Oh – I almost forgot, soaking the offending joint in ‘electra’ (available by the washing powders in the supermarket) will reduce the fluid in the joint. It’s a long time since I’ve needed it. I feel for each and every one of you – if only I had a magic wand.

    8. MaryK says:

      Kelly, I hope the shots do the trick for you. Anything that helps is a blessing!
      Moving flares is a good way to describe what I experience, too. For about a week and a half it was all in my feet, ankles, knees, and hips. About two days ago that stopped and I didn’t need my cane anymore. But now it’s my fingers, wrists, and elbows. Combine this with the fibro racing down my shoulders and it’s a big pile of ick. At least when it’s the lower half I can sit. 😀

      Prednisone and just about any steroid isn’t an option for me because it raises glucose levels and screws around with my Diabetes. When I read about other people’s experiences with it I don’t know if I should be envious or horrified. :p

    9. Raini says:

      Kelly, I’m still reading lots of things on this site..so many posts! But this one spoke directly to me. I have been reading about flares and asking myself “why am I not having them?”, until I read this post and the responses. I am learning so much about my RAD still! And now I understand why I haven’t been having flares. Because it is constant. As was stated above, I have some days that certain joints are a little better, but I am NEVER not in pain, have a low grade fever all the time, except when I am cold lol. It’s amazing to me how this disease “travels” throughout my body from day to day. I keep getting pains in my feet that are sudden and sharp. I will be shuffling along, then suddenly a pain in the side of my foot or in the top that stops me in my tracks and I can’t go on until it eases. It is INSANE! I just wanted to add my 2 cents for those that are just finding this info too.
      I have also developed a lump on the inside of my elbow, in the bend, that is starting to wrap around the outside of the arm. It’s hard but not nodule-like.
      Just so many different things, it’s like this disease just “wanders the aisles” of my body, stopping to poke here and there willy-nilly. Burning pain in the hips when I stand up, pressure pain under the breasts or in the ribs in the back. I can’t lay down when those hurt cuz any pressure is unbearable. Sometimes I just shake my head and think “no wonder people don’t understand this, cuz when I try to explain how it works, I don’t even understand it”!! I mean I know the mechanics of it, but the other stuff…just WOW.
      Thanks for letting me vent.

    10. 😉 U go Kelly! Little Victories add up!

    11. Little victories are very important in keeping morale high during any illness and recovery. It’s because we have no control over the “big” battles that the small ones become so satisfying. Keep up the good work.

      Eye on the Ward x

    12. Joe Faulk says:

      Hey Kelly! What do you have your nerve blocks for? I mean, what does it help with? Have you tried the pain patch? Questions, questions I know but I’m curious.

      • These nerve blocks were temporary so that they could help in a diagnostic way. They did help the pain, so the doc did decide that we should do nerve ablasion in the same areas, which lasted for about 6 months. Read more on that here – click here. Now, some of that pain has returned so I’ll be asking about whether we do it again.

    13. Cindy Coroa says:

      Hi Kelly – i too have had nerve blocks in my lower spine. The first two didn’t take but the last one did. Don’t lose hope! As far as “flaring:, I never really understood the concept because I felt the same as you with one continual flare since diagnosis. I have some days that have been worse than others but I have never had a day that RA’s ugly head didn’t show itself just to remind me, I guess, that its there!

    14. Debby Mooney says:

      I’ve only had one big flare. It was in February. I had exercised the night before (nothing unusual), but the next day, i couldn’t straighten my knees, hips, elbows, and my hands and neck were in pain as well. I have had problems with swelling in my hands in the past, and had two carpal tunnel surgeries last summer. I have some synovitis in my hands now (i take celebrex in the morn, and at night daily, and just started methotrexate). about 2 years ago, i had injections in my back for SI joint pain, and trocateric bursitis. So I’ve really been experiencing this for a while. I feel so bad for you guys with these constant flare-ups, because the one I had back in Feb was unbelievable. I was actually stuck on the toilet for a while one day, lol. Kelly hope you find some relief. I’m at the beginning of this journey.

      • oh, the toilet stories people tell! Funny and sad at the same time…
        Thanks for the good wishes, the nerve ablation procedure after these “test” injections helped me w/the neck pain & headaches for several months. Looking into repeating it if it’s safe to do so now.

    15. Babs says:

      I’ve always suspected that my RA and my back problems were related. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. My back has always been my weakest link. It is much worse than my hands. I’m lucky, my RA has not stopped me from working yet. As a matter of fact, I have to work to support my RA habits… like medical help, RX, etc…. Anything that can help manage pain without more drugs is worth investigation.

    16. ann says:

      hi there, how was ablation?
      I’m due to have c4/c5 and c5/c6 discs out on aug 24th.
      I’m so so scared and nervous, I’m so tired of the pain….
      I’ve gotten injections nerve blocks, didn’t really work. I’ve had neck issues since i was first diagnosed at 10. 22 years later, my back is against the wall, i wanted the frekkin things out! its gets so so inflamed and that’s it, the day(s) is gone!!
      has anyone gotten relief from disc removal?? its not bulging but its sublimed.
      “sub axial subluxation”
      neurosurgeons say its 50/50 i’ll get a result.
      sigh…..
      ann

    17. ann says:

      subluxed!! not sublime!! lol, auto correct on my keyboard

    18. Kathy Milliner says:

      I just had two sessions of nerve blocks this last month. I got good results the first time and none the second time. So they decided to go with steroid injections rather than a nerve ablation. Nerve ablation may still be considered depending upon how I react to the steroid injection. I get cortisone injections a lot because I can’t tolerate Prednisone it triggers migraines.

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