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Don’t you know, you’re beautiful.

Maybe it’s just me, but recently I’ve sensed the need to write about a topic that I suspect effects every single person, at some point in their life.  Actually, I know without a doubt that it does.  The belief in your beauty- feeling beautiful, and as for you men…handsome.  When I was at college, during the time when my RA was at its worst, I truly recognized how downright sickly I looked.  I was not comfortable with my body, and quite frankly my body wasn’t comfortable with me.  Losing 20 lbs without meaning to had such a negative impact on me, at the time.  It literally hurt to sit because I lost most of my cushion, AKA butt!  I didn’t feel pretty, beautiful, or stunning for that matter whenever I looked in the mirror.  I appeared gaunt, and was much more pale than I am now.  When my dad would rub my shoulders, he would always comment on how he could feel the bones.  Looking back at old pictures from that year, I shudder.

It’s important for each of us to NOT obsess over our image, though I realize that is MUCH easier said than done.  Yes, I am the first to admit that I spend plenty of wasted time on my hair and makeup each morning.  I pinch that stomach fat, spend a half hour each day using teeth whitening strips.  I do at times, but not that often, feel guilty after eating a large meal-that good home cooked meal where having second’s just seems natural.  However, despite all of that negativity, I am proud to say that I have a new approach to my self-image and respect for my body.

Often times, whenever I get discouraged over my appearance, God places something in my mind that snaps me back into reality.  I often refer to this verse found in Matthew 6:28.  “And why worry about your clothes?  Look at the lilies and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?  You have so little faith!” (NLT)  Each time I hear that verse or read it, I soak it in as if I’ve heard it for the very first time.  It speaks volumes to me.  I so often get caught up with shopping and the thrill of it all, get annoyed when a zit makes a home on the middle of my forehead(yes, I promise it’s that same spot each time), or how fit I could and should be that I forget how beautiful God has created me, and each of us to be.  I believe the verse says to me, “hey Becca…whenever you allow yourself to get so upset over your uniqueness…oh yeah, your body, remember this…when you really look at a flower, not just glance at it, but really observe a flower, it’s absolutely amazing how intricately detailed it is, and not to mention gorgeous.  If a flower is that gorgeous, then DANG you must be ten times prettier.  After all, we were made in the likeness of God”.  Just earlier this afternoon as I was cutting the stems of the flowers Matt bought me, I made a mental note to appreciate flowers more.  Funny cause I had not a clue I was going to be blogging about this topic.  And not only did I not know I was going to be blogging about this topic, I definitely had a “God moment” as I was searching for the verse I mentioned above.  Not even two hours ago, as I was cleaning my room, I found some old “17 magazines” under my dresser.  I noticed that I had written Matthew 6:28 on the corner of the magazine, but didn’t bother to look it up…until it literally presented itself to me just now, as I type this.  Someone out there needs to read this, I’m sure of it.

Why is it that we dwell upon that one negative, hurtful comment, and not the numerous kind compliments people bestow upon us?  It’s as if that one comment has the ability to completely ruin our day, and leave an unseen scar.  We often say that we don’t care what people think about us, yet find ourselves so hurt, so broken.  I have my faith, which drives me to love on others.  You may not agree or understand my beliefs, but I don’t have to prove to you that God exists, He can do that on His own.

I will leave you with this.  I may not know you personally, but I can tell you without a doubt, EACH and EVERY single person is beautiful/handsome.  Meaning, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL/HANDSOME!  Embrace the little freckles, big feet, and curly hair.  Most obviously someone may not be attractive to you, they may not have qualities that appeal to you.  But, who are we to put down others, crush their spirits with such harmful words, when we ourselves have our own imperfections?  We need to lift each other up, compliment way more often than we do, and most of all…love on others.  Not just by saying you love them, but by showing them that you do.

Until next time, make a list of all of the things you love about yourself and feel free to share them with me.  I’d love to hear how you are working on a better self-image.  I will share my list in my next post.

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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I want the week to end so I can have the weekend.

I had to convince myself to wake up today.  Normally I hit the snooze once…or twice.  This morning, I think it was four, maybe five times.  Not to sure why they call it a snooze button, all I ever wanna do is fall back into a deep sleep for a few more hours.  Nonetheless, nothing beats waking up with a sore knee and temperamental, achy joints.  I suppose I should have seen this coming, considering I felt absolutely icky last night.  While I was doing some Valentine’s day shopping yesterday, a pounding headache introduced itself and stayed all evening.  To collaborate with the headache, an upset stomach and chills followed along.  I thought that I was doomed with the flu, but today those symptoms have ceased.  I really just want good ole’ Friday to be here.  I have fabulous plans made, as I will be joining the Hartman’s for a relaxing and much-needed weekend.  Matt and I are going to see Aaron Gillespie on Saturday night, kinda to celebrate being together for 9 months, but also because we both wanna see him!  Here’s a link to one of my favorite songs by him –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCuMx7IFMZQ  After the concert, we are planning on staying with Matt’s brother Greg, and his wife Mary.  I adore them, they are such great friends to me.  Very encouraging and supportive, especially when Brad was in the hospital.  Mary is a photographer, a great one at that.  Here’s her website! http://www.marykathrynphoto.com/  and also, here is her fb page, make sure to like it! https://www.facebook.com/marykathrynphotography Greg is an illustrator/graphic designer, and does phenomenal work!  Here is his site:http://www.gregorydhartman.com/

I am almost finished with it, but last night I started a DIY Valentine gift for Matt, and once I give it to him, I will post a picture of it!  Let’s just say pinterest was the inspiration behind the idea.  I am not normally a crafty person, unlike the rest of my family, but I feel pretty accomplished and am really happy with the outcome!  I will at least show you a picture of the remnants of the project!

Here’s to a better, pain-free tomorrow.  Until next time, keep being creative.


 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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Hands

For those of you who are following the story of my brother Brad who has Lupus:  I talked to Brad today, he says that there is potential he will be released tomorrow. I pray that is the case, he’s been in the hospital since the 16th I do believe.  He said the medication he is on for his heart has kept his heart rate down and that he isn’t experiencing soreness like he was.  I am anxious about tomorrow, let’s hope he will get the “okay” and will finally get to come home!  Every Monday Braden goes to swim lessons at the YMCA, but because Brad and Lindsey are in Cleveland, Braden has missed two lessons.  So, last night Jackie and I, along with Lindsey’s mother Becky decided to take him, and I got to watch Braden at his swimming lesson!  Jackie went in with him and it was so darling watching him splash and kick in the water.  Not to mention he was super cute in his itty bitty swim trunks.

On Sunday after taking all six pills, (Sunday was the day I chose to take the four methotrexate’s along with folic acid and plaquenil) I noticed a headache and it’s continued to linger as I type this.  It’s not the kind of headache that is overwhelming, but it is annoying at times.  I am assuming it is from my medication, I haven’t checked to see if a headache is a possible side effect, though it seems like a headache is a side effect for everything.  I’ve been feeling pretty good, though my right wrist has been bothering me on and off.  While I was at WinterJam- a concert I mentioned in my previous post, I squeezed my wrist cause it was hurting and a sharp pain lasted for about 20 seconds that I’ve never had before.  Luckily I haven’t had that pain since, but it sort of frightened me.  However, today my wrist is bothering me again, it’s unfortunate that I lost the cartilage due to damage.

In order to stay fit and limber, I want to start working out.  With Brad being in the hospital, I haven’t really found much time since I help babysit Braden almost everyday.  Lucky for me, my best friend Bre offered to take me as her guest to the YMCA and I am looking forward to going later this week.  I’ve been told that walking and yoga are beneficial as well.

If Brad is released tomorrow I will definitely post & I promise it will be a celebration!  Keep smiling!

Romans 12:12

“Be glad for all God is planning for you.  Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.” (NLT)

*a few pictures of my hands taken today 1-31-12

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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greater than 250

Before I begin, I want to genuinely thank each person who found themselves reading my first blog entitled, “The Challenge”.  Your support drives me to continue to keep a positive attitude, because at times it’s hard to not feel discouraged after a “flare up”. (Basically a flare up is when you experience an enormous amount of extra pain, excess swelling and fatigue-they are absolutely no fun and can last for days, weeks, or months).  If I can find a topic I’m passionate about, I do not have a single problem typing about it for long periods of time.  I will try my best to update my blog a few times each week as I continue the fight with RA and appreciate your comments, prayers, and encouragement!  Also, I decided to add another category, as some of you may have noticed called, “The Adventures of Braden Bradley”.  The love I immediately gained after meeting my nephew over 18 months ago continues to grow, and it will be fun for me to share with you the moments that I treasure with him.  Lastly, if any of you ever have a question about RA, my experience with RA, or any other questions regarding my medications that I take- which will be explained further in this post, please don’t hesitate to comment!  THANK YOU!

So…to bring everyone up to speed from these past few days, on Thursday at 3:30 I had my second appointment with my Rheumatologist(rheumy). Thursday I experienced minimal/tolerable pain, which is a huge blessing in itself.  As many of you can relate, just because your appt. is scheduled for a certain time doesn’t mean you actually “get in” at that time.  Dr.’s offices are like a waiting line at Cedar Point.  Though the anticipation behind standing in line for an exhilarating roller coaster doesn’t add up to the “excitement”(NOT) one experiences during the waiting process at the Dr.’s office, you’d be surprised to see the similarities.  For example, when waiting in line at Cedar Point for let’s say…Millennium Force, you unintentionally observe the people in front and behind you and take note of people’s clothing, weird laughs, or sweaty armpits.  Let’s hope there aren’t any sweaty armpits in the Dr.’s office… but I found myself observing the people around me-everyone does it.  Another example is the false hope you feel, like when the line for MF moves yet you look ahead and realize your wait is still over an hour long, similar to when the door opens at the Dr.’s office and you think your name is going to be called when in reality it won’t be.  So, as I was waiting, there were three loud yet very entertaining people.  If my guess is correct, it was a grandma, her daughter and her granddaughter.  The grandmother had a walker and from what I could tell, was probably in her late 70’s-early 80’s.  The grandmother was filling out her paperwork which asks generic questions such as: do you have trouble getting out of bed, can you bend down easily, can you lift an object over five pounds, etc.  After listening to her answer the questions as her daughter read them aloud, I learned that she deals with many pains.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what my future looks like.  A small amount of discouragement was creeping into my mood when out of the blue her granddaughter, who appeared to be in her late twenties jokingly said, “Grandma, maybe we could use your arthritis as an advantage…like maybe we could get front row seats to a “Lady Gaga” concert.”  Her grandmother to my surprise replied with, “Yeah, good idea, and I could even send her a telegram explaining to her all the troubles I experienced just getting to her concert.  And you know what, I could be her grandma too.”  Then her granddaughter replied with, “You know, that means you will have to wear crazy outfits!”  The grandmother replied, “Okay, I don’t mind!”  My discouraged mood seemed to have left me after I heard their conversation because I can only hope to have half the spunk that grandma has.

Finally my name was called and after getting my weight, blood pressure, and heart rate checked, I proceeded to wait for a while until my Dr. greeted me.  He right away said it doesn’t look good, you definitely have RA.  You see, in order to determine that I have RA, the blood work they took last appt. shows how many “antibodies” I have in my system that determine my level of inflammation.  The test only goes up to 250, and my tests came back >250. He then explained to me the medications I must be put on.  The first, plaquenil, a treatment more commonly used for treating malaria infections, is also a good medication for sufferers of lupus or RA.  Plaquenil has the capability of reducing swelling and pain.  Some side effects include: nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness.  The second is called Methotrexate.  Used in much higher dosages, it can actually be used to treat cancer patients.  Methotrexate’s purpose is to interfere with cell growth ultimately suppressing the immune system.  Side effects: nausea, vomiting, dizziness. I must take four pills at the same time, once a week.  Lastly, I must take folic acid every day because of the effects of my other medication.  If I fail to take it, I could have damage done to my eyes.  Folic acid has very little side effects and is a B-vitamin that is needed to form healthy red blood cells.  I was supposed to be prescribed prednisone, a steroid, but my Dr. never called in the order, which I’m glad cause there are numerous amounts of side effects that come along with it.  Bottom line, unless things change, I will be taking these for the rest of my life.  At twenty, I’m not fond of being put on medication but I keep telling myself, it can only help.

Friday I had minimal pain.  I picked up the prescriptions and kept praying that they would be inexpensive.  Prayers were answered, I paid less than $20, thanks to insurance.  I will begin treatment Saturday, after I read the large amount of paperwork that came along with my meds.  I am very thankful for a wonderful pharmacist-Kent Zellner.  He explained each medication to me and seemed genuinely interested in my well-being.  I suppose other than minimal pain, my only complaint is the fatigue that I am plagued with on a daily basis.  It’s the kind of fatigue where your eyes are heavy, your body feels weak, and you feel like you could sleep for days.  Thankfully I do not have sleeping issues at this time, I normally can fall asleep within minutes.

As I close this blog this Saturday afternoon, I ask that you please continue to pray for my brother Brad.  Ever since Monday, he’s been admitted at the Cleveland Clinic and we are going to visit him today.  He is a Lupus warrior, but unfortunately he’s now dealing with anxiety and anxiousness as he’s been there longer than he’d like.  His heart rate speeds up when he does simple activities, like getting up to use the bathroom, or walking around.  He will have a heart test done in a few days because they found a small “vegetation”/spot on his heart.  We are hoping antibiotics can clear that up.  He needs our support, and we are more than happy to comfort him in any possible way.

Until next time, keep smiling.

Philippians 4:13

“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (NLT)

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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