Sunday Break

Because there is no such thing as taking too many breaks!

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When I lived in San Francisco I loved spending time in the Mission District. From Latino grocery stores to burrito joints, from independent book stores to small arts organizations, this neighborhood had everything I was looking for – including a couple of BART stations when I didn’t feel like driving to my office across the bay.

SF Mission Murals

One sunny afternoon I walked around the Mission District to take photographs of all of the murals in the area. Some of these photos are shown above.

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I had a really good past couple of days, after coming off some bad days towards the end of the week. I even spent a couple of hours doing some handy work around the house yesterday…the paint in my bedroom has finally been touched up!

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I think I’ve finally given up on Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free products. (Although I still use their xantham gum for my gluten-free baking here at home.) I’ve use a few of their products…yesterday I used the chocolate-chip cookie mix. Thumbs down. I can do better making it from scratch.

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If Food, Inc. is playing in your area, be sure not to miss it. (Warning: you may never eat the same way after seeing this film!) I was lucky enough to see the U.S. premiere screening at the True/False documentary film festival in Columbia, MO this past February.

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Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Kathleen Turner & RA

Actress Kathleen Turner (b. June 19, 1954) came to fame in the 1980′s after appearing in movies such as “Body Heat”, “Serial Mom”, “Romancing the Stone” (for which she won a Golden Globe Award), and “Prizzi’s Honor”.

Her rising career was halted in the 1990′s, however, when Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

There’s no question that something went terribly wrong for Ms. Turner, but she has over time expanded her explanation of exactly what it was. It’s clear that while shooting “Serial Mom” in 1993 (doing a John Waters film is almost a sure sign of career trauma) she began to suffer what she called “unbearable” pain. By the time she was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she could hardly turn her head or walk, and was told she would end up in a wheelchair. Treated with heavy steroids and chemotherapy, she started looking puffy and unsteady. Rumors began circulating that she was drinking too much. She later said in interviews that she didn’t bother correcting the rumors because people in show business hire drunks all the time, but not people who are sick. Keeping her condition a secret wasn’t easy; during the Broadway run of “Indiscretions” in 1995, she managed to walk up a spectacular three-story stairway in high heels at every performance, but needed five minutes alone at the top to cry. “Working, I could ignore the pain,” she said. “Offstage I couldn’t.” *

Kathleen Turner’s rheumatoid arthritis finally went into remission almost a decade later. The actress returned to making cameo appearances on television shows, and was most recently seen playing a small role in the movie “Marley & Me”.

Kathleen Turner

Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles
For the first time, Turner shares her childhood challenges-a life lived in countries around the world until her father, a State Department official whom she so admired, died suddenly when she was a teenager. She talks about her twenty year marriage, and why she and her husband recently separated, her close relationship with her daughter, her commitment to service, and how activism in controversial causes has bolstered her beliefs. And Turner reveals the pain and heartbreak of her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, and how, in spite of it, she made a daring decision: to take a break from the movies and relaunch her stage career. *

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Men With RA

During the first three months of writing this blog, I received blog comments from three other guys who live with RA. During this past week alone, I received blog comments from another three guys who live with RA.

It’s so nice to continue to meet other men who are also living with rheumatoid arthritis!

For my original blog post on this topic please read XY With RA!

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Are You Petrified?

TabooLast year Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy – for the first time – listened to the Broadway cast recording of Taboo, the musical. This show originally premiered in London’s West End, and is based upon the story of singer Boy George. Taboo was later brought to New York City’s Broadway by comedian/talk show host Rosie O’Donnell.

Having grown up with the music of Culture Club and Boy George while I was in junior high, I immediately enjoyed this soundtrack. I still remember the time when I first heard Taboo – I was actually in bed listening to music, dealing with the symptoms of a flare that had clearly gone beyond the three weeks that my flares had typically lasted at the time.

As I moved through the final tracks on the album, one song stuck out and has stayed close to me ever since. That song was “Petrified,” sung by Raul Esparza. This song is hauntingly beautiful, and contains lyrics such as “When you’re alone, at night, do you run and hide?/Are you strong, inside, are you full of pride?/Or just petrified”.

And at that moment, I realized how overwhelmingly afraid I was of my rheumatoid arthritis. I was petrified. I listened to this song at least twenty times before falling asleep. I woke up the next morning with a new awareness, with a new understanding of the role that fear played in my life of chronic illness and all of its unknowns.

In the past few months, I have often gone back and listened to this song – whenever my level of fear grew. My goal was not to depress myself; instead it was to both confront and accept my fright. As I heard the song I would play with the lyrics in my mind, and come up with my own personal affirmation.

Yes, I am petrified. Yes, I am strong inside. No, I will not run and hide.

Last night, I found myself once again listening to “Petrified”, and repeating this mantra in my head.

You see, yesterday afternoon I experienced a sudden increase in pain in my hands and feet. Although I lived with this pain on a daily basis for almost half a year – up until three weeks ago – I have been fortunate enough to not experience any pain, since earlier this month.

For whatever reason, my pain was back – and I was petrified. So much so, that I could literally feel my world closing in on me. I sensed I was just minutes away from a major panic attack. All of the coping mechanisms that I have used to deal with these anxiety attacks in the past escaped me. Luckily, I remembered that I could call my psychologist, and that I exactly what I did.

Ten minutes later I was much more calm. I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at my previously scheduled session of physical therapy (we’ve been working on strengthening treatments during the last few weeks in with all inflammation has been absent). I took a nap when I got home. I took an extra anti-inflammatory pill in the evening. As my day progressed, I did get much better – both emotionally and physically.

I have no idea if my pain will return today, or if it will get better or worse. I am a little nervous, but at least I recognize that I am scared. I guess this is somewhat normal. I  must admit though, that I am (once again) surprised at how strong this fear can grow and how quickly it can appear.

So, I will once again confront my fears. I will continue to remind myself that no matter what might happen, I will have the strength to get through it. I have done it before, and I can do it again. I will stay as positive as I possibly can.

But deep down inside, there still is a little bit of fear…and I hope it soon goes away.

Petrified

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD8TS21APxI

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Jennie Garth Talks Daughter’s Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jennie Garth’s husband, Peter Facinelli, may be a worldwide box office star in “Twilight,” but at home he and Jennie were faced with devastating news after one of their daughters was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Watch the video clip (accesshollywood.com)

For more information on Still’s Disease, please visit the International Still’s Disease Foundation.

(Hat tip to Singlegal Withra for sharing this video!)

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