Climbing Mountains

Mountain PeakLast week, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy climbed a mountain. While the mountain itself was imagined, the climb was 100% real.

You see, I had shown up at the fitness center – as I usually do on most mornings. I was already in the Pilates room with my mat rolled out, when I just could not seem to get over a nagging concern about my left ankle. Even if I did do my usual modifications which I have grown accustomed to doing during class, I felt that my ankle was still not strong enough even for that.

Usually I would have chosen from one of two choices: 1) participate in the class anyways, even though I knew I would do more harm than good or 2) roll up my mat, throw my things back in the locker, and call it a morning.

This time, I chose a third option – I went to a Spinning class that was scheduled for the same time slot as my regular Pilate class. I have never done one of these classes before, but I have always been a little curious as I passed the room with the stationary speed cycles. (And with the extremely loud music that they play, one can always knows when one of these classes is taking place…especially when I am trying to meditate in the room next door and something like “Eye of the Tiger” is pounding through the walls!)

This session of Spinning was titled “Your Perfect Mountain”, appropriately enough. (I initially hoped it would be something relaxing…sort of like The Sound of Music…but who was I kidding?) Living high in the Andes Mountains, I am surrounded by a horizon of mountains that are peaked with snow year round. I chose one peak in my mind, and for the next 45 minutes I envisioned myself making the strenuous climb in the high-altitude environment. I had no idea if I would even make it though the entire class, but I did…and I can honestly say that is was a actually a little bit easier than I had imagined.

I was on top of my mountain.

I have been putting a new theory into practice during the past month, and is has helped me tremendously. It is somewhat simple…although turning it into reality has been a little more difficult. When it comes to living with my rheumatoid arthritis, I choose to “act now” and “think later”.

Let me explain what I mean, before my words are interpreted as being irresponsible.

During most of the years in which I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis, my activity planning has often gone as follows:

1. Think about what I would like to do.

2. Think about all of the reasons why I shouldn’t do what I would like to do.

3. End up not doing what I would like to do, all the while continuing to believe that not doing so is helping me.

Trust me, I’ve been there – where the pain is so intense that the thought of going out to eat or going to a movie seems tantamount to torture. (Or am I getting confused with some of the releases that slip out of Hollywood…which actually are torturous?) “It’s going to hurt too much if I do that.”

After almost a handful of years, I am happy to share that I have worked through these limitations.

My new thought process:

1. Sure, I’m going to be in pain. But even if I stayed home and did nothing, I will more than likely be in just as much pain…so I might as well go ahead with what I would like to do.

2. End up doing what I would like to do, all the while confident in the knowledge that doing so IS helping me.

So when I say that I have recently started thinking now and acting later, I would like to clarify by saying that when a thought for an activity comes into my mind, I run with it as much as I can – without considering my rheumatoid arthritis and the limitations that might arise at any given moment. My goal at this moment is to commit myself to acting. (As Nike would say, “Just do it”.)

Only when I have promised to myself that I will go out or perform a certain activity, then – and only then – will I start to take into consideration any modifications or extra preparations that I might need to perform. The beauty of doing things in this order is that my thoughts on how I might need to accommodate my RA work in SUPPORT of what I would like to do, and not against it…as was previously the case.

Sometimes my thoughts arises far before I start a certain activity, and at other times they only come out at the moment. When I decided to take the Spinning class, I originally thought that I might be placing to much stress on my knees and ankles…but I was pleasantly surprised that my lower limbs worked perfectly, and it was actually my wrists (with the forward leaning posture of the sports bicycle) that was the problem point.

Which leads me to my last point. As I have more frequently implemented my theory of acting before thinking, I have seen on many occasions that the obstacles and problem that I previously used to predict often do not appear at all. It might be that my body sends me other signals that I must listen to and respond to accordingly, or it might mean that I perform the entire activity with no signs or symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis.

Either way, I have managed to make great strides forward in living life to its fullest. And the end result is what I need, which is to not allow my rheumatoid arthritis to get in the way of what I love to do.

I’ve learned to roll with the punches (yesterday afternoon I had one of my worst episodes in weeks), but once it passes,  I just have to pick myself up – and continue going on. The more that I continue to do so, the more I realize that it is I, and not my rheumatoid arthritis, that is in control.

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

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Sunday Break

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

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Antiques

Over the past few years I have been collecting antiques (and replicas) to furnish my house. After many years of studying modern, sleek architecture I found that I had a yearning for rustic, hand carved objects.

On the left is an antique apothecary bottle which has been turned into a lamp; the shade is made of hand woven leather. In the center is the entry room of my house with colonial style curio cabinets and an intricate gold leaf mirror. On the right is my personal favorite – my night table. I refurbished an antique wooden chair with blue Spanish tile, on top of which is an antique (still working!) radio and an antique iron which has been turned into a lamp.

I find these rustic surroundings in my home a nice balance to modern devices and online work which fills my days.

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Yesterday’s lunch: Quinoa burgers with caramalized onions, served with a side of seven bean soup. Dinner: Peruvian style ceviche with cilantro and toasted corn kernels.

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Just finished a House, M.D. – Season 4 marathon this weekend…I love how autoimmune disease/lupus/rheumatoid arthritis/lyme disease are mentioned as a possible diagnosis in each and every case!

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

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James Coburn & RA

james-coburnJames Harrison Coburn, Jr. (August 31, 1928 – November 18, 2002) was an American film and television actor who appeared in nearly 70 films and made over 100 television appearances in his 45-year career. Perhaps best remembered for his natural charisma and charm, he played a wide range of roles and won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Affliction (1998). [...]

Due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, he was featured in very few films during the 1980s. Though Coburn’s hands were clearly visibly gnarled in film appearances in the last years of his career, the sturdy actor continued working nonetheless. He spent much of his time writing songs with British singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul and doing television such as his work on Darkroom. He claimed to have healed himself with pills containing a sulfur-based compound and returned to the screen in the 1990s, appearing in films such as Young Guns II, Sister Act 2, Maverick, The Nutty Professor, Affliction (for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his vivid portrayal of the abusive father of Nick Nolte) and Payback, mostly in minor but memorable roles. Affliction also saw Coburn receive Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Coburn

“All of the sudden I couldn’t walk,” Coburn said. “I mean I could walk, but it was so painful. And then standing up got to be such a dreadful thing, I said, ‘My God, something’s wrong here.’ So I went to see a Beverly Hills doctor, and he says, ‘You’ve got rheumatoid arthritis.’”

That diagnosis came 30 years ago, when the actor was in the prime of his life, reported CBS 2 News’ Michael Tuck. Coburn’s most popular work had been as top-secret spy Derek Flint in the comedy adventure series “Our Man Flint” and “In Like Flint.” For an action star, the news was devastating. [...]

“At it’s worst, how bad was the arthritis?” Tuck asked.

“I couldn’t stand without breaking into a sweat. Fast movement was very painful. It didn’t matter what I was doing, if I was standing or sitting or moving my arms or anything,” Coburn replied.

“This must have devastated your career,” Tuck said.

“Oh, it did. I absolutely couldn’t work,” said Coburn. “I’d do things like little cameo things where I didn’t have to move very much. I could just talk.”

Read More: http://www.msmoriginal.eu/articles/coburn%27s_magic_bullet_13.html

I’ve never heard about these MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) claims before, but here is an interesting article from About.com which delves into the topic a little deeper:
James Coburn “Cured” Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Break-Out: The Complete Lifestyle Guide For Young People With Arthritis

Woman’s shock at arthritis at 20

As a campaign to help more than 1,000 teenage arthritis sufferers in Wales is launched, Arthritis Care volunteer Mary Cowern, 43, from Llanelli, explains what it was like to be diagnosed with the condition when she was only 20-years-old.

“It was a big shock to me. I didn’t realise that young people could get arthritis, and I think this attitude is still the same today. People in the wider community just seem to think arthritis is something that only develops when you’re a lot older.

Being told I had a life-changing condition which could lead to significant disability, well I just didn’t believe it.

At that age you think you are invincible.”

Read More: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/8210301.stm.

Break out

Growing up with arthritis can be an absolute pain – literally. Breakout is a new resource written by young people with arthritis. They share their experience and tell it how it really is.

Read More: http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/LivingwithArthritis/Youngpeople/Breakout.

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Paraffin Bath

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy had a “home spa” moment earlier this week – and he loved it! All that was missing was a massage.

I broke out my new Revlon Paraffin Bath, melted the wax (in just around an hour!) and dipped my hands. I wrapped my hands with the included plastic sleeves, and them covered them with the included thermal mitts. The warmth was wonderful.

After this, I dipped my feet – one at a time. It felt so good that I did not want to take my feet out. (My feet have been hurting more than my hands in this recent flare.) When I ordered this item I wasn’t sure if my size 11 feet would fit, but they did with no problem!

I chose this model over other models because of its quick melt feature – which did not let me down. I am happy to have this paraffin bath in my house, and I look forward to many more “home spa” sessions. Maybe I’ll combine them with Monday Night Football…I can’t wait!

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Revlon Paraffin Bath

Revlon MoistureStay Luxury Paraffin Bath

-Smooth skin on hands, elbows, feet
-May soothe pain of arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis
-Heats quickly
-Adjustable heat settings
-Includes 4 lbs. of paraffin, 2 thermal mitts

Soften skin and soothe aching joints with the Revlon MoistureStay Fast Heat Paraffin Bath. Great for extra-dry skin, the warm wax removes dead cells to help smooth hands, feet and elbows. Also, many people who suffer from arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and strains find relief with paraffin baths. The aromatherapy wax heats quickly, with adjustable temperature settings for comfortable use. Features heat/on indicator lights, 4 lbs. of paraffin, 2 thermal mitts to lock moisture into your hands and 60 plastic glove liners. Imported. 7-1/2Hx12-1/2Wx9L”.

More Info: http://www.amazon.com/REVLON-MoistureStay-Luxury-Paraffin-RVS1212/dp/B0002U476G

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

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