LONDON — The real life Lucy from the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” has died after a long fight against lupus.
The ankle, or talocrural joint, is a synovial hinge joint that connects the distal ends of the tibia and fibula in the lower limb with the proximal end of the talus bone in the foot. The articulation between the tibia and the talus bears more weight than between the smaller fibula and the talus.
September’s “Joint of the Month” Award goes to my ankles!
My ankles have taken a beating this past month, so they deserve a little extra recognition for all of the support they provide me. My left ankle has taken a double beating during the past few weeks – on top of the normal pain and inflammation (ah, “normal pain and inflammation” sounds so simple, no?) that results from my rheumatoid arthritis, my left ankle has yet to fully recover from some muscle damage that took place when my left sciatica nerve got inflamed a few weeks ago – all the way down to the ankle!
Sometimes the limp in my left ankle is barely noticeable, and at other times it is very pronounced. It usually depends upon how much time I have spent standing. My left ankle still does its best, although at times it is obvious that is cannot support its normal weight load.
Which brings in my right ankle. When the right ankle sees the left ankle struggling, he usually tries to pitch in and pick up some of the slack…which means he is bearing more than what he is used to. He has a strong personality, but when he overdoes it he too begins to not move correctly.
So I try to give both ankles the most possible support by using crutches as often as possible…but the reality of the matter is that even with crutches, my ankles are still bearing quite a bit of weight with every step I take. In the past, when the pain got so bad, I used to stop walking in the hopes that this would allow my ankles to heal. Oddly enough, they just seemed to get worse. I now recognize the importance of moving my ankles and other joints in the body each and every day, no matter how much they are hurting.
I am once again at a point where I have to limit my walking to around ten minutes. At right around that time, my ankles, knees, and wrists (due to the crutches) begin to feel like they are on fire. I have been through this before…and fought strongly against this temporary limitation. Yesterday, instead of thinking “I can only walk 10 minutes” I told myself “I am so fortunate to be able to walk 10 minutes!”
I used to feel some internal anger towards my joints when they were not working correctly. I now know that they are working as hard as I am in order to continue living life to its fullest. This was the reason I came up with the “Joint of the Month” Award, so that I can recognize joints that have worked particularly hard during the past month.
My ankles continue to take a beating, but I am proud of them. Have I mentioned that they also like to make a lot of noise…especially in the mornings?
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!
P.S. Yesterday I starting taking my Plaquenil.
Some people insist it is more reliable than the 5-day forecast; others swear it is an old wives’ tale. I remember my boss telling me that when he was young, he thought arthritis meant that his grandmother could predict when it was going to rain. So what IS the truth about weather and arthritis?
Having just gone through a thunderstorm and hailstorm this afternoon, I can definitely say that for me there is a definite connection between weather and arthritis!
Yesterday Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy went downtown to the central post office – this required him to walk a couple of large city blocks. Within minutes, every joint in my body was burning in pain. I had not felt like this in a long time. I immediately called my physical therapist to ask if she could squeeze me into her busy schedule. It was 11:30am. When I hung up my phone, I had a 2:00pm appointment. So far so good!
As I left my house early afternoon and headed towards my physical therapy appointment, I reminded myself once again: I haven’t felt this bad in months. I wonder why? And then it hit me.
I have spoken before about the dietary changes that I implemented a few months back…although I have not provided any recent updates. This past week marked three months in which I have been gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, nightshade-free, (almost) caffeine-free, (almost) corn-syrup-free, and (recently) MSG-free.
I did recently make one big change to my dietary restrictions – I allowed myself to consume gluten. Blame it on football. Last weekend as I was watching games, I saw some German Beer that I had purchased right before I started this diet. Beer. Football. What harm can be done in just consuming a little beer, even if it does have gluten. (I’ve had gluten-free beer before, but it’s not available where I live.)
Well, once I allowed myself to have some beer, the bread on the counter looked pretty tempting. And Sunday waffles…why not go ahead and make them with regular flour instead of with my gluten free flour mix. The gates were thrown open.
And like that, I find myself in my worst physical condition in months. The last time I felt this bad was the last time when I was still consuming gluten. Is this the only factor that has changed in the past couple of weeks? Not necessarily. Yesterday we had rainstorms throughout the day and the temperatures dropped considerably…both of which for me always lead to increased pain and swelling. But the coincidence in the dietary connection is just too much for me to ignore.
So an update to my diet: I am starting on my fourth month, and I have followed it strictly with the exception of the above football-induced gluten-free grace period. (Go Cowboys!) I have identified two strong triggers: dairy and MSG. Tomatoes are high on the list of suspects as well. Restricting meat and chicken has forced me to eat more veggies, which has helped quite a bit in regards to my energy levels. I still allow myself to eat fish and seafood (my uric acid levels are always extremely low, so I have no concerns about gout).
And even though I continue to use the word “diet”, for me these past few months have been ones of culinary explorations, even as I continue to implement the above “restrictions”. When I started with my list of foods to eliminate I wondered what was going to be left to eat. I have since shown myself that there is an entire world of fruits and vegetables out there that I had not previously even thought about…and there are still many that I have not familiarized myself with.
I will return to limiting my gluten-intake, in hopes of relieving some of the worst symptoms that I am experiencing at the moment. When I started this elimination diet a few months ago I myself had doubts as to how effective it would work. I have been startled with some of the trials and tests I have performed…and in the process have become an even truer believer in the connection between diet and health.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!
I don’t want to say that RA has become a more prominent part of my life. Just like my cleft chin, I know it’s there but I don’t necessary pay attention to it. I have, however, become more a part of a community of people who are dealing with RA.
The longer I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis, the more people I meet in what I consider “my” (the invisible illness) community, the longer I try to live my life from a place of positivity and gratitude and the more I surround myself with like-minded people, the less patience I have with the “drama mama’s” of the world.
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