Elevated Transaminases

The irony of living with rheumatoid arthritis.

For the longest time, each time I went in for my laboratory tests I always expected the worst results. They always came back normal, though, and I continued to move forward with my treatment plan of Arava, Plaquenil, and Prolertus.

So when I went in for my laboratory tests last week, I finally told myself not to worry (first time I did so!)…everything had gone well in the past, and I was sure it would continue to go well in the future.

Until today.

The results indicate that my transaminases are way out of range. They are right below the 3x level, which means that I can continue with the Arava – although we are immediately cutting the dosage in half. Alcoholic beverages are now an absolute no-no, and the hope is that in the coming months my liver enzymes will return to normal. If they don’t lower, obviously I will have to stop my current medicines.

The funny thing is that the FDA warning earlier this month about Arava and liver damage prompted me to call my rheumatologist in order to schedule this recent laboratory test. Who would have known?

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

The Extra Mile Tour

Extra Mile Tour

This summer, Eugene residents Lanier Lobdell and Flaxen will embark upon a cross-country journey to raise awareness about Rheumatoid Arthritis and spread their message of hope and inspiration for people living with this chronic disease.

Lanier will be chronicling their trip with video and photo updates on “The Extra Mile Tour” Facebook Fan Page. We invite you to follow them as they make their way across the country and back again by becoming a fan today!

More Info: http://www.facebook.com/extramiletour?v=wall

Lipstick, Perfume And Too Many Pills

A sick girl’s quest for normalcy.


Sometimes the blog will be about nothing.

Sometimes it will be about heavy stuff.

Sometimes it will be a true story I made up.

Stick around and find out.

The blog’s URL comes from a Ray Bradbury quote:

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

About, redux

So. That other “About” page doesn’t really tell that much about me or about why I’m blogging. Still, it’s a link to a former blog, and in a way, a former self; the self that was too self-conscious and still too isolated to blog about my chronic illness. It’s a good reminder of where I used to be; hence. why it’s still up.

But, a little more about me now. I am a twenty-something reporter/copy editor/photographer/jill-of-all-journo trades living with (and sometimes dealing with) psoriatic arthritis, often referred to as PSA. At least by me, anyway. I’ve been working in the business for about 5 years and living with the symptoms of PSA for at least that long. (Coincidence? Hmph.)

I am married, with two furbabies — and don’t ask me if/when I’ll be having kid. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

I hope you enjoy what you read here, but I won’t be offended if you don’t. Being a journo has thickened my skin.

Read More: http://cupsquietlybeingfilled.wordpress.com/

Back To The Gym

Fitness CenterAbout a month ago, I decided to go back to the gym. Over the past few years I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with the gym. If I had it my way, there would have not been any extended breaks during this time. Yoga has done wonders for my flexibility and my mental peace, and incorporating exercise into my day has allowed me to shed many extra pounds that I carried around for all too long.

One of my mistakes, however, as I struggled to manage both my rheumatoid arthritis and my exercise routine was that I often pushed myself too far. By wanting to do more, I just ended up being able to do less…and it frustrated the heck out of me.

But when I returned a few weeks ago, I did so with a new frame of mind. Rule #1: In everything I did, I was going to listen to my body. If my body told me not to do something, I was not going to do it. I was not going to return with some preset idea of what I should do. Instead, I was going to focus on what I could do.

And in a funny sort of way, I’ve actually been able to do more than I have been able to do in the past couple of years. Most mornings (and sometimes, in the evenings) I spend 30-60 minutes on the elliptical trainer. I spend an hour in yoga or pilates class. I started lifting weights…and I end my visit to the gym by spending a half hour in the sauna.

I’m at my lowest weight since finishing graduate school, which was more than ten years ago, and I’m within reach of my ideal weight. Physically, I haven’t felt this good in more than two years.

An interesting thing happened when I returned to the gym, after being absent for a few months. I had a couple of months credit on my membership (the gym has been very accommodating of my situation, and days that I do not go to the gym are not counted against me), so I needed to speak with the administrator – a lady who is a few years younger than me. This administrator knew the general details of my agreement with the gym, but did not know about the specifics of my chronic condition.

During this visit, she asked me what illness I lived with.

“Rheumatoid arthritis,” I told her.

And I’ll never forget the reaction on her face.

“I live with rheumatoid arthritis too,” she said.

And then, like a movie, scenes from the past couple of years flashed through my head. Images of her walking around with a limp, sometimes slight and sometimes very pronounced. I think there was even the use of a can now and then. Thoughts passing though my head, wondering what condition she lived with, but never asking.

Just like that, we started talking about RA medications and local rheumatologists. We compared wrists and fingers. She asked if I was afraid of living with rheumatoid arthritis. We talked about the pain, and how bad it can get in the hands. She told me that it was nice to finally have someone to speak with, someone else who understands what she is going through. She told me how family members have actually told her to stop limping, to stop faking. After years of living with these symptoms, she finally received a diagnosis a few months ago.

This morning, as I was on the elliptical trainer in front of the third-floor window overlooking the entry plaza, I saw this young lady walking in to work. Her limp was quite noticeable, and I could envision the pain that was resulting from every step that she took. I know what it feels like – I’ve been there in the past and I know I will be there again in the future.

But for the moment, and forever how long it lasts, I will continue to appreciate to the fullest every pain-free step I can take, every yoga posture and breath, and every repetition of weights that I can lift.

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

FDA Adds Boxed Warning To Leflunomide For Severe Liver Injury

July 13, 2010 — The rheumatoid arthritis drug leflunomide (Arava; sanofi-aventis) has received a boxed warning about the risk for severe liver injury, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today.

The FDA added a boldface warning about severe liver injury to the drug’s label in 2003 but decided to escalate it in light of an agency review this year of adverse event reports associated with leflunomide. The FDA identified 49 cases of severe liver injury associated with the drug, including 14 cases of fatal liver failure, between August 2002 and May 2009, according to an alert sent today from MedWatch, the FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program.

Read More: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/725038
Read More: http://www.medpagetoday.com/ProductAlert/Prescriptions/21145

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has been on Arava for more than a year now. I think it’s time that I start doing some research on inventing that bionic liver!