Solving Puzzles

PuzzleOver the past week, I have been dealing with a severe case of lumbalgia, or lower back pain. The muscles are so contracted they they are pressing down on the sciatic nerve, resulting in a sharp, disabling pain along the entire length of my left leg. After daily physical therapy session this past week, though, I am happy to share that the healing process is already in progress.

And while I’m definitely not a fan of the immobility and pain that I experience on a regular basis as a result of my rheumatoid arthritis, it was sort of interesting to experience immobility and pain in a situation that was totally not related to rheumatoid arthritis. (I know exactly what caused this injury – last week at the gym, for the first time, I did an advanced form of full-body abdominal exercise…the good news is that my abs were strong enough…the bad news is that my lower back was apparently not strong enough.)

But as Murphy’s law would have it, as soon as my back starts to get better, my rheumatoid arthritis is starting to get worse.

The good news: this flare is relatively limited to my hands and wrists.

The bad news: things quickly get (exponentially) more complicated when I am unable to use my hands.

Case in point – two days ago I was at a restaurant having lunch on my own. I was merrily going on about eating my meal, when all of a sudden my left hand and wrist completely flared up. Within what seemed a matter of only seconds, I could no longer use my left hand. I don’t know exactly how I felt at the moment. I wasn’t angry, or sad, or mad…I was just trying to figure out how the heck I was going to finish my meal. (I ended up using my one good hand and fork to cut and serve the remaining food, which come to think of it was quite an accomplishment.)

Yesterday afternoon, my left hand once again flared up in a matter of seconds. The good news is that this happened only minutes before I arrived to my afternoon physical therapy session. Instead of spending the hour working on my lower back, we had to dedicate all the time to get my left hand and wrist back into working order.

At the moment my hands and wrists are in quite a bit of pain. The good news is that it’s actually a distraction from the lower-level of pain that remains in my lower back. The bad news? They hurt like heck. Will they flare up again later today, resulting in temporary loss of use? I don’t know…but if they do, I’ll get through it and accommodate accordingly.

If I think of these hand flares as a challenge, a new puzzle that I need to figure out how to solve, then maybe I can make these occurrences just a little less physically and emotionally heavy. Does any one have any hints to the answer?

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

3 Comments
3 comments
  1. Cathy says:

    I wish I had an answer. My hands have been doing some weird things recenty too. Nodules and swelling that come and then go whenever they please. Very weird. Congrats on the ab exercise! Nice to have strong abs, isn’t it?

  2. Barbara says:

    For my hands, sometimes I grab an icepack and a bandage and wrap up my hands and go on with my activities. I put the pack on the tops of my hands even though it’s not the right spot so I can still use my hands a bit. I also have a splint that I use to keep my hand from getting all twisted up (which it does in a flare). The splint separates my fingers and pulls them back slightly – the opposite of what the flare wants. My splints were made by my occupational therapist specifically for me. Very low tech but custom fit for me. The only prob with the splint is that my hand is totally immobilized and useless as a result. But then again, that’s a good cue for me to chill and not try to keep doing stuff.

  3. CyberChik says:

    Maybe my experience will help someone else. I got RA in the summer of ‘09, right after contracting the H1N1 flu. Things got bad very fast and I ended up in the hospital because I could not walk. I was diagnosed then and there, and sent home with 8 medications, some which were quite dangerous. My rheumatoid factor was 640.

    My rheumatologist is very conventional and refused to consider reducing my meds even though I was in remission within a short time. She said I would be on the maximum dose of MTX forever. I asked her about LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone) which is used by many people with various diseases, with good results, and no side-effects. She said ‘no’.

    My symptoms had vanished and I felt good, so I began my research into RA, the meds, rehabilitation, natural remedies, supplements, diet, and anything that seemed like it might help. With the Internet it is so easy to research everything and I spent a big part of each day doing just that. I learned that dairy is often a culprit in many diseases, so that had to go. Somewhere else I read that RA is called ‘the cooked food disease’, so in June 2010 I changed my diet to raw vegan. My eye doctor said that 5000 mg. of Omega 3 per day is very helpful in RA, so I added that. Ayurveda says that castor oil is the only thing which will pull out the toxins that contribute to RA, so I followed their guideline and took one teaspoon in juice every day for three weeks. Then take a break of a few weeks and repeat as often as needed. Another holistic site said what I already believe, that all diseases are curable. But a cure requires us to supply the body with tons of nutrient-rich foods, mostly raw greens in a smoothie to make them readily available. Organic foods are grown in a vastly superior environment and as a result they have more nutrients. So I am organic.

    Exercise is important but the kind of exercise is crucial. Rebounding (jumping on a mini trampoline) is the best because the three forces of gravity, acceleration, and deceleration flush the lymphatic system of toxins. Other exercises cannot do that.

    From my own personal experience, I noticed that the diet-digestion-assimilation-elimination process is fundamental. Most of us have been eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and are now paying the price. So I spruced up everything I could in that department, and it is a work in progress.

    This post is already long so I will stop here and simply say that today I am med-free and pain-free. My rheumatologist is delighted, which is not what I expected. In fact she actually said ‘your diet did this for you’. I did all this behind her back when I began to get some bad side-effects from the drugs. I do not recommend defying your doctor! It was my choice. I thought it would work because I’d been on a superior diet for 5 months and was already in remission… and it did.

    I am not calling this a cure… yet. I continue to stick to my raw vegan diet and take good supplements. Maybe my research will help someone else cope with RA. By the way, I am 67 years old, at a time in life when we don’t usually have as much energy to heal conditions, and I have more vitality now than I did in my 30s.

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