Besides my poop being uniquely pungent, I’ve been totally fine transitioning from vegetarian to carnivorous. I’m surprised but also not surprised, since I was fine going from gf+vegan to vegetarian as well. I guess the trend is that my reactions are all personal so I should stop attempting to mimic studies/anecdotes from the internet.

I’ve been off methotrexate and enbrel for about a month now, and haven’t felt any major changes. I have been noticing morning stiffness in my hands in the morning (about 30 min) but that may also be an effect of weather changes up here. It’s been getting chilly up here these past few weeks… Four blanket weather for me. Love being cozy in bed with my blankets :)

Other than that, nothing new in my life. I had my first design review at work and it went well. I was barely nervous which I guess means my coworkers have done a good job making me feel comfortable with things. I remember always reading about how female engineers get stepped on in work because they’re too shy to express their opinions strongly, or even to ask questions and be judged unpreparedly, whereas men tend to have no qualms asking questions without thinking them through first. I think I’m in a happy medium place and I’m glad.

Coming up on my 24th birthday soon!

Hi Dr. Brown,

My wrists and fingers have been hurting more than usual for the last 2 weeks or so. I’ve tried taking mobic and indomethacin to no avail – I’m thinking if it doesn’t desist in another week, I’d like to come in for a direct steroid injection to maybe put the RA in it’s place? What else might you recommend?

Thanks,
Jenn

People need to stop giving me dietary advice that they don’t follow themselves. You can spew as much information as you want at me but I’m only going to accept the ones that you have actually made a priority in your life – the ones that you honestly believe are good for you, not the ones you read about online or saw on TV.

Also I am as busy as ever now that I’m working full time!!! Not a bad thing, but I’m excited to get into a more regular routine after July 4th weekend.

leaving LA

Backtracking a bit in the timeline of my life to get my blog caught up…

I accepted the offer from MiaSolé (Alt-0233 to get e avec accent aigu é) at the end of April. It was a bit of a rush, since I had also gotten an internship offer from Baxter for which I needed to respond ASAP, while still waiting on MiaSolé to go through second and third round interviews, and decisions. To save time, we conducted Skype and phone interviews so I didn’t have to fly up to norcal for a day. It all worked out, and I heard back in time to not be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Happy! Everything worked out pretty much perfectly, and I set my start date for 5/29.

I spent the majority of May in LA packing up my apartment, having lunches and dinners with some LA peeps (Phyllis, Frances, Daniel, Layla, Dorothy. Neel…) and finishing up some research things. I had started my vegan + gf diet May first, but I was wary about buying a bunch of groceries right before moving out, so the first couple weeks of my new eating regime pretty much sucked. Now that more than a month has passed though, things are a lot better. But not to get distracted, back to my last month in LA.


One of my weekends was spent hitting up my LA bucket list spots with Stanley (Beverly Hills sign and farmer’s market, Culver City Steps). The BHFM was pretty big; some things seemed a bit overpriced but not unexpectedly so for BH. We picked up some cherries and fresh squeezed OJ (yummm) and I don’t remember what else, and headed to Century City to watch the matinee (11:30ish!) Iron Man 3. During the movie I ate like two pounds of cherries and didn’t get allergic, which was amazing and I loved it. But then my stomach was full of cherries…

Culver city steps was pretty awesome, much more intense than I had expected. Instead of parking on the bottom and actually perusing the steps like normal people, we drove to the top and just took a look at the view. We went a few flights of stairs down and up, and I was surprisingly tired after just a few steps! I think because the delta elevation is really high with the taller-than-normal steps, I was out of breath in just a few seconds. Seriously would have been a great workout had Stanley and I been prepared. Oh well, next time!


During the last LA weekend, I went hiking with the MAE boys (Lucas, Cristhian, Raymond, Grant + Grant’s brother)) to the Hollywood sign. The trail we chose (starting at Canyon drive) was probably around 6 miles round trip with all our extra excursions.


It took us about four and a half hours from start to finish, hilariously long, because we lunched at the top and took a million breaks in between. Grant’s brother also has juvenile arthritis so he was hurting; we waiting for him and rested a lot. (But he seemed to be in a much worse condition than I was, I wonder what made him think hiking was a good idea?) We went to the peak to see the back of the sign, and then to the front for a more scenic view.


(You can see DTLA and Griffith Observatory in the background of the above picture!) I’m glad I finally did this trail, but probably wouldn’t do it ever again. Recommended as a one-time adventure.

The next day was spent in Arcadia – I hung out with Stan, Wes and Yao getting boba and other misc things. We stumbled upon a batting range + miniature arcade which was fantastic! Since it was a super small arcade (which still had the essentials) the machines were really cheap and we spent a little more than an hour there. We played air hockey, pacman, DDR (I missed it, I used to play daily during my summer in RISD) wrestling, and skeeball. Pretty much all my favorites. And all for less than five bucks! Skeeball was only 25c! What a deal, seriously.

The last weekend of May, Stanley and I road tripped up the 101 and 1 from LA to Sunnyvale, stopping at SB, Solvang, SLO and SC on our way up. Still editing pictures so that post will be next :)

Recent flare up of joint pain in wrists, fingers for about 2-3 weeks so far. Bothered me enough that I went and bought a wrist brace (which isn’t helping). Went in to meet my rheumatologist; we decided to administer a steroid injection (2-3 days to full effect, 4 weeks to leave system). Other considerations if this doesn’t help: switching from Enbrel (TNF inhibitor) to Orencia (CTLA-4 regulator), which is a different type of biologic. Or going back to steroids to get back to a state of remission. Things have definitely been getting steadily worse since last August, when I figured Enbrel’s efficacy was wearing out, or something, and then December when I had my bad day in norcal (prompted gluten free) and then this wrist business. I told my Dr that I plan on going vegan starting in May, and she’s all for it and says that it’ll be difficult (she told me to watch Forks Over Knives) but a number of patients feel amazing on a vegan diet.

Also a note that she said she would not expect (hot) yoga to do any damage (I mentioned that it doesn’t hurt when I do yoga, but it might be because of endorphins) as long as I’m not applying excess pressure to my wrists.

tales of the still unemployed

Started my second free week of hot yoga. I think I’ll committedly do it for five of the seven days (not weekend) to simultaneously take advantage of the free and fill my days with something to do. I forgot to bring a towel today so I sweated and slipped all over the place on my mat and it sucked. But alas, no purchasing of a better mat or yoga towel until I have $$.

In other news, my wrists have been hurting for almost two weeks now. NSAIDs still have no effect (in reasonable dosages). I came across this paper (of which only the abstract is available) documenting a study of gluten free and vegan and vegetarian diets for RA patients. Since being gluten free has had no noticeable effect on my joint pain, I’ve decided to try to repeat the results of that study! 3.5 months of vegan + gf (then evaluate), followed by 9 months of vegetarian (if the vegan + gf seems to have a positive effect). I’m starting on May 1st, after I get back from a trip to Seattle for our semi-annual immediate family reunion. How exciting. Still debating whether to cease my current medications when I start the new regime… leaning towards no.

In a few minutes I’m going to drop off some stuff to be tailored (i.e. interview pants I ripped a hole in the crotch of in Houston) and get a library card for LAPL. Maybe I’ll get some books?

q&a

How are you? I’m alright. Could be better but can’t really complain.
How did you sleep last night? Badly. Recently (for the last year or so) I’ve been a really light sleeper. Any distracting noise seems to keep me from falling asleep. Hard breathing (even when it’s my own…), creaking house, my humidifier, basically anything and everything has been keeping me up. Once I fall asleep I can generally stay sleeping ’til morning, but it’s the falling part that’s been bothering me. It helps to wear ear plugs, at least.
What’s been on your mind lately? Same old, same old. Fear of my unknown future. I’ve had a few interviews for full-time positions but they’re stressing me out more than relieving me.
How’s your RA/gluten free diet? No significant changes. I don’t feel that the diet has helped with the remission of my symptoms. I haven’t had a bad day like I did in December though, which I suppose is a positive thing.
What’s new with you? Besides finishing my MS requirements, nothing really. I’m trying to get fit, hoping it’ll help with um… life. I’ve got a lot of free hours these days so naturally I’m trying to take advantage of all the free time.

indocin

Again, the concern about whether I’m fatigued or just tired is creeping up in my mind.

I’ve been sleeping late the past few days too – way past my usual bedtime. I have to get back to my regular routine – early to sleep; kind of early to rise. Session C of summer school starts this week, which means I have class at 9AM for three days of the week.

My RA status has been steadily worsening for the past six month (according to my own feelings/impression as well as my dr’s evaluations) so I’m going to start taking indomethacin daily to see if it helps. I hope it helps. My finger knuckles hurt and it makes me feel like an old lady. :C If this keeps up, I’m going to reconsider my treatment. I took some hand/feet x-rays last week; I have a followup in mid-September to figure out what to do about my current/future treatment.

I’m getting excited about Layla and my Asia trip next month! I’m planning to soak in a hot spring for a long time, because it’s rumored to heal arthritis. You know. Maybe I just didn’t spend enough time in Lake Vougliameni. *crosses fingers*

I don’t know if I’m unhappy this week because the steroid booster I was on (Methyl-pack, a week of tapering prednisone, to try to get rid of the ringing in my ears) was not working, or because it was working and that feeling under the weather/depressed is a common side effect. The ringing has not subsided, but that’s ok… It’s annoying but not especially bothersome nor does it effect my daily life. But also weird that on Tuesday (before working out) my knees were already really swollen, and I couldn’t really finish the set of squats, but on that day I was still on a higher dosage of the steroid? Mrrrggggggggnhggg