Medications in body so far today:
2 generic brand 24-hour Claritin (10 mg loratadine each)
4 generic cold & flu relief (325 mg acetaminophen each)
12.5 mg methotrexate (7.5 mg later tonight)
50 mg enbrel (etanercept)

I’m pretty sure I just got better from a cold but I’m coming down with something again. Nose super stuffy and sniffly. After three/four weeks of vague symptoms (sniffly but not too bad) I was confused but was trying to see if Claritin/Cold meds would help, but they didn’t, but then now I got sick. TOTAL BS.

Going to email my doctor so maybe she’ll give me something crazy that is magicks

weather

Today has been 8 deg C ~ 21 deg C, 17% humidity. Last night I noticed my ankle hurting, but I thought it might be from yoga stretches. This morning my finger joints on my right hand started hurting, and have been intermittently giving me problems along with my right ankle the entire day. Like a random short sharp pain. Kind of feels like the headache that just started at my right temple…

I make note of things like this so that maybe I will see some kind of trend when I look back. But I never really look back and try to sort the data. So whatever.

re: exercising with RA

I probably walk for about 40 minutes a day. And yoga twice a week, for an hour each time. I think that’s probably enough exercise to count as exercise…

But anyway, yesterday I decided to go run a mile and time myself. I ran it in 8:55! My lap breakdown was +/- 5 seconds because I was checking my own watch:

lap 1 – 2:00
lap 2 – 2:20
lap 3 – 2:20
lap 4 – 2:15

I think there might be something sketchy re: my first and last laps. My first lap was fast because I started quickly, hoping to get a good pace to begin with. My last lap shouldn’t have been that slow, because I definitely sprinted the last quarter lap…

But anyway, I’m glad that I can still run a mile in (barely) under 9 minutes. And the best part is, my knees didn’t hurt afterwards :) (Doesn’t mean I’m going to start running again, but it’s good to know.)

I’m surprised to be sore in my quads and obliques (side abs?). But I guess I knew there was a big difference between running and biking. Plus it’s been two months since I last used the stationary bike.

symptoms

I invited Stanley over for dinner today, offering to utilize my new found risotto making skills. He got here around 5, I started prepping around 6 and I was mincing my garlic when my fingers just totally cramped up and started hurting. And I thought to myself, “Has difficulty mincing garlic, 9/10.” Every time I go see my rheumatologist, I take a survey that assesses my current situation with regards to RA. I answer questions like, On a scale from 1 – 10, How much does fatigue effect your social life? And so I’ve been thinking about all the little things in my life these days on a scale of 1 – 10. How healthy do you think you are compared to other people? Much better. Better. Average. Worse. Much worse.

Enbrel does help my major extremeties, as although my knees are still swollen, they don’t hurt on a daily basis. I remember when I was first diagnosed and it hurt to walk. I know that right now, I’m definitely doing much better than back then.

But I also think that things have been getting worse compared to the first few months after starting Enbrel. Hopefully things mellow out. I’ll give it three more months (which totals about 9 months of Enbrel) before I decide whether to change medications or not.

POO RHEUMATOID ARTHITIS I DON’T WANT TO BE A GRANDMA

Another thing that really really bothers me is the fact that I’m tired all. the. time. I can’t figure out whether this is “fatigue” from RA, or I’m just tired from school, or if I’m burnt out after undergrad, but I swear I could probably stay in bed and sleep for a week. And then stay in bed for a few more hours. I think the primary thought in my mind from 1pm – 6pm daily is that I want to go home and sleep. But I’m trying not to nap anymore because even when I take a two hour nap in the late afternoon, I still end up getting tired again at my bedtime at 10pm anyway. So it’s not effective. What do?

today

This is a post in which I will Capitalize Things. It’s been a thought-heavy action-heavy day, so just bear with me. Or don’t.

This morning I woke up to find that my deadbolt lock was broken. What? Yes, broken. I was stuck in my apartment. The only way in and out was through my window… which didn’t really seem too convenient. So I accepted the situation as my First Test as a Mechanical Engineer. I unscrewed the lock, poked around and voila, opened the door! (“I shall go down in history as the man who opened a door!”) Sure enough, the mechanism (four bar!) had a broken piece. And so, having yoga soonish, I called my manager and had her send the handyman over to fix/install a new deadbolt. He came over and got to work, I left for yoga.

Today there were four people in class, way down from like 20 at the beginning of the quarter. I’m the only one who has been to every class so far, ie I have not seen someone every time that I’ve been there, which is every scheduled class so far. Is it weird to go to every class? I mean, I paid for the class so I’m going to it. Although I guess a similar thing can be said about academic classes, and those I have been known to skip in the past… But like, yoga is an extracurricular. You go out of your way to sign up for it, while classes are mandatory since we are Students. I don’t know. Whatever. But I think because I am a consistent class attender, My Instructor likes me.

I’m starting to really dislike my 182C class (Numerical Methods for Engineering Applications). It’s not that I don’t like the Methods, but the teaching style is rather dry. If I were to guess, about 80% of my cell phone’s battery life on Tuesdays and Thursdays is lost to playing Words With Friends and compulsively checking Facebook, Twitter, Reader, G+, Tumblr… on my phone. The other 20% is calling Stanley before bed.

After class, I dropped by research to see if my polymask.mat file was compatible with MATPIV running on MATLAB2011 (Yes! Mostly… kind of…) to find that I need to fix my coordinate system for it to work. One step forward, two steps back. But I didn’t have time to dwell because after half an hour I headed to my RA check up appointment.

Summary of the appointment is that yes, I am doing better! I mostly base my wellness as a linear function of N, where N is the Number of Times I Complain to Stanley About My Knees QWK. (“Q” or “q” on a prescription is shorthand for the Latin term “quaque” which means “every.”) Things are looking good, except if I don’t get better from this cold, or if I get a fever 100+ deg F, then I should skip my next dose of Enbrel. This is to avoid infections. But for now, I am doing a-ok! I got blood drawn (routine and research) and when the phlebotomist poked me, she messed up and said that the scar tissue near my vein/artery something something something. I think it was the first time I’ve ever heard the phrase “scar tissue” in reference to something other than the Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Anyway, she was nice, and she wished me a happy belated birthday when I confirmed my DOB. Except turns out she lost my research blood. So I need to get it drawn again… conveniently, I have an appointment with GI (Gastroenterology) tomorrow morning. No problem!

After my appointment, I went to Starbucks to get my Free Birthday Drink. I procrastinated it to the date of expiration (today) which also happened to be the day that Starbucks was having a BOGO Holiday Drink promotion. Which means that there were a ton of people! Like, probably a fire hazard number of people. But I got my first holiday Starbucks drink of the season: peppermint + gingerbread white mocha. (Honestly, I should have just let the coupon expire and not subject myself to consuming 500 delicious calories of sugar.) While waiting for my drink, I observed People and I think I need to get out more. I was overwhelmed by the number of Females in my vicinity. Something that doesn’t happen much in my day to day life. I was looking at shoes, clothes, bags, hairstyles … it was like window shopping. I decided never to buy TOMS shoes, and never ever to wear leggings as pants.

And then! I headed home, and came back to a nice looking new deadbolt in my door. I came in only to notice that It Didn’t Work. From the outside, it locked but the key could not be removed. From the inside, it was stuck. So once again, First Test as a Mechanical Engineer Part 2. Took it apart, figured out how it SHOULD be installed, and fixed it. A+! For me, and not for the handyman. I don’t really understand how he could have installed it and not checked to see if it worked. Or not follow the instructions that probably came with the lock closely enough to ensure that it worked. I’m annoyed that I had to fix it myself, because this is an apartment complex and not my own house. But at least now I get how it works…?

Anyway, basically this is a really long recount of My Day. The End.

healthy things

I have midterms tomorrow and Thursday so of course it’s an appropriate time to blog.

I’ve been taking yoga classes an the gym for the last couple weeks. After two classes I decided that just yoga wasn’t enough to make me feel fit, so now I’ve also been going to the gym early to do some cardio before class. I’m not supposed to run anymore, because high impact exercises might increase the rate of joint damage for RA. So instead, I’ve been using the stationary bike. It’s boring. But I don’t really blame the activity, but rather the fact that it’s stationary. For running as well, I preferred braving the outdoors much more than using a treadmill. Maybe it’s the change in scenery that I like, I dunno. But instead of running (because I can’t) and using the stationary bike (because it’s boring) I’d much rather be biking, or something, outdoors. Too bad road bikes are too expensive for my budget :(

Just got a sense of deja vu (which means “saw it again” in French) about writing this blog. I read somewhere (probably Wikipedia) that the feeling of deja vu comes from the brain accidentally categorizing a memory as “happened in the past” by accident instead of “happened just now,” so you feel like what you’re presently doing already happened. Like there’s a bug that’s rewriting your past by accident. Awesome.

Also I think I read/heard somewhere else that if you want to lose fat you should not eat before you exercise, because then your body will burn the energy (fat) you have stored instead of the energy (nutrition) you just consumed. But I don’t really like the idea of pigging out on junk/sugary/salty foods post-exercise (ie wasted effort). So my only other choices are protein and fiber, right? So I went to the grocery store and got me some deli turkey (because turkey has more protein than beef!) and whole grain bread (happy accident) and Fiber One bars (recommended by a friend).

1. Deli turkey story: Last weekend was the first time I went to the deli counter at the grocery store to get me some freshly/custom sliced deli meat. I remember I used to go with my mom to Safeway, but I’ve never done it myself before. It was a big deal. The person working behind the counter was slow. The other customer (#49) tried to cut in front of me (#48) by telling everyone else that there was no #48. What? Sorry, actually sir, there is a #48 because it’s me. I got HEARTY SLICES and it makes me happy because I like fat slices. They don’t fall out of sandwiches as easily.

2. Whole grain bread story: I like real bread instead of regular loaves (you know), but I got both this time because I was going to get an olive bread + a loaf of Orowheat Oatnut. But then my friend grabbed me an olive bread but after I came home I realized that it was actually whole grain bread. I was happily disappointed (because whole grain is like, really good for you and I was kind of intimidated by the olive bread) but it ended up being really tasty so I was even MORE happily disappointed. Next time I might even get it on purpose. Oh yeah and the regular loaf is for my cashew butter and jelly sandwiches.

3. Fiber one bars story: Not really a story but it’s my first time buying/trying it, recommended by my friend Will. (I wonder when that name will cease to make me do a double take…) I was reading the nutrition facts/ingredients during class (because I’m trying to be more conscious of sugar intake and stuff) and I was like tsk tsk 10g of sugar. But then (magic of the internet) comparing to Chewy S’mores granola bars (which I like and used to eat all the time) and normalizing per gram of bar, it’s like, half the sugar. And 5 times the fiber. And Fiber one bars are ridiculously sweet, I think because it uses honey. Anyway, just saying that these Fiber one bars get the STAMP OF APPROVAL from me.

*Cliff bars, on the other hand, which I tried for the first time last week, are disgusting and not tasty at all. They get the stamp of rejection. I couldn’t even finish it it was so gross.

I think I should go back to studying now.

I think I’m going to stop telling people I can’t drink because of my RA. It’s kind of useless and annoying to have to explain what RA is, and how it doesn’t really affect my quality of life, and that I’m perfectly fine otherwise. Especially to people I don’t care about. From now on, I’ll just say I can’t drink for personal reasons, or because I just don’t want to. Makes things easier, and keeps my life a bit more private.

On an opposite and contradictory note, today is the first day that I’ve felt my spine hurt???? Although I don’t think it’s a typical joint that is affected by RA, so it’s probably just the yoga and stationary bike making me sore. Still, coupled with my fingers and wrists acting up today, I’m having a crappy day. Chocolate cake, where are you? :(

free enbrel?

Super dumb: After getting prescribed Enbrel, I got in contact with a company that focused on dealing with “specialty” drugs. The company was legitimate, and told me about their delivery service. Enbrel needs to be refrigerated, so picking it up from the pharmacy is a little bit annoying. So I opted in, no problem. Also nice is that they take care of the biohazards and wastes from the injections. BUT my insurance company called me after a one week of me using the company and told me that if I continued to get Enbrel from a company that wasn’t Walgreens or something-I-don’t-remember-the-name-of, they’d stop covering it. Enbrel is super expensive, so of course I said I’d get on it. I transferred my prescription from CVS (where I got my first month’s dosages) to Walgreens, and it just went through a few days ago. Good thing too, since I need a refill before next week.

In the last few days I’ve gotten like 6 calls from this company. First they were asking me when they should deliver. I told them that I had cancelled the service a few weeks ago. They said okay, and hung up. Another call, asking why I wanted to cancel my service. Because my insurance company wouldn’t pay for it, I told them. They said they would send me an email showing that I would not have to pay them anything. I said they could send it if they want, but I still want to cancel my service just in case my insurance still doesn’t cover it. For now, I said, please cancel my service and I’ll call my insurance company to make sure with them. They said okay. (I got the email, it looks unprofessional and has no letterhead or signature or anything.) Yesterday, a call asking when they should deliver (again) and I told them NOT to, since I cancelled my service. Today, another call from them but I ignored it because I was in class. Just now, I got home and sitting outside my door is my medication in a styrofoam box (to keep cold) with no name, no nothing written on it. Total BS. Enbrel costs something like $1500 per month, and they just left it outside? Even after I told them NOT to deliver? I don’t know whether to complain to the company, or ignore the free medication and still pick it up from Walgreens, or just accept it because they delivered it without a signature, or what.

On the other hand, maybe I never gave them my insurance information in the first place, and they really are a free service. What?

there is a such thing as a dumb question

I realize that my last few posts have all been about (or have had undertones of) RA, but I guess that’s just what my life consists of these days. It’s kind of frustrating and annoying, because recently people have been defining my actions by the disease I have been diagnosed with; I don’t think that RA affects my daily life anymore, not since my knees stopped hurting. It’s difficult for me to explain the complications there have been with my diagnosis and treatment, and so usually I vaguely shrug it off with something like, “For example, right now my knuckles hurt.” This might be misleading, but I have no idea how to explain what I’m going through. Yes, it hurts for me to walk sometimes, but not all the time. Yes, I am probably feeling more soreness and pain than you are right now, but this doesn’t mean I’m not capable of walking to meet you somewhere. I am relatively strong when it comes to physical pain, and it helps to know that although I feel sore, walking and moving around will not make things worse. If I were in serious pain, I would know better than to subject myself to it unnecessarily. I don’t play sports and I’m not a very active individual, but that’s not because I have RA. It’s just because I’m not that kind of person. Yes, I know that these people just mean well, and they don’t want me to hurt. But I don’t like being treated like a handicap. Even if I’ve been using a parking placard.

In other news, just to keep track, I’ve been having injection-site-reactions for the last two doses of Enbrel. It itches like a bug bite and rashes up a little bit. This is the most common side effect. Also, Naproxen failed.

In other other news, I had my first day of school for the year today. It was 182C – Numerical Methods for Engineering Applications. Basically a MATLAB course that delves deeper into the theory and practice of numerical methods. I’m excited because it seems like a good review of linear algebra and differential equations, plus I know that using MATLAB will be super helpful no matter what. And I’ve had the professor for a previous course (150B – Aerodynamics) and he recognizes me and knows who I am. I’m happy to finally have a stricter routine to my lifestyle (aka homework) too.

Oh yeah and I wanted to point out that as happy as I was to be in lecture, of course someone would ruin it by asking dumb questions. “What do ODE and PDE stand for?” Or regarding my professor’s slightly messy handwriting, “Is that a summation from 0 to IV or N?” But I guess this was an undergraduate course so what can I expect?