Rheumatoid Arthritis and Stress

Arthritis and Stress: The Reverse Cause and Effect

People with arthritis must confront the same kinds of stress as everyone else. Additionally, living with chronic arthritis creates another medley of stressful problems. Chronic arthritis adds the stress of pain, fatigue, depression, dependence, altered finances, employment, social life, self-esteem and self-image.

During stressful times, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and physical changes occur. The physical changes give the body added strength and energy and prepare the body to deal with the stressful event. When stress is dealt with positively the body restores itself and repairs any damage caused by the stress. However, when stress builds up without any release, it affects the body negatively.

A vicious cycle occurs in the relationship of arthritis and stress. The difficulties which arise from living with chronic arthritis create stress. The stress causes muscle tension and increased pain along with worsening arthritic symptoms. The worsening symptoms lead back to more stress.

You can read the whole article at this link: http://arthritis.about.com/cs/indexcope/a/effectofstress.htm

I have found the above information to be very true. Usually I am a laid back person. I don’t let very much bother me. But when things get too bad, and when I’m confronted with a bad situation, or a fight, or become too worried about things in my life, I literally start to feel ill at my stomach. Since the onset of my R.A. I’ve noticed that when things become too stressful, I tend to get the worst flares.

Pain wise, the worst night of my life was at the end of August last year. My father had just remarried, and me and my siblings drove the six hours to watch him remarry someone we didn’t really know. The car trip was hard on me, but the stress of the event was unimaginable. There were huge disputes between my brother and father. Between my new step mother and us. Between our father and her. Everyone was arguing over everything. She was making ridiculous demands and our father was backing her up. Long story short, I was stressed.

Not only that, but I also had to be in my best friends wedding in another week. I had been stressing over the fact that my health was very bad, and I very worried about not being able to make it down the aisle. She went ballistics when I mentioned it. Understandably so. She started crying hysterically. Saying I had to. It would ruin her wedding. Etc. I felt disgusted with myself and my body. I wasn’t on any heavy medication at the moment. And I was already suffering. (In the end I was a bridesmaid. I was walked up the aisle, but instead of standing up with the bridesmaids and the bride, I was dropped off in the front row next to her mother and father. It was a bit humiliating really. Because everyone saw it of course. Then after the ceremony, my partner picked me back up and everyone watched me some more)

So when I got back from the wedding I sat on the couch to relax. I was staying with my best friends parents at the time ( Another reason I was stressed.Temporary housing and all…) I was hurting pretty bad by the time I sat down. Me and my friends mother watched some t.v. and I fell asleep. She covered me with a blanket and went upstairs to sleep. I woke up about three. I still have never felt such pain in my life. I woke up because I had to pee. The second I moved I started crying. At the time my doctor had recently started prescribing me pain medication. But I had left my purse about twenty feet away on the table. I don’t think I can possibly explain pain like that. I started to panic because I literally could not get up. I couldn’t push myself off the couch like usual. I usually push up with my arms. My hand and arms and shoulders were worse than they had ever been. I could not get off the couch. My arms were too weak. My legs were in so much pain they were useless. I thought about crawling, but knew I’d never be able to get back up. Not to mention I wouldn’t be able to kneel or use my knees. It was three a.m. And I thought about the humiliation I was going to face if I had an accident on their couch. It was beyond depressing. I felt like a child. A helpless thing. And I don’t like to feel like that.

Luckily I found my cell found underneath me and as much as I hated to, I called upstairs and apologized profusely and asked for help. They came down. Even with their help, it took me about ten minutes to stand. Every time they pulled or tried to lift, it was agonizing. I eventually stood, and it was even worse. I have had alot of pain in my knees through the past couple years. I have had endless amounts of mornings that felt like pure torture. But nothing compares to that night. Its hard to explain. It almost feel like getting a sledge hammer to the knee with every step. They eventually carried me to the bathroom, then to my bedroom. I took a couple pain pills and went to sleep.

The next morning I went to the doctors and have been on steroids ever since. So when I am hurting, I always look back to that night and remember.

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So I’m having a bit of a flare now.  Things have been looking up lately. Health wise. The last shots I had really seemed to help. They’re beginning to wear off though. But they have been great. And the Enbrel must be working too. I felt better than I have in awhile. So I know it must be stress that’s making me feel to terrible.

I got in a fight with my younger brother. I have never been in such a fight in my life. I have never flown off the handle like that. I am always the peace maker. But I snapped. I don’t know what happened. And now I feel terrible.

It was all terribly silly looking back. But at the time it wasn’t. I have never been in such a rage. I said such horrible things to him. My brother. Who I’ve always been so close to. I said such unforgivable things. And so did he. The ironic part was that the reason I finally snapped was because I was so mad at him because he never can control his temper! And to prove how mad it made me, I acted much worse than he had. We broke things. He got angry and started throwing things, and I hit him with my cane and it seems so ridiculous now. It was so white trash of us. I mean, I beat him with my cane? That’s something we always joke about. Shut up or I’ll beat you with my cane. Haha, right?

I mean, this is so far out of character for me. I’m disgusted. I cant even call him because his phone is broke, and I don’t know where he is. He lives 4 hours away and was down waiting for my dad to return so he could get some money he was owed. I don’t know where he’s at or if he’s ok.

I wouldn’t even let him get all of his stuff. I wouldn’t stop screaming. I told him I never wanted to see him again. I said terrible things. He said I better give him back every penny he has ever given me for doctors. I know neither one of us meant any of it.

I don’t know what made me explode. He’s always had a terrible temper, but usually I just let things slide. But this time he was rude, and I just snapped. Maybe I was just on edge because of not sleeping. I don’t know. But he was in a bad mood, and kept slamming things, and slamming doors, and I got angrier and angrier. Then he threw my sisters keys across the street and let her dog out. And she proceeded to attack some more of the neighbors cats. And that’s is why I exploded. It was all just too much.

Anyways, its all very silly. I wrote him an email. I don’t know when he’ll get it. He is the type of person to drop people when he argues with them. He didn’t speak with my father for 3 years.

 Long story short. I’m in pain. I was doing so good too.

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Oh, thats just perfect.

I received a letter in the mail today dated May 27th 2008. It was from the Foundation who supplies me with Enbrel for free.

They just wanted to inform me that I have been dropped.

No explanation. I will have to call Monday.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dieting III

I thought I’d ask my doctor about my diet, and how nothing seems so be working. I’ve gained another couple pounds. She said, there’s really nothing I can do about it until the prednisone has been out of my body for awhile. Even though I’m down to 5 mg, it hasn’t been for long, and since I was on such a high dose for so long, etc. etc. etc.

Basically she said just to wait a month or two, and then maybe I’ll be able to loose some weight. So I’m not going to eat carrots all day, if Im still going to gain weight regardless. I’ll try again soon. I still follow a very healthy meal plan though. I always have. 

Oh, and she said physical therapy would help. Im sure it would.

Lack of Insurance II

I went to my doctors Wednesday. Its been a few days, but I think I have sufficiently recovered. In fact, I’m feeling pretty good.

My father had to come to town to do some work on our family home that is up for sale. It’s been on the market for almost a year. Apparently, we couldn’t have picked a worse time to sell. Ha. Anyways, his wife sent her credit card with him and said I could pay a hundred dollars on the doctors tab, and then my medicine. I’m raking up quite a tab for Dad and her too. When the house sales, I am supposed to get a small cut. My father owed all of us kids some money from when he used the money our aunt left us when she died. So, we’re just waiting for the house to sell. My step mom has been helping us all bit by bit though, and its coming out of our “house money”

I was also able to drive his truck, so that was another load off my back.

So anyways, normal appointment. She was ecstatic that I was able to lower down to 5 mg of prednisone. She asked me how the Enbrel was working, what hurt, how much etc. Then she asked if I wanted injections. I really should have said no. Even with a discount, they’re are still over $150. But I said yes. I had two. One in my right knee since it’s the worst, and one in my right hip for my bursitis. Left knee and hip would have to wait. So between the doctors fee, labs, and procedures, my bill for just that day will be $650-ish. Add that on top of my $700. Minus the $100 I put down that day.

I don’t care. I was feeling rebellious. And yay for ridiculously overpriced shots! I feel loads better. My right knee is my good knee now. I’ve never had a shot hurt so bad though. I actually cried on that one. I’ve gotten really good at holding that in check. I never cry in public. Oh man, not this time though. The bursitis shot wasn’t too bad. But it took a couple of days to stop hurting. It was very tender for awhile.

Oh, and my feet swelled to massive proportions. My doctor said there wasn’t really anything I could do but keep them elevated.

The biggest kicker all day, was the fact that the reason I was taken off Enbrel for five months was because of a rash that had nothing to do with the medication. Or any of my medication. My doctor isn’t a dermatologist, so she’s been going through a huge book trying to find what she thinks its from. (because I have an amazing doctor) Well, they found it. It looks very similar to the type of reactions people can get from the medicines I’m on. But apparently, its supposed to be relatively contained. And almost always clears up on its own within 3 months. Mine started 8 months ago. So they gave me a prescription that only cost $4, and after two days, its already going away.

I could have been on Enbrel the whole time! My doctor said it was just rotten luck. Yea, and the fact, that I couldn’t get to the dermatologist. My family just kept saying I could wait until I was on Medicaid. Even if that is several months away. Ha.

Anyways, I’m feeling much better now. Feet back to normal. Right knee feeling pretty good. Hip feels pretty good when I’m not sitting. I think the Enbrel is kicking in. I should get my blood results back soon. I’m curious to see how the inflammation markers look. So, yea, I’ll worry about the bill later. Scarlet O’Hara always says ” I wont think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow” I like that concept.

Lack of Insurance

I watched Sicko today. Here’s a summary I found online:

Note to the president: Here’s your chance to lock up Michael Moore. The radically fierce and funny fireball he aims at our health-care system is a flat-out invitation to steal. First, Moore shows us how France, England, Canada and – yikes! – Cuba actually help sick people instead of letting them wither and die for lack of health insurance. Then he instructs us to loot those places for ideas. Anti-American? Hell, no. Moore argues that if another country builds a better car, we buy it. If it crafts a better wine, we drink it. Why not free universal health care?

As the agent provocateur of modern cinema, Moore is a moving target. Three of his docs (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11) had the bad taste to be box-office hits instead of slouching quietly to oblivion like most documentaries. Look for the reform spirit of Sicko to spark fresh attacks from haters who smear Moore as a fat, shambling, condescending grandstander eager to shade the truth to force a laugh or simplify an issue. Back off, guys. For one thing, he’s dieting. For another, Sicko is a movie whose time has come, even if the Treasury Department is already on his case for illegally taking a boatload of lung-sick 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for free medical care they can’t get at home. Another dumb move from the Dubya camp. While political candidates sidestep the real health-care issues, like puppets of the pharmaceutical industry that finances their election campaigns (take that, Hillary!), Moore brings a blunt clarity to the table. In an era when the mainstream news media have lost the public trust to Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, Moore’s brutally comic take on matters of life and death is just the ticket.

To prep for the film, Moore used the Internet to solicit health-care horror stories, not just from the 47 million Americans who don’t have insurance but from those who do. It’s hair-raising, especially when we watch an L.A. hospital dump a dazed patient at a homeless shelter because her insurance has reached its cap. In France, no resident is denied care; that’s why the World Health Organization ranks it number one (the U.S. is thirty-seventh). Moore, who shot 500 hours of film that he had to whittle down to two, puts a human face on those statistics. He traces the privatized health system back to Nixon, who figured, “The less care they give them, the more money they make.” He got that right.

Does Moore cut a few corners? Sure. Some of the European hospitals he visits might be spiffing up for the camera. The drugs an American patient buys in Havana (five cents there, $120 at home) might not be up to FDA standards. And maybe the French are pushing it by doing a patient’s laundry. But the weight of evidence Moore marshals for taking the profit motive out of medicine is overwhelming. In a summer of dumb, shameless drivel, Moore delivers a movie of robust mind and heart. You’ll laugh till it hurts.

It was brilliant. And I believe I am the perfect example of what happens to someone in this country who doesn’t have health care. And can not afford medical coverage.

You have a disease that many people are able to control and live with. I’ve read blogs about people with R.A. who own businesses, run marathons, have a family full of little ones to take care of.  People who are dealing and coping, and can be positive.

But the reality is that when someones ability to fight their disease is based on their ability to pay, then something is wrong. Something is very wrong. I am the perfect example of a disease taking over when it never needed to be that way. I have been denied help over and over. I have a file full of paper work. I have denial after denial. The reasons I have been denied vary from my age, to my education level, to the fact that I am not pregnant. The reasons never make sense. I’m telling you, I still cant make any sense of it.

Every month I have to worry about how I am going to pay for my medicine. It’s humiliating. And no one makes it easy. This month my father told me he just didn’t have the money. That’s it. Just said no.

Then my doctors office called me and said they couldn’t fill my prescriptions anyways because I haven’t had labs done. So I had to make an appointment. Which means my seven hundred dollar tab is now going to be well over a thousand. And that’s just with the bare minimum. I cant afford extensive blood tests, or cortisone shots. Or the Xrays I need taken of my neck which tends to get stiff. Or Physical therapy to help my knees. Or a dermatologist to see whats causing this outbreak I’m having.

My sister sent them the minimum payments for May June and July. So she cant help me anymore this month. My doctors office is really great to let me make payments though. None of my other doctors ever let me. But they will come after you if you miss payments, or if the tab gets too high. They call and say “How would you like to make your payment today?” Oh. If it was only so easy.

Not to mention the gas. Lord, its going to cost me over thirty dollars just to get there.

All the money I had left from my younger brother is gone. It went to paying bills. My autistic brother lost a hundred dollars when I sent him in to pay our electric bill. A hundred dollars is such a big deal right now. So it took every last cent I had to make it up. Wait. That’s not true. We have eighteen cent left in the bank.

And its only mid month and there is no way our food is going to last until the first.

Oh yea, and my car insurance lapsed.

Sometimes its very overwhelming. And the stress doesn’t help.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dieting II

I’ve actually managed to gain another seven pounds.

Skirts are no longer an option because the stretch marks are now very bad behind my knees and now reach half way down my calves.

I no longer own a bra that fits. I never thought I’d be annoyed by rapidly expanding breast. If it wasn’t for the stretch marks I wouldn’t be.

I am now down to 5 mg of Prednisone and I am miserable. I cant move. I hurt. And I’m heavy. So far the diet has not been successful. I’m going to keep trying.

I have a doctors appointment in a couple days. I cant wait to hear about all the things I cant afford to do.

On a lighter note, my feet stopped swelling.

 

Knees

I was trying to explain to someone about my knees. I cant find much information on flexion contractures.

But I found a picture of an old man with knees like mine.