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2.2.14 is RA Awareness Day!

Since today is Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease awareness day I think we should find out what RA actually is! Alongside me, there are 1.5 million Americans and 300,000 children who fight this life-long battle on a daily basis.
There are many misconceptions about Arthritis
so let’s educate the world and share this with everyone we can to support 
Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Awareness Day!

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Find more resources on living with arthritis by visiting arthritistoday.org
Arthritis Today

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system – which protects your health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks your joints. The abnormal immune response causes inflammation that can damage joints and organs, such as the heart. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the key to preventing joint destruction and organ damage.
People
About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men. In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life.
Symptoms
The severity of the disease can vary from person to person. Symptoms can change from day to day. Sudden increases in symptoms and illness are called flares. A flare can last for days or months. Key rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are pain, fatigue and warm, swollen, reddish joints. Long periods of joint stiffness in the morning are common. Inflammation in the small joints of the wrist and hand is typical. If a joint on one side of the body is affected, the same one on the other side is usually affected, too. 
Treatment
There is no cure for RA, but there are a number of medications available to help ease symptomsreduce inflammation, and slow the progression of the disease. No one drug works for everyone but many people find treatments that are very effective. The goal of treatment is remission, a state when inflammation is gone or is very low.  A doctor, likely a rheumatologist — a specialty doctor who treats people with arthritis — should monitor your levels of disease activity, or inflammation, on a regular basis through exams and blood tests that reveal how well treatment is working. The doctor may add or change your medications or adjust the dosage after a few months, if the disease is still active. 
Self-care
Self-management is an important part of rheumatoid arthritis care. Staying physically active is the key to keeping joints flexible. Too little movement can lead to joint stiffness. Strong muscles protect joints. Overall fitness improves health in many ways. Managing your weight, eating a nutritious diet and getting a good balance of rest and activity each day are important, too.  

Normal is BORING

Today someone told me (multiples times…), “You have to think you’re going to get better to get better. Don’t be so negative. You have to stop talking about negative things. Positive things happen to positive people.” 

Most anyone who knows me knows that I am a very positive person. I pride myself in being positive. It wasn’t easy to get here. It was an honest-to-God uphill battle. It took a lot of practice, hard work, and patience. 
To me, being positive means accepting my pain and living life happy with who I am even though I have pain. I don’t try to be normal, because I’m not! I’m special and even though I’m not like everyone else I can be just as happy and fulfilled, if not more than those ‘normal people’! I choose to live my life knowing that God gave me this disease because he knew I could handle it and chose me specifically because He knew I would try my hardest to turn it into a positive. What’s so negative about that??

What I like to say is, “I’m not just LIVING with Arthritis, I’m THRIVING with it.”


My RA Fit Kit

OK, so now that I’ve posted my New Year’s Resolutions I guess it’s time to begin following up on them, right??

My second resolution [loose 10 lbs/exercise/eat healthy] is something I can get started on, but first, I need a plan!

Having Arthritis makes it difficult to do exercise of any kind and these commercials of people hiking and riding bikes don’t help either. It’s true that movement helps ease the fatigue and stiffness, but the ugly truth is that some exercises also makes my pain and inflammation worst! Not to mention, leaves me unable to sleep a wink and out of commission for the rest of the week. Just ONE afternoon of walking at the mall leaves me with red, painful and swollen knees that I later have to treat with ice packs throughout the night.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Inflammation in the joints cause deformation and exasperating it can actually increase this damaging inflammation. Any doctor or physical therapist will tell you that joint pain is NEVER good, which is why it’s super important to listen to your body whenever you do physical activity of any kind, whether you have Arthritis or not! 
However, on the flip side, it is important that I move around because unfortunately the stiffness can also worsten my already decreased range of motion and cause muscle atrophy (aka: more problems I DON’T need). 

So, not only is it a challenge for me to get up and get going, but it’s also very difficult to find exercises that I can actually do! 

So what is a girl to do in this situation?! 

Luckily, there is a great resource online called, My RA Fit Kit where you can customize  a fitness program based on your personal limitations and interests! I’ve filled it out and here is the program I’m going to get started on today! I’m not sure if this Arthritis-approved workout is going to help me loose 10 lbs….but either way I think it will help. 😉  I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes. 

Just go to My RA Fit Kit, fill out the questionnaire, and get moving with me!! Together we will hopefully loose 10 lbs. xD


*I am not a doctor and you must always seek care from a medical professional before engaging in any strenuous activities.*

Reflections on 2013, Resolutions for 2014

I think by the second or third week of January we all have our New Year’s resolutions set. However, before I tell you what mine are, I’d like to take the time to reflect on this past year. 

In 2013, I spent 2 weeks (including Christmas Day and New Years Day) in the hospital, 3 months on a doctor-ordered liquid diet, and the first 4 months of 2013 using a walker. It was really hard on my husband and I, and to be honest, for a minute there we didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. 

My 2013 New Year’s resolutions may sound simple to most people, but for me it felt like a raging river I was unsure I would ever be able to cross.
  1. Make it through the rest of 2013 without a visit to the hospital.
  2. Be well enough to eat normal food.
  3. Get better on Actmera.
  4. Make it to the annual Arthritis Walk in November.
  5. Reach out and re-analyze the company I keep.
  6. Start a blog, help others like me, and bring awareness to Arthritis.

Although it was a very difficult time, I’m proud to say I achieved all my goals and then some! We did have some bumps along the road. We were forced to move out of our apartment because my health, had to give our dog away, and dealt with two failed treatments. 
It was very disappointing and disheartening, and I cried a lot. But I must say there were some great memories and amazing achievements that I am so proud of. 
For one, we moved back in with Andres’ parents which ended up being a great decision as we now have a much better support system. Second, we gave our dog away to the most perfect couple on Earth-whom I believe really needed and wanted her- which resulted in us making two great friends. And lastly, I was able to switch to two new treatments with the guidance of an amazing doctor
As if that wasn’t enough, I also got the incredible opportunity to start a blog, publish an article in Women magazine, and bring awareness to RA by doing interviews on WSVN and RadioMD
All in all, it was a difficult, but good year. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in 2014. 

So without further ado, here are my New Years Resolutions for 2014:
  1. Stay off of Prednisone for one year.
  2. Loose 10 pounds by eating healthy and exercising when possible.
  3. Go back to school.
  4. Have at least one successful treatment this year. 
  5. Be well enough to do the things I love and spend more time with the people I love.

I believe I can do it. I think its very important to have goals in your life. Even if it’s something simple. We have to remember to keep trying even through disappointment and heartbreak. We have to keep dreaming and keep looking forward even through big challenges! I may have Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I’m still dreaming and I always will be. ❤
So tell me, what are your Resolutions for 2014?

Products to keep your Joints Warm

If you live in the U.S. chances are you’ve been freezing your little tush off this week like me. 

Last night we got our first cold front of the season and it hit the low 50s! I know, I know. Some of you may be like laughing, but for Miami that’s freezing!! 🙂
Having Arthritis can mean that the cold whether really aggravates your joint pain, stiffness, and swelling and trust me, I am feeling it! 
Last winter, when I spent a week in Boston visiting my family I was in a wheelchair the entire trip because the cold made me so incredibly stiff! Boston is a beautiful city, but I don’t think I could ever live there just because the cold hurts my joints so much.
However, for those of you Arthritis Folks who live up north (or people who just don’t like the cold), keeping your joints warm could definitely help you, like its been helping me lately. It makes a real difference!  
So.. here are a few products I’m using right now to keep my joints nice and toasty! 🙂 

Sunbeam Heating Pad – This I actually use all year round cause it really helps when I’m feeling particulary stiff and you don’t have to keep heating it up in the microwave like some other heating pads. 
Warm Essentials Leggings  – This I wish I had taken to Boston, but unfortunately I didn’t think of it, so I froze. Luckily, I’ve been getting my use out of them this week. They’re great to wear under pants!  
Sunbeam Heated Fleece – This one I haven’t bought , but that’s only because my husband won’t let me! He thinks its a little too ridiculous for Miami. I disagree 😉 
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