Thursday, May 3, 2012

Springtime fun

Spring officially arrived a little over a month ago.  For many psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients, however, the cold morning/warm daytime/cold nighttime routine is a painstaking journey to endure on the way to the days of constant summer warmth.  Many arthritis sufferers welcome the summer because the heat of the sun seeps into our joints and gives us those all-natural shots of Vitamin D. that we need  so bad.  Another huge benefit is the extra surge of energy that comes when the D starts to work and help ease some of that nasty winter pain.

So what is going on in my world this spring?  I am really amazed at the amount of energy I manage to find in my days lately.  It's a really good thing I started that exercise regimen earlier this year, because I seem to be on the go a lot these days.  Between preschool and church activities, both of my writers groups, and whatever else life throws at us, it seems like there is barely ever a moment to just sit down and relax. 

A while back I was having some trouble with my knees bothering me frequently, so my doctor put me on 50,000 I.U. of Vit. D. per week.  I was pretty shocked at the high numbers, but she assured me that it wasn't too high, especially since my levels had tested on the low end of the scale.  I was amazed after a couple of weeks that I felt better.  By the time I went back for my 3 month checkup, I couldn't even remember how long it had been since my knees stopped hurting!  This has been a huge help and energy boost.  I am currently down to a max of 35,000 I.U. per  week, with an appointment scheduled for next Wednesday (5/9) to see where my levels are at now.

Also got new X-rays done today.  The X-rays are updates to compare with the ones we took last year so that we can see how fast or slow my arthritis is progressing, and what damage has been done to my joints over the past 12 months.  I have noticed some changes in the second toe on my right foot, as well as the index finger on my right hand.  My toe is completely out of "whack" , for lack of a better explanation.  It isn't broken, or dislocated, but it is very out of place.  Tomorrow I will try and post a pic to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about, but basically my second toe seems to be growing sideways towards my third toe instead of straight.  The problem with my index finger is that I have what feels like a large amount of bone deterioration in the upper joint.  If you feel of the finger, the best description would be that it feels like a huge indentation in the bone.  I'm hoping the X-rays will give us some insight into what is going on with that. 

In other news, I have taken on a new volunteer venture with Abbott, the company who makes my Humira medication.  I have joined their SPEAK Network, where I will be able to share my psoriasis story/journey with others in need of education, support, or research information.  I look forward to working with them to help spread psoriasis awareness, and hope that one day we will find a cure! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feeling well

Often times when my psoriatic arthritis is doing well, I tend to get busy and forget to come here and make posts for you to read.  I wanted to make sure that I get in the habit of doing this, because it is important to let you know that, while every day is not peaches and cream, not every day is filled with massive amounts of pain and tears either.  There are  good days and bad days.  It is always best, though, when the good days outnumber the bad. 

I spent another lovely time at the park today.  This time everyone went, including Dad! I love going out in the sun when I can.  Right now my joints do not hurt and I have used enough energy to head off to bed at least 3 hours ahead of my normal schedule.  Hopefully it will be a restful sleep.

Good night all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sunshine

Do you enjoy being out in the sunshine?  When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I was actually told that part of my prescription was to go outside and spend half an hour in the sun, EVERY DAY! I thought she was a little bit nutty.  To top it off, she wanted me to do this every day at high noon!   At the time, she couldn't, or at least didn't, explain why it worked, she just said that it was often very helpful.  I knew that from personal experience.   Since then, many studies have been done that indicate how well vitamin D works to help clear psoriasis outbreaks.  There are even topical prescription ointments that contain it.  For many people it works wonders. One of the best ways to get it, is to have it naturally produced by your body, and this means spending time out in the sun. 

Sunshine, like all things, must be taken in moderation.  I am not a good example of this.  I had "the most scathingly brilliant idea" (Haley Mills as Mary Clancy in "The Trouble with Angels") today, that I would take my son to the park. It was a nice, beautiful and sunny day, he had a good morning at preschool and it seemed like a great idea.  Dad opted not to join us since he hasn't been feeling well the past few days, so we called up our playtime buddy, Great Aunt Kathy (Dad's aunt).  Even though she is almost 60 years old,  she always enjoys spending time with my little guy, and often has way more energy than I do! 

We enjoyed a quick lunch at home and then headed off to the park.  The sun was beautiful, but a bit hot if you sat too long in one place.  We played in the dirt, I took some lovely photos of him playing,  and then we moved over to the "sandbox".  It's really not a box, just a sand-filled area near a small stream.  Anyway, he enjoys playing in the sand with his beach tools, and he was having so much fun that Mom decided she wanted to make him  REALLY smile.  I handed my glasses to Aunt Kathy, filled up his bucket with sand, then handed it to him with the explicit instructions that "you can only do this when Mom says it's okay"...and then I allowed my 3.5 year old son to pour his entire bucket of sand on my head!  I was sitting on the ground,  he was standing, so I was just as his level.  I really wish we had gotten photos of this, as I do not think I have ever seen any bigger shock on a little boy's face than when his Mom says it is okay to pour sand on her, nor any brighter of a smile when he sees her completely covered with the stuff. :)  I also wish I could have gotten a photo of the surprise on Aunt Kathy's face! That was definitely the last thing she expected me to do. 

You may be asking yourself at this point, why on Earth I've bothered to tell you about my day at the park.  Well, if you remember, we started out talking about sunshine and vitamin D.  This is how I choose to get mine!  Being out in the sun has always been a good thing for me.  It helps to clear up my psoriasis, and gives me a nice tan to boot.  But, like I said before, it must be done in moderation.  There is always the immediate risk of burning, and of course, the long-term risks of skin cancer.  The main point of this post however, was to show you that it's okay to go out and enjoy life instead of sitting home and worrying about your psoriasis or what people think of it.  Most importantly, don't forget to take time to enjoy the moments that are too few and fleeting :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working it out

     As of today, I have lost a total of 10 lbs.  I began my new journey at the highest weight I have ever been, and I vowed that I would change those extremely scary numbers.  I am doing well so far!  What I feel proudest of is the fact that I am doing it all the "hard" way.  There are no pills, no meal replacements, no starvation, no silliness whatsoever.  There is  plain old hard work and nutrition knowledge.  I have progressed from knowing what healthy choices to make to actually making those choices!  I find myself refusing calorie-laden dishes in favor of veggie filled ones, and diet (which I used to vehemently detest) soda if I absolutely must have one at all, but I prefer water or plain tea.  This is BIG! I have known for a long time which choices I should be making, but I just never had the willpower to force myself to do it.  I would say things like "oh, I know I should have the roast chicken with mixed veggies, but I've been good all day, so I think I'm going to have the alfredo instead, it won't be so bad".   When you say that every single day, there's no evidence left to prove that you ever did anything right.  All of those "not so bad" choices add up to a great big pile of "yeah, that was a huge mistake", when you step on the scale.
      Another thing that I have learned to do, is to take baby steps.  I do my workouts at our local Y, and I know that in order to be successful at this venture, I need to burn off some calories.  To balance the workout, and to keep myself in shape plus keep my joints moving freely and stay within a good range of motion despite my arthritis issues, I also maintain a fairly decent strength routine.  Back in December, I complained to my doctor that my cardio workouts were just not easy to do.  I'm too heavy and it hurts way too much to run or jog.  The treadmill is nice for walking, but my knees were giving out after about five minutes.  Three things happened when I voiced my frustration.  1)My doctor indicated that she understood my pain.  2)She also made it clear that she knows when I make excuses.  3) She gave me the key step to making it all work.
      Did she give me some sort of miracle answer to my problems? Did she prescribe a drug that would ease my pain, making it simpler to get through those monster cardio days?  The answer is NO!  What she did do was to give me the straight talk on the problems that my excessive weight can lead to, and point out where I am already showing signs of some of these issues.  She also told me that there IS NO MIRACLE CURE for weight loss, there is only hard work and determination to get the job done.  The best advice that she gave me was to keep trying.  She said that if I could only walk 5 minutes on the treadmill today, then do it; tomorrow, walk 6 minutes.  Her advice has stuck in my head and reminded me each step of the way that if I can't walk miles at a time or hours on end each day, it's OKAY.  So long as I keep trying to improve and do not just give up.  Because of this I was able today to complete 1.30 miles in 36 minutes!  I started out spending 5 minutes at a time on the treadmill and with each workout I challenged myself to do a little bit more.  I'm still gearing up for that March for Babies walk at the end of April, but I'm a whole lot closer to believing that I won't keel over than I was when this all started in January :)

I want to hear how YOUR fitness goals are coming along! Chime in with a comment to tell us what you're motivation is and how you're doing so far!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New year, new rules!

   Welcome to 2012!

   
   What are your health or fitness goals for this year? Are they new or being revisited from the list you "never quite got around to"  in 2011?  For me, my main goal is to get rid of a large portion of this extra weight I carry.  No, I'm not throwing hubby out, that's a little more than I can afford to lose!  What I am doing, though, is making a plan and taking action.  
     For years I went about this just like a lot of people, making a "resolution" each January to shed some pounds.  Every year ended with the same result; resolution forgotten, weight gained instead of lost.  This past year, however, I  learned some valuable lessons about goal setting.  In order to achieve our dreams, it is necessary to stop thinking of them in a future sense, ie "some day" or "one of these days" .  Writing resolutions, or dreams, down in terms of achievable goals makes them much more obtainable.  This means that instead of saying "I need to lose some weight this year", I say "I will (or I commit to) lose 50 pounds by Dec. 31, 2012".    Voila, I have just made a commitment.  I set a specific goal, with a deadline!   Now if I don't stick to it, there is a much higher sense of guilt involved.  It actually feels like I failed; and it is the most important person in the world I am failing--ME! I am the one making the commitment, I am the one responsible for keeping it, and I am the only one who can make me do it--although others can certainly offer some highly appreciated motivation. 
     Okay, enough about how to set goals.  I have set mine.  I will lose 50 lbs. by Dec. 31, 2012.  This is going to be fabulous for my psoriatic arthritis!  My aching joints will thank me!  In order to achieve this long-term goal, I have created smaller goals to accomplish along the way.  For instance, every week I will increase the amount of cardio activity I do at the gym by going either 1/4 mile farther or 5 minutes longer than normal.  I understand that there are days I hurt severely and therefore I will not always be able to complete the same amount of distance in my walk, but time spent doing the activity must also be taken into account.  At this beginning point, a 30 minute 1-mile walk is quite strenuous for me (and actually netted some rather serious blisters on my feet last week).  After having a dose of the Norovirus this week, I managed to do 3/4 of a mile today in 20 minutes and felt that was enough.  Next week it's back to adding time/distance.  As another milestone, I plan to participate in the www.MarchforBabies 5K walk happening here on April 28.  Hubby and I did this in 2010 and planned to do it in 2011, but were unable to since I was still off of my meds at the time.  This year I will do itThis year I will not be the last walker across the finish line.  This year I will be proud of my accomplishment!