Saturday morning, joint pain excruciating 😖 – all I want is the relief to have a normal day. My handful of supplements gets washed down with a cup of water at the bathroom sink. Brush teeth, throw on a summer dress, now down to the kitchen for the vital large cup of coffee, then 600mg of ibuprofen just in case it works, but praying over my liver. Into the office where I keep my turmeric/coffee ointment, rub on every joint point I can reach.
I fry up dippy eggs (over easy) for my grandson, make an egg white omelet for me, ask Greg, my husband, if he wants breakfast, “Not yet, gonna cut grass first,” he answers. Feed the cat, clean up from cooking, drink the coffee, eat the eggs, clean up again. Now, I retreat to the porch to write. Are you exhausted? I am.
Pain is a cruel master forcing me to think of relief in lieu of lovely things like planting lettuce or hiking or vacuuming. Yeah, rather vacuum the whole stinking house than deal with this – it’s a bugger! Come on remedies – unite!!!
Then the looping thoughts – what did I do, eat, smell, think, miss in the last two days to bring this on? It’s a conundrum for sure.
Here is where I put the disclaimer: GO See your doctor before trying anything I mention or anything someone else tells you.
Another fruit loop – what can I do today I haven’t already done? The search begins again. I take stock of all I have tried and come to the same conclusions:
- The medicine now is working better than last year’s concoction. Plaquenil and Xeljanz = 70% of normal life.
- Diet & Nutrition – Reducing meat intake by 90% while increasing veggies and raw fruit has helped. Got a Spiralizer – love it. I bake my own gluten-free bread – bought a refurbished Cuisinart Breadmaker and Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free bread mix (recipes) – add nuts, cranberries, and herbs for variety.
- Walking – 3x week for 30 min or more makes me feel better, not worse. Read More on my blog post Move for Pain.
- Drinking water – is good – daily! Not when I feel like it. Can’t function without it.
- Stretching – didn’t realize the good chemical reactions from this movement. Daily need.
- Supplements – I take more than I want to think about, but my RA Doctor is good with all of them.
- Intermittent fasting – yes this too! I wait daily until I know my body is ready for more food. Not gonna explain further – TMI!
- Compression stuff – yep it works. I have an arsenal of gloves, socks (short & long), wraps, wrist braces, and my favorite – therapeutic self-warming gloves – ahhhh, winter is no match.
- Weighted blanket – It helps my muscles relax and I get deeper sleep for a longer period of time – tested with my FitBit and found to be true. I get 20-30 minutes longer Deep Sleep with the weighted blanked than without.
- Ointments – I have two – one herbal and one prescription. I’ve tried all kinds, but these two are great. I am a skeptic 🤨 – I need pretty quick results to be convinced. First, LemongrassSpa’s Turmeric/Coffee “Revival Balm” ointment – cost is $15 plus shipping. Worth it! Second, Diclofenac 1% gel So good nursing homes have to keep it locked up per my Grandmother’s rehab facility! Prescription only. Cost depends on your insurance company.
- Prayer and Meditation – Well now. I knew this from reading scripture and studying what Jesus practiced – solitary prayer time for spiritual health, recovery, connection, and respite. Others in the Bible and tons of people throughout history with diverse religious practices used meditation and prayer for spiritual well-being. But not until my Internal Medicine Doctor said it during a visit last fall, did I realized the physical benefits of the practice. Daily meditation and prayer time matters – connects me with God, builds my relationship with Christ and resets my body, all the while reducing pain and stress. And CHANGES my BRAIN. If you’re up to it, watch this 13-minute video from the Mayo Clinic on Pain and the Brain.
Do I practice these daily? No. Should I? Yes. Will I in the future? Most of them and sometimes I will hit all 11 in one day – woohoo! These are the treasures in my box of healthy living. Are more out there, more treasures to sort through and try? I am sure there are, and people offer them to me all the time. Most offerings are answered with thanks, but no thanks. Some are worth letting my doctor evaluate, but will only try if she says yes. And a few end up in my treasure box of the chosen few.
So, for those living with chronic illness, rheumatoid arthritis specifically, choose your treasures wisely. Weigh each one and have a critical eye. Here is my evaluation process to find the value when trying something new:
- Is it worth implementing monthly, weekly, daily for a lifetime?
- How much does this cost and how often will I have to order/purchase?
- Is there an alternative (chemically, price, supplier) equally effective?
- Is this being sold exclusively by a “doctor” or company claiming to have the “cure”? Is this same “cure” available on Amazon at a reduce cost elsewhere?
- Does it pass my “so helpful it is worth the money” test? This requires a little investment and evaluation time.
- How does this new treasure affect my body overall? Will it impact my blood tests? Have longterm effects? Will it make my fingernails fall out in 10 years? Ha.
- How do I feel when I stop using it? Better? Worse? No change?
- Most importantly, when the right doctor is on your side and treating you – yes, choose wisely – read my blog post Our Expert Advocates – does the new treasure pass their test?
People offer me remedies a lot – I mean a lot – most unsolicited. Once they know I have been diagnosed with RA, the suggestions come fast and furious. I’ve had people connect with me on social media only to send me a message of what they are “selling” to cure my disease. Be careful. One person’s treasure is another person’s junk.
Other have directed me to healing churches, pastors, laying on of hands. I smile and think of MercyMe’s song “Even If,” and thank them for the suggestion. What I don’t say to them is, “Do you think I haven’t prayed for healing all these years for the pain to be removed and go away? If God wanted me to be healed, He would do it in an instant. But even if He doesn’t, I still have full Faith in Him.”
Now, we could argue theology, scriptural thesis, and waste a lot of my remaining energy. Some may even think my own sin is the cause of the RA – regardless of the fact I am Saved and Redeemed. I will leave that to God to sort out.
I say this, “I trust in Jesus for all things and I love my life for what it is and is not because God has designed it.” This body will fade, falter and fail. My relationship with God will not. I trust Him. If healing is in His plan, great, if not, He will walk beside me regardless. I will be the best-blessed human being living with RA I can possibly be – loving God, loving my family, and doing God’s will despite the pain, in lieu of the pain, instead of the pain. That is my true treasure in the box.