Despite the tragedy and loss, one of the most compelling things to witness throughout this crisis is the resiliency of the human spirit. It has been truly awe-inspiring to see first hand how friends, family, people from all corners of the world come together in times like this to help one another. Because of my work with seniors and volunteers, I get to see on a day to day basis the giving nature of people through volunteering so I was not surprised by the response but it was and continues to be beyond anything I have ever witnessed.
So how does this tie into RA? Well, while all of this was going on, I was having a really tough time - switching RA medications once again, finding out that my list of available activities is shrinking (as my height is with aging) and trying to keep a positive outlook. Perhaps worst of all I began to develop some other troubling issues starting with relentless nausea. 8 weeks later it became clear when other symptoms entered the "party" that my reflux was back with a vengeance along with a likely ulcer. For a good 2-3 weeks I was pretty much "out of commission", just trying to get through each day and getting very little sleep thanks to the night time pain that ulcers are so well known for.
It has really driven home to me how important other areas of our health are beyond the routine (i.e. day to day) care of RA. Because the truth is that even when the "typical" symptoms of RA (joint pain, swelling, redness, fatigue) are not as severe as normal other "secondary" issues can creep up on us and become real problems. In this case, the reasons for the ulcer are numerous and some I must take full blame for. Out of my control but a real issue were the medications I take to control the RA (ironic, right?). NSAIDS are horrible on your stomach and 15 years into RA my gut has had enough. Secondly, I had cut back on my Reflux medications thanks to them not being covered for some time by my insurance (they are again, thank God). What I also had become far to carefree about were the lifestyle items that one needs to attend to in dealing with GERD. Stress was a nasty little gremlin that was contributing to the problem.
Even good stress can be a problem and I am not good at saying no to requests for my time and so it got pretty out of control this past year from a work perspective.
And though exercise is my primary release, because of RA issues, I have had to curtail and cut back and readjust, etc. my exercise and that in itself is stressful to me.
Lastly, I really stopped watching my intake of caffeine, chocolate and mint and often nibbled late at night. Its like I just ignored the list of foods to avoid!