World Arthritis Day, Online Support, and My Wild Ride to Wellness! – Arthritis Ashley’s Health Diary – Entry #24

October 12th, 2010

ARTHRITIS, GASTRITIS, IRITIS, OH MY!

Hello, dear readers! In honor of my blog moving to the “Wellness with a Side of Life, Please” page, I’ve revamped and decided to call my journey, “Arthritis Ashley’s Health Diary” – but, it’s still me on my journey to wellness and optimal health – and we’re still on this wild and wacky ride together! As always, I will continue to share the good, bad, and ugly of living with chronic illness and rheumatic disease, and will continue to be a source of HONESTY, hope, and support to all of you living with arthritis or other chronic/autoimmune conditions!

An update since my last entry, Entry #23. When I last left you, I’d found my wedding dress, discovered that I had pernicious anemia (B12 deficiency), and got further confirmation that I suffer from slight bilateral hearing loss. (It is likely from B12 deficiency, nerve damage, or is hereditary, and not autoimmune in nature…for once, hehe ;) )

As usual, I discovered a few other things on my “Wild Ride to Wellness!”

I was diagnosed with Chronic Autoimmune Iritis. Iritis, also known sometimes more accurately as anterior uveitis, is an eye condition that is autoimmune in nature and causing inflammation, pressure, and pain in my eyes (more specifically, my left eye.)  I also am being treated for potential low estrogen and likely bile gastritis of the stomach, also known as bile reflux, and, recent blood tests showed that I am deficient in Folic Acid, and lately I’ve been having issues with hair thinning, etc.

You would think that all of these things would be getting me down, but they aren’t! I just need to use Prednisolone steroid eye drops now, and increased Folic Acid and Welchol. It is what it is! I’ve, as always, begrudgingly accepted the new diagnoses and moved on!

I was also recently tested for Sjögren’s Syndrome. Sjögren’s (pronounced show-grins) is considered one of the 117+ forms of arthritis & related rheumatic disease. It is an autoimmune condition in which a person’s white blood cells attack moisture-producing mucosa and glands in the body. Like Rheumatoid Arthritis (which I have and which sometimes comes along with Sjögren’s) it can have multiple complications and adverse affects throughout the body.

The two antibodies that they test for via bloodwork were, in a way, inconclusive. One was negative, and one was borderline positive….however, my rheumatologist said that in 30-40% of patients, the blood tests can produce false-negative results. He said the best, surefire way to know if you have it is a biopsy of the lower lip, so, his office is scheduling my lip biopsy today, and, we’ll see. Hopefully I do not have another autoimmune condition, and I don’t feel deep down inside that I have Sjögren’s, but if I do, this could be the answer to some of my mysterious symptoms, and may help me on my path to optimal health and in my overall journey to wellness….at least, that’s what I’m hoping for!

Everything else, health issues aside, has been great! The beautiful weather in Pittsburgh lately has inspired me to get walking (with the pug!) and soak up some sunshine. After all – we have to keep moving – it’s the natural arthritis pain reliever and the Vitamin D that the sun has to offer doesn’t hurt! I’ve also been more diligent about yoga and on trying to keep on with my writing and to keep up with chores despite my pain and fatigue.

Today is a special day for those of us who are living with arthritis. October 12th is “World Arthritis Day!”

You are encouraged to “Do Blue” to show your support for arthritis! (The photo above is me “going blue for Arthritis Day!)  Those of us who have arthritis (I have rheumatoid and osteo – now maybe Sjögren’s and have always had a very “iffy” Fibromyalgia diagnosis…) know that it is a difficult condition to live with….but on days like today, we can bond together and show that we are STRONG and that we are not alone! So put on a smile, don your blue clothing, and use today to educate and inspire others, increase awareness and advocacy, and support those living with arthritis!

One way that you can “participate” is in a “Twitter Party” hosted by the Arthritis Foundation at 2pm EST. Log on to your Twitter account and use the hashtag #ArthritisDay to join in the conversation, learn more about osteoarthritis, and chat with others about living with the various forms of arthritis.

I know that I personally use Twitter and Facebook a lot for support and inspiration while dealing with multiple chronic illnesses. I also use it for education and information. I encourage you all to do the same! It is a great way to bond with others who are living and thriving with arthritis and chronic rheumatic or autoimmune disease!  You can follow the Mid Atlantic Region of the Arthritis Foundation at @MidAtlanticAF. You can also follow the national Arthritis Foundation at @arthritis_org, and Arthritis Today Magazine at @ArthritisToday. I’m on Twitter, too, at @ArthritisAshley!

I use Twitter to bond with others and to spread hope – as well as a way for me to honestly and openly vent about my health issues. I decided to create the Arthritis Ashley page to separate my health and wellness tweets from my personal account – after all, to be honest, most of my friends do not want to hear about how I’m feeling, arthritis research, or how difficult it is to live with chronic illnesses….and I don’t want that to be my “everyday” identity, anyway! That being said, I do encourage you all to create a Twitter account as a way to talk with others who are celebrating – and sometimes berating – life with arthritis and chronic illness! You’d be surprised what a support system that it can become!

Today, someone asked me how I can remain positive while dealing with all of the health nonsense. Well, the honest truth is I’m not a “positive” person 100% of the time….if you’ve read my past 23 entries, you know that. In fact, I had a couple of mini-breakdowns, crying and “woe-is-me-ing” in the past month or two. I feel like it is healthy, to a point, to be realistic and accepting of one’s situation, and to allow yourself to be sad, or to grieve for your healthier self. However, I find that love is the driving force that keeps me moving forward. Love of self, love from friends, family, loved ones, my pets, and my fiance, Mike, loving my body even though it seemingly sometimes hates me, love in the form of faith, love and compassion even from strangers. It is what helps me get through the bad days!

Lately, I’m learning to see setbacks as gifts. Today I read a quote that said, “I happen to life, life does not happen to me. Things will continue to work out better & better for me.” I truly believe that – and you all should, too! While things “can” always get worse, and we do need to prepare for the worst, I think that we should always EXPECT that things will begin to look up. We should VISUALIZE that things ARE going to get better – no questions asked. And if they don’t – we’re still here, and that’s all that matters!

I will leave you all, like I often do, with some really powerful and inspiring quotes that should help *you* on YOUR “Wild Ride to Wellness!”

Enjoy:

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” – Unknown

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” – Mary Tyler Moore

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And a good thing never dies.” ~ Shawshank Redemption

“Everybody wants happiness. Nobody wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” - Unknown

and

“I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my faith.” ~Helen Keller

Have a healthful and pain-free day….and “Happy World Arthritis Day!”

Please share YOUR comments about living with arthritis, tell us what you’re doing for World Arthritis Day, or share any personal experiences that you have with anything you’ve read about today! THANKS FOR READING!

Stay Well,

Ashley Boynes

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