TIPS FOR ARTHRITIS & JOINT CARE
1) I don’t care if it is me, the media, a pastor, your best friend, a teacher, or your mama, ALWAYS research and check out what is being said for yourself. I encourage you not to take what I or anyone says at face value. I’m a big one for finding out things first hand and evaluating for yourself the best decision for you. All that to say, check out what I offer regarding tips, check it out and research it for yourself and make the best decision for yourself using wise counsel & your doctor’s advice where needed.
2) Please always consult your physician before changing or stopping any counsel they are giving you. Anything that I have done physically or with my doctors have worked for me and may not work for you. Again, I am only suggesting tips that have worked for me. I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form to do these tips in lieu of whatever advice your doctors are telling you. Use these tips at your own risk knowing in my case they have worked.
3) Finally, I am not getting paid, reimbursed, doing any favors, getting any kickbacks or anything like that for mentioning any of the products in my tips. This offering of tips is NOT about making money, getting ahead, taking advantage, getting over, or getting something out of people. My sole purpose in doing this offering is to help and encourage people in these times when money is tight knowing that if we don’t come together, we shall surely fall apart. I have been blessed to experience alot through my life, modeling career, having had to survive by being resourceful, being a cheapskate and being blessed to overcome some things people said were impossible, advanced RA, Fibromyalgia, Lichen Planus (where I had to shave my head) and more. There will only be one possible case of a product that I am currently trying that I am so blown away by that I might be endorsing…BUT I PROMISE I WILL LET YOU KNOW IF AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS A HEAD OF TIME.
Hey there, this is Charlotte with your tip for the day.
Remember when you could jump out of bed and run around without any effort? Do you remember when you were a kid and laughed at your parents and grandparents because they had that “Bengay” smell? Do you remember a time when you could wake up and get out of bed without the “let me just sit here for a minute so I can get a game plan to stand up without embarrassing myself and get to the bathroom in order to make it in time!” thought running through your head. Welcome old timers, that day of achy joints, slower movement, the joy of a heating pad and electric blanket is here. Hate it or appreciate it, our bodies just ain’t what they used to be. We can either wither with our joints and those mean ole “itis” brothers (that is Arthr(itis), Appendic(itis), Tendin(itis), Burs(itis), Dermat(itis), and Tonsill(itis)) or get up and fight back. But we are not talking about all the brothers today only that older brother, arthritis.
I first became acquainted with that sneaky guy in my mid-twenties. I was on the road singing & modeling and decided to open up a television and modeling school that would legitimately help up and coming modeling candidates. It was stressful. Really stressful.
One day I began to notice my left leg starting to get stiff and my right shoulder and arm getting achy. I blew it off. It grew worse. The stress grew worse. My fingers (which are like long sticks anyway) began to start swelling and ache. I went to numerous doctors and they told me, “I was under alot of …….guess……..stress” They handed me some antidepressants to help me sleep (which I happily took already being hooked on antidepressants and sedatives) I went through many doctors including my mother’s rheumatologist who stated my condition was stress and gave me sedatives and put me on something called “Gold”.
My grandmother who was in her seventies had mild arthritis and although my mother also had arthritis, according to the doctor, traditionally, arthritis skipped a generation with women. In our case that did not happen. The doctor’s were absolutely correct, stress was killing me and began a secondary condition called Fibromyalgia, which back in the 80’s doctor’s thought was a crazy person’s disorder for the most part.
Moving ahead, months passed, I knew I was not crazy because my hands were starting to deform and I was having problems walking. I was having great difficulty walking the runway because my feet were swelling up and I couldn’t fit into my heels. I went to the Cleveland-Clinic where I was finally diagnosed with Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis. They put me on Prednisone, Hydrochloroquine and Desyrel. Felt better but still had to return home under my mother’s care and stop modeling.
At my worse, I shuffled my feet when I walked. If I was lying on the couch, I would often fall to the floor because my hands were too weak to catch myself. I would cry in the driveway because I couldn’t lift or open the door. I had to take drugs just to sleep. The pain was unbearable. Watching my body go from training in the gym daily to not being able to move and have people put on my underwear was my rock bottom.
In the late 1990’s I felt led to move to Nashville. You need to read my second book (Damaged Goods: Learning to Dream Again) to find the whole story behind that. Everyone, including me was scared because of my physical condition. To cut to the chase, for two weeks, I laid on the floor of my apartment hardly able to move. With my laptop on the floor I researched and called and questioned Rheumatologists then made an appointment with Dr. Robert LaGrone, 2001 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37203, (615) 321-3277 (that’s right I put all his information all out there).
(By the way, if you call Dr. Lagrone, tell him I told you to call & you got his name from my blog series because he is a wonderful doctor. He has NO IDEA I am mentioned him only that I talk about him to everyone.)
First, hear me on this. I don’t care what he helped with me. Ultimately, the great Physician with me was God so let’s be clear on who the credit goes to. However He uses people and medicine. Dr. Lagrone is just a man and a Dr. but what I love about him is that he has proven that he cares first about his patients in lieu of insurance companies, money, politics, etc. and he knows his stuff. Even though I live in Texas, no matter where I am I always travel back to Nashville to see him if I need anything checked. Nobody else touches me.
This is the plan of action that we took and some tips that I personally did and do that got me from literally crawling on the floor and not being able to hold a full glass of water to being back in the gym like before within the year (again this worked for me & based on MY personality of take no prisoners!) Here goes:
1) He started me on an amazing infusion called REMICAD (supposedly this medication slows to stops the progression of arthritis….I AM A WITNESS.) Your doctor does some testing to find out how long you will need to take it. I was on it for about six months (that was only because I moved back to Ohio to handle something) it was supposed to have been longer. You’re in the office for a couple of hours. It is very, very expensive. At my time it was about $1,500 per infusion but I only paid $15 which was my office visit. If you have your doctor give it to you at the office, it will count as an office visit instead of the hospital. NOTE: Docs have told me insurance doesn’t want to pay due to cost but it depends if your doctor pushes for it. They don’t like to give it to older folks, I don’t want to say why. Push your doctor because they get a kickback from it…just being honest.
Another option is a really, really good infusion drug called HUMIRA. To me is not as miraculous as REMICAD but it worked well for me AND if you cannot afford it or have problems with not being able to get insured because you have RA (Don’t get me started on that!) you can get if for free with your doctor’s permission. For a while when I was switching jobs I didn’t have insurance & couldn’t get it because I had RA. My doctor signed the form, faxed it over and Humira was sent over to my house monthly. You have to do your own injections though. Here is the website to download the Humira application to get it if you’re unemployed, uninsured or need financial assistance. They are really cool to work with. http://www.humira.com/global/financial-assistance.aspx
2) He kept me on Prednisone. I always had a fear of the “round face’ syndrome with Prednisone. I had been on it for 3 years prior. For me, I always have tried to do no more than 5 mil. per day only when my body was killing me. The goal had always been to wean (under the dr.s guidance) myself off Prednisone at all cost. It’s just not that great to have in your body. Now, I keep a stock of it on hand just in case but don’t need or use it. If my allergies get really ugly and antihistamines aren’t working or it is a rainy day and the barometer acts up on my joints, okay I will pull 5 mil out but only then. In any case, follow your doctor’s direction.
3) He put me on Methotrexate. Oh I love the stuff. It’s actually a drug used for certain chemotherapies. Can’t take it if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant of course. For me, this was a key drug. I had to take folic acid with it though. Taking this does require getting your blood checked for your liver health about every 6 months. I have never had a problem with it. I took 6 tablets every week with the goal of weaning off.
4) Trazodone. Love it! This is an antidepressant but it was prescribed to help with sleep due to pain. I’m no longer addicted to pain killers and have a strong tolerance to drugs. I will tell you, this stuff will knock you out for a full day with you still needing to set the alarm clock. Powerful but works. While, I don’t need it for arthritis pain, as a 50 year old woman, going through the “can’t sleep at night changes”, it’s a beautiful thing.
Those were the only drugs the doctors put me on.
The rest were things I did and he greatly encouraged.
5) In my case, both of my wrists were so damaged and the bone degraded there was little left of them. That is why they hurt so much. A wonderful orthopedic hand surgeon (Phillip Coogan – also a plastic surgeon at Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance) fused the remaining bone fragments that were left in my wrist joints. Neither of my wrists bends but I don’t feel any pain either. Great decision.
6) Surgeries on varies finger, thumb and toe joints and replacements.
7) Started slowing stretching everyday without fail. Started with rolling my head then stretching shoulder, then reaching down to my toes. At the beginning, it was horribly painful. The more I continued, the more my dexterity returned, my joints loosened and I was able to move with less pain. Now if I don’t stretch, my body feels it the next day.
8) Each day I would find some way to move. It might be walking up a flight of stairs, or dancing to a song, playing with the cats, cleaning out the closets or putting together a picture album. No matter what it was, I would force myself to move. For motivation, I would promise myself an extra hour of sleep or a certain snack or something if I did one hour of movement. I use competition and goals for self-motivation…it works for me.
9) I started taking supplements to build up my immune system, bones, and body. To this day this is what I take:
Prenatal vitamin (no, not pregnant!), 600 mg calcium, 65 mg iron, 1000 B12, 360 mg Fish 0il, water pill, 5000 biotin, 800 folic acid, 200 mg alpha lipoic acid and 25mg DHEA
10) One the biggest things I did was to change my diet. For me, I found out that the things I was eating (basically carbs & sugar) were doing as much damage to my joints as my stress was. Again, I cannot speak for you, but in my life once I started cutting out the sugar, carbs (are there any other food groups?) and drinking tons of water not only did weight come off but, my fibromyalgia went away, alot of joint pain went away, my skin looked great, and alot of the achiness I had went away.
Within the year of moving, getting back to exercising, tons of water, the medication, getting healthier mentally and emotionally and dropping the stress and finding the cause, a great doctor, and exchanging lies I was believing for the truth, I was feeling great. Although, I no longer needed my handicap sticker in my car, best believe I felt I earned that sticker and still used it although I no longer needed it.
I really hope those tips helped. Arthritis is nothing funny and I hope I did not make light of your situation. Please know that no matter what condition you are in, there is hope and it begins with your frame of mind and saying, “No more excuses, Today, I take my body & my life back!”
You can do this.
Let me know if you have questions and please talk with your doctors.
Have a great day!
Dream Madly, Pursue Wildly, Trust Completely
Copyright © 2012 by Charlotte D. Hunt All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without written permission from the author except for brief quotations in printed reviews.