Saturday, April 27, 2013

.Better than Ever.

So it has been well over a month since I have wrote a blog. So here is a rather long update on my progress.

Starting the beginning of March my physical therapist told me It was time to start running again. WHAT? I GET TO RUN AGAIN?!?! Something I NEVER thought a person in the medical field would tell me. I was ecstatic. My heart was screaming for joy! I was the most excited I had been in years!

That following week about 5 days before I was set to start running again, my knee swelled up. Major bummer and bump in the road. I had ate a gluten free cookie 2 days prior which had a good amount of sugar in it and it caused my knee to puff up. Sugar and gluten makes my joints do this. Which is why I continue to stay away from them at all costs.
Days turned into weeks and my knee was still puffy. Around March 18 I received a very generous birthday present from a dear friend of mine that changed my life forever and gave my body the extra kick that it needed. She sent me supplements. Yes, supplements. They had worked wonders for her and her RA and she just so happens to be a Triathlete and was up and competing again with the help of these little yet powerful pills. At first I was like, "yeah, they prob wont really do much but why not give them a shot". I'm always suspicious of new things I try, because I never want to get my hopes up. But hey, who knows its always worth a shot.

Within a week I was already seeing a decrease in pain and swelling in my body. How in the heck? Even medications that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars don't work that quickly and these are only $46 a bottle. There had to be a catch right? Nope!

By March 31st I was feeling the best I had felt...well, ever! So while I was visiting my parents I decided to do something I had not done in a very, very, long time. I decided to go for a run.

When I got to the track it was like a flashback to my high school days. I kept having visions of me flying around that last curb with the relay baton in my hand while my legs drove me towards the finish line. I had been there numerous times after I graduated but this time something was different. My body felt different and something was in the air. I could feel my muscles SCREAMING in excitement as I walked out onto the track, almost as if they remembered what we had accomplished there so many years ago. My legs were twitching as if they were telling me "Its time Joanne, its time".

As I started to run, well more like a nice slow jog, I listened to everything my body was telling me. Listening to what my muscles were doing and to what my joints were feeling. And I kept waiting to feel that sting, that burn and even the ache. And it never came. NEVER. I didn't feel a single thing besides my body doing what it was meant to do, run.

I ran a mile that day. The first mile I ran pain free in well over 3 years. A moment I will cherish forever. One of the biggest victories of my life. Running with out the grasp of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

my facial expressions during my training sessions. hahaha :)

Today is now April 27. I have been running and training for almost a month now. Still not feeling any pain when I run, even on pavement. I am running up hills, lifting weights [2 pounds, small but hey I gotta start somewhere] and I am training for my first 5k in 4 years set in mid June. Who would have though right?

I still have days where I feel rougher than others, but that is expected. I feel more muscle pain now than joint pain. I had a MRI done on my right knee, the one that causes all the problems, and it showed NO signs of RA damage. But it did show tendinitis, which is why it swells from time to time. I have been icing it constantly throughout the day, before I run and train and also after. This seems to help keep it under control.

The past week I had a very intense week of running and training. As of right now my knee is a little angry, but it does not hurt. I am taking today and tomorrow off from training to give my body the rest it needs to be able to train again this coming week. I will be taking this week at a lower intensity so I do not over do myself and cause a bump in the road.

Many people doubted me when I started my journey to run again in late November. And then many more people doubted that I would be where I am today when I changed my diet and stopped taking biologics. I myself even had some doubts. But It changed my life. I now feel better than I ever have in the 24 years I have been living. I think clearer, I sleep better, the brain fog is gone, my anxiety is lower than ever before and most importantly, I can run again. The one thing I know I was meant to do.

Training and running with Rheumatoid Arthritis is not easy. What normal people struggle with while being physically active we have to worry about that, and then some...a lot of some. But for me, being an athlete with RA gives me pride. Because not only am I running, I'm showing a disease that it cannot control me anymore. I will not stand down, I will not back off, and I will not let this nasty thing take my life from me. I was born free, and now I have to really fight for that freedom. It does get tiring, but when I back down, it knows it and it does take advantage.

Our bodies are POWERFUL machines, even in the midst of disease. They are made to work with you, not against you. You just have to give it the proper tools to run correctly. You wouldn't expect your vehicle to run very well on terrible low grade gasoline right? Why would you expect your body to run well on terrible, non nutrient dense food? Its common sense.

So with the help of an amazing diet, supplements, chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapy, a dear friend&mentor, and now a coach, I am RUNNING again and living my life the way I was born to...

...With freedom.

-Little Wurmie-

Friday, March 1, 2013

Another RA Victory!

Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than before.

As many of my followers know, I used to be a avid runner and workoutaholic. In high school I was on the track team along with cross country. I have always loved to run, ever since I was a young child. I loved pushing myself physically at all times. Once I graduated high school my love for running become more than a hobby, it had turned into a passion and a lifestyle. I couldn't go a day with out it. The feeling that I have when I run is unlike anything else. It is when I am the most comfortable mentally. I am calm, content and most I never dreamed that I would ever be unable to run. It was something that came so easily to me that It had never really crossed my mind and when it did it scared the holy hills out of me. Running was my savior. It was my freedom. It was a way of feeling like I could do anything. Until it was taken away from me in a blink of an eye.

The last time I really tried to run after the RA had comfortably set in, was in October of 2010. I was only able to run 100 meters at a time at a very slow and awkward pace. The freedom I had once felt was completely overtaken by severe pain, discomfort and a anger that I had never felt before. That was the day that It had become a reality for me. I would never run again. The doctors were right. My freedom, joy and the love of my life was gone. My soul was crushed. My heart was torn apart. 

For the next 2 1/2 years from October 2010 to about Nov 2012 I had quietly accepted that I most likely would never be able to run again. Although I had a little hope inside me that never seemed to go away, I had accepted it. Throughout those 2 1/2 years I would rebelliously  jump on my treadmill and try to run again. Each time getting smacked in the face by each joint in the form of screaming pain and angry inflammation. What had happened to me? All those years of sprints, muscles, weights, sweat, miles and determination had completely flip flopped to the form pissed off, swollen joints and weak tiny muscles in less than 6 months. I had gone from a healthy, strong, athletic 140 pound woman to a weak, thin, fragile little girl. How could I have let this happen?

People always say to live life with out regrets. But I honestly have a few. The thing I regret most is letting RA get the best of me both physically and mentally. For 2 1/2 long years I let it take control of my life. I handed my life over to it on a silver platter with out realizing what I was doing. But for those 2 1/2 years something inside me was building up. A feeling that I had never once felt before in my 23 years of life. It has no description. No name. It is a feeling only felt in those who have been stricken by torment and soul crushing tragedy. But when you feel it, you know its time. 

For me, that time is now. I am doing things I never thought were possible again. 

Next week I start running. Yes, I Joanne Wurm, a person with the Chronic Illness called Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that is known to debilitate and destroy the body and a killer of normalcy and even dreams, is training to run. 

Now, I do know that my biggest challenge lies ahead of me. Not only physically but mentally. And if RA has taught me anything it has taught me to never, even in times of severe doubt, to EVER give up on your dreams. My dream has always been to run. And even when I was at my peak of performance I still had that dream to run. Now that I have been through hell in the form of chronic pain, the freedom I once felt takes on a whole new meaning. Life takes on a new meaning. And that meaning is my very own. It is my victory. It is my story. And it is my soul. 

My story is only just beginning. And it has one hell of a first chapter. 

-Little Wurmie-

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two Roads...

Lately I have been taking notes in my head about the things that trigger my RA. Two of the biggest things are food and emotions. Now I know a lot of you already know that everything we eat and put into our bodies makes a huge impact on our pain. But not a lot of people realize that the way you think, also effects our pain levels and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I'm going to go back in time with this blog post. Into my life before the RA. 

When I was around the age of 14, I started to become a very depressed child. And I honestly do not remember what triggered it. I must have buried it in my subconscious. But once I hit high school I became a very negative thinking, angry, upset and bitter little girl. Now a lot of people will say "thats just you being a teenager". Yes, I was a teenager, but this carried on into my adulthood. By the age of 19 I had become so bitter and angry I had drowned myself in my own unhappiness. I hated life and most of all I really didnt like myself. [now remember this was all before RA] I had come to accepting the fact that I would forever be miserable and nothing will ever go right in my life. All I had focused on for years was the negative and I never saw the good in life. I had taken my physical abilities for granted, my family and my friends. When finally in 2010 all of the negativity, stress and bad thoughts blew up in my face in the form of RA. Then I became EXTREMELY angry. I could hardly look at myself in the mirror let alone be happy.

For 2 long years I had done nothing but focus on a major negative force in my life. All I could say to myself was "seriously, its one thing after another. its never going to get better". I had grown to hate my body, not because of how it looked, but because of what it was doing to me. It was attacking me and I couldnt understand what I had done wrong. But all of that terrible thinking had lead my body to a point to where it really had had enough with me. It was finally able to fully get my attention when my back starting going haywire. And for the first time in my life, I sat down with myself and decided that I had to change. All of the depression, anxiety, stress, and negative attitude had taken a major toll on my mental and physical health. How had I let myself become so bitter? Why was I doing this to my body? Because I had become comfortable in the pain, suffering and negativity. And I finally got the notion that I had to change, or it was going to keep getting worse.

The hardest thing about my new journey has by far been changing the way I think about myself and my life. I had become so comfortable in my negative nancy land that becoming more positive was down right scary to me. But once I started to make small changes something inside me had come to the surface that I had not felt for over a decade. Positive thoughts? Happiness? Joy? What on earth are these feelings? And i'm feeling them everyday? The storm had finally passed in my head. And then I finally told myself that I needed to take more steps into getting my life back. And you know what, it all worked.

Four major things that have changed my life:
1) Positive Thinking
3)Physical Therapy
4)Changing my Diet

All 4 are essential to me. If I eliminate one, they all fall apart.

Now do not get me wrong, I still suffer with those sneaky negative thoughts. And I have been noticing that when I do become angry my body becomes angry. If I start to focus on negative things my body sends out a wave of pain. Kind of like its saying "HEY, STOP IT! OR I'M JUST GOING TO KEEP HURTING!". It also yells at me when I eat something I shouldn't. So now I'm starting to learn what effects my RA and what doesn't. And so far the two biggest things that trigger a flare for me are the wrong foods/drinks and negative thinking.

So if you suffer from RA keep an eye on how your body reacts to certain foods you eat and how your joints feel when you get upset or stressed. Because they all effect my RA. I know I cannot be the only one with RA or any kind of chronic illness that notices these things. 

I would also like to add that although RA has caused a lot of trouble in my life and things have become rather difficult, if it wasn't for RA I honestly do not think I would have changed myself for the better. Something really bad had to happen to me in order for me to become the person I was meant to be. 

I have decided to take the road less traveled in my life. For years I was continuing on a road of misery. But I have finally discovered that there is another road. And that, has made all of the difference.

-Little Wurmie-

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rheumatoid Awareness Day

So today marks a HUGE step in our awareness for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Febuary 2nd, also known as ground hog day, now shares a new meaning to me and millions of others who suffer from any form of RA. We are now becoming closer and closer to bringing this disease out of the shadows. A disease that not only effects adults, but also young adults and children.To me today means that I will work extra harder in spreading awareness. It gives me a extra push to share my story and spread the word about RA. I am an advocate for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I share my triumphs and challenges so that others like me know that they are not alone in this battle. I share my story so that more people know about this disease. The more people that know, the more RA gets attention for funding for research that we need to find OUR CURE!

"As many of you know, I have a chronic disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed in Nov 2010 but it all began much earlier then that. My life was completely flipped upside down in June of that year. For the first 2 years I tried to hide my disease from people and from myself. Before RA I used to run every day for hours on end just because I loved the freedom in doing so. I also used to lift weights like a crazy person because I enjoyed the feeling it gave me. Until one day I had to stop because of the severity of this disease. I took my physical capabilities for granted. But RA has not taken away my spirit. It has not taken away my determination. And it has not nor will it even take away my freedom. I will stand face to face with this disease every day. I will challenge it until my very last breath. I will never stop running. I just have a very large mountain to climb over in order to run again. And now i'm almost at the top of that mountain. 

Today is Rheumatoid Awareness Day. Spread the word. Wear blue or purple. And raise awareness for people like me, who fight a never ending battle with a chronic disease."- Little Wurmie

-Little Wurmie-

Friday, February 1, 2013

Turning Pain into Power

 When people are first diagnosed with a chronic illness like Rheumatoid Arthritis they fear for the worst. I was one of those people. I had went from a normal young adult to having my world turned upside down in less then a week. I started fighting myself, becoming depressed and longing for my life before RA. After 2 1/2 years of being like this something inside me changed. I was fed up feeling sorry for myself and letting this disease control my life. So I took control of it. And not just by changing my diet and going to physical therapy but by changing the way I thought. I started turning my "used to's" into "doing again's".

I was fed up with letting the pain from RA control me. I was DONE letting it take away my enjoyment in life. Something inside me just clicked. I realized that if i kept thinking of the worst and kept thinking of bad things that will happen, well...they eventually happened. So I no longer thought that way. I told myself "today is going to be a good day wither or not I have pain" and it turned out to be a good day. If you expect to wake up in pain you're going to wake up in pain. You have to push through that pain. Its your body telling you something is wrong, are you going to listen to it or ignore it? I was done ignoring it.

I ignored my body for 2 1/2 long painful enduring years. And then I just listened. I listened to what it was telling me. Yeah, it was telling me "HEEEYY, I HURT REALLY BAD!! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!" Clearly something was missing. Because even all of the thousands of dollars worth of meds I was putting and pumping into it wasn't doing anything. My body was agitated and fighting against me, not with me. So I started moving and eating better. Most people with RA say that moving is the worst thing to do, well I bag to differ. I was in A LOT of pain. I mean so much pain even not moving hurt. Just laying on my bed hurt. It even hurt to breath. But what my spirit and body was missing the most, was moving. So I started moving with Physical Therapy. It took a long time for my joints to get used to it. Because they have not done that type of work in so long, they were weak, stiff, swollen and bitter [yes, joints can be bitter]. But I told myself no matter how bad I hurt, I was going to push through that pain because I wanted to show myself that I was not a lost cause in the book of RA patients. I was not going to be another case of "she will be in a wheel chair by the age of 30" ME? HELL NO!! Not happening!! I am fighting for my freedom. I am fighting for my life!! I will never again settle for a life over taken by RA!!

What does complaining do? Nothing. But what does doing something about it do? A lot. Do something about your pain. Dont just sit there and take it every day. You have to really do something about it! Do you really expect to get better by taking thousands of dollars of medications and just sitting on your butt all day? Your body becomes weaker when you don't do anything, therefore you are going to hurt more! Like I said before in my previous blogs, weak muscles mean weak joints and weak joints mean a lot of pain. I know that moving is going to hurt like a son of a beesting. You are going to be stiff, sore and full of tears. I was. But I kept moving. And you know what...the pain got better.

I had a rough day yesterday. Drastic weather changes here in Ohio are common and as we all know the weather affects our joints. But I'm not going to let that one day of major pain ruin my chances for me. I have turned my pain into power! Every step yesterday hurt like a bitch but I didn't get discouraged by it. I didn't let it take control of me again.

Take your pain and turn it into your power. I no longer look at my RA as my weakness, I look at it as my strength. I have taken what I first thought was the the end of the road for me and made my own path. I am pushing through the thorns and moving over the mountains to create my own journey. I have been given a chance to help and inspire people. And i'm never going to take that chance for granted. RA has shown me that I can be greater then I ever thought possible. I can be more stronger both physically and mentally then I ever was before. I am not stopping because of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have a right to my own freedom and the pain is not going to stop me. Yes, it will slow me down...but no way in hell is it going to stop me!!

-Little Wurmie-

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Journey

Starting in December 2012 I made my a step into getting my physical life back. I was put into physical aquatic therapy. Now in December I was stiff, swollen, achy and everything hurt including my back. I was in the pool for an hour each time twice a week. The water felt so amazing on my achy joints and I could move pretty well in the pool regardless of how bad I hurt on land. At first the excersises we did hurt my knees, ankles, back and hands but as time progressed my muscles got a little more stronger, therefore my joints had less pain. The stronger the muscles around your painful joints are, the more stability those joints have and you have less pain. Its common sense really. As the weeks progressed I slowly got stronger and noticed I had a little less pain as the month came to a closing, but the natural athlete that I am I was bored being in the pool and wanted to get into the good stuff. Now dont get me wrong, after the first week of pool therapy my muscles HURT and were so sore. I mean I havnt done work like that in almost 2 1/2 years so I new I was going to be sore, but it was a good kind of sore. My joints even showed retaliation but I kept telling myself, if I can get my body stronger this pain will get better.

I also started to see a special chiropractor in Nov, that was my first step. He also has helped my physical journey along with his massage therapist. They are all a wonderful team and have helped me both physically and mentally. They give the the extra touch I need in my life. :)

On Dec 31 after being in the pool for a month I went back to my physical trainer for evaluation. My knees were still weak and I told her I didnt want to be in the pool anymore because I wanted to strengthen my legs with land therapy. I still couldnt bend my knees straight out because they were so stiff and still hurt. So she decided that I will start doing simple exercises to strengthen my core, quads and knee muscles along w my arms. At first everything was difficult and I was super stiff, but I was determined to get my body back into that strong machine again. I did the exercises  she gave me everyday at home and saw her twice a week for my 'work outs'. Slowly but surely I noticed that my knees were hurting less and my back wasnt on fire all of the time. 

I'm in my 3rd week of land physical therapy and on top of that I am in the process of becoming gluten and sugar free. For two weeks now I have been eating more fruits, veggies, and nuts on a daily basis to help my pain subside. I'm staying away from processed foods, some dairy, and meat [i've been a vegetarian since aug 2011]. Its been hard to cut out gluten and sugar, especially sugar because I LOVE chocolate but I have cut those intakes down more then half now. I've noticed that with physical therapy, eating a more plant based diet and also seeing my chiropractor twice a week my body is slowly starting to have less pain. Yesterday my physical therapist said my progression so far has been amazing and that she can see that I am determined to fight to get my body back, which was amazing to hear :)

Sure, you can sit back and let RA take control of your life and feel sorry for yourself. Some people with RA and comfortable with the pain, for awhile I was. I figured nothing I could do could help my pain go away. I mean if the medications dont work then there was no hope for me. Then my back started to hurt so bad that I had finally had enough. I was fed up with hurting, with feeling sorry for myself and seeing a special relationship in my life fall apart. All I needed was some extra pain and a special friend to give me that extra shove towards the road to getting my life back.

If you honestly think that you hurt to much to do any kind of physical therapy, I feel sorry for you. The amount of pain I was in was unbearable. But I had enough of the pain. Its a slow process when it comes to physical therapy, especially with RA patients. Our joints are so fragile that we are afraid to do anything but in reality thats what we need to be doing, something to make our muscles and bodies STRONGER!! If you lay in bed or sit on the couch all day your muscles are going to weaken and your going to hurt more, and i'm talking from experience. Its just the way it works. But if you get off your bum and say "I WONT BE A VICTIM ANY LONGER" you're already one step closer to having less pain. And its not going to be a easy journey, trust me. My muscles are like "WTF are you DOING?" along with my joints. But i'm fighting for them, not against them. I plan on making a video soon about the exercises that i'm doing and how to do them correctly. They are simple and help build up your muscles so your joints have more stability to hold on to, therefore causing less pain like I said earlier and its so important to understand that. I'm also going to be talking about how diet plays a key role in RA and how to fight RA with good, wholesome food. If our body can heal itself on the outside, why couldn't it heal its self on the inside? Think about it. 

Yes, I still have aches and pains, but the are getting less and less each week. I'm excited to see my body slowly get stronger and feeling less pain. I'm more energetic, happy and also I can feel my bodies overall health go up. And all you need is a little push towards getting your life back, and you would be amazed at the results. Anyone can do it, you have just to WANT to do it. I want to run again, that is my ultimate goal. I want to run marathons and half marathons and show people that just because you have RA doesnt mean you are doomed. You have to want that freedom. And by golly I WANT my freedom! 

I'm making a stand against my Rheumatoid Arthritis, are you?

-Little Wurmie-

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Inner Battles

When it comes to chronic pain like Rheumatoid Arthritis, the inner struggle with yourself can be the worst battle. The feeling of losing control over your health, the fear of what the doctor will say, what the blood tests will say. I get the most anxious in the waiting room to see the many doctors I see. Always wondering if they will bring good news or bad. But I also become anxious while sitting at home. Even before the RA set in i battled with anxiety, but it has gotten worse since being diagnosed with RA. The ever lasting fear of being out of control with your body is a hard thing to grasp for people who are healthy. But its also a hard thing to grasp for those us that do deal with it.

Trying to maintain a normal life has become rather difficult. Relationships of all kinds become harder to maintain as some people do not fully understand why someone with a chronic illness cannot do the things they once did, or do the things that normal people their age can do. I sometimes get angry when I hurt. And take it out on the ones I love the most. And they have done nothing to deserve it. But it just happens. My life was turned upside down in nearly a single day. Who wouldnt be angry? But I've learned that I cannot be angry all of the time. When you are dealing with a constant pain everyday your way of thinking completely changes and your life takes on a whole new meaning. The struggles you deal with are not what most people would consider a normal thing to deal with, especially at my age. Numerous doctors, never ending appointments, prescription refills, new medications, needles, self injections, failed infusions, blood tests, counting out pills in the mornings, mid day and evenings, fatigue, and the ever constant pain in nearly every joint hell I could go on forever. But my biggest struggle, is that I still cannot fully grasp that I am not as strong as I once was [physically]. I still tell myself that I can do certain things that I once could, then I do them and end up hurting myself and become angry&rather frustrated. Mentally I am more strong then I ever thought I could be. I've had people tell me to just stop talking about, stop over thinking. Well, I tried doing that and it only made matters worse for me. We have to mentally prepare ourselves on a daily basis before we even wake up. Take a deep breath before doing something that is so simple, but causes a deep pain in the joint we are using. 

As hard as it really is to imagine what it is like to have a chronic pain condition those with out it will never know the struggle. 

I am not asking anyone to understand, but to just listen.

-Little Wurmie-