I want to thank the thousands of people who have been praying for me during the past few months and sending me encouraging messages. I appreciate you a lot and know that your prayers are working. God has been, and continues to be, gracious and kind to me.
As many of you know, early in November 2017, my health went downhill significantly and rapidly. One day as I got out of bed, I felt as if I was experiencing a very bad Rheumatoid Arthritis flare-up. My entire body, jaw to toes, was either stiff or sore or both. I could not walk to the bathroom and was bedridden for 3 days.
Since then my recovery has been slow and sure and now I am excited about the progress and pushing hard to do my part to get back to where I was.
It was discovered in a chest x-ray in January that my Rheumatologist requested that I have a compression fracture of my T7 vertebrae. When that happened is unsure. It is common in people who have taken prednisone for long periods of time. In my case, I have taken prednisone for 49 years. I had been experiencing severe upper body pain, stiffness, and muscle tightness since November when I was first hit with the flare-up.
I continued to go to work in horrible pain in November and December before finally deciding to take a month off work to find out what was causing such horrible pain. A good part of my pain during November and December, 2017 was likely due to the fracture.
My Rheumatologist also sent me for a blood test and bone density scan. The blood tests, one in December and one in January. When I saw her on December 13, 2017, the blood work I just had done showed EXTREMELY high levels of inflammation in my body. It could not all be caused by the T7 compression fracture alone. The disease is in an active state.
I had started on morphine twice a day in December and it now controls my pain very well. I am on a minimal dose. With the pain under control, my major goal now is to regain the range of motion in my upper body that I lost in the past 2 months. I also lost all my muscle mass and strength for some reason.
From November onwards I have had challenges with several important daily living activities and regaining those is the key to getting my independence back. One of those challenges is bending down, and reaching behind, to pull my pants up when I go to the bathroom. I can't bend down as far as I used to and so I cannot let my pants fall too much when I go for a pee or I will not be able to get them back up. I cannot reach behind my back hardly at all and that stops me from pulling regular pants up. Because of that I have had to use a urinal since this happened. I am also unable to put a shirt on or take it off.
Shaving has also become a challenge. My left hand is the only one that reaches my face and so I rely on it to eat, brush teeth, shave, and blow my nose. At the moment, shaving is a painful challenge. I need to use my right hand to guide my left hand so it can reach all my face. It hurts and sometimes I cannot do it myself. Kim has had to shave me half a dozen times since this started.
I started physiotherapy last week and have had 3 sessions so far. It is amazing how much he has loosened my neck and upper back area so that I now have more range of motion for my daily living activities. In 3 or 4 more sessions his work will restore the range of motion I lost which will enable me to dress myself and look after my daily hygiene needs.
The major way to treat a T7 compression fracture is to lay down and rest. I have done lots of that even though it is painfully boring. I have used an ice pack frequently while I lay down because ice reduces inflammation and pain.
I lost 15 pounds in the process. Morphine is known to kill your appetite plus I wasn't doing anything plus I was tired and in pain plus I was depressed....all these things added up to me not eating, a sure way to lose weight. That has changed and I am eating well again.
I started the loading doses of the newest and greatest in Rheumatoid Arthritis biologics drugs, Inflectra, just yesterday (Jan 23rd). Yesterday's treatment consisted of a 2 hour intravenous treatment. Doses 2 and 3 will also be two hour infusions and after that they will be one hour. Dose two will be on February 6th and dose three in early March. Inflectra, like all biologic drugs, is meant to replace prednisone and has way fewer side affects. Not only does it help with pain and inflammation, it can delay or prevent my joints from getting worse, which is very exciting for me.
My bone density is very poor, typical of someone who has taken prednisone for so long. Once the Inflectra starts working and I am able to get off of prednisone, I will start a bone building program than includes an injection that rebuilds bone. My mother-in-law used it and was able to regain 40% of her density within a year.
Because of poor bone density and stiffness throughout my upper body, and being on morphine, I was using a walker that I purchased whenever I went outside for anything. While getting used to the low dose of morphine I am on, I felt unsteady, which put me at a greater risk of falling. In my case falling can have very serious and permanent side affects. I even used it in our condo somewhat regularly.
For the past week I have not used my walker indoors or outdoors and I am getting stronger and steadier and more confident. I feel better not using a walker, more like myself. I'm excited about that progress.
One of the blessings during this time is that I was able to service my coaching clients well and met with them weekly by video without any problems. I also get paid by Tony DiRico to host a Think and Grow Rich mastermind group every Tuesday from 5:15pm to 6:30pm EST. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like details about joining that group.