My war against Rheumatoid Arthritis.

In April 2017 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It happened only days after my mother in law passed away, and at the same time my sister had a stroke. I was also still recovering from an eye operation, so as you can understand it wasn’t a great time for me.

I had a choice though, would I sit down and be a victim or would I just get up and fight? I chose for the second option even though I knew it was a fight I wasn’t really going to win, at least not in the short term.

But before I continue let me first give a brief explanation what Rheumatoid Arthritis is.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes pain and swelling in the joints. Hands, feet and wrists are commonly affected, but it can also damage other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis can make your joints feel stiff and can leave you feeling generally unwell and tired. It is most common between the ages of 40 and 70, but it can affect people of any age, and occurs more frequently in women than men.

What causes it?

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. It is not clear what triggers the initial attack. Some theories suggest that an infection or a virus may trigger rheumatoid arthritis, but none of these theories has been proven. In my case I believe it was caused by trauma, because prior to the aforementioned traumatic events I also had to deal with the death of my brother in law which happened only 6 months, prior to that. The death of my father in 2015 and the fact that I had already lost one eye in 2011, and was facing a potential loss of the other eye(luckily that didn’t happen) so I think the accumulation of all these things triggered the unset of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, but that is only based on my presumptions not on science.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This is when your immune system, which usually fights infection, attacks the cells that line your joints, making them swollen, stiff and painful. Over time, this can damage the joint itself, the cartilage and nearby bone. Basically an autoimmune disease is when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells.

So what does this all mean to me?

To me it means that I am in pain every day of my life. Does this mean my life isn’t worth living? Of course it doesn’t because despite the pain I still consider myself lucky. I am still alive and the pain reminds me of that. Furthermore I still live a reasonable normal life. Luckily I was diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, and the Rheumatologist was able to come up with a treatment which would halt or significantly slow down the progression of the disease. Prior to his consultation the Medical Assessment Unit on St. John’s hospital had put me on a high dose of prednisolone steroids tablets to ease the pain. I was in severe pain, I couldn’t move my arms and my left knee felt like it was shot and someone was constantly poking it with a knife(this is no exaggeration). When the Rheumatologist assessed me he told me that I needed to get of the steroids, because they were masking the symptoms. In order for him to set a correct diagnosis I had to suffer a bit more. When he eventually confirmed it was Rheumatoid Arthritis he put me on a cocktail of medicines.

  1. Methotrexate (MTX), formerly known as amethopterin, which is a chemotherapy agent and immune-system suppressant. They are small yellow pills. Which I take once a week
  2. Humira: Humira belongs to a class of biologic medicines known as TNF( tumor necrosis factor) blockers. It specifically binds to TNF and blocks it from acting within the body. It is an injection which I take every fortnight.

In order to reduce the need for additional pain killers , I decided to follow a course called Living Well with Arthritis and Related Conditions, which was designed by Stanford University ,California USA. The course was brought to my attention by course leader/tutor who also happened to be a cousin of my wife.

The course ran over 6 weeks and focuses on self managing the condition by a variety of tools like, physical activity, making action plans, distraction.

Although I was already doing a lot of the things covered by the course. I still found it very beneficial. One of the main benefits for me was that the fact I was there with people who were in the same situation as I was.

There was no need explaining how I felt, they just knew. One of the frustrating things for anyone living with a chronic diseases is that their family and friends don’t understand what that means, they just couldn’t understand, I look externally like a fit and healthy man.

The course benefitted me so much that I now have become a course leader/tutor myself and not only for Arthritis but also for other chronic diseases.

There is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis as of yet, and we don’t even know if there ever will be one. But that shouldn’t scare us, we just have to deal with the illness as good as we can , working together with healthcare providers and organisations who deal with Arthritis. For me that is Arthritis Ireland.

As I stated in the title that is a war, it truly is. Sometimes you fight battles on a battlefield other times it is like conducting guerilla warfare, My weapons are the medicines, the living will tools and constantly educating myself. Not listening to those who sometimes have bizarre conspiracies about the treatment and try to convince people about unproven alternative treatments. They are akin to the collaborators of the enemy, in my case Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Sometimes people think that it is unfair they contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis, and maybe that is true, but life isn’t always fair not isn’t it always meant to be easy. It was meant to be challenging and that is what makes it interesting. There is nothing more boring then traveling over a smooth surface all the time, you need the off obstacle.

The Covid 19 pandemic has not made things easier but it has created a few opportunities which weren’t there before. The aforementioned living well courses are now available on line, so you can do them from the comfort of your own home.

My latest battle is the Covid 19 vaccination, which I will get in the next few days, but this means I have to stop taking my medication 2 weeks prior and 2 weeks after the vaccination, which does cause me a little bit more discomfort. However in the greater scheme of things it is a sacrifice I gladly make.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is a war but at the moment I am winning.

From April 12 to April 18 it is the National Arthritis week in Ireland. Please support the organisations who deal with Arthritis wherever you are. The research is not cheap. The science has come a far way, until recently Rheumatoid Arthritis was a severely crippling disease.

I am not asking you for donations here . I just want to raise awareness. Having that said, donations are always welcome.

sources

https://www.arthritisireland.ie/Pages/Events/Category/national-arthritis-week-events-2021

https://www.arthritisireland.ie/living-well-with-arthritis

https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/r/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-of-rheumatoid-arthritis.html

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/31860

That time we gave Cocaine to our kids for a sore throat and toothaches.

tootch

How things have changed. Nowadays we wouldn’t dream of giving our children cocaine to treat sore throats or toothaches, Firstly because we know how devastating cocaine is and secondly we would be arrested,

But in days of yore it was perfectly acceptable to give you offspring and indeed yourself a ‘healthy’ dose of cocaine.

hay

cocaine

coke

 

J.D. -The Forgotten WWII Hero.

2019-11-05

This most be one of the most intriguing WWII stories,not is it only one of those rare positive WWII stories it also ties in to WWI and the effects of it still apply today.

We have no name for this hero, all we know him as is J.D. .  We know of J.D is that he was a Polish immigrant who worked as a steel worker in the US. We also know he had Lymphoma which is a  blood cancer that develop from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). He was terminally ill and did  not have long to live. He was incased in tumors.

J.D was the first patient to be treated with a Chemotherapy.

Milton Winternitz at Yale, who had worked on sulfur mustards in WWI, managed to get a contract to study the chemistry of the mustard compounds from the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. He approached two pharmacologists from the Yale School of Medicine, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman,  to investigate potential therapeutic applications of chemical warfare agents.

Goodman and Gilman’s initial plan was to create anti dotes to mustard gas.They were afraid of a repeat of WWI. They discovered that soldiers who had been exposed to Mustard gas in WWI had a surprisingly low whit blood cell count.

They then  reasoned that this agent could be used to treat lymphoma. Initially they  set up an animal model by creating  lymphomas in mice and showed they could treat them with mustard agents. Next, in co-operation with a thoracic surgeon, Gustaf Lindskog, they injected a related agent, mustine (the prototype nitrogen mustard anticancer chemotherapeutic), into the  patient only known as J.D.  He had volunteered for the test he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He got his first injection on August 27 at 10.00 AM, 1943  They noticed  a dramatic reduction in the patient’s tumor masses .Although the effect lasted only a few weeks, and the patient had to return for another set of treatment, it would the first step to the realization that cancer could be treated by pharmacological agents.

Although J.D’s life was only prolonged for a few months it had given him at least a few reasonably good months.

2019-11-05 (1)

Although  the study was concluded in 1943 , due to  the secrecy associated with the war gas program, the results were not published until 1946.the publication of the first clinical trials was reported on October 6 1946 in the New York Times.

All the chemo therapies that followed work bascially on the same mechanism.

If it had not been for J.D. the treatment for cancer may have been completely different today. Therfore I believe he really was a WWII Hero.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Sources

BBC

https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/21/8643

New York Times

What addiction? The weird world of medical advise.

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Substances we now know to be highly addictive and even lethal weren’t always seen that way. In the late 19th and early 20th century heroin was seen as a cough medicine and coca cola’s secret ingredient was cocaine.(Have a coke and a smile)

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Cigarettes were  recommended for pregnant women. Even arsenic was used in confectionery and advertised as something that would keep you young.

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Below are just some of the examples of medical advise and advertisements used in the past.

What could go wrong?

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Why stop with beer? Why not use whiskey or rum to get your child to sleep.bf0a532a4949f6b196735524c8560968

Arsenious Acid granules. Nothing like a little Aresenic to cure what ails you. Notice the inconsistency of the dosage. Each granule could contain anywhere from 1 to 50 grain and you were to take 1-2 granules, therefore you may have from 1 to 100 grain in any one dose. Thankfully they have now labelled it as poison just in case.

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Have a smoke for white teeth

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Heroin and Cannabis were marketed  as  potent cough suppressants.

cough syrup

heroin-cough-syrup

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00