Showing posts with label Arthritis.org. 2015 National Summit of on the Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arthritis.org. 2015 National Summit of on the Hill. Show all posts

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sharing More About My Pathway to being An Autoimmune "Voice" Activist, doing Advocacy & being An Ambassador for AI's - A Long Journey...

I am WAITING "patiently". I am supposed to get a huge "suprise" goody box from the Arthritis Foundation. Since I was not able to attend the Summit, they are sending me my "Platinum Ambassador" certificate, along with some other things from the Summit!!! Hopefully another reusable bag, so I can "advertise" plus maybe a T-Shirt smile emoticon I hope. We got them last year, so maybe that will be with some of the rest of it... I will take a picture after I get it so everyone can see what kinds of things I got.... I am still so totally bummed about not getting to go to DC I pray and pray, I will get another chance in the future! :):) I certainly hope so... being in DC for me, is the ultimate "advocacy" way to get your message across... I did last year in 2014... and even though I didn't get to go physically this past time, my heart, soul and spirit were there and I was "tweeting", blogging and posting everything I could to help spread the word!

I will have more and better pics in a bit.. my battery on my camera needs charging. But, here is a portion of the awesome box I received yesterday from The Grassroots Manager at the Arthritis Foundation!!!! Even though I did not make it to DC this year and be awarded my plaque in person, I hope next year to go one way or the other... I was so surprised and honored to receive this!
  • I am going to post a photo a bit later of ALL of my incredible things I received from the Arthritis Foundation. I was so thrilled when it came yesterday afternoon! I received my "Official Plaque" for being a 20014 "Platinum Ambassador", a new T-Shirt from the new Summit, several buttons I can wear, a "stress" ball, an awesome "reusable" bag!! This one has zipper pockets, and is lined very well in heavy plastic, with the whole logo on it from the summit. It is really awesome! I also got the brand new 2015 Ambassador "Too; lit", which is so nice. I have it downloaded onto my computer, but this one is so cool. It is in a beautiful bound booklet, with all of the "colorful" logos etc used this year for the Summit. By the way, it is "green" this year and so it my new T-Shirt! I am just so happy I received it with a beautiful note written by the "grassroots manager" who is just a real sweetheart! Laura has been almost like a "mentor" to me in so many wonderful ways. Also, last year along the way, we became "friends". I learned a great deal about her on more of a personal level and we shared things back and forth over the year about the Arthritis Foundation, but also what we had going on more about our own lives. I have truly been blessed to have her kind of take me under her wing. She was the person that helped to get me home, in the last years Summit of 2014, when Jim had the severe and very bad car accident at the last of the Summit. Her and Chris Nieto will always remain extremely special to me on many, many ways. I thank the Lord for them each day, and all of the help. compassion, support, and so much more they gave to me during that "trying time". Those times when life can all of a sudden within a breaths space throw a curve ball at you 90 MPH, & hit you right in the gut with full force. I am so indebted to both of them, plus the Arthritis Foundation; along with several others that gave me the support I needed when literally my knees buckled under the weight of way too much "life tragedy" when I least expected it. Pam Gill from the Central AF also was a huge help, and so many of the advocates, and my "family here on FB" were here day after day during those trying times when he was in the hospital for over 3 months. I never thought our lives would ever see anything
    "normal" again. As I said before, and we continue to see it, a "new normal" whatever that might be in our lives now. Denise Tekell you have also been here to listen, encourage, support, & be such a very dear, dear friend even though you are going through a very difficult time in your own life. I admire you so very much, for the strength you show, for your tenacity to find your way through such again a time when life seems to be so turned upside down for you and your family. Yet, you always have a smile on your face, no matter the amount of pain, and of fatigue, & all kinds of health issues you are dealing with, you have a kind word for us no matter what life is also pitching at you also, at a pace so fast, sometimes we find ourselves almost unable to "dodge" it. So many of you here have lifted myself and Jim up in thought, positive light and prayers. I hope EACH and everyone of you (and you know who you are) always KNOW and TRUST we are so blessed and so very grateful to have you on our fighting side of life, when it decides to deem a rapid punch when you least expect it. As I finish up "HOPEFULLY" over a YEAR of the NIGHTMARE from the Sjogren's and Losing ALL OF MY TEETH to that horrid disease, and Hope for these "mini titanium pins" will continue to help give me the added support I so desperately need in order to hold these bottom dentures in place, only to now fight another battle of a "new pain" - well it is not so "new" but much worse than it had been in my lower back, hips and legs. I am still not so sure my hips are also a part of the problem. In fact I am going to call my orthopedic surgeon and make an appointment to see him hopefully ASAP and see about having my hips injected again very soon. So, once again I face a "new frontier" in this battle of autoimmune illnesses. They can cut you down much faster than you can get up all too often... more later...
  • I am sure (Jim and I in fact talked about this yesterday) that at times people probably wonder If I have lost my mind.... Well, I didn't have a whole lot to lose, since over the years many things have certainly waxed and waned me in life. At one time, before I got into the "advocacy" work, and before I got "chronically ill"... my "voice" in my writing and some volunteer work was for "battered and abused" women (men kids etc)... but mainly women. Due to a couple of events that happened to me as a teenager, that I never spoke of here in this town at all, along with the living hell of an extremely abusive marriage that I stayed in WAY TOO LONG, before I finally decided to leave the entire state of TX behind... and find "peace" somewhere else.. which at first I thought was Lancaster CA, then things happened, I had to move back to TX, and again put up with the mental, emotional and physical abuse of someone who was "supposed to love me".... I had a knee operated on... and when it was well enough, I moved to Seattle WA... there of which I thought I had found my "life"... and I did in many ways. I loved my job there, and I was basically more "healthy" that I had been in years and years. Then I was struck down with yet some more abuse, that I got out of very quickly. It was not long until I began to I am sure now have the sign and symptoms of what I now know is the Lupus, RA, Sjogrens and so forth ... so due to life's changing path, just as a river can change course my life led me back here, to where I grew up... and at first I was angry... I was ANGRY AND MAD AS HELL! To be quite honest. That was the last thing I wanted to do. But I did miss my Mom and kids... thus coming back was a good thing... As far as the "abuser" he wound up in jail for a long time right after me moving back. So, that kept him out of my life... and after that, he has left me, (us) alone for the most part. Thank goodness. Back before I moved to Seattle, due to mainly "hiding" to keep from being abused (I was 40 at the time) many thought I was the one insane, on drugs, etc... no one was ever told the truth at that time... i hid it, kept it inside because I knew no one would believe me then. They would assume and did, that I was the one with "the problem". Later it all came out, and when that happened it stopped many years of gossip, pain, and others thinking I was nuts. Anyway, My advocacy, writing, poetry and so forth for many years had always been about the abuse, how to get out, how to get help, and so on... then it took a new twist after I became so chronically ill. During my "research" of what all of these "diseases" were doing to my body, I saw much that "called me into" the activist work. I wanted to TELL THE ENTIRE WORLD that I, THAT WE... all of us NEEDED ASSISTANCE.. we needed a cure, a reason why, MORE RESEARCH, more of everything, and I so wanted to be a part of that change.... thus my own illness led me to this road of being an Ambassador... and the challenge of trying to "make a difference"... but when the ordeal with Jim happened a year ago, things truly changed again... what many DO NOT SEE, are the days, times, moments, sometimes a week or two, that I DO FALL APART... I do want to just say to hell with it and quit... I don't want to make another step, see another doctor, take another pill, and at times I am truly SICK OF BEING SICK FOR ONE... AND #2 i am SICK OF ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT BEING SICK!! So, I like you try to hold onto one moment, one hour, one day, one month... and step forward sometimes to an abyss of the unknown... and allow "faith" to lead me where I need to go... Even now, I know in my heart, if I ever intend of being SERIOUS about WRITING my BOOK, I am going to have to "cut back" on some of my other advocacy work... as much as I never wanted to even think that, much less have to honestly deal with it. I am under way too much "pressure and stress"... I've always been a "yes" person... someone asks me to "help" and of course I am always willing and ready to step up to the plate and do whatever it takes... but between my own "all terrain" keeper of our domain, in other words, taking care of the WHOLE HOME, all of it... and then so much with Mom, that she honestly cannot do on her own... and my own illness, I am still way too overloaded to find the time to write, to blog, and to do the other things I feel that are also my "calling"....So, as much as I don't want to, I am going to have to back out of some of the activism for now. I can always pick it back up later.... but for now, I feel my work on my book, our home, and Mom's things... as well as my own health has to take precedence over some of the other things I have been participating in... So, as in the next couple of days, I make that decision of what to "hold onto" for now, and what to "bow out of" for now... pray I am making the right decisions and I am doing what "His" Will is, not just my own... so this is a perfect "holiday" to "roll away the stone"... and find out what is "truly meant for me to do over the next year or so"... I pray and hope for guidance, because Lord knows I may mess it up on my own.... Hugs back and much love.





Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thoughts on the Arthritis Foundation Visit and the Summit on Capitol Hill, and others that were and are there this week!!!

....  Plus we will be able to get some of those extremely important issues covered like the "biosimilars" (which also is going to be on a state level of legislature also). the business about affordable medications, more from the DOD about our armed service people coming home and facing some of these often crippling illnesses, plus get the Pediatric Rheumatologists more plentiful for the children with Juvenile Arthritis, JRA etc. There are MANY "Eggs" in the basket once again this year, so I am happy to know that I will be an important part to helping to possibly gain more access for patients on medications, get more research and development off the ground, and as the AF says, get to the point that everyone on the "Hill" and not there to understand that "Arthritis is Unacceptable".... I appreciate ALL of those who were able to go to DC. I still am so bummed that I missed it. But, I guess I now know "why" or part of why I was not able to go. My health a huge part of it, plus there were several things I needed to be here at home about already this week, and I still have more. I had the CT Scan yesterday, so as I said in a previous post, I hope they "find" what the problem is. If that can be done, THEN as stupid as it sounds, I think I will somewhat be relieved. I, along with many feel when we go into our doctors complaining of certain symptoms, especially pain in some ways, that if there is not some "thing" they can point it to exactly, that we are not believed as much as if we go in, they do labs, scans and whatever, find something "tangible" to say "this" is what is causing that severe pain... then we feel it is far better received all too often by our physicians, family, friends and so forth. We ALL are all too aware of "silent illnesses" that don't just "show" and even in testing at times those tests are just as good as the people doing them, reading them etc. So, I know for me I just think if they can "pin point" something in my lumbar spine, like I suspect some "compression fractures" due to the osteoporosis, then my doctor will be more apt to "see" that YES I am in more pain and my pump should be upped. But, of if that stupid scan does not give a "bird's eye" picture of something obvious, then will he still take me "seriously"??? He should, he has been my pain specialist now since about 2008 or so. He is the one that got me on the right medication, and then put the pump in when we reached that place in late 2010. Wow, it is hard to believe it is coming up on 5 years since the pump was placed on my right side! Time flies by much too quickly. But, I also still suspect part pf my issue is with my hips. I've had them injected with corticosteroid on several occasions. In fact the last time, both hips were so bad, I asked my orthopedic surgeon to inject both at the same time! He did, and I got better for a long time. So, if the back shows something then I will be "relieved"... and yet if something still seems "off" then I will see about my orthopedic doctor maybe doing a CT scan of them, or sometimes just X-rays are good enough in hips to show the degeneration. Like my hands, thumbs, wrists and feet, and toes. All of that show up in a regular X-ray.

So, I also of course below talked about the issues with my Mom's sister, and it is at the point, that I just hope she hangs on until tomorrow. I am taking Mom their tomorrow, and then we will go to my doctors appt after that.
I just have not gotten a good enough information, that I really know. I am under the impression that when they call in "hospice" that usually means things are heading downhill fast. So I certainly don't want my Mom to put this off ... I think she just has a difficult time seeing my Aunt in the shape she is in, so she kind of puts off visiting,  because of how hard it is on her. But, time is of the essence now for sure. So, no more putting it off, even if I have to drag her kicking and screaming LOL... tomorrow to see my Aunt and Uncle.... Please any and everyone share your visits to the "Hill" with myself and others... I would love to hear from you!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Arthritis Foundation Annual Summit on the Hill in DC Happening NOW!

Get your fingers in gear and get ready to do some "E-Summit Advocacy" things, if you were not able to attend the Summit. I feel this will be an incredible couple of days that will certainly help to enhance the future treatments, research, physicians, tests and reasons to why these illnesses attack so many of us!



http://www.arthritis.org/advocate/advocacy-summit/virtual-summit/


LOTS of things going on today on Capitol Hill - Check your FB and Tweets!!!!



Sunday, March 22, 2015

I am with you and the Arthritis Foundation in spirit and in thoughts and well wishes!!!

Since TOMORROW is the HUGE "Summit on Capitol Hill" Day for the Arthritis Foundation. This is just one of the many "Annual" events AF puts on throughout the year. There is the "Jingle-Bell Run", the "camp" for the Juvenile Arthritis Patients, there are also other walks that are done around the various states. In fact here in my part of Texas, we will be having a get together in April! I am so hoping to be able to go! So, since I am sure there are many people out there that are "aware" of the Arthritis Foundation, and that they are a non-profit for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, they do any and every thing imaginable to HELP US as Patients, Caregivers, Family Members, Friends, and those that have children with JRA or JA/Still's Disease. From being up front and personal with our Nation's Congress, the AF is always reaching out to help with some bills, laws, and even the different states platforms when it comes to patients with these illnesses. AF addresses the disparities involved, trying to find ways to get more researchers, more medications, more educated physicians, nurses and all medical professionals, and also work on some things with the DOD which involves our own troops that come home all too often with some type of "Arthritic" illness that takes its toll on their lives state side. The AF brings "patients" in as Advocates, and Ambassadors, takes them to Capitol Hill annually about this time in March each year, to visit the different Representatives in our areas, and "educate" them about our illnesses. We also tell them how they can help immensely by "supporting" the Arthritis Caucus or even being a member of it. We talk to them about the "real day to day" hellish at times living we face. We explain how things need to change in order for us to be more able to work, to take care of us, our families, and participate in many activities, but without the proper treatment EARLY in the game, and a proper well educated physician that knows his or her stuff, we often wind up totally disabled, totally unable to take care of ourselves, or much of our things, and then the quality of our lives are painful to not just us, but spouses, children, family and friends.... OF course we all totally understand that these types of medical ideas - whether a research study or clinical trial, maybe a drug that is needing approval from the FDA, thus possibly more of a wait to get it on the market, the VAST
arena" of prices on these "new medications" and how can patients possibly afford them? When you are speaking of a medication, one injected at home weekly, at the "cost of" $4,000.00 a MONTH, plus insurance either will NOT PAY any of it, OR the "co-pay" you would owe is so astronomical there is no way you can even pay that. Then the money it takes to get a research project off the ground. Researchers may spend years and years on ONE idea, ONE cure, ONE reason... for the illness in the first place. Then that may hit a wall, and after all the money and time, nothing comes of it anyway.
So, in front of the scenes and behind the scenes the Arthritis Foundation has brought and continues to bring patients together, in a bond, a purpose, and driven to "change" what is now just purely unacceptable. As I have thought of each of you all day long today, knowing that each of you are there and are "taking my place" to get the word out, to get Congress to really "listen" and act! I feel this will be a very incredible Summit this year and MANY things will start to be accomplished over the next few days.
My prayers, thoughts and well wishes to all of you there. PLEASE POST, email, tweet and so forth any and everything you can if you get a chance! I will be closely watching Twitter, FB, and the others, watching for any thing that may get posted. smile emoticon So, if you don't have time send the pics and so forth to me, and I will definitely be here, trying to do all I can to support the AF and all of you..... my well wishes and may all of you stay warm, healthy, and safe! Rhia Steele


http://www.arthritis.org/advocate/advocacy-summit/virtual-summit/

Saturday, March 21, 2015

AS YOU Go to DC Next Week to Represent ALL with so many health issues, may WE ALL do our part to BREAKTHROUGH the disparities that hold back Cures...

Well the "day of infamy" is almost upon many of us! That is the packing, preparing, and getting on that flight to Washington DC for several activities going on there this coming week! I believe our Congress will be a bit on overwhelm at times with all of the health activists, Ambassadors, Volunteers, and many that will be telling their own personal story about their chronic illnesses, the different disparities and challenges they face, some daily, and how much more we need in research, in new technology, new medications, more specialized physicians, of course which all take lots of dollars to be able to fund some of these extremely needed actions. Life is already a huge enough daily challenge, to work, take care of family, kids, go to college, and participate in the "daily" life of living. Then you add on top of that, chronic illnesses, chronic pain, being unable to get the doctors and medications you need, further more possibly not being able to even get a "real and proper" diagnosis FIRST so you can receive the treatment you need. The amount of "challenges" that those of us with chronic illnesses face, especially when the diseases are often arthritis, autoimmune, or both, and we still have so many UNANSWERED questions about these illnesses. Are they genetic in nature? Is there something on Earth, in our water, food, land, air, that is causing so many more of us to become ill with these chronic diseases? It is almost unbelievable to actually think about the growing numbers of those (and especially once again women) at an alarming rate being diagnosed with autoimmune, autoimmune arthritic, arthritis, FM, CFS. MS. Myasthenia Gravis, and then the other "ailments" that follow along with these "main illnesses"... brain issues, heart problems, lung problems, bones, joints, spinal issues, and then with Sjogren's the "dental" problems that are so very severe so quickly, that within months, like myself you find you are losing every tooth to this horrid disease, and there is not a thing to do about it, but have dentures. You cannot stop it or even slow it down. I tried. I was meticulous with my dental health, always had been. but, even as meticulous as I was, also using the couple of medications available, along with keeping my mouth moist, chewing sugar free gum, you name it I tried it, yet I still lost ALL of my teeth in less than a year to Sjogren's. So, each and every person, whether you get to go to DC this week and tell your story, or you are sitting at home, possibly too ill to attend, and you do your "advocacy" work from your computer, you send emails, you send snail mails, tell your own elected officials, and not just "federal" but our STATE Officials, and even Local governmental officials need to be a part of this growing, ever enlarging issue of autoimmune illnesses, and rare diseases. All also goes along, with people getting the help they need, so they can afford their medications, they can afford and be seen by the proper physicians, they can afford the surgeries, or whatever their treatment needs to be, even like myself, trying to PAY out of MY POCKET over $15,000.00!!!!! cash for my dentures to be put in properly... there are not many people around with that kind of available money to spend in one whack at a dentist! THIS NEEDS to be PAID FOR MY HEALTH INSURANCE! IT is A HEALTH PROBLEM, NOT DENTAL THAT CAUSED ME TO LOSE EVERY TOOTH!!! But, we ALL need to stand up and say NONE of this is RIGHT, NONE of this is ACCEPTABLE, WE should have the medical, dental, eye and more CARE of PROFESSIONALS and experts that can help us live somewhat of a normal life. The ALMOST INTRACTABLE PAIN I've been in over the past week, SHOULD NOT BE!!! I SHOULD not have to wait, I should have been able to have my medication UPPED the next day, not a week later! I HURT! I HURT to the point, that it's stopping me from doing what I love the best, my advocacy, my writing, my helping others.... my taking care of my own home, shopping. and helping Jim and my Mom... ALL of this is just WRONG! AND ONLY YOU AND I can MAKE IT RIGHT! So, for ALL of you whether you will be in DC next and able to "stand on the steps of the White House" as I used to say, and plead my own case and the case of others that could not attend, or if you are home, and not able to attend you still MATTER! YOUR VOICE will STILL BE HEARD! We must RING OUT, CRY OUT, and say ENOUGH IS TOTALLY ENOUGH! WE are one of the MOST INTELLIGENT NATIONS in the entire WORLD! There is NO REASON that our incredibly talented researchers, doctors, professionals in these fields can't find solutions, but they need funds to get these types of things running and off the ground. Again, I wish ALL next week an incredible and memorable trip to DC. May your voice RING true for all of us... from patients, physicians, family, friends caretakers... researchers... may we FINALLY BREAK THROUGH the "thick headed" thinking of some, and get brilliant things accomplished! As tears roll down my face, I beg of all of you to stand up and tell your story... to stand up and tell a story of a friend, family member.... stand up and be heard!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Advocacy, Ambassador, Activist, Volunteer - All out of a Desire, Passion and Compassion to help others... and the heart of my own dilemma this Annual Arthritis Summit 2015

I have something to share with my dear "Online" and "Off Line" Friends. Each of you have been and continue to be a true inspiration to me. Whether it is about something I write, my books, poetry, my blog, my pursuits as a patient with several chronic illnesses and chronic pain issues, wife, now also a caretaker for Jim after the accident, that will be a year ago March 26th. It seems impossible but most of you recall I was actually at the Arthritis Foundation's Summit on Capitol Hill last year, when I got the "call" that everyone dreads... an accident, all the way back in Dallas, my husband. Basically, "ran over" by an 18--wheel tractor trailer from behind. I am STILL and always WILL BE EXTREMELY THANKFUL for the Kindness, the compassion, the friendship, and the honor that all of the ones there at the Summit, as well as those in the Foundation who helped me get aboard a plane in DC just hours later, headed back to Dallas, to Baylor Hospital. The outcome I was not sure of, and I was so very blessed by those who directly helped me that fateful day. Chris Nieto​ was and still is an angel. He helped me with everything from taking all of the information down from the Emergency Room Trauma doctors, to making sure Laura helped to get me board the plane, and he happened to have been flying back to Dallas himself, so he, Serena, and others from the Summit gave me such a "foundation" to stand upon, as my entire world literally crashed down around me. I look back, and I crumbled to the floor as my daughter told me about the wreck, and Chris began to read off the "numerous" injuries Jim sustained. From almost EVERY RIB broken, to his back basically "broken in two" - - from C-7 through T-7 back surgery done within hours of the accident. A concussion, fracture of the shoulder, possibly a leg, a "nick" in the aorta, and the list just read on and on.... Anyway, all of 2014, we spent either with him in the hospital and the rehab hospital over 3 months. Then several more months of going back and forth several times weekly for rehab... and just a score of doctors visits... plus of course all of the "red tape" that yet has not been settled...

So, moving forward... I was HONORED to be given such an incredible title in my advocacy work, as "Platinum Ambassador" for the Arthritis Foundation. I spent time when I was not either ill myself, or having all of my teeth pulled, and replaced, or any number of other things, to be able to attend the "conference" meetings, make some relationships with some of our Congress People, and do all I could with a true passion to HELP ALL of those out there like myself, suffering from these dreadful diseases....

After my DC visit in 2014, I was so totally elated and felt so privileged to perform one of my "long time" dreams, and that is to "stand on the White house steps" and TELL MY STORY! Well, that dream came true last year in March, 2014. My plans were also to BE BACK  this year in just two weeks, and again be able to STAND with such an INCREDIBLE Foundation as the Arthritis Foundation, and be a part of their wonderful advocates!. When I found out at the very end of 2014 in December or so, that I WOULD BE ABLE TO GO back to DC I was on "cloud ninety nine"!  Of course, my health has waxed and waned, I still have yet to COMPLETE my entire ordeal of these "mini dental pins" in my bottom dentures... due to all kinds of complications, including an "oral-maxillary communication" in other words a "hole" between my mouth and my sinus cavity... and infections etc... yet, I had bought new boots, had all of my clothes lined up, my "ducks in a row" all ready to go back to DC in two weeks!!!

Well, these illnesses "don't care"... they don't care if YOU have PLANS... they don't care if you have to "miss" something you so want to do, they don't care what else is going on in your life...  if "they" decide you will be sick, then sick it is... YES, you can try and push through it, you can try to ignore a flare, or not deal with medications, or not rest, and just do as you wish. But, when it is time for a chronic illness/pain issue arises, it WILL put you DOWN... and you have no choice... you cancel parties, plans, dinners, you don't celebrate holidays when you should, or you miss birthday plans... as we speak of often in the "spoon theory"... you have so many, and you can "borrow" a few... but when there are none, there are none.... thus... due to my own personal bout with several health issues due to the RA, Lupus, Sjogren's, and so forth, my "health" has been not so great, and I've been trying my best to "ignore" the ugly truth... but much to my disappointment... I am still not well, I probably am going to go through some major medication changes, now I am FINALLY going to have the bottom dentures pinned... after all these months of waiting... and not being able to eat much, or if I talk much, the bottom ones slip and slide around thus, I have heck even keeping the top ones from slipping also... my pain level has jumped through the roof. We are not sure if it is lower back disc compression fractures due to the osteoporosis, the RA and my hips, other leg, nerve issues, or what... plus I have just all of a sudden soared in having several Lupus Migraines... they have gotten so bad... and with Jim not able to drive, and his own medical issues with the  Paraplegia causing bad balance problems, where he can't bend forward, or he would fall, he can't go down stairs without help, there are just many things we take for granted daily, that after something like his accident, are things that are just not possible, no matter how small they may seem. He is not able to get things if they are pushed back far into the Fridge, or in a cabinet. He can't climb up to get things out of our very top cabinets... and so that makes it also very difficult for me to be gone for several days... we thought we had that all taken care of, and that person now is having some other family medical issues, thus I don't have them to come and help him out while I am gone, as we thought. So, between all of the "little things", the big "elephant" in the room of course is... I with very deep sorrow and disappointment, must bow down and not go physically to the Arthritis Summit this year. It took me over a week of crying, kicking myself, feeling guilty, being mad, sad, and all of the other billion emotions wrapped around this for me to just have to admit that I am just not physically able, and with family things also, to go this year. I will of course be ON BOARD 500% as and "E-Summit" Attendee... and PLEASE ALL OF YOU take a moment, and go to the link I have provided several times and send in your letter. They WILL BE HAND DELIVERED to YOUR Representative. So, it is vital you get to say your own personal things about these dreadful and unacceptable diseases. I hope to be able to "pinch" myself, and wake up from this nightmare... but no - not a nightmare... it is just the truth and I had to face it... one thing I have "gleaned" (honestly many) but one thing that I have learned about my personal advocacy, activist, volunteer and ambassador work, is that it comes from A VERY DEEP PASSION AND DRIVE and it just as important if not MORE IMPORTANT than a "regular job" People that do this type of thing do it from their hearts, minds and spirits.... we "live" to help others... no "glory"... no "personal gain" honestly... but out of the sheer passion of knowing WE HELPED - WE GAVE VOICE to a patient, or patients... that is WHY MOST of us do this... out of the desire, love and compassion to help others feel better, and live a better quality of life....


Rhia

Please see this URL to SEND IN YOUR LETTERS!!!

http://www.arthritis.org/advocate/advocacy-summit/virtual-summit/letters.php?utm_source=LetterWriter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Advocacy&utm_content=body&utm_campaign=031115
 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

YOUR VOICE on Capitol Hill at the "Virtual Summit" can be heard! YOU WILL BE HEARD! E-Advocacy and more for the Arthritis Foundation

Okay Guys and Gals!!! I am asking for YOUR Participation in this EXTREMELY IMPORTANT situation. As most of you probably know I have made "Platinum Ambassador" for the Arthritis Foundation for 2014-15. So, I am headed for Washington D.C. March 22, through March 24-25th... for the Annual "Summit on the Hill" by the AF. We will be going personally to Capitol Hill to both the Senate and House of Representatives, to meet with as many of them as we can. If we don't get to meet personally with them, we still usually meet with their "health legislative" assistants, and other staff that can help to deliver our information and message. It is IMPERATIVE THOUGH that ALL OF YOU that can't be there, really and truly KNOW YOUR VOICE COUNTS!!! I know many of us have become disenchanted with "Congress" - our Senators and Representatives for many reasons. Yet, I know PERSONALLY FOR a FACT that YOUR VOICE DOES MATTER!!! I have seen the results of what letters, phone calls, messages, and meetings can do for all of us in the matter of Arthritis, whether osteoarthritis, RA, Juvenile RA, Still's Disease PLUS ALL of our other "Autoimmune" and other health issues. BUT, WE need YOU to also raise your voice and be heard. We will be DELIVERING YOUR LETTERS PERSONALLY to the Senators and Representatives that you can follow from instructions below, and fill in your personal parts, tell your story also, or however you want to personalize it. The Arthritis Foundation NEEDS "Virtual SUMMIT people" and that is YOU. Even if you are going to DC, still please use this letter to be given to your Senators, and Representatives. ONE VOICE can MOVE MOUNTAINS! I have witnessed it, and continue to truly believe we do matter. BUT, if you DON'T contact them, then they do not know your situation and how YOU feel. So, I am posting here, on my blog, on my Pinterest, on my Instagram, on Twitter, everywhere I can about how to be a part of this critical movement! This is for ALL of us, with these horrible illnesses, that need help with getting good physicians, the MEDICATIONS WE NEED and making them AFFORDABLE FOR ALL! This is about those in our nation, many of our Armed Forces Come home with arthritis problems or develop them..... and many of our youngest of this nation are also patients, with Juvenile Arthritis. I want to urge each of you to take a bit of time and send your letters. I am including all of the instructions in an attachment and at the URL that is provided. If you have questions feel free to ask me, either through Facebook, or through message or email me. If you would like me to help or if you have a message you want me to take your letters with me, and I will make sure they get delivered. 

Here is your link to sign on to be an "E-Advocate" for the Arthritis Foundation. This gives you a voice via emails and so forth so you can be heard at the National Congressional Level. It is not time consuming, you don't even have to leave the house, but this is a way to be able to speak up and be heard by your Congressional Leaders that you voted in. Let them know how you feel, and what you feel is good for yourself and the nation when it comes to Arthritis, RA, Osteoarthritis, and ALL of the other diseases that are often in tandum with arthritic illnesses. It takes a few moments to sign up and be heard for the rest of your life by those who can help to make things better in the realms of your health. 

http://www.arthritis.org/ad…/sign-up-to-be-an-e-advocate.php


Then this is how you can "attend" the Annual Summit on the Hill as a member of the "Virtual Summit"... this link provides you with a sample letter that you can also personalize, add your picture, and tell your story about your health issues when it comes to arthritis, whether a patient, caretaker, family member, or just want to be a "voice" to help others.

 http://www.arthritis.org/.../virtual-summit/letters.php

 

You can download the "letter" from that link, and all of the instructions are there so you can send it back via email to those that will be taking YOUR letters directly to Congress. WE are giving a VOICE to YOU, even if you can't attend... as I said, if you have questions, need help, or however I can assist you, feel free to email, message me, or post and I will be more than happy to help out in any way I can.

 ALSO!!! SOCIAL MEDIA is a HUGE way to get your messages across. MANY of our Congressional Members have Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagrams, and so forth. That is another way you can also make contact with them, so be sure to also look that up. I have both of my Senators and my Representatives Facebook pages, and I've sent Tweets to them and emails also from their websites. Sign up for their newsletters. That is a great way to find out how to contact them also.

 

Here you go!!! "Proof" is in the "pudding"!!! this study is compelling to show that a few "Tweets" or other type of Social Media use can capture your Leaders Attention on a Subject ...

  http://connectivity.cqrollcall.com/just-a-handful-of.../  




Tuesday, February 3, 2015

RA, Lupus, Sjogren's - New Symptoms? another Illness? and even the thrill of "Good Stress" can cause a flare...

Life continues to buzz by faster than a speeding bullet, and faster than a rocket. I hoped 2015 would begin anew, and slow down a bit to allow me a breath or two. After 2014, and ALL that I, along with family went through, my main hope for 2015 was to be more "well" physically, mentally and emotionally. I hoped life would "slow down" to a bit more of a sprint, rather than an all out marathon race, and with that would also come a bit of respit from so many bills, my teeth, Jim's accident, attorney's stuff, going to all of the doctors, and again we could see the light of dawn, after such a black ink darkness of the past year.

It's not that things have been "bad" as of yet. Although the first of every year brings another set of stressors many of us have to deal with. If you own a home or property, like myself, you probably owe property taxes by the end of January. Like many, my house insurance is usually due about that same time, along with income tax filing for many, worrying about a brand new insurance for my Mom and myself (we changed from Humana Medicare Advantage over to United HealthCare HMO Medicare Advantage plan)... and I knew there would possibly be a few kinks in the entire change especially for me, since I have so many medications to have filled. Of course all of that had been resolved with Humana over the several years I had it. In fact, I guess I had Humana from 2006 forward up until this new year 2015. I had finally narrowed down most of their stupid hoops that myself and my doctors had to jump through. So, as I knew I am having to go through a few red tape situations in order to get my medications refilled.

I am also dealing with something involving my stomach. I am not sure exactly what the issue is. I realize that all of the medications I must take daily, does not help at all. Yet, I've been taking the majority of them for years now, and as long as I take my Meclazine for the vertigo issues, I rarely had severe nausea issues. Over the past 5 or 6 months, it seems I am nauseated more than not. I am even taking Promethazine and now having to take it daily. Part of it, I am sure is stress. Stress over my own illnesses, medications, bills, and what needs to be done. Stress over Jim's health situation and knowing there maybe many things we come to have to realize that he will never be able to do again. A piece of me truly thinks that many things like driving, walking a long distance with just the cane, doing most things are the house chores, especially anything to do with finishing up the remodeling, laying floors, painting and so on. His balance is still so "off" that there is no way he can stand on a ladder what so ever. He can't keep his balance for very long at a time now. As much as I want to believe it will get better this year more; since it will be a year in March on the 26th since the wreck happened, I just don't think that any more time will make him any better doing some things. As we have both learned since his accident, balance is almost more important to "life" and what you do every day, than walking, running, picking things up, getting on ladders, bending over. Even riding our exerciser which is kind of an "eliptical" one, we saw immediately it was his balance that really through him off to the place I have to stand beside him in order for him to ride it. So, strength at times is not as huge of an issue is the balance situation is.

Along with this almost daily nausea I am having, also comes a fatigue that can at times be worse than my experience with it through the years since being diagnosed with RA, Lupus and so forth. For about 2 or 3 years I didn't sleep much at all. I was up and wide awake by 4 am at the latest. Then all of a sudden, and we are staying up a bit later, but here lately I am not waking up until 7:30 am most mornings. So, I continually feel I am running behind. When I was getting up several hours earlier I could get more accomplished. Now, by the time I am up, and turn around it is 2 or 3 pm. The days just seem to be going by even faster than last year. I also know that with the RA, Lupus, Sjogren's and so on down the list of my health issues, my stomach issues could be taken as a part of those. Severe headache, nausea, the fatigue... the muscle pain, and joint pain, all sign and symptoms of most autoimmune diseases.

Yet, you know how you feel at times when you just "KNOW" something else is going on. I can't explain it, but whatever is going on now, seems to be "different" than the symptoms of what I've been diagnosed with.

For one thing, I've had an "extra" beat with my heart now for a long time. I never really was concerned about it. My cardiologist knows, and she has me on medication that keeps it under control. But, a few days back, I had a new type of happening. It was like my heart would be fine one moment, then it wants or feels like it runs really fast for about 4 beats, and then goes back to "normal"... it happened through out the day one day last week. In fact I was so concerned about it, I had called my doctor. She could have see me the next day. Then I woke up with the most severe headache, and fatigue, with the nausea so bad, I had to postpone the appointment. I actually have one with her on the 13th of this month, so I decided to wait until then, unless it happens again before my appointment.

I had came across a story about a woman that was born with a heart defect. They found it when she was 3 months old. For many years, it was under control with medication. When she was in college she began to have problems with it, and later when she was about 39 years old, had to have a heart transplant. It was truly an inspiring story, yet some of her symptoms that she had really blown off as nothing were exactly the same thing I've been feeling. The severe fatigue, she was having bad headaches, and being very nauseated, plus noticed shortness of breath. Well, I had been noticing over the past few months that I complain about sometimes feeling like I am short of breath. I also passed it off as nothing, until I read her story. Now, the one reason I would think it could be heart related is for one, all of the AI illnesses can effect the heart. Two, I have had two heart attacks already. So, that kind of caught my attention, as I was trying to piece the puzzle together as to what is going on with me. Honestly, I have preferred to ignore it. So, other than some "Google" research, I have tried to put it out of my head.

There are way too many things on the agenda I need to attend to, and having some type of heart issue, is NOT what I want to deal with at all. Of course, I realize no one wants to think they might have something going on with their heart. But, what I do have to face, is that statistically I am more likely to have problems, than those without AI illnesses, and/or that have not had 2 MI's already.

Of course, I've received the honor of being able to travel back to Washington D.C. in March, for the "Summit on the Hill". The Arthritis Foundations Annual Event, where we go in as patients or patients families, and tell our Congress People about our stories, and what we want to see accomplished to help those out there like us, that may not be able to actually tell theirs like that. I went through the whole year last year and made "Platinum Ambassador". So, that gives me the opportunity to get the "grant" from the Foundation that pays for my flight, lodging and just about everything other than "personal items". So, that being said, and also as I began this, I am totally elated at the honor of getting to go back again this year. Yet, it brings on a whole new agenda of "good stress", honestly. I've got to be concerned about driving my own self to DFW, which is about 65 miles or so from my home town. Parking in long term parking, getting myself to the proper place for my ticket, going through all of that nightmare, and then getting to DC in time for Monday mornings first meeting, which is at 10:30 am. So, thankfully I do get to fly in on Sunday!!! They confirmed they would cover an additional day for me to come in, since I am flying from a fairly long distance away. But, even with that, trying to pack where hopefully I won't have to check a bag, getting their, settled in, and then having to fly out on Tuesday evening, AFTER our last part of the day on Tuesday. So, again that makes for a very long flight home, getting into the airport back in Dallas very late. Then driving myself back home in the wee hours of the morning from DFW. Fortunately, maybe traffic won't hinder me either way.

I've also got the "stress" about my birthday on the 15th of February. Of course it is much better to at least "look forward" to having one, rather than NOT looking forward to it. Yet, to know I will turn 55 years old in just a couple of weeks really terrifies the hell out of me. As my Mom and I just talking about it. How quickly the years have seemed to pass by. How it seems like just yesterday my kids were born, or I was little and having my birthday parties, and all of those years of youth have just melted away like a molten river of lava down a steep hillside.

We (meaning I) at times became complacent in life. I guess in our younger years, we are so entirely engrossed in jobs, school, college, kids, homes, bills... and everything we incur and that occurs during our robust years of a more youthful time in life. So, we turn around once, look in the mirror to see a young adult making their way through this place we call the world. As we make another turn, it seems the decades have past us by all too quickly. Then if you happened to have came into a life of some type of chronic illness, whether it be cancer, or an autoimmune illness, heart problems, diabetes, and many other conditions that can crop up in the blink of an eye, we begin to want to look back at what "we" did or did not do to cause this. Then all of a sudden, classmates we graduated with lose parents, or worse the classmates pass away. Nothing "stings" quite as badly, as finding out someone who is YOUR age suddenly has gone to be with others in heaven. That one can really stab you where it hurts. It is definitely a wake up call.

So, with all of that comes the "what ifs".... what if I had not married and went onto nursing school? What if I had completely finished my 4 year college degree? What if I had stayed in California, or Seattle? If I "had" or "had not" done certain things, would I not be suffering from the ties of disease that bind me now?

I find myself with way too many questions in life, alas not nearly enough answers for them. I feel often "less than" because I honestly don't have the energy and stamina to "do more", "be more", participate more. What if I could still go snow skiing, on more trips and vacations, and was not so tied to the strings and arrows of chronic pain and illness?

Then I actually witness someone more than likely as ill or if not even more chronically ill than I am, and it appears they can get more done. They do have the stamina, strength, energy and wear with all to withstand and write best selling books, or poems. Or they do much more in their activist advocacy activities.

I have PROMISED MYSELF, and to my very BEST that I CAN do INTEND on completely finishing my BOOK by the end of the year and having it published. That is where I stand, and my stance is. If that means "robbing spoons" from other daily things I do, then I need to learn to manage my time wisely. Putting MORE of my "spoons" into the writing of the book, and taking some time away from things such as Facebook, plus other items I tend to do, rather than writing.

I WILL always be posting here... and never will I allow myself NOT to continue my blog. It is truly my LIFELINE to ALL OF YOU! And it is for ALL OF YOU that I WRITE THIS NEXT BOOK!!! For myself also, but more for all of those out there struggling through the mysteries of life, and the good, bad, really bad and depending on someone to help guide them through the darkness of despair over chronic pain and illness.

You see, it is NOT just our physical bodies that are so terribly effected by these chronic diseases. It is the very core of our being, our hearts, minds, soul, family, spouses and friends... so it is a journey that is to terribly long and difficult to deal with to feel alone in doing it.

So, today... I dedicate each page of the book I am writing to YOU!!!!

















Friday, January 23, 2015

Arthritis Foundation - 2015 Annual Summit on the Hill in Washingon D.C.!!!!

Registration is open for our annual advocacy summit! Join Arthritis Foundation staff & other advocates on Capitol Hill to meet with legislators & tell Congress that ignoring arthritis is unacceptable & more needs to be done for people with arthritis! Registration is free. Details here: http://www.arthritis.org/advocate/advocacy-summit/

 

I am so TOTALLY THRILLED to be going back to Washington D.C. on March 24th through the 26th for the "Annual Summit on the Hill" - Time is already flying by so quickly. Thank Goodness I already have a pair of awesome boots to walk in... they are so comfortable and have a lower heel on them than my others! Plus I have a brand new longer jacket that should be very warm for the days there...LOL.. my luck, last year I felt I was not as well prepared for the cold, rainy, snow filled weather. So this year I made sure to try and be more prepared. I even had to buy another pair of gloves! I lost one of my green ones somewhere between the Capitol and the Hotel on our last day there. I loved those, but I have a new pair of red ones that are awesome also. Plus I am more aware of what to wear when, and the entire routine! This is going to be an astronomical year I feel in my bones for a headway forward into the places of lessening flares, possibly preventing flares, putting more of us into a remission, or help the spread of these diseases... I think as all of the leaders in the non-profit world of Arthritis, including RA and JRA, along with strides made in other autoimmune related illnesses, we shall see greatness.... I urge you to sign up to be an "e-advocate", because YOUR VOICE matters!!!! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Saturday, December 6, 2014

It is Official - I am a "Platinum Ambassador" for the Arthritis Foundation!!!

I was just totally on Cloud Nine yesterday afternoon! I received an email from someone I've became quite good friends with over the last about 9 months or so. She emailed to tell me that I had qualified for the "Platinum" Ambassador Activist, which is an elite group of Advocates!

I had tried to spend lots of time this past nine months or so, putting myself into the throws of Advocacy, Activism, Ambassadorship, .... volunteering to keep me mine as clear of "brain fog" as possible! Plus I also used my "voice" and Advocacy work to help me not think about the horrid event on March 26th 2014.

It has been a very long way to get this far from Jim's wreck, and have some type of "normalcy" to our lives. We still have a great deal more to go, and our "normal" will never be what we considered a "normal day" again. But, through the pain, tears, the smiles, and frowns, and all that has been in between. Each day has been one step, one moment, one hour, one day, at a time.

Yet, we are blessed that as bad as it really is, it could have been much worse. He can walk, with a cane. Not for very long right now. But, as time goes by, we do have hope still that much of the pain, the stiffness, the ability to be "whole" again.

So, through the "window" pane of activism, and my role of becoming an Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation (now to find out I made Platinum) feels like an honored victory for myself, and my family.

My Mom and Jim are so very proud of me. They have witnessed all I've done to be as an Advocacy and Voice!

So, that means in March, I get to go back to Washington D.C.!!!!! The Annual Summit will be there again next March, and I'll have my "warm, fuzzy, walking boots ready! Last year I sure wished I had taken them, so this time they WILL BE with me!!!

So, that gives me another realm of my "voice" I will work on throughout 2015! There are lots of new things in store from the Arthritis Foundation, and I am elated to be a part of such a worthy organization.


I will keep you informed of course as time goes on. My blog will be a huge part of my voice, and now I have something else to put into my book, that I hope to finish up by the end of 2015!

http://www.arthritisfoundation.org