I’ve been dropping things lately. Not figuratively. Literally. Rheuma has affected my right pointer finger to the extent that I can no longer make it fit into a fist; that finger won’t curl up tight, so it sticks out. And I keep losing my grasp on things. Little things, mostly, but it always catches me by surprise. After more than a year of continuous flares of varying intensity in my hands, I’m grateful that the only noticeable consequences so far are this unexpected clumsiness and a pea-sized nodule on the back of my left hand. But I can’t help but wonder what’s next.
There’s just never a dull moment with rheumatoid arthritis.
After talking with my neighbor Allison several days ago about possibly trying out snowshoeing this winter, I got online and searched for local resorts that have snowshoe lessons and trails. To my delight, Kirkwood (a ski resort near Lake Tahoe) offers both. They have an instructor who gives lessons twice each day for a very reasonable price. Snowshoe rentals are just $5 a day. And they have 88 miles of trails. This is definitely going to happen.
I drove down the mountain to the VA medical center in Sacramento for a bone density scan this morning. Last time I had a blood test, they discovered that my Vitamin D levels were way down in the basement, so I’m taking some mega-supplements now. The bone density scan will tell us if I’ve got osteopenia or osteoporosis. I sort of doubt it, but I’m glad they’re being so thorough about my health care.
When I first checked in, the youngish receptionist checked my VA card and then asked for my birth date. I told her.
“1956? Wow, you look GREAT!” she exclaimed.
“Well, thanks!” Isn’t it wonderful to get a nice compliment like that out of the blue? So unexpected and sincere? It sure put a big smile on my face.
A few minutes later, I was called back for the scan. What a cool machine that is – it reminded me of something Dr. McCoy from Star Trek would use. You lay on this wide, padded platform and a box-like thingy moves over you and painlessly scans images of your bones. I turned my head to watch the tech’s computer screen and there – appearing bit by bit – were X-ray-like images of my pelvic and hip bones in bright glowing green on a black field. She said that the radiologist will be looking at the scans today or tomorrow, and will send the results to my endocrinologist.
Stuff like this just fascinates me. I wonder if the person who invented this bone density scanner was inspired by Star Trek back in the late 60s?
I was disappointed to discover that this year, for some reason, Sacramento didn’t hold a Jingle Bell Walk/Run to raise money for researching treatments and a cure for RA through the Arthritis Foundation. The Sacramento chapter is holding an Arthritis Walk/Run next May, however. I’ve signed up for it and hope to raise $500 (more, if I can). I probably can’t run the 3-mile course, but I sure can walk/trot. Please donate to the cause by clicking on my Arhtritis Walk Page, http://sacramentoarthritiswalk.kintera.org/wrenswalk
I appreciate anything you can give toward rheumatoid arthritis research and a cure. But this isn’t for me. It’s for US – you, me and all the other Americans who have RA, JRA and other forms of arthritis.
On another note, the local AF chapter offers arthritis swim and exercise classes, but they’re in Folsom – about 35 miles downhill. Mountain folks like me don’t like to hitch up ol’ Dobbin for a long trip like that unless we can cluster several errands in the area on the same day. Honestly, I was hoping to find something closer to home. I’m also interested in self-help classes, and I’d even join a support group. But those last two aren’t offered at all, even in Sacramento. I’d have to go to Southern California.
Kicking and screaming, maybe.
It’s really frustrating. Surely hundreds of people who have RA live in the Sacramento area. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were that many right up here in El Dorado County, and yet the AF offers us nothing.
So I decided to call the county health nurse and offer my services. I figure I can teach a class, given some training. I can lead a support group, too. And I can push the county (and the Arthritis Foundation) to find a way to offer arthritis exercise classes, swimming classes, or even tai chi and yoga classes adapted for people with RA right here in our little part of the world.
The nurse was delighted. Said that they’d had classes several years ago, and that they were really popular, but they’d lost their instructors and ultimately, their funding. Mainly what’s needed, she said, is someone with interest and enthusiasm to get in there and lobby for it.
Well, I can do that, too.
She gave me the phone number and name of the Sacramento foundation’s program director. I called. She wasn’t available, naturally. I got a recording. Haven’t heard back yet.
Hmmm. Maybe I need some SuperBitch lessons … I know JUST who to talk to!
Late update: My endocrinologist called a little while ago. My bone scan shows some bone thinning. Not osteoporosis – yet. Osteopenia. Blood test came back good except that the potassium level was pretty high. He wanted to know if I’ve been eating a lot of bananas lately. Or cabbage.
No, I haven’t. So he wants me to go back again next week and have more blood drawn. Goody.