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Friday, February 15, 2019

Advice I wish Someone Told Me in My Twenties / 20s

1. Take Care of Your Health! - In our 20s, we are resilient, recognizing that we have somewhat decreased our stamina from our teens, but still resilient with energy to play hard and work hard!  However be cautious that common illnesses are later manifested from how we take care of ourselves earlier, such as the foods we eat, the environment, how much sleep we get, stress and how hard we push ourselves to play, study and work.

"In our 20s, we gather wealth at the expense of our health, and in our 50s we spend our wealth to attempt to buy back our health"

So take care of your self TODAY!

2. Buy Life Insurance & Critical Illness Insurance - 
What LIFE INSURANCE? I'm in my 20s ! I'm not invisible? You want to take advantage and lock into a cheap low premium for a PERMANENT plan. That is not a plan with rising costs as you age. If you do this early enough, I am sure you will thank me, when you are in your 30s carrying a mortgage, or as the primary income earner while caring for a young family. Hoping that you live beyond that, at your latter years of retirement, having a cheap permanent plan also serves well for passing on tax free inheritance to your loved ones.

3. Wear Sunscreen and Don't Forget the Neck and Forehead
We seldom care for our skin when it's in good condition, and spend more later trying to recover the neglect from earlier years. I tell you, wear sun screen, on your face and don't forget the forehead and neck.

4. Put Your Family First and Don't Take Them for Granted
As we think we are invisible in our 20s, we also think our family members are too; however life is fragile. Spend time with your family more and cherish them while they are still here.

5. Invest and Take Time to Heal 
Why spend the money later trying to recover the neglect to our bodies, buy your vitamins now, take them. Listen to your body. If you are tired, sleep, if you are hungry, eat. We tend to push ourselves too hard in our 20s, thinking we can both play hard, and work hard.

6. Be Confident and Stay Humble 
It takes years to be confident in your own skin, knowing both your strengths and your weaknesses.
Take head to stay humble, yet know that you are capable of much. It's not a race against others, but a journey to know thyself and to function out of your unique strengths.

7. Be Patient With Yourself and Enjoy the Journey
You matter, and can make a difference. Take calculated risks and never be shy to fail.
When we fail, we learn, and when we learn, we grow.

Friday, September 21, 2018

When Enbrel stops working and Humira too! Cimzia? Xeljanz? Actemra?

I was diagnosed with RA in 2005 and was previously put on combinations of our commonly known to make you throw up, loose hair type of drugs like Methotrexate, Sulfasalazine, Prednisone etc.. until I was approved by my provincial government for Enbrel.  Thank God I also have an extended health plan to pick up 80% of the $1.7K monthly bill.

Anyhow, if you read prior posts, I was on Enbrel for 10 years! It was a miracle drug that gave me my life back. I even had 2 healthy children while taking Enbrel (now ages 8 and 5). 

3 years ago, so at the 10 year mark on Enbrel, the efficacy of the drug seemed to have stopped working.  At the same time (co-indecently) my Rheumatogist moved and I was switched to a new doctor. 

We tried Humira ... worked for a couple years and stopped working

We are now trying Cimiza... not working as well...

Next options given to me are Actemra & Xeljanz..  hmm.. anyone out there tried these?

I was explained that, as I move to more aggressive drugs, the risks increase such as:

Actemra chances of developing shingles = 2% vs Xeljanz chances of developing shingles = 3%. I've also heard of a shingles vaccine? would that counter this?

Then you have disclaimers like these on the Xeljanz Site that offer no Comfort:
"Cancer and immune system problems.XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Lymphoma and other cancers, including skin cancers, have happened in patients taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had any type of cancer.
Some people who have taken XELJANZ with certain other medicines to prevent kidney transplant rejection have had a problem with certain white blood cells growing out of control (Epstein Barr Virus–associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder)."

In times of flares, world seems darker  & hopeless than it really is. But, I must remind myself that there's hope! 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cortisone Shot? Does it Work?

Cortisone is a steroid used to reduce inflammation. For years I've refused the shot to treat my left wrist as I've gotten use to the stiffness.  All my other joints are under control and feel normal except this nagging wrist and guess what?  I said why not, let's give it a shot ... literally..

It's only been an hour and I do already feel and increase in range of motion! I'm hopeful by tomorrow I will have full range, but we will see and I'll update on how long and this last for.

The affect wore off in about 4 days and I’m back to my to me normal stiff wrist.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Path to Wellness with Rheumatoid Arthritis - Natural Path Day

My Path To Wellness - Initial Visit with Natural Path

I decided to see a Natural Path for an alternative to traditional western medication. I found that Enbrel worked wonders to mask the symptoms of RA, but not to cure. I've already been on Enbrel for 10 years and I really hope one day I can be medication free!  

Here's the recommended treatment plan for those who are curious:

a) Glucosamine sulfate - the primary substrate for the biosynthesis of proteoglycans which provide the framework for collagen and give tissue its flexibility and resilience. It also plays a role in the formation of articular surfaces, tendons, ligaments, synovial fluid, skin, bones, nails, heart valves, etc.
b) Boswellia Serrata - an herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. It causes total inhibition of the total complement pathway, and blocks formation of leukotrienes (potent pro-inflammatory substances which also cause bronchoconstriction and increased vascular permeability). 
c) Devils Claw used traditionally as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Studies have reported both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. 
d) Prickly Ash - reported to stimulate the circulation and lymphatic system and to be effective in helping rheumatic diseases.

Vitamin D Liquid

Tumeric Capsules


I'm sad to report that I kept this up for 2 months and didn't see any significant changes or improvements to my RA. 

I'm wondering if anyone else has had taken natural supplements recommended by a natural path and had better results?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Living with RA for over a Decade - Update

It's certainly been a long while since I've posted. In fact, I de-listed this blog for over a year due to hmmm... shame.  I was shameful that perhaps my potential employers would find out that I have been living with RA and preference would be given to more healthier candidates if they found my blog.

Well, the truth is - It's been over a DECADE and I'm fine ~  In fact, I'm proud.
Through this journey I've had 2 kids, am an accountant with steady employment, and volunteer to advocate for a very vulnerable sector in my community. So.. what's there to be ashamed I tell myself and am writing again tonight.

Update on RA
I've learnt that Enbrel is my best friend. It has done me no apparent harm so far and has allowed me to function and do the things I love. Though I can still find myself researching on the possible damage this drug can do, it works for me today, and has been for over a decade. So... why scare myself when I can just be at peace knowing it's the right drug that works for me.  I haven't given up on a cure though and do believe our bodies can cure itself with the right combination of diet, exercise, frame of mind, and faith. However, its easier said than done. I must admit, other priorities such as my children have taken away from my own search for this wonder cure.

RA Remission 
What I find fascinating is that my RA symptoms went away during 2 events in my life:
1. During Pregnancy
2. During Stomach Flu

During these times, I chose not to take Enbrel when due, and normally, if I miss a dose, I start feeling sore. However, both during majority of my pregnancy and other times during the stomach flu, a missed dose didn't end up with any flare ups. Its as if my anitbodies were doing what they were meant to do. Fight the flu, and subside to protect the baby. This gives me hope that my anti-bodies do know what they are doing.

Update on Kids 
If you've read my prior posts, you would know that I had conceived both of my children while on Enbrel. My kids are 5 and 3 years old this year and both are healthy.  My eldest does show more allergies than my youngest and the obvious difference I found was that I ate whatever I wanted with my second and was very cautious with my first.  - interesting....

That's it for now folks - Will write more next time. :) Keeping Shining Everyone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Work Life Balance - Children, Career, Marriage, Finances, Social Life

Here I am blogging about "Work Life Balance" when its been over 5 months since my last post!

As you see, I've been consumed with the demands of life especially with my 2 young children, career, finances, social life, and marriage.  My health has been good. No complaints here. Enbrel is still working and I've decreased my dosage to twice month and quarterly check ins with my specialist.  

However, some recent economic changes has led me to ask whether to decrease or increase my work load. I think this is a question, many mothers face these days. 

On one hand lies the opportunity to advance my career objectives, gain more experience, and of course more MONEY! and yet on the other hand lies the opportunity to be present with my children to nurture, teach, and lay the foundation of their lives for their future. Many women would argue that being a SAHM would be best, while others argue that financial stability would better the family's future.  There is no right answer, but I hope some of the following articles will shed some light for you as it did for me. 

Career and Motherhood - Panel Interview
I found this video very intriguing and hopeful as it shows 4 career women balancing the life of motherhood and advancing their careers. Its no doubt though that these women all have chosen and created their own environment that works for them. Career and motherhood does not have to be mutually exclusive but can be synergistic and rewarding.

Forbes Article: Why I Have Regrets About Being a Stay At Home Mom
This article reinforced my decision to continue pursuing my career, finding quality opportunities over quantity. 

Here's a summary of some tips I have found helpful

1. Be Mindful and Present  - No matter what you are doing, whether work or play, be present. Its easy to get side tracked thinking about the "got tos", or checking emails on your smart phone. Rather make each moment count by being fully present to capture each moment with your children, friends and loved ones and the same goes with work. Blocking out time to be fully present at work will lead to better productivity and efficiency. 

2. Schedule Time to Nurture and Work on Marriage - I am no expert here, but we plan date nights once a week to nurture our marriage as well as counselling once a week to work on our marriage. I believe the best thing we can provide for our children is a good model of a healthy marriage. Also a healthy marriage will be the catalyst for healthy parenting. 

3. Take Daily Time-Outs - I thought time outs were only for kids, but we need them too! Pay attention to your mood and body. If you are getting cranky or tired, best to take a time out whether it be 2 mins or 2 hours to rejuvenate. 

4. Connect with Your Friends - With both work, marriage, and children, its easy to isolate in the busyness of life without socializing with your friends. Plan a night out with just you and your friends and have some fun! If the week is too busy, even a phone call will do wonders for your soul. 

5. Use your Village - It takes a village to raise a child! Use your resources if they are available and don't be shy to ask, whether it be parents, inlaws, siblings, or even hired help. 

6. Create a Budget - It's easy to loose sight of finances especially with all the "needs" we have raising children.  Creating a budget it self is the start to controlling finances.  

7. Connect with God - Whether you believe or not, I think God is with us, guiding our circumstances, performing miracles, and blessing us along our journey.  Taking time outs to pray and/or connecting in your special way with God brings peace, guidance, assurance, and hope. 

8. Connect with Yourself - Its easy to get consumed with the demands of work, children, spouse, and leave yourself out. Your needs are just as valid and important.  Take time to nurture your own body, mind and spirit.  

I'd love to hear more, leave me your thoughts.....

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Health Update - Maternity

Just noticed I've been so busy with the kids I haven't even had time to post!

My RA overall has been under control with Enbrel and thank God it still works. However, My rheumatologist suggested during my last visit that we add on another medication since I complained of neck stiffness but I declined as I know  I would be fine if I had taken my Enbrel dose. It's just I'm breast feeding and though my specialist suggested that Erika is old enough to digest the medication and not be affected by it; my gut just tells me the less is better.  Of course she and my 3 year old need a mobile healthy mom, so it's a fine balancing act.  As for yoga and excersize, I haven't made time to go and regret not taking these steps of self care more seriously.