Tag Archives: arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis: RA Factor: What Does it Really Mean

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What is an RA factor? Well to start, RA factor is a protein. This protein is made by the immune system to attack certain bacteria and viruses. The blood test to measure the RA factor  is used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, viruses and infections.   What I was told by my rheumatologist and believed,  was that my elevated RA factor along with my swollen joints indicated rheumatoid arthritis. Those two factors alone do NOT necessarily mean you have RA. In my case it did not.

An elevated RA factor can indicate increased autoimmune activity in the body that does not necessarily relate to rheumatoid arthritis. It is extremely important that all  the symptoms be considered before a diagnosis is made and no one test can indicate disease. High levels of RA factor can be found with patients suffering from viruses like Epstein-Barr and diseases like Hepatitis.

Other tests that should be done at the same time include:

  • ANA                          (Anti Nuclear Antibody)
  • Anti-CCP                 (Anti-cyclic citrullinated Peptide)
  • CRP                            (C-reactive Protein)
  • CBC                            (Complete Blood Count)
  • ESR                            (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or Sed Rate)

I will discuss these tests in future posts.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: SED Rate

Photo Credit: Healtone.com

Photo Credit: Healtone.com

When I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) the doctors started talking to me like I knew what all these terms and tests meant. Even after getting an explanation from the doctors, I was so overwhelmed with information that my head was swimming with facts and figures. After I had time to try absorb what they were saying, I realized I needed more information. I wanted to know more than what the test was for, but I wanted to know how it related to my particular heath.

SED rate was one of those terms that doctors talked about. The ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) also know as SED rate is a blood test that measures the how quickly your red blood cells settle to the bottom of a test tube in an hour. The more Erythrocytes (red blood cells) that fall to the bottom, the higher the SED rate.

The test is used to detect signs of inflammation not the cause of inflammation. A normal SED rate is between 15 and 20 millimeters per hour. An elevated SED rate may have many possible causes so it’s important to discuss with your doctor all the potential reasons your SED rate is high.

Product Review: Trudeau Line of Stress Less Products.

Recently I had the opportunity to try the new line of Stress Less Kitchen Products by Trudeau. I was asked by the company to give an honest review of their products. While I was not paid for the review, I was sent the items at no charge.  Always on the look out for anything that can make kitchen preparation easier, I was thrilled to give their line a try.

The first product I tested was the pepper mill. This light-weight acrylic  Pepper Mill is really easy to turn. I happen to have several pepper mills, one of which is all but impossible for me to use. I am so pleased that the Stress Less Pepper Mill worked so well because now I don’t have to ask for help when I want fresh pepper. Here is a video from the product site so that you can see how easy it is to adjust and turn.

Trudeau Stress Less Pepper Mill/Salt Mill

I was sent a Stress Less Salt Mill as well. It is virtually the same product with salt inside instead of pepper. The salt does make a squeaky noise when you use it, but it still turns so easily it almost glides. It does seem that as we use the salt, it squeaks less. Maybe there was just too much salt in it.

The only drawback that I could find was the plastic packaging around the pepper mill (not the salt). It was difficult for me to open. All the other products had paper packaging which was much easier on my hands. The mills run for $34.99 each. I do think they are worth every penny simply for their ease of use.

After giving the mills a go, I was excited about trying the next product which was the can opener.

Trudeau Stress Less Can Opener

The directions on how to use the Stress Less Can Opener leave a bit to be desired as it took me a while to figure out what they were trying to tell me. It took me a few times to get the handles to lock onto the can but once I got the hang of it, it seemed fine.

On the day that I tried the can opener, my hands were really bothering me so squeezing the handle to get it to lock on the can was a bit hard. I was still able to do it, though. The issue I had with it was although it is fairly easy to make the handle move around the can, I found that as I was turning the handle, it was hard to keep the can from tipping.

I also learned after the first can I had to be sure I knew where on the can that I started because the blade cuts the can so fine it is hard to tell when you have finished the task. Although in the video the cover simply popped up when using the grips to take the lid off, that was not my experience. It took a bit more effort to pop the top, although it was not that  difficult.

A nice feature is that there are no worries about a sharp lid. All in all for a hand can opener it was much easier than a conventional one. I am completely unable to use one of those, which is why I normally use a electric can opener. But if we lose electricity, I will be able to open a can without having to call someone for help. At $19.99 this is an affordable can opener.

After my success with the mills and can opener I was really looking forward to trying out their garlic press. I have a garlic press and haven’t used it in years because I just don’t have the hand strength to make it work.

Trudeau Stress Less Garlic Press

I love the idea of this garlic press, using the counter to do some of the work. I don’t know if it’s because I also have wrist issues or not but I found it impossible to make this press work. I even tried using my forearm and my upper body weight to try and press the garlic, but after several attempts on two different occasions, I will still not able to do it.

When I look at the design, I can see, why in theory this should work, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it press. I had my kids give it a try and while they were able to do it, it was far from easy for them. I think that maybe if the holes that the garlic is being pressed through were a bit bigger, it might make it easier, but I don’t know.

On the plus side, this garlic press is really easy to clean and remove the remnants of the garlic. This garlic press sells for $19.99

Trudeau Stress Less Pizza Cutter/Wheel

I have to admit when I saw the pizza cutter I was a bit intimidated. I have a pizza wheel/cutter but it is much smaller and when I saw how close my hand was supposed to be to the blade I was a little concerned.

Putting my preconcieved notions aside, I set out to make some pizza and see how things went. The instructional video does a great job of showing how easy it is to remove the blade for cleaning. I found the pizza cutter easily cut through both a thin and thick pizza crust.

Although I initially wasn’t thrilled with my hand being so close to the blade, it actually made it much easier to cut a pizza. At $12.99 this pizza cutter is a bargain.  All in all I would say that the Trudeau Pizza Cutter was a hit!

Trudeau Stress Less Cheese Grater

The last item I had the opportunity to try was the Stress Less Cheese Grater. I tried it on both a hard cheese like a parmesiano romano and a bit softer cheese like a cheddar. The harder cheese is what works best in this type of grater, but I was happily surprised that the cheddar did very well too! I was concerned that maybe the softer cheese would gum up the grater, but it worked great!

For $19.99 this grater is a bargain. A++++ on this product.

All the products I tested offer a lifetime warranty. This is something that you don’t see everyday. Trudeau products can be found on 81 sites on the web. You can find a complete list of their current online retailers here.

All the products I tested were light weight however they all seemed quite sturdy. With a lifetime warranty, I would have no reservations purchasing one of these products.

If you are looking to pick up any one of Trudeau’s Stress Less products in person, they have a search on their site for finding a store near you. Here is a link.

In celebration of Arthritis Awareness month, in the coming weeks we will be giving away a set just like the one I reviewed. Details to follow!

Misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): My Lyme Disease Story

As some of you may have heard, I just recently found that I was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have Lyme Disease.

Anyone who has followed this blog probably knows that I thought that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for over 9 years. I have always had some doubt about what was going on with my body and the effectiveness of the treatments the doctors were prescribing. But I trusted my doctors more than I trusted my instincts. My story is a cautionary tale for anyone who has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Let me start by saying that we live in rural Rhode Island. We have a small 3/4 acre wooded lot. All sorts of wild life can be found in our yard at any given time and there is no shortage of deer that visit our property. We moved out here to raise our family in a quiet, serene place with good schools and friendly neighbors. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and the deer carry ticks that carry Lyme Disease.

Each member of my family at one time or another has had Lyme Disease. It is not uncommon to be outside for only a few moments and pick up one of the poppy seed-sized ticks. For the most part we have all either tested positive with Lyme Disease or the tick if we were able to keep it tested positive with the disease.

9 years ago I had been bitten by a tick. At the time, I was tending to my newborn son, and had two older boys to watch over as well. In prior exposures to the disease, I had felt “flu like symptoms” and that was my cue to get tested. I don’t know if it was adjusting to three boys and 2 jobs or if I was just too busy to notice, but I really don’t remember any “flu like symptoms”.

It started with my ankle. It hurt and was swollen so I went to the urgent care center where they X-rayed it and told me they could find nothing wrong with me. The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory and gave me and air-cast. We were going with the assumption that I must have sprained my ankle even though I couldn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary.

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Innovative New Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Gary S. Firestein, MD,  of UC San Diego Medical Center speaks about innovative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis including promising new findings with inhibitors of signal transduction. It is good to know that there are new treatment options on the horizon for those whose current therapy is unsuccessful.  There is not a one size fits all remedy for this disease. I think that it is important to have choices and options.

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