Tag Archives: infection

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.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Six Months of Sickness Has Taught Me.

The past 6 months have been somewhat like a bad dream.  I never could never have imagined being sick for this long with so many different ailments.  I can’t help but wonder if all the years on methotrexate had such an effect on my immune system that everything kind of shut down for a while. With all this down time I have had the opportunity to learn somethings about myself.  I thought I would share some of what all this sickness has taught me.

  • Trust your instincts. When two of my doctors had conflicting opinions on whether or not I had a second or continuing Lyme infection I should have trusted my instincts.  I could have saved myself valuable time and pain and not have subjected myself to way too many diagnostic tests had I just trusted my gut.  I know my body better than anyone else and I knew that I still had Lyme Disease. I shouldn’t have allowed my rheumatologist to talk me into more tests to prove that her opinion was right when I knew deep down inside all I really needed was another treatment of antibiotics.  When I finally got the antibiotics was when the symptoms went away and I started to feel better.  Lesson learned. Again. I hope this time it sticks.

  • Lyme Disease is something to take very seriously. I have had Lyme Disease in the past.  I thought that I knew and understood what this disease could do.  I could not have been more wrong.  I have never in my entire life felt more physically ill than I did with Lyme Disease.  I can’t say whether or not the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) had an effect on the severity of the Lyme Disease but I know that the treatments for the RA had an effect on how well my body was able to handle Lyme Disease.

  • I need to nourish my body and my soul. I have always been the one who puts everyone’s needs before mine.  It wasn’t a conscience decision, but none the less other things took priority in my life. Now every day I am slowing down and taking time to do things that nourish my soul.  Things that bring me joy nourish my self. I find that I have more patience and energy for other things after making my self a priority. Before I put anything into my body I am asking myself will it nourish me or fill me.  They are two very different ideas. I have tried to eat responsibly in the past, but I haven’t always looked at what I am putting into my body as nourishment as opposed to something that will fill me up.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being an independent person and a bit of a control freak I frequently would rather do something myself than ask for help.  Part of me just didn’t want RA to get the best of me.  I felt like it was a bit of a battle of wills.  I wasn’t going to let RA take over my life completely, I could do most things myself and I hated to ask anyone for help.  Being as sick as I have been, I have had no choice but to ask for help.  There were days when getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was an ordeal.  An extremely painful ordeal.  It was simply impossible not to ask for help with some of the most basic of needs.  I discovered that the world did not end and it was okay if things were not done “my way”.
  • A clean house is nice but really not all that important. I used to care very much about how clean my house was.  I felt that how my house looked was a reflection on me and how I cared for my family.  I know that sounds a little nutty but that is how I felt.  I really felt like I could not physically do a great many things anymore but I could take care of my family and a clean house was part of that.  Of course now looking back I can see how crazy that whole idea sounds.  My house currently is picked up. No one is going to trip over anything in my house, but it is a far cry from clean and I really don’t care.  I could spend the next few hours cleaning, or I could spend the next few hours playing with Kevin or reading a good book.  Now I choose something that will fill me up instead of depleting my resources.

  • Connecting with other people that know and understand what it’s like to have RA is important. Knowing that I am not alone in the day to day challenges that this disease brings has helped me in so many ways.  There is comfort in knowing that there are people out there that completely understand what I am going through.  I am very grateful to all the new friends that I have found here and for their kindness and support.

H1N1 (Swine) Flu and Autoimmune Disease: An Update

This is an update on the status of the H1N1 ( Swine ) Flu information since my post on Swine Flu and Autoimmune Disease (click here to view previous post).  One June 11, 2009  Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the World Health Organization(WHO)  raised the worldwide pandemic alert to a Phase 6 ( also known as the pandemic phase).  This phase is characterized by community level outbreak via  human-to-human spread of the virus in multiple parts of the world.

Currently more than 70 countries have reported cases of H1N1 (swine flu)  infection.  This number has been steadily increasing in recent weeks.  The World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision to raise the alert level to Phase 6 means that the spread of the disease is worldwide.  At this time it is unclear how serious or intense this pandemic will be.  It is difficult to predict how many people will become infected and how serious the complications from this disease will be..  Because this is a new strain of the influenza virus many people have little or no immunity against it.  As of this post there is no vaccine to protect against the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus. However the U.S. Government is taking steps to process and manufacture a H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine.  The CDC (Centers for Disease & Prevention) has isolated the virus and has made a candidate vaccine which will be used to create the vaccine.  It generally takes several months to complete the process to make a vaccine.

Countries in the Southern Hemisphere are just beginning their influenza season.  Information obtained from the Southern Hemisphere countries experiences during their flu season may provide valuable information to Northern Hemisphere countries in preparation for it’s own flu season

All 50 states in the U.S.,  the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have reported cases of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.  Most people in the United States that have become ill with the H1N1 virus have recovered without medical treatment.  Currently 33,902 cases of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus have been reported in the United States with 170 deaths reported. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) does anticipate that there will be more new cases of this virus reported, more hospitalizations  and more deaths associate with this virus in the weeks to come.  The CDC anticipates signification illness associated with the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus in the fall and winter months which is typically the U.S. influenza season.

The CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  has issued priority use for antiviral drugs during this outbreak to treat people that are at increased risk of severe illness and those hospitalized with the H1N1 virus.  People at high risk include young children, people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, metabolic disease, lung, heart or kidney disease or those with weakened immune systems and those with neurologic or neuromuscular disease.

The CDC has provided information on what to do if you become sick (click here for link ) and how to care for someone who is sick with the virus at home.(click here for link)  The most important thing that you can do right now is to stay informed.

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