Monday, May 24, 2010

Out with the Old in with the New

So today is the last day that I have to spend with my old knees. I feel as if I should have had a going away party or something. Granted I haven't felt quite up to it, but just the same, my knees and I have been through a lot.

As a baby I'm sure that I put some miles on them, crawling around, testing them, learning how to walk. Later, it was hopscotch, skip-it and jump rope. Tree climbing and bike riding. Hiking and swimming, my knees and I did it all and made it through life with only a few scrapes and bruises between us.

At a young age I had also found horses, my passion in life, and my knees were right there with me. Supporting me as I learned how to ride and how to jump. Picking me up when I lost contact with my saddle, and made contact with the ground. My knees and I were a team.

Then something happened. We started to grow apart. At first it was little things, like running and dancing. Then, my knees no longer wanted to take the impact that came with high level equestrian jumping competition. After a while,they resisted even small tasks such as walking, standing and climbing stairs. They had completely forsaken me, leaving me to spend my days in bed or experiencing life outside of my apartment, from a wheelchair, looking up at my world around me. Looking up at a world that I was so used to surveying from the back of a horse, or the limb of a tree. My knees and I had reached a cross road.

It was an easy decision. The decision to replace my old knees with new metal and plastic ones. I feel it was like the decision a major league coach makes when he pulls from the bull pen. He knows the man standing on that mound is done and worn out, even injured, but the game still needs to be won. So he brings in the relief pitcher, and with this new, refreshed pitcher, the promise of the chance to win the game.

So here I stand on my pitching mound ready, ready for relief, ready for promise, and ready to turn this game around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fun Buckets vs. DMARD's

Happy Birthday!!! Was the over exuberant shout I heard at 6:15 am on the other end of my phone. I swear I can not wait until my brother is in collage so I can get him back for all of the early morning phone calls.

Over all as I laid in bed, thinking about how to spend my birthday day and felt decent. Well rested for a change but still had a slightly "hungover" feeling. A year ago I could tell you what that hangover feeling came from. It came from 3 Fun Buckets. Fun Buckets are one of my favorite beach bars specialty. They take a sand pail and fill it with chopped fruit, tropical juices and add whole lot of rum. The hangover a year ago was also helped along by numerous shooters and a general lack of proper hydration. It was my Quarter Century Celebration after all.

The hangover this year is slightly different. I spent last night sipping on ginger ale and fighting to keep down soup. The hangover this year was induced by my daily shot of NSAIDs,DMARD's and prednisone. You see, every day I wake up, my boyfriend hands me a shotglass full of 7 pills and I start my day. Thursdays. Ohhh Thursdays are a joy. Thursdays I get to down 8 additional pills. Those 8 tiny salmon colored pills are methotrexate.

To put it in perspective methotrexate is comparable to chemotherapy that you take orally. Same immune response, same lovely side effects. Nausea, dizziness, headache, light sensitivity, fatigue, light headedness... its wonderful. Truly one of the joys in life. Unfortunately this hangover can not be cured with a Bloody Mary, a pair of big sunglasses and a greasy cheeseburger and while most hangovers can be slept off, this hangover lasts for about three days.

I miss Fun Buckets.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Brief (not really) Overview

Hello everyone! My name is Ashley and as of tomorrow I will be 26. My passion in life is horses. I have been a competitive rider from a young age and everything about my life, somehow relates back to my riding. If I am not on a horse, I am around them, and if I am not around them, I'm thinking about them. I do have other interests, interests that I fit in between saddle time. I try my hand at photography and sketching. When I am not riding the trails I do not mind a good hike,especially if I can get in some geocaching. I want to see and experience the world, one thing that can pry me away from the barn is any ofer to travel. I love the beach and the mountains. I have the most amazing friends, a loving boyfriend and a strong relationship with my two younger brothers. I am active. I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I was diagnosed with this disease when I was 12 and in eighth grade, as if high school wasn't going to be tough enough. I am a facebook user and most of my posts are fun, upbeat and undeniably quirky, with just a little bit of attitude mixed in... but I have another side.
A side I almost always keep to myself. The side of me that is in pain, the side of me that cries, the side of me that I try my hardest everyday to overcome as to be able to live just one more day without this disease defeating me. This is what I will be writing about on RAUnbridled. My day to day struggles and triumphs. I will use this forum as an outlet to help me get through the days that last the longest and share the moments that make the struggle worth it.

So what got me to this point...

About six months ago my RA took a turn for the worse, not just a nice little bend in the road, it was more akin to the engines stalling on an airplane, and I, the pilot, was left plummeting, free falling without the resources to avoid the crash.

Both of my knees had given out. I was left unable to work, unable to walk, and most tragically, unable to ride. I found myself, this girl that wanted to be able to see and do everything all at once, to revel in the world around her, bound to her full sized bed or confined to a wheelchair. I found that in spite of my pride and independence, I was utterly reliant on those around me. Seeing that my then current rheumatologist was proving to be useless, pumping me full of prednisone and failing to take x-rays, I sought treatment elsewhere.

After a few visits, four cortisone injections and a full set of x-rays, my new rheumatoligist sent me to an orthopedic specialist to discuss knee replacements. The orthopedist took a single look at my films, turned to me and asked when was the last time I was able to stand and walk. I informed him I could still walk, although very uncomfortably, a short distance. He was surprised I was able to stand and bare full weight during the past year and a half. All of the cartilage in both knees was completely gone, and the bones that had been grinding on one another were exceedingly eroded away . Needless to say, I was a candidate for a full double knee replacement.

My surgery is scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday (new knees for my birthday...woo hoo!!). Followed by weeks of rehab and physical therapy. This is going to be a tough ride, but that is something I am used to, and will hopefully be just a stepping stone in my unbridled journey.