Today, October 12, 2016 is World Arthritis Day–a day supported by children and adults living with arthritis and rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). So many organizations and individual who live with arthritis and autoimmune diseases have found unique ways to send messages, videos, and photos via their social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (See my photos above that I used today)
The European organization EULAR (The European League Against Rheumatism) — represents people with arthritis/rheumatism, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations–and has launched ‘The Future in your Hands’ – a social media campaign informing people around the world about rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and why taking action is so important.” (http://www.eular.org/world_arthritis_day.cfm)
I have chosen to respond to and to re-tweet favorite tweets from Twitter and to post photos and messages on Instagram and Facebook–to remind my friends and the rest of the world that those of us with arthritis face its many forms head on in many ways, even though approximately 1 in 3 (over 50 million) adults live with some form of arthritis and 1 in 250 (nearly 300,000) children live with one of the three major forms of Juvenile Arthritis.
If you missed celebrating World Arthritis Day this October 12th, don’t worry. We still are celebrating Bone and Joint Action Awareness Week (October 12th-20th), World Spine Day (October 15th), World Trauma Day (October 17th), World Pediatric Bone and Joint Day (October 19th) and World Osteoporosis Day (October 20th) during October, along with the UK’s Bone and Joint Decade (2010-2020). Find your unique way to spread Arthritis Awareness around the world, whether holding a special event, using social media, or just talking with a friend or family member, who lives daily with the effects of arthritis.
In the US, the “United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) is the U.S. National Action Network of the Global Bone and Joint Decade, a multi-disciplinary initiative targeting the care of people with musculoskeletal conditions— bone and joint disorders. Its focus is on improving quality of life as well as advancing the understanding and treatment of those conditions through research, prevention and education.” According to the USBJI, their goal is to improve a wide range of conditions (such as arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, broken bones, spinal disorders, hip, knee, and foot pain, and trauma [caused by injuries, i.e., sports injuries, or snow skiing and automobile accidents like I was involved in during my early 20s]. (https://www.usbji.org/about)
On September 12, 2016, I received an email about participating in the Worldwide WordPress 5k, which the Automatticians, the company that offers a range of products and services for WordPress users. The email stated that joining this #WWWP5K meant someone could run, walk, hop, etc., until they reached the miles or steps needed to say that they had been a part of the #WWWP5K between Monday, September 19th and Sunday, September 25th. This was the best way for the thousands of WordPress Automatticians to reach as many people as possible, have them blog about their 5k experience around the world, and by doing so those who participated in the #WWWP5K were also making a donation to Soles4Souls, a charity dedicated to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.
My husband and I had made plans many months ago to go to Atlanta as a mini-get away for our 29th Wedding Anniversary to watch the Top 30 PGA Golf Pros play in the Final Round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs/Tour Championship from September 20th-23rd. We knew that we would be doing a great deal of walking along and around the East Lake Golf Club, where the Tour Championship was held as we followed our favorite golf pros and also walked the beautiful Club Course; so, we researched and discovered that the total yardage for the entire course was over 7300 yards. In 2 days- Media Day and the First Round of the FedEx Cup Playoff/Tour Championship, my husband and I walked approximately 2 1/2 #WWWP5Ks, while walking around East Lake Golf Club’s Course.
I am including some pictures of the course so that anyone reading this blog, can get an idea of the beautiful course, bright greens, large shade trees, hilly plateaus, sand-traps, narrow tee offs, the lake itself, and the difficult 18-hole course created/designed by the famous golfer Bobby Jones over 100 years ago. We walked on concrete paths and grassy areas along the 18-hole course, and enjoyed our time immensely watching our favorite PGA Pros up close as they practiced and played out their First Round so close to us that we could reach out and touch them.
Enjoy the photos of the Golf Course, and also be sure to look closely at the pictures of my swollen ankle and swollen finger joints and the inflammation that shows on my body, in general, caused by the spinal osteoarthritis that I live with on a daily basis. Arthritis did not win this time because I was determined to enjoy the game of golf that I love so much.
I am not placing captions under my photos below. If you are a golf fanatic like me, you will recognize the Top 30 PGA Pros who made it to the FedEx Cup finale. If you would like me to answer any questions about our trip or the photos, please leave your email address and comment either below this blog or in the Contact section on my blog Home page.
I hope many others participated in the WordPress Worldwide 5K blog in some enjoyable way, like my husband and I did last week. The purpose was to get people moving, blogging about how you took part in the #WWWP5K, and to raise awareness for the wonderful charity, Soles4Souls. I am glad to have had the chance to be a part of the 2016 #WWWP5K!!
By the way, the overall winner of both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup and over $10 million was, Rory McIlroy!!
Also, as a side note– the weirdest experience for me at beginning of each day and the end of our days spent walking around East Lake Golf Club had to be using lyft and uber cars to drive us back and forth between our downtown hotel and East Lake. My husband and I live 30 minutes from a university city, but our hometown has a population of about 1000 people. I guess you could say we live in rural Mississippi. But we every person in our family has a car; so, that means there a 4 automobiles in my driveway at times. We don’t have a stoplight in our hometown; thus, you drive, walk, or ride your bike around the inner area of our small town. I digress
My cell already had an uber app, but according to the East Lake drop of point directions during the TOUR Championship, only lyft cars could drop ticket holders off near the front 9, which used to be the back 9. NOT!! On, media day, I downloaded the lyft app onto my phone, ordered a lyft car with PayPal, and the very talkative, kind driver arrived at out hotel in a few minutes. When we left East Lake that afternoon, tired and with a good deal of “Brain fog” on my part, the guides told us that an uber car could pick us up outside the main gate. So, I ordered an uber driver, who took 15 minutes in downtown Atlanta traffic to get to our pick up point, which was 3 miles from where the uber map showed the car to be. The uber driver was also a nice guy and got us back to our hotel as quickly and safely as he possibly could, but I had two problems with uber. First, our morning lyft car cost $3.36 vs our afternoon uber car (it was about 4 pm) which cost $16.50. That is a huge price gap. Also, somehow uber listed me as a driver, and I am still getting emails from uber telling me that I haven’t made any money yet b/c I haven’t picked anyone up yet. I don’t even have the uber driver app on my cell. If anyone can explain this craziness to me, please comment in the area below. I love Atlanta, but we usually take a town car around downtown or a limo (for long distances in ATL). I will continue to visit Atlanta on special occasions. I like being able to drive my own SUV in my small hometown or the larger towns 30 minutes to 1 hour from my home.
The lyft vs uber aspect of the #WWWP5K is non-important to the fantastic way that I was able to get two 5ks in during my time at the East Lake Golf Club, while watching the greatest pro-golfers in the world. This was just an after thought. I can actually walk to my Country Club’s Golf Course in small town Mississippi. Its about a 5k walk . . . one way!
In August 1998, my seven years of teaching high school Social Studies and Spanish came to a decisive end when I accepted a Teaching Assistant position at a major university to pay for my doctoral degree coursework in Modern American History that I had begun taking a year earlier. I had been married for ten years, and my husband and I were the blessed and proud parents of two beautiful, blonde haired little girls, ages 9 and 7. I should also add here that I was a “Minister’s Wife,” which is a life’s work unto itself, and I was one of the main caretakers of my precious 81 year old grandmother, who I adored and admired.
I jumped headfirst with excitement and little forethought into this new phase in my life. I was 33 years old, madly in love with my handsome, supportive husband, involved in every aspect of my children’s’ lives, and I was emotionally and physically healthy (or so I believed).
It was difficult (to say the least) to prepare my syllabus, lecture notes, discussion questions, and exams, along with grading 80 tests every six weeks for the two classes I taught each semester. While I taught 6 hrs three days each week, I also attended three-a total of 9 hours-of graduate level seminars 1 to 3 days each week, which required taking notes, studying for tests, reading, researching and writing book reviews and 40 page papers, and making no less than a B on each course’s final semester grade. As you might guess, I am not a “B” student. I expected and received only “A’s” as final grades in all of my classes at the end of each semester. Type A personality. . .You think so? I did not!
By my second semester of teaching and doctoral work, carrying out my duties as a wife, mother and young minister’s wife, and taking care of my gandmother, my stress levels were at an all time high. As my petite 110 pound frame dwindled to 95 pounds, I began having major headaches and swallowed 4 OTC ibuprofen every 5 hours, every day. The obvious result: secondary stomach pain and horrible headaches!! Yet, let me say that my second semester classes and students were my favorite of any during the 5 years that I taught.
My favorite, yes–but, first allow me to ignore the morning that I passed out in front of 45 students as my 8 am class began, woke up laying on a table surrounded by said students, was hurriedly placed on a gurney helped by half of the EMTs and Firefighters in my college community, took an ambulance ride to the local hospital, gave blood in the ER for umpteen unknown tests, and had bags of IV fluid pumped into my body, only to discover that my pulse and blood pressure had bottomed out because I had taken some prescription sinus medicine that has since been taken off the market. That was definitely a FUND day!?
That same semester, in October 1998, my father-in-law passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. My strong 32 year old husband needed me to lean on. To this day, I still do not know how either of us made it through this time in our life. We had little time to grieve because we had to get back to our “normal” routines. By worldly standards, most people would have crashed and burned about now. But we knew that our faith and trust in God would sustain us through this time. Please do not think that God allowed either of us to recover quickly from such a tragic loss or the far too fast-paced life we were living. When we did not stop to allow ourselves to heal emotionally and physically, God decided to let the “crashing” truly begin.
When I returned to my university to finish my second semester, I began noticing a new pain in my worn out body. This time the pain radiated in my bladder and kidney areas. I knew the norm. I was tested and retested for UTI’s and Kidney infections. All the tests came back negative. When I tell you that I was a 30 on the 1-10 pain scale–that’s an understatement. Much of my “spare” time was spent in the ER (I knew the night ER staff well) because my bladder literally would not function. Can you say Foley Catheter?
Since neither my Family Doctor, nor my OB/GYN could diagnose the reason for my indescribably, painful bladder pain, off to not 1, not 2, but 3 Urologists I went. After too many painful tests, none that need to be described in detail here, other than saying that sterile water was used to stretch my bladder twice, and for a year I continued to teach classes and take classes, while my husband drove me 2 hrs one way every 2 months to have my bladder rinsed out with a caustic, burning, chemical solution that was supposed to heal the lining of my bladder. What? I have Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?? What exactly is that?? I had never heard the words. But, believe me, during the next 2 years, I learned more than I cared to know about IC and the horrors that come along with this disease.
In late 1999, my beloved grandmother, my Granny, passed away in her sleep from congestive heart failure and after her year long battle with breast cancer. Grieve her loss?. . .I didn’t have the ability to because my IC physical pain had taken over my world. At this time, my History Department Chair, sat me down in his office and gently suggested that I take a medical leave from my teaching and doctoral classes. I politely declined.
My pain continued, but Tramadol or Lortab eased it enough for me to teach Spring 1999, and schedule a hysterectomy in May 1999 as soon as classes were over, because by then I had found a Urologist, determined to fix my IC pain. He had asked me to have a ct-scan of my abdominal to hip region. Those results: I had an enlarged uterus. Ah Ha! -The possible cause of all my bladder issues and pain.
Summer 1999 was spent in a 3 month slow recovery from a hysterectomy that led to the discovery that I had been living with adenomyosis. (Look it up in the dictionary, if you don’t know what that is). No enlarged uterus equals no adenomyosis equals no more IC or bladder pain. And, I did feel so much better towards the end of that summer. I’m cured!!–So I thought.
When I walked out into the hall the after I dismissed my first class of the Fall 1999 semester, my bladder pain returned full force. I called my OB/GYN, but, he told me that he had done all he could do for me. His suggestion was to see my Urologist. Again?? No!!!!!!
I knew enough about Interstitial Cystitis by this time, and had met enough people in specialists’ offices, who truly lived with the horrors of this Invisible Illness, pain that was a million times worse than my own. I decided at that moment that I did not have IC. As my own patient advocate, I realized that the Urologists who had used my body as a guinea pig, had handed me the diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis as a “dump word” meaning “I have no idea why you are having this bladder issue and pain.” And by 2001, my bladder pain had actually subsided.
Today, 15 years later, I still have minor issues with my bladder; but, none of it, in my case, stems from having IC. It is a symptom of my lumbar spinal osteoarthritis, combined with the after affects of L5S1 Lumbar-Herniated Disc Surgery. Bladder pain occurs in very few people who live with most forms of arthritis. I happen to be one of the lucky Arthritis Warriors, who have residual bladder pain among their long list of other symptoms or side effects of Arthritis. And if you haven’t guessed by now, that stress headache that I began having in 1998, is actually a result of cervical spondylosis (arthritis and degenerative discs in my neck vertebrae). The pain radiates from the bone spurs in both of my shoulder into my arthritic neck, up the back of my head, and radiates in a circular pattern around my head. I call these headaches my “Arthritis Headaches.” Trauma Induced Spinal Osteoarthritis Headache is a mouthful to say!!!!
••Please note that this is my story and I am not a trained medical practitioner. If you have any of the Chronic Pain issues discussed here, see a medical professional. Don’t use Google to self-diagnose. You might really scare yourself or even believe your diagnosis, without having medical truth.
••Also, I will be blogging about my issues getting a diagnosis of spinal osteoarthritis, living with it for most of my life, and all the good and bad that comes with my arthritis diagnosis in my weekly and monthly blogs as we in the Arthritis and Autoimmune Disease Community, find ways to live with the chronic pain of our invisible illnesses, and to support each other, each time we “Enter-the-BoneJoint!”
Angie Russell Irvin; Mrs. Gulf States International 2017