Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rheumatoid Arthritis Blood Tests – What Do They Mean?

Did you ever wonder about the blood tests for RA? My new post for HealthCentral outlines the most common RA blood tests and what the numbers mean:

"RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests."


RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests.

RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
- See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/168572/ra-blood-tests#sthash.vQbGPr1z.dpuf
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests.

RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
- See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/168572/ra-blood-tests#sthash.vQbGPr1z.dpuf
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests.

RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
- See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/168572/ra-blood-tests#sthash.vQbGPr1z.dpuf
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests.

RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
- See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/168572/ra-blood-tests#sthash.vQbGPr1z.dpuf
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests.

RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
- See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/c/80106/168572/ra-blood-tests#sthash.vQbGPr1z.dpuf

Monday, April 14, 2014

Earning Her Nickname



Today is Lucy’s Gotcha Day. Four years ago, on April 14, she came home and took over my life and I’ve loved every minute. She’s the sweetest cat I’ve ever known – in four years, she has never hissed, never swatted, never nipped. She just puts up with things. Whether it’s nail clippings, having her temperature taken at the vet, having children pay lots and lots of attention, she just takes it.

Over time, I have discovered that her full name is Miss Lucinda A. Bellows. Lucinda because she is very much not a Lucille, Bellows because she purrs harder than any cat I’ve ever met, her flanks pushing in and out like a bellows in a smithy. The A? Is for anatife, barnacle in French. Which should tell you something about how much time she spends on my lap. Where she often grooms herself and would fall off, if I didn’t make sure to hold on to some part of her.


Miss Lucy has many nicknames, often variations on her name (Lu, Lulu, Luce, etc.), but there are also others, more descriptive of her actions and personality. She is the opposite of elegant, very much a doofus cat. In the 13 years I shared my life with Mojo, she never once knocked anything over. Lucy? It happens every couple of days.


One could argue that this should be incentive for me to ensure that all surfaces (a.k.a. horizontal filing areas) were pristine and uncluttered, but that’s just not the kind of life I have. What it has done is prompted me to develop a particular statement – “what are you doing?” — said in a particular tone that Miss. Lucy knows very well means she has done something she’s not supposed to. At which point, she looks at me half innocently, half apologetic and I melt.

Today is not about the level of clumsiness in my supposedly feline companion. Today, I’m going to share one of my cat’s particular characteristics that has earned her an equally particular nickname.

I first learned about this part of my new companion very shortly after she arrived. I always have a (plastic) glass of water on my bedside table. In the aforementioned 13 years I shared my life with Mojo, I had two glasses on my bedside table: one for Mojo, one for me. She never drank out of mine. Lucy? Didn’t just drink out of my glass, but would also sit on my bedside table and if I didn’t pay attention to her, knock it over. Into the bed.

It took three times of spending several hours in a very cold and damp bed before I replaced it with a ceramic mug that she couldn’t knock over. This hasn’t prevented her from drinking out of every glass of water I have. Half the time using her paw, dipping it into the water, licking her paw and repeating this until she’s done. Often right after having been in the litter box.

 
Right.

Not surprisingly, I always make sure that her glass is filled up with fresh, cold water.

When I first moved into this apartment, I used to buy Christmas trees. Then I got cheap and started decorating my ficus tree instead. This stopped four years ago, as Lucy had already on numerous occasions tried to climb into the ficus and didn’t need any additional temptation. So instead, I buy a small Christmas decoration in a pot. It’s worked well for several years.

A couple of days into January, I noticed that the 2013 version of the pot was tipped over. I thought maybe one of the staff at accidentally touched it with an elbow, so I righted it again. The next day, the same thing happened. And the next day. I righted it again and went back to watching TV. Then I heard a rustling, turned around and noticed that Lucy was chewing on the pine needles. Rather energetically.

Right.

The pot got moved into my storage room for a while until cleaning day. My housekeeper put it on my hallway dresser for maybe 1.5 minutes just before going to the garbage. There was a crash. When we went to look what had happened, we found this


Not surprisingly, Lucy barfed shortly thereafter.

I also have two little clay birds, of the kind you fill up with water and by blowing in the tail, sound like they’re chirping. They are displayed on one of my shelves, standing tail to tail. Some weeks ago, I was ignoring Lucy. I know it wasn’t nice of me, but we’d already played for a while and I do have to work so I can pay for her kibble. I heard something hit the floor in the living room and when I went to investigate, I found this on the floor


Right.

It may not have been a parrot, but it was very definitely an ex bird. When I showed it to Miss Lucy, she thought I’d finally come to play with her.


Now, you may be asking me how I’m so sure that this was an accident. As proof, I’d like to present this photo of the other bird. Located on a shelf that had (temporarily) also served as a horizontal filing area for some mail.


So, what is this nickname I’ve given her? It is, quite naturally, You Little Shit.

But with a face like this, how can you be mad for long?

   


Monday, April 07, 2014

No Spoons. No Writing. No Problem??



I crashed last weekend. Well, to call it simply a crash may be the understatement of the decade. Sure, this had many similarities to what happens when my body finally has had enough of being pushed beyond its limits and makes me sit still (usually while it mutters invectives): the dizzy, the exhausted, the sort of migraine, but not really, the stomach upset. But it was more intense than I ever remember it being before. It was my weekend with The Boy, which was a lucky thing for me, because it allowed me to follow what my body wanted to do without having to wait for an attendant to help me do that. Less amusing for The Boy, perhaps, when what my body wanted to do was sleep. Occasionally, it wanted to get up and try to choke down a piece of toast, but then it was back to sleep. The entire weekend, I wasn’t awake for longer than two hours at a stretch.

All that sleeping helped a great deal and I felt better Monday, so I went back to work. And promptly relapsed. I learned my lesson then and kept work to a minimum last week — enough to not get fired, but not enough to get too tired.

Look at me, I’m a rhymin’ fool!

So, how did I spend my week? Mostly noodling around on the Internet (but not too much, because that might be like working), doing certain unavoidable things related to the new position I mentioned, reading and watching things on Netflix. Also sleeping, catching up on eating after four days of not, wandering around the neighbourhood on nice days and bugging the cat. And it’s been really nice.
What I didn’t do was write, but you may have guessed that given my absence on the blog. I had ideas, but aside from writing them down so I wouldn’t forget, I didn’t do anything about them. Because I didn’t feel like writing.

Go ahead, Lucy. I'm not writing, anyway

I don’t remember the last time that happened.

Normally, I have several things going on in my brain at the same time, just begging to be written. Words trip over themselves to get there first, dancing a little jig on the way because they’re so excited to be strung together and create stories. And I am so excited to see what happens. Sure, most of what I write is nonfiction, but it’s still a treat and a surprised to see how it all ties together and what shape the words decide to form. The nonfiction is what gets written, but in the back of my mind, there are a few fiction pieces that are constantly brewing, just waiting for there to be enough time that they can sneak out and dance, as well.

Thinking back, it’s been a while since there has been that sense of excitement to my writing, though. There’s been so much I had to do, so many things to be written, that it was starting to all just become a blur of work. Normally, writing for a living is a joy and my passion and I’m very lucky to be paid to do what I love. But between everything that had to be done, the busy and the stress, the juggling of more tasks than I could comfortably manage, every day just trying to keep my head above water, the passion and the joy has gradually drained out. That dancing energy, the need to write had become subsumed into having to write. And I didn’t notice. Well, I noticed that writing for the blog moved further and further down on The List, but I thought it was temporary. Just because I was busy for a few weeks.

And here it is, more than a few weeks later, and I’ve just realized that I don’t feel like writing. And what’s more, I may not be upset about it. I don’t have the urge to write for the first time in years, maybe my entire life, and it doesn’t bother me at all. And sure, I’m still really tired — the energy reserves are just barely creeping out of the overdraft red zone. If I only have enough energy to get through the day, perhaps it’s not surprising I don’t have the desire for anything extraneous, like writing. Or have enough energy to care that I don’t want to write.

What I do have the desire for, even if only in a vague sort of way, is departing to a cabin somewhere far from the madding crowd. Somewhere in the middle of nature — in a forest, by a lake, by the sea, it doesn’t matter. Somewhere possibly without an Internet connection or telephone, although the practical part of me suggests that a basic lifeline to the outside world could be a safety measure worth considering. I want to retreat there, to a silence that is just interrupted by the sound of the waves and the birds and the wind in the pines. I want to sit on the porch for hours, just listening and breathing in the fresh air. Once I’m done with that — shouldn’t take more than three weeks, a month, tops — perhaps read some books. Eventually, I think the need to write would come back. Somehow, I think that cabin could be where I write my next book.

Or at least start to want to write my next book.

Do you have any suggestions on how to reignite the writing flame? And how to find that cabin without leaving home?