Monthly Archives: October 2014

10 Things I Hate About Autoimmune Arthritis

There are a LOT of lists out there about autoimmune  arthritis, and here is mine.  These are 10 things I HATE about these diseases.

1. Random injured body parts.   Do you have a wrist brace on one day, and an ankle brace on the next?  You may have autoimmune arthritis!  It tends to travel from area to area, just in case we weren’t paying attention!  This lovely little trait lends itself to our lack of credibility when we feel bad, because after all – once a body part hurts, doesn’t it always?  Holy cow, I hate this more than anything.  I have had body parts hurt for years then randomly stop hurting.  Sometimes it is not that consistent though.  This morning my ankle hurt, but now it is my neck.

2.  No 2 doctors say the same thing.  Oh the state our care is in!!!!!!!!  (Yes that was a lament!)  Maybe part of the reason we cannot get good awareness out, is because the medical profession that treats us is insanely inconsistent!  No two doctors have the same beliefs about autoimmune arthritis.  Some doctors don’t even recognize organ involvement with RA or Sjogrens, or that people can and do DIE from these illnesses.  This leads to so many roadblocks for patients, and ultimately contributes to an early death.

3.  Everyone also has “achy knees”.  (While mine do ache now, it isn’t my RA.)  Yes you can have RA in the knees, but this seems to be the response we normally get as soon as someone zeros in on “arthritis”.  The most common knee arthritis is Osteo, which is a totally separate thing.  (Very painful and disabling, but different.)  While well-meaning, this does get old after the first 100 times someone tells you this.  I almost feel like I need to walk around with a brochure.

4.   Never knowing how I will feel when I wake up.  This is FANTASTIC when planning things like LIFE, said no one ever.  Unfortunately, we all wake up with NO days.  Autoimmuners tend to have many of those,  making small things hard.  Ever need food but can’t move?  Better yet – get some autoimmune IBS with the inability to move.  Not so fun, huh?  I hate not knowing what I will be able to do the next day.  Every event is always a “maybe”, and friends eventually stop calling.  You can’t volunteer, because you are not reliable.  Sucks.

5.  Miracle cures that got rid of autoimmune arthritis in someone’s Uncle’s Roommate’s parakeet.  YES!  I actually heard that if you gather rhino hair by the light of the quarter moon, add it to rosehip tea, and chant in tongues – it will do absolutely nothing.    This is not a disease we did anything to get, but more likely a genetic one.  Yes there are environmental triggers that could be switched off, but most of those “cures” are hogwash or apply to osteo.  Again, I know people try to help, but it does get old.  If there was a cure – we would have done it.  Everyone is different, so you should try something if you want, but there is no cure yet.

6.  Feeling like I have Bird flu EVERYDAY, and going to work sick because I can never tell the difference..     Fevers, aches, stiffness, hot flashes, fatigue.  No I don’t have bird flu, I have autoimmune arthritis.  It makes you feel the exact same way, without having to purchase the pathogen!  What a great deal!  Many of us will not know if we have allergies, plague, or it is the arthritis being an arse.  We are so used to “sucking it up”, that we just assume it is disease and keep chugging away!  Sadly, what would knock most people off their feet, is just another day at the office.

7. Being searched at the airport EVERY TIME because of the insane amount of metal in your body.    Feel like the bionic person, or are you being followed constantly by scrap metal collectors?  Us autoimmuners usually have more fake body parts than most of Hollywood.  Unfortunately for us, it means we get very intimate with TSA every time we want or need to travel.  Those little cards the surgeons give you?  USELESS.    The best one was when I was asked if I could take my knee out for chemical testing.  Beautiful TSA.

8.  Being considered a junkie because a disease ate my bones and my body doesn’t make enough of its own pain killers to cope.   I have had autoimmune arthritis for life, and it has been super destructive since I was in my teens.  I am a granny now.  If I need opiates, then I shouldn’t have to feel like I am doing something wrong.  I also should not be punished for all those REAL junkies out there who are abusing their scripts.   At some point, cannabis may not work anymore for me.  (Hoping that never happens, this is awesome.)  Isn’t this why we have these meds?

9.  Walking like I am drunk because my feet suck.  People have actually asked my tea totalling rear if I was drunk before.  My feet don’t always work, so I wobble a LOT.  Now I just answer “Clearly.” and stumble off.

10.  Feeling like someone injected all my muscles with lead just for entertainment.  This is my chronic fatigue.  Muscles feel like they were injected with heavy metal and it take 4 times the amount of energy to complete tasks.  CFS is not being sleepy.  It is literally feeling like the undead.  Mindless, immobile zombie.  Hate it.  Completely.

While there are many more things I hate about autoimmune arthritis, these are some I rarely see mentioned (except 1-10).  Hopefully we can work together to change this and gain some legitimacy in our sickness.

 

The Many Methods of Medical Marijuana: smoking/vaporizing

My legal medical cannabis and vape!
My legal medical cannabis and vape!

These two are probably the most recognized ways of using medical cannabis, and some of the most controversial (dabbing is a whole other article.)    Inhaling your medicine can come in very handy if you are about to toss your cookies, or don’t have 2 hours to wait for pain relief.  It can provide immediate (almost) relief for every symptom cannabis helps, so don’t rule it out because “smoking is bad”.   Which leads us to:

SMOKING

The biggest argument against cannabis I hear (after “for the kids”), is that smoking is a dangerous way to inhale your medicine and cannabis smoke will result in increased risk of lung cancer.  This is not necessarily true.  While it is generally agreed upon that cannabis smoke does contain more carcinogens, no evidence of increased cancers have been found.  In 2006, Dr. Donald Tashkin released a study that actually may have suggested that smoked cannabis has a slightly protective effect (looking at numbers), but absolutely there was no correlation between smoking cannabis and lung cancer.  This being said, is it truly the best method of delivery for inhaled meds?  In my opinion, no.  As Autoimmuners, our lungs are at risk of decreased functioning already.  For me, the risk isn’t worth using smoking as my primary source of inhaled cannabinoids.   However, if this is what you choose – don’t beat yourself up.  Some people just enjoy it, and that is totally fine.  I hack every time and sound like I am “bringing croup back”.

I do occasionally smoke though.  I find portable vaporizers to be expensive, and haven’t found a truly portable one that works well.  Suggestions would be wonderful!  But…..when I travel, I have a pipe, and I don’t feel bad about it!    Since smoking has been around for millennia, I am not going over the differences in pipes, bongs, joints, etc….

VAPORIZING

This is my preferred method of inhaling my medicine.  I get clean cannabinoids, the taste of the cannabis is pure, and I can use the “vapor-poo” to make edibles and topicals.  (Yes, a point could be made that one isn’t getting all the medicine in one blow with vaporizers, which is why you make stuff with the leftovers.)  Vaporizers are made to get hot enough to evaporate the cannabinoids, but not so hot they get burned.  This saves your lungs from a LOT of carcinogens and impurities.  One doesn’t need to inhale chlorophyll to heal.    If lungs are an issue, or smoking is a concern, definitely look at vaporizing.

There are many kinds of vaporizers, but my favorite is my tabletop.  It is pretty solid and easy to use, and since it plugs in – no worrying about my battery.  The table top vaporizers are not portable unless you are traveling to a house or hotel.  This isn’t something you could use on vacation before kayaking, or if you were out and started having spasms.  However, there are ones that travel like Magic Flight Launch Box, CRAFTY, and VIP.  It is all about personal choice and what works for you.   Definitely check the reviews and ask around.   I have been pleased with my 7th Floor products, and they haven’t broke the bank.

 

TIPS

  1. Check your local laws before having any cannabis equipment sent to your home.
  2. Inhaled cannabis doesn’t last as long as ingested cannabis.  Plan around that if you choose to inhale.
  3. Shop around for vaporizers, and be sure to check reviews.  You don’t want to purchase an expensive pipe.
  4. Know there is a learning curve as you learn to use your vaporizer.  Give it some time to adjust!

Grapefruit – Strain Review

Type:   Grapefruit, sativa

Uses: fatigue, moderate pain, spasms, neuropathy, nausea

Medicine Replaced: energy drinks, caffeine, gabapentin, NSAIDS

Smell:  This actually truly smells like grapefruit!  Easiest strain smell ever.

Commentary:  This sativa feels a wee bit stronger than most, making it ideal for when you will be in one place but need to get work done.  I am not getting extra bone pain from this sativa, so it is being added to my arsenal!  I would not use this for anything more than what a Celebrex or low dose tramadol would cover, but at that point I am going to be vegetating anyways.

Armageddon – Strain Review

Type:  Armageddon, indica

Uses: moderate pain, neuropathy, spasms, nausea, digestive upset

Medicine Replaced:  gabapentin, tramadol, ondansetron

Smell:  This has a fruity smell to it, with undertones of pine and old cedar barn.  Yes, I just wrote that.  It kind of reminds me of walking into an old, dusty barn with fruit in it.

Commentary:  I really like Armageddon, but this is only one I can use when I am at home.  Sometimes it can be a bit spacy, so if you are having “a day”, then throw on some movies and use some Armageddon.   This one is a good night-time one for settling down, or when you are too sore to do anything else.   The pain relief aspect of this is almost a numbing effect, rather than actual pain killing.  I can feel the tense muscles, but not the pain from them.  Whatever I did to my neck feels especially better!

Lucy – Strain Review

Type: Lucy, indica (CBD 9%)

Uses: inflammation, nausea, mild to moderate pain, spasms, mild neuropathy

Medicine Replaced: NSAIDS, promethazine, gabapentin

Smell:  Lucy smells more like dried parsley than a strong skunk, and is very light on the nose.

Commentary:  I usually will mix Lucy with another strain depending on my pain levels.  Sometimes I need more pain relief, but I find Lucy helps with the inflammation significantly.  CBD’s definitely increase my pain relief and disease control, so I highly recommend keeping a couple on hand if you can!   Keep in mind, these are not designed for a high.

 

Critical Plus – Strain Review

Type: Critical Plus, sativa dominant hybrid

Uses: fatigue, moderate pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, mild neuropathy

Medicine Replaced: caffeine, NSAIDS, celebrex, xanex, ondansetron, gabapentin

Smell: Critical Plus smells like a crushed up tomato plant, with a slight pungency to it.

Commentary:  My budtender refered to this as “Clean Your Kitchen” rather than Critical Plus, and she was right.  I literally cleaned my kitchen, then destroyed my work cooking.  Then I cleaned it again.  Since you don’t know me, this is RARE.  The Critical Plus took care of all my pain up until the moderate level, but left me with energy to function.

Lemon Skunk – Strain Review

 

Type: Lemon Skunk, sativa

Uses:  fatigue, anxiety, depression, mild to moderate pain

Medicine Replaced:  xanex, NSAIDS, ant-idepression, anti-anxiety

Smell:  Lemon Skunk has a wee bit of citrusy smell (remember my terrible nose) but with a good dose of pinesol.

Comments: This is one of the better strains for fatigue or anxiety/depression.  It is one that will leave you feeling energized and creative, but without paranoia and jitters.  Not one I would recommend for pain relief or neuropathy.