Category Archives: flu

RA Reminds us that it’s there

I’m sitting looking out over the snow in my yard.  There is a woodpecker munching on my suet feeder.  There are chickadees and titmouses (titmice?) grabbing some of the sunflower seeds from the clear plastic feeder that is stuck to my window.  The squirrels are, apparently, huddled in their nests somewhere because they really haven’t been making much of an appearance this morning, yet.  It’s really a pretty morning.

I’ve been fighting hard to get completely over the flu from December when… WHAM… Bronchitis from January derails any hope of my January infusion being on time, if happening at all.  The antibiotics aren’t really helping an awful lot.  My infusion is a week late now… my MTX has been put off for at least last week and this week and probably next week.

This morning, the stress of 70 hour weeks and forgetting to go pee, let alone eat and putting sleep off in the interest of “Git ‘er done” has all contributed, this morning, to my fingers and wrists screaming about whatever has been going on in my body.

Stress is really kicking my behind.

I try not to.  Honestly I do.  I try meditation.  I try not bath.  I try walking.  I  put bird feed into the big giant bird feeder out front, and I kind of melted down in the kitchen on the floor because I could not make my hands get the roof back on the bird feeder.

Stress is RA’s evil insidious little friend… and just when you think it’s safe to take a breath, something happens and your body rebels.  Stopping the drugs that make your immune system dumbed down so your body can heal from the sick just pisses off the rest of the immune system and WHAM… it comes screaming back to remind you that it is SO there.

Prednisone… I’m turning to you again… not a huge dose, but one that I really really didn’t want to have to start taking.

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Twas the Day After Christmas

Sitting here in the livingroom smelling the remnants of yesterday’s fire, Christmas tree for company and Mythbusters on TV. Pumpkin pie and coffee…  I started my work day early today trying to get ahead of any curve that might be coming my way when “normal” people come in.  Something tells me it’s going to be a long day.

The flu brought on a flare.  My fingers are not happy and my knee/ankle/foot combination are very very not happy.  I’m thinking that working from the couch with my feet propped up on the coffee table might be my very best bet for the day.  Yesterday my knee/ankle was very bad by the end of the day.  Bear barely bumped my knee and I winced in pain.  I sat on the floor watching the turkey for the last half hour of the turkey cooking time… watching to see if  I could see the timer pop up.

The turkey was very very greasy.  The skin wasn’t the yummy crispiness that Thanksgiving’s was.  But it was a good turkey.  The ham was ham.  Dinner was really good, though.

Today, I’m thinking back over the last year, trying to psych myself up for the rest of the day and trying to be gentle with myself.  Tiger Balm fills the air.  I have checked the weather report fifty times.  It’s not going to get cold.  I’m almost as disappointed as my son that the weather refuses to turn seasonal.  It’s going to be 47 degrees today.  It’s going to top 50 again tomorrow.  I really really want to see the cold and the snow.  Logic dictates that there is lots of time for the season to turn cold but Christmas is Christmas and it was far from white.

The holidays are not over yet.  There are still hours and hours of potential stress and festivities.  Whatever you do, remember to be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with your body and take time for absolutely nothing… it can certainly pay off.

What did I learn from having the flu?

— be very VERY careful in a race situation.  You come into contact with the germs of thousands of people and, an already compromised immune system, germs are germs.
— no matter what anyone thinks, the doctors, the CDC and the vaccine manufacturers all agree… the flu shot is reasonably effective in lowering your chances of the strains of flu that are included in the vaccine, not the ones that aren’t.  It will not prevent the flu and anyone who comes up with the snarky remarks about you should have gotten the flu shot and you wouldn’t have gotten the flu if you would have just been smart and gotten yours is full of… um… themselves.  BUT this is assuming that the CDC and the Doctors are a little more edumacateded up than Lucy Lou and Skippy down the street are.
— the flu sucks.  All kidding aside, I don’t ever know if I have hurt in that really horrible all over hurt worse than the day I actually came down with the flu.
— when they tell you it takes a week or more to feel better, they aren’t kidding.  It takes a week.  And with RA tossed into the equation, the absolute exhaustion and continued run down feeling hangs on even longer.

If you have a compromised immune system… get the flu shot.  The more variables you can take out of your health equation, the better your chances are of getting through the season without coming down with something that could land your butt in the hospital (or worse).

And… it’s time to get on with my day.  I hope I’m wrong about what is going to hit the fan today with everyone out of the office… but… for now, I’m going to try to get done what I can while I can.

I hope you all had the Merriest of Christmases.

Infusion Week Flu

It’s been a long and interesting week.

Sunday I started the Santa Hustle Half Marathon at Cedar Point.  I didn’t finish (and I’m even more glad now than I didn’t than I was before) but I started, and I made it half way.

Monday I made it to work.

Tuesday I had before and after hours work to do (and I HURT from the race) so I worked from home.

Wednesday was infusion day.  Was feeling pretty decent by Wednesday.  Afternoon was my infusion.  They did a blood draw before the infusion (my quarterly blood tests) and then my infusion.  I had cookies and Gatorade.

A couple hours later we went to Walmart and I started to feel horrible.  Stomach ache and exhausted became EVERYWHERE aches and freezing and exhausted.  EVERY joint screamed.  I hurt from the end of my toes to the most horrible not-migraine headache I can ever remember having.

Bad enough I called off work Thursday morning and went to the doctor.  I vaguely remember being there. I had a low grade fever.  I vaguely remember walking to the car after my appointment.  I vaguely remember getting home.  Sleep, I learned, is definitely your friend with the flu.

$40 worth of Tamaflu at the ONLY pharmacy in town known to have it (the pharmacy at Cleveland Clinic) and that’s all I remember of Thursday.

Yesterday my rheumy called.  Turns out my blood work came out with an elevated white blood count (go figure) and I’m off my methotrexate until the Sunday a week after I start to feel human again (so… I’m guessing January).

I was instructed to NOT go to work until at least Monday so I can keep from infecting my co-workers. So I worked from home Friday.  It’s the holiday and my team is growing thinner and thinner and I need to be Johnny On The Spot through after New Years.  It’s going to be a long holiday season.

Yes.  I got my Flu Shot.  I got my flu shot before the doctors ever even thought of trying to get me to take my flu shot.  September, about 2 weeks after the flu shot signs started to appear at the local pharmacies I got my flu shot.

Funny… Rheumy told me what everyone else (well… all the medical kind of people anyway) has told me.  The flu shot doesn’t prevent the flu.  It makes the flu you get (if you get it) less horrible and helps prevent one or two or a handful of types of the flu.

According to the CDC the strain of the flu that is rampant right now isn’t actually included in the flu shot.  This year’s flu shot is primarily H1N1 and a couple strains of influenza B.

Please don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that you have gotten the flu shot.  If you feel sick, go be seen as soon as you start to feel awful.  Tamaflu doesn’t make you better but it makes you feel less crappy.  TAKE ALL THE PRECAUTIONS YOU CAN to avoid the flu germs especially for those of us that are immuno-suppressed.  If I wasn’t on MTX and Orencia would I have gotten the flu or gotten it as badly as I have it?  I don’t know.  It’s immaterial    I have it…

I know that hand sanitizer (handsitizer) isn’t all the answer and bleach wipes and Lysol isn’t all the answer and that I’m going to go a little nutsy over trying to make sure I don’t get it again and I don’t get another strain this season because I’m going to use everything I can to prevent it.

This year, I drew the short straw.

My RA Flu Story

Okay… not that anyone is getting as sick of this flu thing as I am… but now that I’m kind of feeling semi human again… it is time to pull together some kind of logical series of events.  Maybe someone will read it and learn from my adventure.

Yeah… I’m feeling more human… it is an adventure…

Wednesday I was feeling like I had a cold… a little congestion… kind of yukky… nothing big… just a cold.  Probably not.  Ah for 20-20 hindsight… Got my Enbrel shot… which went surprisingly well this time.  I’m getting used to them and the side effects weren’t even too yukky…The weird ice thing we had going on meant I worked from home so it was cool.. took my Enbrel even earlier in the day.

Thursday (YOGA day) I went to work.  I had stuff I had to get finished and I was so wanting to get it done and get to my Yoga class… I look forward to Thursdays and Yoga.  By lunch time I knew there was no way I could go to yoga.  I felt horrible and it came on relatively quickly.  I got sent home to work from home and try to get a little rest…

Friday I was working from home because I still felt crappy.  I felt bad enough I actually caved in and made a doctor appointment despite the fact that my ‘regular’ doctor wasn’t available.  It usually has to be pretty bad before I decide to cough it up and go to the doctor.    It was pretty bad.

No fever… interesting…. but when they stuck the giant ear-tip up my nose and it came back positive I was less than thrilled.  The new doctor was kind of concerned about the fact that I’m on Enbrel and I had a flu shot and still tested positive and having a compromised immune system… not so great.

Got a script for Tamiflu… and instructions to call my Rheumy (Sean… her nurse) to verify.

I made it into the Sean queue just a scooch under the “we leave at noon” deadline.  I’m not sure if I’m glad or not.  Sean’s concern was kind of scary.  He asked if I was having symptoms or if I was exposed to someone with Flu or… he wasn’t happy when I told him I tested positive already… Don’t take Enbrel shot… too late… Don’t take the next one until I feel 100% for 3 – 5 days (really?  100%?  I haven’t actually felt 100% in HOW long?)   Eesh.

Boss man gave me permission to rest the rest of the day and get ready to do maintenance Saturday.  Really?? eesh.

I slept

MASSIVE headache on Saturday.  I feel really guilty because I have been worrying bear so badly.  He was really rattled and I feel really really bad about that.  I hate when I worry him.

Today we went for half of our Sunday walk and it was great… and it was awful.  I was exhausted by the time we got home… but it was better.

Type B Flu

According to WebMD

 

What Is Type B flu Virus?

Unlike type A flu viruses, type B flu is found only in humans. Type B flu may cause a less severe reaction than type A flu virus, but occasionally, type B flu can still be extremely harmful. Influenza type B viruses are not classified by subtype and do not cause pandemics.

This “may” cause a less severe reaction… wow… if Type A is worse than this I’m glad I got B… I think… or maybe not.

Now I’m worried to death about infecting the rest of the family and I’m guilt ridden about worrying everyone so much.  I must be feeling marginally better… I’m feeling guilty… and eating chipped ham sandwiches.

I feel really bad worrying everyone.  Especially today.  I had a headache that felt like a tooth ache but from the bottom of my nose to about a foot over the top of my head.  It was the worst head ache I ever remember having.  And I worried bear and I feel really bad for that.

Tamiflu is wonderful, though.  And so is powdered drink mix that tastes like lemonade.