Through The Darkest Valleys-Day By Day - Home on the Range Blog at - 296584

Home on the Range

Through The Darkest Valleys-Day by Day 
Feb. 2, 2013 10:23 am 
Updated: Feb. 9, 2013 4:43 pm
"Valleys" is a blog for those who suffer from, or know someone with chronic pain or disabling disease. It's just a blog of my own journey, both different and separate from my Range to Range blog. Because I have had so much response to it on it's regular website, I decided to post here as well, in case it appeals to anyone in our forum.
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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Cor 4:16-18

January was quite a month. The highlight was visiting most of our family in California and having our friend the chef, visit with us for most of the month. The low point was icy roads preventing shipment of my self administered injections for Ra on time, which threw me into a flare that lasted for weeks.
I was able to visit and talk with my sister in law who has battled this disease for most of her life. It helped a lot to discuss it with someone who knows what I am going through and could sort of give me an idea of what is spend time with someone I love and trust, who has already been there. It was good to see everyone and I wish there was a way we could see them all more.

As far as Ra and such things go, one of the great things about Internet is that there are online support groups for just about everything. I find them to be useful tools to see if what I experience are common symptoms or not and what might be expected out of different treatment modalities. I have also learned, particularly from individuals who have very active Ra, that one thing that seems to cause great offense, is public misunderstanding of the disease. Lack of public knowledge about these disorders seem to be at or near the top of the list of complaints for many patients, as those with misconceptions can include not just strangers, but friends, co-workers and family members. It can be difficult for a family member to understand why someone might not be able to get out of bed due to incomprehensible pain, when they look quite normal. 

Ra is short for Rheumatoid Auto-Immune Disorder commonly called Rheumatoid Arthritis. The latter term can be misleading as it isn’t osteo-arthritis, which nearly anyone who lives long enough has, as joints wear out from age and use. Rheumatoid is an inflammatory, incurable, degenerative and progressively painful auto-immune disease. 

Auto immune conditions are when the body’s own defense systems become confused and overactive and turn on the body itself, destroying its own tissues, organs and soft tissue as well as joints and bone. There are hundreds of diseases in this category and generally, I have found they are like potato chips, in that people almost never have just one. There are various combinations that seem to evolve. Ra and  Fibromyalgia, Ra and Lupus, toss in Reynaud’s or any number of diseases with odd names and overlapping symptoms and it can be confusing, discouraging and disconcerting as well as difficult to treat and diagnose.

Ra is an inflammatory condition that affects joints, connective tissue and even internal organs and can result in intense pain and in some cases, even death. It is known to sometimes attack heart and/or lungs. Treatment for Ra is a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” kind of a thing. To obtain any kind of quality of life you must submit to taking drugs which are known to cause a variety of serious and frightening side effects, not the least of which is lymphoma and other types of cancer. It’s a bit like playing Russian Roulette, but we play because it is the only way to maintain functionality and tolerate the pain. 

There are varying degrees of severity and stages of Ra, from the mildly affected and slow progressing and those in temporary remission, to others who find at initial diagnoses they are already in agony to the point of being totally unable to function. Fortunately, I am between the two. I often need assistance and cannot do most of the things I used to do, but if I set my mind to it, on a good day I can still accomplish quite a bit. I have had to set my goals a lot lower and not be too terribly discouraged if I cannot meet them.
It helps not having telephones and other things to interrupt my day. In fact one of the hardest things for me is to try to answer the phone. I can no longer rise or walk quickly enough to catch it and if I do, it’s even harder for me to hear on it.

Another problem with Ra is that there are so many different things that can trigger a flare. Stress is a huge trigger. Therefore I do everything I can to try to avoid emotional and financial stress. Living where we do and being able to simplify my life plays a big part in that. 

It is almost as hard on a spouse to live with someone that has Ra as it is for the person affected. So much responsibility falls on the family and there has to be acute frustration in not being able to really help someone you love, who is in chronic and constant pain. In some instances, a patient may find themselves misunderstood, or even abandoned because of their illness. This isn’t of course, exclusive to Ra. People with any kind of issues can find themselves suddenly alone at their greatest point of need, in today’s increasingly hedonistic, self serving and disposable culture. 

I am one of the fortunate ones. The man I am married to meant it, when he pledged in ‘sickness or in health’. Without complaining about the extra work load when I am unable to feed my animals or do my regular daily chores, he is there for me. He feeds the critters and pulls the milk wagon through the snow and mud because I cannot. He is always encouraging me  and has never made me feel like a burden or less of a person because of my disease. He is a nearly perfect illustration of Biblical marriage and a conduit of God’s love. He doesn’t do this because I am worthy, or because I can do anything to make it worth his while. As does our Lord who created relationship and modeled it for us, he does it, because he chooses to. He knows that love is not something we feel, it is something we DO. You cannot ‘fall in” or ‘fall out’ of love. You either do it, or you don’t.

Sometimes I cannot stand up by myself. Randy will reach down a hand and pull me up until I am on my feet. It is usually a painful process, as the pressure it applies against my hands, wrists and shoulders sometimes feel as though they are all being dislocated, but it is necessary.

Likewise, the Lord has used pain in my life to lift me up to where I need to be. I would never wish a malady like this on any person or their spouse, but I can say, God has used it in my life to good purpose. I have learned new skills, found new hobbies and gained a new appreciation for life. In addition, it is the only way that I could set aside my pride and accept help, as I have always been fiercely independent and have always had an aversion to ‘imposing’ myself on anyone for any reason. There is nothing more humbling than becoming "un-able". Through this experience, I have learned more about the admirable qualities of my husband and the depth of his love and commitment, than I ever possibly could have, had I remained healthy. One never knows how someone will respond until a situation actually arises. As this disease has progressed in my life, it has ravaged both my body and my emotions. Once exceptionally strong for a woman, I have become embarrassingly weak. Prescription drugs have caused rapid weight gain and thinning hair. My skin has suffered. My clothes don’t fit, hands and feet are often swollen and painful. I am loathe to go anywhere because I don’t want anyone to see me like this. I feel old and ugly and tired and worn.

Then Randy comes home. With a wordless look and a smile, he changes everything. I don’t think he sees me the way I see myself. He acts as though he still sees the woman he married and I feel cherished and blessed. He is ever working toward what is in my best interest.

As Randy appears to see what was, God sees also what will be. Both visions are superior to what isand both are clear illustrations of His passion for us. How can I not be looking forward, no matter what this disease will bring?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Feb. 2, 2013 12:34 pm
Brought tears to my eyes, Petey. Though we have never met, I still feel the love pouring through your words. Blessings on you.
Feb. 3, 2013 12:13 pm
I think of you often Petey.. I share all your stories / pictures with my husband and look forward to each blog! B thanks for sharing
Feb. 3, 2013 12:31 pm
Thanks so much, Petey. You are so very inspiring. I always look forward to your blogs. Hugs.
Feb. 3, 2013 1:09 pm
I rarely comment but read your blog regularly, I can identify with your struggles, including all the terrible side effects of the meds. I was diagnosed with RA while recovering from another serious illness over 2 years ago. I still work full time as a nurse. It's hard, some mornings I feel like I can barely make it in the the building from the parking lot. I just try to stay positive. I have a good family.Your blog is such an inspiration and beautifully written. God Bless You Petey
Feb. 3, 2013 1:58 pm
Petey, Even though I do not suffer from Ra, I can almost feel your pain and frustration. When I am having a "bad" day; I try to remember your heart warming words from sharing your blogs. It has helped me many, many times! Thank you so are such an inspiration for many. Sending you thoughts and prayers. You are truly blessed.
Feb. 3, 2013 3:14 pm
Thanks to you all. You have been my encouragers through much!
Feb. 4, 2013 6:12 am
I have never seen you, Petey, but you are truly beautiful. You share yourself through your heart that is driven by your genuine and appreciative spirit. I believe that you are a wonderful example of faith and I am blessed by your witness.
Feb. 4, 2013 6:36 am
OH Petey, God Bless You. You are such an inspiration to us all. I have a dear friend that has had RA since the age of 25. She is in her 80s now. I have watched as the progression of the disease has ravaged her body. She however is such and inspiration to me as you are. You ask her how she is doing and she will say "Well, you know I do have rheumatoid arthritis?" Her husband is a great support to her as yours is for you. Never give up. Just keep on keeping on!!! One day at a time sweet Jesus. One of my favorite songs.
Feb. 4, 2013 7:10 am
Petey,i do not suffer from Ra,but I do have what they call chronic pain.I had shoulder surgery 2 years ago,and it did not work.Like you I have a wonderful husband who is of great help.I now have to attend a chronic pain clinic, so they can help me learn to live with the pain,I think I have learned to live with it quite well in the last 10 years,and I think it's just a waste of my time and their's.Petey I wish you the very best and please take care of yourself.Your husband sounds like a wonderful man,your very lucky to have each other.{hugs to you}
Feb. 4, 2013 7:42 am
Petey, for what it's worth. I have a good friend who contracted RA when he was 28 years old. At 50, he's much diminished. 4 inches shorter, 40 lbs lighter, 7 major joints made of plastic and titanium. His family has money so from the Mayo clinic to the local shaman (kidding), everything has been tried. Recently in conversation with him, he revealed that he'd begun a course of 'treatment' that has changed his life. Within two weeks of starting, he felt good, started working out with free weights. At 3 months, he'd upped the free weights to 30 lbs each and put on 20 lbs with a daily walk. At 6 months, he went skiing. He's at 8 months now and becoming a believer, along with his doctor. So what did he do? What is this crazy course of treatment? It's absurdly simple, he stopped eating gluten. I really don't know much more than that but it's so damned interesting I thought I'd throw that out there. Good luck to you.
Feb. 4, 2013 10:41 am
Petey, I'm not good at putting my thoughts into words, so maybe WFDM won't be offended if I use her comments, your faith is a blessing to me and helps me to realize what Jesus has to offer all of us.
Feb. 4, 2013 10:53 am
Manella, I sure wish there was no pain in this world, but like you said, we learn to live with what we have. God bless you and it's always good to hear from you!
Feb. 4, 2013 11:25 am
Raedwulf, thanks for the testimony about your friend. It's encouraging! Like him, I am shorter, but unfortunately DEFINITELY not lighter! I have been trying to do some work with weights and stretching lately because I had a flare that got so bad, I lost all range of motion. I've also started taking turmeric which really does seem to be helping and am currently gluten/carb free as we just got a beef in the freezer so I can live on things like bone broth more and put my beloved breads aside for awhile...just in time to watch Randy scarf down my cinnamon rolls each day. LOL
Feb. 4, 2013 11:33 am
Bett, He has been my rock. There is much I would not have survived if I did not know He was here for me, but He's made Himself very present in our life. Thanks for sharing!
Feb. 4, 2013 11:42 am
Very inspiring, petey. I am very fortunate to have pretty good health, but my husband has fibromyalgia. It is very difficult for him sometimes, and I am always there to help. I love him unconditionally as he does me. Thanks for sharing with us.
Feb. 4, 2013 2:41 pm
My husband and both his sisters have some sort of auto-immune diseases. His sisters' condition varies much like yours does - sometimes good, sometimes very bad. I will try to direct them to your new blog! And again, your blog encourages my heart!
Feb. 4, 2013 6:27 pm
I pray for you & Randy daily. And you are so right in that Randy and God see you through eyes that are "perfect vision" - try to see yourself that way also. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart."
Feb. 5, 2013 6:10 am
Petey, you are my inspiration....period.
Pilotco77 semi 
Feb. 5, 2013 8:30 am
May God bless you and Randy for sharing such a heartfelt testimony from that terrible disease. Thank you for sharing with those of us who may not be as sick as you, but live day to day in a painful struggle not of our own making. Again God bless.
Pilotco77 semi 
Feb. 5, 2013 8:31 am
May God bless you and Randy for sharing such a heartfelt testimony from that terrible disease. Thank you for sharing with those of us who may not be as sick as you, but live day to day in a painful struggle not of our own making. Again God bless.
Feb. 5, 2013 12:37 pm
God bless you Petey and thank you for sharing such a personal testimony. You and Randy are an inspiration. I always look forward to reading your blog. You gave me what I needed today. This is the second time today, that I came across Jeremiah 29:11 and it is what I needed today. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you.
Feb. 5, 2013 2:31 pm
Occasional Cooker. I love when He does that :)
Feb. 8, 2013 2:48 pm
Dear Petey I read your blog and was in tears! I was just diagnosed with ra.In fact I had my first round of shots on Monday. I can relate to everything...the incredible pain and weakness,not being the strong woman I'm used to, feeling too old to be this young!Seems like the side effects from the meds are even worse!Can you predict the weather with your body? I live in MN and I'm dealing with the calm before this next system moves in. It's so hard when your mind is strong but the body isn't. You are in my thoughts and prayers dear lady.
Feb. 8, 2013 3:38 pm
Dear Petey, I am so sorry that you are suffering from this horrendous disease. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers.
Feb. 8, 2013 9:38 pm
You guys are sweet. I have had it for sometime now. It's just the past 4 or 5 years it has gotten really bad, but it's not the end.
Feb. 9, 2013 9:19 am
Dear Petey, Mother Theresa said, "Getting kissed by Jesus can cause pain, you may get poked by His crown of thrones." Indeed, this is true. That said, please forgive my boldness, but I have here a book by Dr. D'Adamo, for Arthritis sufferers, or inflammation of any kind, apparently our epigentics and blood type are helping sufferers with this disease. Take a peek at the Facebook page my sister Andrea Cayea is very knowledgeable on this protocol and I think she can help lead you to a more comfortable life. It's worth a try. I send prayers for healing along with all the others here. BNC
Feb. 9, 2013 4:43 pm
Thanks BNC, I will surely check that out. chefwannabe, I hope and pray the medications give you the relief you need. It is such a very individual thing. Bless you guys
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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