arthritis foundation, depression, infection, Laura, medications

2012: A Year in Review

2012 was an… interesting year for me. It’s not like it was horrible – and yet there were definitely times it was. It has been a tough year.

In January, I officiated a wedding between two good friends. It was wonderful to be a part of their special day. I always knew they would end up together. I also had a good ophthalmology appointment, thankfully, after dealing with some more uveitis off and on in the end of 2011. I also started MTX injections to see if I could handle them better than the pills to help boost Humira. It seemed like it was okay, until the back spasms that still plague me today started and the MTX had too much of an affect on my energy levels and my body function. I was coming to terms with the fact that this semester would be my last in graduate school, as my illness was worsening enough to cause too many problems.

In February, I learned that I was on the verge of getting fired because of misunderstanding poorly explained attendance policy information at work. I brought a note from my rheumatologist about the flare up nature of my disease and stated that I shouldn’t be in as much trouble as I was because I wasn’t missing days to go dick around or go to concerts – I was missing days with illness. I got to play the waiting game. I also saw a PT a number of times for my left knee and back.

With March came the JAM walk in Minneapolis at the Mall of America. We took a long weekend and drove up there, enjoying experiencing the shopping and food nearby. I also had been taking Arava instead of the MTX – but even with that, Humira was definitely not working.

By April, I had run out of my free shipments of Humira from Abbott anyway and it was as good a time as any to make an appt with my rheumy about switching to Enbrel. Even though we decided on switching in April, it would be May before I could start it. I set up a new GP since having one at the university I was no longer attending wasn’t helping anything. I also got to see one of our favorite musicians, Eric Hutchinson, right before my birthday.

May brought with it another arthritis walk, where my sweet boyfriend got an ‘arthritis hero’ sign for me. Doing the whole walk was really tough, as my hips were definitely not excited about a 5k. I had a bone density test, which came back perfectly normal. I participated in the first ever World Autoimmune Arthritis Day (WAAD) by preparing a number of documents and a presentation on living life to the fullest with autoimmune arthritis. The same weekend that was going on, the fiance and I got to go try out for Jeopardy. I have literally been training for that since I was very little and it was great great fun to be a part of it. I had to stop Enbrel after my first injection for about a month due to a sinus infection that got so bad as to swell my entire face. At the end of the month, my rheumy’s NP cleared me for Enbrel again and I got to spend some time with a few friends in town running a marathon… which turned into a half instead because of the horrible hot spell we were having.

By June, dealing with the mental issues of having an illness caught up with me. Though I wasn’t suicidal by any means, I was having thoughts that scared me and I had my first appt with my therapist. The Enbrel was working well enough that we decided I should try it without the Arava as it was upsetting my stomach. The boyfriend and I also went on a wonderful vacation, seeing some sights associated with the Civil War and Abe Lincoln, taking in a Cincinnati Reds game, and meeting one of the best spoonie friends I have ever had. I was able to do so much more physically than I thought I would because of the Enbrel. I also had some dental work done.

As a result of that dental work and taking antibiotics as a precaution, July saw me dealing with C-diff – an infection that is one of the leading killers in hospitals every single year. I dealt with it for 11 days before seeking treatment, thinking it was just salmonella or food poisoning. I am very lucky I got better and didn’t have to face hospitalization. I did drag the boyfriend to Urgent Care on his birthday though, and scared the crap out of him when the nurses came to get him to bring him back to the exam room where I was getting my first IV of fluids due to terrible dehydration. This meant another month with no Enbrel. I got to see Dave Matthews Band, one of my favorites since I was little. I could’ve done without the copious amounts of drugs being done around us but it was neat nonetheless. I went with my sister to her last prenatal visit, and tried to talk to my GP about pain meds. He sent me home with ten pills total. UGH. But I also got  a nice haircut and color, and saw the new Batman movie all by myself.

August started off with a bang. On the 1st, I was lucky enough to get to be around for the birth of my niece Marissa Mae. I got to spend time with my best friend when she came along with the boyfriend and I to the Irish Fest Arthritis Walk in Milwaukee. I wasn’t able to walk all of it and almost had to break out the cane to retrace my steps. It was a tough tough day. The next day though, I got to see my idol Hugh Laurie in concert playing the blues. It was one of the most amazing things I have been able to do. I cried out of happiness and being moved by his music. We finished the month off with a Milwaukee Brewers game and spending some time with the boyfriend’s dad.

And then came September. We started the month off with a friend’s wedding and then having to miss Marissa’s blessing because of horrible fibro and rheum pain. It was a horrible day pain wise, but even worse knowing that my family maybe didn’t understand and thought I was an atheist freaking out about going inside a Mormon church again. We went to a Juvenile Arthritis Family Network meeting, along with Megan and Mia and Megan’s sister who deals with AS. It was wonderful to get to meet them after talking so much with them since June when Megan found this lovely blog. I had an appt with my rheumy’s NP, only to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia on top of my Still’s. On the 20th, the boyfriend and I had our 5 year anniversary and headed out to Dubuque to celebrate for the weekend, where he proposed 🙂

In October, I got to spend some time with my best friend and now maid of honor. I was also finally granted FMLA at my job which has made things a lot easier. I babysat Marissa for a while so my sister and her hubby could go out on a date for their one year anniversary, and we found out Marissa likes ukulele music.

November was a hellish month though. I had four appts between the 8th and 9th, one of which was a sleep study. I had to stop Enbrel AGAIN (seriously??) because of an issue with my throat and all doctors involved not wanting to see that end up as an infection. I gave a speech at an Arthritis Foundation fundraiser and got a hug from a Heisman Trophy winner. I also celebrated the 19 year birthday of my Still’s on the 14th and we made a cake. In two years, I am having a 21st birthday party all over again I swear. I also started seeing 2 PTs for my neck/spine, one being pool based therapy.

December has been an incredibly tough month. Cold weather always makes Arthur an ass, and it is definitely doing so now. I’m mid flare as I type this even. And what’s worse for sure is losing someone that I was so close to, that always had ideas and advice and help even if she was going through worse. Losing Laura has made the rheum community come together in a way I have never seen before. She was truly an angel and I am grateful that she isn’t hurting anymore, but I am so sad not only for myself and our other friends but for her fiance and families. As so many others have put it, her death makes me feel numb and I know that I am having a hard time dealing with it. There is a void left by her absence that will never be filled.

While I was lucky enough to go through some amazing once-in-a-lifetime kinds of things this year, I am ready for it to be over and to start anew. Dear 2013, bring a bunch of kick ass things like 2012 had but can you leave the crappy parts behind? I could really really use a break.

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  1. What a year. Here's to a better one– you deserve it.

    Love & spoons as always,

    Emily (CC)

  2. Here is to a better year for all of us!

    Megan and Mia

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