Another Set Back… Now My Feet Hurt!

Another set back, now my feet hurt!

You know how it is… you’re feeling good, you’re just getting into a rhythm when wham… RA throws you flat on your back!


Don’t deceive yourself!   It’s killer hard and really depressing when reality comes rushing back! You were managing to be active, out walking regularly with friends and doing all the things you know you should do.  Then someone yanks the rug out from under you!

I get it!  I couldn’t even stand up on my own two feet last month.

Honestly,  I crumbled… from my fetal position on the ground  “No way,  uh uh, this suck’s,  I am not doing this!”

I wallowed, I got depressed and probably a lot more than “just a little catastrophic”.  I seriously felt like this was the end of the road, my feet are what allow me to put one foot in front of the other.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not an isolated disease of the bones and joints. It affects tissues throughout the body, causing damage to the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons.

So while I rested and backed off my activity I was a bit worried about my mental state and the lack of physical distraction. Without the distraction I know my pain is all I can think about.

Historically I have psyched myself up looking at instagram pics and quotes on resiliency and positivity.

This time, I’m wasn’t exactly feeling it 😦

When you’re ready and you get to the point that you don’t feel like life is about to end, try and take control; whatever control you can!

Read       I usually come up with as many things to fix my issue/feet as I can, working to identify what is going on… Plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, ligament issues, which joints, Morton’s neuroma, gout, or bursitis.  Almost all of which I’ve suffered from at some point,  bloody disease!

Identify what changed      stop and think of what you’ve been doing, is it something you can pull back on, did you increase activity too fast, did you work a few extra shifts, did you start a different activity or did you start a new stretch.  I did all of the above but I think the ultimate trigger was the new stretch! Movement is key, I don’t dispute that but, stretching like people without RA is too harsh for me.  Seriously something happens every time. Pushing to obtain greater flexibility is not necessarily a good thing with RA.  If you can change your way of thinking and just look at it as movement, doing the movement of stretching but with the goal of maintaining your Range of Motion ( ROM).   The goal being to stop your joints from seizing and to stop your muscles, ligaments and tendons from shortening and getting sticky and stiff because of the lack of movement. Use it or lose it is my motto but, I had over stressed my feet trying to improve my range rather than maintain. So REST was in order

Rest       giving my feet a chance to recover from being pushed too hard.  (This may not be the true reason it could simply be my RA, but, I’m not willing to go there yet). I looked at what I could still do;  I could go to the gym and sit on the recumbent exercise bike and still keep my body moving by taking the weight and pressure off my feet.  I have a list for those days of alternative activities.  A list I can read when I’m starting to think this is the beginning of the end.  My mind needs to understand it isn’t the end (I have to show it) and my body needs to still move to keep me in my better place of coping. More about rest and activity on my blog here

Change it up     try hard not to do one activity more than one day in a row.  This requires restraint which is hard to come by when you are excited about finding something you can do! Try and remember you want to do it forever and the way to succeed at that, is to treasure it.  Hold back,  maybe do it once a week or every couple days. Listen carefully to your body.  You want to be able to do it forever.


My not so supportive boots…

Wear supportive foot wear      all the time.  We tend to revert to this only when we are sore and our body has drawn attention to our pain.  I wear my slippers (supportive comfy ones)  with my orthotics and cushioned socks.  No I haven’t always! I’m no super hero.  This new setback has drawn attention to my limitations and I am doing everything in my power to maintain control.  I replaced my work shoes as they were too old and had lost their support.  This is what helped me! You may be the opposite and find walking barefoot in the grass or sand helps you. There are two schools of thought here.  You decide!

Orthotics     my orthotics now go into every pair of shoes I’m going to wear.  Have custom orthotics made and if you can’t afford that, ask your Physiotherapist what stock orthotics you could purchase.  Even if you don’t need them now, by using them now, you can prevent issues later.


Warmth      I try not to let my feet get cold, I wear socks to bed, I have a hot pack warmed and ready for when I crawl into bed.   I use a heat rub to create more heat to help relax the fascia, ligaments and tendons in my feet.  This decreases the strain and pull on my joints those tissues will exert when they’re tight.

Schedule your medications       have you been taking your medications regularly!?  I wasn’t…  sometimes it doesn’t seem like just the right day for me to take my methotrexate.  I am not willing to feel blah, nauseous or irritable so I put it off, sometimes for more than just one day.  I know (in my brain) this is not a good way for me to maintain control of my disease. But my heart says not today.  I promised myself for two months to maintain the schedule I wrote on my calendar and set reminders on my phone. I attributed the improvement in my health to the renewed consistency.  I did not flare during this time, maybe because I was doing my best to be consistent with my medications.  I’m willing to bet you have noticed too how your body feels cruddy as you draw nearer to the day you’re scheduled to take your BIOLOGICS or MTX.  This is because our body needs them.

NSAID’s     are very helpful for foot pain and inflammation.  If you can take them, set yourself up on a regular schedule during flares or injury.

Anti inflammatory topical cream or gels     my go to, as it doesn’t irritate my GI tract.  Feet have a more difficult time absorbing topical medication as the skin is thicker and tougher.  The medication cannot penetrate the skin as well.  But, it will still have some effect.

Heat rubs      help too by keeping feet warm and again relaxing those tight muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons so they can’t exert pressure on your joints.  This will also offer you some relief.

Crutches, a cane, braces, and splints     ask your rheumatologist or Physiotherapist if this is an option for you.

Elevate and ice     elevation is your friend and this applies to everyone.  When you sit down make a conscious effort to prop your feet up on a stool, the coffee table or up on the couch.  It will decrease your swelling and subsequently your pain as there will be less pressure from the swelling on all your sore bits and pieces (joints) in the foot.  It also takes the load or weight off.  Ice can decrease the inflammation.  But, some people like myself cannot tolerate the application of cold.  It doesn’t make me feel better!   Listen to your body, it’s very individualized.

Not getting better

Ask your rheumatologist what options you have     you won’t be the first patient they have helped with foot issues, they may have a few tricks up their sleeves. We don’t have to assume it’s just part of our disease and therefore something we have to live with.  Steroid injections, splints, braces and sometimes surgery are all other options.

Add to your support team     a Podiatrist.  That’s the podiatrist’s role is to identify and treat your foot ailments, diseases and deformities. They should be able to pinpoint what’s wrong with your feet sometimes when your rheumatologist can’t. That’s their speciality!!

Physiotherapist     may be able to offer advice to strengthen, relax and adjust the mechanics of your foot and calf or even further up the muscle chain. All possible contributors to your problem.  This will also help provide some relief and support

Physiotherapist taping    once you have seen your (professionally trained) Physiotherapist who has identified your issue, research it.  Have them teach you ways to tape your foot yourself.  In my case, I was able to use kinesiology taping and once I was shown how, I could do it myself.  If the therapy is not working, speak up!  Sometimes the problem is something that needs to be worked through and there is more than one issue that needs to be addressed.  For my issue I used this taping method.

Myofascial release    again as directed by your physiotherapist.  Once they have identified the problem there are many methods you can do at home.  Take control and listen to your body.  If one method helps use it!  If another method seems to cause you more pain and you notice no improvement (actually causing a worsening of symptoms) stop using it.  To give you an idea of what I use for my current foot woes this short clip will give you an idea.

I’m lucky RA hasn’t stopped me walking for sooooo many years, I just have to keep finding ways around it. Maybe I’m just in the bargaining or denial stage of grief… it’s becoming apparent my grief ain’t fluid.  I don’t seem to go from one step to the next until I reach my goal of acceptance. Grief has accompanied me through all my years with RA.  Each time another hurdle jumps in my path, I regress back to an earlier stage.  This is gonna be a life long process dammit!

But I walked today!  I taped my feet up, put on my new boots with my cushioned compression socks and I got to enjoy this:) right up my alley and just my kind of distraction.


Hang on to your hope! Try a few of these things, one of them will help you manage, I know it!  Follow this blog by email and you won’t miss a post.  I will also send you the occasional newsletter identifying more ways to cope than you will find here.  Please click “follow” and add your email if you don’t want to miss a post (check your spam account if you don’t receive them).  Would love for you to comment and share if you think you know someone this could help or you have found something else that helps you! Thank you!

My props:

Kinesiology Tape, Yosoo 4Pcs 5cm*5m Sports Tape Therapeutic Strips Waterproof Elastic Muscle Support Adhesive Physio Muscle Strain Injury Support Tape Roll for Athletes Knees, Shoulders, and Elbows Injury Recovery Care“>Kinesiology tape


Double the risk! Rheumatoid Arthritis & Cardiovascular disease


The role inflammation plays in the development of Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease has become increasingly more evident.  One of the markers we use to measure inflammation in several autoimmune diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus, sjögren’s syndrome, systemic scleroderma, inflammatory myositis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), is C reactive protein (CRP).  CRP is also the marker we use to identify our risk of heart disease.  The exact reasons why RA has double the risk of cardiovascular (CV)  disease is still being studied but the link that exists between RA and CV disease has been proven.

Having RA doubles the risk of most heart problems, including heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis — the buildup of fat, cholesterol and cellular debris (plaque) on blood vessel walls.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of deaths globally – more people die from CVDs than anything else.

Cardiovascular disease “It’s the leading cause of death in the U.S.


So… we can let this scare the pants of us! or we can make a plan together!

Evidence shows that RA can damage the lining in the artery walls just as it can also destroy the lining or the synovium of the joint

Those of us with RA …  have cardiovascular risks that are different!

Studies have shown it’s more common for us (people with RA) to have plaque in our arteries or arthersclerosis and it is more likely it will develop further and at a faster rate.

We tend to visualize CV disease or heart disease as just one condition. But it’s actually a group of several conditions that affect the heart (pump) and vessels (plumbing) of the body. The system whose job it is to provide all our organs and tissues with blood, oxygen and nutrients so we can survive.

When we understand how many conditions heart disease encompasses, the seriousness of the disease becomes clear.

Cardiovascular disease is divided into two main types, Heart (pump) related and vessel (plumbing) related:

Winter is here! And so is the Pain…


Just talked with my mum last night and yes! my family now has our plans firmed up. We now know “who” will be “where” this Christmas.
As per the norm… we’ll be off to Victoria to hang out with family and friends:)  But, this year we’ll also be hosting a Xmas dinner at our house (the weekend before). 

I already want to throw everything out of the house so we’ll all fit.

I do that anyways at Xmas, just clear everything out!  I have to fit in the Christmas tree, the candles and all the cozy warm blankets;  not to mention the lights and decorations too.  Any extra piece of furniture gets relegated to the garage…  My neighbours think I’m crazy as I cart it all outside! I’m gaining control! CONTROL CONTROL, never mind my kids will all be hoarders to compensate for their mother!

So, Winter is here and with the change in season comes my pain.  I don’t know of it’s just the weather but it’s definitely cyclical.  With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays approaching, the functions and social engagements starting… take a moment for yourself and BREATHE! It’s only November.

Distraction, pick one goal towards healthier living and reach it! It won’t make your illness disappear, but might help you keep moving forward (always better than consistently backwards!) 


BREATHE FRESH AIR if possible, get outside every day! Oxygenate, rejuvenate and strengthen your mind.  Its the mind that determines how we interpret our pain and there are two processes it will use. The first will determine where the pain is, how intense, and what type (ie ): is it sharp, drilling, burning or an ‘un relentless’ ache.

The second will determine the emotion that goes along with it.  It gives us an idea how we’ll cope. “Owwww! that bloody well hurts”, “I can’t do this, how long is this going to last, I’m scared, is it truly this horrible for everyone?”.

The good thing is… research shows our pain is minimized with positive feelings — like when our tanks and minds are full of connectedness and belonging; and we are feeling content, brave and supported.  But, negative feelings will have the opposite effect. I’m so sick, I’m ill, this isn’t getting any better, nobody understands and now all I can think about is the other shit that can go down! Yes it really, suck’s!


DISTRACTION insert Nature every day, you will be surprised how it helps you keep your life together, just stops it from falling apart.  The change in environment from indoors to out is better than a rest.  We’ve all heard the stories of adrenalin fuelled happenings where someone is injured and they don’t recognize the pain of injury at the time.  It’s not until later, when the distraction has passed that the pain hits.  Utilize this!  there are other things to focus on besides our disease.  Maybe even “forget about it” for a while.  That would be toooooo nice!

Give yourself a cognitive break by walking amongst the trees, head down to the water, or just take a stroll around the block. Take photographs while your out and about and view your life through a different lens. Improve your mental health and fill that empty tank.


FOCUS ON BEING HEALTHIER  every day  you can reframe your life ( I dislike that word) it sometimes sounds so disingenuous.   Our life is not all about being sick and needing other people to understand.  Give YOURSELF the control, not them. Take charge! Take a moment to think about what being healthy means to YOU.  I decided I needed to actually eat my recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables each day. Not just think about it, or buy it and put it in my fridge! My goal was to eat three different servings of veggies at dinner.  I can tell you… I had to concentrate and plan for that one.  But, it was a simple goal to meet and I did it.   This month I will be striving to add 2 vegan dinners to our weekly meal plan.  For me this goal is two-fold:  it will save us money on meat but ultimately lessen my stress. That adds up to more health for me 🙂


SHUT OFF THE DEVICES,  ESCAPE! we’re all guilty of it, its easy to get caught up in the ‘busyness’  that is our lives.  That’s how we roll!  Do not take your phone to bed with you, charge it in the kitchen or any other room overnight.  FB, Instagram and the rest of your social media can wait until morning.  Stay off the support forums tonight, the last thoughts before sleep should NOT be focused on your illness. That just ain’t beneficial.

Research spouts about our kids and the negative impact of screens daily, this applies to us too.  We all stare at screens too long!  I just had to get up from my chair and lay on the couch because my butt was killing me! Screens are sedentary.

Once you’ve achieved the first step of withdrawal, you may choose to make lunchtime a screen free break too.   For us addicts we’d still have coffee time to stay connected.

FIND A NEW INTEREST,  LEARN SOMETHING    perhaps photography, while exploring outside and taking photos.  Whether you are walking around the block in your local neighbourhood or the ‘hood’ that surrounds your work;  hone your skills at picture taking.  Learn everything you can about it.  Find something new that interests you (not just for the sake of it, that won’t last a minute).  Start a wellness blog, learn to be a chef extraordinaire, garden and grow all your own food or maybe you’ll only be able to add a few carrots from your garden to dinner like me!  Learn all the local hikes you haven’t discovered. Reduce your carbon footprint. Research the ins and out of grounding.

But, you can’t choose learning more about your disease 🙂  we do that… enough already!


Our bodies and minds want to be healthier give it a chance, and pick one!

I’m interested to hear and share what you’ve come up with, let me know in the comments so everyone can benefit 🙂


I should be sleeping, at least resting!  But, I’m just laying in bed with good intentions… well I had intentions anyways. 

My feet were sore, and really cold so I got up and found some warm socks. I’ve put them on, and now my feet feel goooood!  The tightness of the socks taking away some of the ache.  Sometimes the weight or resistance of something like a scarf around my neck feels like too much weight and pressure and makes the ache worse.   Sometimes you’re lucky and stumble on something that works like the socks.  Sometimes someone like me will tell you the things they’ve discovered.  Just go with it…


There is no one thing that helps. 

This nap was supposed to help me make it into work this afternoon.  Going to work is really not a choice thing, I have to go.  But, the rest would have helped.

We must be gentle on ourselves

… my latest BS phrase hah! But seriously it’s how I get through this disease, that along with a good dose of denial.  Give yourself permission to rest,  it may feel unproductive to some… but it will actually allow you to be more productive when you get up.


My problem is guilt. 

“I have things to do”, “I need to earn my place and be a part of this family” , “I need to be the woman my husband married” are just some of those super helpful thoughts running through my head.  And the big one… remembering I almost broke up my marriage pre diagnosis because I was sleeping all day and all night. Only getting up to get the kids out of bed, feed them, make their lunches and drive them to school.  I’d come home,  crawl back into bed…  only to drag myself up again with enough time to tidy the house, go grab the kids, help them with their activities, make dinner, get them to bed and then crawl right back into bed for the night. I had nothing left, nothing for my husband, nothing for my kids, and nothing for myself.  Guilt,  I didn’t feel I was  the woman my husband married.  Mourning, I wasn’t the woman I thought I would be. This was the overwhelming fatigue of Rheumatoid disease.

So, REST or ACTIVITY with pain...



  1. REST,  give yourself permission, or just say I gave it to you.

Figure out how to make peace with your demons and REST.  Take a nap. It’s always a teeter trotter… you have to balance and lose balance sometimes to find focus again .

Yes, today I’m skipping my rest, it’s Friday and I can hear my oldest up in the kitchen having breakfast getting himself ready,  I creak and groan (that’s my usual getting up noises).   A cup of coffee with him will be my break.  After… I will force myself to move for 10 min with a stretch video.

My motivating force behind doing this, the regret and guilt I feel if I don’t.   Not to mention how cranky, stiff and sore I’ll be. 


2. MOVE, Just do it.

The movement may only be sitting in a chair lifting your legs up and down, You must decide what you can do that day.  No one else can tell you.  Somedays I can’t even sit in a chair, but somedays are better and I can walk or hike.

  1. Can help fix range of motion problems and maintain your range of motion
  2.  Keeps you joints flexible.
  3.  Will strengthen you joints and reduce PAIN. 
  4.  Will keep your muscles strong and support weak joints.  This relieves the weight and pressure on them. 
  5. Inactivity leads to a sedentary lifestyle.  A sedentary lifestyle leads to more symptoms, pain and further disability.  It also contributes to other risk factors (ie): cardiovascular disease.
  6.  Regulates inflammation. Some trials show decrease in inflammatory markers.
  7. Decreases disease activity scores
  8. Improve patient’s feelings of well being
  9.  Helps with maintaining and losing weight. Therefore reduces symptoms.
  10. Overweight people with RA put much more pressure on their joints
  11.  Distraction, there’s a phenomena of increased pain when we have no distraction
  12.  Feel good release of endorphins

There’s no reason not to do it. 

NO,  I don’t always follow my own advice, but I know there are people out there with stronger will power than me, mine’s horrid.  Besides, this isn’t just my opinion; research proves it to be true,  you have to do both. 

Click like or share and give more people a chance at succeeding!

Specific resources I use:

If I’m too sore to nap there’s a FREE app I use to practice mindfulness and meditation my headspace. 

 (my favorite) stretch video! LOVE 😍!! 

How Our Thoughts Affect Our Physical Health (Guest Post)

Some inspiration!!

Professionals Health Connection

When Women Inspire by Author Christy D Birmingham

I am delighted to share with you a post from a friend of mine, Christy Birmingham. Christy is an author and founder of When Women Inspire, a website where you will find poignant articles on a variety of topics that affect women of all ages. You can also check out her poetry books, Versions of The Selfand Pathways to Illumination. I think you’ll find her as fascinating and inspirational as I do. Welcome Christy!

How Our Thoughts Affect Our Physical Health Thought Affect Health
by Christy Birmingham

Thank you for having me over to Professional Health Connection today, Joan! It’s a pleasure to be here writing about health, which is a topic of deep interest to me. This guest post focuses specifically on how our mental state can affect our physical health, for better or worse.

About the Mind-Body Connection

Ah, the…

View original post 457 more words

Restless Leg Syndrome Arrrgghhh! The Down and Dirty


The quick down and dirty!  Just in case its 3AM and you’re legs and arms are twitching and you are ready to lose it!


We cannot operate on NO sleep, let alone deal with the stress of our bodies freaking out while we are not sleeping! I would find myself still pacing the floor when the morning alarm went off! So how do we even have a hope of  dealing with the resulting memory loss, “sorry I have no brain” and increased pain that comes with this lack of sleep and general crazy making .  It makes a healthy individual’s life difficult to navigate!

So…. from my hours and hours of late night research looking for answers, trying desperately to stop my mandatory committal to a “rubber room”.

images (1)

Here are a few points, a condensed version of what helped me.

I am not a Dr. and before starting any new medical approach, review these points with your GP and/or specialist and form a plan of action!  A plan gives control (kind of, thats what they tell me).  This article on RLS has an autoimmune slant.  If you do not have a chronic illness such as RA there may or may not be other things to consider.  There will still be many suggestions you can use!


  1. Identify your triggers: LOW IRON (RA affects iron levels) SPECIFIC FOODS, Too much or too little EXERCISE, INFLAMMATION (this is where RA again rears it’s head), STRESS  MEDICATIONS, NICOTINE, CAFFEINE
  2. Check your blood work: FERRITIN, KEEP YOUR level greater than 50, THYROID LEVELS, HORMONES
  3. Consider the role of FOLIC  ACID especially when taking Methotrexate which depletes Folic.  Increasing my Folic dose has had a big impact.
  4.  Can you and your chosen professional add any prescribed medications to help?



HERE ARE MY TRIGGERS  (things I envision bathing my nerves in irritants) which exacerbate my RLS:

1. Aspartame and artificial sweeteners

2. Too much exercise

3. Alcohol, Caffeine and Chocolate

4. Ice cream (go figure!)

5. HORMONES the night before my menstrual cycle

6. Inflammation: Flares, RLS worse a couple of days before my next biologic dose

Initially I cut out what I could from the above list entirely.  Once the treatment plan started to take effect, I started to play with when in the day and how much I could eat those specific triggers and started practicing moderation.  I was in this for the long term!



At least an hour before bedtime

  1. I take my daily Iron ( 2 tabs of PROFERRIN)
  2. I have increased my FOLIC ACID to 4mg at bedtime, except the night of my Methotrexate dose.
  3. Magnesium Citrate (best type utilized efficiently by the body) powder (1 scoop in warm water)

If my arms and legs start “going” before I fall asleep,  I get up and do a chair squat against the wall, fatiguing my muscles until I feel like I’m about to fall down.  I then return to bed and try again.

All of the above combined is successful 75-80% of the time.  Much better than my before treatment picture which was not sleeping 75-80% of the time.


Consider adding a prescribed medication  which should be determined by you and your physician.  You can decide together what would be most appropriate.  I added Gabapentin 🙂


RLS is not for the Faint of Heart, it really is crazy making at its best.  It is not easy giving up ALL your ‘fixes’  (triggers) but I know when you’re this desperate you might be more willing to try.

Hang in there 🙂  Please share if you think this will reach someone it could help! and like this post to give it a better chance to reach them!  and seriously if you have a tip that works for you…comment and save someone the energy they need to keep them upright and their face out of the mud.  Someone out there ( maybe you ) will always have the right answer. Thank you!


Increased pain and your cycle

You made it to late afternoon and you’re crabby, you want to “rip everyone’s head off”. You are feeling irrational and your are NOT a nice person to be around. Suddenly it dawns on you…
You are really sore!
This isn’t normal for you, if this is how it’s gonna be, you are NOT gonna cope! You start searching online… “What causes a flare?” “How do I deal with the pain?”


I feel this way almost every month… By the evening my pain is a 6 out of 10. I start feeling like I can’t do this! How am I going to look after my family, how am I going be a partner to my husband, how am I going to get out of bed and have a shower! I do manage to get through the evening whether I want to or not. Panicking just a bit, usually more than a bit with more than a touch of irrationality. I feel like I’m going to die! With the help of a warm bath, some Tylenol, NSAIDS and a hot pack, maybe even a walk around the block and then usually a less than stellar sleep. I figure it all out in the morning. I was in the premenstrual part of my cycle.

It’s a thing!!! You are not going crazy 😜 you really are having more pain than usual and now that I’ve seen it happen over and over it saves me a lot of ANGST! Angst leads to stress, stress leads to more pain, and it’s just a never ending vicious circle. Knowing this doesn’t take my pain away but it gives me an end to my misery… If I know it’s going to end, I can tell myself it’s only a blip. I can manage. I don’t know if this is a thing for you, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’m interested to hear what you guys have figured out. Some of us are more in tune with our bodies (not me, in my constant state of denial) than others. Let me know I’d love to hear!!

Here’s a couple of links with a little more info:

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