Showing posts from May, 2011

RA Goes to the Oscars: an Interview with Christine Schwab

    Last week, I had the opportunity to interview a very interesting woman: " Christine Schwab wants to change how the world sees rheumatoid arthritis. Diagnosed 20 years ago, Christine has been in hiding about her RA for almost as long. She knew that if she "came out" about her disease, she would lose her career as a fashion and style reporter working with major television shows such as Live with Regis and Kelly, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and Entertainment Tonight. Throughout the 90s, she was desperately sick with flaring RA, trying every combination of medication available with minimal results. Although she never missed a day of work, the RA continued to take its toll, robbing ber of function, changing her joints and affecting her ability to live her life. Once, she had to walk out of the Oscars, barefoot with her designer shoes in her hands because her feet were too swollen and her pain levels too high to stay for the event." You can read the res

Range of Motion

Remember the Super Moon? It happened a couple of months ago and I'm not going to try to explain the science - NASA does it so much better - but suffice to say, it was the full moon and it was huge. So naturally, I dragged my mother out with me and we meandered about the darkened streets of downtown Toronto, hunting down the moon. Despite having given it a good hour to hop up over the horizon and rise above the urban landscape, we didn't have much luck and headed home. Almost there, I decided to turn around for one last look and there it was:   I took a lot of photos that night. I love my camera, but it isn't very fast in the dark, so every image was slightly fuzzy. I found a bench and tried to rest the camera on that, leaning out over my left armrest to find a surface that was reasonably flat, but still a good angle to get a picture. Then I did the same on a garbage can and by this time, we've been out for a good hour and I was shivering with cold wh

Speaking About the Unspeakable: How RA Affects Your Sex Life

    I'm in a rheumatologist's office, discussing starting methotrexate. This is long before the miracle of Enbrel and Humira, my first shot at one of the more serious drugs for RA, but my disease is flaring and something needs doing. Methotrexate is the gold standard and can be very effective. It is also very toxic so the rheumatologist is taking me through what’s necessary. Take folic acid, blood tests every six weeks to test liver function, and never, ever, even a drop of alcohol. They sit at the desk, turned away from me, writing notes in my file. End of discussion. Except I, having done my research, know that methotrexate also causes horrific birth defects. "What about birth defects?" I ask. There’s a beat, then the doctor turns around, looks at me and asks, a note of alarm in their voice, "are you sexually active???" They never think we are. When you live with a chronic illness or disability, doctors tend to assume that you don't have a


   Not too long ago, I mentioned that Ken had asked me to come with him to a fancy event, which naturally send me into a frenzy of overthinking, given that I haven't been out to anything fancy for years. Said event was this The March of Domes' 60th celebration. Seeing the program brought me from overthinking into anxiety. Not only was is being held that one of the fanciest places I know, the Royal York hotel , but there were also going to be Important People there. Although I did manage to find clothes in my closet that fit the bill, when I tried makeup, it made me itch - damn fibromyalgia and its chemical insensitivities - and my elegant shoes hurt my feet, so I chose comfort over style. Essentially, I hoped the clothes would distract from the lack of fancy on my face and feet and designs. There were Very Important People in the room, so I could stay in the shadows. Before everything got going, we play tourists and took photos of the lobby    ourselves attacking a hapl

Perfect Comebacks

    Perfect comeback #1: Barnes & Noble and Borders in the US have requested that a magazine cover up due to what apparently has a controversial cover: an androgynous-looking man with his shirt off wearing makeup and girly hair. Because, says B&N "the model is young and it could be deemed as a naked female." I've seen the picture (click on the link, it's in the article) and don't see it, but some people spend their lives working really hard to see filth everywhere. In Canada, Lisa Huie, the public relations managers of Indigo and Chapters (our version of the large chain bookstores) says in a statement "[o]ur company provides the choice and availability of a wide range of books and magazines for our customers, even when some books or magazines may contradict the opinions and sensibilities of some customers." Thank you, Lisa Huie, for that bracing reminder. Perfect comeback #2: I was reading the New York Times review of the movie B

Enemy Within: An Interview with Karen Ager

    I got the chance to interview a fascinating woman: "Born and raised in Australia. Spent two years as a "virtual prisoner" in a fourth floor walk-up living with her mother unable to walk. Nanny to a rock star's children. Survivor of an abusive relationship. Tireless advocate for RA. Teacher at the United Nation's International School in New York City. Happily married. All these are Karen Ager, but there's much more to her story." You can read the rest of the post here .  

The Poplars Popped

       Yes, I know I post one of these every year. I can never get enough of this delicate green. 

2010 Moby Dick: A Celebration

    Saturday evening, at about 8:28pm (OK, at exactly 8:28pm), I finished the first draft of The Book. Cue sparkling confetti falling from the ceiling, popping of champagne corks and triumphant blasts from the horn section in the corner of my living room. You’d think, right? It was, rather to my surprise, what my brain had expected would happen at this moment and when it didn’t – to my even greater surprise - I was oddly disappointed. However, earlier in the day, I had acquired just the thing for a very satisfying substitute, namely 2010: Moby Dick . Go ahead, check it out. See what I mean? With that cover, how could I resist? And it turned out to be so incredibly terrible that it was beyond wonderful. Although my favorite "so bad it's good" movie remains Anaconda  precisely because they didn't intend for it to be that way and I suspect the makers of 2010: Moby Dick knew exactly what they were doing, this one was so enjoyable I might actually buy it used for couple

RA and Fibromyalgia

    Yesterday was National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in the US, but by the time I carved out some time to post, Blogger had inexplicably gone down. And remained so for most of today. So… Herewith is yesterday's post. If none of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, Karen Lee Richards and I interviewed each other about living with RA and fibromyalgia. Karen is the Community Leader on HealthCentral's Chronic Pain site and is my go-to source for information about fibromyalgia and its treatment, as well as other issues related to living with chronic pain. My interview with Karen is in two parts here and here - lots of good information about fibro, treatment, history similarities and differences with RA and much more. Her interview with me is here . If you're in the US, Our Week 2 contest is open until Sunday at 6 PM EST.       



The Best Intentions

I sat down (metaphorically) at the computer, fully intending to write something clever, thoughtful and erudite for today's post. I feel as if I've woefully neglected my blog in the insanity that has been the launch of MyRACentral's Arthritis Awareness Month festivities (new contest starts today!). In order to be clever, thoughtful and erudite, I need mental space to wander about and kick the baseboards (again, metaphorically), letting my brain chew at the week's happenings and sooner or later, something will crop up. Not today, it won't. The stress bunny thing has continued to the point that I've entered a binary state. I'm either full-on hysterical, getting ever closer to my goal of moving faster than the speed of light and juggling roughly 26.5 balls or a vacant blob, capable only of drooling (usually metaphorically) in front of the TV. Friends have told me they don't expect much from me this month and I am grateful for their understanding, becau

An Odd Comparison

    A friend of mine introduced me to The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. It's a wonderful series of books, a mix between hard-boiled detective fiction and the paranormal. Our hero is Harry Dresden, a wizard working in Chicago. Or barely working - as is the tradition of hard-boiled detective fiction, he doesn't make a lot of money and tends to get beat up a lot. I inhaled the first two books in the series and they promise to be the start of an ever unfolding and complex universe, one that my friend says just keeps getting better. What improves the excellent storytelling even further is that the audiobooks are narrated by Spike James Marsters and this alone pretty much ensured that I’d get the first book . Initially, I had a bit of trouble getting over the fact that Spike was reading to me, but Marsters quickly persuade you that he’s Harry Dresden and Spike leaves the building (which is sort of sad, because I still miss him. I miss the whole Buffy-verse). Great story + great n

The Arthritis Foundation: Changing the Future of Arthritis

    The festivities continue over at MyRACentral. Today, I posted an interview with Dr. Patience White, VP of Public Health with The Arthritis Foundation about the services and programs and how we can get involved in advocacy and fundraising: "Arthritis is Unacceptable. That's quite a statement, isn't it? It's the philosophy guiding The Arthritis Foundation's efforts during National Arthritis Awareness Month. It's why the motto for 2011 campaign is Take Action! Consider the numbers: Arthritis costs the economy $128 billion annually, Almost 300,000 children live with juvenile arthritis By 2030, 67 million Americans are projected to have arthritis" You can read the rest of the post here . And don't forget to enter this week's contest .   


     Look what popped this weekend....   

Stress Bunny & Loving It: Arthritis Awareness Month

    First, a note: If you live in Canada, today's election is a nailbiter. If you can vote, please take the time to do so. If you don't, it's a vote for Harper and dude's gotta go ... And now for the post: On Friday, Laurie called me a "stress bunny." She's entirely right, but there is a very good reason for the stress. Remember the big projects I moaned about last week ? One of them has just launched. May is National Arthritis Awareness Month in the US and over at my place of employment, we have Big Plans . It started out very reasonable. A couple of interviews, maybe a small contest. And then we got all sorts of good ideas, pursued them all based on the assumption that if half of them worked, it would be fantastic. Turns out that a lot of them worked out (yay!) and some lead to other ideas and before we knew it, things had gotten severely out of hand. Don't get me wrong, it's the sort of out of hand that's really exciting, but if I thin