at risk now what

At-Risk – Osteoporosis – Now What?

I recently wrote about many of the things that cause bone loss. There are many causes from genes to medications to inactivity. I was surprised when I received the diagnosis. You might be too. So why not go to my first post and take the risk assessment quiz. Then come back and learn how you can work to prevent osteoporosis.

Surprising Diagnosis

Usually, your doctor isn’t going to order a DEXA bone density scan until you are 65. Since I am on Medicare due to disability, I get all the notes that Medicare people get. A year or so ago, I saw a note asking, “Have you had a bone scan yet?” I ignored it because I was under 60. But this spring, I thought, “Why not ask?” And my rheumatologist jumped right on it to say “Yes, have your PCP order it this summer.”

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true value

What Has True Value in this Life

VALUE

noun. – the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

This post is inspired by the PROMPT: VALUE from Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew. in 2018. The challenge is to write for five minutes. No editing. I encourage you to go to the link-up and read what others were inspired to write.

Value Re-defined.

Our world has re-defined what has value. Today, according to the world we have value because we have stuff, we have amazing talents, we know people. King Solomon said that life has no meaning or value.

But God values us as His children. Actually, He gives us our value.  We are His children.  And because of this, we have great value. We are nothing without him. We can do nothing without Him.

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Why Still Sick

If God is my Healer, Why Am I Still Sick?

“For I am the Lord who heals you.”

– Exodus 15:26 NLT

Why Am I Still Sick?

Have you ever wondered why so many people struggle with illness and weakness? You would think that since God is a Healer that He would reach down and heal his people, especially those that are believers.

You would think that since God is Our Healer, He would heal me. #godismyhealer #chronicpain Click To Tweet

It’s a question that has been asked down through the ages, I would guess.  And many have searched to find the answer. I have learned there are many reasons why God may leave us in our sickness, disability, or weakness.

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osteoporosis Are You a Risk

Osteoporosis ~ Are You at Risk?

What is Osteoporosis?

If you know what this is, you probably already have it or someone in your family does. So, You may be wondering what is osteoporosis (OP)? In short, it’s a weakening of the bones where they are becoming less dense. If you took a crosssection of a healthy bone, you will find that there are small holes throughout it; however, when you have OP, these holes get larger and larger (less density) causing your bones to more easily fracture or break.

bone cross-section
image credit Mayoclinic.org

So what causes osteoporosis (OP)?

I would like to share a bit about this because I recently received a diagnosis of severe osteoporosis. I was shocked. Being a dairy farmer’s girl, I have always loved my dairy foods. And even though it has been many years since I was on the farm, I still eat plenty of it. I have also, always had great posture. So why did my bones get weaker? What else may have been causing the problem?

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facing the pain to pearl

Bravely Face Your Pain Until It Becomes a Pearl

I am so excited to introduce you to a good friend of mine. She has just published her own website sharing how her struggles in life including chronic illness are teaching her to allow her pain to become a pearl. Today I am featuring her on the blog. Come read her story and then Link-up your own legacy story.

Introducing Melissa

Melissa is a truth-seeker and a truth-teller who writes and speaks from life experience, testing and growing in the lab of great joys and deep sorrows. Through it all, she has found a closeness with the Father by both wrestling with Him and being still with Him. That has given her a compassion for others that is palpable.

Understanding that pain and suffering are universal, her mission is to help others bravely face their pain with God until they find Him safe enough to cover it all with His love, strength, and beauty. Whether reading her words or hearing her speak in person, her unique ability to weave story and truth will have you hooked!

divider
curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Our family’s story is full of great joys. It is also full of deep wounds.

“When I read it this morning, Mom, I didn’t realize how many tears I needed to cry about this day. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to revisit this event.”

My oldest and only son wrote that to me after reading our Family Story page on my website. Ten years after our family’s world came crashing down at dizzying speeds when two of our daughters, his sisters, were in a tragic 4-wheeler accident. He had to hold his baby sister whose face was severely crushed in his merely 16-year-old arms while waiting for an ambulance.

If there is one thing my kids—now all young adults—have heard from me over and over again, if there is but one legacy I long to leave, it is these words:

“If you don’t remember another thing I say your whole life, please remember this. When suffering hits you out of nowhere. Ask Jesus to come and heal your heart!”

Because in this world we will have troubles. But Jesus overcame the world, and we are more than conquerors in Him. (John 16:33, Romans 8:37) The thing is, we are often clueless about what that really looks like, or how it works. When something awful happens that shakes you to your core; when a word cuts you down until you barely remember who you are. Suffering looms long. How do you recover? And what in the world do we do with the things that happened to us as a kid ourselves? Does it even matter?


Little Melissa

“Little Melissa” wore the same full-face grin you see in the black and white photo of me effortlessly. Until. Something shifted. A light was extinguished, and a smile was lost. Verbal and emotional abuse and many assaults stole the innocence of my childhood and adolescent years. I felt dirty and unworthy of love. I just knew I was nothing more than a huge disappointment to God, and certain I would be to everyone else if they knew.

My healing began when I came out of hiding. Secrets hidden in darkness lose their power when brought into the light. However, the telling alone does not do the complete work of healing. We need God and others to help us face our pain to decipher the messages of our wounds. There’s a recording of lies that plays on repeat in our minds that were spoken in those vulnerable spaces, making them feel so true. In that space it is easiest to question God, ourselves, and others.

Finding Identity

Our real identity gets buried underneath the ashes of many pains; the ones we inflicted upon our self, the ones others inflicted, and the enemy’s cruel infliction of pain upon pain. But, like a prisoner, we can be set free. The prophet Isaiah foretells what Jesus will do for us.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”

Isaiah 61:1-3

The anointed One, Jesus, came to heal us. He is healing me still. It is an intentional interaction between us that I have sought for the past two decades. With His help, I continue to learn how to thrive.

Forgiveness is Key

A couple of years ago, my counselor gave me a forgiveness exercise to work through. It is the kind you don’t rush but approach slowly. I have revisited it many, many times and in different seasons as I work through forgiveness with different persons or groups of people or situations.

The exercise begins by naming the person(s), what they did, and how it made me feel. Then it gives room to process a series of questions, such as: “Am I holding a grudge or have resentments weighing me down? What pain am I holding onto, however recent or distant? What hurts about that situation or moment(s) with that person?” Important statements are addressed, such as, “forgiveness does not mean that they automatically are right, or they get to have the same place in our life.”

Number five on the paper is the one that tripped me up, though. Every. Time. EVERY. TIME. The instruction is to say, “Because I don’t want to carry the weight of this unforgiveness anymore, I am releasing you to God. He knows how to judge completely. I am not in charge of carrying this pain anymore.”

It’s the latter part I couldn’t get past, “I am not in charge of carrying this pain anymore.”

An earth-shattering revelation rose within me.

I had absolutely no clue who I was without pain.

I’d been walking through my own past and the trauma of the girls’ accident with Jesus off and on for years. Facing it with Him became more palatable because He would speak tenderly, expose lies, replace them with Truth, and bring His love in tangible ways as I processed.

But, could I trust Him enough to let go of the pain? What would He do with it?

To throw it away felt diminishing as if the pain didn’t matter. That would not be good because pain was diminished much of my childhood. God would not further impose a wound.

Pain into Beauty?

Someone told me He would turn my pain into something beautiful, from ashes to beauty. While that gave me hope, I still couldn’t let go. Weeks turned to months of wrestling with God over the fifth portion of that forgiveness exercise. Until one day, out on my porch, He reminded me of a few key things other mentors and my counselor had said to me at various points:

  1. the truth that I am seen, and my heart matters
  2. that I am brave, braver than I realize because I face my pain
  3. that stepping into deeper waters for more healing is both a willful and brave act

After this, I let out a guttural cry to God from the depth of my long-aching soul,

“I am bound, and I want to be free! I am bound by pain and hurt, and I want to be free!!”

It was then God tenderly spoke these words,

Bravely face your pain with Me until it becomes a pearl.

becomes a pearl
all images provided by Melissa Pickens

It was like waking from a deep sleep, groggy yet aware something significant is happening. Happening deep within me. A word powerful enough to wake the dead. Yet, the awakening came slowly. First, a vague memory I once learned surfaced: pearls form because something gets in that hurts the oyster or mollusk. Secondly, the fact I love pearls intrigued me; a love so increasing over the years that I started buying a new color of pearl stud earrings for my three daughters and myself every Christmas. Truly, this God-breathed analogy carried significance and weight to it.

Learning About Pearls

Through my research the past couple of years, more richness and depth illuminated the connection of a pearl to our pain, and what God desires to do with it all.

In short, a pearl is a foreign substance covered by layers of nacre; an uninvited parasite invades a tender, sacred space where a mollusk’s vital organs lay vulnerable. Yes, this means the irritant that caused the pain in the first place is still there inside that pearl, now surrounded by a strong, resilient, protective coating.

For us as humans, there are pains that we can shake off, and then there are pains that wound us to our core. Self-inflicted, uninvited actions or words, or even inactions, death, accident/harm/injury, crime, or other significant losses that work their parasitic ways into our hearts and mind. There are many gruesome things we have seen that we cannot unsee. Many things have been done to us that we cannot undo. Our own battles with parasitic sin have added to the shame. They cannot be expelled by our own efforts alone.

My prayer that first day upon receiving the pearl analogy became,

“Let Christ in me be the nacre that comes between me and the irritants and pains until a pearl forms.”

pain becomes a pearl.

I know making time for solitude with God, especially to face your pains feels too hard. Too scary. Impossible even. But there is a God who is strong enough to cover it all. He is bent on your healing. He is the soothing nacre ready to stand between all that has hurt you, even where you’ve hurt yourself.

I am finding pain and joy coexist. No matter how many times deferred hope made my heart sick, hope keeps rising despite it. Because Jesus.

It is from the pages of my story and our family’s story that I write. Ultimately, God is the Author and Hero. The Word that guides my words, I impart to you. I would love for you to join me. It would be an honor to get to know you more over on my website at melissagpickens.com. There, I also go more in-depth with the beauty of the pearl analogy.


Getting My Life Back

My son continued with these words in response to the Family Story page the other day:

“Mom, you have shed your blood, sweat, and tears to chase after the Truth over the last 10 years. You have fought so hard for your own healing. You have let Jesus into the most painful parts of your life to receive that healing. And you have gotten your life back.

Yes, I know there is plenty more to fight for.

This journey that you have been on is still taking its toll on you and your body. It has not been easy, and it has not gotten easier. But it is worth it. And it is rewarding, as you know. The fruits of your labor have been blooming for some time now, and it is so life-giving because of the Breath of Life that flows through it.”

This is the legacy I pray to leave for my children and grandchildren, and their children’s children. To a thousand generations. When we bravely face our disappointments and pain with God until it becomes a pearl, we free the next generation to reach for their own healing and wholeness. It is a journey worth taking and a legacy worth leaving.

Melissa Pickens becomes a pearl
www.melissagpickens.com

She’s a two-time She Speaks graduate with Proverbs 31 Ministries, a BookCamp member with Chad R. Allen (editor and writer coach), and the Co-founder and Women’s Director of Rally Point Ministries. She has spoken at various retreats, conferences, and events. She has publications with the Church of the Nazarene Women’s Ministries and writes weekly for her website MelissaGPickens.com.

Melissa lives in Georgia with her husband, Andy. They have four fun-loving young adult children, born five and a half years apart, and twin grandbabies. You’ll often find her on the upstairs back porch with a decaf latte and some sweet treat she whipped up from scratch the night before on a whim. Learn more about Melissa here. Follow Melissa on social media.


Thank you Melissa for your openness and willingness to share the pain that becomes a pearl. What a beautiful story for us all. I encourage our readers to go to Melissa’s website and subscribe to receive her writings. You will be blessed.

Mandy


AND NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!

Link-up to the Legacy Link-up. Share a post about how you are leaving a legacy.

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Pros and Cons of Prednisone

Reconsider Your Use of Prednisone

When I was first hit with Chronic Pain (Story Here), prednisone turned out to be my best friend. It was amazing stuff that removed all my pain. I had not felt that great in a long time. I didn’t even experience any side effects while taking the medication. But ten years later, I have some warnings to share with you. I hope you will take heed of them because as I learned, your doctors aren’t going to warn you or even express concern.

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Fibro AFfects the Senses

5 Ways Fibromyalgia Pain Assaults our Senses

You probably know by now that someone with fibromyalgia is very sensitive to touch. Many times the slightest touch or the gentlest hug can cause great pain. I have had people tap me on the arm and it felt like that hit me with a bat. This pain lingers for quite a while before my arm will settle down. This is called Hyperalgesia. I have written before about how this pain feels. But there is more to the pain than this. Fibromyalgia is a sensitivity that extends to ALL the senses.

Fibromyalgia Pain – Making Sense of Other Neurological Issues

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1. Fibro and our skin

According to Very Well Health, there are actually 7 different types of pain that one can experience due to fibromyalgia. The first you may be aware of is Hyperalgesia. “Hyper” means excess and “algesia” means pain. This is when the level of pain is turned up. Messages are sent to your brain as saying the pain is much worse than it actually is.

Myofascial Pain is widespread muscle pain. It is “commonly described as a deep and gnawing soreness, stiffness, aching, or throbbing all over the body, including the arms, legs, neck, and shoulders—is a hallmark feature of fibromyalgia. This includes what is called costochondritis which is tenderness in the chest wall. I experience this just from getting an ultrasound breast exam.

Allodynia pain is an itching, burning, tingling, or numbness in the arms. Sometimes I have felt like I have a bad sunburn. Other times, I can’t stand for moving air to touch my skin. I can feel cold on a hot day.


2. Fibro affects our eyes

The way fibro affect my eyes is dryness and sensitivity to light. At times it feels as if someone has stuck a needle in my eye. Over time, it can affect your vision because you are squinting. It is important to see your eye doctor (ophthalmologist, not just an optician) on a regular basis. Don’t neglect your eyes.


3. Loud Noises are Painful to the Fibro Warrior

Noise can cause pain as well. One reason I had to stop working in the children’s department was that the noise level was too high and it hurt my ears. I can’t be in the same room while the vacuum cleaner runs either. Thank goodness, I have a husband who runs the vacuum for me!

Ringing in the ears and dizziness are also problems that can arise since your ears can affect your balance. Make sure you visit an ENT occasionally as well. Fibromyalgia and Hearing Problem: Fibro Affects your Ears – Women With Fibromyalgia (fibrowomen.com)


4. Our Nose Senses the Pain

Scented perfumes, detergents, and cleaning agents can make someone with FMS feel ill with everything from fatigue to nausea and headaches. Foods smells can also make the fibromyalgia sufferer so sick they don’t want to eat anything, or start eliminating certain foods from their diet, even if they are healthy items.

I can acquire a serious headache when women who love their perfume walk into the room. Some people cannot use anything in their home that has a smell: ie. candles, soap, air fresheners, cleaners. Attending church on Easter can be a horrible experience with all the Easter lilies.

Fibromyalgia and Sensitivities: What’s That Smell? (fibromyalgianewstoday.com)


5. The Mouth Senses the Pain

Sometimes, spices are too hot for me. It is strange that it is random. One day I can eat a pepperoni pizza just fine. Then the next day, the pepperoni burns my mouth as if I have eaten a hot pepper. Trust me, I haven’t eaten a hot pepper. 🙂

All the Senses Are Affected

As you can see, Fibromyalgia affects all of the senses. It can be pretty frustrating and many of these issues have no way to help the problem other than avoidance. I hope this helps you understand a bit more about the Pain Warriors Plight. Come back again for more explanations.

Are You Feeling My Pain?

Mandy

Have More Questions?

Please leave you question in the comments and I will try to answer them.

fibro affects the senses
not shaken

Even in the Night, I Will Not Be Shaken

Shaken to my Core

If you knew me in my young years, you know that I could have been the Dairy Poster Child. I grew up on a family dairy farm. Once I left the farm, it seemed that there was nothing to talk about but cows. There was nothing like a tall glass of fresh milk right from the bulk tank. It’s what I missed the most, I think. It took me a while to get past the taste of pasteurized milk and I didn’t dare drink 2% milk. When I visited a friend’s home, they offered milk, I would ask, “Is it whole milk?”

So when I learned that I have osteoporosis. It was quite a shock to me. For a day or two, I really could not grasp how it could be that my bones are not strong; that I was at risk for fractures and breakage. Adding this to all my other diagnoses was more than I could bear. Like David, I cried out to God, “How long, oh Lord? I can’t take any more problems. Please no more pain.”

God Speaks

Since I had morning appointments that day, I didn’t get to sit down with the Lord until that afternoon. (Maybe that is why I was so shaken… I had not invited Him into my day yet.) Anyway, God began giving me messages all day. As I did my study with Gracefully Truthful, He said to me, “I will not leave you as an orphan. I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Thank you, Lord, for this reassurance. I began singing this song the rest of the day.

Encouragement from Friends

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”

Proverbs 16:24 NIV

They may have not known that what they shared was for me, but it was. All through the day, I received gracious words just at the right time. Have you ever seen a cross-section of a bone? It’s like a honeycomb. Unless you have osteoporosis… then it’s more like swiss cheese. See National Osteoporosis Foundation

The words of my friends were like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Friends offered up prayers. Sometimes it was just sharing a quote or scripture. They had no idea that God inspired them to share it for my purpose. That night my dear friend at Alabaster Girls post this prayer.

Father, I am loved by You, an extraordinary God, a good, good Father. Your love makes life worth living. Because of You I don’t have to be afraid of tomorrow.

You are my peace.

Thank You for Your grace that truly is sufficient to carry me through the difficult places. I don’t like the difficult places, Lord — You know that. And yet I find You there. You draw near and strengthen me. You pour out Your love on me and it quiets me, giving me strength.Help me keep my eyes on You, Lord.

In Your presence I find joy, courage, and the tenacity I need to keep moving forward.

Bless You, Lord. What a wonderful God You are.

In the Name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Nan Trammel Jones, The Alabaster Girls

But I Still Tossed and Turned for Many Nights

All these things and more I have known since my youth. I know that God will not abandon me. I know He will see me through. But I am tired and my pain has been unbearable lately. Just the pain alone was waking me up and then my mind would start running away wondering what would happen next.

One of the girls from The Alabaster Girls group had friended me earlier that week but I was not “in the mood” to talk with a new person. She was from halfway around the world. And I wasn’t sure of her connection to me at that point. She kept gently prodding me to respond to her. But I like being the encourager and I didn’t have it in me to chat with someone new. Then she sent an audio clip… She sang “Pass me not, oh gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” And tears came to my eyes. It was my prayer. We chatted and I shared a bit of my story. She promised to pray for me.

Preaching to myself

On the second day, I saw the writing prompt for Five Minute Fridays – “STRONG”. I wondered, “Could I write about strong bones when it was so raw to me?” In the past, I have looked through my old posts to see if there was anything I could update and share. And there it was “When I am weak, He is Strong”. As part of that post, I shared an old hymn written by Annie Johnson Flint. I didn’t know it then, but Annie was orphaned as a child, and by her teens suffered severe arthritis and was soon wheelchair-bound. I’m learning more and more that it is those who go through great trials that have the most beautiful poetry and songs. Do you know her hymn, He Giveth More Grace”. That’s the grace God is giving me.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done

when we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun

He GIveth More Grace, Annie Johnson Flint

I Will Not be Shaken

Finally, I stumbled on this scripture which woke me up to realize that God has got this. I do not need to be shaken. It is quite appropriate with words like: “even at night”, “my thoughts trouble me”, “I will not be shaken”, “my whole being rejoices”, “my body rests securely”, “You will not abandon me”, “You will not allow your faithful one to see decay”.

I will bless the Lord who counsels me—
even at night when my thoughts trouble me.
I always let the Lord guide me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad
and my whole being rejoices;
my body also rests securely.
10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol;
you will not allow your faithful one to see decay.
11 You reveal the path of life to me;
in your presence is abundant joy;
at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Psalm 16:7-8

I Need to Memorize This Verse and Quote it in my Bed at Night

Interesting that just last year, verse 11 was my verse for the year. I should have read more of the context, eh?

A Word For You

Don’t allow the old devil to get you shaken. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus for in His presence we have abundant joy!

Mandy

5 Steps Toward Joy in Adversity

It’s easy to lose our joy in the world we live in. 

Originally posted in ggmandy dot com on November 10, 2016 
 

Just watch the news or even just look at your own life, your failures, your unfulfilled dreams, the junk that life is throwing at you, and boom! you’ve fallen into the pit of despair. But I believe that we have a choice whether we stay there in the muck or find joy in the moment. The apostle Paul wrote of that joy sitting in a prison in Philippi. (Philippians 1:3-7) So if he can do it .. we can do it! Right? 

But how can we have joy in adversity? 

That is the question. And that is what I have been searching for this year. Let me share a few steps I am learning to take … 

1. Understand that joy and happiness are NOT the same things. 

You can have both or you can have one but not the other. The difference is the source. Happiness is a result of some outside force. It is dependent on our “happenstance”. We are happy because of what is “happening” to us. We are happy the day we graduate or get married or when we receive a gift. But joy is much different. It comes from inside of us. The scripture says … 

 The Lord is my strength and shield. 

    I trust him with all my heart. 

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. 

    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving 

Psalm 28:7 (NLT) 

If you take a look at the context of this verse (as with many of the Psalms) you will find that David was crying out to God. His circumstances were anything but good. He had enemies all around him, yet .. he was “bursting out in songs of thanksgiving”. Wow! Just knowing that the Lord was with him was enough to sustain him, to keep his joy. 

Steps Toward Joy Through Adversity: Understand #Joy and #Happiness are NOT the same Click To Tweet

2. Read a Psalm every day. 

As I mentioned before, nearly every Psalm begins with distress, speaking out the trouble he was in; but before he gets done, he is praising the Lord. There is nothing better for us than having an example set before us and the Psalms are it. Read one every day and you will be reminded of how awesome our God is. How much He loves you. 

3. Praise the Lord. 

We were created for praise. God made us for this sole purpose.

Psalm 148 says ” let every created being praise the Lord.”

Praise opens the door of communication with God. And that is what He desires. Being in His presence, in communication with Him fills us with joy. If we start looking for something to praise the Lord for, we will find it. There is always something to praise him for. I am reminded of a song the Imperials sang many years ago. “Praise the Lord“. It said,

‘When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams … Praise the Lord.” Every word of this song is on target. 

Praise the Lord by The Imperials

Let’s go back to that prison in Philippi.

Paul and Silas began praising the Lord. What happened next? An earthquake opened the prison doors, broke their chains, and ultimately the prison guard and his family were saved. That’s what happens when others see us being victorious in and through our struggles. We are always wanting God to take us out of the situation, but maybe God has placed us there to bring others to Him. 

4. Additionally, Give Joy to Others. 

shut-in crochet joy in adversity

I recall when I was single and lived far from home and family. I would get lonesome and depressed. So I would call home. Mom told me time and again, to get out and do something for someone else and it would help. You see when you give joy to others it comes right back to you. It’s one of those “reap what you sew” ideals. If we go around complaining and grumbling, we get grumbling and complaining in return. When we start doing for others and see the joy it gives them, guess what, we find that the joy rubs off on us! 

Since my health began to fail, I took up crocheting again. I learn to crochet way back in high school through the 4-H program. Never really got the hang of it. But I decided to give it a try once again. But I need a reason to crochet. So I started looking for who I could make something for. First there was a new baby, then a wedding. Then I decided I would make a shawl for all our shut-ins. That has kept me plenty busy. But here’s the catch … the absolute best part. When I finish a shawl. I can hardly wait to give it away. I am beside myself while I watch them open the package and take out the gift. And it’s not just a blessing that one moment. every time I see them, they speak again of how they love the shawl! And there it is .. abundant joy! 

5. Finally, some practical advice … 

A. Eat right. I know we don’t like to hear it; however, our tendency when we get down is to go eat a bucket of ice cream! Come on , you know it’s true. And I’m not saying that you can never eat ice cream. But do it with moderation. Slow down and eat a few bites. Be sure to enjoy it. And then get right back to eating right. 

B. Get your vitamins. Most of us are vitamin and nutrient deficient. So eat those fruits and vegetables. Resist the grains, bread, sugary desserts. You may need to have your doctor check some of those vitamin levels, such as Vitamin Bs and D. 

C. Spend some time outside EVERY day. Soak up some natural vitamin D. Take in God’s beautiful world. 

D. Do what your doctor says. Take you medications faithfully. 

E. Exercise. (Did I have to mention that one?)  Sorry. But it can help you feel better! 

Okay. I am #preachingtomyself here. But maybe you can come along for the ride and find your joy too! 

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swollen knees

Diagnosis Knees – Osteoarthritis or RA

more diagnoses knees
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Once I finally had a diagnosis, I was able to get on a regimen of Savella. This relieved the majority of my pain. At least I was able to move about. We started working on reducing my 40mg of prednisone down to a more acceptable level. This was no easy feat. The pain would return with just a slight decrease. If I remember, we had to reduce by 5 mg, and then later only 1 mg. (I only recently was able to get completely off the usage of prednisone. It took me ten years!)

It’s Off to the Orthopedic Surgeon

But it only took a few months for my knees to begin to swell and be painful. So, we headed to Hughston Clinic. After x-rays and MRIs, the doctor determined that I had a torn meniscus. So we scheduled surgery. How wonderful that Dr. Collins is a Christian. By his request, he had prayer with me before we went into the OR. His staff is amazing. They checked on me several times after the surgery. I highly recommend Hughston Clinic if you live in SW Georgia.

The surgery went well, he was able to repair damage and clean out a lot of arthritis. He took pictures that showed a lot of gnarly mess. So when we met with him again, he said he would send me back to Mayo Clinic because he wasn’t certain that it was just osteoarthritis.

Back to Mayo Clinic

Already established at Mayo, it wasn’t as difficult to get an appointment. I saw my rheumatologist. He looked at the pictures and said, “This is severe osteoarthritis”. OK. No Surprise here. I was very accident-prone on the dairy farm. As a child, I was always incurring stupid injuries that weren’t too severe. I figured then that one day, I would have plenty of arthritis.

While he felt the diagnosis for knees was osteoarthritis, he decided to run the tests for rheumatoid arthritis again. Low and behold, this time it came back as R.A. We had caught it early so I was able to take Methotrexate rather than a biologic.

Why Didn’t It Show Up Before?

Apparently, the prednisone was masking the RA. I had been concerned this would be a problem all along. The steroid helped me “feel” pretty darn good, But in fact, steroids are an anti-inflammatory drug. So the numbers in the blood work came back good. I figured the steroids caused my numbers to be all over the place when I was tested back home.

swollen knees - steroids hide the real problem
photos from pixabay-Bolova59

The Methotrexate has kept the RA pretty much under control these 10 years. Osteoarthritis of the knees continues to be aggravating on a daily basis. Other fibromyalgia pains and other issues keep popping up now (10 years later). So, we are considering other medication options.

This brings us up to the Spring of 2013. Stay tuned for another addition to Mandy’s Journey with Pain or click here to see what you may have missed.

-Mandy