Monday, November 24, 2014


This post is part of a blog ring this month, “Let’s Talk About Your Medicines” sponsored by The American Recall Center. Please visit RecallCenter.com to learn about important drug info, such as the newly discovered side effects of Xarelto, a medication used to prevent strokes and blood clots. 

As a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient, I take a lot of medications. Currently for my RA itself, I take Orencia IV, Methotrexate, Leucovorin, Naprosyn and Tramadol plus I have a couple of options for break through pain. Add to that three medications I need for my RA induced lung damage, three more medications for eye damage caused by RA and Sjogrens Syndrome, two more for migraines, one anti nauseant, one stomach coater plus two more emergency meds for allergic reactions and it seems like all I do is take pills and deal with side effects. Two of my medications themselves are to counteract the side effects of two other medications I take. In the beginning, figuring out when to take which medication was a daunting task. Thankfully my pharmacist sat down with me and we prepared a schedule that allows me to get the most benefit from my medications and spaces them out enough to avoid any cross reactions by accidently mixing two meds that shouldn’t be mixed. This just leaves me to deal with the side effects of the medications themselves. 

Some days dealing with side effects can seem like a full time job. As mentioned, two of my medications require that I take addition medications to counteract the side effects. Additionally many of my medications have fatigue as a side effect, in addition to the fatigue caused by the disease itself. As a result I am exhausted all the time. If I don’t get a full eight hours sleep plus a two hour nap in the afternoon, I can’t function. The fatigue is overwhelming. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do other than to make sure I get the sleep I need to function. Some of my meds cause nausea so I take a stomach coater daily  and anti nauseant when needed. Sometimes I break into hives from my Orencia or Methotrexate. It doesn’t happen often enough to warrant me changed to a different medication but it is something I have to watch for and treat as needed.

I know some people who won’t put up with any or few side effects from their medications. As a result, they are constantly changing meds in order to find a drug that a) works for their condition and b) doesn’t make them feel sicker. Some people have refused treatment completely as they don’t want to deal with any side effects. For me, after going through what I have with my disease, as long as the medication is working and as long as I can find a work around either by taking a nap, or taking anti nauseants etc., I’m willing to put up with the side effects. Some of these drugs have literally saved my life so I’m not going to let some fatigue, hives and nausea get in the way. We all have to decide for ourselves how far we are willing to go to combat this disease. I encourage everyone to speak to their pharmacist about all the medications they take. Something as simple as a schedule change can go a long away to obtaining relief from side effects.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Zoey has had a big year. New brother, new boyfriend Teddy the Schnauzer who lives next door, trip to the beach in Florida. Happy 3rd birthday baby girl!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Our little Fluffbal has grown into a 60lb Goofball full of love! Happy 1st birthday Herschel!



Friday, April 11, 2014

Before Herschel wormed his way into our hearts, there was a Herschel before him. His half brother actually.


Herschel I was born April 11th 2013. Back then he was known as Puppy Green. He was to have come home with us in early June last year. Sadly,  the day he was to come home, he caught Parvo and died. Our Herschel's full name is Herschel Green II in memory of his older brother. 

As Herschel I's litter mates celebrate their first birthdays today, I find myself wondering what our first Herschel would have been like. Would he be huge and goofy like his namesake or perhaps smaller like his sisters and more reserved? What I do know is he will always have a place in my heart along with my other lost furry loves.

Happy Birthday little guy! I bet you would have been a superstar. 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day this year was a little different. The Boy and I are trying hard to lose weight and regain the svelte bodies we had when we met over 20 yrs ago. This means calorie counting which puts a wrench in our usual Valentine's Day tradition. Renzo wanted to scrap plans entirely but I endeavoured to find a low calorie dinner that held up to our Valentine's Day standards. This also meant that I was the only one cooking this year and we would both be eating the same meal.

After a 2 week search, I finally settled on a meal and dessert that would fit into our daily allowed calorie plans. A bonus was that it only took about 45 mins to prepare the main dish and while we ate dessert baked in the oven. This was good for my autoimmune defeated body. While the Orencia IV has been working, it sadly is no match for the Polar Vortex that has plagued us this winter. So I needed to be careful not to use too much energy or cause myself too much pain by just making dinner. It sounds silly I know but just making dinner one night, and the post dinner clean up etc puts me in bed for at least a day sometimes two if I overdo it. Renzo laughs at how exhausted I am from just making a simple meal but sadly this is my and many Rheumatoid Disease patients' reality.

For our meal I prepared Chipotle Crusted Pork Tenderloin for 206 calories per serving. I halved the recipe. It was very good although next time I will use less chipotle as it was a bit too spicy for my sensitive tummy. I served the pork with Sautéed Green Beans with Tomatoes for 57 calories per 1/2 cup and Mushroom Orzo "Risotto" for 217 calories per serving. I divided the orzo into 6 side dish size servings rather than 4 main course side servings. Total calories for the meal was a mere 480 calories and it was delicious!



For dessert, I originally was going to make 100 calorie Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with 1/2 tbsp of Nutella for 50 calories. However, after chopping veggies and mixing the orzo non stop for 30 mins, my joints were screaming. So I opted for a batch of Betty Crocker Hershey Peanut Butter Brownies for 160 calories frosted with 1 tsp of Nutella for an additional 33 calories. I made the brownies double their serving size of 1/16th of a pan however I did not use the oil  so the calories ended up being the same as if I had made the smaller brownies. These too were yummy. I will freeze the remaining brownies for when we want a little treat in the future. 



Dinner and dessert totalled a mere 673 calories so a success diet wise. Perhaps dinner wasn't as fancy as our usual Valentine fare but it was still a nice evening with my Loverbunny! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It has been a long while since I have updated regarding my Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease. Lots of changes have occurred. I have a voice usually 90% of the time. I still have my bad days of course but it is much improved.

I have ventured into the world of Biologics. For the un Rheum initiated, Biologics are the highest level of meds available for RAD. They are medications, usually administered via injections or IV infusion that are biologically synthesized rather than chemically. They attack specific cells in the body to stop the disease process. I started Remicade in December 2012.  Remicade attacks the TNF-a cells in the body. I managed to completed 6 bimonthly infusions before serious allergic reactions forced me to stop. With Remicade I was able to achieve a glorious 6 weeks of relief. It was heaven! I was quite upset when I was forced to stop and start over with a new medication. I am now on Orencia IV. I just completed my 4th infusion. Orencia is given monthly instead of bimonthly and attacks the body's T cells. It has only just started to work in the last month so I am cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately I showed signs of an allergic reaction during my last infusion so we now proceed with caution. As I am allergic to so many unidentified things, my choices for medication are limited.

With the biologics, I have been able to reduce my need for Tramadol by half. I hope to one day not require it at all but for now I celebrate this small victory. I am still on NSAID's daily, in addition to various supplements and eye drops for my accompaning Sjögrens Syndrome.

The jump to Biologics was a scary one. These medications are very expensive. Each monthly Orencia IV infusion costs just under $5,000. That is the cost of just the medication and not the IV nurse, supplies needed to infuse it etc. If I wasn't lucky to have excellent insurance, I would never be able to afford it. I again applaud Canada's Health Care system for covering all costs of the infusions except for the actual medication. My friend's in the US likely pay more per infusion as they also have to pay for the clinic visit, use of the IV nurse and of course the supplies needed to infuse. Yes we Canadians may have to wait a bit to see some doctors but I will take that any day over having to pay for my health care.

In addition to expense, Biologics have some scary side effects and possibly allergies. Biggest threat is cancer. With Orencia I am at risk for lung cancer and lymphoma, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis amongst other things. To have to weigh the threat of these diseases against the attack of the disease you already have can be demoralizing. I delayed the jump to these medications for 5 yrs partly because of the risks. But you get to a point where you just can't take the daily raging of your body anymore and are willing to do and try anything for relief. I am at that point and am please to say so far, I have been successful.

Thursday, August 15, 2013









Saturday, August 03, 2013

Things have been a bit hectic around here the last couple of months and this little dood is a big reason why.




Introducing Herschel. He is a F1b Goldendoodle full of energy and love. We were told he would weigh between 35-40lbs full grown but he weighs 20lbs at just 3 months old so we suspect he will top out at 50-60lbs.

Herschel and Zoey get along wonderfully which is a relief. It's always scary bringing a new dog into the pack. Thankfully we seem to have completed the transition with ease.







Sunday, March 10, 2013

Valentine's Day came late in the Stitt this year. I was sick for 2 weeks and then the boy wasn't feeling well so our annual feast was delayed by almost a month. We finally celebrated this evening.

This is our 10th year of our tradition so we decided to have a "Best Of" edition where we could choose what we wanted to be served from past menus, still serving different appetizers, main courses and a shared dessert.

I feasted on appetizers of Grilled Flatbread Bruschetta, Fried Goat Cheese and Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Champagne Mustard Dressing. My main course was Rosemary Goat Cheese Stuffed Organic Chicken with a Wild Mushroom Sauce served with Spinach Pesto Tortellini.








For the boy, I prepared appetizers of Fried Crab Wonton Ravioli served with a Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce and Arugula, Avocado, Smoked Salmon and Toasted Hazelnut Salad with a Balsamic Champagne Mustard Dressing. His main course was Sesame Seared Tuna with Wasabi Ponzu Sauce served with Peas, Shallots and Prosciutto, and Orange Scented Almond Couscous.








Desert for the both of us was Choco-Hoto Pots served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.




Everything as usual was decadent and delicious. We think next year we will drop the appetizers though and simply have different main courses and a shared dessert. It's simply too much food and we always have leftovers for days. I guess this means we are getting old!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


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