This morning I woke up feeling really pretty good and decided to head into the Bikram studio and I was so glad I did.  As I arrived one of my fellow yogi’s was there early and she was hoping I was coming this day so she could bounce some autoimmune things off of me.  Her sister-in-law is here in Maine visiting from NY and instantly she noticed that her sister-in-law was walking with stiff legs and her hands seemed stiff.  She told my yogi friend that her doctor thinks she has RA but has not been to a Rheumatologist yet to have it confirmed. She if feeling depressed with the pain she is suffering within the knees and hands. 

            My yogi friend said she had just the person to speak to about this, she meant me.  She said she has watched me the last year in our yoga class and that I am an inspiration to her and she just wants her sister-in-law to be able to tackle this challenge as well as I have.  I felt incredibly honored to have these compliments given my way and realized that although I have MCTD and my friend’s sister-in-law has RA so they think they are very similar and I wanted to offer my support as much as I possible.  She asked me what I would recommend for someone who is just finding out they have an autoimmune disease and instantly I said she needs a doctor she can trust.  This person and you are going to be seeing each at least 4 times a year and probably more in the beginning; you have to be able to trust them.  They are going to throw a lot of information at you and want you start taking some medications right off the bat that more than likely are going to make you feel bad.  Of course they are going to help but you may not feel good in the process.  A doctor that is willing to not only suggest but also opened to other alternative types of therapies and well as a doctor that is willing to be strong and say you need exercise and a good diet right from day one.

            Once the diagnosis comes back and you know what you are dealing with that is when you can start to control and then manage your disease.  Everyone’s level of pain is different and depending on the level of pain this woman has I suggested starting in a pool for some water aerobics and asked if her feet hurt.  When your feet are effected it is very hard to even start to think about a walking routine but if there is little pain in the feet even with major pain in the knees and hips you can walk some and start a routine.  She doesn’t have pain yet in her feet so I suggested she get a pedometer and just try to get in at least 2000 steps a day.  It is not a lot but it can feel like a ton when you don’t feel well and you are dealing with pain.  My friend is buying her a pedometer today and suggesting she just start the walking process.  The more you can move the better off you’ll be at keeping some lubrication in those knee and hip joints.  Nothing strenuous but some light walking is good. 

            I was diagnosed 8 years ago and I still wear a pedometer, because that is how I started and although it hasn’t happened in many months for me there were days right up until this year that I didn’t feel like walking and even on those types of days it is good to try to get yourself to move.  There are days that I click away 25k steps and very proud that I can do that but it has taken me many years.  Every day is a stepping stone to managing a lifelong disease.  I hope she finds the help she needs and I’m so incredibly honored to know that I’m making an impact through a friend of a friend situation.


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