SEPTEMBER IS ARTHRITIS AWARENESS MONTH

photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya

Over 350 million people in the world are affected by Arthritis.

According to the CDC 53% of all adults in the United States, over 54 million people, have arthritis. In the United Kingdom around 10 million people are affected. There are 6 million Canadians living with Arthritis and 3.9 million people in Australia have this chronic disease.

It’s not just arthritis.” Arthritis is a serious, chronic and life-changing disease that deserves greater attention.

Canadian Arthritis Society

There are over 100 types of arthritis along with sub types and related diseases. Here are a few of the more common forms.

Osteoarthritis (OA): Is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down and eventually the joint is rubbing bone on bone becoming very painful. OA usually effects the joints in the knees, hips, hands and spine. It’s not an autoimmune disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Is an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple joints in the body. RA is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system—which normally functions to protect us against infections—mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. RA usually attacks the small joints on the fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, but also will attack any joints on both sides of the body symmetrically. The inflammation can also effect the lungs, heart, kidneys, eyes, and skin.

photo by Chuttersnap

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS): Is an inflammatory arthritis that effects the spine and the joints that attach the pelvis to the base of spine. Over time it gradually fuses the small bones in the vertebrae (spine).  It is an autoimmune disease. In this case the immune system attacks the joints and bones in the lower back.

Juvenile Arthritis (JA): Is more common than people think. Approximately 3 in 1000 children have childhood arthritis. When you hear the term “Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis” Idiopathic means of unknown cause.  It’s also hard to diagnose because often it’s hard for a child to communicate exactly how they’re feeling, where it hurts or if there is something wrong.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): Often called Lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. As a result of SLE, the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, the nervous system and almost any other organ can be affected. (90% of people diagnosed with SLE are women.) Lupus has many of the same symptoms as other inflammatory diseases and fibromyalgia so it often gets misdiagnosed since the symptoms are different daily or weekly or none at all. There is a distinct symptom to Lupus and that is a butterfly rash over the cheeks and nose which happens in roughly 30% to 40% of those diagnosed.

photo by Kampus Production

 Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA): Is an autoimmune type of inflammatory arthritis that causes joint inflammation and occurs with the skin autoimmune condition psoriasis. About 10-30% of people with psoriasis will get PsA. The symptoms often resemble those of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Fibromyalgia (FM): I was surprised when I saw this listed as a type of arthritis. FM is a medical condition that is believed to affect the central nervous system. The most common symptoms of FM is widespread or diffuse pain and debilitating fatigue. People with FM may also experience other symptoms, such as sleep difficulties, restless leg syndrome, cognitive dysfunction, lack of concentration and memory, mood swings, gastrointestinal problems and have a heightened sensitivity to touch and pressure. FM will not cause permanent damage to muscles, bones or joints. What it does have in common with arthritis is that it can cause severe pain and fatigue therefore having an impact on a person’s daily life. Although painful, FM does not lead to permanent joint damage or deformity.

People with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can also have fibromyalgia FM.

I’m lucky enough to have the big 3. Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Right now, I’m trying to do all I can to keep my knee from going under the knife. My rheumatologist said, just say the word and he’ll call the surgeon. I keep saying no I’m not ready, however, it’s getting harder to walk or sleep without pain. I know I’m stubborn.

 

Until Next Time!

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/arthritis/most-common-types-arthritis.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis

https://arthritis.ca

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/arthritis.htm

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You’ll Never Walk Alone

photo taken by Tom Barrett, Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Barbra Streisand performed this song unannounced at the closing of the 2001 Emmy Awards just two months after the 9/11 attacks.

She now has recorded it 20 years later for the crisis the world is going through. I feel many people can relate to the lyrics.


Donna

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ALPHA-BETA-GAMMA-DELTA-??

illustration by CDC - reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
CDC – ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Coronavirus – Covid-19

I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to post about the pandemic. Turn on the radio or the tv and you get updates about Covid-19. It’s the first thing you see on social media. Driving down the street there is a huge sign about a vaccine clinic. I get emails daily about it. I didn’t think I had anything to add to that. I thought reading about something other than the pandemic that people must deal with would be more beneficial.

However, finding this of interest, I’m posting some information about the Coronavirus variants.

This is taken straight from the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’s (WHO) website:

 Latest versions: Our World In Data

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.

WHO, in collaboration with partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions and researchers have been monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020. During late 2020, the emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the characterization of specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOCs), in order to prioritize global monitoring and research, and ultimately to inform the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Variants of Concern (VOC)

Working definition:

A SARS-CoV-2 variant that meets the definition of a VOI (see below) and, through a comparative assessment, has been demonstrated to be associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance

  • Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; OR
  • Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; OR
  • Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines,
  • therapeutics.  

Currently designated Variants of Concern:

WHO label Pango  
lineages
GISAID cladeNextstrain  
clade 
Additional amino acid changes monitored*Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 
Alpha B.1.1.7 GRY20I (V1) +S:484K
+S:452R
United Kingdom,  
Sep-2020 
18-Dec-2020
Beta B.1.351 
B.1.351.2
B.1.351.3
GH/501Y.V2 20H (V2)+S:L18FSouth Africa,  
May-2020 
18-Dec-2020
Gamma P.1 
P.1.1
P.1.2
P.1.4
P.1.6
P.1.7
GR/501Y.V3 20J (V3)+S:681HBrazil,  
Nov-2020 
11-Jan-2021
Delta B.1.617.2
AY.1
AY.2AY.3
AY.3.1
G/478K.V1 21A+S:417NIndia,  
Oct-2020 

Variants of Interest (VOI)

Working definition:

A SARS-CoV-2 variant : with genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; AND 

Identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters, in multiple countries with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health.”  

Currently designated Variants of Interest:

WHO label Pango  
lineages
GISAID cladeNextstrain  
clade 
Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 
Eta B.1.525 G/484K.V3 21DMultiple countries, 
Dec-2020 
17-Mar-2021 
Iota B.1.526  GH/253G.V121F United States of America,  
Nov-2020 
24-Mar-2021 
Kappa B.1.617.1  G/452R.V3 21B  India,  
Oct-2020  
4-Apr-2021 
LambdaC.37GR/452Q.V121GPeru, Dec-2020

Alerts for Further Monitoring

Working definition 

A SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes that are suspected to affect virus characteristics with some indication that it may pose a future risk, but evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological impact is currently unclear, requiring enhanced monitoring and repeat assessment pending new evidence.  

Note: It is expected that our understanding of the impacts of these variants may fast evolve, and designated Alerts for Further Monitoring may be readily added/removed; therefore, WHO labels will not be assigned at this time. Former VOIs/VOCs may, however, be monitored for an extended period under this category, and will maintain their assigned WHO label until further notice.” 

Currently designated Alerts for Further Monitoring:

Pango  
lineages 
GISAID cladeNextstrain  
clade 
Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 
B.1.427
B.1.429*
GH/452R.V1  21CUnited States of America, 
Mar-2020 
VOI: 5-Mar-2021 
Alert: 6-Jul-2021
R.1GRMultiple countries,Jan-2021 07-Apr-2021
B.1.466.2 GHIndonesia,
Nov-2020
28-Apr-2021 
B.1.621
B.1.621.1
GH  21H Colombia,
Jan-2021
26-May-2021
B.1.1.318GRMultiple countries,
Jan-2021
02-Jun-2021
B.1.1.519GR20B/S.732AMultiple countries,
Nov-2020
02-Jun-2021
C.36.3C.36.3.1GRMultiple countries,
Jan-2021
16-Jun-2021
B.1.214.2GMultiple countries, Nov-202030-Jun-2021
B.1.1.523GRMultiple countries, May-202014-July-2021
B.1.619
B.1.619.1
G20A/S.126AMultiple countries, May-202014-July-2021
B.1.620GMultiple countries, November 202014-July-2021

For further information on Covid-19 and the actions taken by WHO and Member States for potential Variants of Concern(VOC) and Variants of Interest(VOI) as well as reclassifying VOIs/VOCs please go to the WHO site.

At this moment, in Canada all government sectors, hospitals, health care, any crown corporations and transportation (including transport and leisure) will have to be fully vaccinated. For education, depending on the province, Ontario colleges and universities you must be vaccinated to be on campus. Other provinces like Saskatchewan have started to follow suite.

Before the Covid pandemic if you wanted to travel to certain countries you had to provide proof of vaccine for certain infectious diseases such as yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis and polio. Ebola vaccines and malaria vaccines are in development. We are just adding another to the list.   

 I am fully vaccinated, so is my family, but my 2-year-old grandson unfortunately cannot be yet.  That is OUR choice.  If you choose NOT to be vaccinated that is YOUR choice but you also must live with any and all consequences as we do. Unfortunately, the people who are unvaccinated have fueled the 4th wave of the pandemic. The majority of the vaccinated this time who have contracted covid are older, have health problems or/and are immuno-compromised.  It was NOT their choice.

The number of infections are on the rise again. Wear a mask, wash your hands often and maintain social distance when out in public. Please stay safe. We will get through this.

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FLYING FREE MEDITATION

Photo by jasmin chew on Pexels.com

I found this on a website called Free Will Astrology written by Rob Bresny.  I thought what a great way to release stress with a meditation visualizing soaring up in the sky feeling free.  So for that I thank you Rob.

Now if you can take the tip of a tape measure with one hand then put that arm outstretched then take the tape measure with the other hand holding it at the base and outstretch that arm. Now with the same hand hold on to the tape measure so it doesn’t close and see the length from the tip of one middle finger to the other. If this is too hard for you get someone to help  measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other. Do you have a wingspan similar to that of a hawk? Eagle? Osprey? The mythical thunderbird? Pterodactyl?

Now lie on your back with your arms outstretched. Close your eyes and visualize yourself hovering and swooping above the treetops. Feel the wind on your skin, blowing your hair, how fast or slow you can go. How free you feel. You can go anywhere you want. You are free as a bird. 

What do you see below you? People, trees, lakes, mountains; it’s your flight you can go where ever you want for how long you want to go. 

When you are ready to come down make sure you fly back from wherever you go. Then just like a bird land in a familiar place. Then once landed you can slowly open your eyes and bring your arms back down to your sides.

Sit up and take a few cleansing breaths before standing and make sure your arms are ok. They had a real workout. If you were gone flying for more than 10 minutes sit and drink a glass of water before standing.

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RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME (RLS)

This is one reason of many for poor sleep and the feeling of exhaustion that people with Fibromyalgia(FM) have. Approximately 40% of people with FM also have Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS).

People describe these unpleasant sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs.

  RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest. People describe these unpleasant sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs.  The sensations may range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.

To relieve the discomfort of RLS you must keep the legs in motion.  This causes constant tossing and turning in bed and often having to get up and walk to relieve the sensations. This leaves you exhausted by morning.

I suffered from RLS and I can tell you it wasn’t fun.  I was on a medication that controlled it.  However, like all medications there are side effects which you have to consider.  Always, I repeat, ALWAYS do your homework.  I always research everything the doctors give me BEFORE I start taking anything.  My doctors are great and they know me now.  I make sure they know their facts.

If you have RLS or you know someone who does, the following video gives you all different remedies you can try, from medications to old wives tales.

Update

I originally posted this back in 2011. I’ve updated the video so it has current information (and a little more interesting to watch). I’m no longer on any medications for RLS because the side effects were too severe. I was on pramipexole (Mirapex). It’s a dopamine agonist which means it increases the amount of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and “feel good hormone”. As per Psychology Today, “The brain releases it when we eat food that we crave or while we have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system. This important neurochemical boosts mood, motivation, and attention, and helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses”. So then by increasing the presence of dopamine you increase the pleasurable feelings and addiction.

Back in 2011 I was seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed the pramipexole. He would always ask me how I was feeling and whether I started to have any gambling problems because pramipexole has warnings that it could increase addictions such as drinking, drugs, gambling or shopping, but what he never talked about was hallucinations. That, my friends, was scary.

Until next time!

Donna

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ZAZEN MEDITATION

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Zazen is the classic zen meditation sometimes described as ‘sitting quietly doing nothing’. A common practice among Japanese Zen Buddhist monks and nuns.

It’s tradition to sit in the lotus or half-lotus position here, but if this is uncomfortable for you then sit in a straight back chair.

Your hands should rest in your lap, with both palms up, and the left hand resting on the right hand.

Make sure your spine is straight. Push your lower back forward slightly and expand your chest while making sure your head is upright. Gently move from side to side until you find the balance point that is most comfortable.

Keep your eyes open just a tiny bit (‘neither open nor closed’) and look at the floor a few feet in front of you. Breathe in and out through your nose, keeping your mouth closed and your tongue resting gently against the roof of your mouth.

Take a few deep breaths, exhaling all of the air in your lungs each time, and then let your breathing find it’s own natural deep rhythm, without any force.

Watch the breath. When the mind wanders, gently acknowledge it then bring it back again to that simple awareness. Be still. Relax. Be easy on yourself. Don’t judge yourself. Just keep the attention on your breathing, and when the mind wanders, and it will, just gently bring it back again.

Be here now. Just BE in the moment. Breathe, and be fully, vitally present.

When you choose to come out of the meditation, first come back to a full sense of being engaged in all of your body. Then gently move your upper body around in small arcs before stretching your legs out. Don’t stand up too soon if your legs are stiff!!

Namaste

Donna

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