“A negative attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere without changing it” ~ Anonymous
This quote takes on multiple meanings for me and it just so happens it was literally and figuratively this past week.
I have seen two different rheumatologists in my hometown over the past thirteen years growing up. When I moved two years ago, I wanted to have a rheumatologist that was closer. I started seeing a new doctor that had two locations; one close to my home and one close to my job. I thought how perfect! HOWEVER, what I did not know was that I was about to give up a doctor who truly cared for me for convenience and close proximity. My new doctor that I started to see had a lot of knowledge about rheumatoid arthritis. My appointments though started to become me paying a co-pay, him spending maybe 2 minutes with me and then me giving blood work. This routine carried on for about two years until January was my breaking point. I stopped my medicine and I had a slew of questions on top of new complications that I was encountering and needed a physician that treated the patient not the disease. That is not what I got though. I felt as if I was being dismissed, my questions were not answered and I left there defeated. I came home after my appointment in such a negative mood and beyond upset. I was experiencing pain that I haven’t felt in a long time and the place which I was supposed to get help at was not doing its job. My husband and I decided that if I wanted answers, I had to look elsewhere and change my “flat tire”. I could have stayed in that negative state of mind, with getting nowhere, but I decided to take action.
After doing research, I came across the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City which is ranked #3 in the nation for Rheumatology. My appointment was last
Wednesday and I could barely sleep the night before. Chris was away for work and my mom was coming with me. Last time my mom came with me to the doctors, I was 18 and it was the time my doctor broke the news that I had Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease that there was no cure for. I was anxious to see a new rheumatologist. I was hoping for change and was hoping for the physician that treated me, not the disease. I wore my cure arthritis bracelet that I got from joining the “Cure Arthritis Crew” which is part of the National Arthritis Research Foundation (the charity I am running the half marathon in April to raise money for). I was changing my flat tire and looking toward a more positive response. And that is what I got. I was use to a five minute appointment. However today the doctor sat with me for over an hour. He didn’t try to dismiss me, rather he did the opposite. He asked me questions, listened to my responses and helped me come up with an action plan with moving forward.These are two forms that I had to fill out prior to my appointment with the doctor. The first form went over where I see and feel the most pain and inflammation. The second form had a section where you had to answer different questions pertaining to your ability in the past week. Questions like the form in the second picture make me want to advocate harder for a cure for RA and other autoimmune diseases. Right now I am checking off the boxes that indicate “without no” or “with some difficulty”. I hope I never see the day that I have to check off the column that says “unable to do”. My doctor used these forms as just one part of my appointment and mostly as a talking point to aid our discussion. The thoroughness my doctor portrayed as well as his attention to detail was a breath of fresh air.
After my appointment, my mom and I headed back to the parking garage to get her car. We paid the attendant, got in the car and was about to head on home back to New Jersey when BAM! We got out of the car to find the tire had a blowout and was completely flat. Not figuratively this time, but literally. We could have gotten upset and our moods could have quickly gained a negative tone, but we knew that becoming frustrated was not going to get us home. Just like a negative attitude, we learned a flat tire was going to get us nowhere. At this moment we both thought it could have been a lot worse. We could have been on the highway when it happened or on a bridge or in the tunnel. But instead it happened when we were going under 10 mph and we were completely safe. A positive attitude is one that I like to believe I strive for. The moment I feel a negative attitude creep up on me about the disease specifically, I think to myself it can always be worse. I take a deep breath and look at how I can change the situation so I can go on my way to being positive again.
The elimination diet is one way I have tried to make a change. Last week I entered into Phase 3 where I began to reintroduce foods one by one at least 3 days at a time. During this phase, I am documenting any reactions and searching for any source of new symptoms. If a food causes a reaction, it should be kept out of my diet while challenging the rest of the foods. My first food I challenged was citrus. I did so by adding freshly squeezed lime to smoothies, enjoyed lemon water, and most of all loved having clementines for a snack or part of my breakfast. It is crazy how much more your taste buds enjoy the sweetness after not having it for just a couple weeks. After each one, I did not experience any new reactions. So citrus, welcome back to my life!
I moved into reintroducing “nightshade vegetables”. The most common foods in this group include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant. They produce an alkaloid compound called solanine which acts as a nerve poison that helps a plant defend against insects that are trying to eat them. There is a lot of mixed research regarding nightshades. Some say they have a negative effect with inflammation while other studies show the nutritional benefits behind eating them. For dinner we made brown rice pasta, with chicken sausage, mushrooms, spinach and our reintroduction was a gluten free tomato based pasta sauce with a pinch of red pepper flakes. The next morning I woke up with increased inflammation in my feet, more than “normal” and also had stiffness in my knee in which I have not experienced before. This is where I began to question: Was it the tomato sauce? Was it the pinch of red pepper flakes? Was the weather different? Was this my first aha moment or just a fluke? I had peppers in my salad the day before and I had no new pains the next morning, so what was the variable that could be causing the new change. I decided to slow this reintroduction phase down and extend it past 3 days to see what could be the matter. Tonight we tried the pasta again, but this time leaving out the red pepper flakes. I hope to have some more answers next week regarding night shade vegetables, along with the next reintroduction of beef. Mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking of it!
Two Key Conclusions:
- Choose a doctor that treats you and not the disease. Do not settle on a doctor because your health plan covers them, they are convenient, or they seem to be the only doctor in your area. Do your own research, read reviews from past patients and trust your gut after the first couple appointments. NEVER SETTLE. If you went to a restaurant that had bad customer service and the food was awful, the likeliness of you going back just because it is around the corner and has good prices is very slim. SO do not do it when it comes to doctors or more important issues.
- A negative attitude or outlook is not going to get you anywhere, just like a flat tire. You can be frustrated, mad, angry, annoyed when you get a flat tire. Possibly say a few curse words, maybe kick the tire, whatever your way of dealing with the situation is. Fact of the matter is though, all of that is not going to get you anywhere unless you CHANGE the tire. So next time you feel that negative attitude creeping up on you or you feel grumpy. You can bask in that negativity or grumpy mood all you want. BUT AGAIN, if you do not CHANGE something in your life that is causing that attitude, you are not going to get the positive results you want. Just think if you got a flat tire, would you slash the rest of your three tires? NO! So do not do that to yourself when you are continuing to dwell in negativity. Do not slash yourself down. Instead, do something that will change the tire, to allow yourself to be on your way again. Just like my mom and I were able to make our way home and I am on the journey to continue to…..