To Wait or Not To Wait…

Sometimes I struggle with what to go to my GP for and what to wait for my rheumatologist for. I usually reserve my GP for the basics – cold, flu, the stuff they are used to diagnosing and treating. However, once in awhile, when there is a long wait between rheumy appointments, it feels necessary to go in to check something else out. The only problem is that it is either a “wait for your rheumatologist issue” or a “I can run some general tests” issue. Neither of which is necessarily helpful. I get it, a general practitioner has generalized knowledge. Thus their abilities to help us with basic health concerns, immunizations, physicals, and providing referrals. The specific issues should be left to the specialists.

general practitioner with set iconsOkay this doesn’t resemble my GP but maybe it does someone’s!

What brings this up today is that I’ve had a really painful spot in my leg for a few weeks. At first I thought it was a muscle pull, but it hasn’t gone away. I had this once before and with stretches it eventually subsided. However, stretches seem to be of no use this time. It’s the same spot where I know there is a nerve (thanks to my physiotherapist and my chiropractor) so it’s possible it’s the nerve instead of the muscle. I have a rheumatologist appointment on March 13. A large part of me thinks I should just wait until then, and let her take a look. My mom suggested I go to my GP at least in the meantime, maybe get a cortisone shot. While I don’t think that’s a bad idea, I also think it’s likely my GP will use it as a “wait for your rheumatologist issue,” and also may not give me a shot because of wanting to consult with my rheumy. While March 13 isn’t far away, it’s still over 2 weeks. So there is a possibility that I’ll be living with this uncomfortableness until then.

how-to-choose-a-rheumatologist-alt-722x406Image from:

So how do I make up my mind on this one? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I’ll let you know how it goes.

Pets and Health

Let’s face it, if we’re pet parents, our pets are really like our babies. We call them babies, we treat them like babies, and we love them almost as much as they love us (truthfully, if you have a dog, the dog loves you more than you will love him or her). Pets, in particular dogs, have a lot of positive benefits to our lives. Not just that constant companionship and unconditional love, but they are also good for our physical and mental health. That being said, they aren’t without their own health issues too.

7d+b7PJaQ9aeKfTdMu%%sgSleepy Spike.

First off, dogs are active and by default they keep us active by having to walk them. This is great for our heart health and for our physical fitness. Walking your dog for 30 minutes a day is good for you both. They’re also great for chronic pain, which can be reduced by the release of endorphins. Guess what petting your dog does for you? Yup, releases endorphins. They are also amazing at sensing when something is wrong. Whether that’s the ability to monitor a diabetic patient’s blood sugar levels, or sensing when an epileptic person is about to have a seizure, there is a reason that dog’s are trained to help.

ZdKRTryGSlubHVoxgcbJAAActive Spike getting a photoshoot in High Park.

As far as mental health goes, pets are great for reducing stress and anxiety. Think about the steady rhythm of their breathing and heart. Just cuddling with your dog can help you relax. They may even reduce your risk of depression, which could be due to their love and friendship, their ability to reduce stress, or even their generally happy nature. And any pet is better than no pet.

rpEeRCtnT42aha7froCxiACuddly Spike.

But what if your pet isn’t healthy? Besides the insane monetary costs associated with vet visits (I wish I could claim my dog as a dependent on my taxes lol), the heartbreak and realization that they aren’t going to be there forever, or that they are in pain, is terrible. I will bring my dog to his annual check-ups, get whatever tests the vet suggests, and do what I can for him. Spike has diabetes, and he’s gone blind because of it. There may be some concern about his liver, and we just found out he has a heart murmur. He’s an old guy so it happens, but because of all the above positive things he does for me, I want to keep him around for as long as possible (my childhood dog lived to 17, mostly thanks to my mom’s care for him).

x%iwthduQNODEHq4CAiB5QSpike, age 10 1/2.

Keeping your pet healthy can keep you healthy. And I personally like that.

Weather Fluctuations and Pain

Do you ever have days or weeks or months or years (wait, that’s the Friends theme song) – scratch that. I’m going to say that I’m in a flare that was literally brought on by the insane weather. Warm, freezing, warm, freezing, freezing, warm, warm, warm, freezing. I understand that climate change is happening, but my body would appreciate if Mother Nature would just pick a temperature. The other problem with the fluctuations in temperature is that it snows then melts than freezes, and then Kelsey falls on the ground because of the black ice and hurts her already hurting hip. I’m guessing I’m not the only Spoonie who has had that problem this winter.

IMG_5414Hello from my sloth jar. He makes me smile.

So what are some things that I can do for my hip, which is acting crazy, at this point? Well, I went to Physio today, which is always helpful. I’m also a big fan of hip stretches. I do a lot of them. Some given to my by my physiotherapist, and others by my chiropractor. Here are two of my favourites (I have no idea what they are called).

Hip stretches!

The other thing that bothers me a lot when the weather bounces up and down is my wrists (and my elbows right now too but that’s not as common). My physiotherapist also worked on those today. And then we tried taping them. I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make but it seems to be helping so far. Apparently one of her other patients has a lot of wrist pain and taping helps a lot. Fingers crossed it works for me.

IMG_5714One of my taped wrists.

Weather, weather, please pick a temperature, or just transport me to summer. Or even better, let me live in Southern California where is nice and warm.

Managing Your Health

I’m curious how other people manage all of their health and self-care needs. It can be overwhelming at times to make sure everything is taken care of and on point. For example, I’m terrible at remembering to take my medications at night (I’m great at it in the morning). Now, occasionally if I’ve gone out drinking, I will purposefully not take them, but that’s rare. Usually, it’s me being exhausted and just forgetting. I’ve tried reminder apps on my phone, but they are so easy to ignore.

IMG_5652An insider’s look at my medicine cabinet.

Appointments wise, I don’t usually have any issues, as I put them in my calendar on a day off. Or I book them off from work if I have enough notice. Either way, I know that if it’s a day off I have an appointment, so I can just hop into my calendar to be reminded of the time. Also, my main clinic gives me emailed reminders a day or two in advance. Putting them in my calendar is also a great way to manage the amount of appointments I do in a day. Typically it would just be one (usually for the week), but sometimes it’s two. Like next Wednesday, for example, I have a dentist appointment and then I’m going to see my naturopath.


Self-care activities are usually a priority for me, and can often be done around my crazy work, school, and volunteer schedules. A bath before bed (usually with a book in hand), unless I’ve gone out that evening. Gym in the mornings on my days off or when I close at work. Meditation is the only one that can take a hit. Ideally, I’d like to meditate for 10 minutes a day (eventually I’d like to get up to 20 but 10 isn’t easy right now). I have a great app that gives reminders if you want but since I don’t necessarily meditate at the same time every day, reminders aren’t overly helpful. Instead I put it on my “To Do” list for the day. Does this always work? No. I didn’t meditate on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, but I did Sunday, Monday, and today. I found putting it on my to do list has helped me do it more often.

IMG_5653I don’t exclusively use this app for meditations, sometimes I find them off YouTube or use a different app,
but this is my go-to lately.

Life is busy and hectic, and yet physical and mental health need to be priorities (especially if you have any kind of chronic illness)! It may be difficult, but finding ways to get everything straight (no pun intended) is essential.