Blood from a Turnip

One of the things that we’re exploring, while looking for way to keep my Rheumatoid Arthritis at bay, are food sensitivities that I may have.  So, I was scheduled to have some fancy shmancy food allergy tests done by a company that specializes in that sort of thing.  And in order for that to happen, a nurse-type person was to come to my home and drain me of blood.  Four vials, to be precise.

This nurse-type person, who we’ll call Nurse Ratchett for the sake of the story, called yesterday to confirm our appointment.  I alerted her that I was typically a difficult draw.

I’ve been this way ever since I can remember.  And recently, my dad told me that I come by it honest, since he is also a difficult stick.  Shy veins run in my family.

I heard Nurse Ratchett exhale loudly, and she paused, “Well, drink a lot of water.” She also asked me if I was on any medication and I rattled off my laundry list.  She then told me not to take anything 48 hours prior to the draw.  And since the draw was the next day, I told her that I would stop all pain meds immediately.

I had been told that Prednisone was the only problem medication for this blood work, and I had been off of it for a week.  The new NO MEDS WHATSOEVER rule was unfortunate, because I was just starting to get a migraine.  And I will also mention that my knee felt like someone had just had batting practice with it.

But whatever.  I do what I’m told.  No meds.

By the time Nurse Ratchett arrived, I was in full Migraine meltdown.  And had very little sleep the night before.  When she came in, she asked me if I was a difficult draw (again).  I re-informed her that yes, it takes a very special nurse to extract blood from me.

Again, heavy exhale.

She was not instilling a good deal of confidence in me, that she knew what she was doing.  I proudly showed her my very best vein, which I had been heating up with a heating pad.  And I had a lot of time to heat it up, since she needed to go back out to her car to get A NEEDLE.

Finally she went after my very best vein, and exasperated, I heard her say, “Nothing.” At this point, I went to my happy place, and tried not to look at her fumbling around with the tourniquet and needle.  Because, OUCH.  Even after digging about, she could not get one drop of blood out of my very best vein.

She moved on to my 2nd and 3rd best vein, and she became even more exasperated, “Nothing.” Finally, she went BACK to my very best vein and tried once more.  Digging around until I thought I was going to have to go make change for the cuss jar.

She finally gave up.  She said that another tech would have to schedule, because I could not go to my favorite clinic, the one that knows what they are doing, because of company rules, blah, blah, blah.

After she left, I went running for my pain meds.  But Fiddledaddy stopped me before I had gotten the child-proof cap loosened.  It seems that he called the company, and discovered that we could get the blood drawn at Florida Hospital.  IN ORLANDO.  But it was imperative that it be done today so that FedEx could expedite the shipping of the blood to the lab.

That meant an hour long car ride, with 3 antsy children, and a migraine.

Fiddledaddy consoled me by promising to take me to Whole Foods Market in Orlando afterward.

He knows my love language.

After an eternity in the waiting room of the hospital, I was at last ushered into the lab by a gal brimming with blood drawing confidence.  She looked at my arms, especially eying the bruised vein that had already been poked twice.  She applied the tourniquet, got out a 25 gauge needle (much smaller than Nurse Ratchet’s) and went in with little pain.  And no digging around.

Bingo.

Because of the size of the needle, it took longer than normal, but Nurse Cheryl (my new best friend) was able to extract 4 vials of blood from me quite easily.  One stick.  No digging for gold.

The minute she finished, I fished the lone Tramadol out of my purse and went in search of water.  It was then I learned that I needed only be pain med free FOUR HOURS prior to the blood draw.

And now I wait for the results.  Ultimately, my dream is to get myself off of the Methotrexate, and try to control this disease solely through diet and exercise.

The Methotrexate has had a few side affects that are unwelcome.  First of all, there’s the nausea.  Of which I’m not a fan.  And it has made my period come to a grinding halt.

I know.  You’d think I’d be rejoicing.  But I’m a hormonal mess, even more than usual.  And what kind of blog fodder am I going to have if I can’t talk about my menses and pre-menopause?

I’ve had a few of you guys e-mailing me asking if the diet changes are helping yet.  The answer is, I’m not sure.  I’m uncertain what’s the Methotrexate, and what’s the diet changes.

I know that I’ve never eaten this healthy, so that has to be a positive.  But I’m still dealing with inflammation and my knee is still a hot mess.

Also, I wanted to address something.  A very sweet reader left me a comment questioning why the Lord is letting me go through all of this.

The comment touched my heart deeply.  I can only speak about my own experience and opinion.  But I think when we face hardship, we have a choice to make.  We can place blame, or we can let God use a hardship to strengthen and teach us.

For me, this path has made me rely on God more than I ever have in my life.  When I feel like I cannot put one foot in front of the other, I let Him carry me.  God is also teaching me to ask for help, and to rely on my family more.  A hard lesson, for this fiercely independent woman.

I’ve not doubt that I’ll come out stronger and better when I get a handle on living my life with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  And I’ve no doubt that God will use me to help others that are traveling the same path that I am.

Another thing this experience is teaching me, is how important this community of bloggers and readers are to me.  I mean really important.  More than I ever thought possible.  The information that you all share with me, your laughter, and your prayers and encouragement have really sustained me this year.  I believe that this blog and this community are a key ingredient to my healing.

Certainly to my sanity.

And so on I plod.  Grateful for my supportive husband and family.  Grateful for all the things in my life that I might not have even noticed had it not been for an unwelcome health issue.  And grateful to you guys, for your friendship and unwavering support.

Oh, and especially grateful for Purely Decadent Dairy Free Mint Chip Ice Cream made with Coconut Milk.  Sing with me…Sweet Mystery of Life at Last I’ve Found You…

Have a wonderfully blessed weekend, my sweet friends.

October 1, 2010

30 Responses to Blood from a Turnip

  • Your post touched me.

    I have given up blogging because I have come to a place in this road where I am convinced that no one wants to hear about me anymore. That all I have to share is the pain, the frustration and the why of the dragging on journey. I am tired of it all.

    And if I am tired of it all, then it makes sense that everyone else has to be tired of it as well.

    And so, I have become silent.

    But I wonder if the reason I started talking, is still out there. There was, at a time, a joy that I got through the give and take of the sharing.

    I wonder if that joy may still be out there.

    I don’t know.

    But you make me wonder. And that makes you more dear to me than you all ready are.

    So thank you sis.

    • For the record, my friend for life, you were on my heart the entire time I wrote this post. I have closely watched you navigate a debilitating disease for the last several years, with grace and humor. You have been my inspiration. And I want to be you when I grow up. I love you to pieces. Do not be silent. You need to be heard.

      And for the record, God is using you in a mighty way.

  • I think you are doing a GREAT JOB with all that is happening in your life! You have a wonderful support system and a terrific attitude. I believe that “God is letting you go through all this” to help show others the right way to handle adversity. You are doing a wonderful service to your kids and friends by showing that we can deal with what comes our way. Many hugs to you!

  • For the record, I don’t think of you as a turnip. I mean, yes, your body may despise giving up some fluids, but your heart is open and you are dear.

    Hope today goes better for you.

  • DeeDee, have you explored other medication options? I know they are expensive, but the targeted biologic medicines are much more effective than methotrexate (MTX) alone. I’m talking about Humira, Remicade, etc. These are antibodies that go after and neutralize the inflammatory chemicals in your joints. They actually get straight to the source of the problem, unlike MTX that just suppresses your whole immune system. Side effects are generally not bad. They are pricey. Docs don’t use them first line. But you should get educated about your choices and ask your doc. There are many other options besides steroids and MTX.

    Hugs and Prayers.

    • @Colicmommy,
      Thank you so much for your input and concern! We will look at those, but according to the product labeling of infliximab, etanercept, and Humira, these drugs are in the class of immunosuppressants. A number of studies and reports of adverse and serious adverse reactions in patients receiving infliximab have been conducted. Risks include:
      serious and sometimes fatal blood disorders
      serious infections
      lymphoma and solid tissue cancers
      reports of serious liver injury
      reactivation of hepatitis B
      reactivation of tuberculosis
      lethal hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma
      drug-induced lupus
      demyelinating central nervous system disorders

      We will keep you apprised of our journey! Thank you so much, I know DeeDee appreciates your encouragement and input!

      Here is another resource we are pursuing that some may also find informative: http://mychristiancare.org/restore/

      • Fiddledaddy, thank you so much for mentioning the potentially dangerous side effects of the drugs such as Humira and Remicade. I have Behcet’s, also an autoimmune disease, but a rare one. I took other medications from my diagnosis last December until August, trying to hold out as long as I could before having to turn to things like Methotrexate. Methotrexate was a very hard decision for me, but my immune system was attacking my lungs. Yes, there are side effects, but when I researched the others and learned about the long term side effects of the others, such as raising my long term chances for many cancers… the other drugs just weren’t an option for me.
        This is such a personal decision for each one of us on this autoimmune journey, but I thank you for sharing the information above.
        Fiddledeedee, I have never commented, but I’ve been a long time reader. I’ve just completed my first month on mtx. As a newly diagnosed patient, I well remember the range of emotions. Keep up the good fight!!

      • I am using both MTX and Humira, and have been for 10 years. Yes, there are risks, but if I weren’t on them, I think I would be in a wheel chair. Possibly shorter, but more pleasant life, or a crappier, less-hazardous one….

  • Many people asked my mom the same thing about her Lupus. Some even accused her of some deep dark hidden uncofessed sin in her life! Mom’s answer varied upon the person but mainly she said that Lupus was God’s way of getting her attention (she was Type A big time) and making her slow down to listen to Him. Also that God gave her opportunities to witness for Him in places she’d never been able to without being sick, ie. hospitals.

    I know for fact Mom brought several people to the Lord over the years while in hospitals, doctor’s offices, etc. There is always a reason God “allows” things to happen; we just don’t always see it at the time.

  • I just want to post a heart felt SHOUT-OUT to Fiddledaddy. Thru reading all your posts, he is always johnny on the spot and forseeing your needs, not just meeting them. You’ve got yourself a good Fiddle there, may be even a Stradivarius.

  • I’m sorry arthur rheumatopolis is being such a jerk to you. The first year was really hard for me. I felt like a pin cushion and tried so many different meds. Kudos on the diet change! It does work! Its easy to get discouraged by arthur but it does get manageable and you find a new normal. And I feel like that nurse deserves a phone call to her supervisor. They work for you, you don’t have to use them.
    Hoping for less painful days for you!

  • Thank you for writing about how God is carrying you through this. He has met you where you are and IS THERE.
    To be honest, I am jealous of that…of needing Him like that. I am not wishing for horrible things for myself, but I tell you the truth, I YEARN for that relationship with Him that you are experiencing right now.
    Does that make sense, without sounding horrible?
    Hope so.
    Love your blog so much.

  • I got God-bumps! In my weekly Bible study we are studying working past devastation with God. I think you beautifully illustrated that point. Wow!!

    As for blood draws…my 10 year old puts me to shame. She just sits there and let’s them poke her. Not me, I’m looking for the escape hatch.

    Are you getting enough GOOD Omega-3 Fats in your diet? I’m reading Eat This and Live (for Kids) to review and Dr. Colbert says, “By decreasing inflammation, fish oil is able to help treat and prevent conditions such as cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, migraine headaches, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, and even diabetes.” I thought of you when I read that and thought I’d pass it on.

  • Thank you for your God-honouring words, DeeDee. The New Testament is full of information about suffering here on the earth and the role it plays in Christians’ sanctification–to mature us, to draw us closer to God, to test and strengthen our faith, to equip us to minister to others. It is not a question of IF we will suffer but when and how we will suffer.

    1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

    James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

    Romans 5:2-5 says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    Romans 8:28 promises that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

    Romans 8:35-39 asks and answers a vital question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Joni Eareckson Tada has a great book on suffering, “When God Weeps” (and who would know better than her about suffering?), but the Bible gives the best insight into why God allows us to suffer and how it is all a part of His plan for us here on earth, which is after all just the preface to our eternal life with Him in heaven. He is faithful and sovereign and holy, holy, holy, worthy of our trust no matter the circumstances!

  • You are a true inspiration! I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it everyday every since.
    My future Mother-in-law is on a gluten free/dairy free diet and I have shared with her some of your finds and struggles. It’s opened up a whole new “meal” for her. Thank you!

  • I hate it when they have to ‘dig’. A nurse went on an expedition in dd’s arm the other day. She finally stopped and came back with a helper. I flat out asked “which one of you is better at this?!?” because I had had enough of watching them do ‘that’. I feel for you sister, cuz it HURTS. Hoping things improve for you very soon. Big hugs! : )

  • I, too, have shy veins. It is a huge frustration. And this is what I have learned: if the person is searching for a vein, and oozing with a lack of confidence, I tell them to just go straight for the obvious one on top of my hand. To which they always say, “but that will hurt.” To which I reply (in my sweet voice of course), “Not nearly as bad as you digging around in my arm, or sticking me multiple times.”
    Small butterfly needle in the top of the hand. Works like a charm with very little pain.

    I have been following your saga and applaud how you are graciously handling all of these trials (I know you may not feel that way, but I don’t see myself handling all this quite as well as you… I would be a doped up ball of anger.)

    I pray you find a way to control the pain. That soon you will look back on all of this as a painful blip of history that you learned from, and grew character from. Character building is a painful business, isn’t it? 🙁

  • Agreeing with everyone above. Three cheers for Fiddledaddy, and three more for the way you are able to keep your chin up through this, DeeDee. Thank you for your honest posts, full of both humor and grace. I wish so much that you didn’t have to go through this. Hugs.

  • Regarding blood drawing, I always say to the phlebotomist “I need the small butterfly needle”. It is giving me the shivvers just to think of her digging in your arm!

    I do not believe God causes us to suffer, even for our “own good. ” But just as you say, sometimes suffering will cause you to draw closer to, and rely on God, and that is good.

    I am sure it is too soon to be trying drugs like Humira, but I do know a person who has done pretty well on it. So if necessary, don’t be afraid of it.

    I wonder if they have considered a lower dose of prednisone for a longer period of time.

  • Dee Dee,
    I am so sorry that you are having such a hard time with everything. I do not believe that God caused this but He is using you to show the world how to go through something like this with grace. And you have grace by the ton!! Your hubby is also showing the world that the “Better and Worst” part of your wedding vows meant something and this too will past. Hang in there. We all love you.

  • DeeDee, you are my hero. I admire you so much, and I think you show such amazing strength, trust and humor in such tough circumstances. I am not one for finding the humor in things, and I am one to complain a lot. I don’t hear a complaint from you, just your chipper perspective, and how much you love God in all this, and see His hand working through you. You are so great, and I think you and Fiddledaddy are such great parents to your children! I will offer a few prayers for you!
    (One of my most favorite movies growing up was “Naughty Marietta.” That IS what you are singing, right?)

  • Ditto to everything Lori M. said. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    I feel your pain with the nurse. I say the same thing every time, “I’m a hard stick, you can do it in my hand if you wish just don’t dig”. I would not have let her try as long as you did. You certainly had the patience of Job for that one! I appreciate the ones who know their limitations and just go for the hand as much as I appreciate the ones who can get it in my arm with no problem. I’ll be praying there are no more “Nurse Ratchett” people trying to stick you.

  • I feel for you Deedee. Really. I know what it is to be a “hard draw”, and bruised by nurses “digging around”. I would sing Jesus Loves Me in my head….until it was over with.
    I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time. I continue to pray for you…..that God will give you the strength you need for today.

  • Dee,
    Let me know if the gluten free dairy free helps with your rheumatoid arthritis. I have been tested for it but the results keep coming back negative. They said there is a chance that I could have it and it doesn’t show up on the blood tests. More and more you can find gluten free products. It seems as though many people are in need of gluten free products. Speaking of getting your blood drawn, I am terrible about giving blood too. My veins are very small. They have to take blood from my hand. I’ve had a nurse similar to the one that you had come to your house. Not fun. I have been able to get a good nurse or lab tech once in a while when I have to get blood taken at the hospital. Blessing to you and your family.

    Diana

  • I admire your determination to try to deal with your issues in a healthy way. I’m a wimp. I take the easy road. Give me the meds. One of my good friends and I often disagree about this. She’s all about NOT taking anything. I just wish I had the determination you do! My asthma (I’ve had it for 32 years) has been under control for years. Now all the sudden the past few weeks I’m struggling. And last night I woke up and had to use my inhaler. Could hardly breathe. I know I should probably got the route of finding out what triggers (food, allergen) I have, but that’s the hard way. More meds…easy. Ugh…I hate doing hard things!! I know they’re worth it though. My greatest fear is they will tell me no more coffee, or cheese, or any of the things I love.
    Thanks for sharing your story. You inspire me to do the hard things…hopefully with as much grace and humor as you’ve shown 🙂

  • Oh sweet friend, I feel your pain…literally. I have the worst luck whenever I have to have blood drawn. I practically drown myself trying to drink extra water and it still doesn’t help.

    I love your attitude and having someone like fiddledaddy is a real blessing.

    Like you, I found my faith in God is what kept me strong when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.

    Hugs,
    Kat

  • I’m a “bad draw” too DeeDee – even had a nurse cry on me once because she was so upset she couldn’t get a vein. I can second and third the comment about the butterfly needle and using the veins on the top of the hand. (Stick the ones you can see, people.)

    I don’t have any advice on meds-other than prayer and laughter. Those are the two that work the best for me.

    Blessings and laughter to you,

    Amelia

  • Praying for you DeeDee. I’m always amazed at how you can share all this with so much humor and grace.

  • Dee-Dee…..Bless your heart! You are such a strong woman, with a strong mate, and such a grounded relationship with the Lord. I thought of you earlier as I was writing a memory verse post on our blog. I don’t know how you’ve managed to keep your sanity, but I appreciate your sharing of these trials in life.

    Good to know these trials last but really just a little while when compared to our eternity with God. 🙂

  • I’m a hard draw, too, but remember that if you’re better hydrated, that it’s easier for them to find that vein. I try to drink a lot of liquids before I know I’m getting blood drawn.