Friday, 30 August 2013

Microscope Video #3

Here's the newest video from the wonderful world of microscopy. WARNING: There be monsters here!!!! Magnified mosquito larvae can out-gross, out-scare and out-the-stuff-that-nightmares-are-made-of any monster from the movies or literature, and here is one in all its heart-beating wriggling glory. There are also some other nice, cool things in the video, too. Enjoy!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Microscopy Movie #2

I got some really good footage from my microscope yesterday and today, all from some water stagnating in an old tire. There will be two small movies based on this. Here's the first one, with some really beautiful shots of some Stentor. They're quite fascinating!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Playing with my New Microscope

My new Celestron 44340 microscope is so much fun to play with! I got some stagnant water from outside and used a well slide to see what critters dwelled there (the video is less than 2 min. long):
This video highlights both the still photograph and video capabilities of the instrument. This was set on the lowest resolution, so not terribly great images, but still pretty cool IMHO. More fun to come!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Post I've Been Hoping to Write!

Ten weeks of meds and I don't think we can jinx it now - it's WORKING!!!!! Pain levels down, flexibility and range of motion up. I would estimate that I'm at about 50% of what my "normal" was before all this started. While this might not seem like a lot to you, it really is quite exciting to me. If this is as far as I go, I could be quite happy with this. I can function. Some of my recent achievements:

I drove on Tuesday for the first time in five months. Independence!
I put on my own socks.
I got a bowl out of the mid-upper cupboard.
I am walking a mile daily.
My weight is slowly coming back up from a low of 98 lbs.
Energy levels are better (still plagued by fatigue, though). [I saw a T-shirt design I like - "iTired: there's a nap for that"]
I can go up and down stairs, slowly.
I can usually pick things up off the floor (again, slowly and painstakingly).

If I could do a somersault, I would, I'm that excited! Okay, I know that these meds can just stop working for no apparent reason, and I know there are a lot of things I can't do yet, but I'm going to enjoy this right now regardless of what the future might bring. YEAH!!!!!!

Monday, 12 August 2013

SHHHH! Don't jinx it!

I've been a bit reluctant to write this post until I'm really sure that what I perceive happening is really happening. Two days ago I used a word I haven't used in what seems like a long, long time: "normal". I said, "The way I feel today I almost remember what it was like to be normal." I have waited a long time to say this, but I think the medication is working! It has been a long, slow gradual improvement, and then, two days ago, on Saturday, I realized I was slowly and methodically walking up and down the stairs in the "normal" fashion! I still have some very painful spots, particularly the right shoulder/neck/arm, left hand and right foot, all having swelling, acute joint pain and very limited range of motion. My knees and hips are still not normal, but the acute pain there has diminished so much that I am "walking" a km a day now. (I'm having to teach my body how to walk normally again). I've been able to cut back a bit more on pain meds, a good thing. I really only take them in the morning now, to kick back the dreaded morning stiffness (lasts a couple of hours for RA patients). My level of fatigue is still quite high; napping is de rigueur. I go for my monthly bloodwork tomorrow, and sincerely hope my liver and pancreas are able to tolerate the meds. If I had to stop them now......don't even go there...

Now I have to remember that true remission (as can be seen in cancer) is not attainable in RA, but clinical remission is, which means symptoms are diminished so much as to allow relatively normal function. Inflammation can still occur systemically. One never really weans off the meds, needing that support forever. Still, functioning relatively normally? That is like a dream come true!

So...keep this hush-hush. Don't jinx it! Fingers crossed! And hopefully I'll be telling you after my bloodwork is back that what I'm hoping is happening really is!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Biding my time....

This a pretty boring post, but I felt the need to write something about what's going on.
Being in limbo gives you time to think about what to do with your days while you're waiting (in this case, for meds to work). So many of the things I used to do and that, in fact, defined me, are now quite impossible. As the pain and inflammation does a tour around my body, the situation seems to change from day to day. In my original flare I was doing cartoons (and have ideas for a few more) when my left hand (I'm a leftie) decided to go on strike. Sausage fingers and very painful joints meant no more drawing. Okay....what about knitting? Wouldn't that hurt the hands more? Surprise! Surprise! It actually is helping keep them flexible, at least the way I'm knitting. I used to knit a lot; doggie coats and a knitted Tardis (yep, you read that right), but now the game has changed.  Here are my secrets:

1. Very short, thick needles of bamboo.
2. Lovely thick washable boucle yarn: very easy to knit with and very nice feel to the hands.
3. I start with 22 cast-on stitches and knit away in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) so that my hand position changes every-other row (avoiding repetitive strain).
4. VERY loose tension (I would get  a "D" even in beginner's knitting 101).
5. Just knit until I get a square (no pattern, no stress; mindlessness).
6. I hold the needles very loosely, not like you're holding a pen, and the yarn hangs loose rather than around my right hand. I've always knitted this way and have found that there are no pressure points or repetitive strain problems.

I've decided when I get enough squares, I'll stitch 'em together into a wee bankie to cover me when on the recliner. How Granny can you get? I just started with whatever I had on hand, then added other colours. Here's what I ended up with, colour wise:
I'm going to put them together in a Southwest-ish pattern like this:
...but with the terracotta around the outside border. It's my bankie and I like it.

Other activities:

 I am preparing work for my little telescope if my fatigue level will cooperate for night-time viewing (severe fatigue is also a symptom of this lovely disease). I started thinking about things I really enjoy doing. Back in my long-ago youth, I was fascinated with microscopy and you could find me glued to my Tasco deluxe microscope most weekends (yes I was, and am, a nerd). I bet a lot of you had that very same Tasco instrument in your childhood. When we were travelling a while ago, we saw a really cool microscope by Celestron that has a digital screen and built-in camera:

LCD Digital Microscope
It had a pretty high price tag that particular camera shop, so I just filed it away in my memory for future perusal. Well, I found a "like new" one on Amazon for about 1/4 of the original price, so...I ordered it! Can't wait until it gets here! Fun, fun, fun!
All this and reading, watching old movies, gaming....biding my time. Hopefully some good news soon????