Saturday, 12 August 2017

Catching Up

Text: I have lupus! Not crazy, not lazy, just sick sore and tired.Do you know some people manage to hold down a full time job, manage their house and garden and still have time for hobbies?

I vaguely remember achieving something of the kind for a little while many years ago.

Now I don't have a job, someone does the bulk of my cleaning, other people mow my lawn, and I'm still struggling.

But I do have times I'm better at the few things I have left to do.

A while ago, I was posting about things I was doing while I was well.  You might have noticed that stopped, as I spent a week or two passed out on the couch.  Just yesterday, I suddenly found myself with energy again.

In the midst of it I had a meltdown about my role in Toastmasters being too much.  (I had an agenda to prepare.  Yeah, that's it, that's all it was. My body was sore and exhausted and my brain wasn't functioning. I couldn't cope.)

Of course, now, having taken a couple of weeks out from life, there's been so many weeds in the garden that the lawnmower guys whipper snipped my miniature roses.  (Yes, I'm back to weeding regularly as I carefully nurse them back to life.) In that same time my kitchen benches disappeared, the arts and crafts studio looks like it's been hit by a bomb, and the sewing work I had out on the studio table has been thoroughly lost in cat hair.

So once again, I'm back to trying to organise and repair all kinds of little bits and pieces of my life, while trying not to push myself to the point of ending back up on the couch for another couple of weeks.

My story's not unique, or even unusual.  Ask anyone with a chronic illness.  This seesaw between being too sick, and then catching up, is just the life we live.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Realistic Pain Scale

Pain scale.
Source: https://openclipart.org/detail/218053/pain-scale
Do you ever find the pain scale used by medical practitioners is a little inadequate to describe what you are actually experiencing?

Pain Scale used by doctors and nurses:

"On a scale of zero to ten, with zero being no pain and ten being the worst pain imaginable, tell me what level of pain you are feeling now."

Realistic Pain Scale for Lupies:


  • Coma/general anaesthetic (How else could we have no pain?)
  • It's good.  (Pain level is low enough that I can convince everyone that I'm not in pain.)
  • I'm fine. (I can convince people who don't know me well I'm not in pain.)
  • It's OK. (I am still basically functional, but there's a limit to the function.)
  • It hurts a bit. (I want to scream, but I'm gritting my teeth and continuing on.)
  • Distracting. (I can't concentrate on anything, because the pain is overwhelming everything else.)
  • Exploding. (Intense pain in just one place.  Like a burst appendix, or childbirth with no pain relief and a great deal of cutting.)
  • Drawn and quartered. (Intense pain in multiple places.)
  • Hit by a bus. (Intense pain in all places.)
  • Dear God, please just let me die now! (Unbearable pain, and if you show me your smiley and grumpy face chart, I will hit you with it.)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Methotrexate for Lupus vs Methotrexate for Cancer

I had an unexpected phone call the other day.

Here's the background.  If you go back to this post from 2015, you will know that through the Queensland Government's community care program, I have someone come for an hour and a half each fortnight to help with the major cleaning stuff around the home.

The lovely lady who comes to help out is Karen.  She does the heavy stuff - vacuuming, bathroom cleaning, changing sheets, etc.  She also brings treats for my dog (not in her job description), and is just  a delight to have around. We all look forward to her visit.

My strange phone call was from a nurse who works for the agency that employs Karen.  The nurse had looked over my file and realised I was taking methotrexate.

The nurse was concerned for Karen's safety - whether she should have been taking care with any potential exposure to cytotoxic material.  (Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug - in hospitals, the drug, and any body fluids of patients treated with it have to be handled with special gloves.)

So I had to explain to a nurse the difference between methotrexate used for cancer treatment in a hospital, and used for lupus treatment at home.

Cancer patients take methotrexate in high doses over short periods of time. Those high doses mean that while they are taking it, their body fluids still carry lots of poison from the drug.

Lupus patients have methotrexate in much lower doses, and we have it only once per week, and take it for years and years.  I take my methotrexate on Sunday night, by Friday when Karen comes to clean, it is well and truly out of my system.  Even on Sunday night, and through Monday, while it is still in my system, the dose is so low, there's really no risk to someone whose only exposure is cleaning my bathroom.

Methotrexate can be dangerous, and I am careful with it.  I'm careful to take exactly the dose prescribed and always on the same night of the week. (People have died from taking methotrexate incorrectly, always take it exactly as your rheumatologist says to.) If I'm having a bad day and my son is sorting out my pills, I still deal with the methotrexate bottle, and don't have him handle the tablets.

The way we take it for lupus, however, is much safer than the way it is used for cancer treatment.