Friday, August 22, 2014

A Tale of a Nose, That Keeps Growing

Hello, it's Trevor The Tell Tale Dog, to share another story of Brenda's life.
In fact, this is actually going to be 3 stories, surrounding the same subject,
her nose.


Brenda had the great pleasure of taking an online writing course that CreakyJoints
(I love that name) offered, taught by author, Lynn Lauber last summer. Here is an
excerpt from that story. This will be in my own words. I hope good old Trevor
here, can do it justice. BOL


Brenda's Mom, had told her this story many times. It seems while she was in the
nursery, the nurses would just stare at her nose, because it was turned up a tiny
bit and thought it was the cutest thing.


Her Mom always thought that her nose was her best feature, and when her deviated
septum was discovered years later, she was afraid of what might happen, to as she
put it "her beautiful nose." It was just a nose to Brenda that apparently got in the
way of a door, when she was in grade school and ended up breaking her glasses
in half. Apparently, she grew some excess cartilage, and that is why she ended
up with a deviated septum.


It was starting to cause sinus issues and bad headaches. The surgery was a success
and all an inside job, so her beautiful nose was still intact. She just sometimes has
problems getting glasses to fit properly because of the excess, that they took from
the bridge of her nose. As for the sinus issues, they came back in full force when
she was prescribed Methotrexate for her RA. Even though she no longer takes it,
her sinus issues remain, as that was confirmed by an ENT specialist. He did say
however, that whoever did her nose surgery did a nice job because it was so nice
and clean.


One thing her plastic surgeon said to her that could happen and it did, was a
perforated septum, which is hard to avoid. He said it would look like someone
who had snorted cocaine. She has 2 holes inside her nasal cavity, that she didn't
realize were there, until it was pointed out by another ENT specialist. You can't
see them unless you look real close into a mirror.


Several months ago, when she went to her PCP, she mentioned that she had this
lesion on the right side of her nose, that just wasn't healing. Brenda knew deep
down, that this was probably a type of skin cancer. She remembers in school
being told that if you ever develop a sore and it doesn't heal over time, it
probably is cancer. She had this for over a year, just thinking at first, that it
was just a deep pimple, and just needed to come to a head and would go
away. That as not the case here. It would bleed at times and was hard to
stop and it looked ugly. So when her PCP said, it looked like basal cell,
which is the most common kind of skin cancer and the most treatable,
she was not surprised.


She was sent to a dermatologist, initially for a shave biopsy, where the result
came back as a basal cell carcinoma. She was then referred to a dermatologist
who specializes in the MOHS procedure, where they take a layer of skin and
then look under the microscope, to see if they got all of the cancer. If not, this
is repeated again, until this is accomplished.


Brenda had the procedure done on August 21st and thankfully, they got all of
the cancer, with just removal of the first layer. She did have to wait about an
hour for the result.


The next step is to repair or reconstruct the area, that the MOHS procedure was
performed on. There was no way they could take any skin from her nose, as
she has small nostrils and it would be difficult to breathe. There were several
options and all of this was explained to Brenda. Those discussed were around
her cheek, and behind her ear. None of these sounded appealing to Brenda. They
discussed her skin tone and wanting to match as closely as they could, so it was
decided mutually, to take from her forehead, as this was a pretty good match,
with regard to skin tone, pores, etc.


Of course this will not be a 100% match, so the surgeon suggested, she use
some type of cosmetic concealer.


She ended up with about 7 stitches and she has to cleanse the wound area
twice a day, as well as change a dental roll, in her right nostril daily.


She is doing pretty well, with minimal pain, which she has pain pills on hand,
to use if needed. She has taken a couple and will for sure at bedtime. She
cannot lift, push or pull, anything greater than 10 pounds for 2 weeks. Only
bending with the knees. She has pretty much everything set up high, so she
doesn't have to be concerned about bending over.


She had a wonderful dermatological surgeon, who explained every step in
great detail. They even shared a laugh or two, along the way.


This MOHS procedure has a 98% cure rate. You really cannot get much better
than that, can you?


This is Trevor, signing off, but before I do, we just want to thank everyone for
your prayers, phone calls, cards and positive thoughts, during this time. Brenda
is going to rest and regain her strength and go on, just like she always does. She
is getting geared up for her 6th Craniversary on September 8th. This blog is a
result of her becoming a brain tumor survivor in the first place, so she has a
lot to celebrate and look forward to.



Friday, May 30, 2014

A Tale of a Brain Tumor Warrior

Hey folks, it's Trevor here once again sharing another book review. This one is
going to be a lot of fun to do. This particular person's book has had a big impact
on so many people in the brain tumor community.


So without further ado, we have a surprise for a very special person. He happens
to think I rock and just for that, he certainly will get a dog bone, I mean a great
review. BOL


The book is titled, How Horseshoes Saved My Life: A tale of two brain tumors,
by Rick Franzo.  Brenda became friends with Rick through his group that he
started, Brain Tumor Talk. Wonderful title isn't it? Anyway, he had been working
on writing this book and asked Brenda if she would like to see a rough not (ruff)
draft? BOL I'm a dog, so ruff would make sense to me.


So she read it and couldn't put it down. She just knew this was going to be a great
book when it was published.


She has spoken with Rick on the phone several times and one time, he asked her
if should would be interested in sharing her story on his new radio program, that
he was starting? It was going to be called, Catch The Brain Wave, another great
title. Of course, Brenda said yes. He actually shared her story not too long ago
and even sent her the DVD to be able to listen to it on her computer. Now wasn't
that kind?


Okay, I know we got a little sidetracked here, but he also sent her the book with
an autograph inside. Brenda always tries to get autographs from authors of books,
if she can. She has quite a collection from others she has connected with on social
media.


This book was pawtastic! Brenda was cheering and even crying as she read it. I
could see, as I was watching her very carefully.


Rick went through so much and truth be told, he shouldn't even be alive. It was
truly a miracle that he was playing horseshoes that day. I see where the luck comes
in, but I really don't believe in luck, but he was definitely at the right place that
particular day.


He had noticed that things were a little off, but you don't normally run to your
doctor for every little thing. I don't even like to run to the vet, for a normal visit.
Okay, back to our story. Anyway, he decided that he'd better go see what was
going on. Never in his wildest dreams, did he think, he would be diagnosed
with a brain tumor.


So he went through the shock and disbelief of all of that. He had a wonderful
supportive family and many friends, that was so beautifully illustrated by all
the kind acts that were accomplished.


We don't want to give the whole story away, but Rick did not come out of the
surgery as he had hoped and actually had to learn to walk again, which he did.


He is a fighter and he is now battling a second brain tumor. Just for point of
reference, he had the same type of brain tumor that Brenda had, a meningioma.
His had grown to critical mass. Sounds so scary, which it was and had he not
been playing horseshoes that day, he could have had a grand mal seizure or
even could have gone into a coma and died.


We are so happy that did not happen. Brenda has been so blessed by Rick's
friendship and how he has helped so many with advocating. He really is
quite the speaker. I got to listen to him on YouTube.


So you see, even though this was a very horrible thing that happened in a
brain tumor warrior's life, he turned it all around. He went through his times
with depression. I think we all would have. He was just showing his human
side and that makes you appreciate him even more.


I would like to offer my congratulations on a job well done and I personally
give this book FIVE BARKS!!!!!


We hope you have enjoyed this wonderful story of a brain tumor warrior, who
I would gladly share my dog bones with.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Tale of 2 Teeth

Hi, Trevor here once again, to share another tale of Brenda's life. This is going to be
about 2 teeth, that have been her nemesis for many years.


Our title was inspired by the great author, Charles Dickens, with his Tale of Two Cities.
We promise you, ours will not be that long. BOL


It did start many years ago, with a nerve dying in one tooth, so a root canal was performed,
by a dentist who specializes in them. By the time this was all said and done, several dentists
and specialists will have been involved in this case. This was very complex to say the least.


So she had the root canal performed almost on the wrong tooth, as he decided before starting,
to test the nerves and low and behold, it was the tooth next to it. A crown was put on later and
it seemed to be alright.


Then the next tooth, the one that almost got a root canal in the first place, starting aching bad,
so they decided to put a crown on it. She was told that a root canal was possible down the
line, which did end up happening.


Both of these teeth had been aching on and off for over 10 years. That is a long time to be
dealing with pain. Brenda as you know, also lives with rheumatoid arthritis, so she has long
felt, that there was a strong connection, dealing with this saga.


Finally this year, both of these teeth started aching with such a vengeance, that something
was going to have to be done.


It started with the one crown shifting and having it re-cemented. She thought that would be
it, but no, that is when this all started to get worse. It seems that tooth was so badly fractured,
no wonder it was so painful.


Her regular dentist decided to send her to a specialist, as he thought he would be able to spot
something, that he was missing. She had extensive x-rays and the news was, that neither
tooth could be saved. They would first need to be extracted and then done the line, dental
implants (which thankfully will not be happening) but more on that later.


She was referred to an oral surgeon for consultation on what to do with these horrible teeth.


She was in horrible pain and needed to be medicated until she was to see him, which was
several weeks yet.  So they put her on Ibuprofen, 3 tablets every 6 hours and also a pain
medication. She had already been put on an antibiotic, that tore her stomach up pretty
good. She was really concerned about all of these pills and what they would end up
doing to her stomach. She faired pretty well, considering.


She was put on another 2 weeks of another antibiotic, as they just wanted to keep that
infection at bay. Speaking of infections, they meant Brenda could not take her biologic
for over a month. You can not take a biologic, anytime you have an infection or the
flu.


This was very difficult for Brenda and I heard her cries many times and saw many
tears, throughout this whole ordeal. There is pain and then there is tooth pain. There
is nothing like it.


So she finally saw the oral surgeon, who she really liked. He was very honest and told
her, that those 2 teeth need only to be extracted and that the implants were not
necessary. Fine with Brenda, just get these teeth out ASAP.  She explained that her
RA was progressing and that the teeth were hurting bad, so she got an appointment
to get in the next week. Hooray! 


So on May 8th, which was also the same date, 23 years ago, that she was diagnosed
with RA, she had those 2 teeth extracted.


It was to be at 1:00 p.m. but ended up being after 4:00 p.m. because the oral surgeon
was delayed. She didn't care, as long as they got done that day.


She was numbed up and several shots given, which was the worst of it. He told her
she didn't even flinch. This was after she told him, she was tough. Yes, she is! 


The first one came out just fine, which she got a glance of it. No wonder it hurt, it
was ugly.  The second one, which was the one that was fractured came out in pieces.
There was a little pus that came out too, but it was decided that no antibiotics at this
time, because he did not want to rip up her stomach. She was given the green light
to go back on her biologic. WOO HOO! 


It has now been several days since the procedure and Brenda is doing pretty well.
She has only had to take one pain pill so far and she has been icing, rinsing with
salt water and getting lots of rest. This has taken a lot out of her. It has been a
long road, emotionally and health wise.


The stitches should dissolve within 7 to 10 days and she should be well on the road
to recovery by then.


She did have a discussion with her oral surgeon after about her feelings that this whole
saga, was much worse, because of her living with an inflammatory disease. He actually
agreed this was possible. Come on, would the average person go through this with 2
teeth after the nerves should be dead? I don't think so. This had to be related to what
she believes was systemic, as it did involve her entire body, as it was at war.


She tolerated the procedure very well and he told her that. She just kept telling herself
even has he was pulling them, that she could do this. She told me, it was strange having
to listen to that noise, as he was pulling them. It didn't hurt and he was so concerned about
that, which was great.


She went back to work the next day and was pretty tired after a full day. She took two
naps and has slept even more this weekend. This did take a lot out of Brenda, as I mentioned
before.


We are glad this is over and until next time, this is Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, reminding
you to see your dentist regularly.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Tale of Tragedy

Hi, Trevor here once again, to bring our long awaited tale, that we have been
promising you.


This is going to be about things that Brenda is very passionate about. We ask
that you read, with an open heart and mind. Brenda is very tenderhearted, but
at the same time, she is also very passionate.


She has gone through so much in the past three years. Brenda has been touched
by tragedy in the form of 4 deaths in her family. She lost her beloved Mom, which
she thought would destroy her, but someone came into her life just at the right time,
and truly helped her see, that she still had some fight left in her. We don't want to
say that he actually saved her life, but in a real sense he did, metaphorically that
is. RA Guy was responsible for her getting back in the saddle, yes I love my westerns.


He had a vision called "Show Us Your Hands!" If you have been our followers of our
posts, you know what this is all about. We are not going to go into great detail here,
so you can check out our previous blog posts. That would be in 2012. That was a great
year for Brenda, when she became a true advocate and began her journey, along a
new path.


So with this new gig of her advocacy, Brenda has had a chance to get in front of the
camera, do a newspaper interview, she has been featured in several YouTube videos,
and last year, she testified at the ND State Capitol. As I am writing this, she is looking
at me with amazement, for all that has happened.


She also wants to thank one person, who made her working with CreakyJoints possible.
Brenda is a big believer in timing. You have heard her say this many times. She made
a phone call on a Monday evening, not realizing the time change and just by chance, a
man by the name of Louis Tharp answered. He just happened to be working late that
evening, and they ended up talking for over 30 minutes. She never even gave him, her
name, just said she was from ND. Well again, this is all explained in our previous blog
posts, but she just wanted to publically thank Lou, who has since become a friend, as
she also works with the CreakyJoints newsletter, as Editor of the Poet's Corner (& Artists
too). 


We just wanted to give you a little background, as to want drives Brenda each day. It
often takes a tragedy to see what is really important in life. The other side of the coin
is, things that also anger and disgust Brenda.


There has been much discussion on social media about the use of marijuana for medicinal
purposes. There has also been some heavy discussion on the use of narcotics. Here is the
thing folks, if you live with chronic pain, Brenda believes in the right and passage,
to be using these mediums. She would like to see legalization of marijuana in her state.
Some of you are gasping I am sure. She doesn't want it to get high, so don't be so quick
to judge, if you have not lived with chronic pain. She knows people who have seizures,
for which this has helped.


The other thing is the use of narcotics. Some who use these, as not ADDICTS! They know
how to use them, as for some, this is the only quality of life. Now the real tragedy is,
when you enter your pharmacy and you are told that you are restricted to the amount
that you can receive. She realizes there are drug seekers out there, but why should the
rest of the population who uses narcotics responsibly, have to suffer? This makes her
blood boil. Brenda herself does not use narcotics, but that is not to say, that there may
come a time, when she may have to. Brenda does however, suffer with chronic
motion issues, since her brain surgery. Her nausea is really bad some days and I
am really concerned, she may fall and hurt herself, when she feels unsteady. She has
tried, but it has been unsuccessful, with going to a balance clinic, as she could not
even complete the tests, as she became so sick. There is definitely a problem, but
they just cannot seem to get to the bottom of it. She would like the chance to see if
trying marijuana could at least alleviate this. She is not talking about smoking it,
but to get it in another form and just enough to help with relief. I want to ask our
readers, do you live with vertigo or constant nausea? We are talking every day.
Brenda doesn't live with vertigo, as she was tested for that, but the nausea is a
horrible thing to live with. There are days when Brenda just has such a hard time
dealing with this. Brenda does live with chronic pain, so she does truly
understand, what others are up against in this battle.



So ask yourself, if you or someone you love suddenly was diagnosed with an
inflammatory condition, that would be chronic, wouldn't you want them to be
comfortable? Of course you would.


I know we are definitely stepping on some toes here. We really do not care about
that. Brenda believes that we should all have a chance, at a quality of life. If you
firmly believe that we only want these drugs to get high, when we only want
relief from our pain, than that my friends, is the real tragedy.


I am going to stop there, as we hopefully have given you a lot to digest.


This is Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, until next time, signing off.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Tale of a Book Review

Hi, it's Trevor here again. Sorry we have been absent for a while, but Brenda
has been real busy and also has not been feeling that great. She is doing better
now, so were are going to be doing something different this time. We are going
to be sharing a book review.


Brenda just read a wonderful book titled,"Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior
and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him," by Fmr. Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan.


Now any story about a golden, you know I would be all ready to read, if I could. BOL
Brenda told me all about this wonderful bond between Tuesday and a wonderful man
named Luis.


I have heard of service dogs before, and how they really can change the lives of people,
who are struggling, as Luis definitely was. He had come back from Iraq, where he had
sustained a spinal cord injury and also a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Just for our readers
here, it just happens to be National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, so this is
pretty cool to be sharing this review with you.


Anyway, until Luis connected with this wonderful golden named Tuesday, his life did
spiral into darkness.


Tuesday was also experiencing some traumas of his own. That is why this match was
so very special. They really did heal each other.


I love how Luis takes such good care of Tuesday. They are two gentle souls who
found each other, when they needed to.




I hear that a Kleenex is needed, while reading this wonderful book. I saw Brenda sobbing
a time or two, while reading.


She could relate to so much, because as you know, she is a brain tumor survivor and there
are certain things that bother her too. She felt a real connection to this author and yes, she
even wrote him, as well as put a book review on Amazon.com.


This is simply a story of a wonderful bond between two lost souls who found each other,
when the time was right.


Five Barks!


This is Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, until next time reminding you, to reach for the stars.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Tale Of Tips For Surviving A Chronic Illness

Hi, it's Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, here with our first blog post of 2014.  We are
going to start off by sharing some tips and tricks for you.  Living with a chronic
illness can be a lot to juggle with at best, and Brenda has shared some great things
with me, that I want to share with our readers. 


This blog post was actually inspired by a couple of books that Brenda had a chance
to read over the holidays.  So Young:  A Life Lived With Rheumatoid Arthritis by
Daniel P. Malito, which she actually has been quoted on the back of this book.  What
an honor that was for Brenda. 


The second book was Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis:  Tools for Managing
Treatments, Side Effects and Pain, by Lene Andersen.  You can purchase both of
these books at Amazon. com.


We will also just mention, that both of these writers, are featured bloggers for the
CreakyJoints newsletter.  Here is the link.  http://www.creakyjoints.org/


Well, on with my tale.  Brenda has lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for over
twenty-two years.  She has had a lot of experience, when it comes to having tests,
procedures and surgeries.  She has had pretty close to 20 surgeries.  The odd thing
is that very few, had anything to do with her RA. 


Brenda pretty much lives with pain 24/7.  I don't know if it is, something you just get
used to, but you have to try to adjust to it somewhat.  Brenda always says that her
RA is a life sentence and she may as well serve it well.  That is where trying to cope
with it comes in. 


Now for my secret that Brenda shared with me the other day.  She wants all of you to know,
that the best friend or person that you can lean on every day with living with a chronic illness,
is, this may surprise or even shock you, but it is actually *YOU*  Yes, you alone, can be the
best friend you will ever have or need.  You want to know why?  Okay, I will tell you what
she told me. 


Brenda's RA moves around a lot, so she never knows where it will be bothering her most on
any given day.  When it does hit a certain area, Brenda immediately starts to tell herself, that
it will get better with time and then you start to do things that will help.  These are the things
that have helped Brenda.  It doesn't mean it will work for you, as you will have to try to find
things that actually do work for you.  Each person or dog is different.  Yes, even dogs get
arthritis and I wanted to bring that out for my furry friends.  BOL 


Brenda does full range of motion, twice a day.  What this consists of, is trying to move as
easily and gently as possible.  You don't have to do hours of exercise at a time.  Remember,
it is cumulative, so you can do three ten minute sessions throughout your day, instead of
doing the whole thirty minutes at one time.  Start out slow and give yourself time to gradually
increase your time. 


Brenda's exercise consists of walking, which lately has been a problem, because of so much
ice out there.  When she can walk, it ends up being about 30 minutes, 15 minutes each
way.  Her range of motion exercises are right when she gets up in the morning and when
she gets home from work, after her walk.  It is a great way to stretch.  She is stretched
out on her bed, while doing these.  She starts out with bringing her knees to her chest.
Again, if you are unable to do this, find something that does work.  Don't beat yourself
up.  You can sit in chair and do exercises as well.  You can swing your legs back and
forth and also move your wrists in a circular motion, if that works for you.  You can
also swing your arms back and forth.  Sometimes standing, while doing these exercises,
doesn't work that well for Brenda, so she sits in a chair. 


Brenda is a big believer in drinking lots of water.  At least 64 ounces a day.  That may
sound like a lot, but it is actually 8 glasses of water.  She likes to add lemon to give it
a bit more flavor. 


The reason she drinks water, is that is helps to lubricate your joints.  Since we don't have
an oil can handy, this is the next best thing.  I crack myself up sometimes, with the things
I come up with.  BOL


Also if you keep any type of a journal, writing your thoughts down is an excellent way, to
keep track of how you are doing with exercise, or even tracking your pain on any given
day. 


There were so many great tips in those 2 books that I mentioned, that you just need to
check those out for yourself. 


Remember above all, that *YOU* have the power to survive living with a chronic illness.
It is not always easy.  Many of the medications that we have to take, can sometimes
seem worse, than the disease itself. 


Brenda knows many people out there, that continue to inspire her.  We also realize that
there are those who will choose to be victims, when it comes to living with a chronic
illness.  Brenda likes to take the positive approach and make the best, out of a bad
situation.  Look at all the people you know, who live with a chronic illness.  How
have they made a difference in how they look at life?  She knows many personally
that have done wonderful things and are continuing to strive to make life better for
all of us.


We hope you have enjoyed this tale.  Until next time, this is Trevor reminding you, that
surviving a chronic illness begins and ends with *YOU*

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A TALE OF 23 YEARS



Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, here again, to share with you another inspiring story of Brenda's life. It has now almost been 23 years, since Brenda was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, at the age of 31.

It was a very dark Wednesday in May when she was in the rheumatologist's office, when he said, "I am afraid that this is going to take longer than we thought." He didn't even really come right out and say she had RA. Her nurse handed her a bunch of pamphlets, which were to explain, how she was supposed to live with this disease. She was supposed to go back to work after hearing or not really hearing this news. She was in shock and she thought her life was really over, as she knew it.

She had been having some problems for quite some time. In fact she had had an RA factor test done along with an ANA, because they were suspicious of Lupus, but that came back negative. The RA factor test however, was extremely high. She had had a bad bout with bursitis in her left shoulder, so they decided to do some tests. Her primary care physician was gone, so they sent her home to try and get that shoulder feeling better.

At this time, she was still not officially diagnosed and she went back to work, but over the next few months, she continued to get worse. Her hands, ankles, and feet were the worst at this time. In fact her left pinky turned into a trigger finger. She would have to literally pull it back with her other fingers.

She was walking to work, which I have no idea how she managed this. After she was diagnosed, she started using a cane. She was getting worse really fast. Her doctor and rheumatologist decided that they had to get her on something quick. They had discussed Plaquenil, but they both felt, that would take too long to start working, as she needed something right away. They thought Methotrexate would be the best option.

She started it, but it made her sick, so they had to lessen her dosage. She still would get so sick and fatigued from it. All kinds of things were happening. Her thick hair was now much more thin and she developed sores on her scalp, along with chronic sinus problems, which she still deals with to this day.

They tried everything, injecting it, but they soon ran out of places, because she developed scar tissue. So they would put the injection in yogurt or juice, but nothing really helped, she still got so sick. She finally just decided she had had enough. After 4 and a half years, she started weaning herself off of it and 3 months later told her doctor. She wouldn't recommend that you do this.

It was at this time, that she was able to start exercising again. She was doing her range of motion exercises, twice a day, which she still does. She wanted to start working out and it really seemed to help. Her fatigue lessened.

There really wasn't anything out there that she could really tolerate. Biologics were not even out yet. It was finally in 2001, that she decided she should start doing some research on Enbrel. She researches everything. They give her such a bad time at work about this. If there is something new they are talking about, they will say "Brenda, you should research this and she usually does."

Anyway, she approached her doctor one day and said, "I am finally ready to consider Enbrel." So they made all the necessary calls and she received a card and was put on a list. Yes, at that time being it was so popular, it was hard to get.

She went to her rheumatologist and he thought it could be quite some time before, she would get on Enbrel, so he wrote her a prescription for Arava. She never filled it. She felt the Enbrel would become available. She just wasn't comfortable with the fact of more hair loss or even worse problems which could occur because of this drug.

This was about a month before. On Friday, April 13, 2001 notice the date? It was also Good Friday, she received a call at work that Enbrel was now available and would she like to start it?

The next Friday, April 20th, she had her first injection of Enbrel. They had her stay a while after, because they wanted to make sure there would be no bad reaction.

The first couple of times, she had a headache or would feel nauseous, but that went away within a month. So every Thursday for almost 13 years now, she has been on what she calls her miracle drug. There are times when she cannot do the injections, like when she has any type of infection. She also keeps a diary, because it's hard to remember where you injected last, because you can't always tell. She now uses the auto injector, which is so quick and easy to use.

Living with RA while it can really be a challenge, can really turn out to be a blessing as well. You ask how can this possibly be so?

Someone once told Brenda that she was stronger than this disease and you know she is. Her strength was really tested when she went through her brain tumor surgery for her non-malignant meningioma on September 8, 2008. It was again tested, when she lost her primary care giver, which was her Mom, who passed away on May 31, 2011, from congestive heart failure.

While she was dying, Brenda was dealing with having to wear an air cast on her right foot, because an MRI confirmed that she had some torn tendons. They healed, but somewhere down the road, she may possibly be facing some surgery.

Her Mom told her 2 things. Live your life and grab something if you want it. She has been truly doing both. She spreads awareness and hope with my help on both fronts, living with RA and being a brain tumor survivor. She now has issues with constant nausea and motion issues because of the brain surgery, but she just keeps plugging along. She has managed to hold down a full time job throughout her diagnosis with RA.

I am going to close with one of my quotes. Life is what you make it, you can either choose to be a victim or a victor. Which have you chosen? I know which one Brenda has. She is doing some fantastic work with advocating and bringing awareness. She really wants to inspire and help people. It helps you as well, and really makes you feel better for doing something for others.

She has recently had some great opportunities coming down the pike. It has taken years, but she is beginning to realize, that you just have to take your blessings where you can get them.

This is Trevor, The Tell Tale Dog, until next time, wishing you peace and love.