Friday, December 9, 2011


Congratulations to fellow NYC Sick Chick Jodi McKee and her husband on their new baby girl! Happy and healthy, mom and baby are doing well.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Sick Chick's Top Three Tips for a Happy Holiday!

The season of merry is officially upon us!  With it comes visions of sugar plums, toys a-plenty, and, for the very lucky chronically ill, usually a flare or two.  Here on the East Coast, the weather has been surprisingly mild (knock on wood a million times over), so RA pain has been minimal - for me at least.

But the holidays can be overwhelming to any chick, not just a sick one.  And we sick ones have the added fun of possibly finding a painful flare at the bottom of our Christmas stockings!

To get through the holidays with ease and charm, try out one or all of my Sick Chick's Top Three Tips for a Happy Holiday!

1.  Don't Do It All:  Or rather, Don't Do It All Alone.  If you are anything like me, your to-do list is never ending:  gifts, cards, decorations, wrapping, baking - when will it ever stop?  Goodbye, Sanity...Hello, Fatigue!  The holidays are meant to be celebrated with your loved ones, who will surely help if you just ask.  Remember:  You are not in this alone.

2.  Shop Online:  Personally, I could never stand the malls at this time of year, even pre-RA.  Nowadays, I avoid them at all costs.  The crowds make me uncomfortable, the lines make me achy, and I'd prefer not to have to walk a mile before I even make it into the store.  Shop online:  You can compare prices, hunt for bargains (Living Rich With Coupons curates the best deals!) and coupon codes (try Retail Me Not), and click your way through your shopping list.

3.  Stay Away From Sweets:  Who am I kidding?  I am telling people to stay away from sweets and that is nearly impossible for me to do!  Here is the thing, though:  We know chocolate can be a flare-trigger for some.  Even if that is not you, consuming too many baked goods or candy makes even the non-chronically ill sluggish.  So rather than staying away from them, try to limit yourself to one or two favorites.  You will feel better, and your waistline will thank you!

So, Sick Chicks and Dudes, what tips do you have for a totally awesome and flare-free festive season?  Let us know in the comments!  Or tell me how you made out with my top three tips!


Monday, November 21, 2011

NYC Marathon: Seven Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from my experience in the 2011 NYC Marathon.  From the training, to the fundraising, and, of course, from the actual race itself, there were lessons at every turn.  The marathon truly tested my mental, physical, and emotional well-being and it's safe to say that I am a stronger person because of it.

Here are the top seven things I learned from finishing my first marathon:

Generosity:  I can't say thank you enough to all the people that supported me:  financially and emotionally.  Family, friends, and strangers were overly generous with their donations, kind words, and inspiration.

Just Ask:  When I first signed up to be part of the Arthritis Foundation's marathon team, I had just wrapped up participating in the NYC Arthritis Walk with the Sick Chick Club.  I had raised over 1k for that event, and felt guilty going around to the same friends and family members for more donations.  I developed a plan to reach out to businesses and organizations that I truly loved and supported and asked them for donations in creative ways.  I was amazed at how generous some of these companies were!  Monetary donations, shout outs, articles, free goods - I am still humbled by the outpouring.

You Can't Train Enough:  Somewhere at the end of the summer, I stopped taking my training seriously.  This was a big mistake.  You cannot train enough.  I should have been running more, running longer, stretching, cross and strength training.  But I was tired.  And had other things to do.  And a million excuses.  There are no excuses.  You need to train.  26.2 miles is a lot longer when you don't train enough.  Trust me, I know.

Inspiration:  I can't tell you how much it meant to me to read the comments left here on this blog by individuals who said I've inspired them.  It's hard for me to believe that I could be an inspiration, and this was a role that I did not take lightly.  I thought about every comment I read during the course of the marathon, and also the kind words of encouragement from family and friends.  I hope I can continue to inspire you all.

You Can't Train Enough (Part 2):  Ignore what I wrote earlier, you literally cannot train enough.  Nothing can prepare you for  26.2 miles.  Nothing.  At some point, it becomes less about the physical test and more about the mental games you play with yourself.  Just keep one foot after another and cry if you want to cry, or laugh if you want to laugh - just keep going.  (I both cried and laughed numerous times on the course.)

It's a Mind Battle:  Whether you want to admit it or not, when you are training for a marathon, it is on your brain - constantly.  I can't say that a day passed from the time I signed up until, well, today, that I have not thought about the marathon.  Some days it weighed heavily on my mind, other days it was just in the back of my head somewhere.  But it was always there.  Always.  This giant, looming monster of the unknown.

No Regrets:  When I first finished the marathon, and for a few days after, I felt ashamed by my finish time.  I had expected to do much, much better than I did.  However, my toes ceased being toes and became blisters.  The pain was unbearable.  My sister struggled with runner's knee, which she was in physical therapy for prior to the marathon.  But we stuck with each other and we finished.  I am growing more and more proud of that accomplishment as the days and weeks pass - after all, not many people attempt this, and even less attempt it when they live with an autoimmune disease like RA.  

I have no regrets about the marathon.  I am grateful to have learned these lessons.  Why?  Because I am ready to apply them to marathon #2... (in a few years).


Monday, November 14, 2011

NYC Marathon: Highlights

It's been a little over a week since the NYC Marathon.  The aches and pains have gone away, the blisters have faded, and all that's left are the memories.  What follows is a short recap of what I consider to be the highlights of the race:

My Fellow Runners
What a critical mass!  It's amazing to see the sheer number of people undertaking this great challenge.  It felt good to be part of such a group.

The Crowd
Hands down, the best part of the marathon started the moment our feet left the Verrazzano Bridge, and someone shouted, "Welcome to Brooklyn!"  It didn't stop there - Brooklyn was amazing.  The crowd was vibrant and rowdy, shouting out the names of runners as they went by.  (Many of us had our names printed or ironed onto our shirts - I felt like a celebrity every time shouted "Kat!")  There was live music along the route, along with DJs, and even just locals blasting music from their apartment or car.  What's even better, many spectators had runner's essentials:  tissues, water, chocolate!

The Views
Some of the views of the city were breathtaking!  Crossing over the Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens was a very cool moment for me.  Partly because we were entering MY old neighborhood of Long Island City and partly because that afforded us the most amazing view of the NYC skyline.

Support & Energy
Just when we would get tired and think we could go no further, we'd see someone or something on the side of the course to give us the courage to go forward.  My father met up with us at multiple points along the course; we saw friends, family members, celebrities - we stopped to take a picture with Carolina for the Elvis Duran radio show!  Thank you to everyone for being there - especially to fellow Sick Chick Jodi, who was there cheering me on in BK!

The Finish
It took me a LONG TIME to finish.  I will get into that in a later post.  There were times that I was sure I would not be able to finish.  But I did.  And what means the most to me is that I finished right alongside my sister, Adrienne.  Throughout the race, we supported each other when the road ahead seemed impossible.  In the end, we crossed that finish line together, holding hands...and that is something I will never forget.

No RA Pain
'Nuff said...


Monday, November 7, 2011

DFL Better Than DNF (Google it!)

Well, friends of the NYC Sick Chick blog, I am officially a marathon finisher!  It was a long, hard road (cliche, I know), but I finished.  What's even better, I finished with my sister by my side.

There are so many stories to tell and I promise I blog about each and every single one of them.  But for now, I wanted to offer a quick check in to say I finished and thank you for the support!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marathon Eve

'Twas the night before the marathon,
when all through the city,

Not a down tree was left to remove,
Central Park oh-so-pretty.

The mile markers were placed
on the street with care,

In hopes that the pavement pounders
would soon be there...

Kat's Marathon Check List:

  • Running Gear
  • Official Bib/Number
  • Throwaway Clothes
  • Phone w/music and marathon app
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Energy Gu
  • Nerves
  • Courage
  • Excitement
  • Inspiration
Let's go!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Million Thank Yous

Race week is here! I think what I am about to do JUST sunk in.

I am running the New York City Marathon! 26.2 miles...

I am excited and nervous for Sunday, and extremely anxious for the finish line. I know the energy from the crowd will help encourage me to finish (and that is my ONLY goal), but a major motivator will be the love and support I have received from many people. I plan to express my gratitude to each person/organization individually, but until then...

  • My family, including my parents, Melanie and Tom Z.; my sister (who is also running the marathon, Adrienne Z.; my fiancee, Larry P.; his mother, Helayne and brothers Jordan and Zach
  • My corporate sponsors PopChips, Saladworks, and Asics
  • My fellow NYC Sick Chicks, Jodi M. and Sara N.
  • Annie and Rich F.
  • Tony and Beth N. (Tony is also running!)
  • My Rheumy, Dr. Yee
  • Artie and Olga B.
  • Candice H.
  • Sean and Liz H.
  • Erin P.
  • Gary and Francine H.
  • Gina L.
  • Jade M.
  • John and Susan Z.
  • John and Renee G.
  • Jon A.
  • Justin and Michele B.
  • Dr. Kim V.
  • Mario and Cathy H.
  • Melissa and Michael S.
  • Rob C.
  • Carmen and Steve F.
  • TJ
  • Trudi K.
  • Zoe B.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Rheumy, My Friend

I feel fortunate enough to be at the point in my course of treatment that my 30 minute appointments with my Rheumatologist, Dr. Yee at the Hospital for Special Surgery, are spent mostly catching up. It's clear that he takes a genuine interest in my life, and I in his. He has been one of the most important people in my life over the past 3+ years. He saw me at my worst and has brought me back to my best.

This blog post is dedicated to all the physicians out there that take great care of their patients, are involved in medicine for more than just the money, and who have helped us overcome the greatest obstacles in our lives.

Tell us about your favorite doc - rheumy or otherwise - in the comment section!


Sunday, October 16, 2011


Here I am, a mere three weeks away from my first ever marathon - the New York City Marathon - and probably my only one. As I reflect back on where I came from in this journey to the finish, starting way back when I was first diagnosed with RA (and I thought I'd never have the chance to accomplish this type of a goal), I am amazed by the strength surrounding me:

- The strength of my support system: family, friends, my fiancé.
- The strength of my medication and supplements that have me feeling well enough to DO THIS!
- The strength of my network that supported me with my fundraising efforts and gave me the courage and encouragement to accomplish this. When I feel tired or achy, I think of everyone that believed in me, and I push forward.
-And, perhaps most importantly, the strength I have found within myself, both mentally and physically.

Halfway through a 10 mile run this morning, I found myself in awe of myself. If you had asked me six month ago if I could run 10 miles, I would have laughed in your face. But my body feels strong and able, and my mind feels ready. As short as a few weeks ago, I gave up on a 14 mile run, telling my fiancé that I couldn't do it - and how would I ever be able to complete 26 miles if I can't even do 14?? Now, I feel confident that I can and WILL complete 26.2 miles. Running, walking - whatever it takes.

Look for me at the finish!

Be strong...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chronic Pain & Depression

Please click over and read Maya's wonderfully honest story of dealing with depression and chronic pain.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Go, Kat, Go!

Just wanted to link to Sara's great article about Kat's training for the ING New York City Marathon. You can read it over here.

And be sure to take a minute to donate to Kat's fundraising page! Not only is Kat talking a major personal achievement, she's running to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pregnancy and RA

When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis three years ago at age 31, all of the doctors asked how old I was and if I was planning on having children. Up to that point, my husband and I hadn't really thought too much about it. Dealing with RA and all of the lovely medications associated with it really made us stop and think about what we wanted to do. After much research (aside from talking to others with RA and reading as much as I could online, I also read this book) and discussion, we decided to go for it.

Last summer, I stopped taking Methotrexate and then met with a high-risk obstetrician to go over my condition and list of medications. His conclusion was that my case was not high-risk (phew!) and that hopefully my RA would get better during pregnancy. With that huge weight off of our shoulders, my husband and I had to really decide if we were going to go through with it. Like, for real.

We finally decided that yes, we wanted to have a family, and we had better get started. My rheumatologist said I could stay on Humira until we had conceived. So, now here we are at 22 weeks. Things have been going fairly well. I had the usual bouts of nausea and extreme fatigue early on, but that has mostly subsided. Now, I'm left with "normal" RA fatigue. My obstetrician said I could still take my NSAID (Indocin) through the end of the second trimester. However, at my last prenatal visit, some fluid level was a little low, so they asked me to stop taking it. This wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that I have been feeling pretty bad for the past two weeks. Luckily, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist yesterday, and she prescribed me good old Prednisone to get through the rest of the pregnancy.

I have to say, I'm not thrilled about taking Prednisone, but it is considered fairly safe for pregnancy. What really bums me out, though, is that I haven't gone in to any sort of remission during pregnancy. I was really hoping to feel extra well for these nine months. But if I had to pick between having a good pregnancy with RA symptoms or a not so good pregnancy without RA symptoms, I'd definitely pick the former.

Now, I'm just hoping for enough relief with the Prednisone and that I don't have a major flare after giving birth. And really? Even on bad days, it's still worth it to know that I'm going through all of this so that I can meet my baby in December.

Hurricane Irene

Aside from general hurricane preparedness, be sure to note that arthritis pain will likely be bad on Sunday. Take care everyone! xo

Thursday, August 18, 2011

F is for Fatigue

Boy, have I been tired this week. Going to bed early, sleeping late, and generally feeling exhausted. I was so confused as to why this came on so suddenly.

Then, it dawned on me: RA fatigue.

It had been so long that the ugly F word showed up in my life that I actually forgot what it felt like.

I had another a-ha! moment this morning, as I rubbed my wrists and wondered why I was experiencing a flare of pain the last few days - my first flare in months.

The weather in the tri-state area over the last 5-6 days has been cloudy, overcast, rainy, etc. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's sunny - but mostly it's just in limbo. It's these limbo-weather days that cause the greatest RA strife for me, personally. Some people say weather affects them, others disagree. But I know, for me, I can always feel a snowstorm coming by the way my joints feel. Likewise, these hazy summer days terrorize my wrists.

Mother Nature, make up your mind and make my pain go away!

But I am trying to put a positive spin on all this: I was feeling too good for too long; this was a good reminder that I do, indeed, have something wrong with me - a serious disease that deserves serious attention.

Does the weather trigger any RA pains for you? How do you put a positive spin on your flares? Let me know in the comments below!

p.s. Did you know that I am training for the NYC Marathon - and fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation? Support me with a donation! Follow my training on Twitter @zimgirl29

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Let's Move Together - Updated w/link!

I'm in! I am officially registered for the New York City Marathon. The race is on Sunday, November 6, 2011 and I couldn't be more excited.

Am I really doing this?

I was able to join through the New York Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation; so in addition to training, I am also fundraising for a cause near and dear to my heart! I hope you all will help me stay motivated, and get motivated to exercise (safely and at your own pace! especially if you have an autoimmune disease) from my efforts. So, I am using the AF Battle Cry, "Let's Move Together!"

Last week, my plan had me running two 3 mile runs, one 4 mile run, and my long weekend run this week was an easy 5-miler. Crazy for a Sick Chick to say 5 miles is easy, huh? Well, it is - next weekend's long run is NINE miles. :)

Stay tuned to the blog as I post my training and fundraising updates. Also, follow me on Twitter (@Zimgirl29), as I will be tweeting as well.

Finally, please consider making a donation. I really need the help to reach my goal!


Friday, June 24, 2011

NYC Marathon - To Run or Not To Run?

Before I was diagnosed with RA, I was a novice, recreational runner. My father was a runner and he somehow got the whole family into running/walking. We participated in many races together, including the Shelter Island 10k and the Long Island State Parks Summer Run series. As I was increasing my running chops (I somehow got down to a 9 minute mile - a major coup for a total non-athlete like me!), a crazy thought entered my little brain...

...maybe I will run a marathon...

Once RA took over my body, though, that thought quickly vanished, along with a lot of the other things I enjoyed (dancing, yoga, exercising, going out for a few drinks with friends). It took time to adjust to my new life, my medication, and my prednisone 20 (oh what a joy!).

It's three and a half years later, and I've truly learned to live and thrive with RA. My medication is working great and I am on a very low dose to boot. I generally feel pretty good and I have a good understanding of what my body can handle. This winter I started to get back into running and I am loving it yet again.

Last weekend, while I was with my family on Long Island, my sister mentioned that a bunch of her friends are running the NYC Marathon this year, and she was thinking about doing it. I encouraged her to do so - it's an accomplishment of a lifetime, and one that is even better if you can do it with a support system.

Then she asked me the question: Do you want to do it too?

So, now I am considering running a marathon - something I wasn't even sure if I wanted to do BEFORE I was diagnosed with RA. But now that I have it, I want to prove to the disease that the disease doesn't control my body: I control my body.

What do you think, Sick Chicks (and dudes): To run or not to run the NYC Marathon?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Autoimmune Portrait Project: Austin, TX

I had the pleasure of traveling to Austin, Texas in March and was fortunate enough to meet two lovely ladies who suffer from autoimmune diseases. They kindly agreed to take part in my portrait project and you can read more about them here and here.

xo, Jodi

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sick Chicks Take to the Street!

Hey Y'all!

Head over to to read my post about the Arthritis Walk in NYC last weekend...


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Experience Of The NYC Arthritis Walk

Sunday was the long-awaited New York City Arthritis Walk! I first wrote about it in my January post: "Walking for Arthritis & For Myself." It was my first 5K (3.1 miles) - a distance that would have been truly impossible for me just a few months ago. With support from my incredible family and friends, I'm proud to report that I completed all of it! Although it was raining, we had a blast!

Our team, "The NYC Sick Chick Club", came in 2nd place for fundraising and also won the T-shirt design contest (thanks to the beautiful designer, Ali Yuhas). I'm sending a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped us raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. Your support means more than you know and this money will go toward fighting a disease that effects nearly 46 million Americans. And now I'm proud to announce the GRAND TOTAL...

 My personal total: $1, 515.0

              Team total: $7, 845.00
In the past year, I've been impacted every day by arthritis. I've placed my life in the hands of medical professionals and experienced an entirely new level of pain. I've felt scared and, at times, I've even been hopeless. I've tried more medications than I care to remember and coped with a wide range of side effects. I've had countless medical appointments and received IV infusions every few weeks. I've cried, I've prayed, and I've learned to ask for help. I was forced to extend my masters program by a year. But perhaps worst of all, I've been completely unable to plan my days and missed out on time with my friends and family.

But I've finally found a medication that has changed my life. I can once again breathe deeply and walk freely. I have control over my days and can plan for my future. For all of these reasons and more, this walk was exceptionally important to me. I walked for the simple reason that I could. Sunday felt like a new beginning; as if I was putting the last year behind me with each step. I was walking for myself, for my readers, and for every "arthritis warrior" out there.

On the morning of the walk, John and I woke up to pouring rain. I was anxious and disappointed because - as anyone living with arthritis can tell you - rain can be like kryptonite. I worried about how it may impact my ability to walk and felt guilty that people were travelling from far and wide in bad weather. Everyone insisted on coming anyway...rain or shine.

The walk started at 10am in Battery Park, a beautiful area at the southern tip of Manhattan. When John and I arrived, we found my friend Virginia who came all the way from Boston to walk with me...something I will never forget. Soon we spotted my friend Becky running toward us with a big smile and a camera in hand. I have her to thank for all of these awesome photos! Our team raised enough money to earn our own table at the walk (fancy huh?), so Jodi and the rest of my teammates were easy to find.  We then met up with my dad, my brother and my sister-in-law Erica. My mom and aunt were sad to have missed it, but Sunday was also the annual stationery show at the Javitz Center where they had to represent their amazing business, Someday Designs. Finally, my friend Jill and her boyfriend showed up to offer their support!

In the moments before the walk began, I basked in my surroundings and the people who were there for me; the same people who stuck by me during this painful year and throughout my entire life. I thought about all of my loved ones who wanted to be there, but couldn't. I felt my nerves settling and excitement taking over. I also had a profound sense of belonging. I was honored to walk among hundreds of incredible individuals, each one having been touched personally by arthritis. Whether they were patients, friends of patients, or family members, they all gave me strength. More than ever, I was proud to be fighting (and winning) this battle.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Hello, interwebs!

After an outstanding showing at the Arthritis Walk on Sunday, I decided it might be time for a page dedicated to the NYC Sick Chick Club!

As always, you can find us over on Facebook, but hopefully this will turn in to a space for more in-depth posts and discussions.

Stayed tuned for posts about the walk, stories from our members and fun summer activities!