Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Hope

I created this post for my Facebook status last night but I want to save it as a reminder to myself when I am feeling persnickity so I am going to post it here as well.

I am currently 47 years old. In my lifetime we have seen interracial marriage legalized and the Civil Rights Acts of 1968, 1991, 2008 enacted. Yet we still haven't gotten it through our collective skulls that equal rights means EQUAL rights.

The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence (you know, that little document drafted in 1776 that began this country) begins: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It does not say "All men are created equal EXCEPT..." or "as long as their idea of happiness coincides with mine."

Now, I figure I have 20-30 years left on this planet. It is my sincere hope that, before I die, we will finally see truly equal rights for ALL of our citizens- white, black, young, old, gay, straight, male, female. It is my hope that we stop with all of the hatred and treat one another with respect. That we stop trying to legislate other people's bedrooms, other people's faiths, other people's bodies and worry about leaving a great legacy for our children and grandchildren. Let's stop leaving a mess for our next generation and get to leaving an example of how to take care of our families, our neighborhood, our cities and our planet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ever-So-Elusive Sleep

    It was not a good sleep night.  I was tired when I went to bed but after the brain fog I had all day I was worried that I had forgotten something in my packing.  That made it tough to get to sleep.  Then around midnight Auggie was barking his face off to go potty and that woke Miss Harley too- so, back up I went.  I had slept just long enough that it felt like a good, solid nap, so there was no getting back to sleep.  If I wasn't traveling today I would have curled up on the couch but needing to be at the airport very early, my alarm was set for 3:15 and 3:30 anyway.  My silver lining is that I have been fairly productive.

Since midnight I have:

  • Consumed a pot of coffee
  • Took my meds
  • Got dressed
  • Applied the makeup
  • Curled the mop
  • Emptied last night's DVR
  • Played my Facebook games
  • Surfed the web. 
  • Balanced my checkbook
  • Answered work emails
  • Did some pre-work for the meetings
  • Made a list of ideas for upcoming posts here.  

And- there's still an hour before we leave for the airport.  I am traveling with a friend/colleague so I won't be sleeping on the planes and that's okay- it's just going to be a very, very long day as we will hit the ground running when we get there and won't be dismissed until about 9:30 pm.  Hopefully that means that tonight- I will sleep well.  If not- Lunesta, here I come.  I will give thanks for that option as well.  Insomnia is much easier to swallow when you know you have an ace in the hole if it continues.

On that note- I hope each of you got plenty of rest and have a lovely day!  Florida awaits! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slowing down?

Hi Gang!  It's been a busy, busy, busy few months.

     In January we had our "Rush" period at work.  If you have been following this blog for a while you know that I manage a college bookstore and Back-To-School is insanely busy for us.  I liken it to 3 solid weeks of "Black Friday".  It's just crazy.  I thrive on it but when it's over I deflate like a balloon.  

     Post-Rush I succumbed to the gnarly cold that's been going around.  The problem with that is twofold.  First, with a compromised immune system I am very lucky that it took as long as it did to "get" me but when it does- it's a real doozie! Second, with Rheumatoid Lung Disease  (note in the link that they also refer to it as MTX lung injury!) a common cold seems to go straight into Bronchitis.  It knocked me out for about two weeks, then hubby got it and was miserable, then he kindly gave it back. Thanks Honey! ;-)

     Then- the puppers needed to have their teeth cleaned and some teeth extracted which means they had to be put under general anesthesia.  Last time Harley had to have general she had a bad reaction.  It resulted in a trip to the emergency animal hospital and big meds and me coming home every few hours to give her a saline drip.  It was SO scary so this time I took three days off to spend with them after just in case.  Fortunately, they were both okay about 24 hours later (Auggie was high as a kite when he came home- it was pretty funny) with just a bit of bruising from the catheter and soreness in their mouths so we snuggled a lot.  The good thing was being able to just relax with them.

     In the midst of all of this work has been a whirlwind.  After rush we have about 4 weeks and then we start returning the books to the publishers in prep for the next semester.  It was also announced that we would be doing a huge systems upgrade (yay!) and that there would be 10 weeks of self-guided training on top of our usual daily work.  I have done my training but I also have to ensure that the staff does theirs as well.  It's been exhausting to say the least.  Next up- I fly to Florida tomorrow for our Annual Meeting.  People always say "Oh- rough life, going to Florida in March" but we are essentially booked from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm every day.  We only leave the meeting site for an event on Thursday night and even then we are shuttled back and forth.  The wonderful thing about the meeting is that I really, really like my colleagues and we only get to see one another at these meetings.  The huge bonus is that I get to room with my best friend.  I love and miss her because she's back in New England.  Phone, email and texts are great- but so very not the same.  I so very look forward with our two weeks together every year- the meeting and when she comes to visit in October.

     Oh!  And I started Physical Therapy for my back.  Can I just tell you how bizarre it is to walk on a treadmill under water?  That said- water therapy is not as grueling as "regular" PT so it's just a journey.  The therapist's goal is to strengthen my core.  My goal is to be able to walk a 5k without my back going into spasm and affecting my sciatic nerve when it becomes inflamed.

    The house is a mess, I am worn out and worst of all I hadn't been able to spend any quality time with Mom and Dad until this weekend- and if you follow Dad's blog, you know Mama has been sick, sick, sick.  Speaking of which, though my journey is toward gratitude in a "self-improvement" way- if you want to see someone who has gotten there in a faith-based way, you really should check out Dad's blog.  You can find it here.

     Looking at the calendar, it seems that mid-May should be our time to slow down a bit.  I know- it's about 7 weeks away but then the real relaxation will come in 101 days (on the 4th of July) when Mom, Dad, all the sisters and their families get together.  The only ones missing will be Josh, his fiance' and the kids.  Oh- did I mention that my baby got ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!  I am so very excited for them.  She is a wonderful young lady and brings out the best in him.  That's all I can ask but I get the bonus of really liking her AND two instant grandkids that I already adore.

     Well- this ended up longer than I thought!  That's what I get for letting life get in the way for so long.  As I close, I just want to take a minute to thank each and every one of you that reads this blog and especially those who have been on this journey with me through the ups, the downs, as I climbed and as I slipped back.  It is not easy to keep looking for that silver lining at times and even when I am not writing, knowing that I have you all behind me keeps me going.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  <3 p=""> 


Monday, February 23, 2015

An Interesting Article on Making Exercise A Habit- with Links.

There's a wonderful blog that I follow based on the book "The Happiness Project."  The author, Gretchen Ruben, has published three books on creating habits and what's really holding you back from being "happy".  I have gone back and read her first book several times and I always find something new.  I am very much looking forward to her latest; Better Than Before.

 Today, just as I was tossing around the possibility of joining Planet Fitness for the millionth time, this article from January 2013 popped up in my feed on Facebook so I thought I would share it here:

Want an Exercise Routine You’ll Stick To? Ask Yourself These 11 Questions.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or Quiz Day, or List Day.
This Wednesday: Want an exercise routine you’ll stick to? Ask yourself these eleven questions.
When I ask people what they’d like to do for their own happiness projects, they often say something like, “Exercise more regularly.”Exercise is very important for health and mood, and everyone knows this–and yet it’s often tough for people to stick to an exercise routine.
I think that one mistake is to choose a form of exercise based on a) what your friend recommends, b) what kind of change to your body you want to see, or c) what is the fashionable form of exercise. It’s helpful to consider these factors, but in the end, we’re far more likely to stick with an exercise routine that suits our nature and our schedule. If you’re struggling to exercise regularly, this is not the place to fight your nature! If you’ve been a night person all your life, vowing to get up at 5:00 a.m. to run isn’t very realistic.
Ask yourself these questions, and when you’re done, think about what kind of exercise routine would suit you best:
1. Are you a morning person or a night person?
2. Would you like to spend more time in nature?
3. Would you like more time in solitude; or more time with friends; or more time to meet new people?
4. Are you motivated by competition?
5. Do you enjoy loud music?
6. Do you do better with some form of external accountability, or does that just annoy you?
7. Would you like to challenge yourself with exercise (whether by learning a new skill or pushing yourself physically)–or not?
8. Do you like sports and games?
9. Would you like more meditative time, or more time to watch TV, read newspapers, etc?
10. Do you have a lot of control over your time?
11. Are you sensitive to weather?
Your answers should guide your thinking about exercise. Work out with a trainer? Take a class? Be inside or outside? etc.
For instance, if you’re a morning person who craves solitude and time alone with your thoughts, but has little control over  your schedule and hates feeling accountable to anyone, you might enjoy walking in a park every morning before you leave for work.
If you’re a night person who loves music and meeting new people, and is also motivated by accountability, you might like to take a dance-based exercise class after work.
Often, people will say, “Go for a twenty minute walk at lunch? That’s nothing. I really need to get in shape.” Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good! The twenty minute walk you take is so much better for you than the three mile run you never do. You get the biggest health boost going from no exercise to some exercise.
Just a little tweak in a routine sometimes makes a big difference. For instance, to exercise on the weekends, I go for a long walk. Generally, I like to think while I walk, but I do a lot of walking every day, and I found myself getting bored on the long walks–and so finding excuses to skip them.
One of my Twelve Personal Commandments is to Identify the problem. What was the problem? “I’m bored during these walks, so I don’t want to go.” For the first time, I bought myself an audiobook, and for the past few weeks I’ve been listening to The Golden Compass when I walk. It makes me so happy! I haven’t missed a day’s walk since I started.
How about you? What aspects of your nature and your schedule make it easier–or harder–to stick to an exercise routine? What works for you?
**Now, while this doesn't instantly answer my question about joining PF (I decided to wait to talk to the Physical Therapist about my physical limitations before Iplunk down the money) It does give me something to consider when it comes to the question of "Will I actually follow through if I DO join?' I hope that some of you find this helpful too!  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why We Have Trouble Sleeping

     I have been up since 1:45 am.  I woke up with shooting pain from my hip to my knee.  It almost felt like dual charlie-horses.  I think Arthur was knocking on my lower limbs to remind me that he's still there.  I tried changing positions and stretching before I gave up, got up and literally walked it off.

     This type of thing has been a fairly regular thing through my journey so I didn't think much of it (other than the curse words I muttered till it ended) but when I sat down, I found an article from Arthritis Today in my inbox that addresses just this topic.  I read it and wanted to share it with you.

You can find the article here.  If you are like me, and insomnia is an "old friend" that pops up on a regular basis, I hope it gives you some insight,  Have a lovely day! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

On Being Normal?

      So I am on my second bout of Bronchitis in less than a month. As I was told- I will never have a "normal" cold again.   It's my own fault.  At the tail end of the first one I jumped right back in to life (a little too soon) and when hubby got sick, I didn't "quarentine" myself by sleeping on the couch.  Add in my RLD and I basically did myself in.   I wanted to go to see my parents this weekend but that's not going to happen.  I am not subjecting them to my germs (Mama's been sick- I am not contributing to her getting sick again) and I am not goign to ruin their Valentine's Day by keeping them up all night hacking.

     What we did do though was go out and buy two new Vicks Humidfiers.  One for the bedroom and one for downstairs.  Hubby slept upstairs last night and before he went to bed he put in one of the Vicks Vapo Pads for the humidifer.  He seems to be feeling better today so perhaps it helped.  I napped for 5 hours yesterday so I couldn't get to sleep last night and ended up falling asleep on the couch.  I will try it out tonight.  Since I can't take anything that contains Tylenol any longer (due to the liver damage from the MTX- insert sad face here) I will keep taking my Alka-Selzer Cough and Cold with Bayer Asprin and drink lots of tea and water.

     So that's my abnormal cold situation that led to this contemplation.  Another lovely effect from the off-shoot RLD from the RA.  If I have learned one lesson in my almost 10 years with RA is that even my "New Normal" will change far more often than I will be comfortable with.  Each time there is a new diagnosis, each time there is a new limitation or restriction there is a new, new, "New Normal".  I find, running through my head fairly often "What IS normal?"

     I don't think I have EVER been normal.  I had a very un-traditional upbringing.  Being a military brat, while forcing you to be highly adaptive, is not normal.  Even though there are thousands upon thousands of kids like us- we each have our own situations.  You could line up a thousand of us and I doubt you would find two who were not sibs that had been in the same bases, in the same order.  It's about as different from someone who lives in one place their entire life as you can get.  I am also so blessed that I have a wonderful, loving family who actually enjoys spending time together but even that's not "normal".  How many people do you know who have good relationships with their parents, siblings, In-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles?  My only relationship that is "not great" is with my grandmother.  Most people I know from all different age groups are not as fortunate as I am with their family situations.  I give thanks for mine every single day.  

     Even within my own family, I was always the "weird" one.  My interests were and still are all over the map.  I am not the "brave one"- that would be Heather.  I am not the "sweet one"- that would be Lisa.  I am the..."curious one."  I want to see everything and try everything. I am the one who loves to try new food from all over the world- Seaweed is a tasty snack.  I am the one who read all about and researched all different faiths until I realized that it's okay to be "spiritual" with out an organized religion.  I am the one who loves all things Halloween, who loves a good scary movie, who loves to write and read and can fall down a rabbit hole on Google.  I am the one who read everything I could about Salem (and the Witch Trials) and spent many, many years heading down there for Halloween.  I always thought I would write something set there until I realized that most of what I write is non-fiction.  I am the one who has been known to change my hair color with my mood (I have been from Platinum Blonde to Jet Black) and my style on a whim.  I am the one who enjoys acting- from Arsenic and Old Lace in High School to my Haunted Houses and even consider customer service a bit of a show but I have not one ounce of artistic ability. I am the one who loves movies and tv shows based on comic books and crime dramas and Game of Thrones and horror and good comedies and has to have IMDB up so I can see who is playing what character and check out all of the trivia.  I am the one who is crazy about the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. I am the one who is even more crazy about all things Harry Potter.  I am the one who lives for "Jammie time" and would be happy if yoga gear became the new "business casual" and siesta became the norm.   I am the one who loves every bit of music from classical to jazz to country, to metal to hip-hop to pop.  I am the one who treats my puppies like they are kids because I miss my kid like crazy. I am the one who is excited to be an instant grandma when Josh gets married next year because I don't believe in "steps".  I am the one who still wishes I had a pony- even though I know I couldn't take care of it myself any longer.  Speaking of which- thankfully, I am the only one who ended up with the autoimmune illnesses and in doing so I am the one who is learning to be grateful while I learn to live with the pain. I am the one who can live with pain FAR more easily than with exhaustion.  Exhaustion is my kryptonite.   The weird one- yep, that's me.

I saw the most true Meme today and posted it to my Facebook page.  It's me in a nutshell.

I have decided to just say "To Hell with Normal!"  I have decided that it's okay to be the weird one- because some of the best people are.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

      I was in two different...discussions (I don't want to call them arguments because they were mostly civil) this week in regards to disability.  Both left me very disappointed and a little hurt because of some of the remarks made by people of whom I thought better.  

     The first came because someone was complaining that their boss "played favorites" by cutting a co-worker who was going through personal issues slack and the person who was initiating the conversation was resentful that they had to do what they felt was extra work.  My first response was to pose a question:  
"I don't mean to be offensive- but you do know what this person has going on that may be causing the manager to cut her some slack? For example- I have medical conditions that are chronic and painful. I have learned to live with them but when they flare up at best I can manage to get to work and give customer service all day, There are days I can't lift a stack of 5 mass market paperbacks to save my life. There are better days when I power through a pallet of textbooks by myself. Just looking at me, you would never know and I don't update everyonebecause my medical issues are between me and my regional and I know that I give 100% of what I am capable of every day." 

 The immediate response behind me was:

They hired that person under the condition that'd they be able to lift a certain amount and do a certain amount. I think it's unfair if they have a medical condition. Why should you have to suffer. (I am a rotten human being, PS.)

My next thought was "Wow, so this person thinks that my fellow chronic illness people and I should just go away so we don't inconvenience anyone?" I said something to that effect and that when I was hired I was perfectly healthy- that the illnesses didn't start for several year and that when I am doing well I work my tailfeathers off to sort of "make up for" when I am not well- and that I don't feel the need to broadcast when I am not feeling well and why because it's between my boss and I and my medical issues are no one's business.  They replied that we (people with chronic illnesses) should just get a new job because it not fair to anyone else that they would have to pick up our slack.   I was even more dismayed when several other people chimed in with the same attitude along with sharing articles about "dealing with lazy-coworkers" and such.  Now- not everyone was like-minded.  That cooled the steam coming out of my ears but I had to walk away because until then I had not encountered in "real life" that attitude and I was too shocked to be civil.  

The second was regarding handicapped parking spaces.  The Today Show did a story on Facebook "Name and Shame" pages because someone left a note on a Coke truck parked in a handicapped spot to unload that said "Congratulatons!  You will be featured on the Disability Parking Wall of Shame.  Take care!"  Someone that I know casually replied that they see able-bodied people get out of cars in handicapped spots- what's the difference?"  A couple of people replied that not everyone who is disabled needs a wheel chair and one woman said "You may look at me and see a full-bodied person but not all disabilites are visible."  

There was a bit of back and for but to which the person I know replied" Well if you can physically walk and move around then no need for a permit!!!! There are all kinds of disabilities and some do not require a front row parking spot!!!"  to which I finally chimed in with:  "Actually- I have several illnesses that are chronic, incurable, painful and limit my mobility. While I may look great getting out of my car, I use the cart to lean on for balance and just walking around Kroger and standing in line can cause my joints to flare up and my back to go into spasm. Looking at me- you don't know that I am legally disabled, but I am and that's why I have a handicap plate on my car. I shouldn't have to tattoo my medical conditions on my forehead because someone doesn't think I look disabled enough. Many of us in the autoimmune disease community deal with this all the time- and it only adds to the stress of living with the diseases.

There has been no reply since so I am hoping that we made her think.  I was a little taken back though.  I have dealt with people like that in my real life so it was less shocking.  I just think what threw me was who it was coming from and how adamant they were.

Perhaps it's because I am taking longer than normal to "recover" from my Rush period; perhaps it's because I have been having more "I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired" thoughts of late but I seem to be more hypersensitive to the school of thought that if people are disabled they should just go away so able-bodied people are not inconvienced or that unless someone can see what's "wrong" with you, you must be trying to abuse the "privliges" that really disabled people get.  

I guess what I want to say is this:  Unless you know someone personally, unless you know what's going on in their lives, don't just look at someone and make a snap judgement.   It's no one's business WHY we have a handicapped plates on our car.  It's no one's business why we are allowed to take it easy at times.  Unless you want us to ask you about extremely private questions about your life, your medical history- don't expect us to divulge that information just because you decide that we don't "look disabled" enought for your tastes.