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.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to Work and Back to Spring Rush

    I don't know about you but it seems most of us have a rough time getting back to the daily grind after a vacation or time off.  The last two weeks have been lovely-ish.  We had "short" days at work, 8 hour days instead of 10.5 but only four hours a day open to the public- the rest behind the scenes.  We had a two day work week for Christmas week and four-ish (I worked Saturday) for the New Year.  Today we go back- and straight into extended hours.  From now until MLK day- it's time to fire on all cylinders.  The two hard parts about Spring Rush for me is that we go from end of semester (which is crazy busy) to the holidays to Rush again in a matter of three weeks and it's hard to go from up to down to up again so quickly.  The old body just doesn't do that as easily any longer.  It must be done though because this job provides the health insurance that covers all of the medical crap so- I will persevere.  One thing I have learned is that the key to perseverance is preparation.  

    How have I prepared?  I have bought a brace for my back since I will be on my feet all day every day.  I have made sure my RX's are all filled.  I have prepped easy to eat on the go foods (first part of this week: rice crackers and summer sausage, baby carrots and popcorn for lunch and snacks, yogurt with granola for breakfasts) and I have soup that I pulled from the freezer for when I get home late tonight and tomorrow night.  I have stocked my purse with Thermacare in case I need it, I have backups on on my Naproxyn and Flexeril "packed" and my clothes are planned out for the week.  The other half will fend for himself till the weekend and will help me take care of the dogs. The DVR is set for all the returning shows this week and next. I already have my grocery list going for after work on Saturday and have started planning what I will make on Sunday for meals for the next week. While I am at work on Sunday, I can count on Jim to wash and dry the laundry so I don't have to worry about that and I can fold on Sunday before bed since it's a mindless task that I enjoy.  I think I am as ready as I can be, all things considered.

    All of this will allow me to go to work, do the best I can, come home, snuggle pups and go to bed so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.  Next week after we make it through the first two days of school I will start planning my recovery period over MKL weekend.  That will keep the light bright at the end of the tunnel.

Josh Shipp says "Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose" and that is exactly how I am looking at this rush.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back at 2014, Looking Forward to 2015

     Looking back:

     I don't know about you, but for me 2014 was interesting in a lot of ways.  Of course, there were the usual medical issues and more. On the physical side on the positive- I did manage to remain cigarette-free for all of 2014.  In two weeks I will hit the 13 month mark! There were great things that happened on the personal front as well as difficult. Good things at work and difficult.  Pretty much a normal year for most people.  I have had years like this before- who hasn't?  Somehow though it didn't feel normal, I just felt like something in me was off.

      I also found that I just didn't have the energy or patience to write.  Looking at my blog dashboard, I only wrote 14 posts between one year ago and today.  That's not a lot for someone who is a known motormouth!  I would open a new page, stare at it for a while, become frustrated and delete the auto-draft.  I did that a lot on my other projects as well.  I didn't have the stamina to push through.  I just didn't have much to say.  Well, I did. but it was often snarky because I found myself irritated a LOT.  I wondered occasionally if it was a mild depression because I didn't rebound as quickly from the news of the latest diagnosis as I normally do.  It's more than that though, it's more than what's going on in my life.  I would find myself reading or watching the news and going back and forth between just shaking my head, wondering what the heck is going on in this world or giving thanks that I wasn't raising a child in it.

     This year I watched the events of the year unfold around me, around this country and around the world and I just could not push through all of the overwhelming negative to find the positive in it.  We; people-friends-families- neighbors-towns- the whole country; are more divided than I can remember in my life- and I was born in the 60's!  We are divided racially (Still? Again?), politically, religiously, and in terms of values and we are about it than ever before.  I found myself shocked at the things that come out of the mouths (and keyboards) of both strangers and people that I thought I knew.  It gave me a huge sense of disappointment in them for what was being said, how it was being said and the actions being taken.  It gave me a sense of disappointment in myself for not recognizing those traits before things came to a head.  I deleted/"unfriended"/walked away from a surprising number of people in my online life and intentionally allowed relationships to lapse in my real life.  The negativity was just too much.

     Now I know that there are people out there every single day who are doing good things.  People who are trying to make the world a better place.  It's just become hard to find them when their stories are drowned out by discord, by rudeness, by disrespect, by hate.  Just writing this and reflecting upon it has made me feel so tired and so helpless that I had to stop, close it and come back to it later.  Needless to say, I was rather looking forward to the end of the year and a new beginning.

Looking Forward:    

    It's a new year.  I didn't make a list of resolutions this year as I often have in the past.  Like so many, my resolutions tend to be out the window by February.  Last year's certainly did.  :-)   This year, instead, I am making it just one goal to "shake it off".  Last year was a big step backward for me in many ways and rather than allow myself to be mired in the things I cannot change I need to learn to let it go and move on to things I do have the ability to influence.  When my husband and I were separated I repeated the Serenity Prayer a lot.  To the point that it was almost by rote.  When that changed, I kind of let that drop off and that may not have been the best idea.  It's a simple thing but it allowed me to step back and remind myself that I can't take on or take in everything because I tend to take things to heart.

    In an effort to turn things back around  I have decided to utilize two "mantras" for 2015.  First, as I mentioned, is the Serenity Prayer:

The second is this:  

    Keeping these in mind should allow me to let go of what has been weighing me down and to re-focus my attention on all of the myriad of blessings that fill my life and on the wonderful things that people are doing for the world around them.  They are many, they are important, and they deserve my attention far more than any of the rest of the nonsense that's been going on.

     The first step is to make it through this Back-to-School rush (classes begin a week from Monday) and then get back into a routine.  Rush ends around the 18th so the light is at the end of the tunnel.  Then it will be time to make this the best year yet.  Bring it on 2015~ I am ready for you!  


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Verdict is In?

I saw my Rheumatologist today and the verdict is in;  I am a hot mess.

They now give you a "Patient Plan" at each visit that outlines everything going on.  Looking at my "plan" is depressing at best.

My "Problem List" reads as follows:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Degenerative Disc disease
  • Rheumatoid Lung disease
  • Acid Reflux
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

My meds list is now 8 RX's deep- plus a multi, B-12 and Prilosec.

Today's assessment reads:

1- Rheumatoid Arthritis is to the forefront (aka- I am starting to flare)
2- Current use of high risk medications (the Lasix perhaps?)
3-  Abnormal Liver Enzymes
4- Fibromyalgia is also at the forefront.

My weight has spiraled up, up, up since I quit smoking (almost) 10 months ago.  *It's as if my metabolism just died when I gave up on cigarettes and my BMI has ballooned*.  Vital signs are good- up a little but definitely within normal limits.

Current Orders:
- Begin Aquatic Physical Therapy after I return from my **vacation**
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Quantiferon (R) TB Gold (incubated)

Labs pending:
- C-Reactive Protein
- CBC (includes Diff/PLT)
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
-SED Rate by Modified Westeregren

See- Hot mess! Curling up in a ball and sleeping for the next.....5 years (?) sounds like a beautiful thing.  But that's just not possible.

Despite all of that- there are positives in my life.  These are the things I will be focusing on.

- Vacation.  Did I mention Vacation?  My best friend and I are heading to Florida next week for 5 glorious days.  We are meeting at the airport in Orlando, we are spending a couple of days at a resort on Cocoa Beach for a wedding of a dear friend, then moving to Universal Studios.  Sunday we will visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse.  It is reportedly haunted so we are going to do their night tour.  Check it out here.  Monday we are doing Harry Potter.  I know- most people go to Universal Studios to do the whole thing, but not us.  We will do the Wizarding World, Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley.  We really don't care about the rest.  The goal is to soak up as much of JKR's world as we can.  I am smiling just thinking about it.  I don't care how much  pain I am in, I have given myself days to recover when I come back.  We are doing all of the rides, we are doing all of the steps to the top of the lighthouse.  I will NOT allow my illness(es) hold me back from this once in a lifetime trip.

-Of course, there's my wonderful support system.  I have been very....whiny lately.  I hate whiny but I have just been so exhausted that I don't want to move and they have let me be.  That's the best thing we can do when I am like this. I have to do it, I don't have to like it.  Soon enough, if I keep it up they will give me a much needed kick in the a$$.

-My four-leggers.  A week or so ago, I just couldn't get out of bed.  I tried.  I got up and got ready for work and I was in so much pain, and so exhausted, that I called work and said that I would be a few hours late.  I didn't even change, I just fell back into my bed.  At 10:30 am, I tried to get going again and it just wasn't happening.  So I messaged my assistant manager and asked her to switch closing nights with me.  She agreed and I put my pajamas back on and went back to bed again.  I got up at 5 for a few minutes and 8pm for an hour or so then back to bed.  During this entire day- Auggie stayed in my bed with me.  He refused to move.  He curled up against my leg and stayed there.  The only reason I got out of bed was because he would not move away from me and I knew he HAD to go out and do his business and eat dinner.  Harley-girl is fighting her own arthritis so she lay down on the bottom step and stayed there.  When I came downstairs, she was my shadow.  Both of them offer such comfort.  I only wish I could be the person that deserves and is worthy of such devotion.

- My work.  It's at a place now in the cycle where I can sit to work. No 10-12-14-16 hour days on my feet.  There's a LOT of data entry right now, plus buying decisions, researching titles and emails flying but I don't have to be on my feet for any of it.  That's a relief.

- It's HAUNT season!  If you know me, you know I love, love, love Halloween.  I found my "niche" in the haunted house last year and I am back at it this year.  I can't tell you the joy it brings me.  I am sharing my weekends with a bunch of kids (I have bras older than a lot of them!) who are so creative and so thoughtful and so just excited to be there that I can't help but catch the excitement no matter how tired or sore I am.  They have been good to me too.  They are considerate of my limitations.  They are protective of my costumes and makeup and props and the room I am haunting in.  They even put a fan in there because my costume is so heavy!  Tonight there is a Halloween kick-off Parade.  I have been asked to walk in it but if I don't feel up to it, I can stay at the haunt and hand out candy.  They make me feel valued.  Like I make a true contribution- and I have so much fun doing it.  Everyone should have the opportunity to do this at least once.  :-)

I am sure there is more, but I have to take a nap before I go tonight.  I have a busy, busy, BUSY day tomorrow and won't be home till around 2am so I have to rest up while I am and the pups are both at my knee waiting to nap.

So the verdict for now is- yes, I am a mess physically but there are so many more things to be grateful for that I cannot let this overwhelm me.  We will see where we go with the new PT.  Until then, we take it one day at a time.

Have a lovely day!