Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am not sure what's going on with me these days, but I am feeling very unsettled.  My other half and I have hit a rough patch.  It's not the first time, I am sure it won't be the last, and normally I take these things in stride but this time it has really thrown me.  That's definitely not the whole of the issue- but a piece. 

I think another peice is that my sleep cycle is completely off.  I either sleep a whole lot- or very, very little.  Lack of sleep makes me crabby and emotional.  I could cry at the drop of a hat- but I don't because it would solve nothing except making me feel weak- which would make me crabby and emotional.  See the cycle?  Now- I am not against tears.  I cry at movies and hallmark commercials- I cry when I am sad.  Somehow this just seems irrational to be so emotional over missed sleep.  It's a me thing I think. 

Next there is stuff going on at work.  Sales are not what I would like and that means cutting back where we can.  That said, there are more iniatives rolling out and I feel like it is piling up.  I understand that in this economy we are so very lucky to be doing as well as we are and that we have to be fiscally responsible, I really do.  I understand that we need the new ideas and programs to keep the business fresh.  We can't afford to become stagnate.  On the other hand- it takes a LOT of work to do what we are doing and it will take a lot more to roll out all of the new stuff and do it right if we want to succeed.  I can't speak for my colleagues but I feel like I am trying to do more and more with less and I am wondering where my breaking point will be.  I think I am dealing with a little burnout- and I need to find a way to reverse that before I burn out any further.  Top that with the pressure of trying to not leave ANYTHING to chance so I can comfortably take time while my son is here to spend with him and I am pushing myself as much as possible. 

When I push myself and when I am overly emotional- my meals schedule gets thrown off and I don't make the best choices.  That means that my weightloss efforts have stalled.  I am literally fluctuating +/- 2lbs every week.  As much as I try to do the right thing- I falter mindlessly.  I will literally be running around and grab something and look down and realize it is gone and not feel like I have eaten- or worse- realize that I have grabbed a chocolate bar rather than a protein bar and stuffed it in my face.  It is completely on me.  I know that.  I cannot just allow myself to eat on autopilot and I know that.  That makes me kick myself -hard- which just adds to the emotional mess. 

The icing on my cake is my health.  I am feeling *okay*.  The pain and stiffness is at a bearable point.  I am not flaring with the RA or the Fibro.  I am at a midpoint I believe.  I am not as well as I was with the MTX but not as bad as with some previous treatments.  We are giving the Orencia three more months, we are stepping down the prednisone to find the lowest dose I can take without raising the pain levels.  We have added a giant NSAID twice a day to combat the swelling and once it kicks in I will step back the Tramadol.  But I think the med changes are messing with my system in more ways than one. 

So there I am- I am needing to take some time and pull myself together.  I am going to step back and do some soul searching and get myself back on track.  I ask that you bear with me.  When I come back- I will be better than ever.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My "baby" is coming to visit

     It is so very hard to live 1000 (and 63) miles from my one and only child.  I miss him every single day.  I am very fortunate that we are close enough that if we go two to three days without talking on the phone, it's a big deal.  When we moved out here almost 3 1/2 years ago, he was 19 at the time and chose to stay behind because he had a girlfriend, a job, and had been teaching at his karate school for years and didn't want to give all of that up.  While we understood- both his father and I wish desperately that he had come with us. 

     A lot has changed for him in the last three years- but he is still not ready to leave New England.  Being an only child, we have been a little....indulgent with him.  He has had it pretty easy, even when it should have been tough.  Because he came to expect this, we have had to employ a little tough love as time has gone by to help him understand that if he wants to be the adult, he has to take responsibility for his choices and his actions.   We had a bit of an issue back near his birthday because all of his cousins were to supposed to be coming to visit this summer so we offered him a plane ticket so he could be here with all of them.  He turned us down because he had other priorities.  We were a little bit hurt- okay- a lot hurt- as it had been since we lost my mother-in-law over a year ago that we have seen him.  About a month and a half ago, he found out that someone that he very much respects and admires is teaching a seminar in my parent's town next month.  He called and asked if we would buy him a plane ticket to the seminar for Christmas.  I hesitated and his father flat out said NO.  My honey said that if he wanted to come, he would have to save the money and buy his own ticket.  We can drive him back and forth the hundred miles each way to the seminar, we can take vacation time so he can visit with us and with his grandparents, we will be thrilled to have him- but he has to learn that choices have consequences and buying his own ticket is one of them.  I stand behind my honey on this one.  As much as I wanted to have him here- my honey is right.  So we gambled- and this time we won!  Last night, he booked his plane ticket and will be here for 6 days with us. 

I cannot tell you how grateful that I am that he is coming.  I refused to allow myself to get excited before the tickets were booked but now I am over the moon.  I can't wait to spend some time with him.  I can't wait to hug his neck.   I absolutely adore my son (even when I don't agree with his choices) and will take any time that I can get with him. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pain and Fatigue Management on World Arthritis Day

Today is World Arthritis Day.  In honor of the event, I wanted to share a few of the ways that I manage my own pain that comes from RA and Fibro.  We all know that no matter what kind of pain meds we are given- it just doesn't completely knock out the pain.  That means we all have to find ways to manage the pain- and fatigue- and sharing tips is a great way to find things we hadn't thought of before, so here are mine:


Heat, heat and more heat!
In the morning- while my coffee is brewing- I run moderately hot water and soak my hands in it.  This alleviates the stiffness and the pain enough to grab that coffee.

Wrapping my hands around the cup- not the handle- radiates the heat from the coffee right into my joints. 

Heating pads - of course- are my dearest friends on many, many evenings. 

I can't say enough about Thermacare.  I can wear them to work and have them working on me all day long.  And no- I don't stick to the body part listed on the box- they can be modified to whatever you need.  My particular favorites are the ones that they claim for "menstrual pain" because they will stick to the inside of your clothing and stay right at the place you need them.  I should have bought stock in them years ago.

Massage- if you can afford a professional massage- it makes a world of difference.  If you cannot afford a professional massage- look and see if there is a masssage therapy school in your area.  It would actually be great experience for the students to learn how to work with a chronic pain patient- the important thing is to speak to the instructors first so that they can oversee your care.  You also do not want to hesitate to speak up if something does not feel right when they are working on you- it's the only way for them to learn. 


Obviously the first thing I have to say is- learn to listen to your body!  If your body says it's time to stop- STOP.  Pushing through will only make it worse.  I have to admit- I am the worst about this- but I am learning. 

I am a huge fan of naps.  If you have the time and it won't mess up your normal sleep cycle- just do it!

Take some quiet time every day.  You don't have to have a huge chunk of time- even 15 minutes just to sit quietly, maybe put on soft music, maybe lose yourself in a good book- but just sit in a chair and let yourself relax.  The most important thing is to stop thinking about your to-do list or your bills, your appointments or whatever else is pulling at you.  Let it go during your quiet time.  It will really refresh and rejeuvinate you!

Find something that will help you get out of "work" mode and into "bed" mode at night and make it a routine.  For me, it's not unusual to see me in pajamas very soon after I get home at night.  Changing my clothes into my comfortable pajamas makes the transition feel real.  I take my pups for a walk at between 7:30 and 8 every evening.  After that walk I either take a nice hot shower or have a hot cup of tea.  These things send a signal to my brain that the day is ending.  I find that when I don't do these things it is much, much harder for me to turn my brain off and when I get to sleep when I go to bed.

All of these things help me to manage my pain and fatigue- and I am always on the look out for new, non-medicated, ways that other use.  So if you have tips- please let me know!  I hope one of these is something that may help you as well. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We must stop the bullying.

     Though I have a general rule about leaving religion, sex and politics out of my blogs- I feel have to touch on this today.  The reason I leave them out is because I feel that we all have our own beliefs, values and convictions and I will not argue mine nor will I try to steer you away from yours.  In that respect- it's easier just to not discuss them.  That said- the recent suicides by children and young adults due to bullying in this country has outraged me to my core.  What is our world coming to that these children are driven to end their lives because of the mistreatment by other children?  What kind of parent allows their child to harrass another child to this point- or worse (as in the case of the infamous "myspace Mom") encourages or joins in with the bully? 

I have, through out my life, had a large number of friends who were (and still are) gay or lesbian.  I have loved them as I have any other friend.  I guess I am very fortunate.  I was raised to see people- not color, not sexuality, not size, not age- just people.  To me- no matter what color you are, no matter how old/young you are,no matter what size you are, no matter who you sleep with ( as long as it is consensual)- if you are a good person, you are a good person.  The rest just doesn't matter to me. 

Let's get to bullying for a minute.  Bullies have been around forever- the only thing that has evolved is the manner in which they go about it.  When I was a kid- a hundred or so years ago- bullies were much more physical.  Shoving people into lockers, wedgies, swirlies, and when it got bad- actually beating the victim up.  Bullies existed on and drew strength from physical intimidation and from verbal harrassment.  How many of us remember hearing about or even witnessing the "3:00 Showdown" where the bully would tell the victim and anyone else they could- that they were going to "get" them after school?  In the years that have gone by- many schools have instituted a zero-tolerance policy on the physical abuse.  While I view their zero-tolerance policies with a jaundiced eye (but that is for another post) it has made schools physically safer for the most part.  Unfortunately that has not stopped the bully- it has only driven them underground and made them more creative.  These days bullies continue with the verbal harrassment and they upped the ante by taking their harrassment online.  Have we made things better?  Or is the mental and emotional trauma far worse than the "old" days? 

A majority of the cases we have seen in the news have been teens who are LGBT.  Sharon Stapel with the Huffington Post says: 

This week we have been forced to bear witness to the violence that is done to LGBT people and wondered "how could this happen?" The suicides of nine young people who were bullied and taunted about their sexual orientation and gender expression exposed the tragedy and pain that LGBT people live with and die from every day.

 In my experience- this harrassment of kids who are- or may not be but for some reason are percieved as being- gay or lesbian is not new at all.  Back in the 80's when I was in high school it was fairly common to hear:  "He's such a FAG" or "You Homo!" or "That's so GAY".  In full disclosure- I used "That's so GAY" as often as anyone else.  At the time and even up until very recently I didn't think about how someone who WAS gay would feel about hearing that- I just used it as a descriptor for something that I found stupid.  I am sure that many people did the same that I did- and just didn't think about it any more than we do when we say "that's so retarded!" or something to that effect.

Evidently- the harrassment goes even further back.  Apparently- my generation didn't invent everything (HA!)
This morning while flipping through my usual lists of news and blogs that I go to each morning I found this message from Tim Gunn on EW's website:

Now I just admire the public personality of Tim Gunn.  I find him to be stylish and elegant, kind and wise. He is honest without being cruel.  He is a man that I would like to know on a personal basis.  That he was so desperate that he attempted suicide as a teenager just makes me incredibly sad. 

Having known my friends who happened to be gay, having had many discussions with them about what they went through to get to the point where they accept themselves and the struggle for acceptance in their families and amongst their friends- no one will EVER convince me that being gay is a choice.  No one will convince me that enduring the harrassment that they were subject to is a choice. No one will convince me that risking coming out while knowing that they could be ostracized in their own families or communities for being who they are is a choice. And if it is not a choice- then it is a part of how you are born.  If it is how you are born doesn't that mean that we are all just one or two genetic marker from being gay?

 What I don't understand is why we (as a society) view being gay as any different than being white or black, being fat or thin, being tall or short, or being disabled.  Yes- there are sterotypes- but really-there are stereotypes about Blondes (blonde moments anyone?), or tall people (must play basketball, right?); about different races (not even going there); about being thin (must be anorexic!) or fat (must just eat like a pig!); about girls who dress a certain way (SLUT!) or who are athletic (TOMBOY!) - and why do we hang tight to those and all of the other stereotypes?  Are we afraid to get to know the person as an individual?  Or are we afraid they might see the real us?

So what can we do about all of this?   Dan Savage has started the "It Gets Better Project" on Youtube.     There is also The Trevor Project aimed at stopping teen suicide.  But we can also do something closer to home.  We can speak out against bullying within our homes and our communities.  We can STOP feeding the stereotypes and start looking at what is in people's hearts rather than what is on the outside.  We can think before we speak and remember that we don't know who is listening to what we are saying.  Words are so very powerful- and you don't know how your words will affect someone who may just be passing by as you speak them.  We can teach our children tolerance and understanding.  We can encourage them to be the best person that they can be and teach them to find power in encouraging others rather than in tearing them down.  We can stand up to bullying whether it is happening to us or to someone else.  All it takes is to say the words "That's not cool." "I don't think that's funny" "I won't listen to this" or "Do you even know this person?"

My challenge to myself is to take a deep breath and think before I speak.  My challenge to myself is to remember the power of words and use mine for good.  I challenge you to create your own challenge. 

I am eternally grateful that I have never been on the receiving end of a true bully and if I ever hurt anyone through my words or actions (and I am sure that I have) I would like to publicly apologise to them here.   While I may not know first hand how it feels to be bullied I do know that it is within my power to not tolerate it and to make a difference in the life of someone who has been.  If we all work to lift one another up we will give one another strength and in that strength- nothing can tear us down. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Welcome Fall- no matter how fleeting.

This weekend has really felt like it is finally Fall.  As I sit here this morning in my yoga pants and a hoodie sweatshirt with the back door wide open to the screen, it is a slightly chilly 51 degrees out.  If I look outside I see the wind blowing through the trees like it is rushing to get some place as quick as possible.  Our leaves- our poor leaves haven't had enough rain to turn colors and are already floating down to the ground.  Were it not for the wind I would be outside with my coffee but it would turn it cold even faster than it is now with the doors open.  It has been in the 60's all weekend and it has been lovely.  That said- this cold snap will be over soon. Starting tomorrow the temps start climbing back- mid 70's tomorrow and 80's by the end of the week.  You won't hear me griping about it though.  The longer we can hold off the winter; the happier I am. 

This weekend also sees the coming of many festivals and fairs in the area.  At my parents- it is the Fall Festival.  I haven't been to that particular festival since I was a child but I very clearly remember eating "Pronto Pups" (aka Corn Dogs) and nut covered Caramel Apples while we walked around the Festival with my Granny.  Here in New Albany it is the beginning of Harvest Homecoming.  It will be crazy down there for the next week but everyone looks forward to this event all year.  As for us- I think we are heading down to watch the Hot Air Balloon races today. We have scoped out a location that won't involve us to be in the thick of things and if we go we will take some munchies and a blanket and sit in the back of my honey's truck and watch the balloons.  If the wind keeps up- it should make for an interesting race. 

Well- I think for me it is time to go get some Apples and some caramel dip, chop some peanuts and almonds and do the double dip thing.  I might get some apple cider and throw in some spices and boil it on the stove to make the house really smell like fall.  I hope this season lasts as long as possible.  And I hope you enjoy your Sunday.