Monday, January 31, 2011

I am but one.....

I am feeling very reflective today so here we go:

I am but one person fighting chronic illness.

I am but one voice for living from a positive place.

I am but one person counting my blessings.

I am but one messenger for sharing gratitude

I am but one person trying to leave stress behind

I am but one explorer on a journey to find my authentic self.

I am but one person searching for peace in my heart and soul

I am but one wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, neice etc who is devoted to her family

I am but one person whose life has been affected by a kind word

I am but one who hopes to affect someone else in the same way.

There are so very many of us- I am but one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chronically Positive

So my e-book that I talked about the other day has gone live.  I have to tell you, I was scared to death when I hit that final "Put on Sale" moment.  Aside from being a parent, this is the biggest thing I have done and I played with it and edited and second guessed myself for a long time but in the end, it's from my heart.

So what is Chronically Positive?  Well, this e-book is a little bit of a chronicle of my journey to take back my life from my diagnosis of RA and more importantly, how anyone can add positivity and gratitude to their life in the face of adversity.  While it does come straight from my life with a chronic illness, I hope that it is applicable to anyone who is going through a rough time in their life; whether that means a diagnosis like mine, loss of a job, divorce, death of a loved one, anything that presents a challenge in your life.

The reception thus far has been very positive and has buoyed me greatly.  Though my father is decidedly biased, he actually printed it, had it spiral bound and is planning on sharing it with some of his parishioners who do not have Internet access.  Did I mention that I only sent him a copy yesterday?  He also asked that I take on my huge fear of public speaking (did I say huge? I meant ENORMOUS) and work with him to create and deliver a part of a sermon on the topic.  The mere thought makes me shake in my shoes so I don't think I am ready for that just yet.

I *think* I have another one or three ideas ruminating in my brain at the moment.  I had thought I would wait until I saw how this one did before I start the next one, but I can't do that.  I need to get started again and no matter how the first e-book is received; I must get the next idea going rather than putting it off until...

My thanks to the people who asked for copies.  I hope that you enjoyed it and found it somewhat helpful.  It has helped me to solidify all the things I try to incorporate into my life.  Writing this has been a joy for me and though it has been helpful for me, it was written with the idea that it may help someone else add positivity in their lives if only in a small way.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beautiful Things and some news

One thing I am consistently thankful for is that I have met some terrifically talented people in my life. Coming up on 15 years ago, when my sister got married, I had a lovely young lady working for me who was a sculptor. I commissioned her to create a one of a kind sculpture for my sister's wedding gift. I didn't presume to ask for anything specific, I told her what the occasion was and put it in her hands. In the end I got the most beautiful sculpture of an intertwined couple. I was speechless.

My mom, while I was growing up, did all sorts of crafts. She did ceramics and cross-stitch, toll painting and stained glass; crocheting and quilting. Most recently she is in to knitting using the Knifty Knitter and scrapbooking and jewelery. If only I had half her talent and persistance with crafts I would be miles ahead of the game.

My personal attempts at crafts have included crocheting and the Knifty Knitter, cross-stitch and quilting. I made no-sew blankets and pillow quilts, candles and soaps and jewelery. If you notice- except for the candles and soaps- pretty much everything I have tried is tied back to my family. I was pretty good at some of it and not so patient with the rest. I still do some crafts- but I can no longer do the cross stitching (DAMN YOU RA!) which I really enjoyed because I can't hold the needle and material long enough to complete a piece.

Skip to today. If you notice, on the right hand side of my blog I have a new badge. My friend Erica- a fellow RA'er- has the most beautiful crafts that she sells in her Esty shop. She makes bird feeders and bracelets from antique china tea cups (I am SO going to try the bird feeders!) and lovely necklaces and hair accessories. I don't know where she gets her ideas but her pieces are so beautiful that I urge you to check out her shop.

Now for my news. One of my personal projects has been to document my journey, much like I have in this blog, so that I can share it with as many people as possible. I decided that I didn't want to wait until I was "there" because really- who is not constantly evolving? So I have written a short (79 pages) e-book enumerating the different things that I have done, and we can all do, to add positivity and a sense of gratitude to our lives. I have entitled it "Chronically Positive" will be available to purchase through Barnes and Noble's NookBooks for $9.99 next week! At first I was going to wait to see how it was received on before beginning again but I think I have a series in me of different "Chronically" titles. So- I bit the bullet and hit the "Put on Sale" button (and almost threw up as soon as I did it) and now it's on to the next project. If your interest is piqued- I would be interested in having it reviewed by "real" people. The first three readers who contact me at I will send a copy in PDF form so that you can review it. It goes without saying that the copy is for your use only and not for sharing and I would ask that you be willing to post your feedback at a future date.

I think it is so important that we surround ourselves with things of beauty and things we love. Handcrafted items can be so very special because they are made from the heart. When you incorporate into your life things that mean something special to you; be it books, art, antiques, crafts- whatever it is that you love, your home becomes a sanctuary. And can't we all use a place to go where we can just BE?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And they called it.....Puppy Love

I had a rough day yesterday. It was just never ending and I was literally on my feet 9.5 hours out of my 10.5 hour work day. I knew I would be busy, I didn't expect to be pulled in fourteen directions at once and though when factoring in my anticipated busy-ness I figured I would be there an extra hour to hour and a half. I got home over 2.5 hours later than I should have.

When I finally got home, hubby had given up on me for dinner and ordered pizza (all meat and traditional crust for him and thin crust with all veggies for me) and the pups did their usual greeting. I flopped my "stuff" down and headed for the kitchen to get my coffee ready for the morning. Hubby called me back and told me he was going to put on one of the shows that we both enjoy so just sit and try to relax. Next thing I knew- Auggie was in my lap. He nuzzled up into my neck and then under my hand as if to say "You may pet me now". About that time, Miss Harley sidled over. Now- being an older gal, she will not hop up on my lap, especially if Auggie is already there, but she will make her presence known and expect you to reach to her and give her some love. So there I was, one fluff ball on my lap, another to my side and nothing to do but to give them the loving that they craved.

It only took me about 5 minutes before my muscles started to unknot and my day started to wash away. I wasn't even paying attention to the show, just to the pups. When I was finally relaxed, it was as if they knew their job was done. Harley wandered away to "her" loveseat and Auggie gave me a quick "kiss" and hopped off to go play with his toys.

I don't know how animals can sense when they are "needed" the most, but they do. Every dog and every cat I have ever had have had that ability. They listen to your woes, they listen to your secrets, they soak up your tears and they comfort you when needed. It always amazes me how that works and makes me so very grateful for those little fur-babies that we have brought into our family. It also makes me wonder if I have the ability to train them to be certified therapy dogs. I have a feeling that Harley is just a little too standoffish and stubborn but Auggie loves to be loved and is smart as a whip so he might be able to do it. I think I will- once my life settles down- look into classes for him and for her. You never know- she might just surprise me.

In the meantime- I would recommend that everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) adopt a pup (or a cat if you are so inclined) from your local shelter. We have been so very fortunate with our little guys and gals. Harley was an older girl- about 4 or 4 1/2 when we adopted her from The Animal Care Society in Louisville.  Auggie was probably about a year old when we got him from the same place.  You can very rarely go wrong when you adopt a mixed breed who has been rescued by one of the terrific organizations in your area.  A great thing is, there is no pressure.  They want it to work as much as you do so they encourage you to take your time and interact with your potential new family member before you take them home.  Give it a shot- go visit and see what they have available.  If you are not at a place where you want or can adopt a pet, you can support them in other ways.  Our shelters always need food, litter (for the cats), newspapers, floor cleaner (like Pine-sol but not pine scented) and a host of other supplies that are usually listed on their website.  They usually have fundraisers and other such ways in which you can help out their cause as well. 
It's a terrific way to help out your community and to bring even more love into your home. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Music

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.

To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

At one of my Dad's churches (he is the pastor at two) each service ends with this song.  For some reason, every time we sing it, I get choked up.  I don't know why, but I do and it is my favorite part of the service. 

It's funny how music can affect us.  There are other songs that just hit my heart with an arrow and I know why they get to me.  Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" (seen below) has brought tears to my eyes and down my face for over 25 years.  That is because I am a proud daughter (and then for a short time -wife) of a member of our military. 

Even something as main stream as Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" makes my heart swell.

As does Craig Morgan's "Thats What I Love About Sunday"

These songs are all very different but each of them touches me in a different way. I am so thankful for the music in my life and that I am open to the message. For that reason I wanted to share these with you this morning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

I am just watching "The Talk" from yesterday this morning and Holly Robinson-Peete just remarked how at her wedding, her father said something to the effect that it's all fine and good when the lights are twinkling and everyone is all dressed up and looks great but it's when the lights go out and things get hard that make the marriage.  The other ladies all agreed and shared personal points of view on this stemming from the pictures of Mark Kelly sitting at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's side and just holding her hand in these days following the tragedy of the mass shooting where she was gravely wounded.  I have to agree with these ladies and give credit to some of the men in my life.

 We have a dear friend who is getting married next month.  He's one of those people in our lives that we can not see for literally years and as soon as we get together, it's as if no time has passed.  We adore his fiance but he is the one we are closer to in the end.  Well, I was talking to his fiance about driving back for the wedding and she mentioned that she didn't know if he had told us or not but that she has been dealing with MS for about a year and a half now.  I didn't know- and I was pretty taken back because she's young, seemingly healthy and beautiful and seems to have it all. 

My mother, who is a young 63, has had some very difficult health issues.  At 45 she had a heart attack and a subsequent double bypass.  Just a few years ago, before she hit 60, she had a stroke that has left her with residual memory issues and trouble putting things together when she is tired.  It's very frustrating for her. 

Of course there is my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.  At the age of 37-38, I basically fell apart.  In January of that year I ended up in the hospital for a week with pancreatitis and gallstones.  From January to July I was dealing with bursitis and tendonitis in various areas and in August I got my major diagnosis.  In the 5+ years since, much of my life has flipped upside down.

These three medical issues are all very difficult to deal with in the first place.  None of them were expected, all of them affect not only us but in some ways, everyone in our lives.  The one thing that we have in common is that each of us has a wonderful man in our lives who have not only stood by our sides through all of this but have been incredibly supportive.  Not all men (or women for that fact) would be strong enough to deal with a loved one who develops a chronic illness.  It's a simple fact that catastrophic illness can lead to divorce and yet all three of these men, my friend, my dad and my darling husband, have all risen to the occasion. They didn't sign up for this any more than we did, and yet they deal with it every day right along with us.  A strong support system, beginning at home, is so very important when you are dealing with all of the other junk in your life and I cannot help but be so very grateful that not only do I have that for myself but that I am surrounded by examples of strong, faithful and loving men who take the "in sickness" portion of their vows as seriously as the rest. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mulligans and Spiderwebs

I have written before and referenced several times how developing Rheumatoid Arthritis (and Fibromyalgia) gave me far more blessings than they can ever take away from me.  This morning I was watching yesterday's episode of "The Talk" on CBS and they were talking about both the tragedy in Arizona and getting your life in order now rather than later and Michael Douglas's fight with cancer and what they would "do over" if they had the chance. 

Mulligans- do-overs in golf-speak- are great in the game of golf but I don't know that I would do a lot over.  I don't live with a lot of regrets in my life.  Our decisions have too much of a spiderweb effect on our lives.  It spreads out and touches everything.  I don't feel it is positive or productive but I tried to think if there was anything that I would "do over" if I were given the chance. 

First I thought "Okay- easy- I would never have started smoking."  Maybe if I had never started smoking (I was in high school) my hubby would not have started either.  On the flip side- because I smoked, I spent a bit of time in the "smoking lounge" in our high school (no comments on my age please) and would not have met some dear friends who I still talk to today.  I would not have bonded with terrific people at different jobs while we were standing out in the cold indulging that addiction.  We spent a lot of time really talking while in exile from the world and though I am half a country away- I still keep in touch with many of them. 

My second thought was "I would have worked less when I was raising Josh"-  but quite honestly, living in a high cost of living area, had I worked less we would not have been able to be self sufficient.  We would have had to apply for public assistance-for sure- and we would not have been able to afford to give him the kempo karate lessons that have shaped his life in a very large way.  We also would not have met many of our dearest friends and would have missed out on a lot of truly satisfying accomplishments.  We also showed our son that hard work is a good thing.  A strong work ethic is not a bad thing and too many of the "kids" I see today just don't have it.  Too many of them put their social lives before their jobs and don't live up to their commitments and that just makes me shake my head.  Now- I am not saying that our son learned that lesson particularly well- but it is slowly sinking in. 

Just from these two things I realized that even my "bad" choices have given me some terrific people and times in my life- and if I changed them I would lose out on so very much.  I feel that perhaps rather than lamenting on what we would "do over", we should take our bad choices, sad events, and losses and find the things that are blessings in each of them.  It can be done- I promise! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thoughts for Improving the Time it Takes to Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis

***Before I give my thoughts on this subject- I have to give a caveat.  I was very, very fortunate when it came to my own diagnosis.  I had a wonderful nurse practitioner who clued in very quickly. I have read a LOT of diagnosis stories.  Each one serves to remind me how blessed I was in this situation.   Looking back in hindsight I had about 5 months of bursitis and tendinitis that we treated with cortisone injections- but usually one joint at a time and usually with an aggravating issue.  I had a shoulder, both wrists, a thumb and an elbow done.  I was also working full time in a very physically strenuous job for my day job and managing a restaurant/nightclub also full time and that includes bar tending, waiting tables, running food, stocking bars- you name it.  Oh- and I was taking 3 college classes a semester, trying to be a good wife and raising a teenager.  I was worn out to the point of exhaustion and burning through all cylinders and my stress level was through the roof.  I went in for my yearly checkup and my NP wanted to find out how I was doing with the bursitis/tendinitis issues.  I explained to her that those issues were cleared up but that for about a month when I woke up in the morning, my hands were like claws and it took several hours to get them usable and that my feet felt like I had run a marathon at night.  I assumed that it was because I was getting older and was running myself ragged.  I had already had a stint of pancreatitis and had my gall bladder removed back at the beginning of the year- and with all the other issues- I felt like I was falling apart.  That day when she ordered my standard blood tests that we did every year- she told me she was having my Rheumatoid Factor checked as well.  In total- even if we tie in the bursitis and tendinitis- it took less than 6 months from beginning to diagnosis.  If we take out the things we treated with cortisone- we are looking at less than 6 weeks.  Therefore- my opinion on this is from the viewpoint that everyone- EVERYONE- deserves a nurse practitioner or a doctor as reactive as mine was. ****

That caveat given- these are my suggestions for the medical community: 

1-  Stop and LISTEN to your patients.  I fully understand having back to back patients.  I understand that if you don't turn the rooms- you don't have a successful practice.  I worked in the dental field for 9 years so I have first hand experience with helping to build a thriving practice.  One thing I learned in that process, and one thing I appreciate from my diagnosing NP is that if you take time with your patient, if you really listen to what they are saying rather than dashing in, doing what needs done, ordering tests and dashing out- the visit will be much more productive.  As I was a dental assistant, it was my job to screen the patient.  I talked to them, I found out the issues, I did my best to make them feel at ease.  Even if the doctor is incredibly busy- a nurse can do the prescreening and take notes while they are doing the temp/blood pressure thing.  In fact, if they did a more thorough discussion of how we are doing- it would actually help the doctor focus on our problem areas and make it a more productive visit overall.  It would also serve to ease the jitters.  A LOT of people are afraid of the doctor's office.  A more thorough screening visit would help ease those fears. 

2- Let's let go of the RF test.  I was one of those whose RF was through the roof at the time of my diagnosis but there are too many people for whom this test is useless.  Not only are there false positives but there is a very large sero-negative RA community.  If you suspect RA- why not go straight for the Anti-CCP test?  The percentage of false positives is so much smaller and it really is a more definitive test for the disease. 

3- Please, please remember that not every patient is a drug seeker.  I have flat out refused narcotics unless I am post-op.  I don't even take aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol.  At this time I take exactly what my rheumatologist has prescribed, a daily multivitamin, vitamin D supplements and the occasional melotonin.  Nothing else.  Given the option I would do away with ALL of the drugs.  I also have a fairly high pain threshold and am, to my detriment, one of those that tries to push through.  When I say I am in pain- you can believe that it's because I am in severe pain.  So many patients talk about how their doctors just assume all they want is drugs.  It's just not the fact.  YES- there are those people out there- but we aren't all just looking for drugs.   In fact- when it comes to my fibromyalgia- if I could get a prescription for a monthly massage that insurance would cover- I would give up the flexeril that I take to get to sleep tomorrow.  How many patients go through months and months of doctor's appointments, tests etc because they are not believed when they talk about their pain?  It's that old "painting everyone with the same brush" thing.  It's not good for your patients and it's not good for a doctor's reputation to have a patient telling their friends and family how they went in because they were in horrific pain and were treated like an addict. 

4- Finally- Primary Care Physicians brush up on your chronic conditions and diseases.  I realize that you have a million and three different patients and a million and seven different conditions that you deal with.  If you are not really comfortable with the autoimmune stuff or anything particular specialty area- please refer us out sooner than later.  Weeks and weeks of pain before we actually get a diagnosis is just so unnecessary.

PATIENTS- this is for you!

First- be a partner with your physician.  Don't just let him or her dicate your treatment- ask questions,  get involved and work with them.  Doctors are people too.  If your doctor won't partner with you- perhaps they are not the right person to entrust with your care.  Ask yourself- if your child/mother/partner/spouse were gravely ill- would you want this person to treat them?  If not- they shouldn't be treating you either. 

Second- find sources that you can trust- and keep in mind that just because it's on the internet- it doesn't make it true or complete.  My sources that I really like for medical issues are the Mayo Clinic, John's Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic.  I am not a fan of WebMD, Wikipedia or other sources like it.  Get the information, read what you can and then go back to your doctor and ask as many questions as you need to understand your treatment options and make an informed decision.

Finally for you- if you do use the resources above- most of them have symptom checkers.  Do NOT make yourself crazy trying to figure out what you have before you have a diagnosis.  Stress can exacerbate many conditions and as you are making list of diseases you *might* have and are looking at all of the grave prognosis's- you are just adding to your stress. 

Being chronically ill basically sucks- but once you get your diagnosis and begin to understand your disease and your treatment options, you can take back the power over your disease and take back your life.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Walgreens has nothin' on me!

I saw my rheumatologist yesterday.  It was time for my quarterly check-up and I had my usual list of concerns.  Being in the midst of our "Rush" period and especially Fall going into Spring where we have about 4 weeks to complete what we complete in the whole summer-means that I am working insane hours and am on my feet lifting, hauling, walking, carrying for 10+ hours a day.  My hips and back have been screaming in protest.  I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday that I posted on my twitter feed that there was a hot poker sticking in my back- the problem being that it's invisible.  In addition to that my shoulders are sore enough that it's hard to sleep on and when you have mild insomnia anyway; the extra loss of sleep makes me cranky. 

I also expressed to my rheumy that I am not convinced that the Orencia is working for me.  When we pulled (more like yanked) me off of my methotrexate, the first course to head off a flare was 10mg daily of prednisone.  It works.  We found this out the hard way when I accidentally let my RX lapse and it took almost a week to get the authorization and fill.  At the end of that week I was in such a flare that just getting out of bed took all of my effort.  As I have now been on prednisone since April, my rheumy wants to taper me off so we have been adjusting the dosage.  When I went from 10 to 7.5 and then to 5 I started to get these whole body-everything aches like the flu-mini flares that then back off and I am okay for a week or two.  If messing with the predisone dosage makes me feel like this- what is the Orencia doing?  At a copay that is over $300.00 a month- it's a lot of money for something that may not be helping. 

Through the discussion my rheumy was doing her usual probing of my extremities and problem areas and she feels that it could be the fibromylagia or something related to that which is causing the back/hip pain since RA generally gives the back a pass.   To that end she is adding neurontin to my mix and doubling the flexeril. 

She also feels that the mini-flare thing could be a "withdrawl" reaction to the lowering of the prednisone since I have been on it for so many months.  I didn't realize that was an issue.  Bottom line, she wants to try and taper me off the prednisone to see if the flares come back without it and that way we will know if the Orencia is working or if it is the prednisone is the key player.  I will stay on Orencia until April/May to allow us time to do this and if it IS the pred that is making the difference- we will go off the Orencia and take another route. 

So where does that leave us for the time being?  The current cocktail includes:

One monthly infusion of Orencia

50mg of Tramadol 3x a day
5mg of prednisone daily
10mg Flexeril 2x a day
Naproxyn 2x a day
300mg Neurontin at night
2 Tums for calcium
A multivitamin
1000mg Vitamin D daily

It's enough for a small pharmacy and when I sit down on Sunday to fill my pill box and my traveling packets I feel like I am 83 instead of 43.  The good thing about this ritual is that as I sit there counting all of these pills into their individual container I can't help but be incredibly grateful that I am still able to function and hold down a job that provides me with the opportunity to have health insurance.  Without that insurance- I would literally be in a world of hurt.  I am also very grateful that I have a rheumatologist who takes the time to listen to my concerns and explains things to me so that I can be active in my own treatments- I don't know what I will do when she goes out on maternity leave.  Finally I give thanks for the wonderful support system that not only keeps me honest but also doesn't let me get away with diminishing my health issues and don't hesitate to chastise me when I over do it.  That time spent giving thanks is so instrumental in keeping me upbeat and out of a state of depression that could spiral into something big. 

When I consider all of this, I can clearly see how blessed I am to have my job and those people in my life.  I am also blessed to have a place like this to put this down in writing and give myself the perspective that I cannot see when I am in the midst of it.  I will be heading to the pharmacy this afternoon to submit and refill my current rx's and tomorrow I get to have my 30-45 minutes of "thankful time".  I hope you all have a wonderful and pain-free weekend.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Taking Life for Granted

I don't know anyone who doesn't take life for granted at least once in a while.  We get caught up in the day to day and let things just pass us by.  Just yesterday in the middle of doing some paperwork I said (outloud of course) "Holy Cow it's already the 5th of January!"  I go and go and go and suddenly realize how much time has passed.  It's startling at times. 

There are quite a few things that contribute to this phenomenon.  One is a job that gets bigger every day.  I was there over the New Year's weekend and had a bit of an ephiphany.  I took the dogs with me because weekends is my time with them and they had a ball running around the store.  But as I was working on a project I realized that I could be there all weekend- literally all weekend- and never be completely caught up.   At first I was a little crushed because I thought I was on top of my game, then I realized that it wasn't just me- the job has become more and more encompassing with the changing landscape of my little slice of the retail world.  I just need to find a way to navigate the changes gracefully- and I also realized (here is the epiphany part) that no matter how many weekends I spend there- it won't make my life more full.  In fact- it will insulate me and perhaps I would miss out on some terrific experiences.  I am still coming to terms with this and how I will apply it- but the weight that was on my shoulders definitely lessened. 

Another thing is my illness.  Feeling the pain, managing the pain, thinking about the medications, thinking about the insurance coverage, worrying about co-pays, thinking about the options- it's never ending.  While I am not angry about my illness, while I am not dwelling on the "why me", while I am not wallowing;  it's always in the back of my mind and it's not something I can get away from.  It makes it difficult to really just stop and breathe. 

It shouldn't take an emergency or a catastrophy to make us realize that life has slipped out of our grasp.  Yesterday I was talking to a dear friend who had been interviewed by his local paper around Christmas.  The story (which you can check out here) was about his gratitude to be alive following severe heart issues.  He said in the article that every morning  he gets up, puts his feet on the floor and says "Thank you, God".  It was a bit of a wake up for me.  I don't want to be dying or nearly die before I get to that point in my life.

 I want to be at a place where I get up every morning and simply say "Thank you" for another day. 

Though I often, while walking the pups at the end of the day stop and look up at the stars and the night sky, I want to truly appreciate their beauty without having to stop and think about it. 

I want to get to the point that the gratitude is as much a part of me as breathing instead of having to work at it. 

So there we have a set of "resolutions" of sorts.  I need to step back and stop pushing myself so hard.  I need to be more aware of the moment and stop focusing on what's coming.  I need to allow myself a small amount of time each day to consider my RA/Fibro and the accompanying worries; then set it aside and move on to blessings to get me out of that head space.  I need to make it a point to, before I get out of bed in the morning, before I even set a foot on the floor, give thanks for another day and another opportunity. 

If I can do all of this- 2011 will be an incredibly productive and happy year. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Another New Year

The beginning of the year is super busy for me.  When I officially went back to work from the holiday (I was there over the weekend) we were 1 week from the beginning of school.  We walked in to find over 100 web orders (YAY!) to be fulfilled and they kept coming in all day keeping our new fulfillment area hopping.  We received a ton of shipments as well which keeps our back room busy. We also had a large number of customers- keeping our floor help jumping as well.  We started our extended hours, which means longer days for me.  This will be our way of life for the next few weeks.

In the midst of craziness in store, I have two appointments at my Rheumatology office.  The second will depend on the first.  The first is my regular appointment with my rheumy where we will discuss new treatment options.  My Orencia is "fine".  It's not as good as the MTX was and I am afraid I won't find anything that worked that well.  The problem lies in that we have proof that without the prednisone I wouldn't be at the level that I am.  My concern is that my insurance company is moving to a specialized pharmacy to manage their chronic care patients and I have a feeling that the coverage for the "high end" drugs will be changing and not for the better.  As it stands- the co-pay on Orencia infusions is over $300 a month, I don't know that I will be able to continue on with that, both financially and knowing that the Orencia is not working alone.  So, it's time to talk new options. We have already been through the majority of the DMARDS so I just don't know where we will go next.   Needless to say- that adds another layer of stress.  If we decide to continue with the infusions, the following week I have another of those scheduled.  I have fairly difficult veins which usually means at least two sticks and month-long bruising.  I don't complain when I am at the office because they really are very sweet and it's not their fault that my veins suck- I just gripe when I get home- a lot.

Needless to say, it has been even more important than usual that I focus on the positive if I am going to manage my stress.  I have two great quotes to start the year-both from the Thinkexist website.  The first is to help me focus:

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

I hope that this next year is the most wonderful of our lives.  Rather than enumerate all of the ways in which we could make it so, I come to my second quote which is an Irish blessing that I give to you:  

     I Like this quote I dislike this quote

“May you always have work for your hands to do. 

May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”

Here's to a healthy and happy 2011!