Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For the first time ever, I caved

And I am really wrestling with it.  I would have normally worked until 5, 6, 7pm last night but I just couldn't.  I went home from work at 2pm.  The reason I am wrestling with it is that I feel horrible about leaving, but on the other hand, I DID do a 7 hour day.  I know I push myself too hard but it's that time of year.   

I also hate that this flare is affecting my work at all.  I have always tried to keep them as separate as possible but it just crept in on me this time.  Plus- I could have held out had I used my cane yesterday but with my arm hurting- that wasn't possible. 

Today, I am bracing my elbow, taking my naproxyn bottle with me and am using my cane.  I am just not ready to have my stupid illness beat me.  I am not, I am not, I am not.  I saw a friend yesterday- who is also hurting in a big way, and she was applying for her FMLA.  I just wanted to give her a hug but that would have hurt to much so we just stood there and commisserated for a bit.  I hate this for her- and it makes me more thankful that my workplace is a little more understanding. 

Oh well, all I can do is keep my chin up and press on.  I just keep telling myself that This Too Shall Pass....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Well, this is an interesting development

I have been overdoing it.  I know I have, I push myself too hard.  If you have ever read the Tao of Pooh, I am a classic Tigger.  If you have not- here is what Benjamin Hoff says about Bouncy Tigger: 

"A fish can't whistle and neither can I." There's nothing wrong with not being able to whistle, especially if you're a fish. But there can be lots of things wrong with blindly trying to do what you aren't designed for. Unfortunately, some people aren't so wise, and end up causing big trouble for themselves and others. The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not. To demonstrate what we mean, we can think of no one better than Tigger, who doesn't know his limitations ('Tiggers' can do everything'), which brings him in lots of trouble.
Having overdone it these last few weeks, I am starting to pay for it.  Knees, hips, right wrist and elbow joints  have been talking to me all week along with the attached muscles.  This morning, I rolled out of bed-very slowly- and made my way down stairs with the intention of coffee and then heading in to work for a few hours.  As I sat in my chair to wait for the coffee to brew I felt like a giant walking bruise with throbbing bits here and there.  When the coffee dinged, I went in and attempted to pour that pot.  As I lifted it, pain shot through my arm and I started to shake. This is a new flare symptom for me- the extreme weakness and instant shaking on top of the pain.   It took two hands to get the coffee into the cup.  That doesn't tickle when you have one hand on a hot pot to steady it but the heat did serve to loosen my left hand a bit.  I drank my coffee and took my meds, hoping it would settle the pain enough for me to get to work. 

I drank most of the pot of coffee and waited longer than I wanted before heading out.  The next two weeks will be absolutely nuts (I anticipate 6am to 9pm on many days) so I stopped at Target last night to get granola, new snack bars and cereal and on my way this morning at Kroger for greek yogurt and bagels to stock my space at work as there won't be time for anything other than meals on the run.  I carried the yogurts and bagels to my car and had to sit for a few minutes to stop the shaking before I drove.  I made a quick stop at my local gas station (the only place in town that has my Dunkin Donuts coffee) and had to use 2 hands to carry a 24oz coffee on the car.  It was at that point I gave up.  I sent a text to my assistant manager who was going to try to come in after church and family obligations today to help me and told her to not bother, that I was hurting and was taking the day off.  I went ahead to work and dropped off all of the food (it took several trips) and headed in to Kentucky for cigarettes (don't judge) for hubby and I and that cemented my decision when I couldn't hold on to a cup of ice with my right hand. 

I came home feeling quite defeated, to be honest.  My body is once again betraying me this time in a major way.  I feel like I am too weak today to do much of anything today.  I have watched two episodes of Alphas while I sent an email to a friend and wrote this post.  Hubby has take a couple of bags of my magazine articles upstairs for me and I am heading back to my bed to relax the rest of the day.  I am going to sit on my bed and go through the articles I have saved and watch movies.  I figure if I am somewhat bed bound I can at least get some of the articles I want to reference in the future in binders.  At least that will be productive.  Later this evening, when I make my way down to have dinner, I will email my office with a to do list for tomorrow.  I am thinking that since today was all about doing "clean up" on things my staff was supposed to do last week- this will be a good opportunity to hold them accountable since I cannot physically do it myself.  

Before I sign off and head upstairs- a list of a few things I am grateful for today so that I can get out of my own head and stop letting this make me think unproductive thoughts. 

1-  That this happened on a Sunday, so the store isn't open and people aren't counting on me to be there.
2-  Cable TV- to keep me entertained while I confine myself to my bed.
3-  That hubby has plans today.  He's leaving shortly for a golf scramble for work so he won't be either wanting to go do things or hovering over me. 
4-  That I didn't tell him that because I do appreciate him but I just feel like "licking my wounds" alone. 
5-  Birds-eye Steam Fresh Lightly Sauced Brand.  Their Rigatoni and Veggies in a Tomato and Parm sauce will be an easy, healthful dinner this evening. 

Now- I am off to lay in my bed and hope my body cooperates with this enforced day of rest.  That way I can get back to the salt mines and be useful tomorrow and through the rest of my rush. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


When I was growing up, I had a few friends who were girls but I tended to relate more to boys.  It comes down simply to the way women relate to one another as opposed to how men relate to one another.  With girls (especially during the teenage years) when they get angry there is drama and tears and so much more.  With guys, when they get angry- they punch one another and it's over.    I have a low tolerance for drama so it was easier to just hang out with the guys. 

Now- in my forties (and starting in my 30's)- my tolerance for drama is even lower but I have come to appreciate the benefits of having girlfriends.  I have a few, but they are geographically all over the place and I miss them.  I miss the cameraderie, I miss having someone to really talk to, I miss having someone to do girl stuff with- mani/pedis and all sorts of things that men just don't enjoy.  I know that I can call them at any time- but it's just not the same. 

So what's the issue?  Well, it's pretty simple actually.  I have become a bit of a hermit and a lot more guarded.  Other than not wanting to disappoint anyone with cancelled plans and such, I have drawn into myself and am having a hard time getting out of my shell enough to make new friends.  Plus- I like being at home.  I am perfectly happy to stay at home with my "babies" and veg out so that is a part of it.  That said, I think it's far past time that I get out there and meet new people.  That's going to give me something to think about and act on after rush. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You can quote me on that.

One of my routine sources for the quotes to start my day with is Real Simple Magazine.  Each morning I get a "thought for the day" and unless it immediately applies, I file it away in a special folder just waiting to be pulled out when I need it.  Recently I received the following quote:

“Total commitment to family and total commitment to career is possible, but fatiguing.”

― Muriel Fox

I cannot agree more.  This is the time of year for me that is just crazy.  What used to be a 3 week period has easily doubled and it's very hard to make the decision as to where to let things go so that I can get through this time with my health.  I am sure that those of you who live with RA, Fibro, or any of the other "invisible illnesses" understand.  I mean, I already let so much go just doing the day to day that I don't know what else is left. 

I am sure that some are thinking "just be glad you don't have kids depending on you".  **For those that don't know- my "baby" is grown and gone.** The catch-22 is that I do have two sweet pups who are counting on me to get up in the morning, make sure they are fed and watered and let out to do their business and come home at night and make sure they get their walk.  I think in a way the guilt that plagues me with them is far worse.  It's not like I can explain to them that "Mommy has to work longer hours for a few weeks"- they just cock their heads (and it's so cute!) and look at me like "I don't get it but I love that we are having this conversation."  It's not like we can put off their walk until late- that wouldn't be fair to them.  It's also not fair to my other half to expect him to take over their care when he routinely works 10 hour days.   We generally walk them together in the evening but having taken my turns to do it alone I know that it's 3x as much work juggling 2 leashes with dogs who walk at 2 different paces, poop bags, etc.  Add to that asking him to do my half of the making dinner and such and it makes a long day much longer for him. 

Yesterday was a really rough day.  I walked in to chaos at work because of power outages over the weekend and people who didn't know how to reset the systems.  From there it just went down hill.  When I got home much later than usual, all I wanted to do was sit and be a lump.  My stress level was high enough that I couldn't even think of food till after 8pm which isn't good for any of us. 

This morning I woke up at 20 past 1 and have been up since. Insomnia on top of stress- not a good combination.  On a positive side- I sent myself some quotes to get me through this time that I can hang in my office.  On the other side- it's going to be an even longer day since I am leaving shortly for work and won't be home till after close.  It's my hope that by Saturday evening I can walk out of there and feel like I am caught up completely so I can take Sunday off without guilt. 

Do I think it's possible to do it all?  Sure- I did it for years.  It's just not as easy to do it all any longer while living with a chronic illness.  Where I used to say "I will sleep when I am dead", now it's more of a "when can I schedule in a nap?" Hindsight being 20/20, if I could go back and take it easier when I could have, I most certainly would- and you can quote me on that. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making the choice to be happy

One of the most difficult things about living with a chronic illness is that it's well...chronic.  While we can find some relief through medication and alternative therapies, it's just relief; it doesn't cure us or make it all go away.  One of the "side effects" of being chronically ill is depression.  I don't mean "just"** clinical depression but situational depression as well.  **Please note- I am not discounting clinical depression by any means, it is merely what you think of when you think "depression."

Clinical depression, while treatable, is a severe form of depression. Someone who is clinically depressed must have the assistance of a doctor if they are to get better.   Situational depression is what we feel when something happens in our life that is very difficult.  It can be brought on by stress, or when you are having difficulty adjusting to something going on in your life.  It can sneak up on you.  In the beginning it’s like a blanket that you wrap around you when you have a chill but then once you feel warm, you cannot get it off.  While it may FEEL horrible when in the midst of it, while it CAN truly paralyze your life if you let it there is always hope.  We can fight back from situational depression before it morphs over into clinical depression.  

If you are wondering how, in the middle of a really rough patch, you can get yourself out of the "Why me's" and the doldrums brought on by your situation-it can be done if you really want it.  I truly feel that if you step back and look at your life objectively, you can make the decision to let go of the cloak that is the depression.  We all know that I am a very big proponent of making the time to count your blessings as a way to bring gratitude and positivity to your life but even more I believe that we have to really want to bring those things into our life.  If it is not a specific choice, you can do the exercise without reaping the benefits and that will only serve to make you frustrated.

Being happy is a choice.  We have to make that choice every day.  It’s not enough to just say “I want to be happy”.  Rather, we have to get up every morning; no matter how much pain we are in, no matter how tired we are, no matter how easy it would be to just pull the blankets up and put the pillow over our heads, and we have to say to ourselves “I choose to make today a good day.”  Not just once.  Every.  Single.  Day. Until it becomes ingrained in us.  We have to look past the pain and stiffness, we have to look past the exhaustion and we have to take our day minute by minute, hour by hour and choose to see and feel all of the great things that we have been given. 

Two things spurred this post this morning.  First, I read a post online yesterday that said “unlike most of you, I don’t have good days and bad days.  I have bad days and less-bad days.”  On some level I can understand that.  The second is that I drove over 5 hours yesterday in my round trip to Indy and back.  The ramifications of that drive are that my knees are sore, my back is throbbing and when I got up from my chair last night and my bed this morning, everything was super stiff.   Additionally I know that I have a very long day (10-12 work hours) on my feet ahead of me today and tomorrow.  It would have been very easy is for me to fall into the pity party that was just lurking there waiting to be had.  It took a lot for me to find the bright side this morning- but I did it.  Instead of letting the pain, stiffness and exhaustion set the tone for the day I made a conscious decision to make today a good day.  I made the decision to be happy that I can go there and do my job today, that I have a job to go to, that I have a family that loves and supports me in a myriad of ways, that I had two sweet puppies that were snuggled up to me and so on.  By the time that I got around to beginning this post, the “bad” things had become just a byproduct of my day; a nuisance to be dealt with and to power through while I go through my day.  There are just too many good things to allow the “bad” to be what colors my world.  Speaking of which, my “status” yesterday was a great quote that ties into this nicely. 

“Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” - Allen Klein

I hope you find the bright colors in your box of crayons for today.  I know I will.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's that time again.

    We should be heading into my busy season at work instead we are knee deep.  It used to be that we worked steadily through the summer and at the end of the summer BOOM.  Over the last few years, as my industry has evolved, the work has gotten more and more and more but with the state of the economy, payroll has gotten less and less and less. Top that off with more family things and rampant insomnia and that leads to me being one tired puppy. 

^^ Tired Puppies ^^

This week for example- I have three four hour sessions of training to give.  Two for my new temps and a refresher for the rehires.  Today I have to drive to Indianapolis for my review.  I am picking up a colleague along the way so I will be leaving home at 9:30, picking her up and driving north.  Her review is at 12, mine at 1:30 and we should be leaving Indy at 3.  Drop her off, then back to work until....whenever.  On top of that, we have well over a hundred web orders to pull, pack and process, a couple of pallets of books to shelve, 34 pages of rentals to sticker, and well over a hundred shelf tags to replace.  Much of this - hopefully- will be done by my staff - but they are also being bombarded by customers at the end of their summer term so yesterday, we got just over 30 web orders processed (and 75 new coming in on the site) none pulled, some of the books put away, one four hour training session complete, 3 or 4 "fires" extinguished and a lot of customers taken care of and a couple of "this needs to be done today" tasks completed.  Last Saturday I worked about 7-7.5 hours and Sunday I literally stayed in my pajamas until 2pm because I just couldn't function as I was so tired and so sore.  I don't want to spend- make that waste- an entire day every week in recovery mode.  It's not good for anyone. 

  It feels like the more we get done, the more there is to do.  Oh- and everything I need to get done this week has to be done by 2pm Friday because I am going to my folks this weekend for my Grandmother's 95th birthday and so that I can "tag team" the sermon with my dad this weekend at church.  He asked me to write up and deliver a 5-10 minute message in the midde of the sermon about Hope and the message in my book.  Which was sweet but plays with my nerves on a big level.    Next week we start selling books to the public and in less than 3 weeks school starts.  Just a few years ago the "busy time" was the week before, the first week of and the week after school starting;  now it stretches to just at 2 months of long hours and hard, hard work. 

It could be worse.  One of my best friend's school was recently converted to a new company and so she is having to re-do much of the work she already did while learning all new systems and procedures.  Just when I think I am at my breaking point- I think about her and what she is going through or we will talk and I will hear all the pressure she is under and I know that it is much worse on her end.  When I have doubts about whether I can take any more and that maybe it's time for a change I just think about her and I know that if she can hang in there, so can I. 

This all make me very grateful that I have gone on this journey to switch my thinking and attitude because I don't know that I would be able to switch this around had I not.  Now I just have to combat the "fog" and the tiredness and the distractability and power through. 

On a side note- my insurance has "dropped" Orencia from the preferred medications list.  That means that either my co-pay goes WAY up- or we find another medication.  Amusingly- the only thing they have on the list any longer is Enbrel and Humira.  That's going to be pretty tough if they only allow those in conjunction with MTX.  Just another little layer of stress but it's out of my hands and I am giving it up to the powers that be. 

The last side note is that I am going to try out a few of my apps on the ipad so that I can try to keep writing during this period.  I downloaded one called "Check it" to write down the thoughts and ideas as I go and then "Blogger Pro" so I can put together those ideas and post.  The only...issue is that I don't have wi-fi at the university so I have to see if I can write and stuff when I have my breaks and then post when I am home.  If you have any apps that you love- let me know so I can check them out! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Inviting Misery

I was reading in a new "RA Support Group" on Facebook and have found two very contrasting people on there very quickly.  The ironic thing is that with the new "reordering" of Facebook groups (when a thread is replied to it goes to the top), their threads are one after the other.

The first is a woman who is, like all of us, in pain every day.  The issue is not that she is in pain, the issue is that she seems to be expecting a quick fix and we all know that doesn't happen.  She is angry, she is frustrated and she is blaming everything on her doctors because they are doing what we all go through and working to find the right combination for her.  She doesn't want to hear that not everyone responds to the same combos. She doesn't want to hear that it's normal to have to try different combinations of medications.  She has had some great insights from folks who have been living with this disease all of their lives but she just shuts them down.  She is not open to anything other than complaining about her situation, complaining about her doctors and complaining about not getting enough sympathy from everyone else.  I can't speak to anyone else, but for me- that entirely makes me shut down.  It has taken all of 3 posts and I am done.  I haven't even replied because I have seen her get snarky with anyone who doesn't coddle her and I am at the point now that I will just have to ignore her.

The second woman posted a post that I completely agree with.  She flat out said that there is no cure, there is no magic bullet and we should just be grateful for the things we do have.  Needless to say- that is the way I feel as well.  We are all in pain, it is not going away any time soon so we have to make the best of what we have.  Doing that has been such a difference in my life.  It's surprising even now, several years into this journey, to be able to discover new joys and blessings every day.

I truly believe that our attitudes shape the way our live play out.  I think everyone knows someone who seems to have a black cloud over their head.  I bet that at least once you have heard them say "Why does everything happen to me???" or "Bad things always happen to me" or "I am cursed!"  Well, I fully believe that it is because they are always waiting on that next bad thing to happen. By doing so they are opening themselves up to one bad thing after another.   On the flip side- I am sure everyone knows someone who is always bright and sunny.  This is a person that you can always count on for a smile and who seems to live a charmed life because everything seems to go their way.  Consider the two of them side by side and you can see how their attitude and outlook affect the way their life plays out.

Next time you are having a rough patch- start looking for blessings to count.  Even if it is only to be thankful that you dont' have a terminal illness, you can still walk, you can still talk and think, basically how much worse you could have it.  Then come back and let me know if it helps you to cope with the rough patch.  I would be interested in seeing if it works for as many people as I think it will.

Happy Friday!  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Do you take good care of yourself?

I read a terrific article this week from Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits entitled When Willpower is Trumped by Bad Habits.  This article really resonated with me.  I have a HUGE tendency to let my bad habits get in the way of me taking care of me.  Having always been the one who takes care of other people and focusing on everything but myself- I seem to very easily get caught up in my life and my will power falls by the wayside.

 I have so many good intentions for myself, so many things that I want to do and so many changes that I want to make for my health and for my well being.  I think about them, I make plans for them, and then I wake up in the morning and I go about my business and suddenly realize that -Oops- I was supposed to do XYZ today.

When I was reading Leo's blog, something struck me.  I know I have said it before- but it's much easier said than done.  Who will take care of me if I don't take care of myself?  Don't get me wrong.  I don't discount all that my husband and my parents do for me when I am feeling ill, but it's not like they can quit smoking for me or lose the weight I need to lose or exercise for me.  They can't make sure I get enough sleep (though they try) or make sure I don't get so caught up that I forget to take my noon meds.  They can't make sure I don't do to much at work or at home.  Only I can do these things and because I want to be able to "do it all"- I tend to ignore me and my good intentions and just keep going.  I don't know how to overcome that part of myself.

It was the number 5 part of the article that I need to concentrate on: " Beat the urge to do the old bad habit".  In it they list the ways to do this but the most important thing is "Pay attention to the urges.  Urges win when you let them go unnoticed.  They have power.  Pay attention."  That made my light bulb go "click".  That is exactly what I do.  I don't pay attention and the next thing I know- I am right back in the midst of old habit.

I think it's time to break up my routine.  They suggest to find a replacement habit.  I think this is important because it's when I keep at my current routine that I blow whatever I am trying to accomplish.  Something to think about. Something to plan- and we know I like my plans.

If you are looking for positive ways to make changes to your life- I highly recommend the Zen Habits blog.  I get the feed sent to my email and I make the time to read it within a few hours of it hitting the inbox.  You can also follow Leo on Google+ (I am LOVING Google+) and on Twitter if you choose not to have it emailed to you.