Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Ability to Laugh At Myself

Can you laugh at yourself?  I find that the more stress I am under, the less I am able to keep the humor in my life, be it about myself, whatever situation I have going on, or anything else.  I also find that the less humor I have- the more I need it.

I didn't watch the Oscars.  On the one hand, the one that looks in the mirror every day, they depress me.  I don't find it fun to watch the parade of fashion that I could never wear.  On the other hand, I find them predictable.  I mean- I have 364 friends on Facebook, in ages ranging from 13 (my niece) to my parents and not one ever mentioned seeing, or even wanting to see, The Artist.  In fact- after it won I looked and only 1 theater in this area is even playing it.  The Academy always rewards the "Highbrow", no matter how good the "Blockbuster" turns out to be and if the idea is to celebrate cinema- they fail miserably.  They should recognize that those big money-makers are the only thing keeping the Hollywood Machine going. That's the end of my rant and I promise there is a point.  Rather than staying up watching it, I went to bed and also missed Jimmy Kimmel's after-show.  Now, I don't usually watch that either (I much prefer Jimmy Fallon to ALL of the other late night shows) but I miss Oprah's Oscar Show and she was going to be on there.  Well, if you didn't see it, I hope you can see this:

I found it embedded on Oprah's Pinterest page and I laughed and laughed.  Not only was she on there and poking fun at herself right along with Kimmel, but she pulled in Jennifer Aniston- another lady who has shown time and again that she doesn't take herself- or her fame- too seriously.

Once again, the universe has come together to give me a lesson at a time when I need it most.  I was feeling tired and cranky.  I have a widespread rash- looks like some type of contact thing ( I am thinking Miss Harley's medicated shampoo from the bath we gave her in our bath tub Sunday) and there seems to be some communication breakdown between my doctor's office and my pharmacy because my rheumy's office has record of faxing my new script (we are going to Orencia self-injections) and my pharmacy has no record of receiving it.  Add in payroll budgeting and sick hubby and a cold sore on my nose which is usually a sure sign I am following him into sick-land and I am a big old ball of stress.  So I came home yesterday, took some benadryl and an Aveeno infused shower and frumped around until I was ready for bed.  Took the iPad to bed with me and shortly after firing up my Pinterest app, found this video.  I giggled and giggled, then watched it again.

I want to be that comfortable in my skin.  I want to be able to see outside all of the little-piling-up-and-making-me-crazy details and look at the big picture.  I want to be able to step back and see the irony and laugh.  I know, deep down, that when I can accomplish that- it puts all of the little things back in perspective.       When I have my perspective; I can handle ANYTHING.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Well, another anniversary is here.  It's very hard to believe at times that we have been married for twenty-six whole years.  Shoot- when I am not in the throes of the whole Hundred and Four thing- I barely feel like I am old enough to have been married a minute.  I definitely don't feel old enough that in three months I will have a twenty-five year old "child".

In my personal journal last night I mentioned that "events" or "time markers" like today put me in the mood for doing a spider web "game".  You know, when you take one thing in your life and change the decision.  Then you follow the strands out to all of the changes that would be in place because of that one different decision.  It's a very interesting exercise.  It's also fun to re-imagine your whole life in new ways.  That said- there is one thing that I have learned through doing this time and time again.  I have no regrets.  I cannot allow myself to regret anything because to regret my decisions is to regret what came from them.  I almost feel that if I allow myself regret- I am denying the lessons that I have learned from my mistakes and am taking my blessings for granted.  

Would I do everything over again exactly as I did it before?  Probably not EXACTLY.  There are some dumb decisions that, if I were to take a different road would not completely change my life so I might change them, but even those I can laugh about now even if I won't ever share them.  And even those have left behind little blessings.

I love that, despite the mistakes we have made, despite the mistakes we still make (we are the epitome of "The more things change, the more they stay the same) -even after all of these years there are no true regrets. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting Past Feeling A Hundred and Four

One thing I have learned about living with chronic illness is that there are a myriad of reasons and ways that we can feel significantly older than our physical age. Oh, I can generally ease along in a 10 or so year range from my own, sticking with the 40's and 50's for a good long while but with the onset of a bout of insomnia or flare, even a mini one, and then I start feeling older, and older, and older.

 More often than not it starts with the insomnia.  Then comes the extended stiffness that comes with pushing through the tired.  That brings on "new" (or- more) aches and pains which, speaking only for myself, causes me to walk more gingerly or use the affected area less, leading the areas taking the extra brunt to join the "symphony of Ow".  The more achy I become, the more I toss and turn.  The more I toss and turn, the less quality the sleep I am able to get becomes and the more I can feel the tired seeping through the muscles and joints and down deep into the bones.  Of course, the more achy and exhausted that I feel the older I feel.  By the peak, I am well past my 70's, 80's, 90's and into easing into my hundreds.

Just dealing with this cycle for the past, wow, coming up on 7 years now, has taught me that the best thing for me is usually to sleep...A LOT.  Last week I spent more time resting than I have in an age.  It helped quite a bit until last night when once again sleep was elusive.  While I was up in the middle of the night I read an email article from Arthritis Today that discusses a study that found....are you ready for this?  Are you sitting down?  More than 40% of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis DON'T EXERCISE!  Can you tell that this article annoyed the daylights out of me?  They concluded that:

"Unfortunately, there is the widespread myth that people with arthritis need to rest,” says Lee, who believes that some patients still think resting their joints is the best route. “Patients don’t have to meet the CDC guidelines, but they should be as physically active as possible.”

The study also found that inactivity was closely related to two factors: motivation to participate (in other words, whether a person believed he was able to participate in physical activity) and a belief in the benefits of physical activity. People who lacked strong motivation for physical activity, and people who lacked a strong belief in the benefits of exercise were 2.5 to 3 times more likely to be inactive than those who had strong motivation or held strong beliefs."

What floored me was that there is no mention in this "study" that perhaps the reason that we don't exercise is because, well, it flat out hurts!

While I am rather disgusted with this whole article, it does bring up a small point.  I know that when I do push through and keep active, it can slow down that feeling of rapid aging.  Oh- it doesn't stop it, but it does help to get through the days.  Now, I am not saying that I should be taking an aerobics class or out training for a 5k; but a little gentle yoga to stretch out the muscles or walking in the therapy pool at the Y (it's danged cold out!) or even a little dancing can keep me just limber enough to get through the day and give me enough energy to keep my mind engaged when it feels like it should be a fuzzy mess.   The challenge (at least for me) is to gather enough energy to actually get moving when all you feel like doing is hibernating.

Thankfully, physical exercise is not the only way that I can pull myself out of feeling older than my days.  I find that one of the biggest keys for me is to push the positivity.  In fact, when I am extremely worn down, it almost takes mainlining it like a drug.  As I lay there, a puppy on either side of me, I make sure that I have a book, or three,  that will make me happy.  It could be a sweet romance, it could be one of the Chicken Soup books, it could be anything- as long as it makes me smile. I surround myself with pictures of people that I love, and keep my phone close so that I can talk to them.  I keep a pad close by- either my iPad or just a pad of paper and a pencil- and as I think of things I am blessed with, when I think of things I am grateful for, I put the words down; because words have power.  I let myself sleep at will but when I am awake, I absolutely refuse to allow myself to wallow.  I let myself have a bit of a snit and then I tell myself that it's time to Just.  Get.  Over.  It.  I remind myself as many times as it takes to give myself a kick start that while I may not have much control over the physical aspects of living with a chronic illness, I sure as heck can control the effects on my emotions, on my mind.

Before I know it, even though I am still tired and still achy,  I begin to feel more like myself.  At least on the inside.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sleep or Pain? That is the quandary

Oh the difference a week or two can make.  The insomnia that I have been battling had made me crazy so I thought it time to try and figure out which (if any) of the meds I am on was contributing to it.  I had a feeling that it was the Neurontin, so I started there.  The first two days with out taking it at night (still doing the morning- not totally stupid) there was no change.  By the third night, I started to sleep.  I mean really sleep.  First four hours without interruption, then six, then two actual eight hour nights.  BINGO!  We have a winner.

Unfortunately- it came with a price.  By this Monday night I went to sleep around 11pm and though I woke to my alarms at 4:30 and 5:15- at which time I gave an out loud "Oh thank you GOD that it's Tuesday and I can sleep longer because I close tonight"- I finally crawled out of bed at 8am.  Note the word CRAWLED.  I may have been sleeping, but the pain and stiffness are back with a vengeance. To the point that it took over four hours yesterday from the time that  I got up to get my hands to be able to fist.  My hands, my wrists, my elbows and my hips all had that lovely gnawing pain that we with Rheumatoid Arthritis know so well all day long.  My lower back?  Started out aching and by the time I got home from work last night it was screaming.  I heated up a frozen pizza because I was not feeling up to cooking and as soon as I took the puppies for their somewhat-abbreviated-walk; I went up to my room, flipped on the television because Glee (which makes me SO happy-natch) was coming on, put on my jammies and tried to get comfortable. After almost two hours of trying to find a position that would alleviate the pain enough to bring sleep, I gave in and took the Neurontin.  

It kicked in fairly quickly, again with much gratitude on my part, and I was able to start drifting off by about 10:30.  At 12:30 I was wide awake.  I had been having MAD crazy dreams and woke up with one of those "What the H-E-double hockey sticks" thoughts going through my head.  I looked at the clock and promptly laid back down to try to go back to sleep.  Eyes wide open, I gave up after 30 minutes and got out of bed.  We are now creeping toward 5:30am, I have had the better part of a pot of coffee, watched a bunch of stuff off of my DVR , stretched through yoga, and am just starting to get tired again.  Of course we are just past the time that my second alarm goes off for the day so there is no going back to bed for me and it's going to be a long, long, long day.  I am feeling thankful that it's almost time for my morning dose because the stiffness and pain are making their way back despite having stretched and I want to head it off at the pass as much as possible.

This is my quandary.  My next appointment with my Rheumatologist is on the 17th.  I don't know which would be worse- the continued insomnia or the ramping up pain.  I will most definitely have to decide before tonight because the decision will come down to whether or not I take the Neurontin again before bed.  I am open to any suggestions that you may have that would help me get comfy enough to get to sleep without taking the Neurontin.