Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Traveling again

I am off to a business meeting in Orlando.  I look forward to this trip every year even though it's not as "fun" as you would think heading to Orlando, FL would be.  There is no time for sightseeing, no time for visiting friends that live there- just meetings, product "stuff" on the trade show floor, and networking with our fellow managers. That said- I really enjoy the other managers in my region so it will be nice to see them.  The bonus is that my dearest friend is actually already on her flight so we get to spend time together.  Hubby is a little...jealous that we get an extra week together without him because he loves her dearly too but he will live.

I have all of my "stuff'- I have my meds, I have my cane (we do SO much walking) I have comfy shoes for when the feet start hurting and a tiger balm patch already on my back.  The only thing I am not looking forward to is lugging my luggage around.  It is really a pain in the back.

Anywho- I am off!  I hope you have a wonderful week!  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I have been given a minor miracle!

I know- that sounds moderately dramatic but I am ready to shout from the rooftops.  I saw my new Primary Care on Tuesday.  We had a little "get to know you" appointment and I mentioned the months and months (and months) of insomnia.  Well, she looked at my list of meds and decided that we would try Lunesta.  She gave me a week's supply and said that if that didn't work, we could try Ambien and if THAT didn't work- I would have to take my happy self to a sleep clinic for a study.

Tuesday night, I took my little blue pill around 7:30.  Hubby and I watched a little television and about 30 minutes later I got up to grab a glass of water.  You would have thought I was flat out drunk I was walking so wobbly.  I decided that meant it was time for bed.  Got up the stairs, opened my book and that is the last thing I remember.  Evidently I was awake for a little while longer.  My bookmark was pages away from where it had been the night before, and Harley was on my bed (with 12" bed risers, she can't get up solo) when Hubby came up to bed- but I was KNOCKED out.  I woke up 7 hours later feeling completely rested and relaxed.  I swear I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus singing behind me.  That said- I didn't want to get too excited because though I felt better than I have in as long as I can remember- When I tried Tylenol PM and Advil PM, they gave me one good night's sleep and then nothing.  They also didn't allow me to truly relax because I could feel a difference in my hands and feet when I tried the OTC compared to this.

Wednesday came and I gave it a shot again.  I took it in my bedroom and lay down with my book.  7 hours later- I hopped out of bed raring to go.

Thursday, I was a little concerned.  Thought I went right to sleep I was up at 2 am.  HOWEVER- I was up for about 90 minutes and then was able to go back up and go to sleep until 6 and I didn't wake up all groggy.  Though I mentally knew I had been up in the middle of the night- I didn't feel like it.  AND- it's not the "fault" of the drug that I woke.  Hubby fell asleep in his recliner (he's SO becoming our fathers!) and at around 2, the dogs were "fighting" over his pillows.  When I thought about it during the day Friday, I was actually feeling better about it because I am sensitive to antihistimines and when they knock me out you cannot wake me up at all.  So now I know that the Lunesta will not do that to me.

Last night, I woke up again.  I got out of the bed, went downstairs, watched an hour of TV (I don't even remember what I watched-lol) and then went right back to bed until my alarm went off.

Considering that last week I was waking up between midnight and 2am and was up for the day- I cannot tell you how much better this feels.  I was sitting at dinner with my husband last night and I realized that though I have been working like a mad woman all week to prep for my annual inventory and my upcoming trip to Florida (business meeting- not pleasure) I have not once gotten home and felt like the only thing I could do is crawl on my couch and pass out for a few hours.

Needless to say, I contacted my doctor's office and my RX will be ready to pick up this afternoon.  I have been feeling, when I am sitting up in the middle of the night that I am SO sick and tired of being sick and tired.  This past week has given me hope that sleep will once again be mine.

Have a wonderful weekend!    

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sleepless Night = Two Unrelated Rants

I think I slept, off and on,  a total of 2 hours last night. Of course, this can't be a weekend but rather I have 2 doctor's appointments today (one for a blood draw for an RA study and one with a new Primary Care) and then work until late.  Rather than being cranky at work, I am going to get my cranky out now with two things that are making me nuts.

Rant One:  let's talk pharmacy policy.  I cannot express HOW BEYOND irritated I am with my pharmacy at the moment. I am not even going to discuss the price of medications, though anyone using a biologic for one of the chronic illnesses can tell you how ridiculous that is!  Here is my gripe.

I was on infusion Orencia for what, about a year?  The way it worked was that my doc wrote the RX for a year, every three months my specialty pharmacy would send, by overnight service, 3 vials of the drug directly to my doctor's office.  When I went for my appointment and was mid-saline drip, they would mix it up in the office.  I never saw the drug until it was hooked up to my IV.  I didn't see it, I didn't touch it, I didn't so much as breathe in its general direction.  In November, they sent my three month supply to the office and my life went to hell in a handbasket schedule-wise and I was not able to have my infusion in November, December or January.

Last month, I saw my rheumy and we made the decision to switch me to the injectable form of Orencia.  The order was called in and I got my three months worth of injections over-nighted and began my injections.  During all of the switch-over, on one of my many discussions with the pharmacy, I asked them about the unused infusion meds.  They told me, in no uncertain terms, that they could not, would not, take that medication back from the doctor's office.  On one hand- I get it.  They can't take the chance that it has been tampered with.  On the other hand- it just infuriates me to no end.  When would it have been tampered with and by whom?  Do they think someone at my doctor's office would try and intentionally kill me?  Perhaps it's the delivery driver who is suspect- in which case- am I safe now?  Do they not have tamper-proof protections in place?  Do they not have the ability to test medications coming in?

Though it would have been *nice* to have a credit for my co-pay in place, it is not that.  It is the blatant WASTE of THOUSANDS of dollars of medication going into the trash.  Do you wonder why our meds are so expensive?  Here's a piece of the puzzle.  Okay- if they could not resell it, couldn't they donate it to someone who desperately needs biologics and cannot afford them?  Couldn't they return it to Bristol Meyers to be tested and repackaged?  I don't know about you but in my personal life I don't have a couple of thousand dollars to flush down the toilet, and goodness knows that it's the same in my professional life.  It just makes me ill to think about it.
Rant Two:  Spam.  I hate Spam.  Spam Email, Spam Comments, Spam Posts.  It's easy enough to deal with in most cases, I know.

In one of my different "groups" I had a fairly tense "discussion" this past week about someone who was posting spam for their "real estate academy" in a Military Brats page.  Their "MO" was to post "testimonials" from a supposed retired military member.  Someone was defending them because of (what I feel was) that ruse.  My point- it was a page for "brats" (ie- military kids) to get together, share memories and talk about how growing up in the service made us unique among our peers.  Just because the testimonial was allegedly written by a retired military member- that does not make the poster a "brat" who was "sharing their business" (as my counterpoint in the debate called it as opposed to selling a real estate scam: which I call it), and does not make that testimonial true just because he slapped rank on the end of it.  Heck- I don't know that it would even be appropriate if it IS true since our little corner of the web is for military kids- not our parents.

In our RA/Fibro groups the barrage is fairly constant.  Every one of them claims that she or he has a cure.  I ignore it when I am of the mind, I report it when I am really annoyed, but it really bothers me that anyone would try to use our illness to sell us snake oil.   If only ONE person, who is already dealing with so much, falls for this and loses their money and peace of mind, it's too many.    

 I have pretty high filters on all of my email accounts and on this blog but I truly resent having to take the time to delete advertisement after advertisement from both my personal spam folders and the emails that come through that are meant as comments here.

 Worse- this morning I deleted 23 spam comments for porn and/or sex chats meant for here.  What in the world have I posted that makes these morons think that this crap; be it ads for fake Gucci purses, for ways to increase my web presence, or for "f*^k buddies" for myself or my readers would be appropriate or welcome?

So here's my note to the spammers.  We don't want you.  We don't want your products, your "opportunities" or whatever else you are selling.  You waste our time, you try our patience.  You are NOT WELCOME.  If- by chance- you make it through my filters, you will be deleted post haste.

Rants over.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

A new beginning every day

" No one can go back and make a brand new start my friends, but anyone can start from here and make a brand new end."    Dan Zandia

It was a rough wake up this morning.  I got a slow moving (thank goodness) elbow in the face from the other half as he was rolling over and hogging the bed. I hadn't slept well anyway as my neck has been stiff on the right side and my shoulder stiff on the left side for 2 days now and I couldn't get comfortable so that was all it took to get me out of bed before 3am.  Then, my brain kicked in and was thinking of all of the million things I have to do today.  My immediate thought as I flipped through the Rolodex of tasks to be done was "Hello Monday!"  I was about half way down the stair case when that thought hit me and I stopped in my tracks.  I  know myself well enough to know that if I got down the stairs still grumbling, I would let my day be "One of THOSE day." and that wasn't how I wanted to start my week.  I took a deep breath and said (out loud no less) "Okay- let's start over!"  

I came the rest of the way downstairs and clicked on the coffee pot then went in search of my pup.  He had dashed down the stairs in front of me so I knew he was around.  I sat down with him and started just rubbing his belly while I took a few deep breaths to get rid of all of the stress that had already mounted.  By the time my coffee finished brewing, Auggie was back to sleep and I was feeling significantly better.  I popped online and what did I see?  My son was on as well.  I had forgotten that he was working last night!  Finding him on while he was working afforded the opportunity for us to message back and forth for about an hour.  That certainly put a smile on my face. 

As I was no longer cranky I was able to start making a list of things I needed to get done for work this week, as well as a list for home.  Looking at it on paper let me put things in perspective.  As I looked at my list and was figuring out my time table- I started thinking.  It wasn't hubby's fault that we connected this morning, actually that means that he was sleeping well for a change.  It's no one's fault that my neck is stiff and sore and I know that all I can do is ride it out till it gets better.  Being up extra early gave me a chance to talk to the boy and it gave me some one on one time with my spoiled puppy.  It gave me extra time to plan my meals for the day and take my time doing the prep work. It really was not a bad thing after all.  

  It would have been easy to just keep on down those stairs and let the way I started my day dictate how the rest of it went. I could have wallowed in self pity for the literal pain in my neck.  I could have been angry because Jim flopped over on my side of the bed and popped me in the process.  I could have just let the crankiness influence how I saw my upcoming week and in turn allowed myself to be overwhelmed with all of the big things I have to do between now and my inventory on the 24th.  

 Instead, it was surprisingly easy to stop and flip it 180 degrees.  I have slathered my neck and shoulder with Tiger Balm Neck and Shoulder rub and it is a delightful warmth on those sore muscles. I have already cut a cantaloupe for a snack, blended my pineapple/blueberry/banana/yogurt smoothie for lunch and it's in the freezer.  I have portioned out my breakfast and pulled out the ingredients we need for our Na'an bread pizzas for dinner.  I have emailed a to do list to work, gotten dressed, tossed on a little makeup and enjoyed most of the pot of coffee I brewed. I have folded and put aside some of the clothes that I am wearing for my upcoming business trip.  All in all- it's been a productive morning.   All that is left is to pack my food, pack my iPad and phone and I will be able to dash out the door and get to work.  

 What a gift we have been given!  We can make the choice to make each and every day, each and every hour, each and every minute better than the last!  No matter what is happening in our lives, we can choose to see that glass as half full or half empty.  That power is ours and no one else's!    I have to agree with Buddha when he said:  

  "Each morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most."  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Good and Bad- after effects of a tragedy.

In my neck of the woods, one week ago we had a horrific bunch of tornados come through.  I cannot begin to describe the devastation.  We have so very many people from surrounding towns that are now homeless because of the havoc that each tornado wreaked.  We also had over 39 people lose their lives in the process, including a young family of five.  From the beginning, their story just ripped my heart out. As with any tragedy the storms and the aftermath of the storms have brought out the best and worst in people.  Watching the news has been tough this week just because of the difference in the way folks have responded.  

Let's start with the bad.  I was absolutely appalled to see that in under 24 hours, our State Police had to issue a warning for the homeowners that were heading back to survey the damage that they would have to be cautious about entering their homes- not because what was left was so dangerous but because there had already been looters in the area.  Next was that there was a man who was caught loading up his van full of food after showing up at a food bank and impersonating a volunteer.  I am sorry for being so blunt, but anyone who would loot a home after this kind of event or would steal food from a food bank is nothing more than the scum of the earth.  What made my blood boil, and I don't know why I do this to myself, was the arm-chair quarterbacks who left truly ignorant comments on the different news stories online.  One example that nearly made my head explode was on a news story on msnbc about the family I referenced above.  While many of the comments were offering prayers for the community, there was a contingent who seemed to take great delight in posting how "stupid" the folks who lost their lives were for being in their homes when the tornado hit.  I saw comments about how they should have left their trailers and gone to Walmart to be safe (ummm, HELLO!  A Walmart was directly hit in Joplin last year and many inside died!) or that they should have gone here or there .  There was the "those people knew ahead of time- it's their own fault they died" group.  It literally made me sick to read the stupidity these people were posting.  It is obvious that the posters have never been through a tornado and that they are just miserable people in general.

On the opposite side, once again it has been proven that community comes together in the face of tragedy.  There have been everything from "cutathons" scheduled for this weekend, to telethons, to local company donating $10,000 in blankets and personal care items to help the folks who had to use a neighboring town's high school as a shelter.  Normal, everyday people rose to the occasion as well.  The Red Cross and the National Guard were organizing getting the donations to the victims and were so overwhelmed with donations of food, clothing, blanket and other items that they had to put a moratorium on everything except donations of food and cash.  What I found to be terrific, and I would estimate that it worked very well, was that the Red Cross wasn't just saying "we need cash donations." and leaving it at that.  Instead, they specifically requested donations of $10.00,  I know that in these tough economic times, if I were having a tough time financially,I would be more apt to answer a donation request of $10.  It gets the message out there that even small donations can make a world of difference.  It also allows you to reach a broader audience than if they had requested $50-$100 or just left it vague.  I know that I have, on occasion, had the feeling that I would like to help out in a situation but I couldn't afford to make a large donation (be it money or hours) and felt like the little I could afford wouldn't make enough of a difference to count.  With this tactic, it opened the doors to those who might feel the way I have.

As I began to notice some of these things I began to wonder; Do these folks (both the good and the bad) knew how the world perceives them?  I will admit to being the first to judge those who used this tragedy for their own personal gain, whether by stealing from the victims or by price gouging since some will have to start over and replace everything. If I were to type what I REALLY think of these people, it would turn the page blue.  On the opposite side of the coin, as I heard of all of the good stories, I just wanted to hug each and every one of them.

I feel that when we have this type of situation, whether it's an enormous storm that literally takes out entire towns, or a house fire or car accident that affects "only" one family, we get an accurate picture of our society.  It also gives us a clear picture of the media and their chosen coverage.  While the number of people who gave in some way, the spotlight lands on those who are using the situation as an opportunity to lie, cheat, steal and scam the victims.  We need to turn that around.  I think I will send letters to my favorite news channel as well as the local papers and express my dissatisfaction.  I don't know about you, but I would  MUCH rather read stories about the people who are out there on the front lines helping with the clean-up and recovery and see the "good" stories than give publicity to people who are out there for self-gain.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fighting your way back from illness and adversity.

I have been "in the process of sick" for several weeks now and it's getting old.  Hubby was sick for a while which started this whole thing.  First it was the nasty cold sore (which I get on my NOSE every time I am fighting a big cold/flu) and then it turned into hives.  I fought those off and in the process, the illness won.  I held on till last Saturday when I came home from work, took a nap and woke up feeling like what comes out of Harley's hind end.  That began round two of the fight back to "normal".

There is a saying that I tend to cling to when I am sick, feeling blue, not myself or just plain struggling:  

"Fake it till you make it."  

  Much of the idea behind the saying is that no matter now you really feel, you need to exude confidence while you reach inside and find that inner kernel REAL self confidence and let it grow.  It ties in with the whole "the more positive you are, the more positivity you bring to your life." While it's easy enough to "fake it" when you are in some situations, I find it a much harder prospect as I cough, sneeze, power through a box of tissues and just want nothing more than to crawl in my bed. This led me to look high and low for ways to make it so that when I was at work or out in public doing whatever I would not seem as ill as I was.  The majority of that came to what I was doing when I was NOT at work. What I came up with was a very simple list:

  • Let your body dictate your tasks.  I know, it sounds so common sense, but how many times do you overdo just in the name of getting whatever it is done?  Personally, I tend to take on too much on a regular basis and by actually listening to my body and choosing my tasks accordingly, I have shortened the duration of this latest illness exponentially.  This applies to work as well as at home.

  • Nap Damn-it!  We all have a lot going on and I know some folks who would no more take the time to take a nap than they would walk up to a random stranger and punch them in the face.  Your body needing the rest so you can recouperate is not a sin.  It should not induce guilt or make you feel like you are lazy or are not living up to your own expectations.  If you are not a napper, think of it as a tool to let your body recharge since your battery is low to begin with. Me?  I love a good nap but rarely take one after 2-3 pm because I have enough trouble sleeping.  When I am ill and my body tells me that it needs sleep, a nap after work becomes my reward for having made it through the day and having accomplished what I set out to do.  When I am feeling at my worst, I have been known to go to my car on my break, set the alarm on my phone and give myself a 10 minute power nap to restore my ability to function at top level for a few more hours.  

  • Find things (or people) that make you laugh.  There is truth to the whole "Laughter is the Best Medicine" saying.  You cannot feel poorly if you are geniunely laughing.  That is not to say that the illness or pain of whatever ails you will go away completely, but in that moment you are not thinking about what ails you.  

  • Indulge a little.   When I am sick, comfort foods are my friend.  Chicken soup, mashed potatoes, jello, pudding and ice cream all make me feel like a kid again.  I don't go hog wild but I do let myself have a little of whatever it is that will make me feel warm inside.  

  • Give yourself a good soak.  When I am sick the accompanying muscle aches can set off a Fibro flare like nobody's business.  There's nothing better, when you are cold and achy than a nice, long soak in the tub.  I add epsom salts for the muscle aches and a blackberry/vanilla bubble bath and then soak until the water goes cold.  
I know that it seems to be fairly common sense, but unless you are taking care of yourself behind the scenes, those few hours a day that you need to be at the top of your game become that much harder.  When you do allow yourself a break at home, it is much easier to put on your "happy face" during the day.  

I also have a short list of things for when you are at work to keep you going until you can get home: 

  • Bring your favorite comfort beverage.  I drink coffee like it's my job, but when I am sick I drink a lot of herbal tea.  It's not a big deal to bring tea bags, a mug and bottled water that I can nuke in the microwave to sip on in the afternoon.  
  • Pack a lunch.  If you normally skip lunch or go to your cafeteria or get take out, it can be hard to find those foods that will  hit that comfort level and keep you feeling okay during the day.  Taking a few minutes to pack a lunch ensures that you have foods that will make you feel better and  keep your energy up.  
  • Dress for comfort.  I live in pajamas when I am home and when I am not feeling well it takes tremendous effort to change into work clothes and get out of the house.  I am not by and stretch of the imagination a shopper but for this purpose (whether I am sick, sick or having a flare) I always have at least one set of clothing that is made of super soft fabric, has no buttons, snaps or zippers and that make me feel cozy even though I am working.  Incidentally, I also bring these on business trips because they wear me straight out and that comfort level makes things bearable.

I find that if I make a concerted effort to follow each of these tips, it gives me the strength to fight my illness full force.  Because I am taking care to make sure I am comfortable and nourished (both physically and mentally) it becomes so much easier to stay positive during the day when I need it most.  The last tip I would give is to really try to convey the positive side of things.  I am fully convinced that when, for example, someone asks how you are feeling if you say "I am feeling better, thanks!" even if it's just a *little* better, you will indeed start to feel better.  Each of these things, whether you do them all together or pick and choose what works for you, will give you the strength to fight off whatever ails you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Viva La Revolution!

I don't know if you have seen this show on ABC- but there is a talk show right after my absolute favorite show (THE CHEW) called "The Revolution".  Sadly, there are talks about it only lasting a season (the daytime soap viewers are essentially boycotting anything that replaced "their" shows) but I think it's pretty terrific.

A little show info:  Like The Chew, it has 5 co-hosts:  Ty Pennington (Lifestyle/Design), Tim Gunn (Fashion/Style), Harley Pasternak (Exercise/Healthy Living), Dr. Jennifer Ashton (Women's Health/Patient Advocacy), and Dr. Tiffanie Davis-Henry (Therapist/Relationships).  Each week on the show, in addition to tips and advice, they follow the 5 month journey of a normal, everyday person who is trying to change their lives.  This week is "Reinvent Yourself" Week.

Here's what I love about this show.  It stresses in every way that any one of us can make changes, big or small, to our life.  They give advice on everything from relationships to weekend home projects to choosing clothing that looks good on every body size to mixing medications to- well, no topic is off limits.  As they are doing this, it's all from the outlook of inspiring you to make the changes that work within your own life to make it better.

If you have a chance- give it a shot.  You may find, as I often do, that you learn something new.  Not just from the experts, but about yourself.