Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurtling toward the end of the tunnel.

     The end is in sight for another Back To School cycle for me.  This one has been particularly rough.  There have been a lot of changes in my industry in the last few years and our big change this year means that I have been doing long-LONG-days (yesterday and Monday were 15 hours each at work for example) on my feet and I have been there 24 days in a row now without a break.  Needless to say I am exhausted, my everything hurts and I am ready for it to be over.  The big push will be tonight.  I am going in to work in about an hour(it's now 6:30am) and won't be done until after midnight.  Then all that's left is a 12 hour day and then I will be done and can relax for a nice long weekend with my puppies and my folks.  Mom and Dad know my schedule so they will be cool with it if all I feel like doing is resting.  I am so thankful for that since I know that many - far too many- with RA and Fibro have family members who just don't get it.

     I have to confess something.  I feel like I am getting too "old" for this and it is really weighing heavily on me.  I have been known to push through the pain and fatigue but this year it just seems to be getting harder and harder.   I love what I do (for the most part) and that usually keeps me going.  This year it is just not enough. As Wren would say (I am paraphrasing here)," the Rheuma Dragon is raising it's head and showing its teeth".  Unfortunately- Excalibur is stuck in the stone and I just can't get it out to fight this time.  That means the Dragon is munching on my feet, my ankles, knees, hips, back, hands and neck.  In some spots he's just nibbling, in others he's full on chomping down.  Even worse- the exhaustion is starting to affect everything.  Last night at work my words just wouldn't come.  I would start a sentence and not be able to get my words out.  That is a blatant sign that I am hitting a wall.

     It's such a vicious cycle, the more tired we are- the more we hurt.  The more we hurt, the more exhaustion creeps in.  Yes, if you don't deal with pain on a regular basis, pain saps everything out of you and leaves you exhausted.  Other than rest- I just don't know what I will do but I am going to have to re-evaluate after we get through the beginning of this term.

     On the bright side- I set a reminder in my iPhone with its own ringtone that jingles every time I leave campus and says "Something Positive".  It doesn't matter if I am just going down the street to grab a bite or going home, when I leave the campus proper the tone sounds.  When I hear it, I automatically start making a list of the good things that have happened on this day and I am able to relax a little on my way home.  It's a neat feature and has helped a LOT.

     It's time for me to get moving so I hope you all have a lovely day and a terrific Labor Day weekend!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes it's just too much

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."
- Mother Theresa

  • This time of year my calendar is packed.  I look at it each day to see where I am and I am overwhelmed.  

  • I am not- by ANY stretch of the imagination- a good housekeeper.  My poor mother probably wonders who raised me.  I look at all of the things that truly need to be done around here and I am overwhelmed.  

  • I have a million and five things that need to be done at work before school starts in just two weeks.  Just thinking about all of the little details makes me feel overwhelmed.  

The problem is not just that I am overwhelmed but the "side effects".  The brain doesn't stop which leads to little sleep which leads to exhaustion which leads to having to make choices as to what must be done (work stuff) and what gets pushed to the wayside (house stuff and snatches of sleep) which leads to more buildup in those put off areas which leads to being so overwhelmed that I don't even know where to recover. Phew!  

I kind of feel like I am a hamster in one of those Habitrail balls.  Rolling all over the place, but not getting anywhere and can't find a way out.  I have been thinking a lot about this because the end of my tunnel, the deadline to my madness is in October when my dearest friend comes back for her annual visit to The Ville.  

My big "failing", I feel, is at home.  What I could really use is two things:  I need a professional organizer to come in and force me to declutter and get things pared down at home and I need a housekeeper to do the "beyond the basics" stuff that I never seem to have the time/feel up to/ never feel like I get it right/ stuff that people that are good at that kind of thing seem to find so easy. It would take a real load off of my mind.  Unfortunately- that professional organizer and housekeeper will be me (with help from the hubby who is also exhausted and not a neatnik) over the next few weeks. The hard parts- finding the energy and motivation to get moving after very long days at work.  

   I really feel that if I could find the way to pare back, to simplify my life, to get into a livable routine; I could take that deep breath that I need to get through the rest.  I will take any and all suggestions. Goodness knows that I will take any help I can get. So here are my questions to you:  How do you find that extra energy and motivation to get done all that needs to be done?  How do you decide what to let go in order to simplify and minimize your "stuff"? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

He made me a good way

     My "baby" is a grown man these days.  I was not diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis until he was 18.  We moved to the Midwest and he stayed behind less than two years later.  One of the few good things about this  is that he didn't have to grow up with a mom who was struggling to find out how to live with these illnesses.  Instead, he grew up with a mom that burned the candle at both ends, worked her butt off and did everything I could to give him a good life.  The flip side of this is that, having not seen too much of this journey first hand, sometimes I feel like he just doesn't get it.  I am woman enough to admit- I may have been wrong.

     Josh has dedicated much of his life to martial arts in general, Kempo in particular.  He began lessons when he was a freshman in high school because his football coach said that the players all needed to find something to make them more flexible.  Once he started- he never looked back.  Josh worked very hard and in just a couple of years, when he was 16, he began teaching at his dojo.  He loves sharing what he has learned with his students.

Josh being silly at the China section of Epcot

     The other day we were playing phone tag.  We talk almost every day on the phone and we are both pretty busy during the day so that was not so unusual.  We finally connected during my afternoon break.  It turns out that he was trying to reach me for advice.  He said "Mama, I have a new student starting this week.  She is very young and has JRA.  I would like to know how to work with her so that I can teach her and treat her just like the rest of my students, without causing her more pain.  You have been living with this pain so long that I know you can help me shift my style so that she will not feel like I am singling her out because I know from you that all you want is to be treated like you are normal."  He explained that he had spoken with her father who told him where the young lady had her particular challenges and Josh had already asked what joints were the most painful for her so that he could design a somewhat modified program for her.  We talked a while longer and I gave some suggestions before signing off.  Once we said our "Bye, I love yous" I sat in my car and just let the tears come for a few minutes.  I was so proud that he recognized that there ARE particular challenges that we who live with this disease face.  I was proud that he had taken the time to talk to the father and ask good questions so that he could effectively teach this young lady without exacerbating her pain.  I was moved to know that he values my knowledge of his craft combined with my handling of RA (and Fibro) to feel that I would be a resource to help him tailor his teaching for this girl.  Most of all, I finally feel that he actually understands what it is that I go through, at least a little, and for that I was thankful.  

     It's so hard to explain what it is that we go through to people who see us everyday, much less to those who live so far away and don't see us regularly.  He has never seen me have to use my cane.  He has never seen me struggle to make it up the stairs to my bed.  He has never seen me so exhausted that I cannot function- and still cannot sleep due to insomnia.  I don't like to complain about how I am feeling- I feel it does no good yet somehow there is at least a glimmer of understanding there- and that is all I can ask for with us being so far apart geographically.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rebounding from burnout.

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. 
Some come from ahead and some come from behind. 
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. 
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" 

- Dr. Seuss

It's that time of year- back to school.  For many that means the deep sigh of sending the tots off for 6-8 hours of education.  For many, it's a break.  Not so much when you are in my business.  I have a bazillion things to get ready- and the deadline for a lot of them is next Monday.  I have been positively frantic and I have been a bit short handed at work which lead to a minor bout of burnout.  I haven't been able to stop my brain from going in 47 directions at once. My to-do list is a list of lists- but that's all I have been writing.  I haven't been able to write here, on my latest project or even in my journal because my brain couldn't get beyond all of the tasks I have to do.  Making the decision as to what to make for dinner had become a major chore. I was exhausted when I went to bed and exhausted when I woke up.  I had pushed and pushed myself until I was ready to both collapse and pull my hair out-at the same time.  I needed a break- so last week I took one.  I left work Wednesday afternoon with the intention of taking two vacation days and the weekend to just be a lump and rest.  

Well, despite daily (and sometimes multiple daily) phone calls from work- I slowly found myself leveling off.  One day- I didn't even get out of my pajamas. One day, I read until my eyes closed, took a nap, and read some more.  I caught up on personal emails.  I played with the dogs.  I finished watching the first 7 seasons of Supernatural.  Hubby and I *finally* got to see The Dark Knight Rises then went next door to Meijer and picked up live lobsters on the way home to make a small feast.  Much too quickly it was Monday again and though I could feel the tension creep back into my shoulders and neck, it was back to work.  

I still have a million things to do.  I still have lists of lists but where the burnout was consuming me, it has been relegated to the back corner of my brain.  The time off gave me just enough perspective to see that by taking each day by day I WILL make it through this season.  


On a side note- yesterday I received a really neat honor.  This little blog has been named to's 22 Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs of 2012  I am in great company as most of these are blogs that I subscribe to, written by people much brighter than I am feeling these days.  I found this out yesterday, just when I was at a low point of the "going back to work" Monday-afternoon-blues and it made my entire day.  I urge you to check out this list.  Flipping through the slideshow you will see some familiar names (Congrats RA Guy, Kelly, Wren, Deb from ABCsofRa, Cateepoo!) and will discover new blogs that come from all different viewpoints and walks of life.  You won't be sorry!