Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

      I was in two different...discussions (I don't want to call them arguments because they were mostly civil) this week in regards to disability.  Both left me very disappointed and a little hurt because of some of the remarks made by people of whom I thought better.  

     The first came because someone was complaining that their boss "played favorites" by cutting a co-worker who was going through personal issues slack and the person who was initiating the conversation was resentful that they had to do what they felt was extra work.  My first response was to pose a question:  
"I don't mean to be offensive- but you do know what this person has going on that may be causing the manager to cut her some slack? For example- I have medical conditions that are chronic and painful. I have learned to live with them but when they flare up at best I can manage to get to work and give customer service all day, There are days I can't lift a stack of 5 mass market paperbacks to save my life. There are better days when I power through a pallet of textbooks by myself. Just looking at me, you would never know and I don't update everyonebecause my medical issues are between me and my regional and I know that I give 100% of what I am capable of every day." 

 The immediate response behind me was:

They hired that person under the condition that'd they be able to lift a certain amount and do a certain amount. I think it's unfair if they have a medical condition. Why should you have to suffer. (I am a rotten human being, PS.)

My next thought was "Wow, so this person thinks that my fellow chronic illness people and I should just go away so we don't inconvenience anyone?" I said something to that effect and that when I was hired I was perfectly healthy- that the illnesses didn't start for several year and that when I am doing well I work my tailfeathers off to sort of "make up for" when I am not well- and that I don't feel the need to broadcast when I am not feeling well and why because it's between my boss and I and my medical issues are no one's business.  They replied that we (people with chronic illnesses) should just get a new job because it not fair to anyone else that they would have to pick up our slack.   I was even more dismayed when several other people chimed in with the same attitude along with sharing articles about "dealing with lazy-coworkers" and such.  Now- not everyone was like-minded.  That cooled the steam coming out of my ears but I had to walk away because until then I had not encountered in "real life" that attitude and I was too shocked to be civil.  

The second was regarding handicapped parking spaces.  The Today Show did a story on Facebook "Name and Shame" pages because someone left a note on a Coke truck parked in a handicapped spot to unload that said "Congratulatons!  You will be featured on the Disability Parking Wall of Shame.  Take care!"  Someone that I know casually replied that they see able-bodied people get out of cars in handicapped spots- what's the difference?"  A couple of people replied that not everyone who is disabled needs a wheel chair and one woman said "You may look at me and see a full-bodied person but not all disabilites are visible."  

There was a bit of back and for but to which the person I know replied" Well if you can physically walk and move around then no need for a permit!!!! There are all kinds of disabilities and some do not require a front row parking spot!!!"  to which I finally chimed in with:  "Actually- I have several illnesses that are chronic, incurable, painful and limit my mobility. While I may look great getting out of my car, I use the cart to lean on for balance and just walking around Kroger and standing in line can cause my joints to flare up and my back to go into spasm. Looking at me- you don't know that I am legally disabled, but I am and that's why I have a handicap plate on my car. I shouldn't have to tattoo my medical conditions on my forehead because someone doesn't think I look disabled enough. Many of us in the autoimmune disease community deal with this all the time- and it only adds to the stress of living with the diseases.

There has been no reply since so I am hoping that we made her think.  I was a little taken back though.  I have dealt with people like that in my real life so it was less shocking.  I just think what threw me was who it was coming from and how adamant they were.

Perhaps it's because I am taking longer than normal to "recover" from my Rush period; perhaps it's because I have been having more "I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired" thoughts of late but I seem to be more hypersensitive to the school of thought that if people are disabled they should just go away so able-bodied people are not inconvienced or that unless someone can see what's "wrong" with you, you must be trying to abuse the "privliges" that really disabled people get.  

I guess what I want to say is this:  Unless you know someone personally, unless you know what's going on in their lives, don't just look at someone and make a snap judgement.   It's no one's business WHY we have a handicapped plates on our car.  It's no one's business why we are allowed to take it easy at times.  Unless you want us to ask you about extremely private questions about your life, your medical history- don't expect us to divulge that information just because you decide that we don't "look disabled" enought for your tastes.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to Work and Back to Spring Rush

    I don't know about you but it seems most of us have a rough time getting back to the daily grind after a vacation or time off.  The last two weeks have been lovely-ish.  We had "short" days at work, 8 hour days instead of 10.5 but only four hours a day open to the public- the rest behind the scenes.  We had a two day work week for Christmas week and four-ish (I worked Saturday) for the New Year.  Today we go back- and straight into extended hours.  From now until MLK day- it's time to fire on all cylinders.  The two hard parts about Spring Rush for me is that we go from end of semester (which is crazy busy) to the holidays to Rush again in a matter of three weeks and it's hard to go from up to down to up again so quickly.  The old body just doesn't do that as easily any longer.  It must be done though because this job provides the health insurance that covers all of the medical crap so- I will persevere.  One thing I have learned is that the key to perseverance is preparation.  

    How have I prepared?  I have bought a brace for my back since I will be on my feet all day every day.  I have made sure my RX's are all filled.  I have prepped easy to eat on the go foods (first part of this week: rice crackers and summer sausage, baby carrots and popcorn for lunch and snacks, yogurt with granola for breakfasts) and I have soup that I pulled from the freezer for when I get home late tonight and tomorrow night.  I have stocked my purse with Thermacare in case I need it, I have backups on on my Naproxyn and Flexeril "packed" and my clothes are planned out for the week.  The other half will fend for himself till the weekend and will help me take care of the dogs. The DVR is set for all the returning shows this week and next. I already have my grocery list going for after work on Saturday and have started planning what I will make on Sunday for meals for the next week. While I am at work on Sunday, I can count on Jim to wash and dry the laundry so I don't have to worry about that and I can fold on Sunday before bed since it's a mindless task that I enjoy.  I think I am as ready as I can be, all things considered.

    All of this will allow me to go to work, do the best I can, come home, snuggle pups and go to bed so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.  Next week after we make it through the first two days of school I will start planning my recovery period over MKL weekend.  That will keep the light bright at the end of the tunnel.

Josh Shipp says "Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose" and that is exactly how I am looking at this rush.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back at 2014, Looking Forward to 2015

     Looking back:

     I don't know about you, but for me 2014 was interesting in a lot of ways.  Of course, there were the usual medical issues and more. On the physical side on the positive- I did manage to remain cigarette-free for all of 2014.  In two weeks I will hit the 13 month mark! There were great things that happened on the personal front as well as difficult. Good things at work and difficult.  Pretty much a normal year for most people.  I have had years like this before- who hasn't?  Somehow though it didn't feel normal, I just felt like something in me was off.

      I also found that I just didn't have the energy or patience to write.  Looking at my blog dashboard, I only wrote 14 posts between one year ago and today.  That's not a lot for someone who is a known motormouth!  I would open a new page, stare at it for a while, become frustrated and delete the auto-draft.  I did that a lot on my other projects as well.  I didn't have the stamina to push through.  I just didn't have much to say.  Well, I did. but it was often snarky because I found myself irritated a LOT.  I wondered occasionally if it was a mild depression because I didn't rebound as quickly from the news of the latest diagnosis as I normally do.  It's more than that though, it's more than what's going on in my life.  I would find myself reading or watching the news and going back and forth between just shaking my head, wondering what the heck is going on in this world or giving thanks that I wasn't raising a child in it.

     This year I watched the events of the year unfold around me, around this country and around the world and I just could not push through all of the overwhelming negative to find the positive in it.  We; people-friends-families- neighbors-towns- the whole country; are more divided than I can remember in my life- and I was born in the 60's!  We are divided racially (Still? Again?), politically, religiously, and in terms of values and we are about it than ever before.  I found myself shocked at the things that come out of the mouths (and keyboards) of both strangers and people that I thought I knew.  It gave me a huge sense of disappointment in them for what was being said, how it was being said and the actions being taken.  It gave me a sense of disappointment in myself for not recognizing those traits before things came to a head.  I deleted/"unfriended"/walked away from a surprising number of people in my online life and intentionally allowed relationships to lapse in my real life.  The negativity was just too much.

     Now I know that there are people out there every single day who are doing good things.  People who are trying to make the world a better place.  It's just become hard to find them when their stories are drowned out by discord, by rudeness, by disrespect, by hate.  Just writing this and reflecting upon it has made me feel so tired and so helpless that I had to stop, close it and come back to it later.  Needless to say, I was rather looking forward to the end of the year and a new beginning.

Looking Forward:    

    It's a new year.  I didn't make a list of resolutions this year as I often have in the past.  Like so many, my resolutions tend to be out the window by February.  Last year's certainly did.  :-)   This year, instead, I am making it just one goal to "shake it off".  Last year was a big step backward for me in many ways and rather than allow myself to be mired in the things I cannot change I need to learn to let it go and move on to things I do have the ability to influence.  When my husband and I were separated I repeated the Serenity Prayer a lot.  To the point that it was almost by rote.  When that changed, I kind of let that drop off and that may not have been the best idea.  It's a simple thing but it allowed me to step back and remind myself that I can't take on or take in everything because I tend to take things to heart.

    In an effort to turn things back around  I have decided to utilize two "mantras" for 2015.  First, as I mentioned, is the Serenity Prayer:

The second is this:  

    Keeping these in mind should allow me to let go of what has been weighing me down and to re-focus my attention on all of the myriad of blessings that fill my life and on the wonderful things that people are doing for the world around them.  They are many, they are important, and they deserve my attention far more than any of the rest of the nonsense that's been going on.

     The first step is to make it through this Back-to-School rush (classes begin a week from Monday) and then get back into a routine.  Rush ends around the 18th so the light is at the end of the tunnel.  Then it will be time to make this the best year yet.  Bring it on 2015~ I am ready for you!