Monday, August 30, 2010

Graces for Day 15

  • I had lunch with a good friend.
  • When I got home from work, I managed to push myself enough to grab the pups' leashes and take them for a long walk.
  • I still had energy after the walk! Normally it takes everything I got to just get through work, so it was nice to have the energy to do more once I was home.
  • I printed up a bunch of pictures of the house and the animals and wrote explanations on the back of everyone. Then I wrote cards to my Grandpa in Nevada, my Great Uncle in Ohio, and my five-year-old twin nephews in Washington and included the pictures. This way they have a better idea of our life in California. I really do hope that I continue to do this; it's fun knowing they will flip through the pics every know and then.
  • I also got some bad news today. My 90-year-old Grandpa was admitted to the hospital to the hospital on Saturday after a fall. But it is also kind of a good thing because he would not admit that he has not been feeling well, even to the doctor, but it was obvious to his wife that he has not been okay. So hopefully he will get some rest and they will have a chance to really find out what is going on.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Movement & Graces

I was having a pretty hard day yesterday with my hands, legs, and feet in pain. Of course I have no idea why the pain was worse, you never do with RA, but the office was freezing at work and that added to it. I had my gloves on and doubled my socks to make myself as comfortable as possible.

I was dying to crawl into bed when I got home from work, but I pushed my husband to get out of the house instead. We went to a local mall to walk around for a while and then walked to Trader Joe's to get dinner. By the end of the evening I was more achy and having problems with the stairs, but feeling good about all the exercise. I know movement will help the RA and losing weight would be fabulous.

My graces -

Day 12 -
  • I was at Starbucks this morning standing next to a couple with their five year old son. They were speaking in another language, but were rather loud so they were hard to ignore. Their son walked up between them and said "both of you stop complaining." He turned to his dad and said "stop listening to her." He turned to his mom and said "stop listening to him." They were both quiet from that point on and I couldn't help but laugh.
  • I was able to get quite a bit accomplished at work.
  • My husband came home early from work.
  • We went on a long walk around the local outdoor shopping center.
  • I crawled into bed early with a new book.
Day 13 -
  • Finding A Brief Guide to Life from Zen Habits in my inbox this morning. It's really a must read post.
  • Leaving work to find that it is only 85 outside and not 110 like it has been all week.
  • Going on an incredibly long walk with my husband.
  • A blizzard from Dairy Queen to reward myself for that walk. I grew up with Dairy Queen and they are not that common where I am now. Luckily there happened to be one at the mall we were walking in!
  • Falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Day 14 -
  • Sleeping in.
  • A book and a Starbucks green iced tea - a wonderful combination.
  • I wasn't able to get a hold of my sister today and wish her happy birthday, but at least I know that she was really happy with her gift (a very expensive shower curtain that she wanted for her new place - she's my little sister and I always cave).
  • Grooming Simba - It's amazing how much hair was on the floor and it doesn't even look like I made a dent.
  • A warm bath to sooth an achy body.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A good day & catching up with my graces ...

I have been absolutely wiped out after work the last three days, especially since my pain levels have been up, so I decided that today would be all about me. I had a massage, which helps with my anxiety and back pain. I have also been told that it helps release the toxins from your muscles.

I came home, grabbed a book, and got comfortable for most of the afternoon. I know I fell asleep at some point in there.

Rommel came home from work and we went on a short walk. I felt like I needed to get a little something done, so I cleaned the fish tank before I sat down to watch Project Runway.

It was a pretty good day and I feel ready to take on work tomorrow.

My graces -

Day 7 -
  • I had the energy to straighten up our bedroom and put away the piles of laundry.
  • A little shopping at Old Navy - I am all about clearance!
  • My husband was willing to help me groom Sunny.
  • I was able to take a nap cuddled under a blanket with the A/C running when it was 110 degrees outside.
  • Watching America's Funniest Videos - so freaking funny & laughter is always good for healing.
Day 8 -
  • Sneaking a peek at the Halloween inventory at work. It's definitely my favorite holiday to decorate for and I can guarantee the my house will be all decked out by October 2.
  • This is so awful, but I can't remember my Monday! I have went over and over it, but all I can think is that I went to work, came home, and went to sleep. I know there is so much more in between there, but I am totally drawing a blank.
Day 9 -
  • Coming home at lunch and hanging out with our two dogs and kitten. They were doing so well together until Zooey dive boomed the birdcage several times and had to be taken out of the room.
  • I finally finished the shadow box for part of my dunny collection.
  • Spending some quiet time outside while watering the trees.
  • I had my review at work and it went really well. I was definitely worried because everything has been harder since my RA diagnosis. The brain fog makes me feel scattered, the fatigue makes me work slower, and then there is the leaving early. But I have really been trying to kick things up a notch lately and I think they definitely noticed.
  • Settling in for a movie with my husband.
Day 10 -
  • The feral cats greeting me this morning for their breakfast.
  • I managed to clear off a large portion of my desk at work.
  • Having the drive to file the huge stack of invoices I let build up. I cannot express how much I dislike filing! I had an office job in college and the main duty was to file, file, file. Every semester we had to clean out the file cabinets, weed out the students that graduated, and refile everything. I would have nightmares about endless piles of paper that had to be filed.
  • An evening walk with Rommel.
  • I was watching LA Ink and I got an idea for a tattoo that I am pretty excited about.

Day 11 -
  • Sleeping in on my day off!
  • A massage - I will totally admit that I still feel guilty about spending the money on massages, but my anxiety causes my neck and back to get so tense that it causes major pain.
  • Plenty of time to read.
  • Getting the fish tank clean.
  • Walking outside this evening and feeling a cool breeze. It has been over 100 degrees all week and maybe it is finally going to break.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trying to make work work for me ...

Although I am trying not to be negative, I can't avoid the fact that I will always be experiencing some level of pain in my hands. It's one thing to not be able to use my hands as much at home. I can avoid doing some things if I need to or at least put them off. I also have a fabulous husband who helps me in every possible way he can.

Work is a completely different story. I can't afford to miss work nor do I want to put my coworkers in that position, especially if I am still able to basically function. But when the most important aspects of my job involve counting money, typing, and writing and my hands are in pain, work can be uncomfortable to say the least.

So I took some pictures to show you how I have tried to make myself more comfortable.

First, I wore my compression gloves. I also have regular fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm because the air conditioning causes my joints to hurt even more. And they are just so stylish, who wouldn't want to wear these?

Second, I had to make my pen easier to use. I have honestly looked everywhere for something to place on my pen and make it easier to grasp, but could not find anything I liked. The only option that was even worth trying was this Y-shaped pen and it was not very comfortable to use. So I ended up wrapping my pen with medical gauze so I did not have to grasp it so tightly, which I wrote about the other day.

Third, the electric stapler, which is probably one of the best inventions known to man. We got these at work a couple of years ago for larger stacks of paper, but I now use it for everything when my hands hurt. I should honestly just retire my regular stapler because I feel like I am cheating on it with the younger, prettier version.

My physical therapist also recommended a headset for the phone, but after only a few calls, I ended up shoving it back in the box and pushing it far, far under my desk to be forgotten about.

It is a start, but I also plan to do some research on the Americans with Disabilities Act, etc. If I find anything good, I will be sure to post it here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hand Pain ...

My hands are still in quite a bit of pain, so I will make this short.

I made it through work even though I desperately wanted to leave. I found myself trying to make as many adjustments as I possibly could to make my hands more comfortable. I wore compression gloves for most of the day, which help a little bit. The pressure seems to calm down the throbbing. Even though the office was extremely warm, I had to move any fans so they were not directly on me because the cold air hurt when it hit my hands. I wrapped my pen with medical gauze from the first aid cabinet so I did not have to grip it so tightly.

And those things help, but what if the pain in my hands gets any worse? My job involves counting money, typing, and writing.

Enough negative thoughts. I will just have to deal with that situation when I come to it.

My graces -

Day 5
  • A coworker going out of her way to help me fix a problem.
  • Taking time to brush Simba, especially since he has been spending the cool evenings lying in his favorite patch of dirt in the backyard.
  • Having a free evening to rest my feet, which were in a lot of pain.
  • Having that free evening all to myself, but happy when my husband did come home later in the evening after a work event.
  • Slipping into fresh sheets at the end of a very hard day.

Day 6
  • Having the strength to make it through a whole day of work even though my hands were in serious pain and I desperately wanted to walk out.
  • My husband making me grilled cheese when I came home from work for lunch.
  • Browsing the bookstore for the next book to read.
  • Watching Zooey the kitten try to catch a fly for at least twenty minutes. It's funny how many things are still new to her.
  • Seeing a friend that I have not talked to in quite a while.
I feel like I need to apologize that my graces are not that inspired, but it has been a very hard couple of days to fine bright spots in. My RA is taking it's toll on me and my hands and feet have been in a lot of pain. I should be grateful that I am still able to function, but after feeling pain all day I honestly want to collapse.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today ...

Today has not been such a good day. Work was just overwhelming and for some strange reason I felt like I was going to cry all morning. If anyone had said the wrong thing, I might have just broke down.

I have also gotten by wearing some cushy Nike sandals lately, but for some reason decided to wear a pair of tennis shoes today. I have never had a problem with them before, but as the day went on my feet hurt more and more. My hands weren't doing so well either.

I took my shoes off after work and found a really crazy bruise on the bottom of one of my feet, which may have added to the pain. I am not sure how I got it, but I would bet money that it is from stepping on a dog treat in the middle of the night. It tends to happen quite a bit.

I have a fever too.

But I guess I should be grateful that I had a few goods days before today.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To quote John Lennon ...

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

I decided to spend some of my day off hanging out at a local bookstore. I love getting an iced tea, finding an overstuffed chair, and spending way too long reading. I guess I just love reading, people watching, and being surrounded by thousands of books.

Anyway, I decided to browse the pet section for some books on dog grooming because we have been trying to take care of it ourselves instead of spending the money on a groomer. As I flipped through one of the books, I couldn't help but start coming up with plans of daily grooming and dogs that never have a mat or flea (yeah right).

Then I began thinking about old me; the me that used to have so many "to do's". A year ago I was working in the garden, doing all the handiwork around the house, and had other projects on the side. Plus there were always more things that I wanted to do, but never managed to finish.

Looking back, I cannot believe that I used think I was never doing enough. If I had the energy or ability to do most of those things today, I would be over the moon.

Now that Rheumatoid Arthritis has waltzed into my life, most plans have been thrown out the window. Some days it just seems easier not to think about all the things I want to get done then to come up with a list and then be disappointed when I don't get something done. And the days I do find that I have energy, I almost always overdo it and take on as much as I can. Then I end up suffering the consequences for days afterwards.

So I am thinking of creating a new "to do" list; a list with one line for each day. If I can accomplish one thing each day, I would be really happy. Of course if I am dealing with a lot of pain or something, I will try not to give myself a hard time for not crossing that item off. Maybe I will add a second line for my days off, but maybe not. I want to enjoy those days too!

But one thing that I cannot compromise on no matter how much my husband may disagree - I cannot pay a handyman for something I know I can do myself.

My graces -

Day 3
  • Having a peanut carmel apple for lunch!
  • Finishing a large data entry project at work and knowing I can stop staring at the computer for today at least.
  • Taking a walk with my husband in the warm evening and getting an iced tea at Starbucks.
  • Seeing my husband's face light up when he finds a shirt for five bucks at TJ Maxx. He is all about a deal!
  • Finishing Sex Lives of Cannibals (totally not the book you might think it is) and picking out my next book from the pile on my night stand.

Day 4
  • Sleeping in until 10 am on my day off. I honestly could have stayed in bed longer, but the dogs wanted to go out.
  • Finding a comfy chair at the bookstore and settling in for a reading session.
  • Watching my canary take a bath. It always makes me laugh to watch him splash around in the water.
  • Catching part of America's Funniest Home Videos. It's such a guilty pleasure and always ends with my abs in pain from laughing.
  • Watching Zooey, our kitten, try desperately not to fall asleep an majorly failing as I type this.
You have probably realized that a lot of my graces will probably involve my babies. My husband and I basically live in a zoo with two dogs, a kitten, a canary, and several fish. We also take care of several feral cats, probably every bird in the neighborhood, and any other animal that may need our help (although my husband does not always agree with me on the last part). They are a huge part of our lives and I am definitely a lucky mama to have them around me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drugs Are Scary...

It's bad enough that we have to take a multitude of drugs to try and live a semi-normal life. It's bad enough that those drugs are hard to swallow or inject. It's bad enough that those drugs have nasty side effects. But do they really have to look so frightening too?

I made my weekly trip to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions and the pharmacist told me that they now made a generic version of one of my meds. Saving money is always appreciated, so I decided to go with the generic. I get home and find that the generic version is a neon orange horse pill that looks like it is radioactive or something.

Can't they make them look all pretty or put inspiring words on the pills? Something to make it a little easier when I open that pill box every morning and evening?

Grace in the Small Things - Day 2
  • This is actually pretty big thing - having insurance to cover all the prescriptions I need to live a semi-normal life.
  • Air Conditioning! It was at least 100 today, so the dogs and I hung out in front of the portable air conditioner when I got home from work.
  • Watching a movie with the hubby.
  • That my body felt pretty normal and only my fingers were achy.
  • Having the energy to clean some stuff off the bedroom floor. No more tripping!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grace in the Small Things - Day 1

It's funny how things come together sometimes. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling pretty depressed since it was the sixth month anniversary of being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I knew that I needed an attitude adjustment and decided on three rules to start changing things around. The first rule was to write down at least three things that I am grateful for or brighten my life every day. Next thing I know I discovered a blog and the author kept listing her graces (I so want to give her credit, but the blog is bookmarked on my work computer, not on my home one). I was curious, so I dug a little deeper and found Grace in the Small Things. Everything just fit!

So here are my five things -
  • Leaving work for lunch with a good friend. It is so nice to just walk away for an hour and talk about other things, no matter how irrelevant they are.
  • Hearing the dogs run to the front door to greet me. They are so excited that I have to smile and spend more than a few minutes telling them about my day.
  • Not having to cook dinner! My mother-in-law had a bunch of leftovers from an event the day before and my husband was all over it.
  • Reading a good book outside in the shade while watering the trees.
  • Being able to have the kitten in the same room with Simba, our larger dog, for at least a few minutes before he wanted to have her for dinner.
Update - The blog where I discovered Grace in the Small Things is called Tales of Rachel. And I also forgot to mention that this is a challenge to list 5 things everyday for 365 days. Only 364 to go!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Weight ... the Whole Story

Before Rommel and I got married we had to decide where we would be living when I moved to California. He had bought a house with two friends and that situation was not really ideal for a newly married couple. It was also a little disconcerting that what I had originally thought were fireworks being set off in the neighborhood were actually guns.

It just so happened that his brother was still living with his mother, but was getting married about six months after us. We decided that Rommel would move back in with his mother, once we got married I would move in, and then his brother would transition out. That way his mother would never be left living alone in the house, which because she is older and has some health problems, none of us wanted.

I will be the first to admit that the first couple of years were extremely tough. I do not fit the "housewife" mold, which his mother believed every woman should fit. I am not Catholic and do not attend a church, while his mother attends mass seven days a week plus other church functions. I love my animals as if they are my children and she thought the dog should stay outside.

Luckily things change and after all this time, I am really comfortable sharing the house with her. We are not best friends or anything and we still clash quite a bit, but I can understand where she is coming from. But just because we are doing better does not mean Rommel's relationship with her is any easier. They just have things that they get on each other about and they are both incredibly stubborn. Plus they cannot communicate worth a damn when they get angry with each other.

I think that pretty much brings us up to date.

So Saturday, I was in the middle of an insane day at work with people showing up late or not showing up at all when Rommel calls and tells me we need to move out. I could tell he was upset and I was not able to calm him down over the phone, so I left for an early lunch. It turns out that his mother gave him one of her religion lectures, which always sets him off. To sum it up, she basically tells him that he is going to hell because he is not attending mass and she is worried about him (God only knows what she thinks about the future of my soul).

He told me that he just could not live with her anymore and he was tired of me telling him that things would blow over (been there before). I went into damage control mode, but he was not having it. All he would talk about was looking at houses, which scared the shit of me because we have not financially prepared for something big like a house. I convinced him that we would go to the bank to discuss the process. The biggest thing was to get him to slow down and breathe.

After waiting quite a while at the bank, I had to get back to work. Once I had a moment to breathe, my anxiety took root and I was completely exhausted by the time I left work. Luckily Rommel had thought about the situation and even though he was not knocking the door down to get out anymore, he explained that he did still want to find a home at some point. We finally agreed to start saving and put aside enough money each month to cover what a mortgage payment would be. This way we can save, feel what it is like to put aside a large portion of our income, and I can do my research on first time home buying.

But I am conflicted. I love the idea of "our" own home and having everything the way I want it instead of compromising everything. I also do not want to leave his mother. She is about to turn seventy and has never lived on her own. I would feel so awful if something happened to her and we were not there for her.

I guess this is what it feels like to be an adult!

On the RA front, I am hanging in there (like there is another choice). There has been pain, but it has been bearable. The hard part is that I keep having these spells. I feel pretty decent one moment and the next I feel feverish, nauseous, and completely exhausted. The best thing I have found to do is lay down for awhile. I wake up with a headache and am still a little tired, but I do feel better. The worst was when we were at the mall on Sunday, just trying to enjoy some time out, and all of a sudden I felt so sick that we had to leave. I slept for two hours once we got home, woke up when a migraine, and finally felt a little better after eating something.

It seems like my health likes throwing me for a loop. Just when I feel like I might have some idea of how things will be, something new pops up. And just like so many other people have blogged about, it is even worse when people do not really think you are sick because you do not outwardly look sick and you are still showing up for work, etc.

My three things:
  • Waking up before the alarm goes off and feeling rested enough to want to get out of bed.
  • Simba getting along with Zooey the kitten for a whole three minutes before trying to eat her.
  • Taking the pups for a walk with Rommel. The weather was wonderful and the evening was just cool enough that Simba did not tired out before we got back home.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Crucible

About five years ago, a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctor told her girlfriend that the odds of her survival were extremely slim. But a lot of treatments and a bone marrow transplant, she is still with us. She continues to take a lot of medication, etc, but she is happy.

I was talking to her the other day about the RA and all the other things I have been dealing with lately. She told me that when she was sick, she could not help but think about the book The Crucible. She said she pictured herself as the character that was being crushed by stones in an attempt to get him to confess to practicing witchcraft. Instead he keeps saying, "more weight, more weight." She said that was what it was like for her when she was battling her illness; she kept saying, "What else do you got? I can take more."

I would like to think that I am strong too, but right now all I can think is "I confess! No more weight!"

To be continued later...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Work, Work, Work

Today was a seriously insane day at work partly because several people were out of the store. It seemed like every thirty seconds someone needed something from me. I wouldn't normally mind too much (okay, maybe I would be a little irritated), but I have a huge amount of work piling up and it needs to be done before the weekend is over. I was not able to accomplish anything other than stressing myself out.

I tried to bring some paperwork home, but found that I really needed a program on my computer at work to complete it. Maybe I will be able to shut off the phone and cover the window on the door.

I would keep my fingers crossed for tomorrow, unfortunately I can't cross my fingers right now. They have been achy all day and after not being able to work at home, I decided to continue on a baby blanket I have been crocheting. I think I pushed it too far because now I have swollen, throbbing fingers that I am trying to hold as still as possible when I am not doing anything else.

My three things for today:
  • Spending some time sitting in the sun with Zooey the kitten. She is still really scared of anything new, but for some reason she always looks like she wants to attack every car that goes by. And don't worry, she is always on a harness outside. I am a responsible mom.
  • Compression gloves - a little relief for my sausage fingers.
  • Calling an old coworker who I haven't talked to in quite a while. I found out she hasn't smoked in three weeks. Considering that she has smoked since she was thirteen and she just turned seventy, that's major. I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Three Things

My three things I am grateful for today are:
  • A great new haircut.
  • Seeing Zooey, our three month old kitten, discover our fish tank. The way she was standing on her hind legs to get a better look, she looked like an adorable mirror cat. But when Battle Tank, the goldfish, swam towards her, she totally freaked out.
  • A post on Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior called 10 Essential Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis No Doctor Ever Told Me. I ended up following a link on protecting your joints, especially finger joints, and found some great information. I now have some ideas of things I can do to relieve some of the stress on my fingers so they are less likely to bend outward towards my pinkies, which is a common deformity. For example, it suggests that you try to avoid doing too many things that push your fingers outward, such as opening jar lids. Even though I am still able to open most jar lids with some effort, I will make sure to ask my husband to help now when he's around because I know it will help in the long run.
So even after quite a few trip ups at work, like losing power to the security system and the credit card processor going down, it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Update on the RA

I had an appointment with my rheumatologist a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the six month anniversary of my diagnosis. Here's how the party went down:

  • I scheduled the first appointment of the day because the longer I have to wait in the office, the more anxious I get. Despite the fact that I am early, the office is half full and two people are called in before me.
  • After being called into an exam room, I end up waiting thirty minutes. My anxiety level was already higher than normal, but this time there were special circumstances that made it even worse. This appointment was approximately two weeks before I was supposed to go in and find out about the lump in my breast, so I was still rather freaked out about the whole thing. Positioned on the wall right in front of the exam table was a huge poster displaying all the different types of lumps that can develop in one's breasts. Yeah, it was rather hard to avoid looking at it.
  • After thirty minutes, I begin to panic and start walking out of the room only to bump into the physician's assistant, who I end up seeing instead of the doctor.
  • My pain levels have been quite a bit worse and I have already been on plaquenil for six months with no huge improvement, so I was all ready to discuss new treatment options. Instead they want me to give it three more months because my blood tests are still improving (this did not sound right to me so I made a mental note to check my lab results later).
  • I explained my insane fatigue and muscle aches. She says, "Yeah, that's part of Rheumatoid Arthritis," and offers no advice.
  • I asked about supplements and she names a few, but then tells me that I want to be careful not to take too many.
  • All I wanted to do when I g0t home was crawl back into bed, but I kept thinking about how she said my blood tests were improving. How could they be improving, but I feel so much worse. I gathered up all the copies of my tests results since a few months before my diagnosis and put them in chronological order. After reading through them, I find that my tests have improved a little since the very first blood test, but are actually worse than the others since then.
So that was my six month appointment. It did not go as well as I was hoping it would, but it was not completely their fault. Obviously my anxiety was somewhat of an issue, but it almost always is. I also should have questioned her more than I did, but it's hard not to get into that "yes, doctor" mode and except everything they say as fact.

I am going to wait the three months, but I am going to request that I actually see the doctor this time. My primary keeps telling me how great he is so I would like to give him a chance before I look for another rheumatologist.

Enough bitching! Here are the things I have been grateful for and/or have brightened my day lately:
  • We watched an episode of the Fantasy Factory the other day where Rob entered a grilled cheese contest and makes the most expensive grilled cheese sandwich ever. It inspired my husband to want to make gourmet grilled cheese. It was cute to see him debating about which type of cheese and bread he should try. I also enjoyed eating the results.
  • We met our friends for breakfast at the farmer's market. We had a great time and I was able to hold their two month old almost the whole time. She is absolutely precious!
  • I am very grateful that my friend's mom did not strangle the waitress who accidentally spilled a huge glass of cold orange juice over her shoulder and down the front of her white shirt and pants at that very same breakfast. But she did get free breakfast and a nice polo with the restaurant's name on it.
  • Project Runway - It inspires me!
  • An amazing, but sad book called The Book Thief. I just finished it and am so glad I read it.
  • Getting to pick out a new book to start reading from the piles I have in my bedroom.
  • Looking out the window to see all three feral cats lounging on the front porch bench waiting for their breakfast to be served. I made sure they did not have to wait too long.