I have been keeping a low profile because simply put, I feel like crap. Between the back and neck pain from two herniated discs and a bulging disc from an accident over three months ago, my RA symptoms have been in full force.
About ten days ago, I went to see the medical doctor I have been seeing since the accident, this in addition to the chiropractor. He had already prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. I took only a few doses of the muscle relaxer because it made me extremely tired and the anti-inflammatory has helped only slightly. The doctor ended up giving me a corticosteroid shot. This seemed to work beautifully except for the fact that the leg cramps I had been having had gotten worse to the point that they would keep me moaning in pain for 10 to 15 minutes and the inability to walk until the cramps calmed down.
The cramps that I have been getting are related to the disc issue in my back. They travel my lower back into the inside my thighs. The worst of the cramping happens in my inner thighs – one or the other – not both – Thank God! I talked to my chiropractor earlier in the week and he told me that the increase in the cramping is related to both the disc and the shot. In addition, he felt I might be dehydrated and suggested I get some electrolytes (i.e. Gatorade) in me. So, I did just that and drank more water. I saw some relief within 24 hours.
Lately, I have not been myself. RA and fibro flare-ups and flare-ups from my back injuries have not made my life easier. Since yesterday, it has been a headache, facial pain, and dry eyes. Probably a combined a RA/Fibro flare-up. I am due for another corticosteroid shot next week. I just want to feel better and I don’t know what that feels like anymore. Dr. Mike (the chiropractor) also gave me a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. I am praying I don’t need surgery because I am not sure that I can do it.
When RA and Fibro came into my life, it took a while but I accepted that this was my new realty. I kept going despite the blows and punches but I could have never imagined this. Right now, I feel like I am running out of gas and I am just chugging along.
In addition to the pain issues, I am spending more time at the doctor’s office than I would like to. That affects my work life. Moreover, I am dealing with the aftermath of our financial issues – the final blow I think. Believe me – it cannot get worse than this. Most nights, I fall asleep when my head hits the pillow because I am so worn out with everything life is throwing at me lately.
Right now, I am just numb and just going through all the motions. Why is it is it so hard to feel normal? I just want one day. Last night, I thought about how sick I have been in the last fifteen years. I don’t ever remember a time when I felt normal. My ex-husband made me feel like damaged goods because I was sick all the time and no doctor could diagnose me. I know I have come a long way, mentally, physically and emotionally.
My health has definitely taken a lot from me but it has also taught to be strong even when I have nothing left in me. That experience is what helped me get through navigating through all the decisions during my brother’s illness and all the decisions made after he passed away. It has also helped me to overcome the financial nightmare of the last three years that has not yet ended. I have finally thrown my hands up on that because I know it is no longer in my control. I just know that the answers are coming since I have sought assistance in dealing with this. My belief and my understanding towards my religion and my beliefs are renewed and I feel peace despite all chaos.
A former co-worker emailed me recently and told me about a death of someone who worked in my old office building. He had cancer and finding out, I find numb. Everything about cancer nowadays makes me numb. For my family, it has become a reality so I don’t feel anything anymore when I find out about a death or diagnosis. These feelings are only recent. A couple months ago, I would tear up and now, I just feel numb. Oh, the blows that life throws! Next week, August 31, marks sixteen years since we lost my dad and it is now over eight months since we told my brother. In truth, it doesn’t get easier. You just get numb.
Anyway, my horoscope for the morning – like I didn’t know this. Well the good news, season 6.2 of Doctor Who returns Saturday and a new episode of Torchwood Miracle Day tomorrow. Sci-Fi makes my life seem less complicated.
Slow down and rework your plans. Action planet Mars forms a stressful square with stern Saturn. You might meet resistance to forward momentum, and could feel limited by your boss or by restrictive rules and red tape. Feelings of frustration and impatience are possible. Let go of the need to get instant results, and instead focus on your long-term goals. It could be that you need to rethink your strategy before moving forward. Cancer, Libra, Aries and Capricorn could feel especially irritated by this influence.
On another note, someone from my past has been trying to communicate with me. She has sent me a friend request on Facebook and sent me a couple emails. I have ignored her requests – not because I don’t want her in my life but because I don’t want others in my life. She was one of my closest friends from middle school and through high school. We married brothers and we both got divorced so we went our separate ways. She is part of a past that I want to continue to keep behind me. This has nothing to do with her. It has to do with the fact that she still has an ongoing relationship with my ex, her ex and their family. I don’t understand why she is still a part of that but I am done with that and I don’t need to revisit that part of my life. Am I wrong?
I was recently contacted by an employee (his name is Colby) for the Arthritis Foundation who is running in New York City Marathon this year on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation. The Arthritis Foundation team is named, “Let’s Move Together,” based on their nationwide movement campaign to get people move to prevent and treat arthritis. Colby’s goal is to raise $2,500 for event. Proceeds will go directly to research, programs and advocacy work.
In Colby words: “I hope that this fundraising will make a small contribution to improving lives of people, as well as, express my gratitude for the opportunity to work for the Arthritis Foundation. “
If you would like to help Colby reach his goal, click HERE and make your donation.
Thank you Colby for what you do daily and thank you for you participation in this event.
Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia – they are no walk in the park. I am headed towards three years since my diagnosis and I actually thought that I would be further along in terms of progress. I sure didn’t expect to still be in so much pain. I didn’t expect to be on so many medications. I actually was delusional enough to believe that I would be in remission by the time my disease hit the three year mark. I thought about that yesterday as I put ice on my sore arm that I just had gotten a corticosteroid shot in. I take one medication for fibromyalgia but I have four for RA – go figure. So much for remission!
RA is definitely not a disease for wimps. Those of affected by RA are not just suffering from RA; we are living with it. We deal with issues such as getting acceptance, self-esteem, managing our careers, caring for ourselves, the impact on our relationships, raising our children, caring for our parents, and so much more in addition to the symptoms and the pain that we endure daily. RA becomes a lifestyle and one that isn’t always bearable. As strong as I was before RA came into my life, I couldn’t have imagined myself being this strong. It takes a lot of strength to get up every day and put on “normal” face in a world full of healthy people when you are not “normal” or “healthy.”
Awhile back, I reviewed “A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully With Chronic Illness” by Susan Milstey Wells. A quote from her book that stands out for me reads: “Living successfully with chronic illness takes patience, humor, knowledge, support and time.” While it takes all things, it takes a lot of strength and courage to get through the daily pain and toll that RA takes on our lives. It is a daily process and every day, we find strength we never knew we had.
RA is a condition that isn’t talked about. The media doesn’t glorify RA like it does other diseases. Celebrities don’t raise big fundraisers for RA research nor do any groups rally for laws to protect the rights of RA patients especially on the job where it is most needed. For some reason, we associate a stigma with RA and most people have this misconception that it is just arthritis (in the words of my fellow RA blogger, Terry). Even other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, have the necessary respect that make awareness possible. Not to downgrade the severity of lupus, but when people talk about it, they sympathize with the sufferers. When RA is mentioned, it is downgraded as “just arthritis” and the havoc it wreaks into our lives is unnoticeable.
It takes a lot of strength, if you ask me, to live with this kind of pain. I think it is equally hard to know that your condition is going to get worse and that the chance of remission is small. I don’t know how I really feel about that. I just know that all I can do is keep going because I know my condition will get worse. I remember over nine months ago sitting a hospital listening to my brother’s doctors telling us that his cancer would be get worse and the chances of remission were small. Compared to that, my battle may be uphill but it is not steep.
I just know that if I wasn’t so strong I wouldn’t be able to get through this. I think that all of us who suffer from this disease understand the courage we have to have in order to live this way. It definitely takes a lot of guts to live with pain, various symptoms, and the notion that we have to hide how much we are suffering. RA is a disease that we all know is not for wimps.
Check out my article “What does it mean to accept your chronic illness diagnosis” at Invisible Illness Week.
Do you ever just laugh when you want to cry? Do ever find yourself wondering when the other shoe will drop? You would think that with how long my life has been chaotic, I would get used it to but I never do. A lot has happened in the past eight months since we lost my brother. For me, it has been an uphill battle trying to make sense of what has happened and how to deal with it.
There are so many casualties of the past recession and my family was among those. Between the economy and my husband’s lack of response to our financial situation, there’s still a mess to be sorted. That situation has finally hit an all-time high – the most it’s ever been and hopefully, the worst it will get. I am about to make some choices that will put an end to all this. The result will for sure be positive and even if it isn’t, I will at least be able to sleep at night.
The way I figure it, when you are all cried out, you have to laugh because there really isn’t anything else left to do. I am at this point all cried out. I have cried for what I have lost in the last couple of years and I cried for my own weaknesses and my own failures. I have learned that I am only human and all of the obstacles are proof of that.
All I know is that peace comes when we least expect it. The hardships I have faced have forced me to look inside myself and figure out that life can be peaceful if I am willing to experience peace. It can come in the form of something simple such as the sway of trees on a windy day; it could be in a smile on a friendly face, or in sound of children laughing. We have to make the effort to look for those moments so our troubles to a back seat. The moments we are looking allow us to see that life can still be good despite all the wrong in the world.
I have been finding bits and pieces of that peace I have been desperately seeking. If you have a busy life like mine, you can understand that peace isn’t always easy to find. We get so preoccupied that we lose track of what it is we are looking for. For me, finding peace means I easily can see compassion and integrity everywhere I look. I see the beauty that humanity offers. I can find it in the smile and laughter of my own children, in doing good deeds, or watching others do good. There is good in the world but it is not always easy to see when the bad seems to impact us more than the good. I have learned that peace comes from simply taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life.
Life can be filled with peaceful moments because life itself is peaceful. These moments can make time stand still and it is our choice to decide if we want to see them, experience them, and embrace them. The beauty of life and the world around us is illustrated in the way we want it to be. The path to peace is always available to us and we have to be willing to open up our hearts to understand the precise message. It has taken me a long time to fully understand this message, and maybe it is a choice or maybe it is a stronger belief in God, but I think I am starting to make sense of all the chaos that is my life.
The past month of my life has been all about choices. It has been choice after choice. I have had to take a long hard look at who I am and how I can end up on top and for the most part, it’s been pretty depressing. I have spent so much of my life trying to appear perfect to the outside world because that was how I raised. My parents taught that what happens in the home stays in the home and that a perfect image to the outside world is just a part of life. That is why I try to so hard to stay in control of my life and to appear strong when I don’t have any strength left in me. (I think I may have actually missed the point of my parents’ lesson.)
Looking at my life has forced me to see that no one really knew my secrets so there was nothing that I had to show as “perfect” or “normal” to the outside world. Further, even if my life is a mess, it is not like anyone has their life in order. We just all walk around pretending that we are “normal” or “perfect.” I am not even sure that there is an accurate definition for either term.
I finished up my master’s degree in legal studies at the end of June and recently received my degree in the mail. I have been told by many in my life that I should go to law school but I don’t think that is part of my plans any more. See, in the past few years, life has handed me obstacle after obstacle and I have kept going despite the punches. It feels like being awake for several days because something has to be done before you can sleep. I feel like I have spent the past few years sleepwalking through my life because I had too much on my plate and when obstacles smacked me the face, I had no choice but to keep going even I didn’t have it in me. After my brother’s death, I realized that I did not stop enough to stop and smell the roses. I wasn’t enjoying life because I was simply living it and a year ago, that was fine, but it doesn’t work for me anymore.
In the past seven months, I have been forced to tackle the issues in my life that I have for so long just did enough to get by with. Between my multiple responsibilities, my marriage issues and the financial nightmare I was dealing with, I think I stopped feeling anything. The truth is – I did that to myself and I have no one else to blame. I wanted to be this superwoman who was strong and had her life under control but all I ended up doing was making a mess of my life.
In recent weeks, I have found myself trying to find answers to my faith, my marriage, and to the financial situation that has not gotten better. As I tackle these three issues, I feel a sense of empowerment that I have never had before. I feel hopeful but at the same time, I am scared. I am feeling something that I have not felt in a long time: control. I feel like I am finally in control of my destiny. I still feel sad about the road that got me here and I sure as heck am scared, but it feels everything is finally coming together for me.
The hardest part was hearing a doctor tell me that my stress and other factors in my life were raising my blood pressure and I had to start making some serious choices because things would get worse as far as my health was concerned. I have my kids to think about and while I have worked really hard to take care of myself as far as RA and fibro were concerned, I was not doing enough for my overall health. I know that the biggest thing standing in my way was stress and I was doing it to myself. I was bogging myself down with responsibilities instead of just doing the best that I could.
I don’t want to just get by. I want to enjoy life because I know that this is what my brother would have wanted for me. He would want me to be happy and instead of always working towards being better, he would want me to work towards being happy. It is the least I can do to honor his memory.
This morning it occurred to me that today marked 17 years since we lost my cousin. He was only 20 when he went into the water to save a drowning friend. The friend came out and he didn’t. For a long time, that didn’t make sense but we managed to get through it. I was 17 when we lost him. On August 31, it will be 16 years since we lost my dad and August 20 is eight months since we lost my brother. My baby brother was only three when we lost dad and my older sister was 19. Life didn’t make sense then and we got through that. Life doesn’t make sense now with the loss of my brother and I wonder how we will we will fare just trying to get through it. We have lost many others along the way but these three deaths stand out the most in my life.
Losing someone you love makes you see life differently. Cancer is one of things that force you to wonder why life does not make sense. My family had, for the most part, been lucky until cancer came into our lives. Cancer doesn’t care about age – it’s random. My brother’s cancer was a death sentence and he was so very young – only 31. My brother fought hard but cancer had a head start. When he died, he wasn’t alone. His family was all around him as he embraced God with open arms. For that, I am forever grateful.
For a long time, I asked, “why him?” Why did this have to be his fate? One moment our lives (and his) were normal and the next, they had been turned upside down. I remember the sleepless nights researching his disease and trying to find answers and solutions. I barely saw my kids – none of us saw our kids. My siblings and I spent more time at his side than we did at home. Cancer became a part of all of our lives and “normal” wasn’t part of our vocabulary anymore. Most of the time my brother spent in the hospital before he passed away is a blur. Even the funeral and the days following were a blur. Sometimes when I drive past the hospital where he passed away, I speed up so that I can drove past it fast or I avoid the route that would put me in front of it.
I learned the importance of life and living it truly and honestly by watching my brother fight cancer. He never once said he didn’t want to die. He accepted that he was terminal with more dignity and humility than anyone I have ever known. I was proud to be his big sister and I am still am.
For many months, I have been sad and trying to make it though. I know that this sadness will be with me or a long time. My brother left an imprint in our lives that lasted 31 years. I have reached out to God but for quite some time, I didn’t really understand the lesson here. I didn’t really get why the past couple of years had been so hard for me. I thought that I needed answers but lately, I have realized that there aren’t any. When my brother got sick, I was constantly reminded that God only gives us what he knows we can handle. I reminded myself that again today. God knows how strong and how capable I am and he has only given me what he knows I can handle.
I have overcome a lot in my life and I have accomplished so much and considering where I was ten years ago, I am what many would call a survivor. I have always been a survivor and God knows that better than anyone. So there really isn’t a lesson learned. There is no test…if it was test, I couldn’t handle it. God gave me what he knew I could handle. Then, he allowed me to lean on him as I searched for answers. All these questions that I wanted answers to only had one answer.
God was reaching out to me reminding that I wasn’t alone because I had him on my side. I have had God on my side for a long time. Everything that I have endured and overcome, he was there guiding me through. He was there even when I didn’t want to reach out to him. He was there when I did reach out and he was there was I was questioning my beliefs and my faith. He was there every moment of every day of my life just waiting for me to reach out and actually take his hand. I get it now – there are no lessons…some things just don’t make sense but God’s there helping us get through. He has been there for me nearly 36 years and even when I questioned him, he waited with his hand held out… just waiting for me to take it. And I have, it has taken me a long time and a lot of self-doubt but I finally taken God’s hand and my journey towards healing has just began.