Posted in Motherhood, nonsense

The Past

A dear friend of mine holds on to memoirs from her past, pictures and gifts from old boyfriends, a friendship bracelet from a friend she has not talked to in nearly twenty years, a vase from a wedding of another friend from fifteen years ago, love letters, etc. My younger sister is similar in that she has old memoirs from her past and some that I am not sure why she has kept all these years. I don’t hold on to memoirs nor do I believe in the strength of those memories. This is how I have always been and this even before chronic illness became a part of my life.

I recall that once I told my friend to get rid of that old engagement ring from a boyfriend she never married. I told her that holding on the past was pointless considering she was married to someone else for nearly ten years and shared three children with him. She told that she held on to these things not because she had regrets or wanted to go back but because they reminded her what she has now. Perhaps my friend is justified in that, but I never held on to things from my past. I have always believed that holding on to people was far more important than holding on to material things. Holding on to memoirs from the past reminds of a song by Chely Wright called “Back of the Bottom Drawer.”

Someone I once considered a mentor told me that “some people hold on to the past so tightly it chokes them.” This is a statement I definately agree with.  When I was only seventeen, I lost someone that I was very much in love with due to his untimely death at age 20. A year later, I lost my father at a time where I desperately needed my father in my life. The older got the more I realized that death and watching people you love die is simply part of life. I didn’t quite understand death when I was young even though, when I was five, I lost a friend to leukemia. At five, I really didn’t quite understand death, but finding out that she passed away is a memory that I still have. When I was six, my maternal grandfather passed away, and even though I did not know him, I remember my mother grieving. When I was eight, my uncle (my dad’s brother) passed away and I remember my cousins grieving. When I was ten, my paternal grandmother passed and I remember my father mourning. Then when I experienced death, I learned to mourn. After I learned to mourn, I stopped mourning. After losing my father and that young man I loved dearly, I lost uncles, my maternal grandmother, and other people I loved dearly and if anything, I learned to grieve better. I started accepting that death would happen whether we wanted it to or not and all we could do, in the present, is to hold on to those we love.

If anything, my experience with death and mourning taught me not hold on to the past. I always hear people say that they have regrets about the past or wish that had done something differently, but I don’t have any regrets and I wouldn’t change the past if I could. I am not saying that I had an easy life because I didn’t. I loved and lost like anyone else.

I remember that fateful day that I boarded a plane from Jerusalem, Israel back to the United States without my daughters. It is day that I will remember clearly for the rest of my life. I know that it is too late to wonder what I could have done differently so I accept that and I move on. I grieved for a long time but my daughters are now ten years older, and the oldest is four years away from being an adult. They turned out just fine without me but wondering what I could have done differently doesn’t change what has already happened. For ten years, I have wanted to hold my daughters but I can’t and there is not a thing I can do to change that. I don’t have much contact with them but I do the best that I can to remind them how much I love them. I explained my choices to them; they understood and they forgive me for having to walk away. That is not to say I forgave myself. Now, I look at them all grown up and I am sad that I wasn’t a part of it. Still, I refuse to look back at the past and wonder what I could have done differently. I can only look to the future.

I don’t hold on to the past nor do I have any regrets about it. What is the point of having regrets? The only thing regrets do is keep us from looking towards the future. My first marriage didn’t work out but I was blessed with four children and I wouldn’t change a single teardrop if I could. Then, I had to leave my daughters and raised my son as a single mother because I didn’t have any other options. I met my current husband and created a life with him. We raised our boys (now ages 21 and 10) and we added another little boy to our family. I never stopped missing my daughters and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them but if I could make it July 2000 again and make different choices, I wouldn’t. I can just look forward to a future with them because one day my daughters (now ages 14, 13 and 12) will be all grown up and no one (not their father, stepmother or grandparents) can stop me from having a life with them.

I learned a long time ago that holding on to the past only keeps us from moving forward. I have a good life with a wonderful husband and three boys who would move heaven and earth for me. I wish that my daughters were a part of that, but they are not, and I accept it. What more can I do? What more can anyone of us do about things in our life that we have no control over?

The way I see it is that life is like a puzzle. Each year, we lose pieces of that puzzle. People we know and love will move away or die. There are important events in our lives like graduations, marriages, new jobs, and the birth of children, and these events pull us further away from the past whether we want them to or not. You can hold to memoirs from the past, but the present and future will happen so the best we can do is embrace that.

Posted in Change, Chronic illnesses, Motherhood

Chronic Illness Changes Us

It has been over two years since my diagnosis and more and more, people tell me that have changed. As a matter of a fact, a co-worker told me the other day that he noticed that I am “somewhat different.” I asked him what he meant, and he said my “passion level wasn’t what it used to be.” He told me that I used to be very passionate about the things I cared about and I always “held my ground” on the things that I believed in. These days, he felt like I took a more emotional response than a fair and non-bias one. I asked if he felt like that was a bad thing, and he told me that for other people, no, but for me, yes. I told him that “chronic illness changes us whether we want it to or not.”

Chronic illness does change us and we really don’t have a choice. I know that I see a different person in the mirror than I did a year or two ago, both physically and mentally. The physical changes seem to affect me the most, but mental and emotional changes are ones that I am gradually taking in. It is not the first time that I have been told that I am “somewhat different.” I am know that I am different and that I have changed, and sometimes, I know it is for the better, and other times, I just wonder how much my life would be different if not for chronic illness.

Like many, I am married with children and dealing with the trials and demands of raising a family. Like so many others, I also live with the struggles of chronic illness which leaves us vulnerable to the disease and at any given time, it could turn our lives upside down. That is the reality of chronic disease and it is what changes us, not the disease itself (the disease causes the physical change, but the reality brings about the mental and emotional).

We find ourselves trying to make sense of something that makes no sense at all or trying to control something we cannot control. Our reactions and emotions are so powerful and they change with the progression of our conditions. We go back and forth from understanding to not understanding than to understanding again, and then to not understanding. It is a vicious cycle. You learn to understand with experience but when your health is constantly changing, you realize that you are always new symptom or flare-up away from not understanding. That is where you realize you cannot control anything and everything you are trying to control.

Change happens whether we want it to happen or not. We will never be able to control what the disease does to us, but we can control how we feel. Regardless, it will change our feelings and our perceptions about the things that we once felt passionate about and it will force us to hold on to what really matters. I know that I have changed. I am not as passionate about the legal field as I used to be and I am now more passionate about chronic illness and advocating for it. I also learned that I have to conserve my energy where it matters the most – in my own personal life. A part of me is still mourning and grieving the person I used to be, and it does me make feel a bit depressed but I understand all to well that I have, for better or worse, changed. So, I have to work towards accepting and move on from there.  That is something that is better said than done.

Posted in Motherhood

Feeling Down: Someone Call Willie

Lately, I have been feeling down and I can’t put on my hand on why. I know that I am not depressed but I just find myself feeling sad for no apparent reason. For the first time in nearly two years, I have been having some long pain-free or low pain periods. You would think that I wouldn’t be in such a down mood but I am.

I find myself stressed out more than usual and losing my temper over petty things. This morning I found myself stressed because my ten year old was trying to rush out of house because they have state achievement testing this week, and my toddler was not being cooperative. Where was my husband during this chaotic morning? He was supposedly sleeping and pretending to ignore all the chaos. If he has not already left for work in the morning, he usually ignores what I have to endure.

What is it about lazy husbands? I know I am not the only one. The roles of men and women today are much different than those of our parents. However, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics reports that working mothers spend twice as much time doing household chores and taking care of their children than do their husbands.

There is no point in anyone trying to advise me on changing my husband, because I have gotten blue in the face trying. The fact is my husband knows how much harder I work than he does and he isn’t bothered by it so I can either turn our lives in a constant battle everyday or I can just whine and complain when I have had enough. This second way is better for my blood pressure and it keeps my marriage in tact.

This morning I did a great job keeping it together even after I realized I had the wrong set of keys and my toddler sat in the mud after we walked out the front door. I found the right keys and changed my toddler without strangling my husband who was pretending he was not hearing any of the chaos that was happening. Oh, what I would give to be that carefree!

I dropped my toddler off at daycare and my ten year old at school (because by that point, the daycare bus had left for the school drop-off). Despite, all this chaos, I sat in my car and just smiled. As chaotic as my life is, I wouldn’t trade it for a less chaotic one.

Then, adding to my melancholy mood, Toby Keith came on the radio with “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again,” and I sang along wishing Willie would invite me on his bus.

I know how much I feel down and it is not because I am unhappy with my life. It is because I am stressed and tired and that is what it is like for every working mother with or without the added burden of RA and FMS. If anyone hears from Willie Nelson, let him know that I am waiting for his call to tell me when he will be in town.

Posted in Giveaway, Product Review

ZPCOPEN-OR Open It Universal Package Review and Giveaway

Clamshell packing is the worst invention of humanity and it definitely makes for an arthritis sufferer’s worst nightmare. If you do not have arthritis, think about your 85-year-old mother or grandmother and her trying to open that ridiculously difficult plastic packaging. Even hands without arthritis have a hard time opening these things, and clamshell packaging isn’t going anywhere. Household scissors are not strong enough to cut through that bizarre packaging and would be ruined by just opening one package.

What exactly is the point of clamshell packaging? To make old ladies and people living with arthritic or weak hands absolutely frustrated? It is like selling arthritis medicine with a childproof lid (read my previous review) . Since we all know that clamshell packaging isn’t going anywhere, why don’t we just use a product that out beats it?

The people at the Zibra Company were kind enough to send me another of their wonderful products for review and an extra one to give away to one of the readers of this blog.

The Product Review

Let me introduce you to the Zibra 4 in 1 Package Opener. This handy little gadget can help you with opening those ridiculous clamshell packages. For less than $12, you can get a tool that can help you cut through those sealed plastic containers (blister packaging, cardboard and paper), snip toy packaging, twist and zip ties, and slice boxes and the wrapping on CDs and DVDs. But wait- in the words of the late Billy Mays – there is more! It includes a tiny little screw driver that has a little compartment for storage that will help you open those tiny little battery compartments, and the top blade has a corner for helping pop off bottle caps.

If you do not own one of the Zibra 4 in 1 Package Opener, I personally recommend you get one. I made use of it five minutes after I opened the packaging. The Zibra Company was also kind enough to package the product so it was easily accessible and did not used that dreaded clamshell packaging. It can be a great gift and you will be remembered every time someone needs to open a clamshell package.
The product features offset cutting jaws that allow for maximum leverage when cutting through tough packaging and that offset design also keeps your hands at a safe distance from the sharp edges when you opening to sealed clamshell packages so you won’t cut yourself. Its practical, ergonomic design made it a finalist for the 2008 Housewares Design Award and even Rachel Ray has promoted it. The ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold and use. The multiuse tool also offers a simple “open/close” switch that helps to keep it safely stored no matter where you are keeping, i.e. a kitchen drawer or your office desk. Last, it is guaranteed against defects with normal usage.

You can purchase the Open It! 4-in-1 package opener at any of these fine stores: Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Walgreens, Fred Meyer, and Kroger as well as Amazon and other regional retailers nationwide. It is also available in Canada.


As I previously mentioned, the wonderful people at the Zibra Company gave me an additional gadget for giveaway so one lucky reader of my blog will receive it. Here is what you have to do to be entered into the giveaway.

All you have to do is leave a comment on what you think of clamshell packaging and this product.

You can tweet the giveaway for an extra entry. Just tweet to OhBoy_Boys. Comeback and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

U.S. addresses only. I will pick the winner with using a random generator on Saturday, May 1 and post the winner by noon. Deadline to enter is Friday, April 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Please leave an email address so I have a way to contact you.

* *  *
5/1/10 – Comments are now closed.  I will announce the winner shortly.

Posted in Motherhood

Losing Sight of the Big Picture

I have spent too many days feeling sorry for myself and it is time I end it. For some reason, crap and bad news always happen together. Lately, I just feel weighed down by life and all my responsibilities that it has turned me into a chronic complainer. Instead of ranting and raving about the craziness that has suddenly invaded my life, I need to take a step back and remind myself whom I am and what kind of person I am. For one, there is no room to feel sorry for myself and second, I am a lot of tougher than that.

It may seem like so much is hitting me at once, but that’s not true because my life has always been crazy. However, lately I am losing a lot of the toughness that I have always had. Some of it is my health and some of it is getting older. For long time, I always managed to avoid hitting the curb and now, it is getting harder to swerve. So many people in my life tell me to keep going and focusing on my goals and my dreams but maybe it is time for me to step back and be patient. I have a whole lot going on it my life all at once and my health is playing a major role in my response to all this chaos.

I have a rambunctious toddler and an emotional preteen to raise. I have a full time job, advocacy work, and I am working on master’s degree part-time. For once, I think my plate is full. I think that maybe I need to take a break from either working on master’s or going part-time and I cannot believe I am feeling this. In some ways, I think my body and my mind are telling me to slow down.

One of the women I work with told me earlier today “you’re young. What is the rush? Focus on your children. You have plenty of time to complete your degree and climb the career ladder.” It occurred to me that she was right about my needing to slow down and focusing on my kids, my advocacy work and supplementing my family’s income. Perhaps, trying to climb the career ladder can wait a little bit. Why am I in a rush? I am still young enough that I have plenty of time to wait to start putting cracks into the glass ceiling.

Posted in nonsense

Money Makes The World Go Round

Have you ever heard that song by R. Kelly Feat. Nas & Kelly Price – Money Makes The World Go Round?
You know – – –

Yo, for those who live the way that I live
We came a long way
From wiping coal outta eyelids, to rap’s hottest
Fake Gazelles to black Pradas
Selling nicks to trey bags, to making hits like Kidada Jones’ father
OG’s would send me to the store with a dollar
Hit me with some wise advice for me to follow
Ain’t nothing free in the world in life
No matter who you are, everybody got they price
And some cost more than other’s
When you poor, it’s like life ain’t even worth living
But when you rich, it’s every fat ass worth hittin’
With no chips, your drawers just stay on your hips
I play with the six cuz money make the whole world spin
But without the Franklin faces, you see who’s your real friends
* * *
Money makes the world go round
Show me a man that don’t need money
Money makes the world go around
And I’ll show you a world
(Show me a world)
Standing still, oh
Money makes the world go round
Yes it does, talking ’bout the loot
Money makes the world go round

I was feeling really down already because of the migraine that took five days to get rid of and lingered around for the last couple of days. I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The worst it, of course was the headache. From the worst imaginable pain, sensitivity to light and sound, hot flashes and chills, dizziness, utter confusion, and nausea and vomiting, I was not sure if there was a light at the end of the tunnel. By Wednesday, most of these symptoms had tapered off, but the “postdrome” period was just starting.

Come Wednesday, I was feeling like a zombie. Some people say that it is similar to a hangover but I have never drunk enough to have to a hangover to know that feeling. Some of this is due to the medications taken for the migraine and some due to the migraine itself. Postdromal symptoms are shown to be caused by abnormal blood flow and EEG readings for up to 24 hours after the headache stage. Postdromal symptoms include: lowered mood levels, especially depression or the reverse – feelings of well-being and euphoria (not me, I got the depression), fatigue, poor concentration and comprehension, and lowered intellect (maybe I should have taken a vacation for the rest of the week).

Unforetunatly, a migraine isn’t just about the headache and I did not even mention the pre-headache stage because the thought of that will give me yet another headache. The worst of it I think was the depression. I was finding myself near tears for no apparent reason and I just wanted to be left alone. I guess I should (if I could, that is) have taken the week off. Well come Friday- payday – and guess what, I got all depressed again.

Earlier in the month, my husband and I spent the little money we had in our savings account to fix his car and bring up to passing an emission test standard prior to the end of the month because it was time for its inspection. Anyway, my Subaru has been acting all funny and I thought I was having rear brake issues. Plus, there a check engine light issue that hasn’t gone despite other things we repaired for it in the past. Well the brake issues, turned out to be rear tire issues, suspension, alignment, and axle problems which will set us back about $800 that we really do not have money but we also don’t have a choice.

So fine, I am very proud of myself that put us back in a good financial position where we can make some adjustments for the month, pay the repairs, and still be okay. But here’s the kicker – the tire, suspension, alignment, and axle problems are the least of my worries. The Catalytic Converter needs to be replaced so as not to avoid any further damage, i.e. the engine and we will know the cost of such a repair. Of course, it has to be put off because we have no savings and that part got me all depressed – well I was already depressed, but you get the point. Now, I am feeling so down that I just want to find a place to hide and be left alone. I am the type of person who can take blow after blow and keep going, but days after a nightmare migraine, I don’t really have it in me to keep it all together.

It is does not help since money makes the world go around. It is humanity’s number one motivator. It is all the root of all evil, but, at the same token, it can make us pretty happy. People have lied, cheated and done evil for money, but most of us have obtained it the right away, by working hard for it. It is the one thing we cannot live without. Without it, we would not be able to pay bills, have a roof over our heads, eat, and have nice things.

So, I am in a depressed state of mind. Maybe I am angry, maybe I am sad, and maybe I just want to be left alone but I am sure I will eventually get through these last remnants of this nearly week long migraine. At least, there is one positive – most of the issues on my car will be taken care of it and it will be safer to drive and I will have time to think about the next step.

Right now, I am not pleasant company so everyone is best of keeping their distance. Especially if they know what is good for them. The crab is in the house.

Posted in Chronic illnesses, Chronic Pain, Fibromyaloga

Does asking for help make you feel like a burden to others?

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, you don’t really know what happens next, or when. You are not sure what course the disease takes, but at some point, you realize that the disease will limit you requiring you to seek out the assistance of your loved ones with tasks that you had always done on your own. So, it is not uncommon to feel like a burden to your partner and your family.

I have blogged many times about how weak I feel when I realize I need to ask help from the very people I have always helped. It is hard when so many have relied on you to be strong for them, and one day, you realize that you need them in order to be strong. Sometimes, you even need them to help you with things that families and partners do not necessarily do for their partners and loved ones. It can be something as simple as helping you out of bed on a morning where the pain is unbearable or having to ask someone to drop off your kids to school one day because you feel too sick to drive. Then, there are the times when our loved ones want us to spend time with them and we are not able to. With any of these scenarios, it is pretty easy to feel like you are a burden to others.

There is not much you can do about having to ask others for help but letting others now how much you appreciate their assistance can lessen how bad you feel when you have to ask for help. Quite often, we get so plagued in how bad we feel physically and emotionally that we forget about the people who are there in our lives because they love us. When you are able to, do something nice in return. That is all there is to it, because kindness can go a long ways.

Another way of showing your loved ones that you appreciate them is to stop dwelling and focusing on your condition because the attitude you reflect affects them as well. You may be able to spend as much time with your loved ones as you used to, but don’t add to the misery. When you can’t spend time with them, tell them that even though you can’t, you would like to, and when you are able to, you will.

The physical burden is nothing compared to the emotional burden. Your family wants to help you and they will, if you let them, if you appreciate them, and if you remain positive around them. Do not rely on you loved ones for emotional strength either because no one can provide emotional strength for you; you can only provide that for yourself. Also, understand that people get value from helping others, and that is a personal satisfaction. In other words, they are helping because they want to, not because they have to or else, they would not be a part of your life.

I wrote in a previous post that I, too, start dwelling just like anyone else. Sometimes, I am not even sure whether I can take the next set of blows that life throws at me, but you know what? I do, each and every time. I do look at my own life and wonder whether I could be a better mother, wife, daughter or sister if chronic illness wasn’t a part of my life. However, I know and understand that chronic illness is a part of my life, whether I like it or not, and there is no point in all the “what ifs”.

People always remind me how tough I am and how they couldn’t possibly be as strong as I am if faced with the same obstacles. The fact is, I am sure that they would because when it comes to chronic illness, we have to decide whether we want to live happily or die miserably. Let’s face it – that is all there is too it. You can choose to be strong and not let the disease win or you can choose to dwell and let the disease burden you. The latter option will only make your health go down hill.

The post came to me today after spending four days in the slumber dealing the worst fibromyalgia headache that I have ever dealt with since my diagnoses. It was also much worse than any RA flare-up I have had. In fact, I am still dealing with the remnants of that headache. It was so bad that I called off work, skipped class on Monday night, and even asked for an extension on my class assignments that were due yesterday. I found myself not able to do anything including take care of my own children. My kids had to eat fast food and pizza for four days, because my husband apparently does not know how to turn on the stove or use any other appliance or gadget in our kitchen. My ten year old took care of his baby brother while my husband was at work. I would have called in my mom, sister, and even a friend or two, if the nightmare headache lasted any longer. Let’s just say that the Advil, Aleve, and Excedrin have done a number on my stomach and barely did anything to relieve the pain. Ice packs, sleeping, and pain patches were also to no avail.

This was the first time that I did not feel like a burden asking for help. I didn’t have a choice, of course, but at the same token, I realized that I had to. That is the thing with asking for help. You have to accept the fact that you cannot always do it all, and go from there. Just trust in those that love you and you’ll be just fine.

Posted in Fibromyaloga

The Headache

I have kept a low profile in the last few days due to a fibromyalgia headache that is still looming. There are a lot of difficult things about living with fibromyalgia but it seems like the worst of it is these headaches that linger for days.

If you have fibromyalgia (FMS), you experience muscle aches and pains all over your body. You also start to get more headaches and migraines the longer you have FMS. These headaches makes the disease harder to deal with and they contribute to the symptoms you are already dealing with including sleep disturbance, nausea, and fatigue. Every time I get one of these “fibromyalgia headaches,” I wonder if I am the only one, but the more research I have done, the more I realize I am not alone.

I call them fibromyalgia headaches because they seem to be a combination of a migraine and a tension headache. Further, most people think that taking an over the counter pain medication or prescription for the headache would solve the problem, but like everything else about FMS, it is not that easy. People with FMS will get one of three types of headaches: muscle tension headache, migraine or a combination headache. Lucky me, mine are a combination.

A muscle tension headache is also called a muscle contraction headache or a tension headache. This type of headache is caused by muscle contractions in the neck, head, jaw, upper back and shoulders. Muscle spasms are also felt at the base of the neck and into the temples. Think of them as a band tightening around the entire head. These type of headaches range from moderate to severe and can last from a few hours to a few days.

Migraines are caused by constrictions of your blood vessels and arteries, and are often referred to as vascular headaches. They are a result of factors like stress, fatigue and illness. The blood vessels in the head and neck constrict and then dilate, causing severe pain nausea, dizziness and eye pain. A migraine can move around the head, shifting sides. Episodes of anxiety, depression and fatigue can signal the onset of a migraine. Other symptoms include visual symptoms including double vision, blurry vision, flashing dots, bright lights, or distorted vision. A migraine can last from four hours to up to a week.

Combination headaches (tension and migraine) are common in fibromyalgia sufferers. Hence, here I am going on 4 days. Can you imagine a headache lasting more than four days? I have taken several different types of pain relievers to no avail, and I finally made it in to work today feeling like I am half-functioning. I am hoping the worst of it is over but I will definitely be glad when it’s over. In the meantime, please pass the Excedrin Migraine.

Posted in Chronic illnesses, Fibromyaloga, rheumatoid arthritis

The need to be understood means understanding yourself first

What we want

One of the first things that we learned shortly after we were diagnosed is that there is one thing that we want that we may never have. We want understanding; we want others to know how hard it is for us to live with chronic illness both physically and emotionally. If we want to get understanding, we have to learn to convey our thoughts and feelings and getting frustrated isn’t uncommon, but it is not helpful either.

Many of us also find that our family and friends don’t believe we are sick or as sick as we say we are. What I have learned here is that this depends on the relationship we have with the person that we want to believe us. I have learned to kind of let this one go because it takes a lot more than conveyance for others who believe what we are going through. All you can do is express to them how you feel and how much you need to them to believe you and if they love you and care for you, they will come around. Being angry and resentful isn’t healthy for you or for your relationships. If the relationships you are trying to reach aren’t close ones, then you will know when you need to move on from those persons. You can also find comfort and support and create new friendships with others who struggle with the similar issues.

What we get

Not being able to convey your message, not feeling well and knowing that your life is getting more challenging by the day can lead you to feel sad, anxious and depressed. I would love to write this post from a third person but I know that I am equally saddened and burdened by my chronic illnesses. I go through my own bouts of depression where I feel sad, hopeless, and helpless more often than I would like. Being told that you are sick and that your disease will never be cured really stinks if you ask me. Your body is doing its own thing and you have lost control of the one thing in your life that you thought you could control. In fact, that thought alone is depressing but the reality is enough to plunge you into clinical depression if you let it.

When you go through a period of sadness because of a major loss – for example, a death, divorce or your new diagnosis – that is a loss and you grieve but you eventually get through it. You allow yourself time to mourn, to be angry and sad but eventually, you learn to accept your new reality. One day, you awake to realize that it is time to get past what you have been through and live your life again. If you don’t, then your grief will become depression and your physical health will become much worse.

Any one of us is capable of becoming depressed, myself included. I am, however, relieved when I find the strength to move past those moments. Chronic illness brings with it changes in mood because of the situation itself. In addition, to the diagnosis you have been given, you start to see changes in your appearance, your mobility and your independence and you start to feel like you are losing the game. Other factors that contribute to your changed mood include pain and fatigue, side effects of your mediations and treatments, and social pressure to put on this game face despite the difficulty to do so.

Yes, Me Included

I find myself at moments near tears without realizing it. I start dwelling and wanting to give up. Just like the next person, I don’t know how much more life can throw at me. I look at my children and I wonder if they realize how much I hurt or if they are angry with me for not always been able to spend time with them. I wonder how much longer I will be able to work and provide for my family. I look at my marriage and see how much it has suffered because of my illness. I look at my husband and I am reminded of how much he relies on me to keep our family strong. I know that he feels like I am the only one that can do that. My sisters went from having someone to lean on to me needing to lean on them. My mother needs me and I have to save my energy. I know family understands, but the idea that I am weak brings me to my knees. I feel weak and helpless to the point that I feel sick. I understand that these moments are acceptable and normal because I live with chronic illness and pain. I allow myself to have those moments and then I remind myself that it is back to business as usual. When I feel strong and positive, I remind myself of the all ways I can keep myself from becoming depressed again.

I have learned to be confident in my medical providers and that means being able to be open and honest. It is second after to being honest with myself and with my husband. Second, I have learned where my circle of support is. I ask and accept help and when I am able to give it back, I do. Third, I look at my health as I would my children’s health (well, at least I try). Moreover, I look at my self-esteem and I know what it takes to keep it up and I have set standards for myself when it comes to being tough. There are times where I have to remind myself that is time to simply “stuck it up” and move forward. Last, and most importantly, I continue to have dreams and to continue to work towards them. To me, continuing to be a productive member of society and being able to be successful is important and it is everything that I am and that I am capable of. It is second to being a mother and the fact is, my kids will grow up and won’t always need me, but I will always need myself.

I have never been the type to go around publicizing my feelings, my strengths and weaknesses. I was raised by religious parents who taught me the strength of modesty, but I have learned, on my own, that modesty shouldn’t make us weak. For a long time, I choose to stay quiet about how I felt and what my conditions were doing to me, but at some point, I realized I had to speak up for myself in order to live a somewhat normal life. I had to find answers and I did. After that, I realized I wasn’t alone, others had questions and someone had to speak up and maybe, that someone could be me. However, there are times, where I am ashamed of my feelings about my health, but what I am proud of is the ability to convey my thoughts and my perceptions in a way to allows others to say, “Wait a minute, that is how I feel and now, I know how to describe it” or “Wait a minute, I am not alone.” If what I have to say helps one person, then I feel useful, helpful, and hopeful. That is just another thing that I can’t let the disease take from me.

Posted in Fibromyaloga, rheumatoid arthritis

Cognitive Chaos

Sometimes, I find myself stammering for the right words, and they won’t come out of my mouth. The cognitive difficulties of a life with RA and FMS are the worst part. Sometimes, I can’t think or my memory fails me and it is the most difficult and devastating part. I take the same route to work everyday and yet, I sometimes get lost because I can’t remember what I was doing, i.e. going to work. Sometimes, I leave my home and arrive at my destination and don’t know why I am there. The majority of my cognitive difficulties are mostly because of the Fibromyalgia, but I have also read that RA causes some including brain fog.

The hardest part is knowing that no matter how smart or educated I am, my conditions are winning this one. Research has shown that the cognitive dysfunctions related to FMS are related to other symptoms of FMS and not FMS, itself. Some of those symptoms include depression and sleep disturbances. Most importantly, the pain seems to play the biggest role in cognitive performance of patients meaning that any person dealing with and managing chronic pain may require more cognitive effort and this may interfere with performance on cognitive tasks. The higher the pain level the more severe the pain condition and this turns into more severe cognitive issues.

An “Arthritis Today” article noted that new research, although not related to fibromyalgia alone, shows that “chronic pain may affect the brain.” In this research, functional MRIs looked at the front region of the brain which is associated with emotion and is constantly active. With chronic pain conditions, the affected region of the brain does not shut off when it should and in the process, neurons are worn and cause disturbances to the brain as a whole.

I know that I have a tendency to overdo things on my good days as many of us do. However, the reason I do is that it allows me to remain productive and it means that RA and FMS aren’t winning. I look at the things that these diseases are capable of, and on most days, I want to fight back. Other times, however, I just want to find a place to hide where I don’t feel stupid, lost or less productive. So many people around me – family, friends and coworkers – know that I have these conditions but they don’t – and probably never well – understand the struggles that I face on a daily basis. The cognitive issues of disease leave me stammering and at loss for words, forgetful, scared and humiliated.

My job requires me to be alert all the times because of the detailed nature of the work and the deadlines, and I can’t always be. I am struggling with that and wondering when I will have to throw in the towel. Despite my employers knowing that I have these conditions, that is all they know. They don’t care how the job gets done or how much it takes out of me provided it gets done. I am not faulting my employers here; it just is difficult when no one gets how much harder you have to work than anyone else.

The bigger question is how long can I hide it? It is clearly tearing me up inside, but I pray that my medications do their jobs so that I can continue to be productive even if its just for one more day, one more week or one more month. You can only live for today and the make the best of today because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Just like each person who is suffering from a deliberating condition or conditions, I grieve for the things and the abilities that I have lost and for what I will lose. It is not question of dwelling but questioning of wondering how our lives would be if not for chronic illness. The cognitive chaos that goes in my mind so many times a day is also the reason I hang on. At least, I know it is happening and if anything, it means I am still sane and I will take that as a good thing.

Posted in Award, Motherhood, nonsense

Sugar Doll Blogger Award

I recently received the Sugar Doll Blogger award from Teia over at Just Breathe. Teia’s is a tough lady whose life has been changed as result of her experiences with tibial torsion, ovarian cancer, vertigo, tinnitus, and Fibromyalgia. The Sugar Doll Award is about joy and happiness so I am honored that Teia gave me this award. In accepting the award, you have to agree to list 10 things that people may not know about you and then pass the award to fellow bloggers whose blogs bring joy and happiness to your life.

Ten Things About Me You May Not Know

1. I am a romantic and even though my husband isn’t, I love him anyway. Also, I wear my heart on my sleeve so what you see is what you get.

2. I love wrestling and the WWE. Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler and has always been. I cried when he lost to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26 and I cried even more the following Monday on Monday Night Raw when he officially said goodbye to the WWE universe.

3. I am more afraid of failure than anything in the world. I hate failing and I hate people knowing that I failed.

4. My biggest success is my children. It my best and most important accomplishment and no other success in my life compares.

5. My father died fifteen years ago and to this day, I never stop missing him. I cry every time he comes to my mind.

6. I love my mother but I have a tendency to be angry at her a lot and sometimes, I don’t even know why.

7. I love any movie by Sandra Bullock or Jim Curry and in particular comedies.

8. Did I mention I am a crier? I cry at everything including commercials.

9. I was student government president in college and I hate politics. I am also not a people person; I love being alone.

10. I am a control freak and I love to be in charge.

Now, it is time to pass this award on.

(1) Dee at The Redheaded Stepchild – you are one strong lady and I really admire you.
(2) Rachel over at A Little Bit of Kooky – Because well, kooky rocks!
(3) Laurie at Frozen Woman: A Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis – For being all she is regardless of RA.
(4) Stephanie at Life Keeps Rolling…Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis – For taking on some wonderful and tough challenges despite RA.
(5) Valley Writer at RA Mamma – For willing to take a great and amazing journey – motherhood and despite RA.

Again, thank you Teia.

Posted in Giveaway

Winner of Open-It Giveaway

The Winner of the Open-It Review is commenter 2: Peggy from Peg’s Play. I will contact you by email. If I do not hear back from you with 24 hours (Tomorrow – 4/15  9 a.m.), I will have to pick another winner.

Thanks to everyone who commented and participated. There will be another giveaway in the next couple of weeks for another product made by the Zibra Company: ZPCOPEN-OR Open It Universal Package. I will send an email to each of you when that giveaway is up.