Category Archives: Health Activist Challenge

#NHBPM Day 20 LOL Post

Today’s prompt: LOL post. Write a post about a moment that made you laugh. Or a video, picture, blog post, or something else that made you.

I love this photo because it was just the absolute perfect moment.  My boys and I at a beach on a late spring day (beginning of June) and it was a beautiful tranquil day. When I need a peaceful moment, I just look at this picture and remind myself that I am so very blessed. This picture was taken six months after I lost my brother and after I had endured other heartache in my life. It was the first time I felt at peace with myself in a long time.

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:

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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Advocate, Health Activist Challenge, NHBPM


#NHBPM Day 19 Best of Post

Today’s prompt : “Best of” post. Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.

One of my favorite posts goes to August 13, 2010 titled Humor is  Must With Chronic Illness. It was the first time I saw a side of myself that understood the reality that RA and fibromyalgia had brought to my life. What I had realized was that despite the tough times, it wasn’t all bad and that there was humor that came out of it all.  I would like to share it to remind others living chronic illness that you are only human and if getting through means laughing at yourself, what do you have to lose?

Humor is Must With Chronic Illness

For those who suffer from chronic illness, you know all too well that life is far from normal and will probably never be normal again. The way I see it is that life with chronic illness is like climbing mountains. Some are steeper than others, and but you learn to climb each and every mountain the more you practice. Some of the mountains are easy to climb and some take a lot of you to climb. The problem is that the mountains (are out of a Sci-Fi movie) will keep getting higher so you can never really conquer them. Life with chronic illness is similar; it can be easy at times and it can be harder at other times and it only gets harder, never easier.

The effect that chronic illness has on our lives, and the lives of those we love, is life altering to say the least. It can be confusing and you never know what to expect. The only thing that we ever learn is that the path we choose will influence the quality of our life and that we must be wise and prudent in order to survive. Part of the path we take involves understanding and learning about our illnesses. Another part involves lifestyle changes and accepting that those changes are imperative to having more good days than bad. Probably the most difficult and important part of our lives with chronic illness is the emotional rollercoaster and without balance and sensibility, we can never learn to live with the challenges.

With our emotional rollercoaster, we learn that humor is a must. Let’s face it – Chronic illness is depressing because it involves pain, fatigue, loss of impairment, medical testing and doctor visits. There is nothing fun or humorous there. Being sick all the time means you mourn everyday. Where is the humor in that? Let me just say that you will find humor in situations you never imagined you would.

Over the weekend (as I commented over at Terry’s blog), I found myself reminded of the clumsiness that Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia have brought to my life. Apparently, I save my most awkward and clumsy moments for public places. I was at the library looking for books for my upcoming paper for my Family Law course and I had my toddler in his stroller. While I was locating books, he was throwing books left and right. Once I had found the books I was looking for, I started picking up the books he had pulled and thrown. I had about five books maybe in a stack and proceeded to pick them up and in the process tripped over my own feet. (Did you hear the thud because I sure did? Can you tell my middle name is not Grace?) Well, when I tried to get up, I caught my right foot between two shelves and went for a second fall/trip-whatever you want to call it. Per the usual, I got myself up, dusted my clothes off, retained my dignity, and moved forward. Of course, I decided to leave the books for the professionals to put away. Meanwhile, my toddler was laughing because he thought I was trying to be funny. So, I chuckled and hoped that no one saw me. Hopefully, there weren’t any security cameras in the vicinity or else, I might just end up on one those corny home video shows.

Later in the evening, two things occurred to me. One is that I am a complete and utter klutz and two, humor can be found in the strangest of places when you live with chronic illness. Since RA and FMS, I am a lot clumsier than I have ever been and (wait there is more!) I should be more careful considering I have literally turned into a clown. When I first started taking Lyrica for my FMS, it made me dizzy (it occurred to me that the room was always spinning or that the walls were moving – your pick). I would stop in my tracks and wonder whether I was going insane. (I eventually stopped asking people if they felt the ground shaking or the room spinning.) Needless to say, I am glad the spinning stopped and that my husband did not check me into an asylum.

Another thing that I find to be difficult is that sometimes the stupidest things come out of my mouth or that I am mumbling at times and wishing the right words would just come out of my mouth. (Spit it out already!) I have learned to keep my mouth shut when those moments arise and for the times that I don’t, I later laugh at the things that I have said. For those of you who are wondering how much longer you will have to put up with your babbling self, it’s permanent, but you will learn when to keep your mouth shut and wait for the confusion to go way. Do you know how many times I have forgotten which way I am going or what I was doing no matter how repetitive the task was? I have learned to laugh at myself at the worst possible moments or else I would go insane.

I often compliment myself on the ability to laugh when I want to cry regardless of the challenge. The only advice that I can offer to those of you who don’t know what more your health can throw at you is to keep your chin up no matter how much it hurts to hold it there. You can’t control your health or what your disease does to your body, but you can control your attitude and response. I often joke about what a complete klutz I have become, and amongst family and friends, I can comment on my new found clumsiness by saying something like, “I used to be nice to look at, but now thanks to RA and FMS, I am just fun to watch” at precisely the right moment. However, if you take your cell phone out to video tape me, you will know me on a bad day and that isn’t very pleasant (just ask my poor husband).

Of course, each of us has a choice in how we feel. For me, I know that even with chronic illness and pain, laughter is there and it is the only way to keep sane. We just have to know when to laugh and when to cry because well, crying is okay too.

Let me know about the humor that your health has brought to your life. Come on! I will laugh at yours if you laugh at mine!

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:


#NHBPM Day 18 A comment as a blog post.

Today’s prompt: Pick someone else’s post (from the past or from today) and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your blog post for today. Link back to them to let them know you were inspired.          

I really like this prompt because it always our fellow bloggers to see how inspiring they are they to us.  The blog post that inspired me from yesterday was Kate’s Let it Be post.  Kate inspired me to find out all I can about Type 2 diabetes.  I am a strong believer in learning all you can about a condition and  I also thought it was equally important to learn to differentiate about the two types. I have been affected by diabetes because my mother has struggled with it nearly 20 years.

You would think that watching my mother struggle with diabetes that I would know a lot but I don’t.  In fact, I know very little.  My mother learned that she was a diabetic about 20 years ago when she was pregnant with my baby brother.  She needed insulin shots during her pregnancy and I remember how hard it was on her.  I was the only one of my siblings who was willing to help her with her injections and while it was pretty hard on me; I understood that she needed me. After my brother was born, she started taking medication instead of injections.

So, Kate, you inspired me. I went online and did some research on differentiating between the two.  What I found was that I knew a whole lot less than I thought I did.  First, I thought there were only two types of diabetes but I learned that there in fact several types.  Type 1 and type 2 are the most common.  My apologies to Kate because I told her my mom had Type 1 but after reading up, I am not sure I was correct on this because apparently Type 1 happens before age 20 and I assume she has Type 2 which is adult onset.

See, the more you know – the less of an idiot you look like!  And I feel like an idiot for not knowing which type my own mother has.


Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Advocate, Health Activist Challenge, NHBPM


#NHBPM Day 17 Let It Be.


Today’s prompt: Let It Be. What’s something that bothers you or weighs on you? Let it go. Talk out the letting go process and how you’re going to be better to yourself for it.

This is the prompt I have been dreading and while I have the option to ignore it or fake it, I think I will take the option to let it be by opening up about it. So, here goes.

Before my bother became ill last year, I had worked for a law firm that represented asbestos corporation defendants.  I never thought much of it at the time because I wasn’t very close to the cases. The attorneys handling these cases did most the work and most of what I did was just sending out documents to courts and to attorneys involved.  Then, one day the words “peritoneal mesothelioma” were uttered and I knew that the days of my not knowing about those cases were over.  Everyone case file that I came across suddenly had meaning.  The names had faces and they had families.  Less than three months after I lost my brother, I left the law firm and went to work for a real estate company because I could not take another day that was a reminder of a disease that killed my brother.  My former law firm represented asbestos corporations who, in my opinion, didn’t deserve anything more than criminal punishment.  My ability to remain impartial was compromised and my previous position was reminder daily that my brother was gone because I could no longer ignore what was in front of me.

Now, mesothelioma has a face and I am reminded almost daily of that.  When I hear about a newly diagnosed patient or someone who has lost their life to the disease, it makes me sad and it brings back memories of my brother’s very painful illness. It angers more than any other cancer out there because in my mind, it is manmade.  In a way, we created it by our use and overuse of asbestos.   Earlier this week, Anita Steiner’s battle with mesothelioma ended. She was only 49 years old and had a young daughter who is probably young enough that she won’t remember her mother.  She is another reminder of the cost that we pay when we allow industries to dictate our lives whether it is through legislation or whether through the products we use daily.

It bothers me that asbestos is still legal and that young people like my brother and Anita have to lose their lives when they didn’t even work in asbestos related industries.  Most likely, their exposure happened when they were children. Asbestos corporations get away with continuing to use asbestos despite their knowledge of its effect on people and that really angers me.  What kind of society are we that we allow people to knowingly cause harm and then we let them get away with it.  If you intentionally crash your car and kill someone, you are charged with murder and you are either in prison or on death row. However, if you knowingly expose people to asbestos and they become sick and die as a result, you are fined and dealt with by civil courts.  Really, where is the justice in that?

It angers me that corporations get nothing but a slap on the wrist and federal legislation does not even allow for victims and their families to be compensated fairly for sickness, loss of life and loss of income.   While there is some legislation that has been proposed for banning asbestos, none has become law.  The inability to pass laws is because powerful lobbying protects asbestos corporations. There are 55 countries around the world that have already banned asbestos use but the United States, the most powerful country in the world, is yet to take a stand on this.  Instead, we allow protection for asbestos corporations. 

Letting go of this issue has been difficult for me especially now as it is going on a year since we lost my brother.  It was the day before Thanksgiving last year that he went into to surgery so that they could attempt to remove the cancer.  Less than a month later, he was gone.  While there is a lot I can do this through activism, letting the issue stress me is not good for me nor does it bring my brother back so for the time being, I am going to let it be.  Letting go of its effect on me will allow me to focus on more pressing things in my life.  I miss my brother and I hate that he is gone but I love him enough to spend less time being angry and more time being thankful.  I have my children and my amazing wonderful family.  I am so grateful for that every day.


Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Advocate, Health Activist Challenge, NHBPM


#NHBPM Day 16 Little Engine Post

Today’s prompt: Little Engine Post. Write a list post with 10-15 lines that start each with “I think I can…” Write 5 lines at the end that start with “I know I can.”

I think I can…

  1. Lose twenty pounds by the New Year
  2. Keep my blood pressure down today
  3. Keep my blood pressure down for the long term
  4. Eat healthier to keep my RA symptoms at bay
  5. Take my LSATs by this time next year
  6. Learn to dance the tango
  7. Be moved out of my place by the end of the year
  8. Visit NYC next summer
  9. Go into remission from RA
  10. Make it too work on time for a straight month
  11. Dance in the rain 
  12. Keep my temper down even in the most ridiculous situations and when a flaring temper is warranted.
  13. Pretend that certain people’s actions don’t get to me.  
  14. Let go of things that I have weighed me down in the past year – things, not so much as people. 
  15. Stop craving something sweet at three o’clock every afternoon – thank goodness for healthy options.

I know I can…

  1. Work to keep my blood pressure to a healthy level
  2. Eat healthier to keep both my blood pressure down and my RA symptoms down
  3. Keep my temper down in order to keep my blood pressure down.
  4. Learn deep breathing and meditation techniques.
  5. Pretend that certain people and their actions don’t get to me.

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:


#NHBPM Day 15: This one’s for you, baby

Today’s Prompt.  This one’s for you, baby. Dedicate a song to your condition. Why did you pick that song? Find a youtube or link to a version to embed in your post.

I am a strong believer is going on despite challenges and the blows.  I won’t let RA and fibro get to me. So my song is “Bring on the Rain” by Jo Dee Messina. The lyrics say it all.  

Another day has almost come and gone,

Can’t imagine what else could go wrong.

Sometimes I’d like to hide away somewhere and lock the door.

A single battle lost but not the war.

‘Cause tomorrow’s another day

and I’m thirsty anyway

So bring on the rain.

It’s almost like the hard times circle ’round.

A couple drops and they all start comin down.

Yeah, I might feel defeated,

I might hang my head,

I might be barely breathing, but I’m not dead.

No, cause tomorrow’s another day,

and I’m thirsty anyway,

So bring on the rain.

No I’m not gonna let it get me down.

I’m not cry,

and I’m not gonna lose any sleep tonight.

‘Cause tomorrow’s another day,

and I am not afraid,

so bring on the rain.

tomorrow’s another day,

and I’m thirsty anyway,

so bring on the rain.

No I’m not gonna let get me down,

I’m not gonna cry.

so bring on the rain.

Bring on the rain

Bring on the rain


Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Advocate, Health Activist Challenge, NHBPM


#NHBPM Day 14 Elevator Blog

Today’s prompt:  Elevator blog. If you were in an elevator with someone and they asked about your blog. What would you tell them?
Make a version for a 30 second elevator ride.
Make a version for a 1 minute elevator ride.
Make a version for a 2 minute elevator ride.

I really like this prompt as it gives me an opportunity to explain my blog to those of you who don’t know it that well.  Of course, the time thing is an issue.

30 minute elevator ride

My blog is about my life with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia and my life despite chronic illness.  When I was first diagnosed I didn’t quite understand that I could have a normal life with RA and Fibro but after much research, experience and strong will, I have found my medium.  As a result, I want others who struggle with similar issues related to chronic illness to understand that while they may be set backs, your life is not over. A lot has happened in my life since my diagnosis over three years ago, and I don’t just blog about RA and fibro, I blog about other setbacks and other situations because I am only human.  I think that I owe it to the people who read my blog to see more than just an advocate for arthritis and fibromyalgia but I want them to see that I am just as normal as they are. Normalcy is something that so many of us with chronic illness struggle with and while we may not always feel normal, our experiences still are just that.

One minute elevator ride

One day I awoke to my life changed.  After years of struggling with pain and other mysterious symptoms, I received more than I expected – two diagnoses two months apart.  I had both rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. From the moment I received my first diagnosis, RA, I knew my life would change.  At the time, however, I thought that change would be for the worst.  Here I was 32 years old with a newborn and a nine year old who would need their mother for a long time and I felt like I had just been stripped of everything that made me human. I had two diseases and there was no cure for either.  I also found myself with a realization that I could not work fulltime, spend time with my kids, be sick, attend law school, and a whole lot of other things I had planned on doing. 

The longer I lived with RA the more I understood that if I wanted to continue to have dreams and live them, I had to take a slower pace.  I also had to realize that living with chronic disease did not mean that my live was over. It meant that that some things had to change including my expectations and my lifestyle.  That realization was my wakeup call and at some point I realized that I wasn’t alone in these feelings.  Others felt them too and what took me nearly a year to figure out would be easier for others if I shared my story and that is what I have done – several times a week. I have had setbacks due to RA and fibro and due to life in general.  I think about all the people who reached out to me when I was diagnosed and if not for their experience, I am not sure how I would have made through the first year after diagnosis but I did.  Fellow sufferers and bloggers reached out to me through their blogging about life with chronic illness and when I saw that their lives were close to normal, I knew that mine would be too.  Therefore, I blog to reach out to others struggling with the same anxieties and fears.

Two minute elevator ride

My RA and fibro diagnoses came over three years ago but I had symptoms for many years prior.  Days after giving birth to my son in September 2008, I awoke to the inability to walk and use my hands.   A week later, my family doctor suggested rheumatoid arthritis and referred me to a rheumatologist. Two months later, the rheumatologist gave me a second diagnosis: fibromyalgia.  I felt both relief and defeat at the same time.  I was relieved because I finally had an answer and defeated because there was no cure.  Here I was 32 years, a young mother and I felt like I was 80.  My blog started out as my way to cope.  A year later, it became my pedestal because I had finally told RA and fibro who was boss.  Three years later, I continue blog to help those struggling with the same issues I dealt with when I was first diagnosed and those I continually deal with as RA and fibro patient.  The difference is that three years ago I was scared but three years later, I advocate.  I am still scared but I have learned to fear is merely a setback.  I support, I speak up, I educate and I advocate and for me, helping just one person feel less alone and more educated means I had accomplished so much.  

My message to the people who read my blog is simple – learn to cope and find support.  In the beginning, coping meant that I just need to get through the day but these days, coping means thriving despite RA and fibro.  As for support, I know that the message we convey to others in our lives is important.  If we educate ourselves about our conditions, it makes it easier to express how we are feeling to our families, friends, and medical providers.

I thrive despite chronic illness and I made a decision a while back that for everything RA and fibro would take, I would take something back. People always give you advice about not letting the disease define you but I tell people that the disease does define you because it forces you to change your life to accommodate it.  Your life becomes about making choices that focus around living with chronic illness and sometimes, the best thing you can do to thrive is understand that some things are just out of your control.  However, that does not mean to everything is out of your control. You always have it in your power to respond positively and fight back progressively. Some more advice – Don’t sweat the small stuff and understand that your expectations about yourself and for others in your life have to change.  Count your blessings every night and think about all the things you have accomplished despite chronic illness.

With my blog, I know that it is so important to reach out to others who understand what you are going through but it is also important to let others reach out to you. From personal experience and as an advocate for both fibromyalgia and arthritis, I know the power of advocating for yourself.  My message is simple: learn all you can about your conditions, express your needs and concerns clearly, open up about the how the disease affects you, learn to cope and manage your disease and make a choice that your life isn’t over. I hope that I can convey these things clearly and allow people to see that I am not the exception to the rule but that I am just like them – struggling to find answers.  Life gave me lemons and I made a choice to throw them back and that is my story and I am sticking to it.

I am also human and that is why there is more to me that just RA and fibro.  I lost my bother last year to a rare form of cancer, one caused by asbestos exposure.   As I continue to advocate, I pray for the strength to advocate for others affected by mesothelioma and while right now, I am not strong enough to do this, I will be someday.  When that day comes, I will advocate to the best of my ability but for now, I advocate for fibro and RA in my brother’s memory.  Advocating in his memory allows me to the strongest I have ever been and so when it comes time to stand up for those affected by asbestos exposure and against those who knowingly expose people to asbestos, I will be ready.

This post is post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: If you want to participate in this post, leave a link in the comments to your post.

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Advocate, Health Activist Challenge, NHBPM


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