Author Archives: AllFlaredUp

LOL Gratitude Challenge

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That’s what my friend and I call things that we start with every intention of following through on…and then we just don’t.

LOL give up red wine.

LOL clean my house.

LOL New Years Resolutions.

You get the picture. So yeah…LOL gratitude challenge. I think we can all agree that I’m grateful…so we’ll just move along now.

For me, it’s a mixed reaction when I can’t follow through on things. Things like making a decision to give up Starbucks for Lent only to wind up at Caribou…are amusing. I seriously could be a lawyer with how I allow myself out on technicalities. I find it fairly hilarious and amusing.

But what I don’t find hilarious or amusing is that sometimes I simply can’t follow through on more important things. Can’t follow through isn’t necessarily the most fair statement; more like terrified to commit out of fear of not being able to follow through.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m doing very well right now. Everything is very well controlled by medication and has been for some time. I feel…healthy. It’s a strange feeling and I don’t trust it yet.

Sad, right? But when you’ve had that carpet seriously yanked from under your feet once or twice, it’s a hard thing to trust.

I’m honestly not sure what I’m afraid of committing to right now either.

Is marathon running in my future? Not unless I can take a golf cart.

Will I be selling all my belongings and moving to do humanitarian work in a third world country? Doubtful. I won’t even touch door handles in public restrooms.

Skydiving? I do not understand why anyone would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

But I’m kinda itching to push myself again. To commit to doing something a little out there, a little un-me, a little ‘take this RA and shove it.’ But also safe, clean, and not completely unattainable. Something to help me trust feeling good again.

I’m not quite sure what that will be yet. I’m open to suggestions.

No more LOL Gratitude Challenges. :)

The little things: Gratitude Challenge #6

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I could probably write a month of posts detailing how grateful I am for this cat. Catember?

But for now, I’m grateful for the comfort her purrs provide. She runs to the door when I get home, motor going. She climbs on the couch or bed to cuddle, motor going. I wake up in the middle of the night, she’s right next to me purring.

If I’m sick or sad, she doesn’t leave my side nor does she stop purring.

I’m so grateful for my happy little beast!

Birthdays: Gratitude Challenge #5

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And true to form, I’m a day behind. Which shouldn’t be surprising and which will be explained in today’s update very shortly.

Birthdays. Oh how they have changed since Facebook reminds all the people you haven’t seen since middle school to write on your wall. You feel special, yes, but at least for me, the fact that I can send you a birthday wish without actually pulling up your page and seeing what’s really going on in your life just seems crazy impersonal.

So I’m very grateful that last weekend, my entire family was able to be together in DC for my dad’s birthday. Spending time with the birthday guy or gal is so much more special!

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Harvest: Gratitude Challenge #4

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Harvest: the gathering of crops from fields. Reaping what you sow.

Hmmmm, this one is a little bit more difficult. From a literal perspective, I ain’t no farmer. Seriously. I kill plants. Not just kill them. I am a serial killer of plants: I make them dead and then I laugh as they whither away. I bought basil, cilantro, and mint this year to grow and cook with; I just never watered them and thought it was amusing how quickly they turned brown.

Not the best harvester of crops in the literal sense.

BUT. Reaping what you sow. Getting benefit from things that you invest in.

That, I know a few things about.

So today I am grateful for getting (and hopefully giving) benefit from the things that I choose to invest my time in. Friendships, family, activities. I’m also grateful for the growing discernment regarding things that I should no longer invest my time in as there is simply no positive outcome for me.

I may not cultivate crops, but I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at cultivating relationships that support me through RA and other things, and that I try my hardest to support through situations as needed.

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Me and one of my most solid friends, still smiling the day that my alma mater crushed her alma mater in football!

Lessons learned: Gratitude Challenge #2

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When I saw that today’s prompt was ‘lessons learned,’ I wasn’t quite sure what to be grateful for because I have learned so many lessons. Usually the hard way.

Lessons like: tequila shots are a bad idea on an empty stomach, consistently watering plants with the Cokes you didn’t finish will kill them, or attempting DIY plumping repairs when you have no actual plumbing skills will only end up costing you twice as much money.

All good pieces of advice, by the way, but lessons learned more out of oops moments rather than lessons I am truly grateful for.

And then it hit me in the face sinuses what very recent lesson I’ve learned that I am truly oh-so-grateful for.

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up with a cold. Sore throat, coughing, drainage, sinus and chest congestion oh my! Traditionally, as soon as I have all of those symptoms present, I am at the doctor’s office begging for antibiotics as it always without fail turns into a sinus infection and bronchitis. A common cold normally knocks me out for two weeks and I worry worry worry myself to pieces about it.

So last week, I realized that I simply didn’t have time to be sick, didn’t have time to go to the doctor, and had too much going on to worry myself into a frenzy about getting sicker.

I did something amazing and very much out of character: I chilled the heck out.

I have no proof that I stressed myself into sinus infections in the past but…I took cold medicine, I drank hot tea with honey and a little bit of vinegar ALL DAY, I used my nasty disgusting neti pot twice a day, I blew my nose probably 100 times a day, and drank a glass of red wine every night…for my nerves.

And guess what? It’s been a week and the cold is gone all on it’s own!

I’m grateful that I learned to just chill out and be ok with the fact that I had a cold, and that maybe if I was diligent in treating it on my own, I could avoid it becoming worse and avoid another round of doctor’s appointments and antibiotics. If nothing else, I’ve learned that having a cold doesn’t have to be so stressful.

Surprises: Gratitude Challenge #1

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Being diagnosed with a chronic illness that wreaks havoc on your weight is a ‘weighty’ thing. At age 26, it sucked. At age 34, still sucks. I’m happy to say that this past year, I have gotten a handle on my diet, added in exercise, lost 35 pounds, and feel and look like a whole new person.

I don’t take this weight loss or the addition of physical activity lightly. Physical activity can be very difficult for even the mildly affected RA patient. But I’ve pushed myself while respecting my body’s boundaries and the benefits have been huge. My range of motion has increased, inflammation has subsided, and most importantly I am building muscle up around joints that tend to be affected that will offer protection.

That’s not the surprise.

Sadly, even at my thinnest back in 2009, I thought I was a cow. RA really changed the way I looked at myself. I didn’t see a pretty 30 year old. I saw swollen joints. I saw a limp. I saw bags under my eyes.

When I gained weight (a significant amount), I saw all those things AND an orca whale.

Being able to be active again has made me feel like the me before my diagnosis. Even though I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was in 2009, I don’t look in the mirror and see an RA patient. I see a 34 year old who has worked hard for calf muscles, arm muscles, a leaner body and oh yeah…she’s done all that while dealing with RA. That’s quite an accomplishment. Feeling like I have at least some control over my body and my health is just so empowering.

All that to say…I feel more like the person I was pre RA than I ever thought I’d feel.

I feel confident. I haven’t felt that in a long time.

Now…on to the surprise!

It is no big secret that I am super obsessed, in love, meant to marry James Franco.

I’ve seen every movie he’s made. I’ve even read his books. I follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Heck, I even follow his mom on Twitter. Does that make me sound a bit cray cray stalker? I promise I’m not!

Point being, we are meant to be. LOL.

Anywho…James asked for Halloween pictures on Instagram. I was heading out to my Zumba Halloween party in costume so I obliged.

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I know what you are thinking.

That girl looks so…classy.

For the record, I have the whole outfit. Because every single 34 year old woman needs a Hooters getup ‘just in case.’

Y’all…30 seconds after I posted it, HE FREAKING LIKED IT. Big deal yes? Even bigger- he didn’t like a bunch of other pics. JUST MINE!

He also liked a picture of my cat. I am smitten.

We are so getting married.

So I’m grateful for my surprise that my huge huge huge crush thinks this gal who has worked hard in spite of RA is one hot Hooters gal.

For the record, I do not work at Hooters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

November Gratitude Challenge

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Life has been busy and a bit tough since my last post. It can be very tempting, having a blog, when you’re done dirty to use it as a platform to throw that mother effer under the bus. So when I feel that way, I try my hardest to step away. But OH the stories I could tell…and the karma I could bring…for myself and my friends. But seeing as I’m hesitant to write about my friends that I love by name, I’m sure as hell not giving someone/thing I despise a moment of my written time.

Someday I plan on starting a completely anonymous blog wherein I right some wrongs. Look for Karma Squad: We Make Things Happen. LOL.

So, my attitude is in serious need of adjustment. To that end, I am trying my hardest to complete the November Gratitude Challenge. I will be writing about things I’m grateful for, some RA related and some not.

I welcome you to join me! I will be typing it out here and sharing a corresponding picture on my Facebook page. So follow along, like me, and feel free to share what you’re thankful for too!

Here’s my calendar:

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First post will be up soon, and it’s a funny one!

408 months old, 84 months spent with RA

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So….a week ago, I turned 408 months old. Yes folks, I closed out the Jesus year. As always, I never miss an opportunity to mock the Mommy Bloggers. For some perspective, I have only spent 84 months of my life living with RA.  I kinda like that statistic; I’ve never believed that RA defines me and that number only adds fuel to my fire.

Milestones:
Height: 5’6…no changes here
Weight: -33 lbs with photographic proof. I’ve actually lost weight since this last photo was taken!

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Language development: Concerted efforts to curb four letter word usage have been minimally successful. Example: I stubbed my toe at the office and exclaimed “GEEZO PETE.” This was, however, at the office, a place where four letter word usage has never been an issue. But still…it’s my blog so I call progress.
Nervous system: still need a twelve step program for caffeine addicts. The flip side of this is that I would like to retain my friends. Without caffeine, I may lash out so there will be no twelve step caffeine program attendance.
Motor skills: Much improved. This time last year, my wrists were so stiff and swollen, they looked like cankles. (Crists?) This time last year, I had a chronic limp due to ankle issues. This time last year, I had to hold on to something in order to go from the floor to stand or vice versa. Right now, I can do the caterpillar breakdance, do a gigantic karate leap up to standing, jump back and forth from one foot to the other while bending and flexing my wrists. Or something like that.
Mental/Emotional: I’ll admit here that I’m not in the best place right now and it has nothing to do with RA. I’m learning how to ask for what I want and not dwell on things…but y’all…that is easier said than done.
Goals: I want to continue taking care of me. I feel like I got a good handle on the physical this year; now I need to find a way to be happy again.
Reflection on the past year: The Jesus year was a difficult one. Not gonna lie. I got to do some cool things: took back my health, lost the weight again, went to St Maarten, learned how to stand up paddle board, kicked my soda habit, learned how to cook healthfully…but I’m currently learning some very hard lessons on who my true friends really are and what I need for myself.
The Theme for my 34th year of life: No More Toxicity

Thank you, Healthline!

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Wow…thank you so much to Healthline for including me on this year’s list of The 20 Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs of 2013.  It is weird for me to be included with a group of bloggers I look up to for information, strength and inspiration.

I started this blog years ago for myself.  I needed a way to express what I was feeling and everything that was happening to me, and I was desperately trying to find other patients that I could relate to.  I was newly diagnosed, very scared, and didn’t understand enough about this disease to know that I was the demographic.  Yep, I thought only grandmas got this disease.  I was embarrassed.

I had absolutely no idea that people would actually read this.  And comment!  And direct me to other blogs written by patients who I so completely identify with!  And allow me to develop both close online and in real life friendships with people who support me and who I try my best to be there for.  It was a shock and is still astonishing to me.

There are many important things that I have learned through this blog but the two takeaways I’d like to point out are:

-Healthline describes me as a Southern girl with spunk.  And they are correct.  I’ve always been that girl…except for when I was dealing with all of the emotions involved with wrapping my brain around a diagnosis.  Blogging and connecting with other patients helped me to regain my confidence in myself that I AM STILL and will ALWAYS be that girl…thank you.  Having two words permanently affixed to your medical record doesn’t change the core of your being.  In fact, I have learned that our struggles with humanity are what makes each of us human and interesting.  I *knew* that beforehand but didn’t truly feel it as a truth until I started connecting with others here…thank you.

-When I started blogging, I had a very hard time finding blogs that detailed what it’s like to live with RA as a twenty/thirty something.  The literature simply didn’t exist.  With each blogger on this list, with every blogger not on this list, and with each new blog started, we are ALL contributing to the body of work that shows it is possible to live a full life with this.  It is possible to be happy.  And every time we write about both our successes and our failures, we are helping each other and helping those just starting on this journey in desperate need of information…thank you.

So thank you Healthline but more importantly, thank YOU for reading.  You’re all aces in my book. :)