Tag Archives: Friends

Trying to feel festive!

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I’ve been a bad blogger lately… and for that I apologize.  I’ve been busy taking some much needed time off, getting ready for the holidays, and thinking a lot about what I want 2011 to be for me.  I know…the person who is morally averse to making any sort of New Year’s resolutions because she thinks it sets you up for failure…is contemplating making 2011 resolutions.  I wonder if that’s mentioned in the book of Revelations.

Anyways, I am also proud to say that I have been trying my hardest to not hate Christmas like I usually do AND have also conquered two of my bigger fears this week: ice skating (ie falling) and parallel parking.

I do not have any clue how I missed it last year but Charlotte has this nifty tradition every December of hosting OUTDOOR ice skating.  For a meager $10, you can rent smelly hockey skates that are still warm from the last person and skate in a very small circle on badly maintained ice with a lot of other people who are thinking the same thing: DUDE, I’m a SOUTHERNER, we can’t drive on ice but let’s strap some shoes with blades on and fling my body as fast and hard as I can WITH ABSOLUTELY NO REGARD for the safety of all the other people here who also don’t know what they’re doing!

Sounds like fun, right?

My first two laps took me approximately 15 minutes apiece.  I clung to that wall like I was tiptoeing the top of a skyscraper and timed my moves to be as far away from a large group of kamikaze high school kids as possible. (By the way, high school boys of Charlotte…skinny jeans…bad choice. Just saying.) One of my friends lived in Boston for five years and she literally had to hold my hand and lead me through a couple of places because I was so nervous.

What if I fall?  I could really hurt my hands.  And what if I fell, hurt my hands, and then some high school kid skates over my fingers and cuts one off?  A very rational fear followed by…not so much.

The crowd eased up a bit and I was able to convert my 15 minute laps to 5 minute laps, letting go of the wall briefly in places.  I realized at some point that my anxiety was more of the cause of my stability issues than any sort of body/joint problem.  Actually, my feet felt fine!  It WAS beautiful, as clichéd as you can get, but how many times have I ever been able to ice skate outdoors underneath a canopy of Christmas lights surrounded by skyscrapers?  Never!  It was very festive.

And finally I felt ready to do a lap unassisted.  I was slow as can be, but my friend skated with me and coached me.  Push left, push right, it’s just like skiing.  It was great.  But then I was faced with the decision that I had been dreading since I strapped the shoes on.  Do I run over the poor little kid who fell immediately in front of me…or do I cut sharply to the right to avoid her?  Obviously, as soon as I saw the hurt child in front of me, I knew I was going to cut sharply to the right and I also knew that I was going to fall.

I cut to the right and immediately started bending my knees knowing that I would either fall completely on my butt or would be much closer to the ground so that I could control impact to my hands.  I honestly would’ve preferred to fall on my butt but I had no freaking clue which way gravity was going to take me.  In the end, I fell forward but was already so close to the ground that I put my hands down and stopped it quickly and painlessly.  I was proud of myself for trying and for being able to trust my body and instincts enough to not completely freak out.  The kid was fine, just twisted her knee.

I spent the rest of the time standing on the wall on the ice watching people skate.  Why tempt fate twice?

I’m signing off for the holidays but I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and get to spend some good times with your loved ones.  I will be back before 2011 to tell you about these resolutions of mine!

Lady Gaga Concert

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This is where you’ll start to figure out why I’ve been so freaking tired the past couple of weeks.

That Saturday morning and afternoon that I went whitewater rafting would be the same Saturday of the Saturday night I went to a Lady Gaga concert.  And the very next day…that Sunday I would fly to DC for the ACR’s Advocates for Arthritis.  But I’ll get to that in my next post!

After rafting, I had a drink until my legs stopped shaking, and then I ran to my car.  I had two friends coming in from out of town and had some serious prettying up to do!

My two friends and I share a birthday week.  When we found out that Lady Gaga would be in town that very week, we knew it wasn’t just a coincidence.  Nope, it meant to be that we were supposed to get all glammed up, have an expensive dinner, and dance our Virgo booties off!   My friend Hot Mama (she’s newly pregnant) had me call the local MAC counter to set official ‘glam’ appointments.  I was told that, with the purchase of eyelashes, they would finish our eye makeup for us and that no appointments were necessary.  Even better!

So I showered, slipped on a cute dress, selected fun jewelry, and took a chance with some fun heels.  We jumped in Hot Mama’s car (pregnant friends make great dd’s…just saying) and headed to the mall with a full hour to spare before our dinner reservations.

“I’m sorry.  We’re booked for the night.”  Apparently, appointments WERE necessary.  Thank you so much, MAC counter at Belk at South Park Mall.  Because of you, I got to eat Taco Bell in the car.  Also, I now wear Bobbi Brown.  They were more than able to accommodate us and did a great job making us look fab. Go Bobbi Brown!

Momentary roadblock overcame and the three of us were off to the concert venue.

I should mention hear that Hot Mama’s husband made fun of us for dressing up for a concert.  I believe the verbage he used was ‘nobody else is going to be dressed like that.’  And he was right.  The moment we stepped out of the parking garage and joined the crowds moving towards the arena, it was quite evident that nobody else was ‘dressed like that.’  Nope, I saw very few slinky party dresses.  But I did see all kinds of pleather, police caution tape, black makeup tears, angel wings, and several hard core girls walking around in bras with their hair in Coke cans.

Wearing a T-Bone tiara someone threw on stage.

The concert was AMAZING.  I should mention that she’s one of my favorites for several reasons.  First, she actually can sing, dance, and play instruments live.  I mean, really, how many people can you actually say that about?  Second, I believe she herself said it best with ‘if I ask you to pay what you’re paying for a ticket, then I’m not going to lip sing a single word.’ Third, she’s passionate.  Like crazy passionate.  She loves her fans.  Period.  She knows what she believes. Period.  You may not agree with everything but you have to respect where it comes from.

The little speck in the middle is her setting the piano on fire.  You  can see her also on the jumbotron.

Favorite moments:

-She opened with my favorite song- Dance in the Dark.

- She played Speechless on a stage completely by herself with a grand piano.  And then she set the piano on fire.

-The song Boys, Boys, Boys.  I do not know why but that song never ceases to make me laugh.  It reminds me of college.  Sorry mom.

-Watching my other friend, let’s call her Catholic, squirm (but secretly love) when she came out wearing a mini skirted clear pleather nun’s habit with bandaids covering things that needed to be covered.

-Someone threw a Barbie Doll on stage and she picked her up and bit her head off because “I played with Barbie’s growing up and they were a great source of insecurity.  This is what happens to Barbies on my stage.”  AMEN.

She closed with Bad Romance and it was over too fast!  We walked up to this martini bar and had a drink while we waited for traffic to subside.  This would be immediately after the mini adventure known as I have to pee right now, let’s run into the bus station really fast!  NOT going to do that ever again.

It was a LONG day and when I finally got home and got in bed, I was SORE. Like have to get out of bed and get a muscle relaxer sore.

Hot Mama, me, and Catholic

I wouldn’t change a thing about that whole day. Days like this that keep me sane.  I can always justify feeling a little crummy for a couple of days to have experiences like these.

Whitewater Rafting

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Two weekends ago, I went whitewater rafting with friends.  And oh-my-goodness was that a whole lot of fun but also not the best decision I’ve ever made in my life considering that I need to protect my joints.

Prior to our trip, we had to sign the necessary waivers and listen to a safety talk given by our raft guide.  It sounds pretty routine but that safety talk was one of the funniest things I’ve ever sat through, mainly because our raft (who used to legitimately be a crackhead but has gotten his life together) was a dead ringer for Spiccoli and even funnier.  Highlights of  the safety talk included what you should do ‘in the event that you exit the raft in order to take your own personal rafting trip in your life jacket.’  Oh my god.

I realized as we made our way to the boats that hey, you’re actually getting ready to do this for real!  And even though we were on a manmade course that was built to be safe (shallow, no undercut rocks, lifeguards, eddys made so that they protected you from the current if you happened to wash into one on your own ‘personal rafting trip courtesy of your life jacket’), it only then dawned on me that hey, you could still get hurt here.

So, I chose a seat in the back of the boat right in front of the raft guide and hoped for the best.

Before heading out into the channel, we practiced paddling as well as ‘getting down’ when the guide told us to- this was what we were to do whenever he yelled get down which he said would be in most of the larger rapids and involved just that- sitting in the bottom of the raft, leaning to the middle, and holding your paddle straight up in the air so that you wouldn’t clock anyone in the head.

The first few strokes were great.  We approached our first rapid and all of a sudden I hear, “get down!”  I quickly slid to the bottom of the boat as we dropped down about 2 feet.  The water splashed up in the boat and sent my gym shorts and underwear…um…up.  I had to quickly right the clothes situation before getting back up on my seat.  Getting back up into the seat with creaky RA knees when there’s water everywhere was hard.  I found  that I had better traction if I hooked my foot underneath the seat in front of me- I didn’t slide as much and ironically, this would come in quite handy in just a few minutes.

On the second rapid, we lost one of the people in the front of the boat. No worries, she was fine and we pulled her back in quickly.  On the third rapid, I almost lost a contact.  We finished that channel and rode the conveyor belt back up and did a second time.  Then we moved on to the harder channel.

Now, I had some apprehension going into this.  One of my favorite pastimes is sitting at this particular rapid and watching people bite it.  So I knew that was a possibility.  Paddling towards it, all I wanted to do was say hey, just drop me off and do it without me, but I had no time.

We did the first few rapids perfectly.  As we got closer to the spot I was worried about, I heard our raft guide yell ‘get down’ again.  I quickly complied.  We went down the drop, the raft dipped down in my side at the bottom, my friend on my right slammed into me, and I fell out of the raft.  Kind of.  Remember that I had my feet hooked!  So I am hanging out of the side of this boat in perfect sit-up position surrounded by rocks on all sides.  I remember thinking that I know I need to protect my hands and my neck but all I could think about was the fact that EVERYONE CAN SEE MY BUTT RIGHT NOW.  The raft guide stood up in the rapid, grabbed my life packet by the shoulders, and yanked me back in.

We did  the same channel one more time and I managed to stay in.  Then it was over.  I was SO sore afterwards- you know how we have a hard time with stiffness when we stay in the same position too long?  Imagine staying in the same position for an hour and a half while actively clenching your muscles in that position to keep yourself in place.  OH MY GOD.

I had a hard time getting out of the boat!

I wasn’t as terribly sore the next day as I thought I’d be but I was totally bruised on one whole side of my body.   Seriously, I looked like I’d been beat up!

Coming up next: DC Trip with the ACR

Hiking and Horses

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One of two lengthier updates so bear with me!  Lots going on! Let’s start with the Labor Day update which was supposed to accompany the pictures I posted closer to actual Labor Day.

It was a great mountain vacation- great friends, great food, great hot tub that got completely overloaded with too many people, and overcoming some fears to do some activities that I used to do quite a lot.

Exhibit A: Hiking

Ok, ok, ok…so I don’t really CARE for hiking too much.  Growing up, my dad’s idea of hiking was ‘let’s carry all sorts of crap in heavy backpacks and spend a week living like our ancestors did off of the land.’  He’d always try to con me into it by mentioning how much I loved the computer game Oregon Trail.  But no matter how cool it would be to walk into a store and say ‘I’d like to buy $1400 worth of bullets…and an axle,” I can’t forget that all my Oregon Trail people always died of dysentary.

Anyways.

So I’d compromise with him for this trail near our house. Not too hilly, not too flat, not many roots,we’d catch up, he’d get to be outside, I’d get to not die of dysentary, and an hour later, on the way home we’d sometimes get ice cream.

And then RA happened and I haven’t done it since.

I was nervous on Saturday when my friends announced that the plans for the day included an almost 2 mile hike.  For the record, I’ve done multiple 5K’s since this happened.  Would I give a 2 mile walk in my neighborhood a second thought? No. I’d be confident at this  distance on any flat terrain without roots to watch for.  But this particular trail is very uphill, very uneven ground, and lots of roots. I had visions of tripping on a root and falling forward to catch myself with my worthless hands, and really getting hurt.  The area is also a tad bit isolated and I didn’t feel like it had a good ‘escape route.’  Donner Pass much?

You don’t know you can’t do this until you try it and can’t do it. You have no basis for this whole root anxiety especially because your biggest guy friend is on the trip and you can make him walk with you and catch you if you need it. You probably won’t need it. If something happens you know your friends won’t have to kill you and use you for food because it’s not even winter yet. If you successfully complete it, you can buy those black and pink plaid rain boots you’re having hard time finding a reason to justify buying.

I am proud new owner of black and pink rain boots. And for the record,  nothing hurt afterward except my butt = not a joint.

Exhibit B:  Horseback Riding

I grew up riding horses.  LOVE it.  One of my favorite family vacations growing up was a horseback trip around the Grand Tetons.  If you’ve ever even seen pictures of how beautiful it is out there, just imagine how beautiful riding through them on the back of a horse is.  Surreal.

I quit riding when I hit high school for dancing.  I continued dancing in college- with boys at parties. The closest I came to horseback riding in college was this one time I contemplated riding a mechanical bull in a country line dance bar outside of Knoxville.  For the record, I did not.

So when I found out that a couple of the girls on the trip wanted to go riding, I was PUMPED.  I had visions of myself yet again flying through the mountains on this beautiful horse in beautiful crisp early fall weather.  I was GIDDY.  I googled several places, narrowed down the list, and called the final contenders.  I emailed the information to the interested parties.

And then I remembered the closest I ever came to getting hurt on a horse.  I was really little and I somehow cued my horse to canter (similar to a gallop).  I wasn’t expecting it and I almost fell off.  And then I remembered how my friend Lisa fell off her horse when we were 12- she hurt her back and broke her nose.

I went ahead and paid my deposit to reserve the horse but didn’t commit to doing it until I got there and saw that it was a slow, guided ride on a very broken in trail.  I was a tad disappointed in that- I wanted to RUN- but even with the slow pace, I was really nervous the first few times the horse lurched.

Exhibit C:  Getting Tricked Into Hiking A Longer and Hillier Distance

With two successes under my belt, I felt more confidant.  So when we were on our way back and a friend asked if I was ok with stopping to do a hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was immediately game. (Graveyard Fields for those who may be interested.)  I was even more game when I inquired as to the distance and was told less than a mile.

Yes!  I LOVE hiking!

We headed down the paved walkway to the Falls which were indeed less than a mile from the car.  They were beautiful- really cool looking rocks- and we all took our shoes off and soaked our feet in the freezing cold water.

I walked back up the rock face to the path when I noticed the group heading off in another direction.  I followed suit without question but realized quickly that a) the paved path turns to rocks and roots very quickly and b) this is all uphill. When I saw this, I again directed the distance question to my friend leading the pack.  He responded with “4 miles” and apparently I made a face.  And then he said it:

“I mean, just how bad are your feet flaring right now?  You did yesterday’s hike fine. So do they hurt or don’t they?”

OH NO YOU DIDN’T.

Now keep in mind that this is someone that I hang out with a lot and for the most part really enjoy hanging out with. He obviously knows about the RA but obviously doesn’t understand much about how symptoms can change.  In that moment, I really really really disliked him. But I get it- he wanted to do the hike and knew that if I said I couldn’t do it, most of the people we were with would probably join me back at the car. And that is how I decided that come hell or high water, I was going to finish the damn hike.

I disliked him even more as he began showboating for the group.  He called it stunt hiking- running up the trail and jumping over roots ninja style.  It was really annoying when all I’m trying to do is not fall on really steep and really uneven terrain.

I felt much better when he face planted while showing off his ‘root double axel.’

The whole ordeal very clearly illustrated the principle that one of friends (who is a personal trainer) believes: men are overly confident in their athletic ability while women doubt their athletic ability. Especially women with RA. :)

Coming up next: white water rafting, Lady Gaga concert, and the ACR Advocates for Arthritis in Washington DC.

372 Month Update

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Dear Amanda:

Yes, you are writing yourself a letter in third person.  Why? Well, for one thing, Facebook has ruined you.  You and your friends tend to state things as Facebook status updates.  Why, I am not sure. Damn you, Facebook!  For another, you spend an awful lot of time reading the blogs of all of your friends who have children.  And so, in honor of your 372 month of life, you thought you’d be funny and mock the monthly updates that a lot of them do.

Yes, my dear, you are 372 months old today.  Let’s see what you’ve been up to!

Height: 5’6…you get very defensive if anyone says 5’5 because your goal in life was to be taller than your mother…who is 5’5.

Weight: 110 is the weight on your old SC drivers license.  For the record, it also says you’re 5’8.

Hair: Yes, you’ve had a full head of it for approximately 370 months.

Eyes: Still blue.

Motor skills/development: You’re working on being able to grip things. The actual gripping is fine but you have a hard time with ‘grip and twist.’  Hey, doesn’t that sound like a dance  move? And speaking of dance moves, you’re going to be taking a dance class soon.  You learned another lesson while searching for a dance class.  Never google ‘adult dance class.’  The results will not be what you are searching for.  A better query would be ‘your town name AND dance class.’  You can search through specific studios pretty quickly this way and not have to worry about people seeing the results in your search history.

Language Skills: Some problems here.  Nothing that a well placed bar of soap couldn’t fix.

Diet: You are SUCH a cheater this week.  But tomorrow starts a new week and a new commitment to being truly caffeine, gluten, dairy, and anything that tastes good free.  You really can tell a difference when you stay true to the diet.

Milestones: You are officially off of Prednisone.  YEAH!  Your wrists are really sore today- maybe because of this or maybe because of excessive red wine consumption. Who knows.  But you’re off of it and you’re still functioning which was not the case a few months ago.  Also, you attempted riding your friends bike the other night and while it wasn’t pretty, you didn’t fall on your ass!  YAY!  And when your friend offered to run after you holding the seat like you’re a baby with training wheels, you didn’t say anything incredibly rude!  MIRACLE!  Nope, you just cut your eyes, took another swig of wine, and wobbled down the driveway on the bike (which I may add is WAY too short for you) looking quite mature for your 372 years of life if I do say so myself.

What’s next for you: another glass of wine and some cake.  Duh.  Then some building back of strength/stamina that you lost over the summer, some losing of weight that you gained over the summer, and hopefully some attempting of antibiotic protocol after you finish your study.

10 Things

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I’m not really wanting to write about RA today.  Sometimes I worry that RA completely takes over my life.  And that is just unacceptable.  So to break things up, I thought I’d tell you 10 facts about me that have absolutely nothing to do with RA.

1. I was born in GA and have lived in SC and NC.  I’ve traveled the US extensively (there are only a few states I haven’t been to) but I’ve never left the country.  Everytime I try to schedule a trip, something comes up.

2.  I’m extremely claustrophobic.  Hell for me is sitting in the middle of a row because I feel like I can’t get out.

3. I’ve never been able to tan.  I have two colors: white and lobster.  Lobster doesn’t look good on me. I also have scars on my shoulders from a really bad burn in high school. So white it is.

4. I’m incredibly accident prone.  I really did fall down a handicap ramp once.  I also fell down the steps at a birthday party for my friend’s daughter.  Screaming the f word in front of a bunch of 3 year olds did not make me friends with their parents. And finally two summers ago, I did this to my leg in my gravel driveway.  Ewww.

5.  I love new clothes but I hate shopping.  I always wind up in the dressing room with the annoying kid who thinks it’s funny to peak under the dressing room door (happened last weekend at Steinmart) or in line next to the kid who is fah-reaking out because he missed his nap so his mom gave him a Red Bull to tide him over.

6. I hate reality dating shows.  It never ceases to amaze me how worked up people get over PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO GO ON TV TO GET A DATE.  I’m sorry but there’s just no way I could take someone like that seriously.

7.  I like other types of reality shows.  Intervention, Hoarders, Teen Mom (holy crap, I’m 30 years old and my mom would still kick my butt if I tried to cop half the ‘tude that some of these girls have!), anything with the Kardashians.  My personal favorite is Confessions: Animal Hoarding in that I can remind my pet that yes, life could be SO MUCH WORSE than living with me.

8. I spend too much time on my phone.  It’s embarrassing.

9. I LOVE bar games.  Trivia, darts, beer pong, you name it.  Love it.  Note that I never said I was good at any of them.

10. Without sounding cliched, I have some pretty fabulous friends and family.  I realize here that I’ve bitched more about some that were not so fabulous…but I’m a pretty lucky gal in that respect and am going to try to take some time to ‘introduce’ you to some of my lifesavers.

I’d love to hear more about y’all that’s not RA related!

Dating, Shopping, & RA

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A couple of my friends have taken it upon themselves to set me up with every single guy they know.  I appreciate it…I guess.  No, I appreciate the thought. But you have to understand that right now dating for me is like going shopping with my mom: show me the shirt (single guy) and I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it (him.)

There’s actually a lot of overlap between shopping and dating.  Think about it- the reasons you don’t buy a pair of pants are the same reasons you ditch a dude.  Too tight.  Too baggy.  Not scuffed up enough.  TOO scuffed up.  Too sparkly.  Looks too young.  Definitely too old.  Threadbare.

Ed Hardy.

Yep, that last one disqualifies both gentlemen and any type of clothing. I am not interested in dating or wearing anything that looks….airbrushed.

So throw all of those choices on someone who knows exactly what she wants and therefore tends to be pretty selective but who also doesn’t have a freaking clue what she wants because she has really had her heart stomped on in the past which then has made her selective to the point of snobbery.  AND THEN…BECAUSE IT’S APPARENTLY NOT COMPLICATED ENOUGH…AND BECAUSE SHE CAN DEFINITELY HANDLE YET ANOTHER THING ON HER PLATE…

Mix in a chronic illness, you know, just for shits and giggles.

Which makes a snobby selective cautious girl a REALLY FREAKING PARANOID snobby selective discriminating girl.  I discriminate against Ed Hardy. And ‘chewy’ hair.  And guys who I don’t feel I can ‘trust’ with RA.  Although, admittedly I screen most of them out before it even gets that far.  You know, the guys who are not scuffed up enough or too scuffed up.

So now imagine you’re shopping with your mom and you have all these choices for jeans but all you want is a simple pair of jeans THAT FITS but even if you find that perfect basic pair, you may still wake up one morning WITHOUT your jeans but instead with a tattoo.  And not just any tattoo but a Chinese character tattoo that you think means “peace” but actually means “taco” because let’s face it, you don’t know Chinese so someone could totally play that trick on you.  And now you have “taco” on you for the rest of your life.

And that, folks, is what dating with a chronic illness feels like for me.

Also known as why I’m still single so please stop setting me up with these admittedly nice guys that I will forever have to avoid until I tell you I want to be, please and thank you.