Tag Archives: Running

A rant on perspective

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I’ve been tasked with the misfortune of planning my company’s Christmas festivities.  I’ve never been more disappointed or frustrated with my coworkers than I have the past few weeks…

We have a sister division in town who we work closely with; their manager and I wanted to have a joint party so we could combine our meager budgets and do something nice.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  Right. Apparently, my office doesn’t want to hang out with their office because so and so doesn’t like so and so.  That was an embarrassing phone call to have to make…

So I went for Plan B…a small catered lunch with a fun game of Dirty Santa.  But they didn’t want to play Dirty Santa…because what if they found a cool gift they wanted and someone took it away?

Then I proposed an ornament exchange…but ‘nobody wants ornaments.’

I got them to agree upon a regular old Secret Santa.  Someone pulled me aside and mentioned that financially this is a hard year for them so I set a $10 price limit.  Again, more whining because they thought it should be at least $20.  I put my foot down- it’s going to be $10, and you can be happy about it or you can be talking about me behind my back-I really don’t care.

THEN someone had the audacity to approach me with the request that I give her Secret Santa her Christmas list so that ‘maybe I’ll have a chance of actually liking my gift.’ Um, no.  Do not pass go, do not get $200, DON’T YOU DARE SEND ME YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST.  Ironically, the person who asked me this is the person whose name I drew and now I’m having to dig really deep to not purposefully buy something that sucks.

And finally, they threw a fit when they found out I’m having it catered by Boston Market.  Apparently, that’s not nice enough.  LOOK. You turned down a situation where we would’ve had a much larger budget, you embarrassed me in front of another colleague, you’re made this a GIGANTIC pain in my butt…you should be counting your lucky stars that I’m not renting a van, driving you to McDonalds, and making you select a value meal because I’m one complaint away from that.

There’s just too much of an emphasis on things that just don’t matter

There are a lot of negatives that have accompanied this condition- A LOT- but it has helped me grow up a lot and see things from a new perspective.  I lived quite the lovely life until I started having symptoms.  If I wanted something or wanted to do something, it just happened.  I will admit that I was a bit snotty about it.  But if your worldview your entire life is that you always got what you wanted, it is a little hard to understand people who don’t have things quite that easy.

Getting RA for me was a super sized serving of humble pie.  All of a sudden, most of the core things I defined myself by- feeling pretty, being the best at anything I tried, choosing any sort of physical activity and putting forth at least a respectable performance, having lots of fun friends and being very social- were being threatened.  I felt fat, ugly, deformed, sedentary, and useless.  I made some really bad decisions, let some really bad people into my life, and threw myself into work. You probably haven’t noticed but while I allude to the first few years of my diagnosis, I have yet to really write in depth about them.  I should and I will eventually…but it’s a hard place to revisit and until I have a little bit more distance between then and now, I just can’t.  Suffice it to say that I felt (and still feel sometimes) that EVERYTHING has been a fight in recent years and that for awhile, I felt like I had lost everything.

I found myself in a really bad place where I really was all of the things that I never thought I’d be and you know what?  The people who mattered were still there.  The job that I was still very good at was still there.  Doing that first 5K and finishing in 42 minutes felt like the biggest accomplishment in the world whereas several years before, I would’ve died of shame with that time.    Weight…it comes off and that feels like a huge accomplishment too.  I hate how I had to learn the lesson and how long it took me to realize it but I have learned how to better spot what’s important and what’s not…and how to really appreciate working through challenges.

I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time with all of this petty nonsense at work.  Because it is all about things- gifts to be specific- that just don’t matter.  All of our hard work this year…the fact that we’ve taken the challenges of a newby team in the smallest office in the region and turned it into a force to be reckoned with (if I do say so myself)…matters and should be celebrated.  THAT is the accomplishment here, not the friggin candle you buy me for my desk.

I know it’s asking too much but I really wish they could see it that way.

Lovely irony is that nobody wants ornaments, right?  Because, as my manager’s gift to everyone, they will all be receiving ornaments.

Enjoy them, Grinches!!!

I needed to see someone who looked like me.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

“Your x-rays still show no new bone growth on either foot so we can rule out a stress fracture.  Your bloodwork, however, was much more revealing.  Your rheumatoid factor is a 68; it should be less than 20. Your CRP and ESR are also elevated.  These results, in conjunction with symmetrical joint swelling in your feet and hands all point strongly to rheumatoid arthritis.”

Blink.

“I’m going to start you on several medications today.  Celebrex for pain. Prednisone is a steroid that we’re going to start you on a high level and taper you down.  This will reduce the inflammation while the other medications start to work.  Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug.  It can have some pretty nasty side effects so we’re going to start you low and build you up to 8 a week.  I’m also giving you a combination folic acid and vitamin B to help combat the side effects.”

Blink.  Chemo???

“We’re going to do this for two months and then re-evaluate to see if you need a biologic.  How do you feel about giving yourself shots?”

Blink.  Giving myself shots?  For what?  I don’t even know what it is that I have. Please just let me get out of here.   

I’d never even heard of rheumatoid arthritis.  When I thought about any sort of arthritis, all I could picture were the elderly folks my church youth group would visit with at the holidays and my great grandmother.  I mean, think about it: that’s generally what’s shown in advertising. At the time, I had no clue that there were many types and that they could affect people my age.  

To make matters worse, after getting home from the doctor that day, I decided to “educate” myself on rheumatoid arthritis.  How, you ask?  By using the END ALL BE ALL most reliable and authentic source of all information in the entire universe: ye merry olde interwebs.  Needless to say, I was much better off “uneducated.” I had no idea at the time that there was such a general misconception of what RA is.  To this day, I see pharmaceutical ads on TV and in magazines that are just wrong.  Hello Enbrel ad from 2009- I shall never forget you. But at the time, I took them as fact.

So I cried for hours and then took my raccoon eyed self to the mall where I dropped $200 on the cutest pair of incredibly fugly orthopedic dress shoes.  I remember thinking ‘so, I guess this is life now. So long running.’ Then I decided my best course of action was to hide this from everyone and would continue to do this for over 2 years.

Let’s just say this was the worst decision I could’ve ever made a decision that made everything harder and based on my own uninformed ideas and leave it at that, ok?  

So, what does Rheumatoid Arthritis look like?

Specifically, Rheumatoid Arthritis was 26 on that day.  A friend, a daughter, a sister, a coworker.  Loves running, kickboxing, reading, dancing. Very reluctant to let go of any of these things. Very sensitive and self conscious when she received  a diagnosis that she didn’t think she was representative of thanks to horrible misconceptions.

Except that she was.  Right on the money actually.

Demographically, RA is 20 – 40 at onset and two to three times more likely female than male.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks joints.  It is chronic yet also very treatable through combinations of very strong medications with many patients (yours truly included) able to eventually return to almost normal.

Yet the arthritis the public generally attributes to ALL autoimmune arthritis conditions is osteoarthritis- the condition caused by wear and tear  from aging or overuse and the ONLY one where “just go take a Tylenol” may yield positive results. 

That’s frightening.

“Buckle Me Up!” International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement is an up and coming non-profit dedicated to helping those suffering from autoimmune arthritis conditions by increasing understanding and awareness through education, partnerships, and support.  We are trying to raise money to finance legal fees and startup costs associated with filing 501(c)(3) paperwork.  

I can’t imagine how much this would’ve helped me when I was newly diagnosed.  Having information and support and people to talk to would’ve made everything so much easier and less scary.  And believe you me, it was a very scary and lonely time.  

It would mean the world to me if you would visit www.bucklemeupmovement.com/donate to read more about this and to donate $1.

Walks and Shelving

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There was a running joke growing up that you can’t be from North Carolina and NOT follow basketball.  I’m a huge Wake Forest fan (they’ve been out a week) and a huge UNC fan (final four baby!).  So, you can probably imagine what I’ve been doing for the past week or so and what I plan on doing next weekend.

Watching all of these seriously hot male specimens tremendous competitors in action made me want to get up and do something.  So I went running (ok, let’s be honest- speed walking) in the rain in the park near my house.  If you haven’t tried it before, it’s awesome.  Just make sure it’s a warm rain.  Oh, and I would avoid electrical showers.  But the warm rain and body heat really seem to make my joints feel pretty good.  

In other news, I did something decidedly “un-RA” this weekend and that would be installing ventilated shelving in 3 closets at my house.  I’m not broadcasting that I did that though seeing as I pull the RA card to get out of helping people paint things, install things, mow things, move things etc.  ;) You know, call me for moral support but carry your own damn boxes.  Is that horrible or what?  Disclaimer: I only started doing that after I helped 4 friends move and had to beg when I needed help.

To bring things somewhat current

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So, I had every intention of getting all this background story posted in like 2 days. But, thanks to our economy and some serious work drama, I got a tad bit sidetracked.  Sigh…

I guess I stayed on the same treatment plan for a year with some reduction in symptoms but not much.  I ended up having a pretty serious falling out with my rheumatologist, mainly due to the fact that his social skills never improved and the last appt when he walked in, didn’t even look at me, and asked me how my elbows were doing.  “Elbows?  ELBOWS? I wasn’t aware there was a problem with my elbows.”  That was the one time he actually made eye contact with me.  Perhaps I should’ve let him examine my middle finger, it started itching at that moment.

I found a new rheumatologist who is wonderful.  At my first appointment, she spent an hour with me.  She agreed that our end goal was to get me running again (which I am!) and to get me back into the pretty shoes I lust over (which I can wear in moderation if they’re not too high.)  She was pretty upset with my old doctor- he never ran certain blood tests that give indicators on how aggressive RA is and basically let me lose a year in treatment time by continuing a course of medication that wasn’t working.

I’m currently on a low dose of mtx (which I’m not thrilled with but I’ll do for now), sulfazine (basically aspirin and a low dose antibiotic), and Humira.  It’s going okay thus far so let’s all knock on wood!

How This Party Started

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It’s actually somewhat funny. 

In true AJ fashion, I was ticked at a boy.  After work one day (around Nov 2005 I think), I went to the gym to run it out on the treadmill.  I ran hard and longer than I normally did because for me, anger is quite motivating.  The actual running didn’t hurt but as soon as I got off the treadmill, my left foot was in serious pain.  “Great, now in addition to being a douchebag in general, I can blame him for breaking my foot.” 

Several days later, when the foot was no better, I went to the doctor.  He x-rayed the foot, couldn’t see anything, and advised me that it was most likely a stress fracture which would only show up when it started to heal as scar tissue formed.  I was given Lortab (woot!), told to stay off of it, and scheduled to come back in 3 weeks.  4 days later, my right foot started the same throbbing pain in the exact same spot.  A week later, I woke up to my left pointer finger swollen to the point it looked like a sausage.  Several days later, the right pointer finger did the same thing.  I literally couldn’t bend the fingers and started having problems opening doors.

When I made it back to the doctor, I was a mess.  He x-rayed everything again (which later proved to be quite useful- not many people have baseline x-rays of all joints affected from the very beginning to track erosions), took a whole lot of blood, and gave me Prednisone and diclofenac (basically super strength Aleve.)  When my bloodwork came back, my rheumatoid factor was through the roof and I was set up with a rheumatologist.  

Now, to remove all blame from said douchebag for THIS situation only, I had been having strange aches/pains off and on for several weeks prior to this.  While nobody knows the cause of RA, stress does seem to play a big role.  And the aches and pains started several weeks before when I found out my brother was being deployed to Iraq. And I have a history of severe allergies/asthma which cleared up in college and have since learned that having serious problems with one autoimmune disorder does predispose you to having problems with another.  So no worries, D- you’re off the hook too. :)