Tag Archives: Things I'm Thankful For

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.

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!

Trees and Fingers

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I’m changing some things on my page (nothing major, just playing with it) and I uploaded a new header picture.  I’m a little sad that I can’t get more of the image in any of the headers so I wanted to explain why I love that picture so much.

I took this picture a year ago yesterday.  My friend and I who were both moving from Greenville, SC spent a day taking pictures around town of all of our favorite places that we would miss.  It was a blast and you can read about it here.

One of my favorite places to go there was Falls Park.  It is truly a feat of city planning- they torn down a bridge that used to cover waterfalls right in the middle of downtown, torn down several abandoned buildings also surrounding, and it completely transformed the downtown landscape.  If you build it, they will come: it changed the downtown from kind of seedy to thriving with outdoor dining, free productions of Shakespeare in the summer, art galleries, and tons of activities year round.  

Anyway, surrounding the park are several older neighborhoods with gigantic, beautiful oak trees.  All of the trees are towering and lovely but this tree is truly my favorite.  It is growing on the side of the bank with all of its gnarled roots completely exposed.  Years ago, it reminded me of a Picasso painting.  Once diagnosed, it reminded me of gnarled “RA fingers.”

I love how Picasso can take a normal image and distort it, warp, and layer it so it no longer looks normal or anything like the first image but still contains definitive elements of the normal image.  It fascinates me.  No, I’ve never liked “pretty art.”  So, I thought I was being all profound by seeing RA fingers in the roots of this tree.  Can you see it too?

I think it’s fascinating.

And then I was reading about the park online and saw a picture of the tree in said article.  The caption mentioned how so many people are so taken with this tree because despite its gnarled fully exposed root structure, the tree still thrives on the surface.

And that really spoke to me. That I thought was pretty dang cool.

A Day in The Life

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6:45 AM:  Alarm starts buzzing and gets a swift (albeit soft due to RA fingers) whack to the snooze button.

6:55 AM:  Alarm buzzes again.  Swift soft whack repeated.

6:59AM:  Cat slinks into room, jumps on bed, and meows to say “for real, already, I NEED FOOD.”

7:05AM:   Combination of alarm and needy cat avert whack to snooze button and I groggily rise and assess cat bowl situation. I catch myself walking gingerly because I’m not sure how my feet feel yet to see that there is plenty but she demands a top off.  Occasionally, opening the lid of the container hurts. But what can I say…she’s a little diva.

7:10AM: Shower – problems opening shampoo and conditioner bottles which has influenced brands that I buy. Initial daily assessment of my aches and pains. 10 fingers, only 2 or 3 sore  = success. 10 fingers, 8-10 hurting = bad mood. Same with toes, knees, shoulders,wrists although I only have 2 of the last three mentioned.  Having 10 of the last three would not be bad mood but rather inevitable reality show stardom.

7:15AM: Hair drying, makeup application, clothing selection, longing glances back at the bed.  Minor difficulties with sharpening eyeliner with little pencil sharpener, sometimes picking a different pair of pants or shirt depending on condition of fingers and tightness of buttons.  Occasional difficulties on bad mood days with opening and squirting out toothpaste.  On really really bad days, it hurts running my fingers through wet tangled hair.  Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in quite awhile. Knock on wood.

7:30AM:  Breakfast time.  Usually soy yogurt.  No difficulties here unless you consider the lack of variety of soy yogurt available in the Charlotte metro area a difficulty.  (I would like flavors other than strawberry and blueberry and I hate fruit on the bottom.  But that’s all I can ever find.  In 3 different grocery stores.)

7:45AM: Time to head to work.  Minor difficulties in locking both front and back door.  When it’s cold, I can’t lock the deadbolt on the back so I lock the switch on the outer back door (which is actually more secure- found this out the day I locked myself out and a locksmith couldn’t get it open) and always difficult to turn the key in the deadbolt on the front.

7:55 8:05AM:  Arrive at work.  If I’m the first person there, opening this lock is always difficult.  Luckily, I’m never the first one there. 

8:00AM – 12:00PM: Meetings with clients, sales calls, admin work, conference calls.  Occasional problems on bad mood days with the following: typing, assembling presentation handouts, sending emails on Blackberry, fatigue, walking long distances on client site tours.  Minor difficulties every day with pulling and putting files up into tightly packed file cabinets, discomfort caused in knees by sitting in same position for too long, aching shoulders from sitting at desk.

12:00PM – 1PM: LUNCH.  No difficulties here.

1PM- 5PM:  Meetings with clients, sales calls, admin work, conference calls.  Occasional problems on bad mood days with the following: typing, assembling presentation handouts, sending emails on Blackberry, fatigue, walking long distances on client site tours.  Minor difficulties every day with pulling and putting files up into tightly packed file cabinets, discomfort caused in knees by sitting in same position for too long, aching shoulders from sitting at desk.

5PM- 6PM:  End of day meetings/conference calls/ occasional networking events/ drive home.  Occasional problems on bad mood days with peeling and sticking name tags on myself at networking events and also fatigue.  Minor difficulties every day with unlocking front door.

6PM- 10PM:  Dinner with friends, Happy Hour, dinner at home, gym, and other miscellaneous events.  A lot of times, the gym gets cut.  I’m most comfortable on the elliptical- good range of motion exercise for joints if you take it easy on resistance.  Difficulties with grasping free weights- I’m learning how to use the machines. Still afraid to try classes. Minor difficulties with cooking- it’s uncomfortable to grasp a knife to cut, inability to exert force to open jars, nervous to lift heavy baking dishes in and out of oven with hot pad due to not feeling like I’m able to grasp baking pan as well with hot pad. Fatigue is an occasional problem with all above except Happy Hour.  There is no fatigue in Happy Hour.  (Said with same intonation that Tom Hanks uses in A League of Their Own when he says ‘there’s no crying in baseball.”)

10:15PM: Wash face, take meds.  Minor difficulties opening pill bottles. 

10PM:  TV time in bed with feline.  Occasional problems getting comfortable with shoulders and wrists depending on if/where cat chooses to lay on me.  Occasionally discomfort caused by this makes sleeping impossible.  End of day assessment of aches and pains. 

Wash, rinse, repeat.

I’m a little sad that I can’t remember any other way now…

But I still feel very blessed.

Happy New Years!!!

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I think we’d all agree that 2009 has been a tough year for everyone.  Whether it’s dealing with RA or dealing with the financial crisis or just dealing with life…the stars just didn’t seem to align themselves properly this past year.I mean seriously, last New Year’s Eve, I got food poisoning.  That should’ve given me a heads up…

In my own personal group of friends, we’ve had trying times.  Financial muck, divorces, illnesses, breakups, mother in laws that just need to leave well enough alone, job losses. Nobody seems to be immune. I had a nice long chat with a good friend last night and she mentioned that she felt as though she was in the ocean being dragged by currents and beat up by waves and that she just couldn’t seem to keep her head above water.  She told her mother this and her mother’s response was “but you’re still floating…and the waves will eventually push you back to shore although it might be a little further down the shore from where you started.”  (To which she told me, “yes, until the sharks start attacking.  We really are friends for a reason!!!)

I’ve been mulling it over and I think her analogy and her mother’s comment are the best way to sum up my year too.  I have: sold a house, lost health insurance, had to leave a job because of health insurance, moved, started a new job, been on lots of medicine, been on not much medicine, been back on even more medicine, got promoted, had friend drama, lost several good friends, gained a few new ones, dealt with family issues, started running again, started having problems with my hands again.  Quite an extensive laundry list. Sigh.  And she’s right- everything is different now but different is ok.

I read earlier today that this New Year’s Eve is a blue moon.  A blue moon typically happens every two years- it’s simply two full moons in one month.  But a blue moon on New Year’s Eve is very rare- probably won’t happen again for 20 years.  So, I’m setting my sights on making 2010 awesome in every way possible and am thinking, just maybe, that this is a sign that the stars are finally aligned.  For starters, today I am NOT eating anything that could possibly be undercooked or cross-contaminated.  A tad bit superstitious of me perhaps!

Happy New Year’s to you all- I hope that this new year (and new DECADE) brings you everything you’re looking for!

Christmas Recap and RA Gifts!

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“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

Still my favorite quote that directly relates to Christmas.  

On Christmas morning, I woke up to a bunch of text messages from friends and family. I love that about the holidays- I’m not being sarcastic yet, I really do get a kick out of who I hear from on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and my birthday. Sometimes it’s a very pleasant surprise! As Hugh Grant so eloquently states in Love Actually, phone calls made from the planes on 9/11 were not calls made out of hate but out of love.  (I realize if you haven’t seen that movie, you wouldn’t relate that quote to Christmas.  So go see- it’s one of my favorites!)

 Enter sarcasm. You may have noticed that I do not post about specific guys and myself.  That is purposeful.  But you may remember a gentleman I described a few weeks ago. The one who called me a “spoiled little girl who uses men to feed an ego and fill a void?” The one who has sent me 200 (seriously) text messages over the past few weeks, none of which were returned? Yes, that one. I’d like to thank him for the Merry Christmas text that included an up close picture of “himself.” Yes, you read that correctly. I thought it oh so appropriate how he thought sending that would help me more fully celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. How…classy.

Hey, if you’re going to send something like that, be prepared to be called on it.  Be grateful that the picture is not posted- I promise you that NOBODY wants to see. For the record, I have never seen you unclothed and you have earned a spot in my history as the most bizarre thing a guy has ever sent me, hence it is mention-worthy. 

Ok, sarcasm complete. Back on track.

I am pleased to announce that I am new owner to two RA friendly gadgets. Ok, gifted with one and went out and found the other.  But still, I love that my family is getting into finding me cool ways to modify things I struggle with.

- Automatic wine bottle opener from Brookstone. It is glorious! You pop the plastic off the top of the wine bottle, set the bottle opener on it, press the button and it’s off! Fantabulous! The downside- I’m feeling the need to “practice” too much.

- Jar opener. My mom is having problems with osteoarthritis in her thumbs so my dad got her this nifty little gadget that helps you open jars. You fit it firmly around the jar top, secure it, and open the jar with the handle.  I went out and gifted myself with this yesterday- this isn’t the exact one I have but very similar.  

After gifts, we enjoyed all the Christmas trappings. My family has a tradition every holiday that we cook London broil. We’ve done this for years- probably stemming from the Easter where my dad managed to drop the whole hot turkey from the oven onto the kitchen floor directly into the cat food when he went to check on it. So London broil, sweet potatoes, cranberries…OH MY! Good times were had by all.

I sincerely hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday (whatever you choose to celebrate) and are gearing up to start off 2010 with a bang.

And hopefully no obscene text messages.

Massage Therapy and a breath of fresh air!

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I will admit it: I am addicted.  

It calms me, it soothes me, it relaxes the muscles of my back and neck which bother me, it stimulates an immune response which helps me manage my RA.  I crave time where I am forced to do nothing but chill.  And this takes the cake.

I’ve been to probably 10 different therapists over the years, most of them good, some of them atrocious.  A memorable one would be the guy who chuckled when he had me roll over and got a glimpse of boob.  And proceeded to stare.  Thank you, douchebag- because of you and how uncomfortable you made me, I now only go to female masseuses.  Have fun at the club tonight by yourself with your balding yet spiked hair and Ed Hardy shirt. I bet you like techno music and use cheesy pickup lines.  

I digress.

I found my current one by chance.  A coworker had a gift certificate that he wasn’t going to use.  “I don’t like being touched and I have a problem laying naked on a table in front of a stranger.”  To which I said “I do and I don’t.”  I called, made an appointment and by luck of the schedule, got this one.

Seriously, she is the best one ever.  Not because of her bodywork (which is great) but because of her interest in auto-immune disorders (family member with Webener’s who is on Prednisone and Methotrexate) and the fact that she’s currently studying naturopathic medicine.  

I admit, if you really think about it, that it’s a little weird meeting someone for the first time and five minutes later, you’re laying there with no clothes on.  Somewhat like a frat party?  (Sorry, Mom- totally kidding.)  It’s even a little more intimidating when you have to explain to them that “hey, I have this thing and these spots that if you aren’t careful, you could really hurt me.”  I’m accustomed to having to explain what and where every time I go to the same people.  I’m also very hesitant to let them touch the spots.  In fact, until this one, I’ve never let anyone touch my affected joints.

So, imagine my surprise on my second appointment when she asked to see my hands before we started.  She looked at them and gingerly touched them.  “Ok, you’re a little swollen today.  I just wanted to check before.  How are your feet?”  Wow.  I seriously think I hugged her.

It’s made a huge difference in how I feel.  I’m getting massages weekly like my doctor recommended for the first time ever with no fear of injury.  She is more in tune with my RA than my rheumy is.  She has picked up on the spots in my wrists that bother me sometimes, which I’ve never mentioned, and this week made me happy by saying “Your fingers really look much less swollen lately.”  I had noticed it too but hadn’t said anything to anyone because I thought it was just me being hopeful.

She’s given me advice on supplements-where to buy and brands to try, recommended a yoga teacher who can help me modify things when I need to, and is encouraging me to try acupuncture.  She’s familiar with my medications and is very empathetic on their side effects.  We talk about diet and foods that are by nature inflammatory.  

 I’ve had better conversations with her than I have with my doctors.  And in some cases, more well-informed conversations.  I really believe in treating the whole person, sometimes I feel that my doctors don’t.

I swear I had a point here.  I’m excited.  I’ve always wanted to approach my treatment as a partnership.  I only want people to understand where I’m coming from and where I want to go.  I want to get a massage as often as my budget allows.  I only want my goodies ogled in an appropriate venue. I want to have clinical conversations about my rheumatoid arthritis that don’t make me feel like crying.  And for now, I have that.

It’s almost that time again….

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So, every year from Thanksgiving on, I focus on how much fun I’ve had that year, how sad I am to leave that year, and a very specific list of things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. 

This time last year, I had just predicted (accurately I might add) my company was going to tank and had decided that I wanted to move.  I’ll  be honest a year later that the move was more about a desperately needed change of scenery to get my head on straight again than a job.  Having to simultaneously deal with a chronic diagnosis, the shock of the diagnosis, the suicide of a loved one, the fallout/litigation from the suicide, a brother’s deployment, worrying about how said brother was handling said family member’s suicide (happened a month after he returned), friends that were continually putting me in bad situations, and a few douchebags thrown in the mix…is a lot.  And I was being pulled in about 400 different directions which was allowing me to quite successfully avoid dealing with any of them.  I was pretty much just going through the motions.  

My goals for 2009?

1. Get out of Greenville.

2. Get healthy- physically and emotionally.

3.  Eliminate all bitchy and douchey people.

And well…mission accomplished.

 It hasn’t necessarily been pretty. And that’s putting it nicely.  Ironically, in spite of the physical, the hardest part has been #3.  I wound up in tears on my birthday because of someone and  (3 weeks ago!) was called” a spoiled little girl who uses guys to fill a void and feed an ego.”   LOL. Taking a step back now, I wonder why in the world I was even friends with several people in the first place and oh dear God, isn’t the saying “you’re only as good as the company you keep?”  

So, walking through Target this morning and seeing Christmas decorations threw me back into thinking about 2009 and what I want from 2010.  

2009 has sucked.  Totally. I’m not sad to see it leave. Sure, I’ve had some moments of pure fun and sure, I accomplished my goals and sure, I have totally set myself up both physically and emotionally to move on with my life, RA and all, better than I ever could have in Greenville with the circus down there.  But getting to that place and finally dealing with all that crap has been extraordinarily painful.  But painful in a good way….it needed to happen because I feared it would come down to deal with it now or massively implode at some point in the future.

I’m at a point where I’m ok with myself and I’m ok with the things that have happened to me. But I still feel a little breakable and I’m not willing to put myself in any situation that involves emotional stress or drama.

So rather than put pressure on myself with a very specific set of goals for 2010 that I will continually beat myself up about, I only want this: to finally be able to move on from ALL above situations and to finally feel like myself again.