Tag Archives: Work

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!!!

Mind Over Matter

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I love how I don’t look sick.

I love how none of my clients can tell when I’m struggling physically.

I love how few of my coworkers really know that anything is wrong.  Nope, I can usually make it through my pressure cooker of a day with little to know attention to my rheumatoid arthritis.

My days at work can be daunting.  2 different offices, 5 direct reports, 354 (as of last payroll) indirect reports.  I am the jack of all trades and, it especially feels like when I’m flaring, master of none.  I am part sales manager, part sales rep, part HR rep, part accounting, part investigator.  Full time firefighter.  A receptionist when I have to be.

I’m also the bad guy.

Oh yeah, and I have 6 bosses.  Who all have incredibly urgent questions and issues.  That part is lovely.

But I am quite successfully able to get through the day doing all of these tasks with no questions asked and no attention called to my physical condition.

And then there are the days that you feel like this.

Brutal. It’s hard to watch isn’t it?  But luckily nobody can really tell when I feel this way.

What sticks out to me in that video is at the end, when they are carrying her away, and you can hear her crying “I tried.”

Because when I feel like that physically, I also feel that way emotionally.

I’m trying. I’m trying.  I’m trying. And I’m mentally crawling to the damn line right now.

Days like these are the days when the pressure of work becomes daunting. The fact that you’re flaring…again…after you’d been doing so well…is devastating beyond the level that any failed relationship could ever be.  And this pressure and heartbreak mixes with the pressure of being 31 years old, chronically ill but 99% of the time fully functional, single ie sole provider for myself.  This pressure is also called GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO FLAKE OUT, DIG AS DEEP AS YOU CAN, DON’T SCREW UP BECAUSE YOU CAN’T GET FIRED BECAUSE OF A FLARE BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE AND BE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY SCREWED.

This pressure feels…insurmountable.

Ironically, I’ve done some of my best work during my worst flares because of the very reasons listed above.

I don’t really know how to tell you how I get through those days. Baby steps?  Bribery? I don’t know. I just do.  My mom has always laughed that I come from a long line of incredibly stubborn women.

I remember sitting in my car at some point this summer feeling beyond lousy and feeling incredibly pissed off because a sales rep had the nerve to call me repeatedly to whine about the hot weather.  I rarely lose my temper but I had to get off the phone real quick because I was two breaths away from unloading several months of frustration, anger, and sheer exhaustion on her. Look sweetheart, I’ve been limping, dealing with swollen fingers to the point that I dread handshakes, and feeling flu like symptoms for six weeks. I’m out in it too and guess what…I’M NOT COMPLAINING.  So it would be very wise at this point for you to SHUT. UP. ALREADY.

But good managers do not verbalize things like that. Nope, they just blog them.

I sat there stewing and as I stewed, I was suddenly so tired that everything seemed hazy and I made a deal with myself: try get through this appointment and you can stop at Wendy’s and get a frosty.

The frosty was excellent.

I wrote this post as a participant in IAAM’s 2nd Annual International Autoimmune Arthritis Awareness Scavenger Hunt, currently happening online at their Facebook page.  They are posting 12 Scavenger Hunt items through Sunday, I am posting #2:  Mind Over Matter.

As I talked about in this blog entry, those dealing with Autoimmune Arthritis often have to find the mental strength to overcome our physical challenges, especially as it relates to keeping a positive frame of mind.

In saying this, here is your Scavenger Hunt Task #2: We all find strength in something when we physically feel challenged (whether that is due to Autoimmune Arthritis or not).  Some have a pet, or a piece of memorabilia, perhaps it’s a hot bath?

Your task for Scavenger Hunt item #2 is to obtain an image of what brings YOU mental strength.  To earn points, that can be exchanged at the end of the online game for free Awareness merchandise, please go to IAAM’s Facebook Page and post a picture of this item, then write why it brings you strength.  This Awareness item is to bring YOU awareness that no matter what challenges life hands you, you have the power to find solice and peace.  So you have 6 HOURS to complete this task, log on to the Facebook page and post.  Time’s ticking!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/?act=25924384#!/pages/The-Buckle-Me-Up-International-Autoimmune-Arthritis-Movement-IAAM/124639837561193

*IAAM stands for The International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement, which will soon become the 1st nonprofit in history exclusively benefitting Autoimmune Arthritis.  www.IAAMovement.org

Busy!

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I meant to do another update on here on Monday night.

But I was feeling spectacularly horrible from having to leave 10 (yes, you read that correctly) vials of blood at the rheumatologist’s office earlier in the day as well as getting my first shot of Enbrel (I think) too.  I say I think because I am getting either  Enbrel or Humira- the study examines patients who succeeded and then failed on one and then watching the development of antibodies after starting on the other.  (Please note the absence of a phd at the end of my name- it is entirely possible that I stated that completely incorrectly.) Anyway, I’m pretty sure I am getting Enbrel for several reasons.  First, Humira has a distinct injection site sting.  There was no injection site sting but there was an intramuscular sting.  Second, the actual vaccine felt much thicker.  Third, I had a crazy headache the rest of the day and some problems sleeping that night, which I never had with Humira and which are listed as side effects for Enbrel.  Oh yes, I am so that patient who is awake googling side effects of things at 4 am!  Fourth….knock on wood while you’re reading this because I sure am…but it seems to actually be doing something! And, well, Humira wasn’t exactly doing that anymore.

So then I was going to update on Tuesday.

But I felt lousy.  I don’t know if it was from the lack of sleep, the new meds, completely unrelated stress, or what.  It felt like I do every once in awhile on ‘the morning after methotrexate.’  Just shaky and so so tired.  So I came home and got in bed with a movie.

I totally meant to update on Wednesday.

But I was swamped with finishing both a huge presentation for work for Friday and prepping for a regional meeting on Thursday.  Which meant that I stayed late.  But I actually had energy. And I was able to dial back the Prednisone.

I’d lie and tell you I meant to update on Thursday.

But I left my house at 7 am that morning and didn’t get home until after 9pm that night.

And Friday…

I again left the house at 7am, had my boss, her boss, and several additional people with us all day at a huge presentation for a client.  I came home from work and walked up with friends to watch a bike race that takes places in my neighborhood every year.  I ended the night on my back stairs around 2 am, eating pistachios and doing some…..um…..scientific research.

I  didn’t update Saturday because I was still…um…..deciphering the….results of said research.

I think I made a dosing error.

Must. Do. More. Research. SOON.

But not too much research.

And today, right before I wrote this update, I went on a walk AND THEN did a workout tape.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was really winded really quickly. I had to shut the front door AND make sure the blinds were drawn. NOBODY wants to see that. But I did it.  I haven’t done that since Christmas.

But all in all, not a bad week!  I just need to continue on this path and to hold myself back from doing too much too quickly.

Whining Moratorium

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I looked back at the past few posts and got a little mad at myself.  So I’m making a rule for my posts for the next few weeks: PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES, AJ, AND STOP WHINING.

Yes, I don’t feel wonderful but no, life doesn’t suck completely.  Or at all, for that matter. I’m getting on my own nerves so I would gander it’s fair to say that you don’t want to hear it either.  And it’s definitely not productive. So to commemorate the beginning of my blog attitude adjustment, I will tell you some good things that have happened the past few days and not dwell on how bad I may or may not be feeling.

I got to spend a lot of quality time with my favorite “caretaker.”

People who don’t know me well don’t know that she is MUCH more than ‘just a cat’ to me.  If I’m sad or upset or just not feeling great, she’s right there by me as pictured above.  She’s also right there by me if there is anything fleece involved. LOL.

I figured out how to connect my laptop with my TV and then how to stream Netflix on my laptop.  So I’ll hook it up, lay down with my favorite fleece blanket, cuddle up with my favorite cat and relax the day away.

Things at work are going really well.  I hit the highest I’ve ever produced (at this job) this last month (which I hope is indicative of the economy trending in general but we’ll see) and got a nice bonus check.  I’ve been obsessing over getting a grill and found one on clearance for $70.

Once I had it home, I realized I had to put it together.

Estimated time to assemble: 1.5 hours.

Time it took me to assemble: Let’s just round it out to 7 hours.

I suck at following directions.  You know how the joke is that men don’t read maps?  Well, Amanda don’t read directions.  At least when it comes to assembly.  It should be, afterall,  easy because you know what the final product is supposed to look like, right?

The actual screwing itself was slow going. (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. Sorry, cabin fever has turned me into part adolescent boy.) I had to take breaks because my wrist was sore and had to use a wrench to hold pieces together because my fingers couldn’t. Then I realized I had put several pieces on backwards and had to backtrack.  Somehow, during the disassembly and reassembly process, the whole box of screws and flanges oddly managed to fly across the room.

I have no absolutely no clue how that happened.  A ghost?  The cat? A Hogwarts spell gone bad?

In all honesty, it kinda became one of those ‘for the principle of it’ things.  By God I’m putting this damn grill together, I don’t care how long it takes me, I don’t care how bad it hurts, it’s just got to happen.

And well….

It’s a grill!

And have I mentioned that the tomatoes I’ve been growing out here are also looking good?

I went today to watch one of my friends compete in her first kayaking competition.  It was ridiculously hot and I was wiped out by the time I got to the section where they were play-boating at.  I have good friends who try to take care of me without outright saying that they’re trying to take care of me: there was an extra chair, sunscreen and an unlimited supply of Gatorades waiting on me.  Very fun and very sweet!

So all in all, a good weekend even though I’m not at 100%.  I go back to the rheumatologist tomorrow and then am heading to the lake with some friends for a long relaxing holiday weekend.

Trying and failing to not to take things personally

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I limped in to Starbucks this morning to get my usual coffee and it was a bit more crowded than usual.  I was talking to my boss while I ordered and realized at some point after I told her to ‘hold on’ that I was getting some weird looks because I had my bluetooth in and my hair down.  So it totally looked like I was having a conversation with myself…and answering…and telling myself to wait so that I could order. 

What struck me as strange is that I couldn’t care less that it appeared to many people that I was chatting with the voices in my head. Nope, I was more concerned that they saw me limping.

Lately, I’ve been a little down and out on myself.  Having RA sucks and when you over-analyze things like I tend to do, you make life a whole heck of a lot harder for yourself than it should be.  

This past weekend, I went to my cousin’s wedding.  It took place in Virginia, on the banks of the Shenandoah, and she was beyond beautiful.  

Getting there was a challenge.  I’ve been traveling a TON lately and my RA is not as well controlled as I would like it to be.  I feel lousy. I tell you that because I’m hoping it’s because I’m burning the candle at both ends right now and that it will start behaving again. Like immediately.

Anyway, I only agreed to go to this wedding because I understood it to be a 4 hour drive.

It was a 7 hour drive.  One way.

You should probably also know that I refuse to watch wedding shows and romantic comedies.  Thank you recent heartbreaks.  And that I have avoided a lot of family events in recent years for other reasons.  And that I absolutely cannot stand the thought of anyone in my family noticing any sort of symptoms of RA in me or (gasp) commenting on them.  

So when I arrived at the hotel on Saturday, I sent my hot mess of a self to my room and took full advantage of the whirlpool tub.  It helped considerably both with making me more comfortable and calming me down.  

I arrived at the wedding site with my parents and brother.  Even though I was uncomfortable, I wore heels the whole time with no noticeable limping. 

And then the reception started.

There was really only one comment but it was enough to tick me off for the next three days. I expected a comment about marriage to which I had crafted a catch all response that was very truthful but didn’t give away much and would help me transition the conversation to ANYTHING else.  

But this is what I got:

“So, where’s your boyfriend?”  

“Oh, that was done awhile ago.”

“So where’s the new one?”

“There’s not one right now.  I’m just really focusing on getting myself together and that’ll come when it comes.”  Like it?  I thought it was good?

“You know, physiologically, the best age to have children is at age 19.”

“You know, I think they frown on that nowadays.”

“How old are you?”

“30.”

“Ohhhhhhhh…….”

My sweet grandmother jumped in and redirected the conversation right before I could respond with “so, how is your terminal cancer treating you?”

I stayed for probably another hour, fuming mad the whole time.  When I got back to the hotel, I took another bath and then dreamt about a boy I don’t need to be dreaming about.  And again last night.  And got emails referencing him yesterday and today.  WHAT IN THE WORLD.

He never actually said anything about my RA specifically.

And I have no way of knowing if said family member knows about my RA.  No idea.  He obviously didn’t know I was single.  Which leads me to believe that I’m not high on the family gossip hierarchy.  Which is awesome.  I also have no way of knowing if I would’ve been upset if he hadn’t said that in a way that I could easily link back to my health.  You can probably tell what I tacked on to the end of his sentence.

Thanks to the powers of my analytical skills, I felt like he threw it in my face which I am positive was not his intention.  He’s always been very blunt and not terribly PC but he’s never been malicious. 

I guess I need to get a better deflector statement and I need to have a serious talk with RA: it’s not all about you!

But it still hurts.

I’m tired.

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I’ve had a go go go past few weeks.

I have:

-Spent a week in CA for work. Going to bed at midnight CA time but waking up automatically at 645 NC time does not make RA happy.

-Drank too much tequila my last night in CA and flew back to NC with an extreme hangover.

-Hangover plus stiffness from traveling plus lack of sleep=mini flare.

-Slept for two days. Fitfully because random places keep swelling.

-Went to bluegrass festival in the boonies.  Was the only ‘non-hippie’ there. LOL.  Was made to stand in the back of the bus on ride back to parking area.To quote my friend, “how do you feel being made to stand not just in the back of the bus, but in the back of THIS bus?”  Laughed hysterically and blasted Outkast on the way home. 

-Learned from this situation that even if I’m in a flare, I don’t hurt as bad if I do something I want to do vs something I have to do.  Would this be called selective RA? Ha.

-Hit my highest personal production my office has ever seen.

-Had to deal with some growing pains due to my increased production.  But growing pains because of increased production = good whereas growing pains caused by shrinking production = not good. 

-Stress from high production and growing pains = skipping lunch, not drinking enough water, increased fatigue.  Continued random pains.

-Found out our company’s chief sales officer (who is kind of scary…but very nice in person) would be spending a day with me….the day before she got there….and wanted to go with me on several client appointments. No stress.  While dealing with a mini flare.

-Pulled said appointments out of my rear.  Still not quite sure how I did that with such big prospects and such little notice.  Mini flare became ‘congratulatory flare.’

-Screwed up my Humira injection- it clicked like it normally does when it’s done.  It was not.  Spraying approximately $1200 worth of Humira all over your kitchen is not good for flare.  Or temper.

-Had my direct supervisor in town Monday – Wed this week.  Direct supervisor is a hoot but a horrible driver.  I thankfully did not get carsick.  Again.  Jolting around in a car for three days is not good for mini flare.

This weekend, I head to my cousin’s wedding.  If you don’t sense excitement, you may be correct.  Nothing against my cousin.  I love her and I’m very happy for her. But the last thing I want to do is to spend more time in a car, more time on my feet, making small talk dodging questions about both RA or why I’m still single at a dry wedding with vegan meal options in a barn in the middle of nowhere.  For real.

I need a massage.  And a break. 

Goodnight!

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.

A VERY special request.

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First and foremost, let’s support two of my favorite RA bloggers who have been nominated for Best Patient Blog 2009 over at medgadget!  You can vote once a day- need I say more??? :)  So head on over to medgadget and vote for Rheuma Blog and Infinity- it is.  Gotta help our fellow RA-ers! Note: you can only vote once a day from one computer- to vote for both, I (hypothetically) voted for one on my home computer and the other on my work computer.  Not that I would ever advocate working the system.

Second, it’s been a super busy week and I don’t have much to say.  Well, that’s not true.  I just don’t have time to say it.  But to sum things up, I’m feeling better, work is wild, it was 70 degrees last weekend and this weekend we’re forecasted for lots of snow (what???), and the cat has fleas again.

Hitting the proverbial wall

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This past week marked my 4th diagnosiversary.  January 11, 2006.  Woo hoo.  Did I plan any sort of celebratory event?  Um, no.  I do not celebrate things I’m not excited about.   I noted the date, rolled my eyes, and as best as I could tried to not think about it.  Unfortunately, my RA had different plans…

I’ve been fighting a low grade cold since before Thanksgiving.  I get almost better and then come in contact with someone who reinfects me.  It’s awesome.

I typically have “flares” when I’m either really stressed out or have any other sort of event that my immune system has to battle.  I swear, this RA thing is an absolute DIVA- if my immune system has to divert some of its forces to battle a cold, RA gets its panties in a wad and stages a mutiny.  This happens to me about twice a year.

I don’t have typical flares where all of a sudden my affected joints are completely swollen and locked.  Like I said, my flares are almost exclusively accompanied by a cold or flu. It’s more of a gradual thing and it’s more of a combination of different symptoms- I start to notice more swelling over a period of a few weeks that I can always find excuses for (overuse, increased exercise etc.), I usually start to experience minimal joint pain in joints that typically aren’t affected and then WHAM, my iron and potassium levels bite the big one.  The fallout from the drops in my iron and potassium are actually more incapacitating than the joint pain (now- this was not the case when I was newly diagnosed.)  This is usually followed by a dramatic increase in joint pain. Hence, hitting the proverbial wall.

Monday am, I awoke to increased swelling in my fingers despite having taken methotrexate on Sunday night.   That’s funny….but I’m on cold medicine so maybe it’s not working right.  I still figured nothing was amiss when Monday night I was in bed by 8:30pm.  I must’ve been tired- I don’t even remember falling asleep and I seriously feel like I was drugged.

It took me 45 minutes to get warm again after a client site visit on Tuesday.  I thought I bundled up enough.  Oh well, lunch will warm me up.  I seriously want the biggest rarest hamburger Cracker Barrel can give me.  And lots and lots of those salty steak fries! Those who are familiar with my eating habits would know that this is unusual.  

While driving on the highway back from my visit, I have to suddenly stop and take back roads because I’m so shaky.  I have this weird feeling that I am going to lose control of my car and slide sideways underneath a tractor trailer.  I’m never taking Mucinex again- makes me too jittery.

At a Tuesday evening dinner with my boss, I basically do not participate in any of the conversation because even though she’s talking to me about work, I can’t process any of the things she’s saying. I’m so tired.  All I want to do is go to bed.  This Mucinex and this cold have really knocked me out of whack.  And my feet are starting to hurt.  And my shoulder is sore right now too.  WTF!

On Wednesday morning, my coworker tells me that I look like I could be in Twilight.  Yay- I knew pale would finally come back in.  I know I’m sparkly like Edward.  When I finally looked in the mirror, I realize that I most certainly am NOT sparkly like Edward.  I have bags under my eyes and I’m gray.  I try to adjust my make up to hide this and end up looking like I’m wearing warpaint.  I decide to call it a day and go home and rest.  Afterall, this cold is kicking my ass.  My fingers really hurt, for some reason my left knee is bothering me, I’m bruised, I’m shaky, and I just can’t concentrate worth a damn.  I finally get my first thought that maybe it’s not just the cold at work here…

Wednesday evening, I leave my cave of a bedroom for a much needed haircut.  Hey, I am female- no cold gets in the way of beautification! LIGHTBULB!  EPIPHANY!  BREAKTHROUGH! When my hairdresser asks me what my favorite TV show is and even though I am concentrating intently on every word she’s saying, I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION NOR DO I HAVE AN ANSWER.  I nod in agreement that I just love watching The Bachelor (oh, the horror).  To set the record straight, I do not love watching The Bachelor.  I the opposite of love watching The Bachelor. I would rather watch paint dry. Upside down.  Naked.  In Times Square.

All of a sudden, this whole experience is hauntingly familiar.  Extreme fatigue- check.  Bruising- check. Acting like a space cadet on crack. Extreme mental fogginess- check. Strange muscle pain- check.  Increased joint pain- check.  Joint pain in places that usually don’t bother me- check.  

Ohmygod- I’m having a flare.  And I’m anemic.  And I’m hypokalemic.  

When paying at the salon, they ask me if I want to schedule another visit.  I don’t understand a word that they’re saying but tell them ‘no, I have to go to the doctor.’  They stare at me and half-smile when they take my money and watch me walk out the door.  They think I’m crazy.

I locate my iron and potassium supplements I have stashed in my car. (I know, shouldn’t be kept in the car!)  I am able to get into the doctor the next day to verify that I am indeed super low on iron and potassium.  I am told to keep taking the supplements and come back next week for a recheck. Thursday night, I sleep soundly and awake Friday morning well rested yet not feeling drugged.  My joints still hurt though.

Over the weekend, I concentrated on resting.  The joints are still more swollen than normal but the knee has backed off.  The bruises are already fading, I can actually hold coherent conversations.  I still have a cold.

I need to restrategize to figure out a way to pinpoint this earlier.  I also need to figure out how to more consistently take my supplements.  That’s another post though.  Titled: You’re an adult dammit, remember to do this crap!

I’m feeling better.  More than a little bit.  And feeling extremely dumb!

Happy Diagnosiversary, RA.  You are one heck of a skank.