Thursday, July 31, 2008

Feeling Stressed?

Today's Stress Reduction Moment is brought to you by:
my pets.

Supposedly animals REDUCE stress levels.
Maybe they are talking about when you only have one?

I'm pretty sure my animals elevate my stress levels on a fairly regular basis - from trying to figure out which one ate what and then threw it up on the dining room hardwood, to the hissy fits and slobber fights, the whining, the fur tumbleweeds - I have a hard time appreciating my animals some days

But then there are those times when they look so adorable...

when they make us laugh by being so silly...

or serious...

I understand what they are talking about...

and it makes me glad I have them.

Now I need to go and clean up some puke....

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Ten List

(photo courtesy of Marilyn)

Whew! Yesterday's post was pretty intense, though it's nice to get that out of my head.

Tuesday's a weird day for me. It isn't Monday but it's still really far away from Friday. I'm not sure if I really like Tuesday as a day at all. So I thought it would be a good day to have a ten list. My (undiagnosed) OCD likes making lists but my (unconfirmed) ADD can't really commit to picking one favorite thing over the other (or is it the fire nature of my chi?)
In any event, I like to make lists but I can't ever really pick an absolute favorite, it so depends on my mood on any given day (blame it on my moon-child astrology sign). is today's Tuesday Ten list (in no particular order):
Ten musicians/musical groups that I would generally consider my go-to's when I need a little lift. Brought to you by (not really, but I really like Pandora, it is the best place ever-if you haven't found Pandora yet, go check it out, prepare to spend some time there-it's addictive).


Ani DiFranco

Barenaked Ladies

Simon & Garfunkel (and Paul Simon)

Bob Dylan

Peter Gabriel (solo)

Sarah MacLachlan

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Indigo Girls

Dead Can Dance

What are YOU listening to?

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Medical Mystery Tour, Part One

To the 27 people left in the world who HAVEN'T heard me gripe about some, if not all, my various and sundry maladies, I dedicate this post. If you don't want to know about all the gory details of my medical history, you may want to skip this post and instead check out all the latest cool, orthopedically friendly shoes that Merrell has to offer this season.

These past seven years have been a whirlwind of medical mis-adventures for me, some more exciting than others, with the end result being that I STILL don't really know what is wrong with me.
The way I am today, the choices I have made in how I live my life, my relationships with my friend and family, have all been affected by these events.

For those daring, never-say-die folks, willing to plunge into the quagmire of my health-challenged history, here is a quick recap of all the conditions I've been treated for over the past 7 years:

#1. Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease:

This is the BIG one- the one that started it all.

My first rheumatologist hit me with that diagnosis on the Wednesday before Turkey day waaaay back in 2001. Very scary sounding when I first heard it, but over the years I've had some amusement in throwing that one out to unsuspecting medical practitioners. It isn't even in Wikipedia or Google-I just checked.

What it means is that "they" gave a name to a condition that doesn't fall into any of the other known connective tissue diseases. It's a catch-all fancy schmancy official sounding medical term that doctor's can lay on you when they can't give you a real fancy schmancy official sounding medical term for your condition.
My rheumie skated over that fact by telling me that since MY UCTD was acting like Rheumatoid Arthritis at the moment that he would treat it like RA from that day forward, forever and ever after. And BAM...there I was, no longer just a normal, regular person, I was now a person with "RA".

And boy was I.

I got that monster under control about 2 years later. It took a lot of trial and error with boodles of really potent and scary medications, many of which caused me throw up, lose my hair, get really bad sunburns, or all three at the same time. At the time, though, I didn't really have many other options, I couldn't function as I was. And when it was FINALLY under control, I felt great. I felt normal. I felt like a person who did not have RA.

But I did have it, or something related to it that hadn't 'differentiated' itself yet.

I looked like a perfectly healthy, normal person on the outside, I even felt normal, mostly. I started working out at the gym, I was in great shape, I felt great, I felt lucky that I had faced this monster and survived, coming out stronger on the other side, victory! I felt empowered, but...

My doctors, all the pills I took twice daily, the twice weekly injections, frequently reminded was there all the time, lying in wait to pounce whenever something out of the ordinary blipped on my radar screen. I had a label then, I had 'RA'. And usually the doctors used that label to excuse other problems that I brought to them. Problems like...

2. Insomnia:

This was a fun one to experience with a toddler and a full time job. As exhausted as I was all day long fighting off my own body's immune system, I couldn't sleep the night through. (This may have been exacerbated a teeny, tiny bit with having my child not sleep through the night until he was three, but even when he did sleep all glorious night long, I couldn't consistently get a good night's sleep.) Not even with Darvoset or Tylenol 3 with codeine or Benedryl.

Insomnia is not a new demon for me, I've battled with it since childhood. When you have a chronic condition, with side effects of crushing fatique, though, it takes on a new meaning. For anyone suffering from insomnia and sleep deprivation along with chronic pain (and a cranky child), the desperation that comes with it is indescribable. What wouldn't you do for a good night's sleep? The doctors I saw usually dismissed my complaints of fatigue and inability to sleep through the night, as something that wasn't really that important (considering I had RA) I'm not really sure why. And not wanting to be a pain or a nuisance, I trusted that they knew what was best for me. Can you believe I waited 5 years before I finally asked a doctor to give me a sleep aid so I could get a full night's sleep, I just couldn't take it anymore. And that led to....

3. Depression and Anxiety:
hmmmm... that's a shocker!

Now we fall into the chicken and the egg riddle. Which came first? So many studies out there that show insomnia tied to chronic pain-chronic pain tied to depression-depression tied to insomnia. It's a vicious cycle. Treat one and you'll treat them all!
Or as it happened in my case, treat them all, and you'll treat none. The docs just kept piling on the meds. But I jumped on the Prozac bandwagon could I refuse a treatment that might bring me some relief? I whispered the name to only my closest confidants. In addition to being an RA patient, now I was also officially someone with a mental disorder...

whew! Are we having fun yet? I sure wasn't. Chronic disease and mental deficiencies. And I wasn't even 33 yet. Not exactly the way I'd envisioned my life up to that point.

I did say this would be quick-right? HA! well, I lied...and there is more, I'm really just getting started on this trip....but....

I think I need to take a little mental health break and play with my new, cute, demon kitten, Oscar. They say pets help to ease anxiety and tension in people...

ahhh! that's better now, isn't it? Let's just call it a night, shall we?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do these stillettos come with removable footbeds?

This has become, reluctantly, my new mantra...Not because I'm crazy about removable footbeds, but because I'm being forceably dragged into sensible, customizable footwear by my myriad doctors- kicking and screaming along the way.

(heavy sigh)

I LOVE cute shoes. love love love love LOVE them. I have always loved fashion footwear. Here's proof:

However, due to circumstances that I can no longer avoid, deny or fanagle with, I was dragged out to the mall recently to try and find new shoes that could accomodate my forthcoming (dreaded) orthotic. When inquiring about the aforementioned shoes with removable footbeds, I was directed to THIS monstrosity (seriously!) by the well-meaning (more like mean-spirited) college punk who worked there:


I can't say it was THIS one specifically, but you get the idea. It was horrible.

After a complete and utter breakdown in the middle of the mall, my Knight in Shining Armor took me to a completely different store and a nice young lady who complemented me on my Original Wearable Art necklace showed me some other shoes that were a little more to my liking:

I love you and your orthopedically friendly footwear. I'll be back next paycheck...wait for me.

Now....would you consider making them in a stilletto option?

Friday, July 25, 2008

today's horoscope

I haven't read them in awhile and I just thought this was perfect for my new blog:

You are getting in the mood to socialize, and so are all of your favorite people!

Your ideas are pretty far out there today -- but that's exactly what's needed! Speak up and make sure that you keep trying new things, because one of them is going to make it all work out.

We are all very excited about this.

My Knight in Shining Armor

I'm serious. He's a knight, and his armor is really shiny. Isn't that cool?

Here's one of him looking mean:

He's getting ready to fight a lot of bad guys.

and there he goes! Isn't his outfit pretty? He made it all himself.

It's important to look pretty when you go fight bad guys.

That's my motto anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First things first

S.C. reminded me of that today. I realize I'm never going to become a famous writer. At least not if I never get up enough motivation to actually START a blog. I don't even know if I want to be a famous writer. I've spent YEARS avoiding writing things down purposefully. I still have a letter I wrote to my parents when I was visiting my grandparents in 1979 and never finished.

I've spent years with so much stuff in my head it comes out in ways I couldn't anticipate and usually it is acccompanied by the need for lots of kleenex. I've tried writing in a journal, but then I misplace the journal and the thought is lost, and I get writer's cramp when I use a pen for too long.

so here it. The first post of my first (sort of) blog. Hopefully I won't misplace my computer.