Friday, October 26, 2012

Be Gentle with Yourself! Rejuvenate!

This has been a crazy, hectic, and stressful week of a teenager running a fever all week, a full week of work, some RA issues and life in general.  This morning was my first morning all week where I wasn't rushed.  I decided to do some gentle things that remind me of who I am and what brings me the most peace and happiness.

  • I slept in until 6:00am
  • I put a batch of pumpkin cranberry muffins in the oven.  Baking just soothes my soul and calms me!
  • I made breakfast for Steve - sausage, eggs and a muffin so that he would have a little part of me with him all day.
  • I drove Sophia to school.  This little bit of time together reminded me that I am not spoiling her by driving her instead of requiring she take the bus, but I am gaining a little time with my daughter that we both needed and wanted.
  • I went for a walk with Izzy enjoying all the beauty of fall.
  • I worked out hard,even including Izzy in my workout today which she loved.  Rather than doing the short sprints by myself, I chased her around the back yard! She loves this!  Me too!    
  • I lit up some incense and meditated in front of the window where the sun was able to shine in on me.

I am curious, what do you do to  rejuvenate?  How are you gentle with yourself?

My beautiful daughter at homecoming.
How does this tie in with  post?  It  just makes me happy. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rheumatoid Arthritis and a 5k?

Several months back I was listening to a podcast.  The guest on the podcast shared her experiences of treating folks with disease.  She said something along the lines of when a disease is in remission, we should not think of ourselves as having that disease but instead of having “tendencies” towards that disease.  I really liked that.  My rheumatologist hasn’t said that I am in remission but for the last year and a half my inflammation rates have been excellent, I haven’t had any major flare-ups, and I have been able to do anything I set my mind to physically.  The only thing that seemed to be holding me back  was the idea that I HAVE rheumatoid arthritis.  What if I instead thought, “I have tendencies towards rheumatoid arthritis.”  This new thought really opened up my mind to setting new goals for myself.

My daughter started running cross country over the summer for high school.  I loved how she came home exhausted, yet had a feeling of energy about her.  I knew she was working hard physically and mentally to keep going.  I wanted that for myself.  I decided that with my new thought pattern, I was going to set a goal for myself of running a 5K.  My husband and son were on board to run with me.

I started my training off slow.  My border collie Izzy and I walked for a ways and then jogged until I felt the need to stop.  We walked and then if up to it, we jogged again.  There is a lot of controversy about the benefits of jogging/running, but the look Izzy gave me each time I said, “run”, was worth any issues I may have experienced.  When she started running I wanted to run.  I wanted to feel that same freedom I saw in her.  Whenever I thought I was going to stop due to lack of energy or muscles that wanted to stop, I refocused my mind on something else – much like we do with RA when experiencing a flare.

I have to admit that at first my hips and knees were sore.  I ran one day, walked the next.  At first I thought, “Oh, it is my rheumatoid arthritis causing this pain.”  But then I stopped and remembered my new thought pattern.  When my daughter started running, she complained about the same issues.  Okay, not every ache and pain has to be contributed to rheumatoid arthritis.  One thing I did do was buy a foam roller.  This thing is magic.  It was first bought for Sophia who was having some IT band issues.  Soon, the whole family was using it.  When used on areas that are tight, it can hurt, but afterwards you feel so much better.  It is like giving yourself a little massage.

When I started this new journey of running a 5K, I made a deal with myself.  I would honor my body above all else.  If I felt RA slipping back, I would take a break and let my body heal.    At first it didn’t seem like this would be an issue. After running for over a month, I was surprised at how quickly my endurance grew.  I kept track of my time and mileage on a phone app and felt elated when it sent me an email telling me that I had run my furthest on record that day.  When I finally met my goal of running 5K on my own, I felt on top of the world.

Then rheumatoid arthritis decided to make a comeback.  The pain of first starting a new physical activity is different from that of rheumatoid arthritis and I knew the difference.  My symptoms weren’t awful, but enough to make me stop and honor my body as I told myself I would do.  Was I disappointed?  You bet I was.  My plan was to keep running so my time would be great when the actual 5K happened.  The look of pride I had envisioned on my daughter’s face had kept me motivated through weeks of runs.  I looked forward to taking photos of my husband, son, and me in our new Scarecrow Run shirts. I even dreamed of the blog post I would write after the run.   After  feeling the grief of new symptoms, I decided I wasn’t finished yet.  I would take a short break from training and let rheumatoid arthritis do its thing and then get back on top of training before the 5K.  I even convinced myself that I would be okay if it came down to a walk/run on the big night. 

The 5K didn’t happen.  It was last night.  My RA “tendencies” have obviously become RA active.  My feet, knee, and hips are aware that rheumatoid arthritis is a part of who I am, even when I try to dismiss it as reality.   I have spent the last few days reflecting on my need to run this race.  Why was it so important to me?  Some ideas have come to mind. 
·         I am 45.  I am no longer a young chick.  I was reminded of this at my rheumy appointment on Friday when the young nurse asked, “Are you still having menstrual cycles?”
·         Do I feel I need to prove to myself that I am still physically fit?
·         Did I want to prove to rheumatoid arthritis that it didn’t have control over my life?  That I can outsmart it?  That I am stronger than it?

Many thoughts have gone through my mind.  The last few days have been a little blue.  In addition to not being able to run the 5K, my rheumy said that despite my great blood work and overall feeling most of the time, I still have a lot of swelling on certain joints and my last x-rays showed thinning of bones in both hands.   Plus, I have this new “trigger” thing in my fingers.  She is running a Vectra DA to see if we can find out anything new.

I still like the idea of thinking of myself as having “tendencies” towards rheumatoid arthritis rather than “having” rheumatoid arthritis.  I think sometimes the diagnosis can prevent us from setting new goals for ourselves and reaching those goals.  I didn’t run the 5K last night as planned.  Instead I helped my daughter prepare for her first homecoming dance. I didn’t miss out on the photos with her friends.   I was there living in the moment with her.  As I stood watching her in all of her beauty, I realized that this is where I find my peace of mind.  This is where I don’t have to fight or prove anything.  I can just be mom, my favorite thing to be.  My desire to run this 5K was really about my internal battle with rheumatoid arthritis. It was a fight and I wanted to be the winner.  In the end, I think I have won.  I didn’t win by running the 5K.  I won by challenging myself to do something big and making that challenge come true.  I can run a 5K.  My RunKeeper app can prove it!  I won by listening to my body above all else.   And I won by participating in my daughter’s special day – a day that brought both pleasure to her and me.  Life will never go as planned with or without rheumatoid arthritis.  When I let my negativity and need to prove myself as the winner with rheumatoid arthritis, I lose.  This is the part I am still working on.
I had my husband go ahead and pick up our shirts because we paid for them and also because it is a good reminder to me of what I have accomplished and what I still need to work towards in my battle with rheumatoid arthritis.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Moving Beyond Rheumatoid Arthritis

Two years ago I made some dramatic changes in my life. I returned to medications and once again tweaked my diet to one that I feel will last a lifetime. The combination of medications and diet has been good. For the most part, the inflammation in my body has calmed down and I am able to enjoy life do...
Read the rest of this post here.

On the Same Team

Last night was night two of a new class I am teaching.  As students arrived, I asked them about their families and jobs.  When I got to a gentleman in his early sixties, he said he doesn't work. He was just approved for disability.  Of course I asked what his disability is and he said, "rheumatoid arthritis".  I immediately shared with him that I too have rheumatoid arthritis.  He explained his symptoms and I asked what time of the day they are the worse.  He said it changes during the day.  (I was nodding my head as he talked).  I then said, "It is weird because it changes during the day and people are always confused and think......"  Just as I was finishing my sentence we both said at the same time, "you are okay."  We both laughed.

It is funny when you actually meet another person face to face that deals with the same issues as you do.  The connection is instant.  You can never look at the same person the same again.  They are automatically on your team.  Even his wife, who listened quietly nodding her head, became a member of my team.  This is a tough team to be on, but it sure it nice to be in the presence of someone else that really gets what you are talking about.    

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Join the Show Us Your Hands! Board!

Show Us Your Hands! is moving to the next level. We are beginning the process of becoming an official nonprofit charity organization in order to continue organizing creative community projects and awareness campaigns aimed at increasing public understanding of inflammatory arthritis. This means we need to grow our Board of Directors.
This is where you come in!
As a member of the Show Us Your Hands! Board of Directors, your responsibilities would include:
  • defining our Mission and ensuring we stay on course,
  • developing an annual plan and managing programs to accomplish our Mission,
  • implementing and maintaining transparent financial systems, budgets and accounting controls,
  • supporting and engaging in fundraising efforts,
  • internal board management, such as electing officers and replacing outgoing Directors,
  • establishing and overseeing special-issues committees (e.g., community outreach, volunteers, awareness programs, special events), and
  • helping promote Show Us Your Hands! and its activities to the public.

Our organizational culture is one that emphasizes proactive teamwork, respect and a sense of humor. We believe in the inflammatory arthritis community and in this organization and work hard for the love of the cause. (This is another way of saying that this is a volunteer unpaid position!)
If you are committed to working at the global grassroots level to unite and inspire people who live with inflammatory arthritis, please let us know by responding to a few questions before November 1, 2012. We will carefully review all submissions and then contact selected individuals in order to schedule brief online interviews.
Experience with finance and accounting is a plus.
Apply now to join the Show Us Your Hands! Board of Directors.