Am I a slacker?

Where in the world is Patti the writer?  I’ve not been doing much of anything, to tell the truth.  Well, working.  Sometimes.  But, writing?  Yeah, not so much.  I come home from work exhausted and in pain.  Most days, it’s all I can do to get the basics done.  You know, dishes, laundry, feeding the cats, cleaning the litter.  I tell myself I don’t feel up to writing.  I don’t feel like sitting in front of my computer and trying to come up with something to write about.  And I most certainly don’t feel like doing the actual writing.

But, the thing is, writing has always been my escape.  When I was younger, it was my emotional escape.  Why in the world would I refuse to use it as a means of escaping the physical pain I’m in every day?  I think, for most writers, the act of writing allows us to focus on something else.  And I could definitely stand to direct my focus somewhere other than the pain.  So why haven’t I been doing it?

I’ve been feeling somewhat alone in this battle with arthritis.  I’ve spent most of my adult life living by myself.  For most of that time, it’s worked well for me.  But lately there have been times when I find myself wishing I had someone here to help me out, to carry some of the load.  Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing friends.  Many of them have offered to help me out, to go to appointments with me, pick up prescriptions, and so on.  And my step-sister is just the best.  I know she’d do anything I need her to do.  I’m having a procedure done on my shoulders next week.  Originally, the doctor was going to do a more invasive procedure and I was going to need someone to drive me home.  Kathy offered to do that for me.  What I didn’t tell anyone was that they also told me I’d need someone to stay with me for 24 hours.  That just seemed like such an imposition.

So, what?  I think I’m better than other people?  That I’d do that for them, but wouldn’t give them the opportunity to do the same thing for me?  Or that they would turn their backs on me when I needed them?  Or that I don’t deserve their help?  I don’t know.

See?  This is another thing writing does.  It allows me to look at myself and try to figure out what in the world is going on.  Why do I behave the way I do.  Why am I so hesitant to ask for help?  I know no one likes to have to ask for help.  I know it isn’t easy for anyone.  And maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to look too closely at my feelings, my fears, my desires.  If I acknowledge those feelings, then I kind of feel obligated to do something about them.  And it’s a lot easier to ignore them than it is to deal with them.  Not healthier, just easier…in the short-term.

I think it’s time to get back to writing because I need to figure out how to live with this pain.  I don’t want to just survive it.  I want to be happy in spite of it.

Deep in thought...

Deep in thought…

 

It’s a new year already?

New Years Eve 2011 London

New Years Eve 2011 London (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I guess it just kind of slipped my mind until I noticed all of the posts welcoming in the new year.  As you might be able to guess, I didn’t have any party plans last night.  Had to be at work at 5 am this morning (I’m not kidding.  When I saw my doctor yesterday, she was shocked that I had to work on New Year’s Day.  Like, lady, what planet do you live on?  I work in retail.  People love to shop when they don’t have to work.).  Anyhow, the whole being at work at 5 am kind of put the party plans on hold.  Oh, who am I kidding?  There were no party plans.  I’ve got an ear infection, bronchitis, and another darn upper respiratory infection going on.  I’m personally keeping CVS in business.  The good news is, I just might hit my deductible this year when I file for 2013!! So I never made plans to go out and do anything.  I was in bed by eight o’clock.  Woo hoo!!  I am some kind of party animal!

I didn’t bother with the whole resolution thing this year.  I do want to eat a healthier diet just because I think doing so will improve my health.  I’m more than a little tired of  being sick all of the time.  And I did buy myself a Tai Chi DVD for Christmas.  I had done a tiny bit of tai chi a few years ago and think it might help with my RA and OA…if nothing else, it’ll keep me moving a bit and that won’t be a bad thing.

I’m taking part in a decluttering challenge, so I’m obviously looking to live in a cleaner, more organized home.  I think living with clutter is an indication that something in your life isn’t going the way you want it to.  Perhaps my internal challenge will be to try to determine what that is and then take steps to correct it.  Ah yes, I can be introspective at times.  Unfortunately I’ve spent most of my life avoiding introspection because it’s easier to keep doing what I’ve been doing than it is to make real changes.  Is 2014 the year I make those changes?  I’m thinking it will be.

How about you?  Resolutions?  Goals?  Plans?  Share with us.  We all want to know what you’ve got planned for the upcoming year.

NaNo going slow

Postit

Postit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, yeah, I was super-excited to get this version of NaNoWriMo underway.  And yes, I did get off to a great start.  But…and you knew there was going to be a but, didn’t you?  But now I find myself exhausted, in pain, and brain weary.  I’ve been working a lot, like six days a week and more than 8 hours a day.  That’ll be nice on the old paycheck, but it sure makes it difficult to do much of anything once I get home.  I also have to try to get in enough sleep so I don’t get sick.  I sure don’t want to have to go through that again.

I’ve been coming home, feeding the cats, throwing a load of laundry in, doing the dishes, preparing my lunch for the next day…and that’s pretty much it.  We have been so busy at work that you’d think it was coming up on Christmas or something.  I do have Wednesday off, but it’ll be after closing Tuesday night.  That closing shift really wears me out.  It might not be quite so bad now that we have extra people working.   Guess I’ll have to wait and see how that goes.  Right now, my plans for Wednesday are to get a little extra sleep and to do several writing sessions.

I know I can still hit the 50,000 word mark before the end of the month and possibly the 70,000 goal I set for myself…just have to sit there and write every single day.  No excuses…no giving up.

In the mood to brood

Depression

Depression (Photo credit: GEEKSTATS)

I’ve been feeling, oh I don’t know, not so perky and bright of late.  I’ve been feeling moody, like I’m trying to fight off depression.  I’ve been down that road and I’d just as soon not take it again, thank you very much.  I know battling physical pain every day doesn’t help.  Then add not being able to get enough sleep to the mix and you have a not-so-appealing recipe for broodiness.

I had to go to work today.  I typically like my job, but things are more than a little rough these days.  It seems like there’s a lot of inter-departmental fighting about who isn’t doing what correctly, who is slacking, who is making things difficult for others, etc.  You know, we all go through those periods at any job.  I was off yesterday so when I walked in to the office this morning, I just stood there looking at the mess, asking myself how anyone could possibly work in a pit like this and why I invariably have to clean up after the other managers (all of whom are men, by the way).  Feeling a little put upon, you think?

I already had a lot to do without adding more to my list.  Then I started working on the deposit for the previous day’s sales…oh great!  The office specialist didn’t get enough fives for the holiday weekend after I specifically told her the banks would be closed Monday because of Columbus Day.  As the only manager working, I couldn’t even leave the store to go to the bank.  So I guess we’ll just have to try to make due.

Oh, and then the call-ins started.  That’s my favorite part about working on the weekends, so many people call in.  Of course, you can’t get anyone else to come in and cover on the weekend.  Most of the time, they don’t even answer their phones.  Goody!  Now I’m in a bad mood and running the store short-handed, which seems to be how we operate every single weekend.

As I was looking through the ad signs (we set our ads early Sunday morning), I noticed there were only about half of the signs I needed.  None at all for two entire departments.  Sheesh…seriously?  I got as many printed and ready to put out as I could, but I’m not even close to having them all ready to post.  What do you think that says about how tomorrow will start?

Anyhow, I know dwelling on these kinds of feelings just makes it worse.  I did manage to thank one of the girls who came in (the first opening cashier to show up on my weekend in probably three weekends) despite not feeling well.  And one of my framers told me she could work a little extra since my closing framer called in.  I truly appreciate both of them going the extra mile to help their co-workers.  I also spent some time joking around with the closing manager about work and how it’s making us feel a little (?) down lately.  See, it’s not just me.  But I am attempting the whole attitude of gratitude thing…you just couldn’t tell it by my earlier rantings.

 

Life is complicated

P writing blue

P writing blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least it’s complicated at times, don’t you think?  I haven’t been doing much (anything) with my blog lately.  I’ve been working, then falling into bed when I get home trying to recover from the pain and fatigue.  My house is a wreck, my car needs cleaned, the “garden” is overrun with weeds, and I’ve not devoted much time to writing.  I don’t know what the solution is to everything else, but I’ll be doing plenty of writing next month (yes, next month really is November) when I take part in another NaNoWriMo event.

I really enjoy the NaNo writing frenzy and feel like I accomplish an unbelievable amount of writing during that 30 days.  At the end of November, I’ll likely still be hurting, my house will still be a disaster, my car will still need a trip to the car wash, but at least I’ll have another book well underway.  I’m even upping my word count goal from the 50,000 I’ve done in the past to 65,000 this year.  Am I crazy???

On the health front, I saw the rheumatologist again today.  I feel like we’re not making much progress.  She squeezed my joints (some of them harder than necessary…ouch!) and had me go through some range of motion type movements.  Then wrote out a prescription for a stronger dose of my pain meds…said to call if it gives me any problems.  Then she said she wanted to see me again in February.  It just seems to me this is all stuff my regular doctor could do.  Honestly, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting depressed because I’m not seeing any real improvement, I’m struggling to make it through the days.  I had today off work and was in so much pain that I didn’t do much of anything (why do you think my house is a mess?)

I’m trying to find a positive ray of light in all of this, but it’s pretty dim right now.

Here’s to a healthy September

I like this take on the traditional food pyram...

I like this take on the traditional food pyramid – note the incorporation of water (and tea, it says) along with physical exercise at the top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hard to believe it’s September, isn’t it?  Where in the world did the summer disappear to?  Since seeing my doctor last week, I’ve decided to rededicate myself to living a little healthier.  You know the drill, eat better, move more, go to sleep earlier, reduce stress.  We all know that’s how to be healthier, but it’s easier to talk about it than it is to actually do it.

Anyhow, when I saw my doctor, we talked about my pain and sleep issues.  Of course, my weight has to have some impact on everything.  I promised her I’d work on eating better and exercising more.  She’s very understanding about how difficult it is to exercise vigorously when I’m in so much pain.  She did suggest several forms of exercise that are a little gentler on my joints, so now I really have no excuse.

I started the month off with my calorie intake at the low-end of the range and 35 minutes of walking.  And of course, I visited SparkPeople.com to log everything.  Now to get some sleep…

Do you guys try to lose weight before the holidays so you can splurge a little at all of those holiday shindigs?  I’ve  done that in years gone by, not sure how well it worked for me though.  I think this year I’m just going to try to eat healthy most of the time and have a little something extra maybe once a week…so Donna, maybe you shouldn’t bring your delicious peanut butter cookies to work…

No further info…

Atrium inside Mayo Clinic Gonda Building, Roch...

Atrium inside Mayo Clinic Gonda Building, Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, okay…that’s not exactly the truth.  What I should have said was that I have yet to see the specialist so I’m not really sure where we go from here as far as the medical treatment goes…but, as you can see, that would be entirely too long for a title.

However, I do have information…I had no idea there was so much info out there about RA.  (Makes sense since I never really gave it a thought before, right?)  My first stop was the website of the Mayo Clinic and there’s an abundance of information there.  I’ve also visited the sites of several other hospitals (Cleveland Clinic being one since I have a friend who has a son who was treated there for several years and I know how well-respected their pain management program is) to gather info.  I’m trying not to become immersed in this…I’d prefer it not control my life.  But knowledge is power….who said that, anyhow?

And then there are the blogs!  Oh my goodness, I had no idea how many wonderful people are willing to share their journey with us.  It really does help to hear from folks who live with this from day to day.  Doctors are one thing, having gone to school and been in practice for a while, but people who live with rheumatoid arthritis have a unique perspective.  Those who are in the trenches are sometimes better able to provide encouragement and suggestions.

After doing some research, I realized how dumb I was.  When the doctor told me it was rheumatoid arthritis, I thought it was no big deal.  I’d be able to pop a few pills and continue on my merry way (and that could be what happens…will have to see how it runs its course).  Then I began reading.  Whoa!  I had no idea it could be so serious.  But, I’m trying to remain positive…no use worrying about things that may never happen.  See the specialist and then proceed from there.  Hey, really what else is there to do?

Some answers

English: http://rheumatoidarthritis-symptoms.c...

English: http://rheumatoidarthritis-symptoms.com – Rheumatoid Arthritis in the hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think about how I’ve felt in the past six months (really, six months…hard to believe) and how many doctors I’ve seen during that time, I get to feeling a little discouraged.  I start asking myself if we’ll ever figure this out.  Well, I got a few answers this week.

I saw my doctor Monday because I was in so much pain…joint pain…just about every joint in my body.  She had me move around, doing some range of motion movements.  Then she said she wanted me to have some lab work done, checking for autoimmune ailments.  I went down to the lab where the tech proceeded to take about a gallon of blood (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit), vial after vial.  She said they’d be able to do some of the testing themselves but would have to send some of it off.

Then they called me later in the week to let me know that just about everything came back normal with the exception of the markers for rheumatoid arthritis.  So, okay…I don’t really know a lot about rheumatoid arthritis, but it doesn’t sound like it’s as bad as some of the other things.  Of course, that’s me talking when I know very little about it.

My doctor is setting up an appointment with a rheumatologist (?) for me, so I’ll know a lot more then…at least I hope I will.  I’ve put off doing any online research about it, not wanting to worry myself…the old ostrich with its head in the sand thing.  I suppose I ought to do a little research about it soon, you know, so I at least know what questions to ask.

I’m not sure if this is THE answer, but at least it’s part of the answer.

She’s baaack!

Before you say anything…I know I’ve been MIA for much too long. April has been an extremely hectic month! I went back to work after being sick for two months…believe me, that wasn’t (isn’t) easy. I’m still not at 100%, but I’m getting there…slowly…

And, being the crazy chick that I am, I decided to do another Camp NaNo during April…yep, you read that right…writing 50,000 words over the course of the month. I managed to hit 50,378 today…early, well, at least a little early. Some of it’s good, most of it’s not…but the whole point of NaNo is to simply write…and I did do that. And I think I may come up with, you know, maybe 10,000 publishable words from this month’s writing…maybe.

Now it’s time to focus on my health…I’ve got a big, several-hours-long pulmonary test coming up on the 9th and maybe then we can figure out what to do to make it a bit easier to breathe and do something else at the same time…in the meantime, I’m trying to eat healthier and exercise as much as I can without negatively affecting my breathing.

And speaking of eating healthier…let me ask you all, do you use a juicer? If so, what brand? Pros and cons? I’m trying to eat more organic foods and working diligently to avoid GMOs and making my own juices would be another step in that direction.

All I Know Is I Know Very Little

Healthy lungs

Healthy lungs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does that make sense?  Oh, who cares, right? I haven’t made a lot of sense for several weeks now…

I saw the pulmonary specialist yesterday (yes, I showed up at the right time and on the right date…how about that?).  I still don’t have very many answers although the answers I do have sound pretty good.  I know that I don’t have cancer.  I know that I don’t have COPD.  I know I don’t have emphysema.  That’s what I know.

What I don’t know is what’s wrong.   Why I can’t breathe.  Why I can’t move without having a prolonged coughing fit.  Why I’m still so sick after such a long time.

They performed some tests…something to measure lung capacity, another to measure lung function, something else that I’m not really sure what it was supposed to test…anyhow…for now the doctor is terming what I have as an acute long-term upper airway infection.  (Is that another term for “we don’t really know”???).

His prescription to treat that was multi-faceted…one inhaler to administer steroids, another inhaler to open the airway,  a different antibiotic, an old-fashioned antihistamine (he said he’s had better luck using these rather than the more modern ones to treat conditions like I have), and something to relax the muscles in my chest and back.  Fortunately, he had samples to give me for both inhalers and the antihistimines…enough to get through a month…which is when he wants to see me again.

He told me to keep kind of a journal detailing how the different meds affect me, when I get to feeling better (or worse), what I’m doing when I have one of those coughing fits, if I have a fever (how high, how long it lasts), and so on…That kind of tells me this is still a mystery to him and that he’s looking for clues as to what’s really wrong and what we can do about it.  But he did spend a lot of time with me, asking questions,  making notes, explaining things, and talking about what we can do if all of this doesn’t help.

My next appointment with him is in the first week of April.  He did say that if this “cocktail” doesn’t work, he’ll want to do a CAT scan of my lungs as well as some other tests.  In the meantime, guess what!!  I’m off work…and before I publish this post, I’ve got to call my boss and let him know…whew!  I know he won’t be happy about it, but I don’t know what else I can do.  I can’t imagine that they want me in the store scaring the customers with that constant barking cough (and really, I’m not able to do anything that involves any kind of physical activity and that’s what most of my job consists of).  Now I don’t want anyone to think that Chris is a bad guy because you honestly could never find a nicer boss anywhere.  He’s said, on multiple occasions, that I just need to get better.  But I also know having a manager out for a prolonged period of time makes it rough on everyone else…and I do feel guilty about that.  I know, I know…it’s not like I got sick on purpose, but you know what I mean.  I care about the people I work with (most of them…haha…you know who you are) and hate that I’ve not been able to be there to do my job.  Hopefully, what we’re doing now will do the trick and I’ll be able to return to work after my next appointment…keep your fingers crossed for me, would you?

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