RA and Me

I wrote a post a while back about having chronic illnesses and being a mom. Chronic Conditions and Momming was written before my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

1. My older sister has lupus and we had the same rheumatologist at one point. Once we discovered this, we thought it was hilarious. There’s a lot of rheumatologists in Louisville, and we ended up with the same one?

2. My grandfather had severe RA. He died in 2016 at the age of 83. His hands were curled up from the severe joint deformities. He took medications for it, but still had issues that weren’t able to be reversed.

3. I am currently taking a mild medication daily. I had to wait for my thyroid meds to be regulated before I could start RA meds. That sucked but things are good in this area. (Short version: I’m on Levothyroxine due to a partial thyroidectomy in 2017.) Joint pain is REAL.

4. My biggest issues? Joint pain in my hands, knees, and hips. Like many others, I’m super stiff in the mornings and it takes at least an hour to loosen up. Hot showers help. Moving around does help but also hurts. Eventually, the stiffness goes away. Usually. If it doesn’t, then it’s a bad pain day, which leads me to #5.

5. I don’t like taking pain meds. They make me tired and nobody has time for that mess. I usually won’t take them unless I can barely move. I’ll use a heating pad, massage, stretch, etc. The pain meds I do have, however, are non-narcotic.

My doctor is pretty smart- probably not a good idea to prescribe a recovering alcoholic hardcore narcotics. She probably enjoys having a license to practice.
Rheumatoid arthritis sucks. I hate missing out on things because I’m tired, hurting, or both.

Pic with Cameron

It’s possible to live life with chronic conditions. I have two. Some days are just worse than others. I can get through them with humor and my support system.

If you have a chronic condition, how do you get through it?

Book Review: “The Warner Boys: Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope”

This month’s book review is early, but thanks to the holidays and other events, this should have been done long ago. My apologies to Sabrina, the publicist for the Warners. I forgot to mention this to her, but I’m a Seahawks fan. #GoHawks!

Curt Warner is a former Seahawks running back who met his wife, Ana, while out shopping. Ana is from Brazil and was working to make ends meet after moving back from her home country. They quickly fell in love, got married and started a family.

After the devastating loss of their first son, Ryan, Ana and Curt welcomed another son, Jonathan, then twins, Austin and Christian. Later, they adopted a daughter, Isabella.

The boys began to show signs of autism as early as toddlerhood but were not officially diagnosed until elementary school.

It’s extremely difficult to hear that sort of diagnosis, so it is not surprising that Curt and Ana were devastated. They dealt with their sons’ autism differently.

Ana was able to stay at home while Curt worked and immersed herself in trying for a cure. When that wasn’t a possibility, she tried for perfection. This led to a crippling depression that made her suicidal at one point.

Austin and Christian faced struggles that many kids with autism do- lack of danger awareness, obsessions (Disney movies), issues in school and diet issues.

Jonathan, their older brother, is also featured in the book. I liked this- siblings of children of special needs should also have a voice. Sometimes they intentionally get left out.

Ana and Curt tell their story alternately, with a lot of heart and description. Their sons went through good and bad times, like many other children. The good thing is, they never lost hope in them. Austin and Christian will be taken care of their whole lives and for that, they are very lucky young men.

Any parent that needs a word of encouragement through a rough patch can get just that from this novel.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Going to Therapy: Setting and Smashing Your Goals

Therapy is rough work. Some sessions are great, some will leave you in tears.

Everyone goes to therapy for different reasons- for anxiety, depression, substance abuse (in some cases, this court-ordered), grief, and other issues.

I began therapy in 2015 for three out of four of those reasons- the substance abuse part came in later.

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Not As Much Fun To Pick Up The Pieces

That’s part of a Nine Inch Nails lyric from “The Perfect Drug”, one of the best songs from the 1990s. Therapy helped me pick up the pieces of my life- I found Rachel thanks to PsychologyToday. My life had just fallen apart in front of me- Jake died, I quit a job I loved, cut a lot of people off, I had no idea on what to do with my marriage and I was a complete wreck.

Let’s just say my first goal was to manage the grief. I started therapy in October 2015. The tears flowed so much that I wasn’t able to wear any makeup for two months after Jake died. I ate my feelings and started gaining weight, and the alcohol didn’t help.

One of the first things I did was make a list of all the things that I lost when he died. This was heartbreaking, but it helped me come up with ways to make something good out of something so awful. This led to creating this blog, volunteering for the AFSP and other great things.

My other big goal was to figure out what the hell to do with my marriage, or what was left of it. I was supposed to meet with my divorce attorney on September 9, the day before our 10th wedding anniversary (the irony) to sign the papers to file divorce paperwork.

I never made it to this appointment- Jake died September 1 and I didn’t have the emotional strength. I’m almost certain I spent that day crying in bed. This was a tough decision because our marriage was in a terrible spot. Matthew and I were barely speaking, and when we did, all we did was fight. I wanted out. The divorce had nothing to do with Jake, and I made sure he knew that. Our marriage was basically screwed before he ever came into my life.

So where was I supposed to go from there?

Rachel encouraged me to think.

A lot.

I emailed my attorney, who was very understanding about the change in my situation.

Over many sessions, lots of tissues and candy later, I decided to give my marriage a shot. I had changed a lot over the last couple of years, and I figured Matthew deserved a chance at who I had become. As he once said, Jake “fixed what I broke.” I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I emailed my attorney again and told her that I wouldn’t need her anymore.

I began working on myself- the third main goal. This was work on self- esteem and self-worth. I’d already learned what I would and wouldn’t take, thanks to both Matthew and Jake. This time, I was working on watching for patterns of repeat behavior that I knew I didn’t deserve, feeling better about myself, among other things.

I finished therapy in May 2018. I knew it was time- I have processed Jake’s death as well as I can. None of us know what exactly made him decide to take his life, but I have been able to find some peace with it. This was not easy. I still have days where I feel crappy about myself, but I think everyone does. I’m able to lift myself out of it. I’m sober- Rachel was thrilled when I stopped drinking. My marriage isn’t and probably never will be perfect, but it’s okay. I think I still like Matthew, and honestly, I’m lucky he still speaks to me.

I told my story about therapy for a reason- to explain why having goals is so important.

Tell Me What You Don’t Like About Yourself

If you’ve ever seen the show “Nip/Tuck”, this is what the very handsome plastic surgeons asked their patients when they met them.

In a way, therapy is a time in which you can work on the things you may not like so much about yourself and may want to change.

If you don’t have goals when you get to therapy, your therapist will help you set them according to your needs. Be ready to do the work- it may not be fun. You might even be asked to do “homework”, small assignments outside of your sessions. For example, I was asked to open up to people more, to talk to my friends and Matthew more to help me trust others more.

I developed trust issues after Jake’s death- the people who I thought were my friends were the first people to show me they really weren’t. After that, I stopped speaking to a lot of people and now, I just don’t welcome a lot of new people into my life.

I don’t want to risk that again. I have a hard time telling those closest to me when I’m struggling because I figure they have heard enough of my problems over the last three years, so I tend to not say much.

This is still a work in progress.

These goals will help guide you and your therapist in sessions, help track progress, and most of all, help you see that you are moving forward. Your therapist can help you think of ways to get through your issues and develop coping skills- this is where I was given the idea of adult coloring books for anxiety. It does help and I have at least 10 coloring books and two sets of coloring pencils. It’s soothing and helps take my mind off whatever is bothering me.

Some issues take longer than others to get through and this is okay- smash your goals on your own time. It took almost a year for me to get through a session, talk about Jake and not cry my eyes out. It doesn’t matter how many goals you have- everyone’s needs are different. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.

You’ve Got This

I liked to treat myself when meeting a goal or just after a rough session. Sometimes I would go home, color and listen to a podcast as a way to decompress or reward myself. If I had met a small milestone, like when Matthew and I completed an assignment that Rachel had asked us to, we would go out to dinner. It’s the small things that keep us going. She was very helpful in getting us through some of the worst times in our marriage.

The goals can be big or small- but they are yours.

Have you been to therapy and would like to share your story?

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Song Lyric Saturday with Christina Perri

Today is my 36th birthday, and I’m picking two lyrics. Break out the birthday cake!

Christina Perri is a talented mom and singer. She’s also in recovery.

I can’t remember when I first heard her music, but I do remember thinking, “Wow, she’s got a great voice! Does she have more music?”

She’s taken some time off because she got married and had an adorable daughter (I follow her on Twitter) but new music is coming soon.

My first pick is from “Arms”:

“You put your arms around me and I’m home”

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I found this randomly one day while watching other videos. I haven’t listened to this song more than once or twice in the three years since Jake died, because it hurts so much.

I can listen to all the Taylor Swift, Kanye West and even Nine Inch Nails but this song rips my heart into pieces. It’s mainly this lyric.

It’s not very often that your heart finds its home, and mine found a (second) home with Jake. After his death and so many things gone terribly wrong with Matthew, it took a long time for me to even come close to feeling this way with Matthew again. I can happily say that I’m able to fall asleep in his arms every night and feel okay doing so.

The second pick is from “Human”

“I’m only human

I bleed when I fall down”

Everyone is the same when we look inside- that’s the idea behind this song. I think everyone is so quick to forget that these days. I don’t get political on this blog, but you get the idea.

It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, where you come from, what language you speak, or any of that. We are all human. Let’s treat each other that way, shall we?

Picture courtesy of Pinterest

Song Lyric Saturday with Katy Perry

Katy Perry is an interesting singer. I didn’t like her at first, like some other singers I have discussed on Song Lyric Saturday. I thought she was a little too peppy and over the top. Over time, her music has changed a little and so has my opinion of her. As we all know, I’m a huge Swiftie, so when things weren’t that great between her and Taylor, I was on Taylor’s side all the way.

I’m 35, but give me some space here.

I loved the collab with Kanye in “E.T.” and that was almost my pick, but the lyrics I wanted to use weren’t exactly blog-friendly.

Instead, I give you some lyrics from “Wide Awake” to ponder.

“Thunder rumbling

Castles crumbling

I am trying to hold on

God knows that I tried

Seeing the bright side

But I’m not blind anymore

I’m wide awake”

There comes a time in which things fall completely apart, and you just can’t deny it anymore. You want to keep holding on because you’re scared to move on, scared of what might be coming next. It just becomes too exhausting to try to keep holding on. However, you wake up and realize no matter what might be coming next, you have to let go. It’s time.

I was in that place once with my marriage. It’s not a good spot- I tried everything I could but yet nothing worked. My days were dark except for work and my kids. I eventually woke up and realized it was time to leave. I just couldn’t do it anymore- but I was scared. How would I do things alone with three kids?

Over time, I stopped caring. I just wanted out. I never did find all this out, because Jake died a week before I met with my lawyer to file. Therapy helped me decide to stay in my marriage- only because my husband decided to change his ways. It’s a decision that I am glad I made.

Picture courtesy of Pinterest