June 13, 2017

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

I chose to live my life downplaying anything that considerably limits any of life’s activities. Living with a chronic illness is a lot of work, and without visible disabilities, it is even more difficult living in a world that judges you because of your lack of noticeable limitations.

In the past I have shared in my blog, suggestions and skills that make life easier living with a chronic illness. But, recently it was brought to my attention that some individuals are unaware that hidden disabilities are just as valid as physical ones.

Every day is a struggle for me to go to work.  Somedays I am fatigued and in pain, and the commute is unbearable.  Other days I am full of energy and strength, and dreading when this frame of good health will end.  I have strategies! One of the most important ones I use is getting to work at least an hour before my start time, securing an advantageous parking spot close to the entrance, and conserving energy early in the day, in order to make it through a full school day. 

Last week, the parking space I usually occupy and don’t own, was taken by one of the few individuals that are privy to many of my work challenges. It was disappointing to me that this person lacked common sense and consideration by parking in that spot, knowing how it would adversely affect me, which is the reason for this post.  I am saddened to come to the realization that there is a lack of understanding in the workplace of what a disability is and knowledge that all disabled people don’t look/act alike and by no means are confined to wheelchairs or need specialized accommodations.   Some of us just need understanding and common courtesy, and that shouldn’t need explaining!

 

Smooth Sailing for all this coming week! Mary Ann

  

June 6, 2017

A FRESH APPROACH TO LIFE!

It’s not all bad living with a chronic illness!  As bad as it may seem and feel, I’m realizing that there are silver linings that appear as your life continues.  This is my fourth spring/summer season with Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’ve come to realize I love solving the problems associated with the disease, and I embrace its challenges. Every season presents you with an opportunity to explore and learn what works and what doesn’t.  As the seasons change you realize yours needs, whether it be professional, dietary, cosmetic, or wardrobe. This year I haven’t purchased anything in season,  just necessities that are what I would call my personalized adaptive style!  

 

 

All the items I purchased are replacements of things I already own, that are no longer useful, comfortable, or fit.

 

 

 

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall I’ve always had a bunch of warm, cozy, and comfy sweatshirts to wear on chilly evenings or informal daytime excursions.   I’ve finally given up fighting to get the sweatshirt over my head with swollen fingers and lack of strength.  The ribbing on the knit cuffs are absolute torture, if they don’t get stretched out over time. Basically, I needed something that slips easily over my head, and doesn’t put pressure on my wrists.   I found the perfect sweater to take the place of my now defunct sweatshirts.  

Coastal Blue and Bleached are the colors of each sweater I purchased recently to replace my sweatshirts.  The Vince, oversized, lightweight, 70/30 cotton/polimide blend sweaters, are keepers.  Unlike sweatshirt’s ribbed neck and cuffs, this sweater is a loose knitted, dropped shoulder, at Saks for $108 each on sale, versus the original price of $345 each.  I justified the expense when thinking about the ridiculous prices of some of the sweatshirts I have purchased, since they are only used casually and were rarely revered.  The coastal blue sweater has seen major action since arriving, dressed up and for lounging.  Totally worth the ease and clean look for any season. 

My watch needed to be replaced!  When my wrist swelled up, and the concealed folding crown clasp was not adjustable, it was impossible to wear.  Getting on in years I no longer could read my small faced watch without glasses.  So two strikes, I sold the watch and have been using my cell phone for telling time.  Since I don’t always travel with my cell phone, I choose to buy a 40 mm watch from Abbott Lyon, UK.

I choose a Nude Pink Leather Kensington 40 with a white case and gold metal.  This is not an expensive watch, I just happened to love that it only has necessary details, simple clean design, and was only $99.  I’ve had it a few weeks and it is serving its purpose and I am pleased with this purchase.

Give a Girl The Right Shoes,

And She Can Conquer the World”

Marilyn Monroe

For years I’ve struggled finding shoes/boots that I could wear to work and out, even during a flare.  Previously, I’ve posted a blog about the shoes and brands I now wear, and surprisingly since those shoes wore out, I have had a horrendous time replacing them, especially winter shoes.  This past winter I figured it out, buy suede! Suede will give during times of flares, allowing you to wear your regular shoes.  They absolutely stink in the rain and snow, but I found the perfect solution a month ago, the  Aquatalia Red Boot!

I can’t remember being so enthused about a pair of boots in my life.  These are the Farell Suede Chelsea boot with a 1.2″ stacked heel.  Wait, this shoe has a padded leather sock lining, I actually put these boots on and occasionally glance at them on my feet, while reading in bed!   But the most impressive attribute of this boot is they are weatherproof and stain resistant! I love these boots and cannot wait till the fall to wear them outdoors and out of bed!  I leave you with a link to Aquatalia’s Weatherproof Guide! 

Have a great week!  

May 9, 2017

RA REFLECTION

When you were hired at your first job, I’d bet the farm that most of us never thought about how this was going to affect our social life.  We were happy to just have a job that was going to put cash in our hands, and concentrated how we were going to spend our hard-earned cash!  In essence, this would be considered our first financial plan, what we would do with our pay.  I thought about this because I couldn’t understand why or how I have a financial plan but, no health strategy after being diagnosed with RA.

Things really change when you deal with a chronic disease on a daily basis.  On good days, you may be elated that pain has subsided, but it is difficult to appreciate these days, because you anticipate the return of pain.  It seems like such a waste, wallowing around the time you are feeling great, thinking about what may or may not be ahead.  So I figured I’ll take a lesson from all the organizers, planners, and lifestyle mavens and construct my health strategy.

My life/health strategy is to embrace what I can control and to let go of what I can’t control.  First, I will commit to a health/wellbeing goal to stay active and take medication that may help with the pain.  Secondly, I will plan for times when the disease symptoms are severe.  I will manage my condition day-to-day by eating nutritious food, exercising, and working with a mobility trainer.  My idea of measures of adaptability never included adaptive devises, I will develop new skills and habits that will best work for me.

This all came to light this previous week, experiencing the unpredictable weather, range of temperatures, and torrential downpours.   It was a stressful week, and I knew I had to take steps to manage my condition and maintain some semblance of a healthy lifestyle, while still in pain.  In a nutshell, I’m still learning to adjust my expectations and practice simple self-care.  Have a great week, I intend too!

 

 

April 25, 2017

Happiness Is The Path


Most people I know, including myself, have the same goal in life;  to be happy!  The reason we do almost anything is to bring about a state of happiness.  Living with health, financial, and/or relationship challenges can put a damper on one’s ability to be happy. Or does it? When any challenge arises, as in my situation, it is health related, I don’t feel in control of what is happening in my life. This makes me extremely unhappy.

It has been a challenge living with a chronic illness. I’ve always had a laundry list of goals to reach, but since living with RA, I now believe that many of my  goals were shallow and never guaranteed happiness. For example, I felt I needed to lose a certain amount of weight, to do things that would have made me very happy, like retail therapy.  There were also, places to go and things to do, that my health wouldn’t allow, that would have made me happy. While pondering the realization of capturing the elusive state of being happy, I realized I had most of what one would need to be happy. A  fancy car, better home, nor more money would actually make me happy. They would make my life easier maybe, but not happy.

So when I’m down and out, thinking/feeling life is somehow so unfair, I still should be happy! I’m fortunate that my family has all our basic needs met. This makes me happy. I am gainfully employed, receive a fair salary, this makes me happy.   But most importantly, I realize what makes me most happy is Jeff and I are really in control of how we act when things are happening in our life. When things happen, beyond our control, we take action, and together move forward to keep the happiness we created in our lives, intact! 

Buddhism teaches that attachment is the root of suffering.  Attachments to a certain weight, state of health, and a magic number in the bank account lead to our suffering. Be free of those and all other attachments, and just be. You will soon find yourself in a state of contentment and true bliss.

Here’s hoping we all have a great week!  I leave you with some of the pictures that made me happy this past week!

Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday!

The delectable Chocolate Malt Cake!

Finally, my friend, the grey heron took cover in front of my house during the relentless rain last week!  He posed and I obliged by taking an outrageous number of pictures of him. These are a few of my favorites!

April 18, 2017

Made in the Shade!

Growing up close to the beach, I spent summer vacations taking swimming lessons every day. Rain or shine, my friends and I headed to the beach to swim, eat lunch on the sand, and hang out!  Not once in all the years I spent at the beach, did I ever apply sunscreen.  I don’t remember hearing about sunscreen, but I do remember the Coppertone commercials and according to my mother, I didn’t need it, I had Mediterranean skin.  When I got older and realized that I could cut down on tanning time by covering a record album with tin foil. I adopted the habit of using a foil covered record album as a reflector.  Another genius  plan I adopted was purchasing baby oil and iodine mixed together.  I would generously slather on this concoction of  aromatic magic lotion and wait and bake until the golden goddess results appeared!  

 

Unfortunately, as I got older, I did notice that more products were advertised to protect you from the sun.  Yet,  I never paid attention to the advertisements and continued to use oil to tan, without any sun protection factor (SPF).  As time marched on I continued to spend weekends at the beach and even spent my honeymoon on a tropical island!  I love the beach and swimming in salt water!  Even though I am a teacher and have more discretionary time during the summer, my beach time is now limited mainly to walking early mornings or early evening, not laying in the suns direct rays! 

Well, a few weeks ago I visited a dermatologist with a skin complaint which I swore would be a result of the rheumatoid arthritis.  As with any complaint I  have, I automatically assign blame to RA. The dog ran away; we are out of milk; or, being late for work!(RA may have something to do with this!)  But it certainly was a surprise when my biopsy results came back with a diagnosis of solar keratosis.  So, no big deal I think, I’m being treated for solar keratoses, I’m told that; “This is very common for people in this area and age bracket.”  The symptoms, scaly lesions are the result of long-term sun exposure and sun damage, common on fair-skinned people, this made sense to me!  What is most upsetting is this was preventable!  So now, in addition to seeing my  dermatologist more often, I will  follow rigorous preventative measures, to ensure I don’t further damage my skin.

What is most upsetting to me now, is the fact that the information was available decades ago on how to protect myself from the sun.  For whatever reason, I decided this message did not apply to me, and now I have another health concern to deal with.   

So now I would like to share some of the preventative measures that were explained to me. These suggestions may be of some help to you in preventing skin cancer and premature aging. 

Seek shade/cover up when the sun’s rays are the strongest, 10 am to 2 pm.

Wear Sun Protection Factor (SPF)/sunscreen of 30 or higher on exposed skin, and make sure that your sunscreen protects against UVA rays (cause premature aging/wrinkles and dark spots) and UVB rays (they burn your skin).  

Wear sunglasses and any hat as part of your summer uniform.

Avoid ultraviolet light tanning beds.

Use common sense!

I for one will continue to go to the beach. Instead of sitting in the direct rays of sun, I will be comfortably seated, reading my books, under a very large umbrella.

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