Day 3: RA/RD Blog: Disability

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Discuss your feelings about our position within the disabled community with variable disability.  How do you deal with limitations that are present some days and not others?

It’s a strange thing. One moment you’re seemingly okay and the next you’re in pain. You never know when you’re going to have a good day, a good few hours, or when pain and brain fog is going to kick in. You don’t know what part of your body is going to hurt and for how long. It’s enough to drive some mad, to depression, to anxiety, to God. 🙂

When I perceive I am going to have a good day or a good few hours, I start to do things I normally don’t do and sometimes I do them in a hurry just in case something swells or starts to hurt. A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling normal. I mean after I moved around, I still felt normal. I don’t know how to describe it, except feeling like I felt before RD. I didn’t know how long it would last so I started some intense cleaning of the kitchen, the downstairs bathroom and I made it to the living/den area before I began to lose stamina.

I deal with it as it comes. I no longer get angry. I do however, get upset sometimes. Especially, when it’s really something I want or need to do. I have to put it off or cancel. It’s hard to make plans, but I am a firm believer in making plans and following through. When I can’t follow through is when I am the most disappointed.

We also have to deal with people who may see us doing “regular things” or enjoying the life we have and question if we are really disabled. Disabled people have a right to enjoy their life, family, take vacations, shop, and do whatever they can on the level they can, when they can. You have no idea the things people go through in 24 hours.

~Nikki

Day 2:RA/RD Blog Week ADJUSTING

Adjust – How do you adjust to the affects of RD on your career, dreams, goals?

Wow! What a loaded question. In the beginning it was devastating thinking about all of the things I may no longer be able to do. My exact thoughts as I had a melt down were “What about all of the traveling I wanted to do? What about sewing and fashion? What about writing my books and traveling as a motivational speaker?” How on earth would I be able to do all of that if I can’t even hold down a 9 to 5 or 9 to 1?

I first acknowledged my disappointment and sorrow as some things died and somethings were modified. I was in awe when hidden gifts and talents emerged, came to life,  such as my abstract art and crocheting. They both happened on a whim although painting was always in the background. I was in Hobby Lobby exploring the option of crocheting after I saw someone with a crocheted scarf. There was a woman in Hobby Lobby, a customer, that was in the same department and I asked her about it. She was so happy to share with me how to get started. I worried about my hands so I researched and reached out to a community of crocheters and knitters and they recommend so many crochet hooks to use and so much advice on what to do about hurting and swelling hands. It dawned on me that there are crafters who have RD and other illnesses that have blazed this trail. I am not alone.

The biggest challenges I face when writing and learning patterns is brain fog and I have a hard time connecting things in sequence or remember directions that I read or are being shown to me. I have to sometimes read it over and over. It can be VERY frustrating. Like throw the crochet hook against the wall or crying because my hands are swelling and I am trying to type a chapter for a new book. The best thing about working on my career as a writer is that I get to decided when I can write. I keep a notebook in my room and I use my phone’s note pad to jot down ideas that come to me. I am looking into voice typing software as well. At times I may be experiencing concentration problems, anxiety or depression. I can decide not to work on a project or to write or paint. However, painting is therapeutic. I like to wrap the spongy tape around my brushes or crochet hooks to make them comfortable for my hands. I pave myself.

Being disabled has limited my income, but it has not limited the God I serve. I work on my writing and try to re-invent myself as a speaker and author. I take it day by day and try not to worry about if I become successful will I be able to do it. What if I have a flare and can’t make an event, or show up on set, flying can drain me, etc. etc. I dial it down a notch and remember I am not at that bridge yet.

~Nikki

 

Vegas and RA: The Good, The Bad, The Really Bad and Ugly

I have shared with you my wonderful and brief trip in Vegas. The shopping, the entertainment, tourism, my fashion, and family fun. I know it seems so glamourous or maybe not lol! But, anyone can take a trip and it has nothing to do with having a luxurious job, which I don’t have. But, it has everything to do with finding the best deals and planning way, way, ahead. Remember, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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Speaking of planning, when you have certain physical illnesses and diseases, limitations, etc. you have to learn to plan ahead as much as possible. We who have Rheumatoid Disease, Fibromyalgia, and other illnesses understand our dis-ease can be UNPREDICTABLE. So, this is where experience comes in, Google, and planning ahead as best you can.

  • I forgot my cute and much needed hot/cold reusable water packs. I have a small and a large one I usually take with me. You can find them at TJMaxx or on Amazon.
  • So, that was out! In Vegas there is WALKING, WALKING, WALKING, AND MORE WALKING! However, it is easily accessible for those with wheelchairs if you have one. So, don’t let that deter you from Vegas or anywhere else on this planet. I had my best pair of sneakers. This is not the time to break in a new pair. Go with a sure thing.
  • Pain meds ahead of time if possible. All meds on time. However, if I know I am going to have more than one drink, I will skip my meds. I am just being honest with you. You, however, follow your doctors orders. I’m not that big of a drinker meaning I can have it or not and still have a great time. I am allowed, per my doctor, a glass of wine per day if I want it. It’s not that serious for me.
  • Comfy house shoes with memory foam or something that is plush
  • Pain cream or gel
  • Foldable Flats and a purse that will fit them
  • Epsom Salt

Now, here is where it gets bad and ugly. I love heels and I can still wear them, but not the really high ones I use to wear. I blogged about that journey and halidux rigidus surgery a few years ago. I made the choice and sacrifice to wear some really cute heels to a club to see a celeb DJ. The walk there was fine. The dancing the night away was fine, but when I stopped I knew I was in trouble. The walk back was TORTUROUS. I can’t begin to describe to you the pain I felt. I knew I was going to have more than one drink so I skipped my meds. I had to rely on other methods and time to relieve my incredible pain.

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You are not suppose to walk through the hotel or casino with your shoes off. By the time my cousin and I got close to our rooms, we took off our shoes and sighed the biggest relief! Trust me! The picture below is how we felt after those “contraptions” called heels came off!

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But it did not stop there for me. I was swollen from the feet up to the knees. My feet were as red as fire and the neuropathy felt like shocks and this set off the fibromyalgia. I thought to myself, “WTH! I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS BAD!” But like I mentioned to you before, this disease is very unpredictable. I did not feel my bones hurting, but I figure they would be tomorrow. I could hardly walk on my feet and I had my plush house shoes with me. They only helped a little this time because the reaction was UNPREDICTABLE! I applied the pain cream and NOTHING! NO RELIEF!

 

 

I was like OMG and then I was like Dear God, please let this ease up. I tried to sleep and I could not. Below is a picture of the next evening (note I did well all the next day with my sneakers on), when we were going out again but decided on a fancy dinner instead. This is the results with flat shoes which is what they looked liked the night I took off my heels. I was in so much pain and discomfort that night I wasn’t thinking about anymore photos lol! But no lol! The only difference is the pain was minimum but the swelling was MAX. And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t in these shoes but a couple of hours. My feet were like, “No ma’am! Not again!”

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So, what did I do the night I had on heels and the pain was off the charts. I GOOGLED what to naturally do to ease neuropathy, fibromyalgia, RA. I read until I found something I could do. And here is what I will always want in a hotel from here on out. A good CLEAN (I am so OCD about bathrooms and what they look like) tub I can soak in AND once I get to my destination buy some Epsom Salt! This is my new thing to do or find a small pack if I am flying, to bring with me. Add that to the list. Thank GOD the Luxor Hotel in Vegas had a soakers tub! I filled it up with hot water, grabbed my phone and started a guided meditation session on chronic pain with my Inside Timer App, and soaked for about 20 minutes. I felt 50% better. If I would have had some Epsom Salt, I would probably have been at 75%. I was able to feel the difference and fall asleep.

The meditation app helped because I was in BIG pain and feeling so anxious, defeated, a bit jilted, and was slipping into a “Wish I never had this stupid disease rant” and I miss my old self. The meditation helped bring my emotions down and helped clear my mind and bring focus. Here I was finding the best solution to my problem at the moment.

I wish I could tell you that I won’t do that again. But, I don’t want to lie to you. Vegas is my YOLO ZEN place and it’s only once a year. I don’t how long I will be able to travel because of RA and it’s complications. I can tell you that I will bring a purse big enough for my foldable flats!!! I didn’t think I would need them because where we were going was close to the hotel. I did not factor in how much dancing I would be doing. Oh well, you live, you learn , you survive another day.

I had other pain in Vegas because of the walking. It’s like I said, this is not something I do every day and it’s expected when I travel. In the RA group many had to stop traveling or keep it to a minimum. I think I am midway at 43 with traveling. I have a few places I would like to see and hope I don’t ever have to give traveling up completely.

~Nikki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: What You Have Need Of

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You’ve been blessed with an inheritance, a lump sum of money, you won the lottery, or you have a good job or career and have managed to put away for retirement. Yet, you worry from time to time or constantly about the future and if you will have enough. Maybe, you are young or old, have a large family or a single parent, and you are doing the best you can. Let me tell you briefly, about my situation.

I am in my early 40’s, approaching my middle 40’s ha! (No, I don’t look it and thank you!) Well, I happen to become ill, could no longer work, blew through my savings to survive and raise a daughter that will be graduating from high school next year. I found myself in the disability process for three grueling years. I won my case. And I thought it would be a sigh of relief and it was. However, like any person that has to start from a setback, start from rock bottom, I worry. But and on my anxiety and man, it takes on a whole other form or worrying. How can I make it off this? What will I do when the surplus runs out? Will my other dreams ever take off so that I don’t have to be on disability? What happens in 3 years when I go for a review? What if they say I am okay and I don’t need it? What kind of job will I be able to do at 46 with my illnesses? Will I ever get the home I want? You see where I am going and then loop that in your head all day. That is anxiety. Go to bed and wake up thinking about the same thing.

This morning I heard this in my spirit, “There is no sense in worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own. You can’t add one day to your life by worrying.”

And then I thought, but don’t you have to plan for the future?

Spirit:”Be wise like the ants. But they don’t worry. And consider the birds in the air, the are fed everyday. The flowers are clothed and they don’t worry.”

Me: “But, what about my dreams, and goal, and plans, and life? What about that abundance? What about prospering? I don’t want to struggle until I die!”

Spirit: “God knows the plans created for you. God knew you before you existed in the womb. God molded and shaped you. You are carefully, and wonderfully me. The Creators plans for you are to prosper and to be in good health. You have choices. Choose life. Choose the things that will better you. Go for it. Do it. Be wise. Use knowledge. And God  knows the number of hairs on your head. Not one falls without his (her) knowledge.”

Me: Let me blog this and hope it helps someone else.

God, the Creator, the Universe, knows what you have need of. God’s plans are always for you to triumph, be at peace, be in good health, and to prosper. But you do have to do your part and if you’re doing your part, researching your part, then do not worry. God will do the rest. The Universe is working for you, always and never against you.

~Nikki

RA BLOG: Crochet One

What have I been up to? I taught myself to crochet a few months ago. I really enjoy doing it and it may take me longer to complete a project because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. The good thing about this is that I can take my time and go as slow as I want. I can work on something when I feel like. I can do a little at a time and I sometimes I wear my braces for my carpal tunnel or my compression gloves. It’s difficult to work with those on but, it helps the pain and I do sleep in braces. Anyways, I just want those of you who have may issues with your health to be encouraged and to try the things you thought you would never be able to do. I am not a clock and I can rest my hands or go days without crocheting. Here are few things I have made. Oh and that’s my beautiful cousin modeling!

 

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Super Infinity Scarf

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A Peaceful Saturday: Do Not Disturb

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It’s a chilly Saturday morning here in Memphis. Most of the snow has melted and patches of ice are still hanging on for dear life. It’s partly cloudy and my daughter is at her dad’s for the weekend. It’s a quiet morning for the most part and I don’t want to be troubled about anyone’s troubles today. I have had a very long and painful week that started last Sunday. I had oral surgery Monday. Tuesday the neighbors pipes busted…and wait…I don’t want to go on about this week. However, I did just get off the the phone with a person, whom name is being withheld to protect the guilty, on how they have these mountains of a problems today (two), which has greatly (not even barely) inconvenienced them. I just held the phone. Solved one of their “problems” by asking a simple question and listen to them solve the other. You know, before coffee I just don’t want an earful of woes.

At some point of a roller coaster week you have to get off. You have to carve out not just a moment, a minute, but an entire day. 24 hours of leave me alone. 24 hours of this is how the day will go. 24 hours of I can’t help you. 24 hours of I am closed. 24 hours of, sorry, that’s going to rush me, put me in a bind, throw my entire day off. 24 hours of I see your text, message, but I am not answering. I don’t want to think. I want to be quiet. I want to clean. I want to create. I want to eat good food. I want to binge watch. I want to listen to good music. A Do Not Disturb: It’s My Saturday.

RA BLOG: Bad Blood

It started as a good day yesterday. Even though, it was raining cats and dogs. I managed to take care of a few errands. I started to feel my energy wann around 3:30 P.M. I was going to go home and take a nap before a birthday dinner of a friend. Well, when I got up I felt my shoulder ache. No time for this. I took a shower and asked my daughter to put some cream on it (it’s like a icy hot) because I did not want to take pain medication. It wasn’t 5 minutes after she put it on I began to itch like crazy…all over my back and face. I knew I was having an allergic reaction and it was possibly setting off an itching flare (unexplained undiagnosed flare the doctors can’t determine why or cause). So, I took my last Benadryl and a Fantominide cocktail which calms itching fast (learned that from a nurse in the E.R. when it happened the first time). I had to cancel my plans to go out…so much for margaritas!!! But then around 11:00 P.M. I started itching again…and I had to throw on clothes, make a mad dash to the grocery in rain to get more Benadryl because I was out! My parents are aging, my brother was at work, and other siblings are older than I am blah blah blah…I was on my own. I never want to bother anyone i.e. friends because they live too far and even if they live close…they don’t seem as if they want to be bothered if that makes sense. I’d much rather you bother me, than I bother you.

I made it home. Texted family I was ok. I woke up this morning, but could not get out of bed. Talk to Mom, didn’t tell her I couldn’t get up (didn’t want to worry her=she’ll call everybody-everybody will call me-I don’t want to talk). I got up to shower and discovered my shoulder still hurts, including, hip and knee. I make it out the shower, to the kitchen, put breakfast on at 10:15 and soon realize, I can’t stand long so I push it and sit. And write to you…

I spent money for a very famous fashion show today because fashion is my first love. I did not have money for the all day events and I don’t think I would have lasted anyway. But, to now think I may not even be able to make it to this world renown fashion show is gut wrenching. It is this very moment, well, all night really, I wonder if I can do it. If I can still pursue fashion with this evil disease and at my age of 42. I think about giving up. I think of all the problems that would come with it. I think…if only I was not deterred at a young age to NOT pursue fashion, I would already be doing it and perhaps well established. I know I have the gift. I may not know #@$% else about myself, but I do know that. That is the one thing I have always been confident in and comfortable with.

Getting dressed, doing my natural hair, painting my nails, wearing heels, forcing myself to walk straight, walking a long distance…

For the first time I contemplate if I am in over my head trying to reach for a dream that will not die…

~Nikki