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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

RA BLOG Week: RA/Rheumatoid Disease and Mental Health

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A Lot on Your Mind by Evan Sheline

If you get a cold or the flu, it’s okay because in a few days or a week, you will return to your healthy self. In those days, it will be physically and mentally draining. After all, no one enjoys being sick even if it for a week. Imagine the nightmare of becoming ill with something you can not get rid of. Imagine the pain comes in all variables to be described as nagging aches to excruciating to kill me now. You can’t do all of the things you use to do and what you can do has to be modified. How will you continue to survive and thrive in this world? How will you continue to provide for your family? Will you be able to do all of the things you planned? Will people think you are lazy or have given up if you can no longer work? What about your dreams? What about your goals? What is this new diagnosis? And another one and another one as a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. What the hell is happening here? Friendships and relationships change. Marriages change. You’re too young for this. You were thinking about enjoying your retirement…without pain. What do we do now? Why me? I am sick of hurting. Can I have a day of no pain???

The matters of the universe swirl in your head and the weight of the world is your shoulders. The impact of RA on your mental health can be devastating. It was for someone like me who was already an emotional human being who has lived through some very tragic moments. Now what? Another thing to hide. Another thing to deal with privately. I don’t want people to know I am depressed. I don’t want people to know I am anxious. I don’t want people to know I stand on the ledge of suicide. They will label me weak. And you don’t want to be labeled weak in the African American community. Or crazy. We associate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as “crazy.” Ah, the stigma.

What do I do? How do I deal with the mental impact of RA? I try to take it day by day. I put on my brave face and walked boldly into the psychiatrist’s office, the one that has a brown face like me, and I said “I am sinking. Drowning in this sea of emotions and pain. Help me.” And then we went to work. Because seeing a therapist is WORK. A good therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, knows the tools you need to cope with life’s tragedies. It does not, DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE WEAK, it means you are smart to seek help. And those who say you are “weak” or “crazy’ are the ones who are in need of help and don’t even know it. I use the tools my therapist gives me. Daily.

I practice yoga to help mind to focus on what is right in front of me.  It helps me to control my breathing. It helps me to control my thoughts. It helps to keep me in the now.

Meditation. Get you some. It helps me to see into myself. I can assess myself. I can create my future. I can pinpoint in my body my issues.

Prayer. It is my lifeline to my Source. It is how I talk to someone, when I can’t talk to anyone.

A personal relationship with the Creator (yes Source, yes God and not the God of this or that religion, but GOD). A deep, committed relationship, a bond, a sealed union. This relationship gives me strength. It empowers me. It serves me. It is my refuge. It is my stronghold. It is a friendship, a parental relationship, that has stood the test of time with unconditional love…mostly on God’s end. God has never wavered in love for me. Even as I tossed and rolled like a raging sea.

All of these things keep me grounded and honestly, above the ground.

~Nikki

#rablogweek2017

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RA BLOG: Just Not Tonight

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Sciatica nerve, joint pain, fibromyalgia and pinky finger falling asleep along the side of hand up to the elbow, makes for a “hades” of a night. I had to get up and get an ice pack for my back. I did get up and I made it to church. There were some hard hitting pains there, too and in RA Warrior fashion I answered “I’m fine.” The pain for me has been on off today but now it seems like I am going to have a fibro and RA flare. They both move around the body. So, as I prepare to wrap up my night and prepare for a bumpy ride, I hope you know that in those nights, midnights, early mornings, you are not alone in your suffering. Some warrior, of some illness is suffering, too. Someone is praying for the subsiding of pain, too. I pray for them, too.-Nikki