Stress and Autoimmune Flares

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We’ve all heard about the link between stress and flare with autoimmune issues. I can personally attest to getting more frequent flares when I’m stressed, but how do you combat stress? I mean, we all have it. Life is messy. Many of us have families. Marriages are hard. Money issues. Family issues. Being stresses about your autoimmune issues… There is stress everywhere.

So how do you avoid it? I’ve made no secret that I’ve tried essential oils and I think I’ve found some relief in them. I won’t push one company over another, especially when I only diffuse them and like the scent. There are some really nice blends out there that just plain make me feel good.

There’s also a hot bath. Some people like exercise. I recently started walking 5-6 nights a week on a new paved walkway in our town that’s about 4 miles. In all honesty I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a friend that I go with and keeps me on track. Some nights I don’t feel like it and I get the text saying “7pm?” and I feel the guilt. But, I also do feel somewhat better afterward.

The problem with exercise, as anyone with fibromyalgia or RA can tell you is it’s damn hard when you’re hurting. My first three days of walking were horrendous. I didn’t feel like I could make it back the first night, and when I got home I was walking like a 90 year old person. It wasn’t pretty.

It has gotten easier now that I’m almost 3 weeks in (and I haven’t lost a damn pound but that’s a whole other discussion). But, there are days when it’s really hard to talk myself into going when I’m sore from fibro or my joints are stiff or swollen from RA.

I had the fabulous idea to race my 10 year old one evening and about 20 strides in I felt a stabbing pain in my hip so bad that I thought I was going to fall on the ground. I’m not even sure what happened but that took almost a month to feel better. It sucks to realize I can’t do stupid things like run with my daughter without completely hurting myself, but I’m managing to walk.

My other remedy is one that people in my life don’t approve of…Xanax. But since last summer I’ve suffered from terrible anxiety. I don’t always know why it hits or if it’s something in particular that brings it on. I mean, I’m sure it’s stress, but there isn’t always a specific reason. I’m not embarrassed to say I need to use Xanax to help when it gets bad.

If anyone can figure out how to be completely less free so they can have less flares, can they clue me in on their secret? I have yet to figure it out even with everything I’m currently trying.

 

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Irrational Fear

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I don’t know whether it’s listening to all the news stories or terrorism, hate, and violence, but I’m becoming more and fearful of even normal things. I’m not sure it’s at the “I need a psychiatrist STAT” mode, but it’s enough that I check in with my kids a lot, I look around nervously when we’re in a crowd, and I lie in bed at need creating terrible scenarios in my head.

I guess I’m wondering how many people are dealing with similar issues. I don’t think I’m alone. These are scary times. I don’t want to get into a political debate but the current turmoil in our country is not helping.

If you take one look at Facebook you’ll scroll past people bashing President Trump followed by people saying horrendous things about “Libtards.” I’m wondering where we want wrong that the two sides are so far apart that we don’t even listen anymore.

I’m of the believe that 15% of the people on each side are extreme and the other 70% of us fall somewhere in the middle. While we may not agree or like Trump, we’re not pretending he isn’t president. Or while we may have strong beliefs about abortion, that doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground on other issues.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing any of that at all. There’s not much in between, even at a local level. I have previously discussed the nightmare of politics in my small town. I won’t rehash it all as it’s been two years but when I attended a meeting this past week and realized things haven’t changed all that much.If thing scan’t change in a small town with so many people working for the betterment of schools and the community, how can we do it on a larger scale in the country?

But it’s not just politics that are causing my fear. I’ll be driving down the road and fear one of my cats got out and eaten by a bobcat. Or I get a strong feeling on our boat that it’s going to crash.

At the moment, I’m not stopping myself from doing things, but I’m also pretty okay staying home if I don’t need to go anywhere. I guess one could say these are irrational fears, but then I start to think, are they? There are people murdered every day. There is human trafficking, kidnapping, and so many other horrifying things going on and I’m here in my bubble.

I know enough psychology to know that my fears stem from losing people I love early in life and then again when I was a grown up. I’m afraid that something will happen to my kids and I won’t be there to protect them. How do you balance letting them grow up and holding on for dear life.

My kids are my everything. They are three very different little (not so little) human beings. My son is starting high school and I keep thinking I only have 4 more years with him at home. I’m NOT ready!

I’m not going to be a good empty-nester. I’ll be one of those women with 30 cats an a few dogs. I need to mother something! In the meantime, I need to find a way to push back the irrational (or even rational) fears standing in my way. I’m not afraid to say I’m scared. I just need to figure out some sort of plan of action (other than Xanax) when I’m a mess.

I’ll work on that. If you have better ideas, I’m happy to hear them!

Ending a Migraine

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As per my usual M.O., I got a horrendous migraine after I calmed down about my dad. When I saw him on Wednesday, he looked so good and all my stress seemed to fade. It was about 7pm and I was watching a show with my daughter when I lost my vision in one eye.

This one came on fierce. I took migraine meds and muscle relaxers. I used ice and had my TENS unit going trying to loose up the tight bands in my neck. It was one of the worst I’ve had in a while.

I slept a lot yesterday so I would feel well enough to go out to dinner for my daughter’s birthday. She had a wonderful birthday and was thrilled with her presents and going out to eat. She got a lot of presents, which is unusual for us for a birthday, but most of the things she wanted were tiny. Anyway, she was thrilled.

In stead of telling you how much I binged today and strayed from my diet, I thought I’d discuss Kanye West. What was he thinking? My guess would be that he doesn’t think anyone other than he or Beyonce deserve awards. Now I won’t sit here and say I’m familiar with any of Beck’s music, other than the Loser song from a while back, but he played 14 instruments on his album. He also wrote all his songs.

To insult him for winning album of the year was just plain wrong. I got jumped on when I posted that I thought he was racist on my Facebook page. Yes, I’m well aware that he married a white woman, but I can’t stand the way he talks about other artists. He just a very odd dude.

There is also the Brian Williams fiasco with his lies about being shot down in Iraq. I was disappointed because I like Brian Williams. It’s like that story that keeps growing and growing each time it was told. He got so much attention from it, the lie took on a mind of it’s own. I give him credit for explaining it and I do hope that people forgive the mistake and move forward.

I am still searching for a puppy. Actually I found one, but the shelter hasn’t gotten back to me. I fond a few puppies that were for sale that were so adorable, but I really prefer to adopt. We’ll see what happens. I’m thinking maybe that would make my birthday more tolerable this year since I’ve been dreading turning 43, the age my mother died.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we are getting yet another snow storm. I’m praying it ends early on Sunday because my daughter’s birthday is at 2pm. I was so stressed that no one could come, but now she has about 5 friends and her cousins, and of course her brother and sister.

I’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day person.  I once had a boyfriend that showed up at my work with roses and chocolates out of the blue…we had just started seeing each other. Then I went back to his place to get dressed to go out to dinner and he had more flowers there, perfume, and some lingerie. That’s about the most romance I’ve ever had. It was a complete shock and I guess that’s why I liked it so much.

Since there will be a snow storm and it’s going to be like 0 degrees out, we’re going to have dinner at home with the kids. I need to go on Pinterest and find something to make.

 

 

 

 

Migraine, Angry, and Tired of the Wizard

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It’s probably not a good mom thing to say, but I’m a little bit tired of the Wizard of Oz at the moment. I’m glad we have three days off. I watched the whole show again tonight and I came home with a migraine, complete with auras and shooting light issues. I’m going to be upfront and say I just took an Ambien, so I have about 10 minutes to write a halfway decent blog before I lost all sense of reality.

I have written two blogs and not published them over the past two days. Yesterday’s blog was a complete angry overshare. I’m pissed at my husband. The problem is not only am I pissed at him for crap he’s doing now, I’m pissed at him for something he did 7 years ago and I realized that I just can’t let it go. That’s not good or healthy. It’s not that it’s something on my mind 24/7, but when we sat down to talk about why I feel like I’m last on his list behind his mom, sisters, work, etc. and I started to give examples it just hit me. There was no greater example and perhaps that’s something that I just can’t forgive.

I was hesitant about writing about it, even in an anonymous blog because it’s an issue I don’t discuss much; not with friends or family. I have a few select friends who know the story, but most know bits and pieces that I’ve allowed them to know. I always say I’m not a people person and I get mocked for that because I come across friendly and nice. It’s not that I’m not nice, it’s more that I don’t know how to let people in or let them get to know me. I’m not special or cool, and I certainly wouldn’t let most people see my pain. But then today I thought it might be therapeutic in some ways to write it, so I will. If I regret it tomorrow…I’ll just never discuss this blog post again and we can’t forget it ever happened.

I had a terrible time getting pregnant. I had several miscarriages before I eventually found a fertility specialist that allowed me to tell him what I wanted to do to get pregnant. I was a crazy person…a true maniac on the subject. I researched everything to the point that I couldn’t stop. I knew so much that when we met with the new reproductive endocrinologist and I discussed everything with him, he asked me what type of physician I was. My husband nearly burst out laughing.

Anyway, my new doctor was wonderful and I had three successful pregnancies on the first try each time I tried with him. When we tried for the third baby, however, things didn’t go smooth. Well, I had horrid pregnancies with hyperemesis and IVs at home, but that’s a story for another day. My third pregnancy was a triplet pregnancy. When you hear you are pregnant with triplets and you have a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old at home, I can assure you the reaction is not one of joy…it’s terror.

We lost one baby very early on, and came to terms with the fact that we were going to have four children under the age of 4. I was a mess. I was scared. I’m 5-feet-tall and at the time I weighed about 105. I was already high risk because of the hyperemesis, but now I was in a whole new category of high risk. They were worried I wouldn’t physically be able to carry the babies to term and would need bed rest, but whatever, I’d do what I need to do.

At 16 weeks I went for an ultrasound and one of the babies had died. I don’t remember the details of that day very well. I insisted on going in to work and didn’t discuss it with anyone there. In fact, I didn’t tell them for about a week, and when I did I just blurted it out because I didn’t know how to tell them. There were so many things that happened all at once but the main concern was for the baby that was still alive. It was looking like she had severe issues. They did a higher level ultrasound and diagnosed her with clubbed feet. I was told that a lot of people in the past chose to abort babies with clubbed feet because of potential other issues. I’ll never forget that sentence as long as I live.

Because I’m a maniac, I then researched every possible thing on clubbed feet. I knew what kind of treatment my daughter would have and that it needed to begin within three days of birth. It involved full leg casting that changed weekly and then bracing for years. I was prepared.

I gave birth to my baby on February 12, 2007 and I was afraid to look at her at first. There’s that innate fear of, “omg, what if it’s so bad they can’t fix it.” I didn’t look. I let her latch on and breast feed and I snuggled her tight and promised her I’d never let her go and I’d never let anything bad happen to her. From that moment on, I became the most protective mom you’ve ever seen. I’m an overprotective mom in general, but I can’t even put into words what it felt like. I just knew I had to protect her from the world.

She got cast on a three days old and we were told that her feet and legs “weren’t that bad.” I forgot to mention that my sister-in-law (husband’s sister) and I were due 7 days apart. She had an easy pregnancy. So there I was with my three week old baby in casts (she was born 5 weeks early) and I felt something happening to me. I had intense cramping like labor. Minutes later, I passed a large mass of tissue. When I looked closer (as gross as that sounds) I could see that it was the remains of a partially formed baby. It was small, very small…maybe 4 inches. I called the doctor and they told me to bring it in to the ER to be analyzed to be sure, but why? What for?

So that brings me to the part of the story where I get mad at my husband. About an hour before that happened we got the call that his sister was in labor. His family does everything together. The fact that I wanted no one at the hospital until after the baby was born was almost world ending for them. They called the house and wanted my husband to come to the hospital. It didn’t matter that we had two toddlers and a newborn. But then this happened. And he still went…

And I don’t forgive for that. I’m not looking for anyone to make any nasty comments about him please. I actually do really care for him. We had a long talk today and I really went off about this. He said that he’s apologized a million times, but to be honest I think today was the first time he’s apologized and said if he had to do it again he would never have made that choice again. But it is done and I can’t let it go. And that’s when things fell apart because nothing anyone can say or do will ever convince me that I’m more of a priority that his family. If I wasn’t a priority on one of the hardest days of my life, I never will be.

Ok, well this blog is a complete downer and I really try not to do that, but if you’re still reading it, thank you for letting me ramble this out. Sometimes you just need to get your feelings out, and for me, this isn’t a story that I tell, and it certainly isn’t an easy one, so thank you for listening.

On a MUCH lighter note. The Breakfast Club is on tv and I haven’t seen this movie in YEARS. What a great movie. You young people that haven’t seen it need to watch it! I remember when this came out, and it’s still hilarious. I got talked into watching The Notebook last night. I’m not much of a movie person, but it was sweet. I’m not sure what all the hype was about, but it was a sweet story. I might try and read the book in all my spare time now that my son is starting football practice. Oh yes Monday through Thursday 5:30-8:30, because I have nothing else to do!

At least for the first few weeks it’s at the high school and I can walk the track. Maybe I’ll lose more weight.

It’s a Two Xanax Kind of Night

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I’m having a panic attack. It could be a multitude of things that set it off, but it’s been bad for the last hour so I just took Xanax number two (totaling 1mg) and hopefully I’ll relax sometime soon. For the most part today was uneventful. I was able to thoroughly clean my kitchen, even getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floor (it was pretty gross down there).

My son had a baseball game tonight, and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how I dread those. I try and support anything and everything my kids do, but lately baseball has been nothing but a downer and causing stress for my son (and for me). He hasn’t had one hit in this travel league. I will add in there that for the most part he gets walked. The pitchers have trouble adjusting pitches to his size in our batting order.  We have our tallest player hitting right before him, and my son is the smallest kid on the team. I’m not saying he hasn’t struck out, too–oh he has–but, more often than not, he gets on base with a walk.

As a mom, I’m happy he’s not out. As a kid, the poor guy just wants to hit the damn ball. He had some really great hits during our Park & Rec season and his confidence was up, but he hasn’t had a hit in this travel season and he’s beating himself up. So I see him walking up to bat. There are two outs, and of course, as any good mother does, I cringe and begin praying.

The pitch is right to him and I’m see him swing. Much to my surprise (and everyone else’s) he hits the ball and starts running. Now I’m praying that he makes it to first base. In the meantime two other kids score runs as my son runs in what seems like slow motion toward first base. He gets there just as the first baseman gets the ball, but luckily the kid dropped it. As I’m thanking God for the kid’s error, I see my son’s coach start yelling at him for not running straight through the base. He hesitated when he saw the kid had the ball. The kid hasn’t had one hit all season. You can’t let him have one freakin moment?

I sat there pissed off, but they played long enough in that inning for my son to score, so I was happy and he looked happy. They were winning 13-3 when he was up again, and as luck would have it, lightning struck and they had to end the game. When we got home (we had taken separate cars) I congratulated him on the hit and he said, “It wasn’t…” oh crap I don’t remember what kind of hit he said it wasn’t. I’m not a baseball person. In other words, it wasn’t a good enough hit. It wasn’t a hard enough hit. He waited for this moment, and it wasn’t good enough. I hate his coach tonight.

Then I felt stressed because my cousin sent me a Facebook message asking why I didn’t bring the kids over to see her puppy as we had talked about prior to our fight when she said I betrayed her at cut me out of her life. I thought about my response for a good 40 minutes and I think that’s what caused the panic. I hate drama. I wrote back that she should re-read her instant messages from the other night that decide whether or not she’d feel welcome. Then I mentioned that I did not have time to discuss it further. She wrote back that she was sorry.

DRAMA!!! Anyway, we’ve been having these storms every single night and I really believe they are messing with my RA and fibro. Tonight I am fighting a migraine, and I am still dealing with the intense pain in my hip and low back. I also have a lot of tightness through my neck. I took some Alleve, but it didn’t seem to do much of anything. When I’m finished with tonight’s blog, I’m going to get my ice packs and turn off all the lights to hopefully get some sleep.

I’m not sure why but my insomnia has been really bad this week. I haven’t fallen asleep before 2:00AM in the past 4 nights. Last night I was up playing online Yahtzee (Dice with Friends) with random people at 3:00AM. You know you’re really bored when you’re trying to get people to play Yahtzee with you in the middle of the night.

And my random outburst of the night: What is up with so many people leaving their babies in cars? Yesterday another child died in a hot car and this time it was only two towns over from me. The father worked all day and didn’t realize he forgot to drop his son off at daycare. Now, let me first say that people who live in glass houses should never throw stones. When that first case came out a few weeks ago, I was so upset and I tried to put myself in that father’s shoes. Maybe he didn’t usually drop the child at daycare? Maybe the child was sound asleep and not making noise? Maybe the father was so stressed with things he was frazzled and now would spend the rest of his life paying for this horrific mistake?

Then the reports came out that the dad was researching how long it would take for a dog to die in a hot car, and how long it would take for a child to die in a hot car. Then there were reports that he was sexting while the poor baby was in the hot car. The very man that I was doing my best to try and show a shred of compassion for, even in all his stupidity, was a horrid man. So now I’m jaded. I’m asking how this father in Ridgefield, CT worked a full work day and didn’t once think of his son. Not once did his mind wander to what his son might be doing at daycare that day.

How? How does a parent not think of their child all day? How does that happen? Why does someone need to leave a shoe in the back seat of their car to remind them that their child is there? I talked to my kids in the car. I’m a stressed, frazzled, forgetful mom. I forget appointments, paperwork, dinner. I never forget my kids. All I’m saying is I don’t understand. I now find myself looking in every car in every parking lot. Why is this happening so often? I don’t get it.

It’s a Rheumatoid Kind of Day

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My day didn’t start out too bad. I didn’t wake up with too much pain, but gradually as my day went on, I got slower and slower. I had big plans to clean today. I got some of it done, but most of my plans were thwarted by increasing stiffness. My lower back just tightened up and my hips and legs followed along.

I haven’t had a day where I wanted to use my new cane yet, but today came very close. If tomorrow is more of the same, it might be the big day that I break in the flamingo cane when I have to take the girls to musical theater camp. Musical theater camp! I’m laughing even as I type that. Where do they come up with this crap?

When I was a kid they just had camp. There was no theater camp or football camp, or Minecraft camp. I don’t know, maybe there were specialty camps and we just didn’t do them. My mom was a teacher so she was home all summer. We didn’t really do camp. I never had an interest. I wanted to play with my friends.

This will be the first time my girls have ever done camp, but they are going together and it’s at their dance studio with their dance teacher, so the anxiety is non-existent. My son will do a golf camp later in the summer. He does that every year. He’s a darn good golfer. I’m trying to convince him to stop focusing on baseball and put all is focus into golf because he really has talent in that.

I’m sick of having to pray through baseball games that the ball doesn’t get hit to him, or that he hits the ball. It causes me so much stress, I can’t even tell you. He practices so hard, and he really has improved this year. He hits the ball pretty well. But, he’s not the strongest player on his team and his “friends” don’t let him forget that.

My thought is, he’s really good at golf. Put all your energy into that and kick some ass in that in a few years when school has a golf team. Guess what? No one is going to be playing football when they are 40, but people are still going to be playing golf. That means nothing to a ten year old.

I mentioned yesterday that we lost two people in a very short period of time. As luck would have it, their services are at the same times on the same days. I am going to go to both wakes, and I am unable to go to the funerals. It’s just as well. I don’t do well at funerals. I get so emotional. I actually think the one for the little boy would be too much for me to take. I have to recognize my limits and the stress from that would send me into a flare.

I’d be surprised if the stress from everything doesn’t have something to do with the flare I seem to be having today. I don’t recall doing anything physical that would have caused this type of joint pain. The lower back stiffness is just so hard to explain. It feels like a bone pain and a muscle pull at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s the rheumatoid arthritis or the fibromyalgia.

I know the hip, knee, and feet pain are the RA, but the muscular pain through the top of my shoulders into my neck and on the inside of my knees has more to do with the fibro. At least those are common fibro trigger points. I’m hoping I feel well enough to get out and walk tomorrow, after I vacuum the house and force the kids to clean their rooms. We’ll see how it goes…one step at a time.

It seems like just when I have a period of feeling pretty darn good, then I have a day that reminds me I still have an autoimmune issue.