Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have you had your cards read?

Have you ever had your tarot read? 

My husband and I got the mystic itch and paid twenty bucks to attend a psychic fair a few weeks ago. Mr. Sunshine and I were ushered to a small roped-off area of the room hosting a dozen or so adults at little card tables. Each psychic had her own special ability. One woman twitched as she whispered to the dead over her shoulder. A scarred man scattered runes across his table. I limped over to my psychic who looked like a retired elementary school teacher in her pumpkin-print blouse and gold coin earrings.

The first words out of her pink-slicked mouth, "you're getting your master's degree."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Still Here

I'm here. Still breathing. Alive, and feeling a bit better, and perhaps a little guilty for it. Seems silly to feel that way, I should be celebrating I don't have to crawl to the bathroom in the morning. The truth is, I am starting to have more moments where I forget about rheumatoid arthritis. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Curiosity Killed the Cat: Painful Questions

I have always been fascinated by anatomy. In high school A & P we learned about body systems, the way biological creatures are constructed, their parts fitting together in an impossible and organic puzzle. We dissected numerous critters, labeling and memorizing organs, muscles, joints, and veins.  I'd often look at my end-of-the-course subject (a large tom cat) and wonder about where the biological supply company got him, was he euthanized properly, did he feel pain?  I wondered if animals feel pain the way we do. I'd had enough brushes with injury, a massive surgery for a destroyed knee, to know what terrible pain felt like. 

Until RA schooled me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't Ask This Question

"Can I pimp out your cane?" The familiar question is posed by a 9-year-old. 


 It isn't just a youthful wish. People are predictable in their desire to improve my cane's appearance. The building assistant wants to paint it, an aunt wants to bejewel it, a friend wants to crochet a sleeve for it; like a giant furry condom for an incredibly long, hard, and thin appendage.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Secret to Curing Your Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul...

What we wouldn't do for a magic bullet, the newest pill or folk remedy to cure the aches, pains, and stress brought on by a disease we didn't choose for ourselves, and wouldn't wish on our worst enemies.

Who hasn't had some well-intentioned individual share Granny's recipe for Gin-Soaked Golden Raisins, (Oprah's buddy, Dr. Oz swears they cut the inflammation and pain) peeled raw potato juice, or cod-liver oil and oranges? "My aunt's friend's bruncle had RA, and he drank a gallon of cod-liver oil before bed each night for a year, and now he's cured!" 

Monday, July 18, 2011

6 Little Joys

As I've accepted my diagnosis, I've begun to appreciate the little moments that reside inside the stillness of the day (they come in surprisingly filling slivers). Sampling the wee caloric morsels can nourish you as your moods ebb and flow. 

Here are my snacks from the last two days:

1) Getting soaked in the rain by choice.
2) Narrating a nighttime Wal-Mart shopping spree with my husband like we were Ice Road Truckers.
3) Feeling a book in my hand in the whirlpool tub.
4) Enjoying the view from the dentist's office. Really.
5) Reciting high school poetry about abandoned Happy Meals .
6) Laughing at my mom's feet

I feel all these tiny joys blooming under my feet, little forget-me-nots, a soft carpet to cushion my aching soles.

What little moments do you enjoy?

The Game You Will Always Lose: Part 2

It's time for our players to reveal their cards:

*For more than one of the women, insurance coverage proved to be a huge obstacle.
* Many struggled with keeping a realistically positive attitude.
*One woman smoked cigarettes. 
 *Two had unsupportive families.
 *One had to work two jobs.
 *One woman was abandoned by her husband.
* One woman is married to a rheumatologist.
*Toss is some variables from your own situation.

Just who has the winning hand in this comparison game?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Game You Will Always Lose

Welcome to the Casino of Chronic Illness!
Comparisons are a natural human tendency. We all want to know how we measure up to the next guy. They also help us make sense of our world; which coffee is best, your favorite wine, how you spend your free time. However, there are two sides to the comparison coin. Flip it in chronic illness' casino and you'll win some, and absolutely bust others.

Are you ready to play the comparison game?

Saturday, July 16, 2011


This isn't advice about reframing your diagnosis so it seems less shitty.   

This is about you accepting the fact you have a chronic illness.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Be a Warrior!

If you haven't seen Kelly Young's fierce website, you're missing a wealth of medical and research information regarding rheumatoid arthritis. Her most recent post asks for YOUR help. The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation is conducting its first patient survey to isolate our wants and needs as we battle this illness. Visit Kelly's website to share your experience.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Losses: 4

February lost me in a fog. My emotional roulette wheel was spinning, and its favorite emotion was denial.
"Oh goody, you have more unsolicited advice for me? Great. I'm going to go crawl under this rock over here."
"Another book, website? Awesome, I love being terrified. I'll just lose that sticky note. Now please excuse me while I go back to my hidey hole." 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Losses: 3

I met her when I was  eight years old. She was tall, dark, beautiful, and her voice could have passed for RuPaul's. I loved it when she said my name. She consistently mispronounced it, and I never corrected her. That may be because she initially terrified me; but spending ten years with someone can change that.

The Losses: 2, part II

Christmas and New Year's gifted me with increasing pain and fatigue. It was  my first Christmas away from my family with my mother-in-law and her husband in rural Virginia. The drive south was treacherous, even for northerners. We wound through mountains at 2:00 AM navigating an ice storm in a tiny Ford sedan. I would doze off, trying to ignore the screaming pain in my knees, jolting awake as we slid through switchback after switchback. The edge of the narrow road loomed over a pit of black, white trails of snow blasted ghostlike across the car's face. I was terrified of the incline, the jolting wind, of being lost to the dark, victims of the storm. We were going to die.

The Losses: 2

Say good morning to your new life.
This story can't be told quickly. It isn't defined in a flash like my miscarriage. This was longer, a trial of endurance. It started as my miscarriage ended. I woke up bathed in sunshine, on vacation, and unable to move my arms above my head. A snapping rubber band feeling kept me from moving them too far in any direction from my body. It was always in those early sunny moments, and then the sharp pain subsided as the day went on.

The Losses: 1

Not all journeys begin expectedly.

I knew it was bad in the first seconds I laid eyes on it. There was nofetal pole, no heartbeat. Nothing. A shock clenched my stomach. I was supposed to be at 10 weeks...the little one hadn't even survived past the first month. My body was clinging to the fertilized egg desperately, trying to imbue life into something that was never meant to be