#HAWMC day 12: inspiration


via Maessive

This photo (which is not mine) stood out while I was somewhat mindlessly clicking through Flikr, looking for some inspiration. It feels and looks like something I’m not sure I even want (though I think I do) but that becomes so much more complicated when you have a chronic illness. (Can I hear a what, what, Lindsay, Laurie and Kerri?)


This photo shows such love between mother and child, such innocence as of yet unspoiled. It is beautiful and tender and vulnerable and personal. It speaks of something I’ve not yet experienced and maybe never will, but for a few moments, I can peek into the world of motherhood and get a glimpse at just why it is that having children is something that is assumed; people don’t often ask if you’re having children, they ask when. (Or at least they do to me!)

One day, it would be nice to experience such an easy, everyday event: bathing with baby. I know, of course, that it wouldn’t necessarily be so easy for me and that it’s not even as easy as it looks in the picture. A photograph is just a moment frozen in the present tense. That mother—whatever else may befall her—will always glow with pride when looking at her child. The baby will always be making that ridiculously adorable face.

Whatever other musings it may bring up in me—when/if to have a child, how many, our own or adopted—looking at that picture makes me smile. And, after long, 11-hour day at work while sick with the flu or a head cold or something else that lingers and makes it impossible to breathe, I could use something that reminds me that sometimes it’s important to stop and enjoy the little things that make us smile: a vase filled with purple and yellow irises, Remy curled up on my chest, the Professor (who also just went out and bought my tissues; that’s true love!).

epic oops

So, I had a bit of a problem last night. I decided to give myself my methotrexate injection in my tummy, to give my thighs a rest from the dual weekly injections.
And as I was getting to the halfway point with actually pushing it in, some squirted out around where the needle comes off an splattered all over my shirt, making it look like I peed on myself in some highly unlikely and acrobatic manner.
Here’s to the unintentional hilarity that comes with chronic illness.

drive away

I spent most of today—about 10 hours—in a van with my mum, husband, brother and his awesome girlfriend. I’m feeling a bit sore, but nothing too bad. It will be followed by another eight to ten hours in the van tomorrow, something that, despite how well I’ve been feeling lately, makes me really nervous. We’re driving to Ontario to see my dad’s side of the family, then after Christmas we’re going to head to Quebec to see my mum’s family before finally heading back home.

I am so thrilled to be able to go see my extended family; I haven’t seen most of them since either my wedding two years ago or Christmas two years ago—some of them even longer. And I am so thrilled that I am feeling better, that my family won’t see me the way I was three weeks ago: barely able to function. I’m so grateful for this chance to see them and to be able to fully experience and participate in everything that’s happening. I think that’s the best Christmas present I could have received.

you have to walk a mile in her shoes

One of my favourite pairs of shoes.

On my way home from work yesterday, I decided to stop at DSW for a little shoe shopping, ostensibly to pick up a pair of work-appropriate flats to continue babying my aching joints and muscles.

I wandered through the aisles, finding a few I liked. But by the time I hit the end of the women’s shoe section, most of the boxes I held in my arms contained pumps.

Oh, how I enjoyed trying them all on! I sashayed around the store in my favourites, feeling sexy and feminine and powerful in a way I haven’t in in a long time, since, well, since I was last able to wear heels comfortably.

Though there was one pair of shoes I especially loved and another I really struggled with leaving behind (I’ll take them in an 8.5, thanks!), I didn’t end up buying any. Even so, that experience was a boost I needed; though I may not be 100 percent ready yet, I’m closer to being able to wear heels full-time than I’ve been in a long time. And knowing that is worth more to me than any (extremely hot) Ann Marino pumps.

let’s hear those sleigh bells jingling


The Professor tying a jingle bell onto his shoelaces.

So, today was the big day: the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. Since it was held about 30 or so minutes from where we live, the Professor and I got up early to eat breakfast, have some tea, put on a bunch of layers and head out.

After we got there and grabbed our stuff, we tied on some jingle bells to our shoelaces (well, OK: He tied the bells on for both of us.) There were so many people there, all ready to walk or run in support of the Arthritis Foundation—and people like me.

Dogs weren’t allowed, and we were definitely a bit bummed about that; Otis and his adorable sweater would have had a blast. We did see a couple of dogs, so we may just have to sneak him in next year! (Probably not; I think I’m still too Canadian to break the rules that way. It would be rude.)

It was really amazing to see hundreds, thousands of people at the start/finish line. People were wearing all kinds of crazy outfits: reindeer antlers, candy-cane tights and even one guy dressed like Santa. (He was crazy; he ran in that red suit and black boots!)

Start/finish line

But there were tons and tons of people. They shut down a major street in the state capital, and Arthritis Foundation volunteers and police officers stood at the side streets, offering encouragement to those of us passing by.

The course was about a mile and a half in one direction before we did a u-turn and went back the way we came. I’d say maybe a quarter of the way in, I started feeling it. About half-way, my knees had had enough. Still, I managed to finish the whole 5 km, which was my goal. As a bonus, we didn’t come in last place! But heading in, I was OK with finishing last, as long as I finished.

It was lovely, spending part of my Saturday morning walking with the Professor for a cause that means so much to me. It was so important to me that I do this and that he match me step for step. There’s no one I would have rather done this with and very few in my life who would know how much the simple act of going for a walk would mean.

There have been days—and I’m sure there will be again—when simply getting out of bed was an epic struggle, days when buttoning a shirt reduced me to tears—days when it feels like my body has betrayed me. It was so important for me to push through all of that and walk 5 km, 3.1 miles, by just putting one foot in front of the other, over and over, until I was done. It was important to feel, if only for a few steps, how much my body still does for me, how much I can do.

It was a great day.

getting crafty

So, as I’ve written before, I’m doing the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis tomorrow. Since the theme is (clearly) jingle bells—we’re to tie them to our shoe laces and everything—I decided to stop at Michael’s and pick up so small jingle bells and beads and make some earrings with some of the leftover chain I had from making a skeleton key necklace. Though the bells weren’t as small as I’d hoped, it still looks very festive and fun, which is the idea.

I only wish there were more people on my team, so I would have a reason to make more than one pair! They were surprisingly easy (and they dress up my DIY earring holder very nicely), even with a hand that still refuses to grasp things or twist.

Regardless, I’m pretty excited about attempting walking 5K tomorrow and being a part of something so much bigger than I am. I’m glad the Professor will be there with me; I wish they would have let dogs go, too! We got Otis an adorable knit sweater, and he would have looked positively festive with his red sweater and green leash.

It’s got my really revved up for the Walk to Cure Psoriasis in April, which I will also be doing for the first time next year. It’s kind of funny; when I posted my first 30 things about my chronic illness during Invisible Illness Week, I never expected it would prompt me to become so much more involved with other spoonies: becoming a National Psoriasis Foundation mentor, blogging more openly about my illness, participating in this 5K and even getting interviewed for articles (which was weird for me, since I’m usually the one asking the questions, but that’s another post entirely). Just one little post brought so much change. I guess it’s really hit home what Gandhi said: We must become the change we want to see.

no place like home for the holidays

One of the houses I grew up in.

After we got married, the Professor and I set up an arrangement: One year, we’ll spend Christmas with his family, and the next year we’ll spend it with mine. Sure, there are some inequities; since we live near his family, we see them every  (American) Thanksgiving, and we never go up to see my relatives for (real Canadian) Thanksgiving.

This year, of course, is our year to go up to Canada to see my family, and for awhile, it looked like we might not be able to go. We can’t afford plane tickets (and I’m not really a fan of the TSA’s new full-body scanners or the groping new pat-down techniques), and there’s just no way I was going to be able to sit for 14 hours in our fuel efficient, yet incredibly uncomfortable Honda Civic.

Then, Mum and Dad came through for us: They’re going to rent one of those giant, 15-person vans, so I can have an entire seat to myself and lay down, to make the trek. Instead of our usual one-day, no stopping marathon sprint, we’ll make the drive up to my grandparents’ house in a leisurely two.  And $200 or so later (thanks, extra fees for applying for a U.S. passport for the first time!), I will (hopefully) be good to go. And, you know, come back.

I’m still a bit nervous, though. It will still be a long time in a vehicle for someone who gets stiff and painful after 30 minutes. It’s still going to be my dad behind the wheel, and I have horrendous memories of trips to Myrtle Beach when I was a small child and being unable to stop for pee breaks until my brother or I started crying. (Mum says he’s mellowed. I guess I’ll find out.) And, if I can’t get in to see my doctor in time, who knows where I’ll be pain-wise.

Even so, I’m super, ridiculously excited. I haven’t seen my dad’s family since Christmas 2008 and my mum’s family since before that. So, merry Christmas to me! Even if I end up stuck in bed for a week, it will still be worth it.

thinking about tomorrow won’t change how i feel today

One of the things I love most about the town in which I live is the chance to see tons of awesome bands for pretty cheap. Though I haven’t taken advantage of this as much as I’d like, I did get to see Matt & Kim (with rapper Donnis) earlier this week.

And let me tell you something: It. Was. Awesome.

I went with a friend of mine and, of course, we had to start the evening with some tasty frozen yoghurt—I opted for cheesecake, strawberry and chocolate fro-yo with sliced kiwi and bananas, M&Ms and three gummy worms. Delish.

Then, we headed over to the venue. Since it was sold out, there was zero parking close by, so we drove a few blocks away and hoofed it back. I won’t lie; I was more than slightly concerned about the amount of walking, but I told myself it would be fine.

We got in, got ourselves some drinks and found, to my dismay, at least, there was nowhere to sit. And so we stood, waiting for Donnis to start (and not expecting him to be a rapper, but we was pretty decent), through his set and through Matt & Kim’s. The duo was awesome, just Kim on drums and Matt on keyboards. Kim was ferocious, propelling the songs forward, and Matt just spit the words out with a confidence missing in their first effort.

After the set, my friend wanted to stick around to meet them, which we did. Matt was good-looking enough that pretty much every girl was hitting on him, giggling, touching their hair, flashing some cleavage. He does give pretty kick-butt hugs, though, and both of them stuck around until every fan who wanted a picture or an autograph or a quick chat was satisfied.

After all that, I didn’t get home until about 1 a.m., after standing on my feet for much longer than I would have liked. I could tell while I was standing there, rocking out, that I was going to pay for it later, and I have. I’m still sore enough that I would like nothing more than to filled my bathtub up with Icy Hot and just lay there for a while. Even so, it was totally worth it. I haven’t been to a show in a tiny, hole-in-the-wall club in so long, and I missed it.

I can only put off doing things I love for the sake of my health for so long before I start feeling like I’m missing out. Some days, even when I know I’m going to feel crappy after, I just have to do it anyway, to feel like a normal 26-year-old, if only for a night.

to brighten your day

My cat, Remy, has hit upon a new game she likes to play. After we shut her up in the office for the night (since she has a rather unhealthy tendency to chew on wires) but before we head into our room to go to sleep, she’ll stick her tail out under the door in the hopes that one of us (OK, me) will try to grab at it. When we (I) do, her little paws will shoot out and try to play with our hands.

It’s quite adorable, actually.

So, the other day, I decided to set my camera down while she was doing it, and this is the result. It certainly brightened my evening when I saw it. Hopefully, it will do the same for you.

going to the green side

I was thinking about all of the hullabaloo generated by self-avowed carnivore and psoriatic arthritis sufferer Phil Mickelson’s apparent change to a vegetarian diet to control his PsA and the inflammation it brings. Though there seems to be some debate over the validity of this, a few studies I found seem to have found a link between a vegetarian or vegan diet and reduced inflammation, like this one.

It got me thinking. When I was in high school and through part of university, I was a vegetarian — though I did still eat some dairy. This was after I was diagnosed with psoriasis, though the good doc never mentioned anything about it being an immunological disease. But within months after going back to eating meat (including rare steak: yum!), I developed psoriatic arthritis.

Now, I’m not trying to say steak caused my PsA. (Though, wouldn’t it be nice if getting rid of a chronic disease was as easy as saying good-bye to steak?) Still, I decided to give it a try again. Sure, it may not do much of anything for me, but, at this point, I’m willing to give almost anything a try.

To that end, I made a (modified) version of the grilled portobello tacos with salsa verde from Vegetarian Times. I had planned on making the salsa verde, but after a particularly terrible day at work (preceded by two 12-hour days), I decided to pick some up from Trader Joe’s instead. I also used the Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw instead of cabbage and I used whole grain tortillas instead of white flour ones. Oh, and I added a smidge of cheese.

It was awesome.

I should have added more salsa verde, but other than that it was really great. I am glad I still have all the ingredients, so I can make some later in the week, too.

If all my vegetarian endeavours are this tasty, I’ll be golden! Or, um, green.