back on the ‘roid train

Newseum, Pennsylvania Ave. entrance, in Washin...

Image via Wikipedia (I love the Newseum!)

My impending trip to D.C. has forced me to take a long, hard look at how I’ve been feeling lately. And, if I’m being completely honest, how I’ve been feeling lately would best be described with a shrug and a “meh.” So-so. Comme ci, comme ça. And so on.

As much as I’m looking forward to it—and I so am—I know it will take its toll; there’s the five-hour (or more, if we hit traffic) drive there and back home, the walking around seeing museums (and the Newseum!) and just taking in the sights, the meeting new people and learning new things. All in all, a mix of stressors good and bad.

So, I’ve taken (and will take) some proactive steps to ensure that I can enjoy the trip the fullest and still be functional when I get back home (and have to go back to work the next day). The conference doesn’t start until Sunday, but I took tomorrow and Friday off, too, so the Professor and I can make a leisurely drive up. We’re staying with friends the first few nights, which I find less stressful—and more homelike—than staying in a hotel. The Professor bought me a comfy seat cushion for the car since the 2006 Honda Civic is not the most comfortable vehicle for drives totally more than an hour.

And—the biggest step: I asked my awesome NP for a quick steroid taper, which I started today. I’m not thrilled to be taking it in addition to the triple therapy combo of methotrexate, Enbrel and Plaquenil (and an NSAID and a muscle relaxant and an opiate, if I wasn’t so sensitive to damn things), but I know trying to force my way through will only leave me feeling worse in the end. And—combined with the oppressive heat and humidity (seriously: how is 100 degrees with 90-plus percent humidity normal for the end of May and beginning of June?)—I know just how bad muddling through can make me feel. I’m not going there again if I can avoid it.

So, to anyone who encounters me over the next two weeks: I apologize in advance for any crabbiness, waspishness or general cantankerousness. It’s the ‘roids talking.

 

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why i don’t eat animals

Cover of "Eating Animals"

Cover of Eating Animals

For my long trip this past week, I knew I would need something to keep me entertained in the car. I love to read, but doing it in a vehicle usually ends in tears (or at least nausea) for me. I decided to give audio books a try, and so I downloaded “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (of “Everything Is Illuminated” fame) to my iPod.

“Eating Animals” is the story of Foer’s decision to delve into what exactly is it we’re eating when we pick up a pork chop or chicken nugget and pop it into our mouths, something that became important to him with the birth of his son. Though Foer is vegetarian, it’s not a book that tries to convince you that’s the only way to eat; instead, Foer discusses the horrors (and really, it’s awfully horrific) of factory farmed animals’ lives and deaths.

Before reading (or rather, listening to) this book, I was already a vegetarian. My reasons were mainly those of health: having psoriasis puts me at a higher risk of metabolic syndrome and, quite frankly, eating meat just made me feel bad and often triggered flares or mini-flares. It just wasn’t worth it to eat animals anymore.

After listening to this book, my decision to go veg is now also influenced for reasons of animal welfare, if not necessarily animal rights. The atrocities Foer mentions are unnecessary but an unsurprising by-product of a system (factory farming) that sees animals as dollar signs and workers as expendable.

I just don’t see the need to pay into that system, to give my farming proxy, as Foer put it, to some big corporation shoving antibiotics and God knows what else into these animals, keeping them as sick as possible because that maximizes profits.

So, now, my goal is to make sure none of my dollars go to factory farms: not for eggs or for dairy. In fact, I’m going to minimize my use of those two groups by either doing without or using substitutes. (If anyone knows of any good ones, please send them my way! I haven’t had much luck with dairy substitutes.)

Now, I’ve just got to convince the Professor to stop eating factory farmed meat and go with locally raised animals, and we’ll be all set. And if I could get people to stop accidentally feeding me animal products (I’m looking at you, quinoa cooked in beef bouillon) or telling me lobster/fish/poultry isn’t meat (duh, of course it is; those are all animals), then I’ll really be good to go.

So, if you’re interested in food, animal welfare or rights, public health, increases in autoimmune disorders, vegetarianism or you just eat meat, this is a must-read.

belly ache

A Westclox Big Ben Clock

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not often that after a rough day, I’m given exactly what I need to feel better. But let me rewind a bit. Monday night, before I went to sleep, instead of the muscle relaxant I take to help me sleep, I took half a pain pill (Darvocet, this time), hoping it would give me the pain relief without the side effects. Instead, I woke up Tuesday morning in an incredible amount of pain and stiffer than I am most mornings.I thought that would be the end of it, but I was wrong again.

About 10 hours in to what turned out to be a 15-hour day (9 a.m until 12 a.m.), the lightheaded-ness that had plagued me all day turned into nausea and then the, uh, natural outcome of nausea. I struggled through the next few hours and finally made it home around 12:40. When I finally fell asleep around 2 a.m., I was not looking forward to Wednesday. But, around 5:30 a.m., my husband woke me up because he had an awful migraine and wanted me to send out an e-mail to his students canceling class. After I did that, I e-mailed my big boss (the boss above my editor) to let him know I would not be in.

And then my husband and I slept until 12:30 p.m. and would have slept longer had I not needed to feed the cat and the dog.

It. Was. Awesome.

Even though I spent most of the rest of today trying to eat enough so that I didn’t feel nauseated but not so much that I threw it all back up (MAN, was I wishing for some ginger Gravol!), it was really nice to be able to spend a day with the mister and the “kids.”

So, thanks, incredible sensitivity to pain meds for giving me a day to hang out with my family.