I just about an hour, I will officially be 27.

Somehow, 27 seems much, much older than did 26—it’s that much closer to 30 (which, thanks to Lindsay, I am totally looking forward to!)—but it’s not really.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year: I went from doing well to a crazy flare and back again; I went from hating my job and actively looking for something else to getting promoted and turning down other opportunities; the mister and I celebrated three years of marriage; and I’m coming up on about 13 or so years with psoriasis and 7 years with psoriatic arthritis.

Today, though, I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m just enjoying time with the mister and my in-laws, getting a mani-pedi and some Starbucks (my relaxation fix of choice) and being grateful that I’m alive and in relatively good health.

brace for impact

Today was supposed to be a good day.

The weather’s nice. It’s Friday. I bought myself some sunflowers at the farmer’s market, and they’re making my little office cheerful and bright.

But then some jerk guy decided to back up into my car.

(OK. I have tried twice now to get WordPress to post the full version of this blog. Hopefully third time’s the charm.)

Luckily, no one was injured and the damage to my car is minor. Things could most certainly have been worse. But it’s brought something into my life that I just don’t need right now: more stress.

I can feel myself on the edge of a flare; I feel as though if I stray to far to the left or right, I’ll plunge on down into one. To prevent that, I’d been trying to take it easy and to really take care of myself: eight hours of sleep per night (that one can be tricky), full compliance on meds, gentle workouts, good food. But all the self-care in the world won’t prevent someone else from blundering in and making a mess. And that’s what this guy did when he hit me; of course, he’s making it worse by trying to come up with different scenarios of how this was my fault that he backed his car into mine, but that’s another story.

As always, I can’t control how other people act, but my actions are up to me. And so I’ll be taking it easy this weekend and hoping against hope that I can pull myself back from the edge of a flare. Fingers crossed.

already pretty: body gratitude in the face of illness

I know I owe you guys two more HAWMC posts, and I promise I’ll write them. But I’ve been sitting on this awesome post for awhile, and, since I’m feeling like doggie doo from my crazy work week last week (and today’s delightful 13-hour work day), I thought I’d let this one roll.

Sally over at Already Pretty tries to tackle a reader question on keeping a positive body image when you have a chronic illness. Though she says she doesn’t have an intrusive chronic illness (invisible illness, anyone?), she hits the nail on the head with many of her suggestions. Why yes, Sally, I do in fact pamper myself with lovely clothes, fun makeup and shiny hair (what’s left of it from stress and MTX, anyway!).

But one of the commenters made a good point that sometimes, I need to give myself permission to not love my body. On a day like yesterday—when I slept until 3 p.m. and still felt exhausted, when a quick trip to the store left me sore and achy—I didn’t like my body very much. I didn’t want to think about all the things I could still do but instead wanted to remember the things I’d lost.

Today, I’m over that, but I think it’s important to allow myself those days—as long as I don’t wallow.

But head on over there; read through the comments, too. I’ll warn you, there are a couple of insidious ones, but they’ve mostly been dealt with already.

october’s got those orange eyes, but somehow i still lost sight

Wow, October already. I can’t believe how this year has flown by. In a way, that’s both good and bad thing. I love the fall and am so excited for crisp weather, colourful tights, the state fair and caramel apple cider. But, I had hoped that by this time, I would be feeling better. I thought I’d have the use of my left hand back (incidentally, typing with one hand is super, ridiculously slow), that I wouldn’t walk with the speed (and grace) of an unsteady toddler, that I would feel more healthy scalp than psoriasis. Not so.

At my last doctor’s appointment, we increased my dose of MTX, so now I’m wading through the delightful oral ulcers and a tongue that feels like someone took a razer to it, which are finally, hopefully subsiding. And, after a couple of weeks of feeling yucky, I’m back on the Plaquenil (or rather, the generic hydroychloroquine) in the hopes some triple therapy (in my case methotrexate, hydroxychroloquine and sulfasalazine) will give me some relief.

At work, I’m dealing with a formerly nice gentleman who has turned into a bit of a bully because he doesn’t like something I wrote. It’s actually been quite stressful receiving multiple e-mails a day over the last week saying what a bad person I am. And I was OK with it all until the most recent e-mail, which was just hateful. It’s all the more surprising because I really don’t understand where it all is coming from and the person in question doesn’t seem too willing to explain.

So, I’m having a bit of a hard time reaching for my positive attitude. Or maybe I am reaching for it, but it’s just not there. I just feel worn out and beat down—an attitude at odds with the ridiculously beautiful, sunny day, which is all the more welcome after nearly a week of rain. Maybe I just need a hug or to snuggle with my dog or to receive a few e-mails a day over the course of a week saying what an awesome person I am. Regardless, I think I’m going to go for a walk outside and try to gain some perspective. And maybe a caramel apple cider.

UPDATED TO ADD: For all those people who have ended up here by typing in the song lyrics in the title (sorry!), it’s “Broken Horse” by the Freelance Whales.

don’t open the medicine cabinet

Am I the only one a little bit scared by this idea? No, scratch that: Am I the only one horrified and terrified by this idea?

The rub:

Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances.

The state sheriff’s association pushed the idea Tuesday, saying the move would help them make drug arrests and curb a growing problem of prescription drug abuse. But patient advocates say opening up people’s medicine cabinets to law enforcement would deal a devastating blow to privacy rights.

I get that allowing law enforcement the ability to know who has been prescribed pain killers would likely make their job easier when it comes to those abusing the drugs. I understand that. I really do. But what about those of us — and I would wager we are the vast majority of opiate users — who take the drug as directed under a doctor’s care? What about those of us with arthritis, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, injury or anyone else with a legitimate need for pain killers? Last I checked, I didn’t sign away my right to privacy when my NP prescribed some darvocet.

I feel that when I go to the doctor’s office, I have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Ditto for when I pick up my prescriptions at my local pharmacy. It’s a shame that some people become addicted to these powerful drugs and some people sell them illegally. But I don’t think that is enough reason to allow Deputy Smith at the local sheriff’s office the right to type my name into a database and see what drugs I’m taking. I hope North Carolina’s legislators see it my way because the alternative — and its implications for other states and privacy rights — is, quite frankly, a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four for my tastes.

nothing feels good being under the gun

“Well, crap.”

When everything goes to hell, that is usually the first thing my inner monologue can come up with. Helpful, right? (Not, not really.)

But when everything starts tanking, I usually retreat to one of two responses: Curse a lot, feel overwhelmed, whine, cry, complain, et cetera or step into a pencil skirt and a sassy top, put on my biggest statement necklace, curl my hair, pop on some red lipstick and a pair of fierce high heels, put on my best “Mean Girls” stare and, hand on hip, cut that beyotch down to size.

When I start feeling overwhelmed, it helps me to at least look put together. When my life seems to be spinning out of control, when work deadlines pile on top of housework and the dog decides to eat something that doesn’t agree with him and so has it shooting out both ends, when I’m flaring, it seems the only thing I can control is my appearance, the face I present to the world. And so that face seems so much more important than it does when I’m feeling well (or well-ish).

Subsequently, if I look like I’ve got it all together, I start feeling like I do, too. And then that mountain I feel like I’ve got to conquer starts looking more like a pile of beans.

But the thing I’ve found helps me best is to be really organized. This is not, unfortunately, my nature, but I’ve learned I function best when I write everything down (especially when the brain fog starts rolling in) and when everything has a place. It took me a long time to organize my office (cubicle) the way I  need it to be; now that it is, though, it helps when I feel like everything is crashing down around me.

Of course, sometimes I still need a good cry or a good yell or a good cuddle or to just sit in my pajamas the whole day eating frozen yogurt and crossing absolutely nothing off my to-do list. The thing is, most of the time, I just don’t have the energy to start freaking out over whatever this week’s big crisis is. Most of the time, I put my head down and muddle through. But every now and then, with all those plates up in the air, one of them will fall. If you’re lucky, someone else will be there to catch it before it hits the ground. If not, you’ve just got to dust yourself off and try again. (And maybe invest is some Corelle dishware, next time.)

(PS- I took that photo when I was at university, after a hurricane blew through. I had never had school canceled because of rain before. Snow, yes. Rain, no. I can’t say that anymore.)

opiate of the masses

Pain killers. I knew there was a reason I didn’t want to take them. You know, other than the whole addictive potential thing.

Saturday night I was not doing well. At all. After about two hours of tossing and turning, wishing more than anything I could get to sleep, I decided to take half of one of the pain pills my nurse practitioner prescribed for me. This oxycodone, which was supposed to only last 12 hours, left me feeling exhausted and nauseous all day Sunday. I slept more than I was awake, because being awake meant I had to struggle not to throw up. It was a great day.

Now, I’d had this reaction before to Tramadol, which Dr. Jerkface prescribed for me, even though I had told him I didn’t want to take a pain-killer. He prescribed it, told me it was just a stronger NSAID and then ignored my calls for a week or two as my joints steadily became more painful. It was a bloody miracle when he magically phoned me back when I agreed to take it. It, too, make me feel violently ill, though not nearly as fatigued as the oxycodone.

Well, lesson learned: Next time I will stick to my guns and not take whatever opiate the doctors prescribed. I’d rather hurt than feel the way I did yesterday. Blech.

half-naked ladies

NPR’s Monkey See blog ran an interesting post about the Lane Bryant/Fox/ABC drama. If you haven’t heard (and if so, where have you been? I don’t even watch TV and I know about this!), Lane Bryant wanted to run a lingerie ad during “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol.” Fox, according to Lane Bryant, refused to run it, while ABC would only run it at the end of “Dancing.”

If you haven’t seen the ad, take a look at the Monkey See post. In all honesty, it’s far tamer than most Victoria’s Secret ads I’ve seen — and definitely tamer than some of the outfits worn by ladies on “Dancing With the Stars.” So, clearly that can’t be the reason behind it.

Maybe Fox and ABC don’t want to run the ad because the gorgeous model is, ahem, “full figured.” She certainly isn’t fat by any stretch of the imagination, but you can’t count her ribs and she’s got a hell of a rack stacked on top of some bodacious curves.

If that’s the case, Fox and ABC need to grow up and grow a pair. Despite some of the comments on the Monkey See post about “real women,” women come in all shapes and sizes. Why not celebrate it?

But while we’re on the topic of “real women,” that phrase count not annoy me more. *All* women are “real women.” Having curves makes you no more real than someone who is stick skinny. We all deal with the body we were given — some accept it, some hit the gym and some turn to plastic surgery. All of us are still women, regardless. Why should we pit different body types against the other? Isn’t it time, finally, at last, for women to wake up and support one another, instead of trying to see who can put the others down the hardest or the fastest?