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Let’s Move Together

This is the season for the Arthritis Walk, a wonderful fund-raising event sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation.  I jumped in full force on the fund-raising efforts this year getting all my friends and family involved. We wrote e-mails, posted on Facebook, sold snacks, sold “Arthritis Bones” and for a really big innovative push we held a Wine Tasting. The wine tasting was a great way to raise funds and awareness while enjoying the company of friends both old and new.  I also found a new love for Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling and Silhouette, wonderful wines at an affordable price. All the attendees fell deeply in love with the information, company, the wines and these wonderful grapes marinated in champagne..DELICIOUS!!!!

The walk itself was WON…DER..FUL (Oprah voice).  Recently someone reminded me that when you smile at the world, the world smiles back and this walk was a great reminder. In the past years, I was not the most outgoing person, I stuck to my small circle of friends and didn’t really reach out to the world. But as I grow into my life as a single woman and start to live beyond just coping with my illness I have been making an effort to not only enjoy my life but to reach out to others.  I truly believe this new approach has made a difference in my life both physically and mentally. Last year for the walk I raised $400.00 and walked by myself, my mom, niece and cousin joined later, but I walked the route by myself. This year my team raised over $1300.00 and my team was comprised of 14 people. Now that is love and it felt great. The kids had a chance to enjoy face painting, treats and trinkets and see all the animals at the Zoo, the adults had just as much fun. Most importantly everyone got a chance to learn about the Arthritis Foundation and their many wonderful programs. Overall, It was a fabulous experience and I am so thankful to all my friends and Family who supported.

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Day 12 HAWMC….It was all a Dream (Yes I just quoted B.I.G. LOL)

I ran into a friend of mine one day and we began to talk about the changes that were going on in her life. She has been laid off from her job for a bout a year now and has been unable to find employment. She has been on many interviews, both 2nd and 3rd phases, however nothing has materialized. Then she began to notice that in many of her interviews, she was asked if she would be able to consult with them on training programs and other projects. In the past she had declined, however, in her last interview she agreed to become their training consultant. I congratulated her and told her that this sounds like a good opportunity. She replied, thanks, but consulting was not her plan, getting a job was her plan. I laughed and told her to think of the many consulting offers you have received in the past year as whispers from the universe putting her on a different path. Then of course I had to reflect on something I heard Oprah say “God can dream a bigger dream for you then you could ever dream”.

This image helps to remind me of this. On days when you can’t get out of the bed from the pain, the meds aren’t working the best and you have to schedule another week off of work for health reasons, the universe still has a plan for you. It may not be what you wanted or expected, but there is a bigger dream for you to fulfill.

Photo by: Ameir Amadi

How has RA made you realize What is Important ??

April 11, 2011 1 comment

I was reading a post in one of my favorite online chat rooms and notice the question of the day was “How has RA made you realize what is Important” and I thought to myself, WOW that is something to think about. So many times in my life I have found myself thinking about the limitations Arthritis has placed on my life, so it is refreshing to focus on the positive aspect of RA.

In my life I have had to make many adjustments to accommodate my illness, from my career choices (reduced hours, less stressful position, time off of work) to how I do my laundry (I use a butter knife to open the dryer door). But in making these adjustments, I have discovered wonderful things about life and myself. I now practice Yoga and Meditation, which has brought a new level of peace and calmness in my life, while providing some much needed stretching for my sore joints. The time I have spent in my practice has allowed me time to focus on the positive aspects of my life and listen to my heart, which has become inner teacher.

Physically, I have had to gain a confidence in a way I never thought would be required of myself.  My surgeries have left me with scars that are a tell sign of my condition. At first, I was ashamed of my scars and never wanted them to show. I even selected my clothes around which items hid my scars. But after much reflection, I have learned to accept these scars as a part of me and accept them as things that do not define me. Now I wear what I want, without any thought if someone will see my scars, because what is on the outside is not as important as what is within me. The medications I take for RA have harsh side effects that have caused extreme swings in my weight, resulting in a transformation that have brought me in and out of my comfort zone. To the point where people have ridiculed me and made me feel very self-conscious. But I noticed that my true friends, who were aware of my illness, loved me regardless of my size and never took a harsh position. Not to say they did not show concern, but they never made me uncomfortable. They always showed their support and love, which helped teach me about the importance of real friendship and love. As a result, I make a concerted effort to nourish and support my friendships, which is something I was not the best at doing in the past.

Overall RA has made me realize that Peace, Health, Happiness, Love for Myself and True Friendships are important to me in my life. These things are staples that I must have to ensure a joyful life and I don’t think I would have learned these things this early in my life if it were not for RA.

How has your illness made you realize What is Important?

Hey Doc..You work for me…So join my team..

I had a chance to read an article “Five Reasons Why People Don’t Ask Their Doctors Questions” and they are the following:

  1. Fear
  2. The Doctor Knows Best
  3. Not Wanting to interrupt
  4. Not being asked by their doctor if they have any questions
  5. Patients feel rushed

Now I think these are all key reasons as to why people don’t ask their doctors questions. I have experienced all of these reasons, I was intimidated by my doctor for reason number 2 and 5.  Initially I did all the listening and didn’t ask questions, however, I would have a ton of questions later on in the day, but by then it didn’t matter because the doctor wasn’t there. Duh! I received advice to write down my questions and I followed through on that advice, except for the part of actually asking the questions (Reason#3). So again, useless…lol.

For me I had to do a paradigm shift to ensure my questions would get asked. The way I became successful at asking questions was to look at my doctor as someone who works for me and was on my team. When I changed my point of view, I didn’t care if he was in a hurry or if I thought the questions were a bit stupid. I had to remember that I am paying this person for a service, and just like the person I pay for any other service, I expect the service to be completed to my satisfaction, and the same goes for my doctor. When I began to look at my doctor as a member of my team it took the intimidation factor out of the equation and I started to ask all my questions. Now, I don’t care if he has one foot out the door, I am STILL TALKING until I am satisfied… I am paying for a service and I expect the best.. and so should YOU!

Do you have any tips you use to help ensure you get the most out of your doctor visits??

Single Black Female….seeking cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I have searched and searched and I must say I have been a bit disappointed by the lack of information regarding African-Americans and Rheumatoid Arthritis or Autoimmune Disease in general. The little information I found provided insight more on Type 1 Diabetes and Lupus. Which is great but, considering there are over 80 types of Autoimmune diseases with African American, Hispanic, Native-American women having a higher predisposition for certain types, I would think there would be more information.  According to the CDC, African Americans are 17% less likely to report arthritis than Whites and Hispanics are 46% less likely. However they are twice as likely to report severe joint damage pain and work limitations. Other than the assumption of language barriers and access to health care the core reasons for the disparities are unknown.

I personally believe in this media overload world, more should be done to help the minority women identify with the women on RA medication TV and Internet ads. If a minority women would see herself on a Rheumatoid Arthritis TV/Facebook/Twitter educational ad experiencing these symptoms, she may ask her doctor to test her rheumatoid factor, instead of just pounding Motrin to self-manage the pain. Without getting the proper medical attention, it will lead to severe joint damage and debilitation.  With early diagnosis, a woman can start on an exercise plan, a healthy eating regimen and seek proper health care. All the things that can help a patient manage their RA. On the flip side, doctors may also become more sympathetic to young minority women who come into the office with RA symptoms and encourage her to see a Rheumatologist and not just prescribe her with the Motrin.

Ultimately, the goal is to educate, educate, and educate all women into living a healthier more fulfilling life with RA. However, I also believe that the 12% of the African Americans living with arthritis should not be left out of this educational program.

Arthritis Impacts African Americans and Hispanics more than Whites

http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100415.htm

Autoimmune Disease

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/autoimmunediseases.html

What’s Good this New Year!!

New Years Toast, Resolutions, Dedications and Promises to be better are all part of bringing in the New Year. Everyone feels the need to take advantage of the New Year by promising to do things different, to correct what went wrong in the previous year or in some cases years. But this year, I am taking a different approach, I say REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT and then REFLECT some more. Be thankful for the good and the challening events that have happened in your life. I say this because I believe it is good to always examine things for a lessons learned opportunity. Examine the lesson and let them shape you into becoming a stronger, confident and excellent person. Examine all the good decisions you have made like eating right (To stay healthy not just to lose weight), working out (Gotta keep moving when you have Rheumatoid Arthritis) and being a blessing to others. Once you identify these things continue to do them and keep these items in the forefront of what you plan to do for the years to come.

Happy New Year!!!

Relationships and Rheumatoid Arthritis w/Break-Ups

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Lets face it, break-ups are hard, on both guys and girls. However, I have come to believe they are even harder on people dealing with an Auto Immune Disease. Why, because we tend to have a sensitive/guilty view of things. Also, in our mind, we will always wonder how and if our illness played a role in the demise of the relationship. No matter what the person says, we will always wonder if the person would have stayed if I didn’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis, if it didn’t take me 20 minutes to get out the bed, if I didn’t get sad when I get bad reports from my doctor, if I didn’t need help getting out of the tub when humidity kicks in.  All these “Ifs” play over and over in our head when dealing with a break-up. But the truth of the matter is, we will never truly know, unless the person tells us and even then, will we truly believe them??

Truth of the matter, why keep wondering “If”, it just drives you crazy, and more than likely the other person is not spending their time wondering “If” so why should you.  I have been reading this great book “It’s a Break-Up, not a Breakdown” by Lisa Steadman, and one thing she recommends when wondering about your “Ifs”, why not write down the things that make you fabulous. Even though the book is not about dealing with a life long illness, I think we more so need to do this exercise, even when we are not going through a break-up.  I loved the idea so much, I decided to write down what makes me fabulous and post it on my bathroom mirror. In hopes of helping me focus on my fabulousness instead of focusing on what makes me sick. Besides, I think about what makes me sick way too much, it is much more fun to think about what makes me Fabulous.

10 Things that make me Fabulous

  1. Great pair of legs, scars and all
  2. Not afraid to speak in front of an audience
  3. Compassionate, Kind Hearted and Loving
  4. Gorgeous Hair
  5. Great Sense of Humor
  6. Always up to try new things
  7. Great Sense of Style
  8. Well Read and Educated
  9. Independent
  10. Spiritual

What are the 10 things that make you Fabulous? Post them here and Post them up to help remind you of how fabulous you are on a daily basis.