Monday, January 30, 2012

Arthritic Old Lady ISO a good time....

DISCLAIMER: I'm going to try VERY hard to keep this post about arthritis and it's impact on my day to day life, and not to bring the dynamic between my Hubby and me into this.  I've sat on the post for a few days now, because I wasn't done being hurt and angry about the events of the evening in question.  I'm not sure I can do this, but the goal is not for an outcry of "jeez, what a jerk" responses.  OK?  Here goes.

Hubby's company has a tradition of doing their holiday party after the new year.  They like to spin it that it's easier to schedule that way, and I'm sure that plays into it, but the reality is, costs are significantly cheaper if you wait until after the peak holiday party season.  Last Friday night was the holiday party, and the theme was the Roaring 20's.

I like an opportunity to dress up.  On a good day, my morning routing includes brushing both my hair AND my teeth and looking in the mirror before I leave the house.  There have been days where I've arrived at the coffee shop across the street from work before some kind stranger points out "you have your shirt on inside out", or "did you know you have two different shoes on?" (The danger of too many pairs of crocs).  I don't spend time fussing with my hair or doing my makeup any more, mornings are crammed with dealing with BabyBoy's needs for the day and I take a backseat.  I was excited about the 20's theme, I had a new dress, a "fur" stole to wear with it, and I'd been reviewing makeup videos on youtube to figure out how to recreate that "20's look".

I even had a new pair of shoes, with a heel.  When I bought them, I had some doubts, but I've had decent luck with this particular brand in the past, and they felt pretty good on.  Hubby has a penchant for high heels, and I thought it would be a nice surprise for him.

Day of the party, I took a look at my legs while shaving them and realized I was in the middle of a huge plaque psoriasis outbreak.  The tops of my feet, outsides of the ankle and about 3 inches up the calf were covered with bright red, painful, scaly patches.  I decided I'd add fishnet tights, which would disguise the skin ugliness and still be in period character.  One problem, I tried the shoes on with bare feet, and adding tights changed the way the fit.  There's not a lot of structure to this shoe, a thin strap around the ankle, and a band across the very front.  Knowing my ankles, which have been sprained more times than I can count, and broken once each, and knowing how changing pressure points in my feet makes my arthritis flare up, I started to get nervous.  It's not just me anymore, if I wear stupid shoes and land myself on the couch for a day or two, icing my ankles and feet to keep the swelling down, I don't just impact myself.  I impact a little guy who needs me more than I need to wear shoes that make my legs look good.

I decided to bring a backup pair of shoes, a sensible 1/2" wedge with a cute open toe and flower on top, just in case.  I finished getting ready, and felt pretty darned good about the whole package.  We dropped BabyBoy at the sitter and headed to the party location.

While driving down, I kept wiggling my feet around.  The way that things had shifted in the shoe, I had no feeling in the first three toes of each foot.  I poked at my ankles, and felt that they'd already started swelling from the short walk from the car and up the stairs to the sitters door.  And I told Hubby, "I think I need to switch shoes."

"Oh, God Dammit."  he replied.  "You NEVER dress sexy for me any more.  You used to dress up all the time and wear high heels and sexy underwear.  Why can't you just wear the heels?"

"I just don't think it's a good idea.  My ankles are already swelling, this isn't a sit down event, and I really don't want to be completely laid up for two days recovering from a bad shoe choice.  I'm switching shoes.", I explained.

"Fine."  he said, flatly.

Not much else was said the rest of the drive, and I can't imagine anyone noticed my shoes.  The food was more substantial than the invite led to believe, and was quite good.  The drinks were ridiculously over-priced, but the company head honcho announced "open bar" not 30 minutes into the event, and they had karaoke.  Now we're talking about a good time.  I hit the stage more than once, and had a fantastic time.  We danced, we laughed, we talked with people - I even texted our sitter and asked if we could stay out an extra hour, like a kid begging permission to extend curfew from her parents.  I thought it had been a near perfect evening.

On the ride home, he laid into me about how I've changed, and how our relationship has changed.  I tried to reason that change HAS to happen when you add another person to the equation, and evolution is not a bad thing.  We ended up revisiting the conversation of what I "never do" (anything right, apparently) and what I "always do" (complain) and ended up having an awful argument that went into the wee small hours of the morning.  Whispered anger in the room with a sleeping baby, hot tears scalding the makeup off my face, and a lot of stuff was said that can't be unsaid.

The next morning, I got out of bed and nearly fell.  My ankles had swollen so much there was no longer a differentiation between foot and ankle.  My toes were swollen to the point of being shiny, and my left knee was hot and red and swollen as well. I tried to put my wedding ring on, and discovered this was a full-on, all joints impacted arthritic flare up.  I couldn't get the ring past my knuckle.  I sighed and put it back on my bedside ring holder, and couldn't help but wonder if it's not some sort of omen of our future.

I iced what I can ice, applied anti-inflammatory gel to the worst spots, and we headed off to "Music Together" class with BabyBoy.  I've never felt so alone at an event that includes "Together" in the title.

In closing, I didn't do a very good job at keeping it about arthritis, did I?  It's been a rough few days, and I've made a promise to myself to be honest here.  As with any relationship, you can say there are three sides to every story, his side, her side and the truth.  This is (obviously) only my side, and there's probably a truth somewhere in the middle that isn't painted as bleakly as I've painted this.  Thanks for reading.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

It Takes a Village.....

I've always loved the proverb, "It takes a whole village to raise a child", even before I became a mother.  I think it's actually bigger than that, we all need our villages to keep us sane and happy.  This life is too much to try and tackle on our own.

My personal village includes hairstylist, aesthetician, manicurist, massage therapist, accupuncturist, doctor, and best friend.  I reserve the right to add or subtract when it gets particularly busy in my head.  Just the other day, I mentioned that I'd like to get in contact with my post-partum doula to see if she could come over and hold me while I nap.  A job description like "Mothering the mother" doesn't end just because the baby is a year old, does it?  Based on the way BabyBoy throws himself into sleep with reckless abandon when I'm holding him, it seems like a great way to nap.  First we need a giant rocking chair....

I've started having migraines again, something I really do not want to revisit, but they're back.  I'd like to blame it all on methotrexate, but I know insomnia and stress both contribute, as well as a family and personal history of migraines.  A couple weeks ago, I got about 30 minutes of an aural migraine where my vision was blurring out in little c-shaped chunks before the beast got it's claws in my skull.  I put in an SOS call to my doctor, and called my accupuncturist to beg for a spot.  An hour in a quiet, dark room with specific needle therapy, as well as picking up a prescription for Imitrex got it under control, but I've been on the cusp at least two additional times in the past three weeks.

Yesterday was one of those cusp days.  I ended up cancelling out of afternoon meetings and just going home to take a bath.  It was GLORIOUS.  I sat in a hot bathtub, with bubbly, good smelling lush products in the water until my fingers went pruney.  I drained off the cooling water and refilled it with hot two seperate times, and I read a book in a totally silent house. 

I've come to a realization recently, partially of my own accord, partially from reading a blog post from one of my favorites, and partially at the request/nudging of my best friend.  I really need to find a therapist to talk to.  There's too much going on in my head and in my life, and I hear things through my own filter, which spirals into familiar internal conversations that poison me.  It's time for me to face this and to start to heal, and if I can't do it for myself, I need to do it for the people who depend on me.  I need to do it for my son, my husband and my best friend. 

And I don't know whether
I believe in me
But I still believe in my friends

by David Nields & Nerissa Nields
© 1999, Ambivalent Fins and Peter Quince Productions (ASCAP)

It scares me, my past experiences with therapy have been not-so-great.  From the psychiatrist who had me drugged so heavily that I was completely numb (but, man, I really miss the valium some days) to the psychologist that spent so much time trying to get me to dig through my past that I couldn't find a future, it's never really been an enjoyable experience.  I have a referral from a friend, but that thearpist has a policy in her practice to not see clients that have external relationships.  She gave me the number of a couple other therapists in the area, and I also got a referral from another source.  The thing I have to keep in mind is that I GET TO INTERVIEW these people.  I'm the only one who knows what I need, and how I'm comfortable working, so if it's not a good fit, that's ok!  It's also ok for me to set guidelines about frequency and time of day.  It's hard work, and I need to keep the rest of my life in mind while starting this. 

Being outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens, right?

Let's file this under "WTF, really?"

The other day, Hubby told me that I need to buy new sheets, because the current set is "ruined."  I asked him what he meant by "ruined", and he told me they're "just ruined".  I asked if he crapped the bed when I wasn't looking and the sheets took the brunt of it, and he said "no, they have a hole in them."

So I went and looked at the sheets. We've had a long-running battle about the state of his feet, particularly of the heels, and how he should just start getting pedicures, already.  Sure enough.  His feet at the 1,000 thread count egyptian cotton sheets.  They were shredeed right where his feet go, about a foot across the fitted sheet.  This isn't the first set of expensive sheets his feet have eaten, either.

I count my blessings, at least he trims his toenails, but heels that are so calloused and rough they will shred fabric over a period of time (these sheets are less than 2 years old, and super high quality) is just nasty. 

For our first wedding anniversary, we went down to the Oregon coast, to a little town called Manzanita.  I set us up with spa treatments as anniversary presents, and he flat out rebelled at the idea of a "pedicure".  This spa was smart, though.  They have a special "man foot treatment" which was a pedicure without buffing and painting the toenails.  I even got him some special pumic gel and a scrubber to make it easier to maintain the callous build up.  The bottle sits unopened in his medicine cabinet, the scrubber is still pristine in it's wrapping, and the sheets are "ruined."

Manzanita Beach.  Way nicer than gross feet.

I did a google search for images of "nasty feet" and, while I found many to choose from, I will not inflict any on you, dear reader.  It's bad enough I have it burned in my brain!

We are always comparing our own body parts to BabyBoy's, to see if there is some concrete contribution we've made in his gene pool.  BabyBoy likes to sleep like his Daddy, on his back, snoring, with one arm thrown over his face.  He sets his mouth in a determined little line when he's thinking hard about something, just like me.  On his feet, the second toenail (the one I call "home", because there's no "thumb, pointer, middle, ring, pinky" finger equivalent for toes, so I call them "Market, home, roast beef, none, wee wee weee".) grows out and bends over the end of the toe,  just like his Daddy, as well.  I hope this is not a genetic indicator that he will have nasty-assed feet as an adult.  If he does, I'm going to teach him the value of a good pedicure.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


As a professional, I've always taken being on time seriously.  In fact, I'd much prefer to be early than to be late.  However, I work in the games industry, and there's a certain "we're creative, we don't follow rules" attitude to that culture.  Meetings that start within 15 minutes of scheduled time are celebrated as a success, but it drives me absolutely ape shit.  I'm a project manager, my time, much like a lawyer, is tracked in billable increments, which all go against the bottom line of project overhead.  If I stopped to count up how many meetings start late in a project, you start to see why project deadlines often get blown off and missed.  Lateness is lateness, and it all adds up.

Let me add a disclaimer here:
This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. I'm not going to tell you who my employer is, but if you happen to figure it out, I'm not representing them.  Got it?

There.  That's out of the way.  I work for a game developer that is sort of notorious for not following traditional schedules or milestones.  Our games ship when they're done, not when we say we'll ship them when we first start a project.  This has been the single hardest adjustment to my style as a producer since I started with this organization.  In my past positions, I live and die by the schedule.  I've primarily worked on branded product that is tied to events: movie releases, ad campaigns, major sporting events, etc.  Those dates do not change.  The product that you deliver might change during the course of the project for a variety of reasons (contract signed late, customer made a change in the scope of work, approval process delays, as a few examples), but the date DOES NOT CHANGE.

It is bad enough at work that each clock on the floor is set to a different time - varying between 5-15 minutes ahead of the actual time.  That doesn't solve anything, it just makes people MORE likely to ignore the clock and make excuses.  I've never been a fan of the "I'll set my clock ahead, so that way if I snooze I can still be on-time" mentality.  You're not actually fooling anyone.

My meetings start on time.  I start talking when the designated time arrives, even if I'm talking to an empty room.  And I do not repeat myself.  If no one shows up by the time 15 minutes has passed, I walk out and I do not rush back in to cram through the topics when the tardy ones come looking for me.  I will send a follow up e-mail that covers off on why no decisions were made, and propose a new time for the meeting.  I've become a bit notorious for this, and it's becoming a less common occurrence that people are late, at least not to my meetings. I've heard muttering about "Oh, that's Rae's meeting.  You better be on time because she will bust your balls if you're not!" and the like, but that's something I can live with.

To me, if you accept a meeting, you accept your role and responsibility in that conversation.  Yes, things happen and if you call or text and say "I'm 5 minutes away, I apologize.", I will say thank you when you walk in the room. But just wandering in because you can't allocate your time and honor the commitments you make says that you do not respect me, you do not respect what I'm doing, and you don't respect yourself as a professional.

Doesn't that sound so admirable?   Let me just say, this is something I've had to work VERY hard at.  Ask my best friend, she can probably account for a year of her life spent waiting for me during our time sharing rides to school in Junior High and High School.  She never left my ass, but she SHOULD have.  I was always in a state of "hair on fire and ass is catching", I always had an excuse and and apology at the ready, and at some point, I finally grew out of it and started taking punctuality seriously.

So, here's the reality of my life today.  Despite my best efforts, the ONLY PLACE I'M ACTUALLY ON TIME IS AT WORK.  BabyBoy is 14 months old, and I haven't been on time to 99% of the things we have done since he was born.  We were late to the birthing center tour.  We were late the morning of his scheduled c-section birth, we were late to freakin' CHRISTMAS BRUNCH and we were bringing the main course!  (Hubby's reasoning: "They can't start without us," which was technically true, because we had at the FOOD for 15 people, and we were nearly 45 minutes late!  How rude can you possibly be?)  I've become fanatical about being on time at work because it's the only place in my life where I feel like I have any control left.

There's got to be a balance here, somewhere.  We're both adults, we're both professionals, we both understand the value of time.  Starting our shared time together in a mad rush for the door, with me in a state of low-grade piss off  because I've done all the work to prepare BabyBoy and straightened up the house and have STILL been kept waiting is no way to enjoy our time together.  I've started padding the time I tell Hubby that we need to be places so at least we hit closer to on-time than we have in the past, but that feels manipulative and childish. Knowing our relationship, knowing myself, and knowing Hubby, the change will most likely have to be with me.  We're not known for our ability to talk rationally and compromise.  And that just makes me feel resentful.  This isn't a topic like "what direction does the basket for zippy cup parts face in the dishwasher?", it's common courtesy.  If you say you'll be somewhere, be there when you say you'll be there.

How do I get the point across without being a shrew?  I hate being late.  I think it's disrespectful and it makes me anxious and edgy to do everything in a manufactured emergency rush.  It's that simple.

Monday, January 16, 2012


The holiday season was busy for us, with lots of time with friends.  On New Years day, we went to a friends house for a traditional southern lucky new years day potluck.  There was a piano in the living room, and after a couple glasses of wine, I decided to flip through the music stash.  I haven't sat at a keyboard in over a year, and haven't played in front of others in about 8 times that.  The call of a Tori Amos anthology was too much to resist, I opened to the song "Winter", and sat down at the bench.

I only played through the first verse, and did not have the nerve to burst into song in a room full of people, so just the piano part. I've always loved playing the piano accompaniment to that song, 6 flats not-withstanding, but I can't sing it for others, it makes me cry.

I've been thinking a lot about my Dad lately, and after some soul searching this weekend, I think I've discovered some things. I have very clear memories of being a little kid and wanting to be like my dad. There was never any secret in our house, he wanted a boy, and he got me instead. I would study how he walked and try to swagger just like him, I'd watch how he was never really still - tapping fingers, jingling keys - and I'd imitate it. I remember the day that the post man commented on me in the yard - he looked at me, looked at my dad and said "well, you can't deny that one" and it made me proud. I remember having a snowball fight with him the Christmas that I turned 16, I remember a warm hand on my shoulder and a comment that I "did good" when I started self-teaching myself programming, but I don't remember really TALKING to him, and I don't remember him really LISTENING to me.


The first verse of "Winter" tells the story of a young girl, spending time with her dad, and knowing he is there, looking out for her:

Snow can wait
I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose
Get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter
I put my hand in my father's glove

I run off
Where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice
"You must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can't always be around"

He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change my dear
I wish I could say that was the relationship we had. I know that if I can think rationally about our way of interacting, he is expressing care in the only way he can. But it's hurtful and dismissive and it always has been.

Hair is grey
And the fires are burning
So many dreams
On the shelf
You say I wanted you to be proud of me
I always wanted that myself

It truly is all I've wanted - for him to be proud of me and love me for who I am, instead of reminding me of who I'm not. But the hard realization is I don't accept him for who he is, either. He was who he is before I even existed. Who am I to demand that he change and to be disappointed in him that he can't? Perhaps if I can accept him, I can find some peace in his understanding of me.

Last night, I called to talk to see how he's been. He spent the first 15 minutes asking me to troubleshoot his computer issues, while I tried to walk him through accessing gmail via web browser. He finally got around to asking about how the baby is, and I gave him an update, and added that we'd gone for a walk in the "snow" to the local mexican restaurant, where the baby ate half a kids quesadilla and some guacamole.

He said "You better watch what he's eating and not feed him junk so he gets fat. You don't want him to be like you."

There are many, many things I can think of that would be a worse fate than for my son to grow up and be like me. Several sarcastic responses flew through my mind in the heartbeats it took me to answer. I simply said "He's not eating junk." My husband heard the dead tone of my voice and turned to stage-whisper "what's going on?"

I listened to my dad talk for about 10 more minutes with tears rolling down my cheeks, he never bothered to ask how I am or how my husband is, he spent the time talking about my sister, her kids, and their grandkids and how neat they all are. Finally I interupted and said it was getting near bed time and I needed to go take care of the baby.

I closed with, "I love you, Dad, I'll talk to you soon."

"Ok, you too, bye."

When I hung up, I just put my head in my hands for a moment and hubby came over to ask what that was all about. I told him about the comment my Dad made, and hubby asked "Why didn't you tell him to go fuck himself?"

"Because, it's not that simple. He's my Dad and I can't do that." I tried to explain, knowing it makes no sense to anyone, myself included.

"Well, if my dad talked to me like that, I'd tell him to go fuck himself." he responded.

"Then you owe your parents a big thank you for teaching you to have more self esteem than I do, and for being secure in their love." I started crying harder. "He doesn't give a shit about me, he just wants me to fix his stupid computer."

Hubby put his arms around me and BabyBoy put his arms around my neck, too. We all leaned together while I cried, and hubby kissed my forehead. "I'm sorry, baby."

Later, after BabyBoy was asleep, I started crying again. How can I possibly raise him to be confident and secure when I am so fundamentally broken? I don't want to hurt him like this, and I'm so afraid that my shit is just going to fuck him up. I want him to always know how much I love him, support him, and believe in him. Hubby held me and let me talk through it and reminded me that I am a good mother, that I take amazing care of BabyBoy, and that we'll help each other when things get hard. That we'll make mistakes, but we'll have our own family, and our own way of communicating that doesn't have to repeat the past.

I have to believe in that, I have to believe in us. And I have to believe in me. It's time for me to love myself as much as I love my son. For someone posting on a blog titled "still an adult", I've spent an awful lot of time feeling like a scared, confused child over the past 24 hours.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Brass Balls - the night I danced with Dale

The other night, my hubby and I were lying in bed - I was playing a game on my iPad, and he was patting on the cat.  I made a joke about how "all cats are grey in the dark."  He's been reading through the classics on his Nook, and made a comment about that's almost a direct quote from "The Three Musketeers".

I asked him if I'd ever told him about dancing with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and he said "I know you met him, but I didn't know you'd danced with him."

It went like this:
Back in 2002, I went on a NASCAR vacation called Beach Bash, in Jamaica.  There were a dozen or so drivers, pit crew chiefs, and media celebrities, and the number of fans was limited to around 150 fans.  The idea was you could spend a week in Jamaica with your favorite drivers.
I am a HUGE Junior fan, and I think he's cute as cute can be.  I was single, and I harbored a small little fantasy that I could be Mrs. Earnhardt.  A girl can dream, right?

This was right around the time I left Quality Assurance and became a producer, and Hasbro Interactive had the NASCAR license and was about to release a new game called "Dirt to Daytona."  I convinced management to let me attempt to promote the game while on vacation.  They didn't expect much out of me, but if I could get a picture of two of driver holding our game, ok.  Our main competitor, EA, did not have even a clue about this opportunity, and I thought it could be a nice little feather in my cap as a new producer.

I made calls, I was persuasive, and I descended on the Wyndham Rose Hall with a suitcase full of video games to give away, t-shirts, game consoles, and I was ready to meet some drivers and prove a point!  I had a commitment from the hotel that they would make tv's and tables available to me in common areas to allow fans to play the game, and I'd reached out to the tour coordinator (who became a great friend) to have some time built in to play.  If I could convince the drivers to race against the fans, this was ALL going to come together.

The trip was an all-inclusive vacation, and the rum drinks were very, very good.  I think I drank my body weight in rum that week.  On the first night there, we were rumming it up at the bar when the word spread.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (and his posse) had arrived from Homestead, FL (last race of the season) and they were headed for the bar.  I decided I would go pee to gather my courage, and then I'd figure out how I was going to approach him to introduce myself and talk about video games.
I went to the restroom, practiced smiling and looking natural (and not completely sauced) in the mirror, washed my hands, and headed out to face the beast.  I walked out of the ladies room and collided directly with Dale on his way into the mens.  I looked at him, smiled, and said "Would you like to play some video games?"
He wrinkled his incredibly cute brow and said "Nah, I'm good", and continued into the mens room.
 I went back to the bar, and put my head down.  "I asked if wanted to play some video gaaaaaaaaaaaaaames!", I wailed.  "And he said Noooooooooooooo!  It was like that scene in "Dirty Dancing" where Patrick Swayze asks "what are you doing here" and Jennifer Grey says "I carried a watermelon."."

My friend patted me on the shoulder, ordered me another rum drink and reassured me it was a long week and everything would be fine.

After some mingle time, I decided to try again.  I walked over to Dale, stuck out my hand  and said "OK, so, I realize that was TOTALLY random.  Can I try again?  Hi!  My name's Rae, I work at Hasbro Interactive and we have a new racing game coming out.  I have some advance copies and thought you might like to check it out, maybe race against some fans or something?" I took no chances, I did not pause for breath, and I had a big, stupid, 'please like me' smile plastered on my face.

"Yeah, 'Dirt to Daytona'.  I've been wanting to play, that would be cool.", he said.  We chatted a bit more and I wandered off, elated.  I had redeemed myself!

The week went on with lots more rum, tons of fun, beach all day, dance club until it closed, and some video gaming.  There were autograph sessions and we had become friendly enough to smile and wave back and forth in passing.

On one of the last nights, I was in the dance club and I decided, this is it.  If I'm going to be his wife, we're going to have to fall in love.  If we're going to fall in love, we're going to have to dance.  I guess I'd better ask him to dance.  (Did I mention I drank my body weight in rum that week?) So I did!  And he said yes! It was like 8th grade, when Danny Shook finally asked me to dance, after I'd glanced longingly at him from the sidelines all year long.  I talked through the whole thing, except with Dale, the song was Nelly's "It's Getting Hot in Here", and not Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart".
Future Mr. & Mrs. Earnhardt

"So, Dale, I was wondering - what's your preference?  Really obvious bottle blond girls with bleach blond hair and fake boobs who fall on the ground with their legs spread for you?  Or cool redheads who play video games and are lots of fun?"

He looked at me for a heartbeat or two, and I tried to redeem myself with a winning smile and some encouragement.

"Come on, you know you want to say cool chick." I pointed two thumbs to my chest, and reiterated, just in case he was confused, "Cool chick!"

And then he said, (and I cannot do the drawl justice), "It's all the same in the dark."

This is where my husband interrupted my story.


"Hey, how many chances was I gonna get?" I replied.

I looked at Dale and said, dripping with saracsm, "Well, don't you know how to make a girl feel special?"  I switched to disappointment mom-mode.  "Charming, Dale. Really charming."  The song ended, I shook my head and thanked him for the dance.  I guess I didn't want to be his wife after all.
My hubby said, "Wow.  You've got brass balls."  and I gave him a kiss and reminded him "That's why you married me, honey."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The source of my pain

I had a doctor's appointment today - with a podiatrist. I wanted to talk about sharp electrical shock pains when any pressure is put on the tops of my feet, and about heel pain on my right foot. I also wanted an assessment on the bunion that's progressing rapidly from a bump on my foot and into deformed foot land.

I recently had to change all my doctors because of change in health insurance (please do NOT get me started on this. It angers me to no end that the last 2 years of building a relationship with a medical staff has been flushed down the toilet because I changed jobs.). One of the things that is incredibly important to me was that I was being seen in a "one chart" clinic. I'm already coordinating care across several specialists to deal with a variety of issues, I at least need to make sure chart notes and lab tests are shared with no effort on my part.

Currently, I'm under the care of a primary care for general health and medication monitoring for depression and anxiety, a rheumatologist (Psoriatic arthritis), hematologist (pernicious anemia, iron-based anemia and assorted other malsorption issues - vitamin d, selenium and folic acid to name a few.), gastroenterologist (gastric polyps) and now a podiatrist. I get IV infusions of a TNF blocker (immuno-suppressent therapy) for psoriatic arthritis via a portacath in my chest every 8 weeks. I self inject methotrexate (a chemo drug, which also suppresses the immune system and reduces swelling) weekly. I get IV infusions of elemental iron twice a year, (which is an improvement over just ferritin infusions every 8 weeks) to keep from being dangerously anemic, coupled with a corticosteroid and benadryl so I don't have a reaction and go into cardiac arrest during the administratoin. I self inject complex B vitamins every month to keep the pernicious anemia at bay. I have comprehensive blood work drawn, again through the portacath in my chest, to make sure the arthritis treatment is not causing liver damage. I require endoscopies twice a year to make sure polyps aren't changing in size and that no malignancies have developed. I take 1200 mg of folic acid daily to make sure the methotrexate doesn't cause the inside of my mouth and tongue to be covered in ulcerated blisters. I take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 weekly just to maintain status quo inside my body. I am not an easy case, and I am not a single sentence diagnosis. When I went to the podiatrist in this one-chart world, I expected him to be able to make an assessment with total care in mind, and to be able to recommend treatment.

He asked some questions, examined my feet, and said "The source of your pain is inflammation."

I grew up with brothers and a sister that are substantially older than me, so I learned lots of colorful swear phrases much earlier than the average kid. I can remember being in 2nd grade and when a teacher said something that seemed obvious to me, I replied "No shit, Sherlock", one of those charming phrases that my 13 year old brother taught me. (I also spent a week in detention and caught one hell of a whipping from my Mom for sassing a teacher.)

"No shit, Sherlock" was the first thing that came to mind when he announced "The source of your pain is inflammation." When the arthritis flares up, my fingers and toes swell up like sausages. There are days where I cannot put the screw on tops and bottoms of BabyBoy's bottles together because the pain in my hands and wrists won't let me do these simple tasks. I wear compression socks like an old diabetic man to try and keep the ankle swelling down at least two weeks out of every month. I ice, I keep gluten to a minimum in my diet, I keep sodium to a minimum in my diet. I let the doctor stick needles into my joints and give me cortisone shots WITHOUT ANESTHETIC when the pain gets high enough that I can't easily function. I know a thing or two about inflammation and it's effects.

"The source of your pain is inflammation."

At least he had the good sense after reviewing my chart to NOT recommend I take NSAIDs (a big no-no with methotrexate - too taxing on the liver). He gave me a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory gel that has a low uptake into the blood stream and recommended I ice for swelling and come back in a month. While I'll give the gel a shot, and I'll hope for some relief, I'm really not confident a month will make some magical difference.

This is one of those days where if I thought just putting my head down and crying until I can't cry any more would help, I'd be typing this post from a lake of tears and snot on my desk. Crying doesn't help. Getting mad doesn't help. Hell, nothing really helps. About the only thing I can do is to choose to not give in to the pain, to not give up on the day-to-day tasks, and to keep loving my husband and son as best I can from the core of who I am. I wear a necklace that says "Live Life" - that's my motto. Live it, don't give in to the stuff that can only be a crippling factor, emotionally and physically.

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