Saturday, June 9, 2012

Outside Looking In

I spend parts of my working day talking to strangers, making them comfortable in an interview, assessing their skills and ultimately deciding if they are a good fit for our company. We hire based on skill and fit, so HR has an important role in shaping the culture and the people that work here. I see people in their interview state. Some nervous, some excited, some prepared, many not. Some defensive about their choices and others proud of their accomplishments. I question, observe and listen.

I often wonder how people see me. The "work" me, the "friend" me, the "mom" me, the "blog" me. Each little piece contributes to my personality, and not all of my bits of personality are seen by the same person.

When I submitted my blog for the Ottawa Blog Out Loud event, the reviewers and organizer just read my blog without having met me. They only knew the "blog" me. To help promote the event and the readers, Lynn (the organizer) writes a small summary of the writer and what they blog about. Here is what she had to say about me:

Megan’s blog, Sticks and Stones, is her place to pour out her heart, soul, and body – a place for her to share what it really means to live with rheumatoid arthritis. She’s a mother to two young kids, with a loving husband and a good job. But although there is much that is good about her life, there’s one thing that never goes away – RA.

It’s almost impossible for us to imagine living a life where pain is a constant, daily injections are a fact of life, and joint replacement surgeries happen to 37-year-old women. However, Megan’s powerful, moving posts draw us into her world, helping us see exactly what a life like that is like. Her confessional style of writing helps us really understand that this isn’t a disease for the weak – and Megan certainly isn’t weak.

Music is a key part of Megan’s life and she often has a song to reference as a framework for her posts. Come hear Megan’s own music, and see her strength, at Blog Out Loud.
This, I think, is a fairly accurate representation of the "blog" me. I am tough. I do write what I am feeling and I have been through some tough spots. I've come to accept my life as it is - RA and all. And this realization has been painful and honest, and documented mostly through this blog.

Song for the day - "Walk On" by U2. This song talks about the challenges that you may face in your life, but you need to just "Walk On" - and that is how I see myself.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I feel good, what's goin' on here?

Some folks with RA, namely yours truly, struggle sometimes to get through an average day. There is more time in a day than energy in my body and that sometimes poses a problem at 6:00 pm when I have no energy left and the day is not done yet. This poses a problem to which I have come up with many creative solutions over the years. Generally it involved TV and take-out. But those days may be over. Read on!

Feat #1 - I Survived Disney
You may understand my trepidation when we set off on a "vacation" to the Orlando area for a 5 park days, 4 water park days and 1 Legoland day. The amount of sun, walking and fatigue involved in this kind of "vacation" can be overwhelming for someone with RA.  12 days in Florida in May, with 10 days of wandering around parks, going on rides and sweltering in the heat. As it turns out, I felt great. No aches, no pain, no swelling, just good times on the roller coasters, teacups and "It's a Small World". It was only with achieving the next two feats do I have some insight as to why I feel so fantastic. Read on!

Feat #2 - I Can Ride a Bike
I haven't owned a bike for all of my adult life. Mainly because I find the seats uncomfortable. But it seems technology has caught up, and there are more comfy seats. Check. My kids are now riding their bikes independently, and so this is the year we can all go for longer family bike rides. The other day, my son and I biked 5.6 K through woods and trails and I felt great. I can ride a bike and like it and not flare! Amazing! Why you ask, is this feat possible? Read on!

Feat #3 - I Enjoyed a Zumba Class
Zumba is an aerobics dance class set to dance music where you jump, skip and shake it for an hour. It is exhausting. I love/hate my instructor. She's not even breathing hard at the end. I was, after 12 minutes. But I made it to the end. As my brother once said, "it wasn't pretty, but it did it". That summarizes my efforts fairly succinctly. But I did it. How you ask? Read on!

How are these amazing feats possible? Drugs is the short answer. I think I may have found a biologic that agrees with me. I'm on monthly infusions of Actemra, and I feel fantastic. Really, really super. This is not something I usually write in this blog. If I can't rail against the meds not working, what will I write about? Perhaps all the things I can do with my new-found non-flaring body.

It's nice to write a happy post. Laugh if you must, but it requires a happy song. And who doesn't smile when LMFAO comes on with "Party Rock"?