The 2018 Trip: Overview

I’ve been addicted to travel since I was a small child and I’ve infected my husband with the love of planes, trains, and automobiles — seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods. For several years now, we’ve planned “the trip” every year and this year “the trip” was very ambitious. I’m going to provide more details (and pictures!) on each of our main destinations, but I thought it would be good to give you an overview to start.

The “Trip” for 2018

We flew from Dallas to London where we stayed for five nights (with a side trip to Norwich) before flying on to Munich, Germany. We were there for three days (with a side trip to Ulm) before moving on to Nuremberg for a day by train. From Nuremberg, we traveled again by train to Berlin, staying four days before taking the train to Amsterdam. We were only in Amsterdam for two nights before flying home to Dallas. In all, we were gone for 17 days.

Like any trip, there were challenges. Some were funnier than others. Some weren’t funny at all (until later). But it all worked out. While (in hindsight) I might have made a few changes, I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything. Each of the seven cities we visited had its own charm and reason to visit.

I am a fairly fearless traveler but I did have some trepidation going into the journey. London has had instances of terrorist attacks (the latest just a few days after we left) and the current political climate made me wonder about the reception American tourists were getting in Germany. But the people were wonderful and warm and helpful (even if they did laugh at me trying to speak German). Seriously, in German restaurants, we wouldn’t even have to say anything, they’d just hand us the English menu …

The other concern about the trip was how ambitious it was. There wasn’t a lot of “down time” in the schedule for rest and there was a lot of hauling luggage around. But my RA and I made it, even though my RA seemed to gripe a lot.

So welcome aboard my travels. I’m glad you’re here. I will include my poor excuses for pictures and, at some point when they’re available, provide a link to my husband’s more brilliant photos.

First stop, London (in the next blog post).

Thanks for checking in.

 

 

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Why Do I feel so Bad if I’m in Remission?

I’m back from a wonderful vacation (more about that later). While I was away the great folks at rheumatoidarthritis.net published a post that I think resonates with a lot of us — what if our labs say we’re doing well, but we still feel bad? This is the state I’m in at this point and I discuss it here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/30071/.

Drop the Designation?

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First a note that this post is not directly about RA, so if you’re searching for info on that topic, please check out my other posts.

I’ve been contemplating our changing social mores lately and about our roles as chronic illness patients. With this as a backdrop, this morning I was creating an account on the website of a British company. In the pull-down menu of salutations, there was “Mx.” listed along with the usual litany of “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, “Dr.”, etc.

Although this has been around for awhile, I had never seen this designation before. I could only conclude that it would be used by individuals who didn’t think their gender or marital status was either relevant to the situation or perhaps anyone’s business.

Being in the generation that gleefully dropped the Mrs. vs. Miss designation in favor of Ms. for women, this seems like a logical next step. (Although after being married for more than 20 years, I have adopted the more classic “Mrs.” when asked.)

But it makes me wonder if we need these designations at all — at least for social and most business interactions. I find that things that label us tend to separate us — gender, religion, race, age, etc. This opens the door for “us/them” discrimination. Does it really matter if we address an envelope to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” as opposed to “John and Jane Smith”? And why should we have to list our marital title (which also reveals our gender) on a website? Does it matter if I’m a Mr., a Mrs., or a Miss as long as my credit card works?

I do believe we should allow people who have earned titles to continue to use them if they wish — such as Dr. So-and-So. And certainly the military or other organizations that rely on an established chain of command should continue to use them (at least internally).

But I am given to wonder if the great unwashed rest of us should even bother with these designations and what great cataclysmic event(s) would occur if we simply stopped. Would all those empty data fields in all those trillions of databases simply collapse and crash cyberspace? (And would that be a bad thing if it did?) Would the worldwide ink companies suddenly go bankrupt because we quit writing/printing the salutation on the front of envelopes and therefore used less ink?

I think the British are on to something with their “Mx.” idea. I’m just not sure they’ve gone far enough. (I didn’t see “none of the above” or “none of your business” options.)

I hope that your designation today is both healthy and happy, because really that’s all that matters. Thanks for checking in.

Take a Pill, Gain a Pound

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Take a Pill, Gain a Pound
-graphic courtesy of rheumatoidarthritis.net

There is a lot of discussion about rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. But have you ever wondered if RA (or its treatments) are actually contributing to the issue? I have and discuss this exploration in my new article published on rheumatoidarthritis.net, here:

https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/take-a-pill-gain-a-pound/

Hair (not the Musical)

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I was recently at a meeting that included a number of other RA patient advocates. Over lunch, conversation turned (not unexpectedly) to various treatments and side effects. One of the others, who had long, luxurious dark hair, said, “It’s not fair. I was losing hair by the handfuls from my head but I still had to shave my legs.”

She was talking about her experience with methotrexate (MTX) which is the first medication prescribed for many RA patients. Being young, pretty, and single, hair loss was a non-starter for her and she quickly talked to her doctor about switching treatment plans.

To read the rest of this article including my own “hair-raising” experiences with RA treatments, visit rheumatoidarthritis.net here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/hair-not-musical/

Man Plans, God Laughs

Even though I’m taking some time away, I couldn’t help but provide a mid-year update. It is, after all, July 1 and we’re now in the downhill slide into all the end-of-year frivolity. (It’s only 177 days until Christmas!)

I started the year with some (non) resolutions and I’m pleased to say that I’ve kept many of them. However, I’m also here to report that I have various new body parts, lots of airline miles and 15 extra pounds that I didn’t start the year with.

New Body Parts

As reported earlier, I had a reverse shoulder replacement in mid-February. I’m just over four months out and the shoulder is doing terrific — much better than my other shoulder which I had replaced about nine years ago. Seriously, it’s wonderful. Total recovery is a long process, but I have an amazing amount of strength and range of motion already.

I also had cataract surgery in both eyes. The second one was about two weeks ago and the first one was four weeks before that. Like my shoulder surgery, these new “eyes” have improved my life immensely. Surgery was easy, recovery has been good and my sight is fantastic. My only regret is that they didn’t have any options for X-ray vision eyes when I had them done. 🙂

I am hopefully done with surgery for 2018!

Airline Miles

In the midst of all that surgery, it seems like I’ve been traveling quite a lot the first half of the year. I went to Austin, Texas; Philadelphia (twice); Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kansas; Chicago; Nashville and Las Vegas. Most of these trips were related to my advocacy and were both enjoyable and productive. The trip to Wichita was to attend the memorial for my younger cousin who died of brain cancer and which still grieves me.

Travel is in store the second half of the year as well. While I’m sure there is more travel looming in my future, at the moment I have firm reservations for London and Norwich, UK; Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; and Las Vegas (again).

Weight Gain

It’s really been a perfect storm. During all the surgery recovery, not only was I not exercising, my husband was responsible for a lot of meals which consisted mainly of take out. In addition, my cataract surgery recovery included eye drops that had prednisolone in them (!) so I was on steroids for eight weeks (four weeks for each eye). And, of course, traveling seems to put the pounds on everyone. Fifteen friggin’ pounds. Sheesh! And I worked so hard to take it off. Back to the alternate day fasting and exercise!

So that’s how my year has gone so far. I’m proud to say that I’ve done pretty well with my resolutions to find a better balance in my life, to try to consciously be kind to people (which is tough sometimes when you’re on steroids …), and to keep positive influences in my life. Sustaining the weight loss has been a challenge, but the year isn’t over yet.

I hope the first half of the year has been kind to you and that the rest of the year delivers on the promise of health and happiness to you and yours. Thanks for checking in.

 

 

Pain and Sleep – a Two-Way Street

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Below is a screen shot from my phone. It shows the sleep tracking from my Fitbit. The red parts are when I was awake. It’s pretty easy to tell from this picture when I got up, took two (more) Tylenol®, and finally got some decent sleep.

We’ve all been there. All those little aches and pains that we don’t notice (or simply ignore) during the day when we’re busy seem to magnify themselves in the dark quiet of the night. That slightly sore ankle, knee, hip or shoulder suddenly takes over your whole attention and will not let you get comfortable and go to sleep.

What I didn’t realize is that it’s a two-way street. According to the research, sleep complaints are present in up to 88 percent of chronic pain disorders and at least 50 percent of individuals with insomnia—the most commonly diagnosed disorder of sleep impairment—suffer from chronic pain.

Read the rest of this article here: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/pain-and-sleep/

Acceptance May Mean Saying “No”

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It was a dream job. One of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do meaningful work you enjoy with people you respect at a generous salary. Those jobs are rare to begin with but when you’re, like me, at the end of your career, they are all but nonexistent.

I truly tried to figure out how to do it. I had even convinced myself that I could do it even if it occasionally meant the 70 to 80 hour week, frequent travel and high levels of stress. I liked the person who would be my boss. I appreciated the talent and dedication of my fellow co-workers. I could make a difference. It would pay incredibly well. I really, really wanted that job.

Read how I addressed this issue with a “maybe” at rheumatoidarthritis.net.