Monday, July 28, 2008

Stop Writing to Yourself. Write someone else.

Close to my whole life, I have kept a journal. I believed it to be my one good place to vent. I believed that my journal helped me to express myself and helped me to deal with the world. Now that I think about it, my journal actually kept me from dealing with the world and made me more introverted. Instead talking about how something upset me, I wrote it in my journal. No one ever really knew how I felt about anything.

When I first started this blog, I often wrote about how miserably in pain I was, or how I felt alone. When I did that, a had a whole new set of people show up to support me and let me know that I wasn't alone. I then found that I had less of an urge to write in my journal.

This morning, I was going to sit down and write in my journal how much I enjoyed visiting with my cousins when I went to Louisiana. I stopped myself and decided that I would just write my cousins a letter and tell them how much I enjoyed visiting them. This is much better than writing it in a book that no one will ever read, don't you think?

When you have lupus, it is so easy to cut yourself off from the world because you're tired or in too much pain to deal, but we need to try not to do that. We need to reach out to others to help us deal with the challenges that lupus brings.

So many people tell us the best way to get things off our chest is to write in a journal, but I'm going to say that the best way is to write a letter, or start a blog, or to join a discussion board. Reach out. Let others know how you feel. Find out how others feel. If you know you aren't in this alone, it makes it easier to get through each day.

Take care.

Live lupie!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Exactly is a Healthy Does of Paranoia?

Most lupies are immune compromised, and I'm no exception. I've been hospitalized more than once recovering from the flu, so to say that I get petrified whenever the latest bug is floating around the office is an understatement. I often wonder if this is going to be the "one" bug that will get me.

Last week, my workmate Amy came down with some bug that knocked her into bed for several days. Because of this, I was afraid to go to our office Summer party. I was certain that someone there also would also have Amy's bug and would inadvertently give it to me. I thought long and hard about attending that party, and in the end, I decided that while I should be vigilant, I shouldn't let my fear over take my enjoyment of life and people.

I figured that since it was summertime I would be less likely to catch a bug. Also, I was careful to find out how people were feeling before I got too close. It has been a few days since the party, and I seem to be fine. (Knock on wood.)

Amy came back to work today recovered from her flu, and she said, "Now I understand how you feel about germs. I want nothing to do with anyone who might be sick." I said to her, "Welcome to my world."

Take care all.

Live lupie!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Anti-depressants, Anti-Pain, Anti-Social?

I have been struggling with depression since I was a teenager. At some point in my early twenties I took Paxil and Prozac, and I hated it. I just felt so numb to the world. Since that experience, I decided that I'd just try to deal with my depression naturally. I took up yoga and meditation, and while I had dark thoughts a lot of the time, I found the whole issue with my depression pretty manageable. Over the years, I've had many doctors try to prescribe antidepressants for me, but I always turned them down because I felt that I was handling myself just fine.

About four months ago, my rheumatologist recommended that I take Cymbalta. It wasn't for my depression. She said that it's been found to help people with lupus have less pain. I rationalized that since it wasn't for my depression but for my pain, that it was okay to try, so I did.

I have to say that since I started taking Cymbalta, I'm a new person. I'm genuinely happy. I've never known what it's meant to be happy before. I'm satisfied with life, and I find myself being happy and excited about things I've never been happy about before. I get excited about going out to dinner with people when I used to be anxious. I just feel very lucky and grateful. It used to be that I'd say to myself, "I should feel lucky and I know I'm lucky, but I don't feel it." Now I genuinely feel lucky and grateful. I often say to myself, "What a great life!" I've never felt that way before.

I have noticed some other things however. I'm out of ease sometimes. I get the restless leg thing quite a bit. Also, the most unusual thing happened this morning. I was talking to my friend Fay this morning. Fay was upset because her daughter got kicked out of preschool. Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience in this area considering that my son Julian had been kicked out of practically every preschool in Los Angeles. I was telling Fay that sometimes when things like this happen, you don't realize how unsuitable the situation is until you've had time to think about it, and then you realize it is for the better. It was at this point that Geoff said, "I wonder if that's how I'll feel?" Leaving me to grab the implication of "when I leave you" for myself. When he said that, I quickly gave him a big punch in the arm and went back to my conversation leaving Geoff to say, "Oh my gosh. You hit me!"

This is something not only highly unusual for our marriage, but more unusual for me. I am a very controlled and measured person. Never, ever have I hit my husband. I've only truly yelled at him once in our marriage. But lately, I'm just a reactive person. I don't get angry. It wasn't that I was angry when I punched him. I'm just reactive. I don't think I would have even given hitting him a second thought if he hadn't been such a big baby about it. Then he said, "that's okay. It's not like you could really hurt me by hitting me." And you know what? I almost hit him again, but I stopped myself. I'm just out of control.

Back to Cymbalta. It did help with the pain. I notice that I'm in much less pain these days. I did have a time a few weeks ago when I just felt awful, but I think I may have had a bug because I'm completely over it now. If you haven't talked to your doctor about Cymbalta, you might consider it. I'm really glad my doctor brought it up. I'm much happier and healthier for it!

Have a lupie day!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sunny Days

People often tease me during the summer because I go out with an umbrella. On cloud free days, I get jokes like, "Good idea. It looks like rain."

However, I'd rather go through teasing than go through a flare because I was too embarrassed to take out my umbrella. Additionally, people with lupus tend to be more prone to non-melanoma skin cancer because of the immunosuppresive drugs many of us take.

If you're lupie, or even if you're not lupie, make sure to take care during this sunny time a year. Wear protective clothing and sunscreen. Personally, I like the Aveeno 55 spf. It works really well. I also wear sunglasses to protect my eyes because the meds I take make my eyes rather sensitive.

Lastly, because we don't get as much sun as other people, lupies sometimes suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Have your doctor test your Vitamin D levels. If they're low, the doctor can prescribe high dose Vitamin D to get you back in order. When I had Vitamin D deficiency, my bones hurt to the touch. Now, I do well just taking regular vitamins.

Enjoy the summer, and try to enjoy living lupie!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grief and Lupus

My grandma passed away yesterday. It upset me tremendously. I'm still upset actually. I spent the day yesterday sleeping and eating Oreos. This morning I feel nauseous and achy. It's hard to remember to do the things I need to do to stay healthy when I'm grieving over the loss of my grandmother, but I need to pull myself together if I expect to fly to Louisiana for the funeral. It will do no good to make myself too sick to get on a plane.

That means that I'm going to get my pitiful self out of bed, take a shower, eat a healthy breakfast (probably oatmeal), go to work, hit the gym at lunch. Most importantly, stay away from the junk food. It only makes me feel worse.

Take care everyone.

Live lupie!