Motherhood & Rheumatoid Arthritis

I wasn’t sure I’d ever write about my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis because I didn’t want anyone to think I felt sorry for myself. But I do feel sorry for myself but not because I have this disease. No, it’s because it’s changed my parenting and not in a good way.

Over half a year ago, the symptoms presented themselves with a vengeance. It started with me not being about to lift my arms high enough to put on my clothing. I had to do some major contortion to get my arms in shirts.  I dismissed the sign. I’d had stiff shoulders before. I chalked it up to getting older and not exercising. Eventually the pain subsided and I left it at that.

A couple of days later, my right wrist became inflamed and the symptoms were consistent with carpal tunnel. That’s fine.  I work at a desk every day.  But then my left wrist went and I could even carry a purse. I proceeded to wrap both wrist is wrist wraps and worked this way for several weeks. I finally went to the doctor.

My doctor is a lovely woman. She’s hard and honest, but mostly she listens.  She quietly touched my small joints and larger joints. I hardly felt her touch. She looked at me and said, “Your entire body is inflamed.” She prescribed prednisone and ordered several tests. She called me a few weeks later and declares shed figured out what was wrong with me.

Hearing you have RA feels sort of like a gut punch.  One of my best friends was diagnosed in our twenties and I remembered some of her bad days. She never complained but I knew she was in pain often. I didn’t really want to join the pain club. So I spiraled into a depressive state. It wasn’t pretty. I was angry.

Fast-forward to today. Today, I’m mentally better but it’s changed how I parent. Some days touching hurts. Four year olds still touch a lot. My O is no exception. She touches, leans and climbs all over me. She can’t help herself.  I’m her mom. I work 40 hours a week. The few precious moments together are as important to her as they are to me. 

But it’s in those moments of closeness the pain often trumps her need to be close. I’ve tried a million times to explain that mommy hurts. She doesn’t understand.  Why should she? Mommy has always been up for a cuddle. But I have to ask her repeatedly to stop and when she doesn’t I get testy like an irrational toddler.

Even worse, it’s slowed me down. Anyone who knows me would tell you I’m hyper, always moving. I love to sing and dance. I used to love to just keep going but there are times I am too stiff to move. I am burdened by the pain and I sometimes give in. It makes me less likely to enjoy activities that require activity. It’s not the mom I want to be.

I don’t want to tell my daughter that I hurt and am too tired for an impromptu dance party. Or that going to the park is last thing I want to do. I don’t want to put up my guard when she’s playing around and desiring affection. It’s heartbreaking.

Maybe if I had been a younger mom, this wouldn’t be my experience. But now, I must parent through the pain.  Make an effort to not get upset with her because I can’t manage my pain.  It’s a new journey in our lives and I won’t let RA win and rob me of the closeness my daughter and I desire.

Parents Just Don’t Understand!

I met this lovely young man 6 weeks ago. We struck up a conversation. The conversation turned into daily text messages. And finally to us meeting so he could come take a look, under the hood of my car. (He’s a mechanic, bonus.) 

 Last night, I told my mother about him and the fact he was coming over to visit tonight. She hung her head and shook it. I didn’t understand what was wrong. I mean, I know I don’t know his social security number or have three references, but he seems like a sane and decent guy.
So I tucked my daughter in and decided the opportunity to talk to my mom was there. So I asked her what was up. She told me that it really concerned her that he was Muslim. I had already grilled the poor fella because I agreed with my mother’s assessment earlier that I needed to know more about him. I found his responses satisfactory. So I didn’t understand why his being Muslim was such a problem.

So she brought the Bible into the conversation, telling me that we would be unequally yoked. And I said that I wasn’t sure how I felt about that or even if I felt like we were. Not that I am arguing the point of the Bible, but the last long term relationships I’ve had have been with Christians of a different stripe than my own, but they were disastrous at best. I feel that his faith may be different, but his beliefs were much the same as my own.

Then when I was so resolute about my decision to still see him and have him visit, she talked to me about having him meet O. I explained to her that he wasn’t coming over for us to have a make out session. He was coming over to do what we’d have been doing outside the house for the last couple of months, chatting. Yes, chatting folks. There’s been no kissing. Just hugs and a lot of conversation. I appreciate it. He seems to have a real interest in getting to know me.

But of course my mom warned me about bringing men in and out of my daughter’s life. Then I had to explain my parenting philosophy and dating strategy. I would not bring a lot of men around my daughter. Which, I thought she’d have known since I’ve had plenty of dates with plenty of men in the last 4 years and only one has met my daughter. That was only because we were in the area and I need to drop something off to him. More a happenstance than a planned meeting. 

I was allowing this man to meet my daughter because we have become friends. Despite the fact we are exploring the possibility of a relationship, our visits are strictly friendly. He’s aware of this.

So despite my mother’s reservations, I’ve decided to press forward, carefully. We’ll see where this leads. 

Mr. Perfect On Paper

I’ve was trying to figure out what I am doing with Mr. Perfect on Paper. He has everything any gal could want, but I can’t seem to connect with him.  And perhaps neither can he with me, but for whatever reason we refused to give up what little connection we have.

Let’s step back a year.  I met him on Match overa year ago,  but things never lead to a date.  A year later, he found me on POF and he contacted me again.  It resulted in us having a date 3 days after reconnecting.

I was a little hurt and confused by the fact he acted as though he didn’t remember me from Match; not that I asked him if he remembered me. But I threw caution to the wind and went out with him because I thought I was so into him.  Our text conversations flowed like butter across hot biscuits.  There was no way , in my mind, this couldn’t turn out to be a meaningful connection.

Our date was a little unconventional, we met at his place for take out and sat around to chat a while.  And the conversation flowed, but I was exhausted and suggested we watch a documentary. The documentary touched on subjects that conincided with our fields of work. We were able to share knowledge.  What could be better? Right?

Wrong, I don’t know why, but I left there feeling off.  He had spent much of the night commenting on what I was wearing.  I felt like he was sizing me up to see if I could live up to his executive lifestyle.  And with all the commenting, I felt less like a date and more like a slab of beef in a display case waiting to get picked.

Despite feeling like this, I agreed to see him again.  It was a short visit. We talked and hung out, but I wasn’t feeling it anymore. He promised we’d catch up after the holidays. I probably should have said that’s ok, don’t think it’s necessary, but I didn’t.  I mean, I really thought maybe things would eventually fall into place.

I was baffled by my lack of feeling for him.  He was gainfully, well employed.  He had the same love of fashion that I did.  He was incredibly good looking. Yet somehow, I didn’t like him enough. Sadly, it has been a relief that he and I both stopped texting.  We ghosted each other.  And while I am never a fan of not saying goodbye, this time, I will make an exception.

 

 

 

Creating the Perfect Princess Party

It’s time for a birthday!  Your kid’s birthday!  Take a deep breath momma! It’s going to be okay!

I could have driven myself crazy this past weekend with nervous energy about having just the right mix of things for my daughter’s fourth birthday party.

IMG_1625

The table is set for a royally good time

I spent hours contemplating that centerpiece on the right.  I found the base at the local Goodwill and added fairy flower lights that I found on Amazon.I used even more brain power on the placement of every butterfly on the twinkling lights for the support post in our living room.  And I did all of this to only get one comment on the decor.

Create a simple a menu.  For example, we had two choices of sandwiches.  Peanut butter and jelly or honey and cheese.  Instead of chips, we popped popcorn in a large pot on the stove.  (Nothing tastes as good as popcorn popped in a little vegetable oil.) Add a bit of cut up fruit, juice and milk.  And you’ve got a nutritious but filling, toddler friendly meal.

twinkling lights

Twinkling Night Lights

For a bit of entertainment for the parents and kiddos alike, I created a photo booth!  Photo booths are all the rage. And here’s what you need to make a budget friendly photo booth:

  • Wall Space
  • Plastic rectangle tablecloth
  • 1 Happy Birthday Banner
  • thumbtacks

These items can be found at your local dollar store.  So for $3 you have an instant back drop for silly, zany pictures for the preschool set.

photo booth

Dollar Store Photo Booth

After the princess party mayhem, I find myself chuckling because I realized that I did it all the contemplating, stressing and decorating for myself. The real hit of the party was the kids being together and enjoying each other’s company.  Younger kids just want to play.  So a playground with sandwiches or a house party with toys is just as good as the local “jumper” playground.

 

Decorations & Favors

Hello 2016!

In 2015, I promised a metamorphosis of this blog.  Well, I can tell you that there shall be changes.

The first and hardest for myself is to be more honest. While I’ve never written a lie, I have left out the hard parts of life.  Probably because I thought that it was more uplifting, but the truth is, part of being uplifting is letting others know there is a struggle and it can be overcome.

Next, we will be giving away more fun stuff! I enjoy free things as much as the next gal so, I am hoping to share some of my favorite finds with my readers.

Finally, expansion! Yes, it may be a few months or maybe a few years, but I am hunting for more stories, more lifestyle pieces and just more fabulousness for this blog. While I’m sure hearing my story is entertaining, there are some other fabulous women out there with stories to tell.

Welcome 2016. I look forward to spending the next 362 days with you.

Living a Charitable Life

This morning, I was watching the news and they reported on an organization right around the corner that had few toy donations. They said that they may actually have to turn away children in need.  I almost cried.

I still remember years ago when my mother was in the military that some mysterious philanthropic donor bought toys for the children on the Presidio. Despite being 14, I got a Teddy Ruxpin teddy bear that read stories to me. I had wanted one for most of my childhood but we could never afford it.I kept that teddy bear well into my 20s. It is still one of the best memories I ever had. Every time I looked at it. I would remember that someone in San Francisco cared about military families so much that I got a teddy bear my family couldn’t afford.

Returning to today, I was about to walk back to work when I was approached by a young lady as I stood under the Twitter sign texting my co-worker to see if they could put out a fire instead.  The young lady asked if I had money for warm soup. I don’t know why I pulled out my wallet. I don’t normally do that, but all I had was twenties so I told her to follow me to Walgreens across the street and I’d get change.  I bought a pack of gum, got some change, and then handed her some money.  I would have taken her to buy the soup and maybe a sandwich myself, but I was late getting home to my daughter.

In our few minutes together, she showed me her two black eyes. She’d been jumped from behind and robbed. She was actually from the local area, but wasn’t able to get home. She told me her mother was sending her a ticket to come home. As we exited, Walgreens she reminded me to tuck my money away and asked for a hug. She said simply, “Keep me in your prayers”. Apparently, I wasn’t meant to go back to work. I was meant to meet this woman.

When I got home, I asked my mom if she’d see the story about the Davis Street Community Center. She said yes. I told her we had to go shop, and asked who had the best price on toys this year. We ended up in Walgreeens with my daughter. I explained to O that she was choosing toys for kids less fortunate than her.  That without kids like her, there would be no Christmas for them. She made her best toy choices, and in no time flat, the cart was full.  We took them to the counter and paid.

At the community center, I let my daughter take in one of the toys, as I took an armful through the doors. My daughter put the toys in the barrel proudly. I don’t know if she will remember this in the years to come, but I hope that she does. I hope that she remembers that Christmas means to be giving of oneself and resources.  When we are fortunate to have all we need and sometimes more, we should help others.

This was a bad day, well at work, it was. The best part of today was coming home to be a blessing to others. I don’t want anything from today other than a hope I will encourage others to give what they can.  We can all give someone their own “Teddy Ruxpin” that will change their lives for the better for a long time to come.

 

 

I’m Sad

I went to the doctor the other day and we were talking about my mental health.  I told her I think I had a bit of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Truth be told, it probably goes a lot deeper than SAD, but I was glad I finally asked for help.

Since October, I’ve had a couple of life altering changes.  First, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  I didn’t think it was arthritis when it began.  The pain was in my shoulders.  It was so bad at times that dressing myself took 20 minutes because I had to contort my body in odd fashion to get my tops on. I would cry, but I told myself that the pain would go away.  There was no cause for concern. So, I lived with the pain for a month. But then, I realized that all my joints were swelling.   I had braces from the drugstore on both hands and walking became so painful that I had to end the denial.

When I went in to my fabulous primary care physician, she shook her head at me because I told her I’d been in pain for over a month.  She remarked that my whole body appeared to be inflamed.  We talked about all my health issues.  She told me she was going to run some tests.  I went back a few weeks later to be told I have RA. She said usually the tests will show some level of the protein that indicates a positive result for RA, but mine was through the roof. She said it was highly unlikely to be a false positive. She prescribe a short term dose of prednisone and an anti-inflammatory.  When the prednisone ended, the pain came back and so did the inflammation.  I ended up taking prednisone for 6 weeks.   I’m not sure if it was my normal reaction to prednisone of my mild depression that set me up to start comfort eating, but soon, I had gained 20 pounds.  For a woman who is already overweight, the weight gain has been devastating.

In early November, my daughter’s other parent got laid off causing immediate financial hardship for us.  Our daughter is in the middle of a few growth spurts and it’s been hard enough to keep her clothed with child support.  Without it, things seem hopeless. But of course, this is only temporary, at least I hope. My relationship with the ex and money are not even close to positive.  So let’s just say, I am praying and hoping for the best.

Last week, my doctor and I talked at our monthly appointment and I was finally honest with myself.  I was losing control of my emotions.  I had thoughts that were not good for myself.  I was losing my self-esteem.  I was blowing up like a balloon.  And my family, while they are supportive, they are very critical about being “emotional”.  Some, not all, believe I can’t afford to be sad.  So, I am taking control by taking an antidepressant.  If this doesn’t work, the next step is therapy.

In order to be the best mother I can, I must take care of my mental health. There are no ifs and or buts about it.  I am so glad that I don’t care about the stigma attached to mental health.  When I just can’t do it myself anymore, I reach out for help.