Monthly Archives: May 2012

Arthritis Walk

Sorry, I’ve been without a computer for a week thanks to some soy sauce damage (it decided to die a week after the incident). You would think that since I live with a software engineer and our bedroom looks like a server room that I would have access to a computer, right? No, not really. Truth be told, only one of four desktop computers is functional at the moment, and that’s the one he uses. Last night I managed to steal a power cord from my mother’s house and got my old Dell up and running, so here we are. Thankfully, I’m picking up my new Macbook Pro tonight. I’m so excited that I can get back to writing my novels again (I don’t have a PC version of my writing software).

Anyway, this past Sunday was the Arthritis Walk in Teaneck, NJ, and I wanted to talk about it. If you have RA or any other type of arthritis, I totally encourage you to participate. While I was expecting it to be a long walk, it was only ten minutes, which was kind of a bummer. That’s the only thing I would change-make the walk longer. Maybe it was just this specific event that was like this; I don’t know for certain. Anyway, besides the point. Yes, I had to get up at 6:30 in the morning to get there. Yes, I had to hear my boyfriend complain about how early it was and listen to him mumble about how I managed to talk him into going. And yea, I was in pain and feeling really stiff. But it was worth it emotionally.

For starters, the volunteers there treat all of the participants with arthritis like superheros. They even had special gifts for us. Lots of different vendors and sponsors had booths with information on new products that could help us feel better. During the opening ceremony, the honorees for this year’s event were invited up to speak about their experiences with the disease. All of them had RA. I found myself tearing up when a 14 year old boy started talking about how awful he felt when he was first diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) but how he is now able to feel normal because of his medication. I was inspired by the fact that a 4 year-old who was diagnosed with JRA at 18 months can now run around happily like any other little girl, and how she thinks that having JRA makes her special. If these kids can live normally and accept their disease, then so could I. I gushed to Avi all day about how excited I was to be around others like me. I’m sure he secretly wanted to tape my mouth shut, but he didn’t say anything about it.

I didn’t collect as much money as I would have liked, but in general the participants raised over $50,000 for Arthritis research and programs to help patients. But, it’s really not just about the money. I don’t deny that it’s important, but on an individual level, it’s not the most important. The realization that you are not alone in the world is. I needed to hear from complete strangers that things would get better for me. I formed a bond with them without knowing a single thing about them. That moral support is more precious to me than anything else about the walk. I will definitely be participating next year. Seriously, you should too. You owe it to yourself.


Exams and Vacation

Okay, so this post is really late. You can thank my computer’s run-in with soy sauce for that (I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true!). Now that my computer is working again, here you go.

One of the perks to being a college student is that you’re finished with school in early May. The downside of that is that everything stressful is thrown at you at once. What could possibly make writing 25 pages of final essays and an exam worse? The fact that everything needs to be done a week earlier because you’re going on vacation the week everything is due, that’s what. You thought I was going to say having RA makes it worse, right? Well, that played a roll too, but that comes later.

I thought I handled the stress of my crazy, self-inflicted deadlines pretty well. I was going on a road trip with my friends for a week, and I didn’t want to have to work while on vacation. So, even though I had deadlines that extended into the second week of May, I had everything done by April 30th. While I felt mentally accomplished, my body was pretty run down from the stress. So this is where the RA comes in.

We left New Jersey on Saturday for an 8 day trip through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Our road trip required a lot of walking and many hours of sitting in a car with few breaks. Between the fatigue the stress caused, mixed with the fatigue and pain of being on the trip, I was pretty miserable. I enjoyed all of the sites we saw and the laughs we had, but by day 6, I was in agony. I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit in during our 6 hour drive from Nashville to Knoxville. The bottoms of my feet were on fire and I was walking with a limp from the knee inflammation. And then of course, I was wearing my beloved sunglasses at night and gasping for breath because my lungs were inflamed. Of course, my friends did whatever they could to make me comfortable. One thankfully was willing to open my prescription bottles for me twice a day (stupid childproof lids that require a twisting motion). Even now, after being home for a week, I’m still feeling the effects of my flare.

The lesson here: reduce the stress as much as possible, and rest as often as you can. I was probably an idiot for leaving so close to the end of school, but at the same time I realize that I can’t let RA or the possibility of working really hard for a week put my life on hold. And while you may need to do a lot of walking on vacation, it’s also okay to say no every once in awhile and sit on a bench while the others climb a tower or go shopping for souvenirs. You just need to know when to stop yourself and not overdo it to the point where you can’t enjoy yourself anymore. Going on vacation helps me feel young and normal, and even with a flare, I want to do my best to keep up with the people around me. I know I can’t do the same things they do, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be a part of their fun either. Just make sure you travel with people who understand your needs and won’t get mad at you if you can’t keep their pace or need to go to bed early.

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