Monday, June 21, 2010

"The Mommy Club"

What is "The Mommy Club," you ask? It's the strange radar-like ability for moms to hone in on and find each other in a room (even when kids aren't present), clump together in a circle to talk about all-things mommyhood (breastfeeding, childhood firsts - walking, teething, etc. AND poop. Always poop.) - and leave the non-moms standing with our arms crossed looking at our feet. Except, the "non-moms" these days feels more like the lone "non-mom" AKA, yours truly.

I'm probably overexaggerating this a bit (emotions have the effect on me), but sometimes it's just how I feel. And it doesn't feel good. I guess it brings me back to school and being the fat kid who got left out. Now I'm not the fat kid anymore, but I'm the childless one who couldn't possibly related to late night feedings, diaper changes, etc.

Everyone around me seems to be procreating; it's the age, I suppose. Sometimes I'll be at work amongst my mommy friends or out with girlfriends and they'll all be talking the mommy-talk while I sit silently staring off into space. It's not that I have nothing to add. I was a nanny for a couple of years, I do have some experience in these matters. But it feels like nothing I say could mean a thing to these women. They aren't trying to be mean, but you see - it's just that they are Mommies (yes, with a capital "M"!). I am not. I am an outsider. I do not belong.

All choices have their pros and cons. This is one of the cons of my current choice to hold off on children. Certainly, I don't think choosing to have children just to feeling like part of a group is a good move. But, during some of the darker days, it admittedly has been moved to the "pro" column of having children. Is it sad of me to admit that? Perhaps - but, hey, it's honest.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the gym...

Ok - it was *at* the gym. Or the "fitness room" as it's officially called in the employee handbook. (Yes, we have a little gym at work - a treadmill, an elliptical, a bike, some weights - just enough to get in a decent 20-30 minute workout.)

So anyway - there I am all alone, gliding away on the elliptical, reading some truly thought-provoking article (alright, it was US Weekly) when in walks one of the gym regulars. But instead of in her gym-garb, she's wearing her regular work clothes. I thought, hmmm - okay - maybe she's here for some stretching.

Nope, turns out she was there specifically to talk to me. What about? To tell me how amazed she was that I come to the gym every day. "Hunh? Where's this coming from all of a sudden?" I thought.

She went on to explain that last week, she suddenly started having joint pain in her hands, wrists, feet and knees. She was terrified she might have RA or Lyme disease and headed straight to the doctor. Turns out, her group A strep titers were high (think rheumatic fever) and she was prescribed antibiotics. She's been on them for a few days and is already feeling better. But she wanted to make sure to tell me that she now "got" my discomfort - and applauded my dedication to the gym.

It was actually kind of weird. What do you say to that? "Um... thanks?" No, actually, I just told her that I'm actually doing pretty well these days and commisserated with her about the 20 steps we have to climb to go from the first to second floors (on those not-so-well-days for me). I wished her good health, of course, and she was on her way.

After she left and I thought about it more, I realized how different the world might be if everyone had to experience this all over joint pain at least once in their lives. I bet many of our "but you were just walking fine yesterday?!" or "oh yeah, I have that a little in my knee" interactions wouldn't happen. Not that I would wish that on anyone - just interesting to consider the possibilty...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finally - a good article on arthritis pain!

I'm not normally a big fan of "Arthritis Today" because I don't really feel like I learn anything new from their articles. I consider myself a pretty well-informed patient, so it takes a little more effort to teach me something new. Also, when it comes to pain relief, most of their things I've read are all about exercise, exercise, exercise. Which I agree is important - but I already do that every day! What else ya got for me?!

So, when I stumbled across the "Five Steps to Pain Relief" article today in my Facebook feed, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it does mention exercise. But it also mentions some other good, practical tips. Plus - it admits that there are many societal barriers to arthritis pain relief, including the health-care system itself. Woo hoo! Thank goodness someone finally admitted that! I know from some of your stories I've read and one or two of my own experiences, some days it feels like people (some doctors included!) are all like "oh - you're in pain; well, sorry, but that's just part of RA..." Um, yeah - not helpful!

I don't know about you, but sometimes it makes me feel better just to be acknowledged, to have my pain accepted as real - and not something that's just in my head. It can be hard with RA especially because the pain can be so sporadic. Some people might think, "How much pain could she really be in? She was walking just fine earlier." I know part of caring about what other people think is my own problem (self-doubt, self-esteem issues), but I don't think I'm alone in that...

So, anyway - it feels good to be vindicated, especially by a well-respected organization like the Arthritis Foundation. And, I think I've found a new technique I want to try. They describe "contrast baths," where you alternate cool and hot water instead of sticking with just one. When my pain is just all over, I often try taking a hot bath. Most times it helps, but sometimes it makes things worse so I get out of the tub (or have hubby pull me out!). Next time that happens, I'm going to try switching right over to cool water to see if that makes a difference.

What are your go-to pain relief methods?