Thursday, June 27, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
We just spent two weeks traveling, followed by two weeks moving into our new house. And let's just say that things have been a bit rough for me lately. So I finally gave in and called my rheumatologist for a short course of the drug I love to hate: prednisone (sigh).
But I was at least highly amused to see Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy post this picture on Facebook the other day. Satan's Tic Tacs indeed!! Thanks for the laugh!!
Monday, June 24, 2013
It really isn't rare to hear the parents of young children talking or joking about the toll parenthood takes on their sex lives. It's a well known fact that while making babies may be intimate, having babies makes intimacy difficult. Parents of young children have no time. They have no energy. They didn't get enough sleep last night. There's spitup on the sheets. They can't remember the last time they shaved. So their sex life inevitably suffers.
It seems to me that everyone is pretty understanding and supportive about this issue. A group of parents who are friends might even talk and joke about the issue, even if there are both moms and dads in the group. And get a group of moms alone together (preferably with drinks and without children) and they will discuss the issue in detail.
But while arthritis can have a huge impact on a person's sex life, it is actually relatively rare among the arthritis community to hear people talking about it. You don't see it much on blogs or on message boards. There really aren't that many useful or uplifting resources dedicated to the subject. And even in this blog's 456 posts of over-sharing during the last five years, where I've talked about everything from my own emotional breakdowns to infections in my boob, I've only written four posts that even mentioned the issue of sex. And those were all in relation to trying to get pregnant. But, of course, those were obviously not the only times that RA has played a role our sex life.
I wonder why nobody talks about it? I wonder why haven't I felt comfortable talking about it?
Maybe it's because the toll arthritis takes on your sex life is so much more depressing than the toll having a baby takes. Arthritis (and even treatments for arthritis) can mess with your body image and make you feel not so great about yourself. Yes, you gain weight when you get pregnant and there can be body image issues, but after the baby is born you can try to fix those issues. When you gain weight from being pregnant and being on prednisone but you can't lose the weight because you can't exercise because of nasty RA flares, and your legs are covered in bruises and your hair is falling out and all your joints hurt, it can be really, really hard to feel sexy. Or even be remotely interested in trying to feel that way.
Or maybe it's because the hurdles arthritis puts on your sex life are more difficult to overcome. You can put the kids to bed early. You can hire a babysitter. You can have a quickie during a nap. But if your hip feels like there's a knife in it, or your fatigue makes it difficult even to walk, there's not a whole lot you can do to make sex seem more appealing.
Or maybe no one talks or jokes about arthritis and sex because the toll is permanent. Kids will eventually grow up, but the strain of arthritis on your sex life is forever. And it will probably only get worse.
I now have a young child and arthritis. And this combination has made our current sex life basically non-existent. And I feel like it is all my fault. I feel inadequate. Guilty. Miserable about my body. Less sexy than ever. And I don't really have any solutions or words of wisdom at this point. I just decided that I wanted to share. I'm not trying to wallow or garner sympathy. I fully intend to find a way to move forward, feel better about myself, and improve my relationship and revive our sex life.
But in the meantime I just wanted to put it out there: if arthritis has ever made you feel the way I am feeling right now, you are not alone.
Monday, June 17, 2013
It has now been five years since I was first diagnosed with RA.
When my RA anniversary rolled around last year, my baby boy was only a few weeks old and APL and I were still struggling to adapt to parenthood, as all new parents do. I got a few weeks of post-pregnancy remission, but then my RA symptoms came roaring back when OZL was about seven weeks old. After three months of breastfeeding I finally reached a point where my RA was so bad I was having trouble caring for OZL on my own. It was an emotionally difficult decision for me, but I eventually switched OZL to formula so I could go back on my Enbrel and get my RA under control. Honestly I have to say that I do not regret this decision one bit. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish: breastfeeding exclusively for three months plus frozen milk a couple times a day for another two months. But it is also absolutely true what everyone told me: motherhood is so much more. And now I can be a part of all of it.
This year I've continued to have some issues with my knee, and I may still end up requiring surgery to fix that problem. I've also had trouble with my hands and ended up needing knuckle injections. And, of course, there are all the never ending battles with insurance companies (and battles and battles and battles and battles and battles and battles...dear god why isn't there a better system?!?!?!)
Because my RA is an important aspect of our lives, our family has made it a priority to find time to stay involved with the wider arthritis community. We volunteered again at JA Family Day and we had our biggest team yet at the Jingle Bell Run. APL also participated in his first California Coast Classic, where he rode his bike 525 miles down the coast of California to raise arthritis awareness and raised almost $6,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. This blog was also named one of Healthline's 22 Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs of 2012, and I was hired by Answers.com to manage their Arthritis category.
Five years ago I was a twenty-five-year-old dual degree graduate student, hell-bent on achieving all the things I thought I wanted (or thought I ought to want), but I wasn't actually sure what I wanted at all or where I was going in my life. I was working myself to the bone and I wasn't even really sure why. I had APL, and we loved each other, but we weren't particularly happy with our lives. Today I am thirty. I've had RA for five years, I've been happily married to APL for two years, and we have an incredible one year old son. We just moved into our very first house and today we are so very happy with the direction our lives are headed.
I will admit that being a mom with RA isn't always easy. I have certainly struggled and sometimes I still worry about how I will manage, especially as OZL grows and gets stronger and more active every day. And I'll also admit to being a little scared about the prospect of adding another child (or maybe even two?) to complete our family someday. But, honestly, it's not the same kind of fear I had when I got diagnosed with RA five years ago. That was a fear of the unknown. I was scared because it felt like my life was getting ripped out of my control. But today I realize that my life wasn't even in my control at the time anyways. I had no idea what I wanted or how to get there. But now I do, and it makes all the difference in the world.
So many things have happened since the last time I posted on this blog that I'm not even sure how to begin catching up! I think I'm going to have to just cheat and post a bunch of pictures or I'll have no hope of ever getting caught up with everything that is happening right now!
At the end of May, our whole family loaded into the car and drove for two days to get to Groveland, California where APL's parents have a Cherry Farm. It's also the location where APL and I got married two years ago. (How has it already been two years?) We spent a week at the farm - swimming, riding tractors, playing, visiting, and eating delicious food.
We also got to spend some time in the most beautiful place in the world - Yosemite National Park. We took OZL on a bike ride around the valley and showed him Yosemite Falls. We also took a little hike in Mariposa Grove and saw the Grizzly Giant (one of the biggest sequoia trees in the world). It was magical to take OZL to a place that I enjoyed so much as a child, and I hope to continue taking him there as he grows up.
Then we drove down to Los Angeles where we got to spend some time with my family and some of our friends from high school. We celebrated OZL's first birthday at my mom's house (already?!?!) We went to the Long Beach Aquarium with my best friend from high school and her daughter and the Kidspace Museum with another friend and her two daughters. My dad took us to the same beach I used to play at as a child, which was also a lot of fun.
As soon as we got back to Colorado, we immediately started packing to move from our townhouse in Boulder to our new house in Louisville. Packing and moving is, of course, highly exhausting. But guess what? Even after all the traveling and packing and moving, I have to say I am feeling pretty good. Don't get me wrong, I am seriously sore and experiencing some major pain in my left hip again, and our new house is still a total disaster area, but I am feeling happy and very optimistic. Our trip to California was great and I am so excited to be in our new home where we will have lots of space and a yard for OZL and River to play in.
Things are looking good around here after 5 years with RA!
Things are looking good around here after 5 years with RA!