Monthly Archives: August 2014


Down Time

This gallery contains 3 photos.

The last weekend of summer.  Sitting in the rocking chair looking out the sliding glass door at the back yard.  The rain blows through, the sun creeps out, and the rain blows through again. Yesterday I got to see my … Continue reading

Autumn: cooler weather, back to school, colds and flu

It’s back to school season.  Yellow school buses with red and yellow lights have joined the morning queues.  Soon the few leaves that have started to tint their way to autumn colors will be joined by thousands of their brothers and sisters… red, yellow, orange, and brown.  Now that I’m back in the north east, I’m very much looking forward to fall colors.

With the changing seasons, changing ways to cope.  I’ve already broken out my fingerless gloves and am looking forward to this season’s batch of them to hit the stores.  It’s interesting to see how technology has changed them.

I’ve added disinfecting wipes to my desk at work.  With heaven knows how many different fingers pushing how many different buttons on the elevator, door knobs, etc… I’ve taken to using more and more of them.  With kids being back to school and in closer proximity to other kids,  colds will start making the rounds all too soon.

I’ve started seeing things about bolstering your immune system on TV to help us to stay healthy and even touted on facebook as a way to help with RA symptoms.  Forgive me here, but… the last I checked… the reason that our bodies are pissed off at us is that our immune system is entirely too bolstered, in fact it is in overdrive and it is attacking us from the inside out.  I’m not sure trying to bolster it would be a great thing.  And many of us are taking drugs designed to dumb down our immune system.  We are taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) at the very least and many of us are taking biologics in an attempt to trick our immune system into not attacking our bodies.

We need to be mindful, but not paralyzed by, those germs, viruses and bacterium that are likely to be waiting out there where you least expect them.  Avoid when you can, disinfect when you must.  Enjoy the season.

On Making “one of the top” RA blogs of 2014

Okay, so I’ve started to try to take myself a little more seriously. Granted, I probably should have done this a WHILE ago. Granted, it’s still probably enough..

But I’m listening to the advice I’m getting and I’m trying…

And this morning, in an admittedly vain attempt to see if what I was doing was making any difference, I googled <I still can’t get it through my head that googled is a verb> a random RA string.  I didn’t try to trick google.  I didn’t want to try to find a way to MAKE it land, somehow, on my page. I just wanted to see.

I googled Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog.  NOT surprisingly Healthline came up because they have a lot of good information on a wide variety of health related subjects.  What DID surprise me was the fact that in their “best of” list for this year, I’m there.  I’m there with the ones to whom I pay homage because of their following and their content.  I never dreamed that I would find myself among the listings.  To be honest, when I went hunting through the listings, I was trying to figure out what other blogs there are out there that I might have missed and how I can try to figure out how to make this more useful.

And there I was.  Nestled in among some that I frequent rather regularly and some that I’m going to start haunting myself.  You can never have too much information, too many different perspectives, or too much support.

I feel kind of lame that it matters to me this morning.  I have never cared an awful lot about popularity contests or about awards in general.  But it matters to me today.  And in a way, I realize, that maybe it means that I’m making a difference.  That maybe because I’m here someone won’t freak as  badly when they get the news… maybe I really can help.

I KNOW this has nothing to do with the attempts to have this quiet little hamlet in the nearly infinite back roads of the internet show up on a few more of the maps without having to dig and dig and dig.  THIS has been there since May.

But it still made me smile, just a little (okay, okay… I think it was probably closer to what was termed a shit eating grin when I was a kid… why anyone would eat shit and grin, is WAY beyond me… but it is the phrase that has always stuck with me).

Kim, at Chasing Normal, keeps prodding me that I need to work harder at making a name for myself, that I help, that I can make a difference.  So… I will keep trying to figure out how to work at that part of it… and I will grin just a little.

Presented by: Healthline


Updated: August 23, 2014
Author: Figment of Fitness
Keep the dreams alive

Santa Hustle Half Marathon: lunacy

Okay, so here I am, deciding that I must be crazy.  I must be.  There is no other explanation.

What am I doing?  I’m crocheting a Santa beard in August.  WHY am I working on a Santa beard in August?  Because I’ve fallen in love with a race that I intend to do in December.  The Santa Hustle at Cedar Point.  December… Cedar Point (part of the course is along the beach on Lake Erie)… I have to be crazy.  I should not be this excited about walking as fast as I can for four hours on what could be a lovely day or what could be a freaking cold day with a foot of snow (like last year).  I have to be crazy.

And yet, here I am, working on my beard, getting ridiculously excited about the race.

On the beach

At Lake Erie

in December

Yes, I’ll post pictures when I get more of the outfit completed.
Yes, I swear I will post updates on the training
Yes, I’m hoping that, maybe since school will be out in Texas… MAYBE… Adam almost volunteered already this morning… and he just might yet…

Am I crazy (as I listen to IZ cds and rub on the Tiger Balm in August), probably… but I need to keep proving to myself that I can… that I’m not too lame (literally) to walk a half.  Ever since I was diagnosed in 2009 (wow, I’m closing in on 5 years diagnosed… 7 or 8 with active RA) walking 13.1 miles has been my thing.  And I guess it is going to keep being my thing.

I close my eyes and see Adam walking me in to almost the finish line in Austin… handing me my medal and hugging me the year he had the flu… I see all of them cheering me on across the finish line at Disney… I still don’t understand why I am my kids’ hero, but I really do have to do this.  The compulsion is just there.  And I have to answer the call.

Socks: a retrospective

It’s scary how much time I end up spending thinking about some things since my RA diagnosis. I know that, along with my RA came Raynauds as a secondary condition and that is a huge contributing factor to the fact that my fingers and toes are always cold. But it still strikes me as odd to think so much about socks.

When they clearance the winter stuff and the “spring line” starts to come out at the stores, I always go looking for wool socks. I don’t just wear them in winter. I sometimes wear the pretty socks or the business socks in my drawer, but I’ve fortunately acquired enough wool socks in enough colors that I can rely on them to get me through on days when I know I’m feeling cold. And AC can make my feet and fingers freezing so it is as many days as not.

I recently discovered wool and silk blends and got a couple pairs of them that I absolutely love. They are soft and warm and stay up! Staying up is a problem I always have when I buy the 6 or 8 or 10 packs of athletic socks at WalMart. After a couple washings they start to fall down around my ankles, and they are knee socks or at least over the calf socks. I hate the feeling of them slid down. And that feeling is so not like just buying and wearing ankle socks. It just feels wrong.

This morning I put on the no slip hospital socks that bear got when he had his colonoscopy. They didn’t actually make him put them on and he wasn’t going to bring them home because they are just funky. No slip grippy stuff all the way around and tube socks. They are pukey brown and have an idiot smiley face staring out of two opposing sides. Who thought these up? Because having your feet smiling up at you when you are in the hospital is going to make you feel so much better? But socks are socks and they came home with me. And this morning they are keeping the chilly off my feet.

Who thought up putting registers on the wall to blow on your feet? In the summer, the AC is just too cold on your feet, and in the winter you want to be warm all over not just on the floor. I know I know, hot air rises, but it still feels counter intuitive. I was raised in a house with a coal furnace. Registers go in the floor blowing straight up… all the better to dry your hair in five minutes first thing on a snowy morning!

But I digress…

If you tend to have cold extremities, you know how important it is to find the warm. I love my Injinis toe socks especially in my Vibrams five fingers shoes (Go Hobbit Feet!!!) and the wool toe socks that I bought last fall are still holding up remarkably well. No holes. Still going warm.

I don’t understand why the 6-8-10 pairs that you get at back to school time don’t hold up any better than they do. I mean, I get planned obsolescence, but geeze… it just makes me want to not buy them at all.

I get that socks are a fashion statement and everything.  And I get that companies have to make money.  But I would far and away rather buy something that is going to keep me warm (which I think is what they are supposed to do anyway) and hold up without my having to add in elastic later than to just buy the cutsey or the garbage.

I can’t wait till gloves start showing up at the store (any day now). Since texting has become a big deal for everyone, and the gloves to facilitate have too, I can now use gloves with fingers all day long on my laptop! Technology is starting to catch up with what I’ve needed for years.

I wonder what colors this season brings!

Hitting Insurance Thresholds

So, I got a phone call this past week.  Apparently the insurance company (or the company I work for) noticed that I hit a magic threshold in their reporting system and it triggered a call to see if there is anything they can do to make my life better (read cheaper I think).  I talked to a very understanding nurse who looked at my medical record and said… Oh… you have rheumatoid arthritis and you are taking Orencia.  I think that is probably what triggered it.


It’s like 8000 dollars a month between the infusion center bills and the medicine.

It’s difficult to think about the fact that this is going to continue for the rest of my life to one degree or another.  It’s sobering.

I keep thinking about the notification from the drug companies saying that they will help with the cost of the medication if you have private medical insurance.  If you don’t have insurance, the cost is so horrendous.  I think about where I am and the fact that I have a good job that keeps me in insurance.  I don’t know how people deal with the pain if they don’t have the facility to pay for the drugs that stave off the damage and the pain.

Updated: August 20, 2014
Author: Figment of Fitness
Keep the dreams alive


On Getting What You Pay For

For decades I lived my life waiting for sales, buying what is on clearance racks and hoping against all odds that I could find a coupon.  I still have nightmares over the $3 shoes (BRIGHT yellow with 4 inch hard … Continue reading

It’s all in the timing…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOkay, There comes a point where I have to remember to shut up and listen. I know I realize this periodically. Life has been reminding me of that quite a bit lately.
This morning, I sat waiting for the lift bridge and for not one but two freighters to go through the Cuyahoga river. I realized that I live in a city replete with lift bridges and drawbridges… and with a river like this there comes the necessity of occasional pauses in the day’s hurry scurry, helter skelter bull…$%^&… There are times where a pause is just a pause and the pause is exactly what is needed. Time enough to watch the smoke stacks of the boats make the bend… to hear the birds and the metal on metal screech whine toot of the trains… to see the bright yellow canary in a bright yellow flower… to take a slow deep breath (or twenty or thirty) and relax. Was I late? Yep. Was it all good? Yep.
It’s funny… I had just gotten off the phone with my mom when I got stuck in traffic. We were talking about being where you need to be… where you are supposed to be… and… thoink… duh…
I was hired at US Steel because Ida Flynn told me that I was GOING to go test for the Internship at US Steel the ONLY semester I could actually qualify the ONLY week I could actually test (given that we went on vacation) in a college career that was end to end in 2 years and 4 months. Yes it is possible. Yes, I regret not doing it slower because my QPA would have been better. I swore I would never work in a big city. I worked in downtown Pittsburgh. I was department lead for the Y2K project with 12 contractors and I had an incredible implementation. It was such a good job that I was “rewarded” with being transferred to the iron range of Norther Minnesota. Which is beautiful and where I saw eagles and heard loons and I watched the northern lights.
I was told when I left US Steel that I would regret it. I don’t. It’s ironic.. .the boats that fascinate the crap out of me now are the ones that left the port of Duluth carrying Ore… the pellets we made that came from the dirt we blew up. I don’t regret it. I miss the northern lights and listening to the lakes freeze in November, but I don’t regret either going to MN or moving from MN. I learned how to be an Oracle DBA in Mt Iron and that backup and recovery are the most important parts of the job.
I left there for Amarillo. SMALL company… friendly town. I was hired as a DBA despite having no REAL DBA experience, because I was trainable. Turns out Trisha was right. I am trainable. I learned to be a good DBA and I learned (in 900 hours in 3 months) to be an Apps DBA. It meant I lived my dream of publishing a book and it laid the groundwork for the next steps. The company was acquired by a huge company in Chicago and I went looking for not Chicago.
Poof… Austin… BAD company to start out with… then Oracle… then another company where I lost myself. Where I learned that I have the ability despite RA to bust a move and walk a half marathon or four. My first I hurt so bad I almost quit yards from the finish line. My second, my son medaled me despite the flu. My third bear and squirrel girl did with me… and I thought I was going to not make it… and I walked in with my son and (even though I still don’t think I’m anything special) I became his hero. And because I understood what forever conditions mean, I was able to cope when my daughter got Epilepsy, when my son got epilepsy and when my son got Sjogrens… and when friends ended up with RA, I was able to be there, to tell them that it is not the end of all normal and to get their butts into the doctors. It took some time for me to get my head around the fact that Autism isn’t the end of normal, it is just a different normal and that sometimes when you get answers to all of the hard questions in your life you can take a deep breath and relax and be your own beautiful self. I’m incredibly proud of my little boy who just took a deep breath and became himself.
And now, here I am. Because I was incredibly frustrated with being told how worthless I was I started looking for elsewhere to be. Because I was scared that the 412 area code on my phone meant that something was wrong with the family I answered the call… and despite not believing that I was in any way qualified I took the chance. Despite getting horribly mixed up in the first phone screen with contact information, I made it through that. Despite feeling like I blew it by not knowing current technology in my first technical screen, I made it through. Despite throwing up all over town my all day interview went remarkably well. And despite being terrified of leaving my baby behind in Texas and moving half way back across the country and not knowing if I would let myself and my family down, here I am. I am in the Cleveland Clinic medical system. I am back near “home”. I have found a house that was waiting for me. I am settling into a job that I really enjoy.
I am where I need to be to help family understand. I am where I need to be to allow my little girl to find her wings and to allow my little boy find his feet and his wings. I’m so very proud of my babies.
Looking back… looking around… looking at everything… I realize that I am right where I am meant to be. everything is working exactly as it should. My job is to breathe… to be kind to myself and to quietly do the needful.

I love you mom… I’m listening…

On Listening to my own message

Okay… so… sitting here drinking Oprah Chai with a little cone of incense burning.  Dog and cat resting from the latest chew the wump game.  I’m thinking back over the past 7 months… over the past 7 years… over the past few weeks… and over a conversation that I had over listening to the advice I give to people.

I sit here and realize that I had allowed the messages that I was getting from the person I used to report to to get into my head and eat away at my brain.  It’s hard to believe in your own abilities when you get glowing performance reviews and then face a one on one telling you that you probably don’t have what it takes to be a productive member of the team… that you are actually (despite your reviews) probably going to be better off looking for a different job (which I did and I’m very VERY happy I did) because you just really don’t have what it takes and everyone hates working with you anyway.

I keep trying to shake the cobwebs out and every once in a while they creep back in.  This morning I was thinking about the conversation (the one on one where I was summarily told how much I lack) and realize it has been a while since I have thought about it.  That is has been a while since I’ve cared.  And I realized I don’t care.  Does it still sting that every goal that was set for me was snatched from be by the man sitting across the desk because the task was fun and he was bored in his manager role?  Yeah.  Because I like learning and having an effect… making a difference… but… I don’t have to take on his lameness as my own.

A few minutes ago, my cousin posted on her wall… Half a Century… Hear me roar… it’s her 50th birthday today.  And I realized… that… 🙂 I really need to hear my own voice, to listen to the messages that I tout (they are not diatribes, they are not empty messages, sometimes you just have to take the time to shut up and listen to yourself).

It’s the start of a brand new day, a new week… the first day of forever.

Hear me roar…


My Brazilian Adventure

I’m sitting in the quiet (okay… so I can hear the birds… there are geese in this morning… starting to think about flying south.. the wind chimes, the water fountain and the traffic down on I-71 and the dog and … Continue reading