Friday, 26 August 2011

Giving Up

I seem to have hit a real low point this week. Being fed up is quite a regular occurrence, as I am sure other RA sufferers know all too well. It probably has a lot to do with the fact I have finally and seriously given up my nasty habit of smoking. I should have done it a long time ago, for my health if nothing else as studies show smoking can make RA worse blah blah. To be honest I always thought that it was the one thing RA couldn’t take away from me. RA stopped me drinking, dancing and generally having fun so I thought ‘sod it’ I’m going to continue doing one thing that’s bad for me whilst I enjoy it.
It’s an immature way to look at it, as I know it could have serious health consequences but I enjoyed it so what’s the big deal? Now I have turned 25 and I am thinking about the future (getting married, babies, buying a house –all way in the future!) I thought I should give it a good go and quit (with the intention of actually sticking at it this time). I have ‘quit’ before, and soon gave up quitting. It’s a horrid habit that tends to come back and bite you with its cravings and withdrawal symptoms. I wish I had never started to be honest.
So apart from wanting to strangle everyone and hating the world, this week has also been tough because I have felt really poorly. Again, I am not sure if its withdrawal symptoms as it has coincided with quitting smoking, but I have had awful fatigue, nausea and joint pain. The kind of symptoms I haven’t had to deal with for a while so it really has got me down. I think all of these things, in combination with the fact I have now spent five weeks at home in recovery and my four walls are caving in around me, are making me feel very low. I hate the fact I constantly feel like I’m going to burst into tears or scream... for no reason at all. Yes, I know what you’re going to say... these are classic signs of depression blah blah but I haven’t really got much to be depressed about it’s just been a tough old few weeks with the hip op and struggling to keep my business running etc.
I think maybe I need a couple of days rest, or cheering up. It’s probably good timing then that some friends are coming to visit for the weekend, although I hope I don’t scream at them or burst into tears because I’ve dropped a spoon or something. They may think I am a little insane (although most people think that about me anyway).
So through trying to improve my quality of life, once again my actual quality of life is suffering. I don’t feel like doing or saying anything right now. I find it hard to talk to people because I feel so miserable and angry and constantly stressed (again I am not sure what is stressing me out more... the fact that we have ran out of washing up liquid or I can’t carry the Hoover upstairs) I am rather stressed with all things business at the moment, I am struggling to secure help to keep my shop running and I still have another 2 weeks before I can drive. The work load is piling up, which is a good thing, but once again bad timing that I feel like death.
Sods law I guess. Anyway here’s to a tear and scream free weekend... hopefully.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

All Grown Up

I’m surprised at how fast the past year has gone by. I guess time flies when you’re having fun. It makes a change from previous years that have been fairly miserable and full of suffering. I said to myself last year, on my 24th birthday that this year was going to be a good one. All in all, I was right. I look back over the year and think of what I have achieved and how much things have changed. For starters I have my own business now, which is going from strength to strength. I have a new hip which was totally unexpected and working wonders at the moment. I moved in with the boyfriend, managed to get my arthritis under control and I have never been happier.
It’s taken a while to get there and the years since my diagnosis have been somewhat of a blur thanks to the long list of meds and pain I have suffered. But I am now looking forward to the future and what it has to offer. I know if I work hard this year, follow doctors’ orders and generally take care of myself that 25 will be a good year too.  Who knows, it might even be better?
So as I am still in recovery from my hip operation, there is no big night out or celebrations planned this year. I am simply spending quality time with my favourite people... my wonderful family and friends. I am not disappointed I can’t do much to celebrate this year, I am actually looking forward to a nice few days at home with plenty of visitors. I plan to have a gigantic take away session on my actual birthday, ordering all of my favourite foods accompanied by family. I hope for good weather as I am spending the weekend with friends and have organised a BBQ (which will be no fun in the rain!) I really cherish time with my loved ones at the moment. I suppose with the whole hip operation thing I have realised how supportive and caring those who are close to me really are. I couldn’t have got through the past few months without them. They have volunteered to help me with my business, cooked for me, cleaned for me and even dressed me! What amazing people I am surrounded by, I know I am very lucky. So having them around will be the best birthday present and all I want this year.
My duties as bridesmaid went very well last week. I watched my oldest friend marry an amazing man and I was very overwhelmed with love (funny how weddings make you all warm and fuzzy!) Anyway, I managed to walk the aisle without crutches and got away with wearing flesh coloured bed socks which weren’t noticed. The guests entertained themselves as the crutches came out in the evening. The ‘crutch dance’ went down a treat (and it wasn’t even me dancing with them). I was very happy to be part of such a special day for my friend and it made me realise how much we have all grown. Getting married and having babies were the things that ‘old’ people do when we were younger and now we are the ‘old’ ones. I even managed to catch the bouquet (which people swear I elbowed the girls out the way for) so will I be next?! I doubt it but then again who knows what the future will bring...
So I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the beautiful bride and her new husband and wish them a wonderfully happy life together.
Now, I am off to make my birthday cake (yes I know it’s sad when you have to make your own cake but as I am the newly appointed queen of cakes it must be done!)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Bionic Status

So... you’re probably all wondering how I am coping with my new status as a bionic woman?! Ten days ago I was wheeled into the orthopaedic unit at Warwick hospital to be put out of my month long misery with a collapsed hip. The previous night, ironically, had been the worst night I had experienced in a long time. As I wasn’t able to take any pain relief before going in, I was in utter agony with not only my hip but every joint in my body. It was excruciating pain, pain I hadn’t felt in a while. I think the anxiety of going for the operation maybe had something to do with it but all I can say is I’ve never been happier to get to hospital and finally move things along.
The morning seemed to go very, very slowly. Waiting and hoping for a doctor to come along and tell me it was ‘time’ was a bit like hell. Of course, still being in RA agony didn’t help. I was uncomfortable, exhausted and frightened. However, I was lucky to have the boy with me, comforting me with comic stories and conversations to keep my mind off things. I don’t know what I would have done without him that morning to be honest.
Finally, when my bed was ready three hours after I arrived (Joys of NHS wards); it wasn’t long before I was taken to theatre to make friends with the anaesthetist and his crew. There seemed to be about ten people in the room and I didn’t have a clue what they were there for. They checked, and checked again, that they knew which hip to replace. The funniest thing is that the giant black arrow on the correct leg wasn’t a clue enough for them (I suppose I should be grateful that they were thorough).
Everything was a bit of a blur from that point on, understandably as I was pumped full of drugs to ensure I didn’t have front row tickets to my hip being dismantled (not a show I would pay to see). I do remember waking in the recovery room where I, now what’s the word... oh yes, I ‘flipped out’ and the doctors didn’t know what to do as I was about to ruin their fine work by rolling off the gurney. So I was then put back to sleep to relieve my panic. I don’t really remember why I panicked, I suppose it was just the confusion of waking up and feeling something was different about my hip and there were ten masked medical people staring over me. That’s enough to creep anyone out.
Anaesthetic is a wonderful thing. It leaves you hovering in a dream land where you feel pretty much nothing. When it starts to wear off, you then get a whopping dose of morphine for your troubles so really, I am surprised I even knew my own name that day. I don’t recall who came to visit that night after the surgery, I just know I wasn’t alone and that was enough for me. Blurry shapes held my hand and stroked my forehead but to be fair they could have been anyone and I wouldn’t have noticed. But I knew deep down, underneath the druggy fog, that it was my family who were there to make sure I was OK. I was strapped to some kind of triangle to ensure I didn’t move my hip out of place and there seemed to be a forest of other machinery around me... oxygen tanks, for which I had a mask over my face to try and clear the anaesthetic fog, obs machines to ensure my stats were ok, leg brace type things to keep the blood pumping in my lower legs to stop me from getting clots and other things that I couldn’t tell you their purpose.
Through all the machinery and drugs though, I knew I was going to be ok, I knew I was safe. The best part was that I knew my hip was better already over the next few days. Yes, I still felt pain, but it was a different kind of pain as the pain killers became weaker. It was sore and achy but nothing like the stabbing, excruciating pain I had felt the past few weeks every second of every day.
I am excited and hopeful about my bionic future. Maybe I should just get everything replaced if it feels this good? I’d bank on the fact I wouldn’t get in any severe RA states again. But I suppose the new hip will do for now. In the mean time, I plough through my recovery time at home, finding mundane things to do. It’s no fun being taken care of after a while; it’s just plain frustrating watching others do things for you when you want to be able to do it yourself. I feel like a child again being helped into the shower, helped to get dressed, cooked for, all my washing is done and mum is even cleaning my house! Great, you might think, well... yes but I hate to see others doing stuff for me and running around after me. I feel guilty and useless.
I am doing well with my recovery you will be pleased to know. I have been a very good girl and followed doctors’ orders, doing my physio regularly, remembering the ‘rules’ (you cannot cross your legs, break the 90 degree angle with your hip and you must sleep on your back for 6 weeks). It’s not great, but you get used to it. I have all these adaption’s and aids in the house to make life easier, crutches, toilet seat raisers (glamorous), bed and seat raisers, something that looks like a litter picker and high stools for washing at the sink. The most glamorous part of my recovery has to be my sexy white, knee high, bed socks though. They are the kind of thing you wear when going on a long flight to stop DVT. They are most fetching... and have to be worn for six weeks... every minute apart from a saving grace period of half an hour when I can give my feet a break. Yep... white socks, every minute of every day... for six weeks. They don’t go with anything in my wardrobe before you ask and I look nothing like Britney in her ‘Baby one more time’ video. Shame.