Friday, 25 March 2011

Desperately Seeking Scrumptious

I have been out of work for nearly two years now. It dawned on me this morning that at exactly this time two years ago my health took a turn for the worst and I was awaiting the results of blood tests that changed my life forever. Nothing much of an anniversary to celebrate there..
However, as I began to think of all the awful things this disease has put me through in these last two years, I couldn’t help thinking how far I have come. Some days it seems like only yesterday I was sat across from the doctor as she spoke of a disease I had that I knew nothing about. Other days, it seems like a lifetime away.. like a whole new life started that day.
Being out of work has been incredibly tough. I get bored very easily and thrive on having projects to focus on. I have found the hardest thing is not having people to interact with during the day. When family and friends are out at work and you are sat alone in bed, you can’t help feeling like a bit of a failure and incredibly sorry for yourself.
Things have been looking up, though, and I am busier than ever. With the support from my family and friends I have found the perfect role which suits my disability and lifestyle. I am now the proud owner of my own business. I mentioned before how difficult it had been to find work, especially in this economic climate, that fits in with my condition. Part time jobs around here are scarce and unless you want to work in a bar (erm, can’t possibly stand on my feet for that long) or be a cleaner (can very rarely lift a hoover) you are out of luck.
Rather than sitting back and waiting for that perfect role that would solve all my problems, I thought about other options. I thought of what I enjoy doing, what I could easily cope with and how much money I needed to earn. That’s how I came up with the baking business. It’s a great love of mine to bake and be creative. Being my own boss means that I can work from the comfort of my home and still interact with customers and clients, plus, I get to choose my hours. If I have a bad day, I can put off the work until later. It has given me the option to work as much or as little as I please but most importantly, a sense of achievement and something to focus on.
I know not everyone will be able to do this but I am simply presenting to you the fact us RA sufferers do have options, and there will always be something that fits around us when we are ready to return to work. My business is proof that just because we have RA doesn’t mean we have to sit back in the shadows and watch others excel in their careers. We just need to look a bit harder at ourselves and set realistic goals. Weather my business is a success or not, at least I can say I tried. At least, at the end of these dark two years, I have moved forward in my life (even if I had to take a few strides back first). The point is, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it, just try and grasp a sense of achievement and pride in yourselves this year as I am positive it will do wonders for your self esteem (this doesn’t just relate to work, it can be anything). Even if your sense of achievement is the fact you managed to walk to the end of the road for the first time in years or lift a kettle to make your own cup of tea. The smallest things can help us who suffer with RA attempt to slip out that spiral of depression and self pity.
So my friends, I hope your minds are ticking over with the thoughts of what can I reasonably achieve today/this week/this year... and I want to hear all about your achievements (however small you think they are). Here’s a thought (and forgive me for sounding all mushy ‘cause I hate that crap).. ‘Don’t just be inspired, be an inspiration’. (I came up with that all on my own! Although someone probably said it first...)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mexican Adventure

 Have you missed me? I returned this week from my trip to Mexico with great memories and a great tan! I was a little concerned about the long flight, not having flown that long before since being diagnosed with arthritis. Our adventure was delayed slightly with the flight being put back two hours so I was getting rather uncomfortable at the airport. However, I did have wheelchair assistance to the gate which helped allot (it's amazing how far you have to walk through an airport to actually get near the plane).
After a very long day travelling, and extreme discomfort in the respect I just couldn’t get comfy, we arrived at our beautiful resort in the evening. I was feeling incredibly tired after 11 and a half hours flying and then a two hour transfer but so excited to be in a warm climate and begin our adventure.
I always wondered what people were going on about when they mentioned jet lag. I honestly couldn’t see why a flight would affect you so much but it hit me the day after we arrived. I was so tired I actually felt sick, I was aching and felt confused with drowsiness! The lazy day by the pool was just what I needed, however the cocktail at 11am didn’t really help.
I found it so frustrating that I couldn’t drink much whilst I was away. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed some tequila and cocktails but rather than having the high that comes from alcohol I just seem to get drowsy and tired now. I struggled to keep up with the boy, being on holiday of course you want to let go, get out and have a good time but I just didn’t have the energy and was shattered by 9pm most nights! He understood though and took it easy on me and we relaxed as much as possible.
We saw some absolutely amazing sights. I witnessed dolphins swimming in the wild, huge turtles in the lagoon, went on a safari in a nature reserve, lay on secluded beaches and learnt about Mayan culture at some temple ruins. I was really impressed with the country and it felt like we were in paradise. I ate and drank as much as I wanted at our all inclusive resort; however this played havoc on my tummy. I was quite poorly for a week of our trip with a bad stomach but I think I am just really sensitive to any food that’s not what I normally eat. The combination of the food and the heat and jet lag made me quite nauseas at times but I just battled through it and went on to have a fantastic time.
Perhaps the best part of the trip was realising that I could do it. That I could travel that far and be ok. And more importantly, that I could enjoy myself in spite of feeling less than 100%. I don’t believe the heat necessarily helped me as much as they say warm climates help arthritis. I think the flight created stiffness and pain which lasted most of the holiday. I hated having to wear splints and knee supports by the pool so I often managed without them.
Now I am home, I can dream of other places I might travel to, and know I can and will get there (eventually). In the meantime, my very exciting business project is calling for some attention (once I get over this jet lag and my knees settle down). So here’s hoping for plenty more excitement and adventure in 2011.