In My Absence: Part II

Hello everyone!  So I just wanted to catch you up on what’s going on with me, not just in terms of RA but with everything else.  I’ve sort of been gone for a while.  I still check for comments on this blog but I hadn’t had a real chance to properly write a post!  I’ve been busy, very very busy.  I still have tons of backstories to tell you all but for now, I will just begin with what’s been going on lately, and from where I left off on my last, “In My absence” post.

In my last “In My absence” post, I talked about having packed up all my stuff so my husband could move to a small town and work at his new job, teaching H.S..  We would then travel on weekends to see each other.  I hadn’t found a place to live…yet.

It was a bit of a scramble to find somewhere to live quickly.  I was offered a place to live at a friend’s mom’s house.  She’s a lovely lady with a lovely house and everything was going great except that what I really wanted was a shorter commute in the morning.  L.A. has areas of horrendous potholes and it seemed that every morning, no matter what way I drove to work, I would be driving over oodles of potholes.  They were destroying my car.  Not only that, but it could take up to an hour and a half to get to work.  The earlier I left, the longer it took.  So there was no way around this.  Not only that, I longed to live by the beach.  I figured, since this was my opportunity to live anywhere in L.A. and work wasn’t too far from Santa Monica, that my goal was to live in Santa Monica.

I really didn’t know what was even possible.  I thought I might be commuting forever, because I wasn’t sure that I would find anything better than that.  The best I could find at this point was a share-a-room type of situation.  I hadn’t really met too many people yet about this.  I had emails, I had gone to one rental space and so far, nothing was calling my name. Besides that, if there was something good, it was snatched up within seconds.  So I knew that if I found anything remotely good, I needed to take it as quickly as possible.

I saw an ad for a beautiful room in a giant, million dollar house.  It of course sounded, too good to be true.  I called anyway because I believe there’s no such thing as “too good to be true.”  I am a optomist and I’m going to stay that way, and too many things in my life have been too good to be true, and yet they were true!!  I went to the house, and it was indeed beautiful. If I got the space, my room would have its own bathroom and walk-in closet.  Furniture needed to stay, and thankfully, I had no furniture!  A sweet dog greeted me.  The house was decorated grandma-style, doilies, child-sized dolls and fringe were everywhere.  Still, I was not detoured.  I knew it was either this or a party-house and I would much rather have this.  Not only that, but it was located 3 miles from Venice Beach.  And fyi, there are very few potholes going from the west side to central Los Angeles.

I suppose, if you are a glass is half empty type, you might be happy to hear that there are a lot of drawbacks.  There are rules in every shape and direction, ranging from smelly foods to doing laundry past 9pm or before 9am.  I have to be extremely quiet and yet, the entire family is incredibly loud, waking me up at night sometimes, and waking me up in the morning.  We’re talking Italian loud, screaming, talkative, etc.   There is a cat and a dog and the house does smell like cat and dog.  And the dog did pee in my room one time…and that was the last time that dog was in my room.  So I keep my room super clean and always have a couple of windows open for ventilation.  And there are other things….but I really don’t want to complain about all fo them.  Let’s just say, you have to be as tolerant as a Saint and if it weren’t for my room, the amenities and the view, I would have been out of that house yesterday.  All in all, it’s a wonderful place and I got really lucky.  We’re talking L.A. here.  There is never an easy room-mate situation, so I am not complaining!  When my husband comes to visit, we have to either find other arrangements or pay an extra $35 for him to stay the night.  For now, we find other arrangements because we can’t afford the nightly stay.

I was feeling the money crunch.  Between my husband living in his own place, and me living in my own place, and of course gas, I was feeling extremely frustrated that we were no further ahead really than we were before.  So I decided that I needed a second job.  I have a lot of experience in serving, and one of my goals was to become fit, so I decided to combine the two.  I needed to find a place that wouldn’t work me too much, but would provide exercise as well as that extra little bit of cash that I needed so I wouldn’t feel so strapped.

Needless to say, I was having a VERY difficult time finding a job.  Beach jobs especially were highly coveted.  Of course, it had only been a couple of weeks…..

I reluctantly went to an interview at a Bowling Alley far from my home.  I just knew I was going to get the job.  It would be a lot of traveling, exactly what I didn’t want.  And sure enough, I got the job.  I started working there the day after the interview.  Training was minimal, so I began earning tips right away.  The commute didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would because it was at night and I was getting tired of looking for jobs and going to interviews.  Looking for jobs is a job in itself.  Plus, I was having to learn so much at the bowling alley, I was feeling overwhelmed from all the cramming of information.  And I will tell you more about that in a moment….

In the meantime, I had also gone to an interview at the art school that I had taken my last class on Maya.  An opening for a position where you do a trade-your-time-for-a-class had come up.  This is a highly coveted spot and the positions are almost always filled, so again, I got super lucky.  Partly my luckiness is due to my consistent drive.  I asked on numerous occasions if there was a position opening.  And at first, I got no answer.  And then I got a no.  But I always keep asking, because until I get the answer from the right person, or better yet, from all decision makers, then the answer in my head is that there’s still a possibility.  I hadn’t heard that there was a trade, and I never knew of a school that did a trade, but call it intuition, I had a feeling that there might be.  And at $1,800 per class, I couldn’t pass it up!  So now I was going to be working at my part-time gig, the studio, as well as 12 hours a week at the art school, along with working at the Bowling alley and on top of that, take a class.  I didn’t know how long I could keep it all up, but figured I would just have to try.

So that’s why I was getting information overload.  I had started class, ZBrush, a highly technical 3D software program, along with learning the computer system at the Bowling alley.  You’d think that was no big deal, but it was actually quite complicated.  The computer system at the Bowling Alley is so un-intuitive that they’re getting a whole new system soon.  Along with learning that, the menu and how they do things, I also had to learn about the leagues.  Different leagues come in, and they expect to be treated like royalty.  They expect for you to learn their name and their drink.  And each time you bring them a new drink, they close out the tab.  So it’s important to remember their name and drink because the next time you see them, well every time you see them, they’ll just point to their empty drink, suggesting that they get another.  And since you don’t have a tab open anymore, everything has to be done on memory.  And it’s so fast paced, it’s impossible to just keep the tickets with you and organized.  So you have to throw the tickets away, or else you’d have a giant pile.  It’s constant running, all the while playing a game of concentration with the drinks, the names and the computer system.

But I have to say that I’m starting to smooth everything out.  I finally got the Bowling Alley to give me only two shifts a week so that my weekends are free and that I’m not overloaded during the week.  Working their means super late nights, so I do find it a bit exhausting.  But, I’m getting the hang of how to balance everything.

Back when I went to art school in Boston and worked several jobs as well, I might not have had RA but I had a uber busy schedule.  I learned how to balance my schedule based on what was going on.  I’d take time off one place, to make it work for another.  It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was one of the most difficult times of my life.  But it taught me that I could survive, even through the toughest of situations.  I find this situation that I’m currently in, MUCH MUCH MUCH easier than that!  So, let’s just say I’m not sweating it, even with the RA.

Speaking of RA, how is my RA you ask?  Well, if you don’t know anything about RA, one thing to know is that when you amp up the exercise, you often flare.  When you amp up stress, you flare.  And when you don’t get enough sleep, you flare again.  My RA was VERY controlled before I started all the moving and other jobs.  So I was expecting the flares before they happened.  I’ve been using prednisone to get out of my flares.  It’s effective in the short-term, but what will I do for the long run?  Well, I’m planning on taking exclzyme 2af to help bring my cortisone levels back to normal.  I’ve also been learning a lot about Kefir from a girl on Daily Strength.  Her advice is to buy the grains and make it yourself so that you get the real thing.  As well, once you buy the grains, you never have to buy them again because they continue to grow or something like that.  So I bought myself a starter kit but I know even that stuff aren’t the “official” grains.  Basically we’ve genetically modified the grains so they will die, meaning so you HAVE to buy new grains.  But the real stuff, stuff you can buy from the UK doesn’t die and continues to make new grains.  Kefir is supposed to have all the ingredients we are lacking as autoimmune diseased individuals according to this girl that I spoke with.  So whether this is true or not, I have no idea, as I haven’t done research yet.  But why wait when I can start enjoying Kefir today and see what happens, right?  Supposedly Kefir is supposed to have protein that our bodies can digetst, B12 and calcium and there’s some kind of complicated process that our bodies can’t handle, which is why other foods just don’t suffice.  I will let you know if there are any dramatic changes.  I know that many people like to do one thing at a time and see what works.  I simply don’t do things that way…it would take far too long for me to ever get better.  I try bunches of things and then after taking them for a while, stop taking something.  If I notice a difference after a couple of weeks, I say to myself, “What am I not taking that’s making me worse?”  Then I buy the product again and if I start to get better, I say, “Aha!  It’s probably this.”  And I might go through that process several times.  If I stop taking something and no change happens, then I assume that it’s not strong enough to work, or something along those lines.  I am not a science project, out to prove what works and what doesn’t.  I’m a living, breathing person, looking for the best treatments in the shortest amount of time.

So I guess the shortened answer on how my RA is doing is that I take it day by day, but for the most part, it is fairly controlled and I am doing well.  AND, the bowling brace I use for carrying heavy trays really really helps!  :)  Many wishes that your days are filled with fun, enjoyment and feeling good and I hope to keep on posting on what’s new with me!

Thank you for checking in!-Sarah

In My Absense

I have a friend who asked that I just write something every now and then.  In fact, he requested that it be a little more personal because the other articles make his head spin.  I explained to him that my most popular post was “Polypodium Leucotomos” for a while, so you see, not everyone wants to hear something personal.  After-all, I’m not Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy.. :)

There is so much I could talk about, but where to begin?  First, it’s been a busy Holiday season for me.  Though I work part-time, I have a plethora of to-do’s and so much is changing in my life.  I’m in the process of moving.  Of course, I don’t know where I’m moving to.  My husband got a job in another town where I will commute a 3-hour drive to see him.  It was very last minute, but absolutely welcomed with this economy.  Because our apartment was too expensive for just one person to live, I was forced to move out and I am currently staying with a friend while looking for a different living arrangement.  My husband found a nice town house, much nicer than expected because the town he’s now living in is very affordable.  It’s definitely an upgrade compared to the smaller spaces I’m accustomed to in L.A.  So at least on the weekends, if I survive the monotony of the drive through the grape-vine, I will stay in our nice place.  Of course there are drawbacks to living in a small town, or at least for me there are.  I grew up in a very small town until I was 18 and then I moved to yet another small town, near where my husband will be until I was in my late 20’s.  I haven’t experienced much and I certainly haven’t traveled, so I just can’t go back to the simple life at this time.  I’d rather deal with the traffic and people, where communities are a mixture of all races and beliefs and I can have a late night dinner if I want to.  A city has 24 hour access and boundless options.  This small town however, is literally asleep in the early evening, businesses close down and there isn’t a car on the road past 10.  Even on New Year’s, I felt like we were the only car traveling down extra wide roads that probably see more trucks than economy sized vehicles.  To some it is heaven, but for me, for right now, it’s just not what I want.

For a week, my husband had been visiting this small town, looking for places to live and running errands related to his new teaching job, all the while I’ve been frantically trying to get all of my stuff done.  Though we’ve successfully moved out and he’s successfully moved in, all of that wasn’t even on my first priority list.  One of the things that I accomplished in January was starting and finishing a painting.  It is not, (ahem), hate to say it, one of my best pieces.  I struggled on this one and I don’t know why.  I even started over at one point in time.  I’m sure to many people, it’s a great painting, but I wanted it to be one of my best.  It’s of a dog, a very cute dog, but aren’t they all cute?  How can I mess up a dog, right?  I wouldn’t call it messing up per se, I would call it… oh I don’t know, just not my best…I guess there’s no other words that I can think of to describe it.  Luckily my customer received the painting and fell in love with it.  Even if I am my worst critic, I am glad that someone was happy. :)

I was relieved when the painting arrived safe and on time and I got word that the customer loved it.  Getting that off my hands was 1st on my list and caused me a lot of stress, but now that it was over, it was time to put all of my focus into packing.  On one of my frantic packing nights, I packed boxes past 2am.  Then I got up at 7 am to get some reserved boxes from a grocery store.  The next night I slept for one hour.  I packed all night long.  Yes, I know I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  But my husband was going to be starting his new teaching job in less than two weeks, and I was going out of town, and he was out of town… I just had to make sure that before I left for Sacramento to visit my mom, that things were in order.  I’m not sure if you would call this overkill, controlling, or smart to make sure that most everything was packed, but that’s what I did.  I kept waiting for things to feel “mostly complete” and unfortunately, it took all night and all morning to give me that feeling.  I felt completely exhausted from all the packing and lifting.  I had bruises and tight muscles, along with extra painful joints for the next week, but what can I say, I have a knack for packing.  And so I felt extra obligated to pack things right, after all, I was the one that possessed the skills!  After my hour of sleep, my friend called me and we then drove for 6 hours to Sacramento.  Despite my fatigue, I had a great time and enjoyed the hours of resting in the car.

Sacramento was for the most part relaxing, except that my mom keeps things much cooler than I’m used to.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get warm.  One of the interesting things of having autoimmune diseases, is the constant quest to get things “right” with your own body.  It’s like you’re on a treasure hunt 24-7, only the goal is to have fleeting moments of feeling normal again.  While many people leave it up to their doctors, I leave it up to myself to figure things out.  I use intuition, I read as much as I have time for, and I experiment in the safest route that I can find.

Change for me is big right now. Not only am I moving..and I don’t know where, but I’m also going to be starting up a class to improve my animation abilities starting on the 14th.  The class will average about 12 hours of homework per week but I’m sure I’ll be doing more.  The program (Maya) is intense and I look forward to broadening my skills.  I’ll also be spending extra hours in the lab, trying to learn other programs while I have DVDs and computer technology at my fingertips.  I’m entering a scholarship and hoping that I get some help with my education, so that I can continue taking classes every ten weeks at night or on weekends.  Wish me luck on that-the essay, application and recommendation letters are due in March!  Can we say STRESS??

My RA has been doing great.  I take a lot of pills, each doing their own thing to my body and keeping me in check.  I have been taking prednisone… 2.5mg regularly.  Back when I took the turmeric placebo and got really sick, I’ve been on prednisone since.  After reading about a new time-released prednisone, that releases 4 hours after you take it, it dawned on me that I should test what prednisone would do to me in a small enough dose at night, so it won’t keep me awake.  I figured out through trial and error that 2.5mg was a good dose.  I could even go up to 3.5 without any problems, but the smaller the amount, the better.  And wow, what a difference!  If I took that dose during the daytime, I wouldn’t notice anything.  In fact, I’d have to take 10mg a day to do what 2.5mg does for me at night.  Somehow, taking it at night really makes my hands feel nearly normal again.  Although I am well aware of the damages that may be occurring from the long term prednisone use, I am utterly gleeful that I can make fairly tight fists every day.  Long term prednisone use at such a small dose probably isn’t doing too much, but it could potentially damage eyes, cause calcium loss and deterioration to my bones, even if it is only slowly over time.  Still, it’s about quality of life, not quantity.

Now that the holiday “break” is over, I’m relieved.  I had a lot of time off, yet it felt like a whirlwind of constant going and constant work.  Even my mind felt like it was going to explode from all the stress, along with not really knowing what day it was anymore.  I am glad to finally be doing a little less, and to be on a path that feels like a positive direction.  I’m glad all the packing, the driving and the unpacking is over.  I’ve had many other adventures and stories I’d love to share, of what I’ve done in my absence.  But alas, another day, another story.  I hope to keep up better with this blog this coming new year and I have other resolutions I hope to stick with as well.  I’d like to get thinner, fitter, just feel better about myself and be in a real routine of working out.  I’d like to write more, paint more, and just get more projects finished.  And I would love to get better about taking all the pills I need to take on a daily basis.  Because I feel pretty good on fewer pills, I have a tendency to take less than I should.  I know that if I took everything, I’d feel fabulous.  But it can definitely be hard to stick to a real regimen.  So hopefully this year will be a new year of wonderful change.  And I hope to share these wonderful changes with all my listeners, my friends and family, who have emotionally supported me through some of my toughest moments.  Thank you all, I am forever grateful and happy New Year!

%d bloggers like this: