Shut Ugly Up

Shut Ugly Up.. 

I’m a big woman. Everything about me is big. Big personality, big mouth, big lips, big muscular legs, big in height and if categorized big in shape. Plus size really. And if you follow the BMI (body measurement index -which doesn’t take into account body frame and/or muscle) then I would be considered obese…. 

Ha! Obese is such a nasty negative term. I’d rather use the term fat. Fat to me doesn’t mean ugly it means lots of body fat. Which is the truth … I’m fat. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve been mistaken to be pregnant a few times.. “oh congrats on carrying ” the person says. I say “congrats to what ? My fatness ? I’m fat not pregnant”…. I know harsh right but if you’re ignorant enough to
make a comment about my body without verification then I get to response in a ignorant manner. I do enjoy making people feel stupid in a stupid moment. 

Many woman use the saying ” I’m fat” which in many cases means their having a ” I feel ugly or I’m having a self esteem issue day or even a ” I’m having a negative mental health day” but god forbid…we use those terms. People might think we need an intervention.
If my leg hurts and I say I’m having leg pain. Why can’t I say I’m having mental health pain? I’m having emotional pain in my brain? Because nowadays if you have even situational mental health you’re a danger to yourself and to society…. you are labelled and stereotyped and discriminated against …. but that’s another blog. 

Sooo back to fat…. “I’m a big fine woman and I’ll back that ass up”… lol. True, I will…even during my worst pain … put me in the Caribbean, put on some Reegea.. I can Wine like nobody’s business….ya mon.
So I’m in Jamaica celebrating 2 special events with my family and then… smack right in my face… an ugly day. I can’t get away from it. It follows me around like a lost stray Caribbean cat looking for food.      

I look in the mirror.. I see an ugly and obese woman. She’s tired and in pain. She’s bloated and in pain. She can barely use her hands. She can barely walk. Whether she covers her body up or is naked, the feelings remain the same. She starts barking at her kid and husband, no longer the fun mom and wife…. she’s no longer the invisible hero. She’s become the visible asshole for invisible reasons. She takes a break from her loved ones. Hides in a stall in the air conditioned washrooms and has a silent cry. She reminds herself that she’s here to enjoy herself. She’s earned it and so has her family. There’s is no place here for Mr. Lupus and Mrs. RA nor body image depression. They weren’t invited nor do they have a ticket. They are not welcomed. She decides to take an Advil with some Appleton Rum… short term fix.
There’s no place for self body shaming and reminds herself that she has earned her fat. She’s had hormones and meds injected in her, she had a high risk pregnancy with a 8.5lb baby (and stayed within healthy preggers weight) that was ALL belly. She never just lays around unless she’s extremely ill and she is living through everyday. She is living like normal despite the pain.
So you know what she did… She did her make up and hair, put on a pretty dress. She got through her night and those fat thoughts disappeared. She even wore a bikini the next day… just cause. She lived anyway… 

New face in my personal space 

You get the news… you have the RA blues. 

You needs meds or eventually you won’t be able to use your legs 

And hands 

And fingers 

And feet… and so you make sure everything about you  still remains on fleek.

You attend your clinics and get your meds. 

You meet new people,  some you  might even consider another “RA fucked up” friend.

You even like the nurse who pokes n prods you. She’s cool and even suffers right along side you. 

You talk shit and try to make this fucked situation fun but then one day you walk in on schedule and  guess what ?  She’s gone… 

Once again a new face in your personal space.  

Same damn questions and you no longer have the grace.

You’re bored and annoyed and feel like a fucking toy. 

You’re not research nor a guinea pig.  You’re a person, a human with some special needs.  There’s more to treatment then asking if I sneezed… I have a name not just an OHIP number or benefits.. *eye roll*  PLEASE….   but everywhere you turn… another new medical face is in your personal space… with  very bad breath.

Truly Invisible 

Truly invisible …
It’s amazing how people talk about illness around you but don’t include you or the autoimmune diseases you battle in the conversation.. 

They don’t really see you or your struggles.  

They don’t know your ill. You look slightly tired but you look good.  

They can’t see your pain. They can’t feel your pain. So they can’t intone to your pain and so they can’t empathize with your pain. 

AND This is when you truly know your illness is invisible and therefore an invisible fighter is created  and where the invisible hero within rises. 

From Heels to Flats

From Heels to Flats

I’ve been addicted to shoes since I can remember.  My mother says that even at the age of two when she would take me grocery shopping, we had to stop at the Italian leather shoe store next door or else a temper tantrum would ensue.    She says that I loved to touch the shoes.  I would caress and feel the leather; I would even pick them up to smell them.  She said I looked like I was in heaven.  

My father loved shoes as well.  My mother would send him off to the grocery store and he would return with the items and a pair of  leather dress shoes for himself…EVERY SINGLE TIME.   So I come by it honestly.  Its in my DNA.

I have 250+ pairs of shoes.  In my twenties and early thirties I was like Victoria Beckham, I didn’t leave my house without heels on, usually they were 5 inches.  I worked 12 hour days in them.  I danced in them.  I went grocery shopping in them.  I even wore 5 inch heels until I was 6 months pregnant.  They made me feel tall and proud.  Even though I have struggled with body image all of my life, I love my feet.  No matter what your size you are, your feet in beautiful and unique  pair of shoes stand out before your flaws.   Almost everyone can appreciate a good pair of sexy heels. 

Shoes are my therapy.   When I shop for them, when I wear them and when I plan an outfit around them, they make me happy.  I may have a slight problem but who I am hurting really?  I contribute to the economy and pay for them myself…  AND that’s the only rebuttal I have to that debate.   LOL

Now that Ms. RA has decided to make a lifelong visit, heels have become flats.  Well THANK THE LAWD!   flats have become cute.   When I had to buy Birkenstock’s to replace those heels at 6 months pregnant,   I cried like a baby!  In my opinion “Birks were ugly and nasty and only old people with fucked up feet wore them”.   Now I have 8 pairs.   LMAO! 

 I still wear heels to this day.  I’m not supposed to.   The RA has destroyed my ankles and feet but I told my Rheumy “if you take away my heels then you have destroyed my soul”.  I know… dramatic right?    I don’t care.  Shoes are how I express myself.   I am not creative.  I don’t do art.   I don’t paint.   I wear fashion… and my fashion starts with what I put on my feet.  AND So Rheumy and I compromised.  I only wear 3 inches now 2x a week.  I travel with usually 2 to 3 different pairs of shoes to change into cause let’s be honest…. RA has screwed up my joints so bad that no shoe in this world is going to feel comfy for long…

Recently I met my girls to go shopping knowing full well that walking around a mall for hours was going to damn near kill me.   I almost cancelled but my hubby said I needed to go.  Not only for the retail therapy but for the jokes and silliness my girlfriends and I share.   So I went and we walked nonstop for 4 hours.  I even had to go back and grab a pair of heels that called my name repeatedly after I left the store.   Once we sat down for dinner my body was screaming but I just muffled it with a very large Cocktail…

I have RA but I went anyway.  I have RA and I wear heels anyway.  I have RA but I am ME anyway.  Be you… not your disease. 



RA and caring for the elderly 

I’ve been caring for my mother for most of my life but in the last 5 years her independence is starting to dwindle.   Of course some of this is due to aging and some of her own accord.  She’s 79 years young and some of her choices have come back to pay her a visit in the elder years. Unfortunately she’s not at the age where she could kick ass.  As a child no one messed with my Mom… Not adults, not kids…NOBODY… She even took a baseball bat to some kid who was racist bullying me but now she’s fragile physically.   Mentally though she’ll still whoop you good. 

Of course she knows I’ll be there for her but we didn’t see the RA coming.  As I’ve stated before Lupus made an appearance a long time ago and even though I’ve only had a few flares, those flares had me down on my knees… Now that RA is present, it changes the entire life game. 

My mom, she  still lives on her own and truly believes if she enters a retirement home, she’ll die before her time.  She is quite capable of taking care of herself until she starts over-medicating.  She’s the opposite of me, no tolerance for pain WHAT SO EVER… so pain killers have become her BFF.  This is such a difficult topic and issue to cope with, especially because I know what pain feels like and how prolonged pain affects everything else in your life.  She struggles and needs the medication but abuses it, over uses it and is dependent on it.   It’s tough to watch.  

 As I was sitting in the hospital with her recently, many of the hospital staff looked to me to care for her since they are severely under staffed.    They expect family to assist her with all of her needs and assist her with getting in and out of the bed.   There is also this underlining tone\expectation that her children should be taking care of her in their home.   So of course I have to explain several times over and over and OVER AGAIN that I am disabled myself, that I have RA etc etc…. I think I should wear a name badge… “Hi I’m Natosha, I have RA” or maybe it should just say “Beware I have RA”.  I get tired of explaining why I can’t do things.  I have thought of just saying “I’m not helping my mother because I’m an asshole and lazy as fuck so I’d rather someone else just do it”.   “Can you imagine the reaction?”  Could be amusing…

 I wish I was limited by my own choice and not due a medical condition.   Life would be easier.  I wonder how this will transpire; caring for my mother in last chapters of her life while taking care of my RA.  This shall be interesting. 

Depressed … Who Me? 

I think it’s about time I admit it.   Yes, I am depressed.  I feel lost… for many different reasons.   I am now in my mid 40’s.  I am scared to death of getting old and what that will bring on all levels but especially with the autoimmune diseases.   I’m already nasty when in pain.  “Lard… help the children in our neighborhood during that time period”.

 I’ve had to terminate my goals of higher education because I physically can’t do it.   Mr. Lupus and Ms. RA will only allow me to do so much in a day… My career goals are on hold because again I can only do so much and right now I have to focus on staying in remission.    YAY!  Such ambition… stay in remission…  I know for many of you, this would be a significant achievement.  It truly is.   I’m just so use to accomplishing goals on so many different levels. It’s tough for me to be stagnate. 

Now I hope that the word “depression” hasn’t sets off alarms in people that know me.   Depression comes with this autoimmune territory.  It comes in waves and in stages.   There is also a big difference between situational depression, chronic depression and a chemical imbalance.  This is situational depression.  The term and the emotion “depression” shouldn’t be scary. There shouldn’t be this huge “gasp” knee jerking reaction when you hear the term.  Life in itself can cause depression.   Significant changes in life can cause depression.   Losing a loved one through death and\or heartache causes depression.   Being broke causes depression.  There are many many many situations and circumstances that can cause depression.   Life is depressing sometimes!!  Life can really suck ass and make us feel like shit and that’s DEPRESSING and guess what?  It’s common. 

Be concerned when that depression stops you from living.  Be concerned when that bout of depression is more than just a time out away from life.   When you’re having trouble getting out of bed, taking care of your hygiene and you’re missing lots of work\events… maybe it’s time to seek professional help.   If you are thinking suicidal thoughts and\or thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to someone… you are not alone. 

I am getting up every day, functioning in my roles (wife, mother, daughter, friend, counsellor) and being part of society.   I am laughing and trying to be happy but there’s something off.   I do not know who I am anymore.   Who have I become?  Where has that fun, silly, energetic, thriving person gone?   I know that the wife, mother, daughter, friend, counsellor in me is present and I’m fucking fantabulous in those roles  but  the ME is suffering.   It feels as though the RA and Lupus have taken over.  They control my life.  Everything is scheduled around medication, pain and mobility.   My ambition, my goals, and even my outlook on my life depend on my pain threshold.   It’s maddening…

So as I sit here in my room of shoes, my tranquil room (side note “who would have thought the smell of leather and stinky feet would calm me”) reflecting… I come to realize that waiting for the pain to back off or take less control of my life is a waste of time.  I need to find a way to work with it, and to work within it.   The pain will always be there.  It’s may subside but it is a part of me now.  This is my reality so I might as well stop wishing for it to go away completely and ride it.   So I’m going to push through it. Swim anyway.  Dance anyway.  Live anyway.  AND when I’m tired and the pain is intolerable then I rest and do it all over again…

No single sufferers here

It’s amazing at how much our diseases consume us.  There are times when we only can see our own hands in front of our own faces.  At times we get so caught up in our own suffering that those “non-invisible fighters” become invisible to us.   Being a true invisible fighter also means knowing when to put your suffering aside to prioritize a need of another. 

  It feels as though I rarely see my “go too peeps” anymore.   I only have a select few that I bare my soul too.   So when I have the chance to catch up with these people I ensure that my soul “gets naked”.  Let it all hang loose, laugh, cry, fart, laugh hysterically, put the kids to bed and start again.    

I went to see one of my dearest recently.   We arrived and I wanted so badly to tell her how lost I’ve been feeling but when she looked at me in her foyer I knew that she needed me this time… So I put the lost me aside and enveloped her in the support the best way I knew how… I just listened.   She needed someone to lean on.  She needed to be pulled from the dark and I was able to do this for her.   Why? Because I am not the only one suffering.  Because I know that there is more to me than my disease.   Because I know that I can put my own heartache aside for someone I love. Because THIS… this exact moment of helping another in need is important, setting a side your own needs to prioritize theirs is what makes the world go round.   I strongly believe you only get what you give.  I know that I cannot live this life alone and I would never leave someone alone to live it…

It’s really challenging at times to come out of your own grey cloud but you have to.  You are more than just your pain; you are more than just your disease.   You are more than your depression.  Caring, loving, helping and assisting is a way to show yourself that it hasn’t consumed you.  You ARE still a selfless lovely human being… There are no single sufferers in this life…

Balancing Act

How many times do you hear “take care of yourself”?  How often do you hear from your medical professionals that in order to be well you need to follow a self-care regime?   How accurate am I when I say you sacrifice your health regularly for loved ones?  In all honesty, how much of your needs do you put off for others? 

If you have characteristics like me balancing your needs with the needs of your loved ones becomes a daily juggling act.   Being chronically ill doesn’t make me put myself in front of others.   I find myself putting off my own needs and\or struggles for others every day.  Even today, my mother needs something and my daughter wants to see her Gaga (grandmother- my mother) so I am putting off swimming (my medically ordered exercise for my RA) again.   This has turned into a regular occurrence and I know I am not the only Invisible Fighter (autoimmune\chronic illness sufferer) that does this. 

 Daily we have to balance whether or not we take the much needed nap or play with our kid.  Do we exercise or run errands for our elderly parents?  Do we take our meds and rest to decrease pain or do we take more pain killers to go out on that scheduled social outing?   In most cases I chose the latter.   Unless I am in absolute bad shape.   I know the fragile line of not putting my needs first, my condition will worsen and my family will suffer.  I walk that tight line…that tight rope consistently.   I’m quite aware if I do not take care of myself, I can cause more damage and/or end up in hospital.  AND unfortunately I am willing to risk this so I can care for others.  

So where do you draw the line?  How do you take care of yourself and others?  What do you do with that guilty thought of “am I being selfish?” when you do put yourself first?  Well… you start with identifying your triggers.   What can’t you say NO too?   What CAN you put off?   WHO can you say NO to?   You might have to take that big step and admit to family and friends that you cannot do everything. You might just have to communicate that you’re suffering in that moment and need to make the time to heal yourself. 

Balancing your needs against the needs of others… this is not an easy task.  Putting “you” first and saying “no” is incredibly hard.   THIS is work in progress for me.    I have a young child, an elderly mother, and both are extremely needy.   I have an amazing husband who would do anything for me, however he is a procrastinator.  A MAJOR procrastinator.  Soooo things will get done either in 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 months.   With me being an organized planner… this drives me absolutely insane and can cause World War 3.   Therefore, I have to be in pretty bad shape to ask him to organize anything. Truly…desperate.

 I suck at putting myself first.  It’s not in my nature.  It’s not who I am.   I always put others first, especially my loved ones.  If you need me, I am there… always.  I’m like a 7Eleven…open 24\7… packed with fun snacks.   I miss swimming often and I don’t take naps.  I pop Advil until I crash.  It takes crashing for me to stop.   It takes excruciating pain for me to put myself first.  It actually took a biologic infusion (IV therapy) to get me to think.   What would happen to my family if I were to deteriorate to the point of non-functional?   What would happen to my family if I couldn’t work?  Where would my friends and family be if I had a stroke and\or heart attack because I didn’t take care of myself first?  How would my loved ones feel if I died because I neglected my needs?  Prioritizing self-care is not selfish, even though it feels that way.   How can you taking care of yourself be selfish when the end results means you can continue to do for others? 

There is a way to balance your needs along with the needs of others…say “no” often.  Say “not right now” a lot.  Say “I need a day” once in a while.  Say “I need to do me” as much as possible.   

A Poet

No energy to care

You wake and you feel it in your bones.

The desperate wanting for a good day.

The feeling of positivity overcoming you as your feet hit the floor,

But recognizing it’s only the exhaustion that lives within. 

You close your eyes and say “fuck you I don’t have the fight today”.

So you drag yourself to your first cup of coffee and realize “I don’t have to fight THIS every day”.

“I don’t have to choose fight or flight every single day”.

 I can be neutral.  I can do nothing.   I can be nothing. 

I can fight for nothing and want for nothing for one whole day

And just be…

2 steps forward, 1 step back..

There will be several precipitating factors that determine how you’re feeling.   The weather and barometric pressure, the sun and how long you’ve been exposed, how much restful sleep you got, whether or not something and\or someone stressed you {short-term or long-term situations both contribute significantly}, the common cold, and most importantly your mind-set.  Feeling well is not simply based solely on medication.  This expectation will set you up for failure.  There is no wonder drug unfortunately…. or I would be popping it like candy!

This week was a struggle for me, as I’m sure many “spoonies” were feeling the same.   The inconsistent weather, this beautifully warm one day and cold as fuck the next is literally an autoimmune disease sufferer’s nightmare.  Your joints and muscles have no idea how to adjust to the barometric pressure so then they just get pissed off… and fight back.   It’s like Ms. RA and Mr. Lupus engage in an argument that turns physical except you’re the victim they attack.  They beat the living shit out of you, wrestling you down while you’re trying to fight back, but tapping out and giving up seems like the better option. 

This back and forth and up and down is sooo discouraging.    I was on a roll.   The infusions were working; I had little to no inflammation in my joints and no pain, so I started swimming again.  2 steps forward.  Then BAM… caught a cold that turned into a chest infection.    I can’t take my weekly self-injected methotrexate when I am ill.   So I lost a dose of meds which in turn makes me feel like shit.   I can’t swim, let alone function for the entire day…… 1 step back.   These are the days I want to give into the disease, throw in the towel, and just give up the fight.   I’m sure many invisible fighters just want to stop … and do.   They start making poor food choices, no longer exercise and\or socialize.   They barely leave their homes and allow the disease to fully take over.   If I were to give in to this disease, which does seem like the easier choice at times, I wouldn’t be me.   AND this is exactly what I remind myself during the lowest points…

Yes!  It sucks ass that I couldn’t swim today or haven’t swam for days, but I made it to work.   Yeah… I couldn’t wear the dress I wanted because putting on tights or nylon’s cause excruciating pain, but I walked up the stairs.   Absolutely, It fucking blows that I can’t dance and shake my ass all night, but at least I did for one or two songs with one of my BFF’s  on her birthday.  AND at times it’s absolutely devastating that I can’t run, play and chase my daughter around the playground, but I walked with her there, watched and laughed with her.  I even pushed her on the swings for a few moments and  that will be apart of her memory forever. 

Be an optimist; Someone that knows taking one step backward after taking a step forward isn’t a disaster, it’s the Cha-Cha.   



If you look around yourself and really hone in on those surrounding you; are you able to see those suffering from a chronic illness?    The answer is probably not.    Most of those who are fighting a chronic disease look fine.  Great even.  Invisible fighters rarely look sick and people usually can only see what’s in front of them.    This makes no sense because most of us become overwhelmed with emotion when we witness someone suffering and prefer not to see it.    So…most people try to look their best.   Looking ill is depressing BUT we only empathize\sympathize with what we can see.   Catch twenty-two.  Sometimes we humans are pretty stupid.

When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, my husband raised a good point.   “I understand all the medical technicalities regarding your illness but I still do not understand what it is like for you living with disease”.  It was then that I started to research a way that I could accurately describe it.

I found “the spoon theory” written by Christine Miserandino.

She came up with the theory when her friend stated that same question my husband asked me.   So Christine tries to use a humanistic approach through using spoons as a metaphor for energy; to help her friend understand the effects of Lupus.   “The difference in being sick and being healthy has to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.  Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control” Christine says “when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons” {spoons being energy} But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting”. 

My husband would think that my evening ritual of reviewing and\or analyzing the next day’s routine and “to do” list was just my “anal organizational skills” or as he calls it “OCOD” {obsessive compulsive organized disorder} but it was really to figure out how many  “spoons” I need to get through the next day.  I sit there calculating “spoons” by the number of necessary tasks I absolutely have to complete in order to live life.  How many spoons does a spoonie use on a daily basis?

  • One spoon to get out of bed (worst part of the day)
  • Two spoons for lunch preparation.
  • Two spoons to shower all the parts, brush teeth, spread the lotion (this can take many more spoons depending on the day)
  • Two spoons for make-up, hair and dressing
  • One spoon for driving all day (I drive to my clients)
  • 8 spoons to get through a day of work. Overtime is extra spoons
  • 2 spoons for putting away dishes
  • 5 spoons dinner prep and cooking (another reason why I hate cooking)
  • 3spoons for cleaning up and washing dishes
  • 1 spoon for child’s homework and\or to play
  • 3 spoons to bathe child and prepare for bed
  • 2 spoons to complete any other household chore
  • 1 spoon for bedtime hygiene routine.

I haven’t included my child’s extra-curricular activities or notes written for teachers, extra homework, and\or play dates.   I didn’t add errands and\or shopping. Grocery shopping was entirely removed from my list for the safety of my husband’s well-being.  Friday nights would turn into Frightening nights and I was the nightmare.  First of all I hate grocery shopping period {there is nuttin fun or exciting about buying food} but once you add spoon absorption and pain to the equation… it’s deplorable.   I’d rather starve.  Then there is sex…. Sex does the body good… especially if you have spoons left over at the end of the night… if not… It’s literally go fuck yourself.  Unless you wanna just lie there then no spoons are required.  LMAO! {now that’s funny}.  Weekends… especially those spoonie parents need a shit load of spoons to get through them.   Days are longer and busier than weekdays.  Some spoonies nap to get through them and for added spoon bonuses.   The more you rest the more spoons you have.   I don’t nap unless it’s on a beach… I crash hard at the end of every day.  So on average it takes about 75 to have a basic functional day.

As of late, I’ve been short on spoons and therefore I reanalyse, prioritize and reorganize my “to do” list to fit my spoon collection… something I never thought I’d collect {spoons are not as enjoyable as shoes}.   I don’t even like them…

****Blog Picture – “Hammered Spoons by Heidi” was a purchase made to assist a fellow Spoonie in paying for treatment.    She is currently fighting for her life****

Laughing at the clock

Many would be shocked to hear that I hate my birthday.   I think the dislike came after my 25th.   The essence of time became limited and many deadlines came about.  Shit got busy and structured.   You’re always racing against the clock.  You never feel like you have enough time.   As we get older I find there is less time. AND  If you have children, there is even lesser time.   Our life expectancy is measured in time, years and birthdays.    So for me, birthdays are an indication that you are a year closer to your end date.  Yeah, I know… grim outlook. 

For someone who has such an aversion to aging,  I celebrate my birthday for weeks and with every important person available.   Hilarious right?  My theory is.. always spin a negative into a positive.  I use my birthday to my advantage.    Who can say no to you when you ask to see them on and\or around your birthday?  Not many…

The theory “age ain’t nuttin but a number” or ” its not about the number, its about how you feel”; doesn’t work for those suffering from an autoimmune disease.  We feel old all day, everyday.   Our bodies are old.  They crack, creek, snap and pop.  Get a few of us together, we could make some wicked beats.     We don’t look sick unless you open us up… and our organs scream “get off my grass”.  Then you know our bodies are old and miserable.   Just being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease shortens your life expectancy {scientific fact} birthdays now are the “how long before I croak” reminder.   Its a scary thought, your life ending because a disease has the power to kill you.

Its because of that reason exactly that  I ensure I celebrate my day of birth.   I refuse to allow some disease dictate when and how and where I live my life and in what manner.   I refuse to allow this grim circumstance consume all of my life events and turn them into “I can’t moments” or “I’m too afraid” pity parties.  I need to continue to make memories.. feel good moments.  Everyone deserves happiness.  Everyone deserves to laugh.   Laughter is a great cure.  It’s an amazing pain killer and so I try to laugh as often as possible.  

Laughter is very present on birthdays when surrounded by your favorite people and so every year for mine, I gather those who are my “feel good” people to celebrate with me.   Most of my friends and close family members are younger and I read that hanging out with younger people helps you live longer.   I like this.  I now have another excuse other than an “immature mentality”{which also keeps you younger} to hang out with “the youngins”.  We get together, we bust balls {insults}, we laugh and we make memories.   I ensure that I take the time to cherish my life because in the end the clock won’t mean shit.  I also stay younger by being as silly and immature as possible.   I quote Eddy Murphy often {delirious and raw}.   Anything and everything to do with gas … has me in stitches.  I have a trucker mouth cause cursing just adds flavor to every story and I find it fun.   During these  precious times.. I forget that I am sick and for those few hours, I am pain free and just living.  








The Brain Fog

I’m making soup for my daughter and hubby.    I rarely cook so this is a big deal.   I cut the veggies.   I add my spices and broth and note that I need more broth.   I walk from my kitchen to the pantry which is literally 15 steps, open the pantry door and…. my mind is blank.   I walk back to the kitchen.   Then I remember the broth so I walk back to the pantry, open the doors AND blank…. I can’t remember shit.  I walk back to the kitchen, remember I need the broth… scream out FUCK!!!  Almost run to the pantry while the thought of broth is still on my mind, open the doors and grab the broth in a panic.  FINALLY! Task completed.   It only took 10 fucking minutes. 

Welcome to a day in the life of Brain Fog.  This is asshole Brian Fog who enters everyone’s life at some point… {usually due to sleep deprivation or when the age monster is comin to get ya} however for us Invisible fighters {autoimmune diseases suffers} this is an everyday occurrence.  Brain fog is not a medically recognized term but is a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity.

Brain fog happens to the average person who is lacking sleep. When they catch up on sleep they’re back to normal brain power.  We Invisible fighters… towards the end of the day or on a day where we are struggling, most of us can’t even finish a sentence without forgetting what we’re saying, and\or stuttering.   Brain fog is basically what it sounds like; it’s fog in your brain that is clouding your thought process and disturbing your communication skills.    Many times when I am in the middle of a session with a client where I am on fire with providing great suggestions or challenging them regarding their own insight, all of a sudden I can’t get the words out.   Out of nowhere I appear to have a speech impediment and\or language barrier.  In that moment I just want to scream “I know the English language, I swear!  My brain is an asshole with a dark sense of humor!”   I’ve had friends and family members make fun of me and\or correct me.   BUT that stopped after they got the “don’t fuck with me “look and\or the “how the fuck can you be so insensitive” speech. 

 I have now created my own language; “pass me the thingamagigers… I need the whatchamacallits… those thingies”… also pointing and moaning has become quite common.    My admin assistant has learned to speak my language fluently.   It’s quite accommodating and refreshing.  My husband still needs practice.

If you are a great communicator, this is very frustrating.   For me, I take a great deal of pride in being able to reach others through communication. I have a gift where I am able to connect with others using my words.  When I can’t speak because I’m stuttering or forget what I want to say, I feel stupid and uneducated.   It’s extremely embarrassing.   I feel as though the disease is not only taking over your body but it’s also mocking me through fogging up my mind. 

This happens because of chronic fatigue but there are other reasons for it as well.  The average person who is suffering from a chronic disease doesn’t get a lot of sleep.  That sleep is disrupted by pain.  In dealing with the pain on a daily basis, trying to ignore the pain, and\or trying to cope with the pain also causes brain fog.  When you are in constant pain you give off a hormonal response that triggers your endorphin’s.  Your endorphin’s are a short term pain killer but if you’re in pain all day eventually those endorphin’s wear out and you produce another hormone (cortisol) that can make you quite angry when high levels are made.    Just ask my husband…. I have become quite the angry woman since Mr. Lupus and Ms. RA made their long unwanted visit.   

Several of my friends have now noticed when I hit my “wall”, the brain fog wall.  It is infrequent and illogical.  I don’t give much notice.  All of a sudden I am disrupting my husband or whomever I am with stating urgently that I need to go and NOW.  At this point; I have nothing left in me, no spoons {another blog to come}, no patience, and no mind.  I cannot process anything and therefore need to shut down.   There’s no real warning sign, you go from tired to non-functioning.    So if you ever met someone or are with someone who suddenly takes long pauses when speaking and/or stutters and/or mispronounce words, the Brain Fog may have taken over or they may just be an Invisible Fighter…. I actually think of them as Invisible Hero’s


Self-Pity in Chocolate

Peggy Bundy had it all figured out {the show…married with children}   Do nothing…   No housework, no cooking and no cleaning {well I can’t do that…seriously not possible}, while lying on the couch in front of the television eating Bonbons.   This is my kinda party… the pity party. 

My pity party is a private party for me, myself and I.   It consists of comfort food; chocolate, popcorn, chocolate, and sometimes ice cream  along with a complimentary box of tissue.  There’s no alcohol at this party and\or other substances {plus my addiction or substance preferred is shopping…retail therapy… which is my husband’s worst nightmare}.  Strictly water is permitted and encouraged to replenish the water loss from the waterworks eye show.  

 This usually occurs after I have suffered for several days consecutively and that one morning…simple tasks are  just extremely difficult and utterly frustrating.  I then know this is going to be a bad day.   I’ve been fighting hard but I just accept that Mr. Lupus and Ms. RA have won today.    So I put on my “fake face” for my daughter and see her off.    I go back to bed and sleep until the early afternoon, then move to the couch with my comfort food, water and tissues.  I watch all my sappy shows {This is US … sooo fing good} so I can ball my eyes out.   I’m not talking that cute cry with big sexy like tears.. like in the movie…looking all sultry and shit.  I’m talking the big nasty ugly cry… eyes swollen; nose running snotty face …where people would be afraid to approach you even if they were able recognized you. 

The pity party is therapeutic.  It’s a time to cope with all the emotions you’ve been pushing back and under the rug for the last several weeks.   It’s a time to allow yourself to have a “real “moment where you’re not putting on a front or a show.   This is where you feel your real emotions of resentment, anger, pity… It’s the “feel sorry for yourself phase”.   Not only is it OK to do this.   You NEED to give yourself permission to do it.    For me, these pity parties are essential for my mental health.   They give me the strength to move on and continue my “mind over matter” strategy.

A couple of hours before my family arrive;  I get myself together by putting the tears and self-pity away.    I start my “ positive self-prep talk”.   I remind myself that everyone has a story and mine could be much worse.   I could already have hands that are disfigured.  I could already be crippled instead of it just being a risk at this point.   I remind myself that I’ve been fighting my ass off  and have more points on the score board then Ms. RA and Mr. Lupus to date.  I remind myself..I AM winning!.. and today is just another indicator of that.  I also thank myself for the emotion cleanse and remind myself that I deserved this day BUT tomorrow we are back to KICKiNG SOME ASS. 

So enjoy your pity party.. and get the good chocolate.   Bad chocolate just makes you feel worse. 


I think everyone at this time of year can relate to this; FEELING TIRED and ALWAYS being tired.  

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I say to myself, “I can’t wait to go back to bed tonight”.   I am so tired.  Pretty much ALL of the time.  I can remember working my multiple jobs, partying my ass off and returning to work after 4 hours or less of sleep; and not feeling A THING.  I was perky and springy as hell.  NOW if I stay up past midnight, I have the worst hangover even though I did not partake in any substances… except Advil.  Advil is my best friend.    

You can contribute it to the time of year.   To the weather.  It’s certainly the grey ass skies… day after day and every day for months on end.   It’s working and dealing with the pressures at work.  Its stress.  It’s lack of vacationing.   It’s raising a family.  It’s financially budgeting, and it’s a thing called ….LIFE.   Life is wonderful and mesmerizing, although it is VERY challenging.   I have this exact conversation with my friends all the time…  Where we question; is it more tiring because we’re older?  and with age comes aches?  Is it because we have a shit load of responsibility? Or is it because of autoimmune diseases\chronic illness\health related issues?

When you Google tiredness; Rheumatoid Arthritis rates 5thout of the 10 top reasons for tiredness.   Depression rates 4th.   Anemia rates number 1 and Chronic Fatigue rates the 6th reason for being tired {I find this an hmmm… moment because most autoimmune diseases cause chronic fatigue}.

As we get older, we get busier.  Since we a busier, we’re tireder??   LOL {I know that’s not a word… I like to use my rhyming skills}.   We plan everything {ok fine!!… not everyone plans everything.  I plan everything about everything for everything…so what? }.  

The reality… we live a fast paced life.   We race against the clock… every damn day.    We run errands on our lunch, in between appointments and on the way home from work.   We rarely have time for ourselves.  We rarely watch shows at their appropriate times because we are too busy doing something else and we can PVR {record} it.   We don’t even shop in stores anymore, we buy everything online.  WHY?  Cause it’s more convenient and because we don’t have the time.   Although, it’s really a catch twenty-two because we spend more time staring at a screen and\or smart phone where we get instant gratification which also causes TIRED BRAIN.    A great majority of us are busy with children and all of their activities.  We have them in so many things to ensure they have several opportunities to explore themselves that we lose their cues of telling us they just want to stay home and play with their toys and\or outside with the neighborhood friends.  AND we do this until we have empty nests and\or retirement. 

We have all know what we need to do for more energy….

  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily… I try but it’s hard to do when your mouth is open all day because you have to speak to people constantly.
  • Exercise… ummm ya but it’s a vicious circle. Who wants to exercise when you’re exhausted; especially us chronic illness sufferers.  I suggest  starting as a  last minute decision when you have a day\evening when you’re feeling generally OK.  I swim.  It takes the pressure off my joints, doesn’t hurt during the activity, it’s a cardio\resistance exercise and it’s my serenity.
  • Take Vitamins… Vitamin D does wonders. I swear by it!!
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours… This is another catch twenty-two. We work late; we make dinner, we have chores at home that need to be done even if they are the bare necessities to function.  If we have children, we support them through homework and bedtime routine.    For me, once I complete all my chores {and for those who know me… I actually do leave some chores … not many…but I do}, ME time starts very late so I’m not getting to bed until later.  Me time is essential for my mental health.   If I don’t get some ME time, people do not like me.   I am one nasty, resentful biatch…and scary too.   There’s also partner time to factor in. 
  • Eat well… blah blah blah… we all know this. We all try to do this… but chocolate or whatever is your pleasure is just sooo damn good.  AND a drive thru is convenient isn’t it.  

There are a number of things we can try to do to get more energy.  The brutal truth though… we need to change our lifestyle in most cases.   In order to do that, you have to make life changes that are easier said than done.    We live in a Society where money is key.  Everything costs money…every freak’n thang.    I for one, am willing to make some of those changes.   I’m tried of saying “I’m tired” every time I’m asked how I’m doing.   Aren’t you? 

” Care of Self”

Written  between Jan 27, 2017 and Jan 29, 2017

Its 220pm.   I’m sitting at my desk anticipating my 3rd and final biweekly infusion that starts at 3pm. After this, I go every 4 weeks.    I am anxious.  It’s odd; I’m generally not an anxious person unless it’s about cleanliness and organization.  I truly despise dirt and untidiness.     I’m not afraid of needles.  The IV pain is tolerable.  Why am I anxious?  As I ask myself “why?”, my eyes tear up.  My inner voice says “because this is fucked up!  That’s why!”    I guess I haven’t really come to terms with this.  I feel good in between infusions but the day of… I’m antsy, unable to focus and quiet {not me at all…I’m quite loud}.

Recently, when I was explaining an infusion and the process to a close friend, she said “This treatment is your own form of chemo”.   That really sunk in. It really hit home because chemo is a therapy used to keep cancer at bay and put those people affected in remission.  The use of infusions… same goal.   Once again, I think “how the fuck did I end up like this?”

When I take emotions out of it and stick to just logic, I know that I have contributed to this in some manner.  I started working at the age of 13.   By the time I was 18, I had multiple jobs.  When I was 20, I had  5 jobs while attending College fulltime and this continued until 31 years of age.  Why?   I grew up in the system on welfare. I had to start contributing financially or my mother would lose her housing subsidy.  I refused to be a part of that world, so I hustled.   For 10 plus years my average evening of sleep was 4 hours.   I rarely sat down to eat.  I wore 5 inch heels for 12 hours daily {greatest days of my life.. sorry I haven’t mentioned my shoe\heel fetish.. 300 pairs of shoes.. that’s another blog to come :P} and pushed myself every day to the limit.    By the age of 25, I had stomach issues and 2 significant bruises on my right arm.   I was told the bruises were eczema.   I didn’t question it further.   I was young, invisible and had no concept of self-care; one of the only moments that I regret.    I don’t regret the hustle and the life experiences it gave me.   The reality is I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t hustle.    Since I left my mother’s care, I have never needed any assistance from welfare.   I got out of the system.  One of the greatest accomplishments in my life.

I do regret my lack of knowledge and\or care for my physical being.   When the stomach issues started I was told, take breaks, eat while sitting down and get more sleep.   I didn’t.   At the age of 31, I knew those bruises were more than eczema.   I was getting married and wanted them gone.   Well my dermatologist did his job and discovered\diagnosed Mr. Tumid Lupus.    Mr. Lupus had made his mark on me since my middle 20’s, and I went years without treating him.   Again, I don’t regret the hustle, but I regret not listening to my body.  I regret not taking the advice to slow down a bit.   I regret not sleeping a little bit more.   Now…I know my body inside and out…lesson learned.  I know it so well in fact, I knew I was pregnant with my little Bum Bum {daughter’s nic name} within hours of conceiving and 1 1\2 weeks away from Auntie Flow date.   My doctor thought I was insane…

The reality is… self-care is important.   Work-Life balance needs to be front and center of all of our lives.   Stress causes 99.9% of disease.  North American’s are the leaders in autoimmune diseases, cancers, heart and stroke.  ” Why?”  Because we live to work.    We spend less time on self-care, appreciating family, nature, all in all…life really.   We don’t smell the roses, instead we count money and it’s literally killing us.   I still work a fair amount… that’s the world of Child Welfare\Social Services.   BUT I am very disciplined in my life-work balance.   My family comes first- no matter what.   My health comes first- no matter what.   I do not work at home once I get home from work.   When I am sick – I am sick. I stay home and care for myself.   I take every day off that I am privileged to have and I ensure I do things that make me happy {shoes, travel, shoes, movies, ummm shoes}   I laugh as much as possible.  I make myself go out even when I have feelings of isolation and depression.  I surround myself with those I love and who help keep me afloat.  I get rid of the negativity… including people.  I want to live as long as possible and in order to do that,  I need to live…not work.   I need to care for myself before I care for anyone else.  How do you care for yourself? Really think about that question.   You may be surprised with your answer…

Who’s got your back??

Written  on Jan 22, 2017

It’s been an emotional roller coaster this week.   With Trump being sworn in and Obama leaving, the incredibly massive women rights march, and a surprisingly unexpected starting of a significant relationship that will now become a long distance one.   With emotions that are global and some personal; it feels as though a whirl wind has entered my body and stirred up an emotion party. 

Even though I am Canadian, I am afraid with what Trump might have in store for his Country.  I’m not going to lie nor pretend that I am not concerned for my geographical neighbors or that I’m not concerned for us, Canadians.     I am an extremely empathetic person.   I love mankind and feel for all those who suffer and are enduring hardships.   My demeanor, the tough exterior I play, is my defense mechanism.   It protects me from becoming a puddle and allows me to function.  My mother and father both, were activists in the civil rights movement, and with being an interracial couple this caused them to experience many defeats.   BUT they didn’t give up; many during that time stood for civil rights and won.   Yesterday’s show of inclusiveness was abundant.  It was overwhelming and enlightening to observe; all races, genders and creeds standing up for all women.  People all over the world took a stance against the recent threats made against women, their values and most importantly their choices.  It was one of the most powerful events to witness.  This triggered many  occurring events in my life, decisions I’ve made and it made me think of the relationships that surround me. 

In my 43 years of life, I have pondered the meaning and evolution of  my relationships often.   I have come to the realization that each individual has a different definition of relationships and in that,  there are no errors…. just differences.   Everyone that comes into your life whether it be short-term, long-term or for a quick moment, has value.   The purpose is for you to take that value and apply it as a lesson to enhance your being.    As I evaluate my relationships, I realize that each relationship has its own function,   and that my expectations in that relationship are my own and I cannot compare nor transfer those expectations unto others or presume that because I am the common denominator in those relationships that each one will function the same.

When you are chronically ill, it changes your relationships.  You begin to assess every relationship based on loyalty, understanding and support.   Well…understanding a chronic illness is difficult especially when it’s invisible.  Most people cannot understand what they can’t see.  This sets them up to fail.  Unfortunately it is up to you whether or not you allow them to experience your vulnerability.  You will have those relationships that will hold you up without you needing to ask and you will have some where asking for the support is a perquisite to receiving it.   You will meet someone who you bond with immediately and some you can’t fucking stand at  just one glance.  You absolutely will have loved ones who will need to hear how you are every day, and some that can’t deal with your pain. 

  This is life, take it at face value.  I have many friends that only have to look into my eyes and know that I am full of shit about my pain and many that have no clue.  Although… I do have to acknowledge that every single person that I have allowed into my life would have my back… all I have to do is ask.  They would do anything for me and love me in their way.  

You cannot get through life without love, support, and acceptance.   You cannot deal with your disease alone.   If you were to assess your relationships in this exact moment… who’s got your back? Who would stand for you?   Who would march for you?  If you can name one… one can be enough.   If it isn’t… find them. 

Get Up.. Stand Up..Don’t give up the Fight!..

Written on January 12, 2017

It’s very easy to give in.  It takes no effort at all to give into any weakness of any kind.  How many times have you given into some desire or trigger?  How hard is it to take a stance, strengthen your backbone and use self-discipline?  It’s tough as hell.    Sometimes it’s the greatest challenge one may face in life.  It feels near impossible at times to fight back.

Just this morning I woke up with the shakes and slight dizziness.  This usually means that I have not rested enough, my muscles and joints are screaming “go back to bed!!”.  Usually it goes away within a few minutes but it lingered for several hours this morning.   During my  infusion orientation (IV therapy) , the nurse explained, “ if you suffer from chronic fatigue, this  kind of fatigue will make that look easy and you might get dizzy\light-headed”.    So.. I have been  very tired.  Bone ass tired but this light-headed symptom is new.  Now…  I could have easily called in sick to work  but I chose not too.   “You’re not wining today Ms. RA”, I thought to myself.     

 I make myself go to work everyday.   I see it as motivation, one of my drives to fight my RA.   It took me 3.5 hours to walk through the office doors today.   I took a shower and  rested a little;  I brushed my teeth, put on my moisturizer and rested a little,  I did my make up and  rested a little more….  “I think you get the point”.    3.5 hours !! …That’s what it took me but I made it.   It was my goal for the day  and I succeeded and it felt good.   I have a great supervisor, who in the beginning (3 years ago) would say “why don’t you stay home , rest and take care of yourself”.  I would respond with ” I will when the pain is unbearable but as long as I can tolerate it, I need to get here, no matter how long it takes me.  I need to do this”. 

I refuse to allow Ms. RA and Mr. Lupus to destroy me.  Depression and suicidal ideation are significantly high for those surviving a chronic illness.  The illness overcomes you and manages your entire life.  If you allow it, it will drain you of all happiness.  The depression is at times, unbearable on its own.  BUT I fight it.  I fight it with everything that makes me happy (some of the things I’m not suppose to do; like wearing heels..I do it anyway) and that beats it back for a little while. 

What makes you happy? what motivates you?  What will give you the strength you need to push back?  My daughter and husband are my strength.    They need me to be well.   My daughter needs a mother who is mobile and present.  My disease doesn’t touch her.  It affects her life in very little way.   The only think she knows are that my hands hurt and do not function well.   I might not be able to participate in every activity with her but I am there, watching, smiling and laughing.  My husband and I are life partners and I need to be filled with life for him.  I need to live my life.. for them… for me.      Honestly, there are many times that I can’t win that day’s battle.   So I accept it on that day, and I have a pity party ( another blog to come).  However,   I DO give it my all every single fucking day.  

Ms. RA.  and I have a score board in play and I have to be one up on her at all times! *big ass grin*.

 Autoimmune diseases affect everyone differently.   You may not be able to work or sit for hours at a time or walk or even wash your hair without feeling intense pain but every and any attempt is a success because you tried and that’s all that matters.  For that one moment… you won.    Whether it’s brushing your teeth, or sitting  up watching your children play or walking outside for 5 mins, it’s a way to fight back. 

Your life has purpose; don’t allow your disease to steal it from you.  So just every so often ” get up, stand up and leave that chair empty!”.


photo credit\CNphotography




Just a wee thought

Today is another infusion day.  I am sitting at my desk as we speak, feeling the anxiety approaching.  What if they can’t find a good vein?  How many times will I be pricked?   It took 3 tries, last time.   Not the nurses fault – my veins suck.  “ I hate bruises” * in a childlike voice*  I feel like a sponge.  Prick, prick , prick…  “Hide your skin!! Hide your veins!! They’re coming for your blood”.  I’d wish they’d come take the fat.

Enjoy your weekend.  Do something that makes you smile!!!



Raw Infusion

Not in million years would I have thought that I would be sitting in a clinic with an IV in my arm, about to receive my biologic medication.  Not once in my young adulthood did I think an illness or disease would interfere or interrupt my life.

What young adult at the ripe age of 25 looking ahead towards their future thinks …. Autoimmune diseases???   At that age I loved shoes, dancing, men and travel.   At that age I knew that I would be renting an apartment and hustling to make ends meet.

Never in a million years ..Autoimmune diseases.. HTF (How the Fuck) did I end up here??

I have RA.  I’m 42 years old with severe progressive rheumatoid arthritis.   My body is at war with itself and my insides are of an 80 year old.. Sexy huh?   I PRETEND a lot..  I pretend that I’m not terrified or alone or that this disease and its friend Lupus haven’t ruined some of my best attributes and ambitions.   I pretend that I am fine.    Isn’t that what we do?  As humans we lie to our loved ones to protect them and to protect ourselves from the pain that the truth brings.   So I pretend for my daughter, my husband, all of those around me and even those who don’t even know me.. but mainly for myself.   I pretend and lie that I am fine and have no fear of what these diseases will take from me next.  I’m a wonderful actress for I have fooled many…..

So after fighting for 3 long years against “these” medications, I give in and now awaiting for the first infusion (IV therapy).  I pray that this medication will give me some time.  RA steals your time.  It gnaws at you first thing in the morning and intensifies as the day goes on.  By the evening you have no energy, no pleasant personality and no desire to enjoy “your” time.    It may have come across as though I am giving in or have let these diseases win… not fucking likely… I am a fighter.  I fight every day from the moment my eyes open to the moment they close for rest.   I love my life and I refuse to have all of it stolen from me…


photo credit\CNphotography