Monday, November 16, 2009

New Traditions

I was on a lupus support group site yesterday, and a couple of the participants were fretting about the holidays. Fretting about the holidays for a lupus person, can certainly be detrimental to whatever health we have. Stress is any kind of change, and it's not all bad; this is a good stress, thinking about the joyous holiday season and all its attendant preparations.

Just as I have emphasized that once you get lupus, you have to give up your ideas of what's normal. Just because you did everything all in one day -- like I did laundry, grocery shopping and house cleaning all in one day, in the pre-lupus days -- doesn't mean you have to attain those goals now. Now, my motto while looking at a list of To Dos, is "Choose One."

But the holidays are different, I hear you protesting. I have to do X, Y and Z, because I've always done it. Nobody else knows how. And besides I want to do it.

Okay, go ahead, if you want to spend part of the holidays in ICU. Or flat on your back, while everybody else munches on the feast you lovingly prepared.

What I've learned to do -- and this came gradually, understand -- is change your normal holiday routine.

Gift shopping. We now draw names. No more searching for that perfect gift for a nephew whose tastes change from day to day. We do this name drawing at Thanksgiving, and set the monetary limit at under $20.00. This year, due to the economy, we'll probably set it at $10.00. You'd be surprised at what you can find for under $10.00. Merchants are falling all over themselves almost giving away their top selling items. And don't forget the convenience of on-line shopping.

For years, I had the entire family at my house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have a fairly large house, but it shrinks a bit more as each guest arrives. Everybody brings something, of course, and my brother bakes the turkey and brings it to my house. Gradually, we did away with using the good china and silver and good linen napkins, substituting paper or plastic products. There are some very nice paper plates out there, with beautiful holiday designs. Sure saves cleanup and not much dishwashing. I also save the plastic carryout boxes for several of the family members to take home with them for "seconds." After names are drawn and pies loaded onto dessert plates, we settle down to watch A Christmas Story, aka, "You'll shoot your eye out." The little boy wants a bb gun, and there are obstacles along the way. We've seen it so many times, we say the lines along with the characters, and roar with laughter every time.

Saves money that would have been spent going to a pricey movie.

At Christmas, the tradition is the same as Thanksgiving....same menu, same place. I gradually left off some decorations, figuring the tree and a few candles would be enough. This year, since my niece will have Christmas at her house (bless her heart!) and my kids in CA won't be coming, I'm probably not even put up the tree, which has always been an energy-burner.

Am I being a Scrooge? Not at all. I will celebrate the holidays with my family as usual, but I won't have to do all the work. I'll be gone for Thanksgiving so my niece is having that meal, too, and when she found out I'll not be there, she yelped: "Who's going to do the cornbread dressing?" Not to worry. I emailed her my mother's Secret Cornbread Dressing Recipe.

So there goes another part of the holidays that I don't have to be in charge of. Funny thing, the family will survive the change in traditions. I didn't think I could do it, but now I find that's a really nice feeling, something like "passing the torch" to the next generation.

Even if it's just passing along the secret family recipe for Cornbread Dressing.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Been Missing in Action Here

I thought maybe I had a flare. Felt lousy, my knees hurt, and had skin issues, especially with what I had years ago -- pittacea (sp) or little red spots showing as blood vessels close to the skin burst and leave a mark. This was on one upper arm. The other upper arm, not to be outdone, had a dry, scaly patch, which I unconsciously scratched until it bled.

Since I had a rheum appt. in the next few days, I let it go and didn't panic. I got my lab work done on Friday before my appt. on Monday afternoon, and I asked them to send the results asap to my rheumy.

Arrived at his office, and no lab results. He checked me over, and of course the skin issues had disappeared by that time. My knees weren't as swollen, either. So-- probably wasn't a flare, nothing to worry about. But then he suggested I might want to drink some tonic water every night....without the gin, of course. He suggested lemon juice or something similar to cut the taste.

Well, tonic water is quinine, and plaquenil is quinine. So instead of increasing my plaquenil intake, I'm assuming this is the next best thing. And you know what? The large bottles of tonic water are pretty inexpensive.

Feeling somewhat better this week. Maybe I was just tired -- after all, any 71 year old woman gets tired every now and then. The other symptoms were so minimal, there was no reason to worry.

So I've been drinking my tonic water every night -- about a half glass with lemon juice, and I'll tell you's still bitter.

Excuse me. I'm going to the liquor store for gin.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One More Time...Is It Life, or Is It Lupus?

I'm sure I've asked that question before. I've been living with lupus for over 21 years, now, having had the usual pain, fatigue, some skin problems, med all know about that. I've been in remission for a long time, now, and intend to stay that way. (I can hear lupus snickering at me right now.) By taking my meds, avoiding stress as much as possible, and getting enough sleep and rest, I've had a "sor far, so good" attitude.

Until a couple of weeks ago. I began feeling kind of "lousy." Maybe it was a cold coming on. Not bad enough for it to feel like the flu, but enough to make me feel fatigued. I had some strange blister-type things in my hair and along my hairline around my face. Then I had some signs of pitacea (sp?) the little red dots that show up meaning you have had some kind of blood vessel burst. Just a few. On my left upper arm. On my right upper arm, I had a scaly patch that I unconsciously scratched until it bled. Just a little.

My knees started to hurt. Oh, my. Was I having a flare?

I had a rheumatologist appt. the next week, so after I got my lab work done, I felt sure something would show up indicating a little flare. I certainly wasn't imagining things, because with the increased brain fog, my imagination had gone on strike.

So it was with some kind of hope ---

oops. Computer cut off this really great post. But you get the idea.