Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Summer Lovin'

I'm really excited to be participating in the WEGO Health Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge.  I'm hoping that the challenge factor will motivate me to write more often (every day this month, in fact!), and that that will develop into a habit of writing regularly after the month is over.  More importantly, I'm hoping that by sharing my experiences, thoughts, and insights about living with chronic and invisible illnesses, I'll be able to bring comfort to someone struggling with the same issues.
*Note - I'll be including this introductory paragraph at the beginning of every post, so that anyone who's checking in for the first time will have that background info.  If you come back another day (and I hope you do), you can skip this part and jump straight to the day's post, below!

Today’s assignment: Summer Lovin. Summer is coming up. What plans do you have? Any family vacation? What do you look forward to in Summer 2014?

Most normal people look forward to taking vacations in the summer – school’s out, the weather’s beautiful, what better time to get away?  Well, I never claimed to be normal!  I’ve always preferred working through the summer, and taking my vacations other times during the year.  (That’s a good thing, because our vacations are based around hubby’s work schedule, which means vacationing pretty much anytime but the summer).  Still, the summer does offer some promise, some hope for better days.

No matter where I’ve worked, there always seems to be a more lighthearted atmosphere around the office in the summer.  At any given time, some people (usually including a boss or two) are out of the office.  Those who remain are usually in a better mood, because they are either getting ready for or just getting back from vacation.  Since I lost my job a few months ago, I’m even more looking forward to working through the summer … right now, I’m just hoping to get a job so I’ll be working at all!

In some ways, summer has become a more difficult time for me since I've been sick.  Because of the medications that I'm on, I've got to avoid the sun as much as possible.  Since it's so strong in the summer, that means doing as much as possible to protect myself: sunscreen every day, and I'm better off with lightweight long sleeves and pants than cute summer dresses.  If I go to a beach or pool, I've got to be sure there will be an umbrella or cabana to keep me shaded when I'm not in the water.  The heat itself is especially uncomfortable for me: the humidity triggers the autoimmune arthritis inflammatory response and fibromyalgia pain, so I'm better off staying indoors.

Still, there are a few things I’m looking forward to this summer.

Hubby’s birthday.
Not that I need an excuse to spoil him or to make him feel special (I’d like to think I do that every day), but we’ll likely do something special to celebrate … and I just love putting a smile on his face.

Runyun 5K at Yankee Stadium.
This will be the 6th year that we’re doing this run/walk for cancer research.  We discovered it in 2009, right after my father-in-law died.  He was a big Yankee fan, and this seemed like the perfect way to honor his memory.  The first couple of years, I was able to run part of the crazy course that includes stairs, ramps, and laps around the warning track.  The last few years, as my health has taken me so far out of shape, it’s been hard enough just to walk it.  People have said “you don’t have to do it, dad would understand,” but that’s not acceptable to me.  When I started, I always said I did this one for dad.  Now, I still do it for him, but I do it for me, too.

This is something I don’t know for sure is coming, but I’m hopeful.  I’ve recently started a couple of new treatments, and I have a good feeling that they will finally be the combination that helps relieve some of my symptoms.  If that’s the case and I’m able to move a bit without as much pain, then I’ll be able to get back on my elliptical machine, and get some regular exercise.  With enough progress from the new meds, I may be able to get off the steroids that make me gain weight, and with regular exercise, I’ll be able to lose some of what I’ve gained.  The weight loss in itself will make it easier to keep up the cycle, if only the meds can help get it started.

All in all, this summer has the potential to be pretty great.  Nothing's set in stone, but there are possibilities.  There is hope.  That's the most important thing, really ... the thing that I hold on to through good times and bad ... that carries me through winter, spring, summer, fall ... for this summer, there is hope.

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me, too - post a comment below!  If you don't ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but ... please be gentle!