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Friday, October 21, 2011

Lesson learned...I promise!

     The last few weeks have generated some big-time lessons for me and they come from a broad range of experiences.
     I just returned from a very special and amazing trip to Brazil with my family to attend and participate in the wedding of a young man who is like another son to me and my husband. We then had the pleasure to stay on in Brazil and visit with his parents who are close friends (his mom is like a sister to me).  The trip was one we had planned for months and months in advance.  
    An international trip of such a great distance was new to me and so I was eager to go but still anxious about how my RA would fare.  I was also in the midst of this whole stomach/GERD business which had not been resolved when we left but had improved enough that I was not going to let it stop me from taking the trip of a lifetime!
     So, what lessons did I learn?  Well, lesson number 1 is that I  discovered that a few decisions I made in advance really paid off.  I gave myself my Simponi shot 5 days early rather than 8 days late.  My doctor agreed that would be the way to go and he was right.  I also upped my corticosteriod from 4 to 8 mg. for the duration of the trip.  Another wise move.  The flight down was 11 hours, 13 hours on the way back (different route) so between the confinement of the flight itself coupled with the miserable seats and lack of leg room I would likely have spun right into a flare before our trip began!  Although I did have some minor pain issues they resolved within a few days.  
     Lesson number 2:  Try to get some exercise while on vacation but wait a day or two to allow some time for your body to adjust to all the new elements you have introduced into your days.  I am so thankful that I swam while I was away although I did not get to do it as often as I would have liked.  That said, I am convinced it helped me to have a relatively pain free trip!  
     Which brings me to lesson number 3: This is my second long trip within three months so I was worried about how I would manage to get through this without any flaring.  As I sat on the beach in the Riviera in Brazil (yes that is meant to induce reader envy) I had a revelation.
     On both trips I had been very careful to not overdo it physically, to not strain myself from an exercise standpoint.  I also was clearly able to be stress free for the most part, my most demanding decision being what to order for dinner.  I realized that "back home" I was not nearly that diligent about these areas of my life.  In fact I would go so far as to say that I pretty much ignored them, often plunging headlong into stress inducing situations; insisting on participating in exercise regimens that were clearly not wise choices; in short, I was not living day to day in a way that would transfer the benefits of "vacation mode" to "home mode".  I knew when it came to me that I had won the prize for best lesson learned!
     Now came the hard part....take these lessons home and assimilate them into my life on a daily basis.  First of all, I have revamped my exercise plan.  I am dropping Zumba (for now anyway) as it is simply too strenuous on my joints (when you are wearing more braces on your joints then you are clothing and socks combined it is time to move on).  But...I need exercise to stay sane, sleep well, keep my mood in check, etc. so what to do?  Well, I am adding an additional day of swimming (THE best form of exercise for those of us with RA, by the way) AND I am going to try some gentle yoga:
and some tai chi:
   I have to admit that at first, the old "poor me" mentality began to creep in.  I started thinking why do I have to continually change my way of life and give up the things I love to do because of this hellish disease?  But then, after I had my pity party I got a grip...not easy but necessary to manage RA as I have said over and over here.  I realized that I had once again, however inadvertently, added on to my "self awareness tree".
      Instead of looking at this situation as something being taken away I decided to flip that and see it as an opportunity to try something new.  A chance to find a new and interesting challenge, to learn a new type of exercise.  And that is exactly how I have approached this and it is working!  
     What still remains is to tackle the stress and "doing too much" pieces of the puzzle and I will keep you posted on how I plan to solve those issues!  Wish me luck!
     So, take these new found lessons and use them as you continue your journey with RA.  I hope they serve you as well as they have me.



Wren said...

Big luck wishes to you, Nan. Your trip to Brazil sounds just wonderful, and you were smart to plan around your RA so well. Glad it worked!

It IS hard to incorporate that sort of planning into daily life at home, but really, it's so sensible. You seem to be the type of person who sets her mind on things and then follows through, so I have a feeling you'll accomplish it.

deb aka abcsofra said...

Well you did it! I am envious :-) of your wonderful trip. Good luck on your new plan and do let us know if the change helps. Would love to see some pictures of your trip :-)

Thrive With RA said...

Hi Nan,

Ditto to Wren's and Deb's comments. I am so happy for you. What a wonderful trip. Now you should celebrate again, for having the wisdom to choose wisely to maximize your fun, as well as your health on your trip.

Welcome Back!

Nan said...

my facebook page has hundreds of photos from the trip....

Heart Surgery said...

Hi Nan, nice one

i can bet you have enjoyed it at you optimum, however, ive heard that tai chi is more popular among the old peoples as well and they gather in parks before sunset and perform the tai chi exercise, Have you experienced it?