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Autoimmune diseases bring a whole different set of problems. There's no reason to try and deal alone. Why not be in it together?
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Let's Chat About Coloring

The only valid excuse for this election cycle.
It's all the rage. From Barnes and Noble to Michael's, the end caps are overflowing with Zen Coloring, Mandala Madness, or Paisley Birds with Law Degrees. So, the big question is- are they worth it? Why would a fully grown adult- someone with bills and mortgages and car payments- sit down and start doing something they were forced to do in 1st grade art class?

It's BECAUSE you have bills and mortgages and car payments. Those are all the reasons you should, as a reasonable adult, be sitting down and coloring on a regular basis. Not only is coloring fun (otherwise how would it keep young kids entertained), but it gives you something to focus on, something other than your stresses in life. At the end of it, you get a pretty piece of artwork to put on your fridge (I'm not old enough to not do that); but you have gotten more than that- you have a chunk of time where you couldn't worry about what stuff you could buy as a store brand to save a few cents here and there in order to make the car payment.

Consider the Mandala, noted on Wikipedia that it "is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. In common use, "mandala" has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe." The use of Mandalas for relaxation has been seen not only in these new fad coloring books, but also in therapy and spiritual meditation. Focusing on the image, which is meant to mimic the symmetrical and interconnected nature of the universe. A lot of people I know who color find them very soothing and help with their overwhelming feelings.

THIS motherfucker.
For me, Mandalas freak the living shit out of me. Everything is interconnected and what if I think that I like the color I started this line with, but after a little while I see how much more visible it is than I thought it would be and now I'm stuck with this color I didn't want so much of. Maybe I'm just not calm enough yet to deal with a miniature universe that I'm responsible for, I might have to work up to it. Probably speaks to my coping abilities in day to day life.

I prefer the scapes. Lake shores; images of Disney princesses; I have a bunch of books that are from the "Color the Classics" series, letting me bring to life my favorite classic books. Those make sense to me, they have rhyme and reason, a pattern that I can clearly see and follow through with. I love those.

I think there's also a physically therapeutic aspect to coloring for those with chronic pain in the hands and arms. Just like knitting or other activities that require fine motor skills, this helps to strengthen the muscles in your fingers and wrists to keep you more dexterous.

The flip side of that coin is that, there may be lots of days where you're in pain and those tiny Mandalas or intricate pictures are just too much to ask. There's nothing wrong with a more basic book, although a lot of books have a good variety of skill levels in them so you can skip around from one to another. And if you have some issues with OCD like I do, it can be a good exercise in ignoring compulsions to do every page in order.




Monday, July 11, 2016

Spoons

"How the fuck am I supposed to have a
dinner party with TWO spoons??"
Have you heard of spoon theory?

For a long time I hadn't, and I was always so confused to see people referring to themselves or others on message boards as "spoonies", I thought, "what a bizarre nickname to give yourselves." But then finally, it occurred to me that I have this fancy thing called "Google" where I can find these kinds of things out.

Here's the easy breakdown. Look in your kitchen drawer- go ahead and I'll wait here. So, when you
looked in there, you probably had about 3 less spoons than what you bought, because that's how life works. So imagine that YOU are the cutlery drawer, and every morning when you wake up you have so many spoons in that drawer.
On a side note, the carnival will NOT
accept spoons in lieu of tickets or payment.
Everything you do in life costs you a certain number of spoons, like tickets at a carnival. When you wake up each day, you think of the things you have to do, how many spoons each one costs, and make sure you have enough spoons to cover it. Some days you might find that some spoons are missing; other days you may miraculously have more spoons than normal, almost like the dishwasher spit up in the drawer. (Those are the best days.)

This is an easy way to explain to your friends why you don't have the energy to come over "and just hang." That's one spoon. Or a movie, that's probably two spoons, between getting there and then the stiffness from sitting for so long. Those activities may seem innocuous to most people, but for someone with chronic pain or fatigue, they sound like running a 5K to get to a rowing contest you're competing in.

It's so difficult for others to understand what it feels like to ALWAYS hurt. Every second of every day. Try to explain it to your friends this way, and if you have to flake on plans at the last minute, or turn them down for an invitation, just let them know that it's only because all of your spoons went to working and grocery shopping, taking care of the kids, or some other vital function society insists you do like "showering" and "good hygiene".

And I know it takes time for them to understand why you seem so flaky and unreliable, but just be patient and remind them that you really are trying your hardest. If you are a good friend, who is emotionally there for them, then you should be able to expect understanding from them in return. (That's why texting is the greatest invention ever!)

What do you guys tend to spend your spoons on?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pretty Girls Have All the Luck

My Heaven- Ulta.
I love nail polish.
I mean, I LOVE nail polish.
When I have a bad day I have to fight the urge to go buy new nail polish.  One day, I actually bought some on my lunch break just to calm down and not punch someone in the face.  (It was Essie's 'Ballet Slippers', and it appealed to me on several levels.)  I will admit, I do this with more than just nail polish- make up too.  I'm addicted to eye shadow palettes.  And lip stick.  And lip gloss.  And those last two are totally different things.  Also, every one of my nail polishes is a different color, no matter what my husband says.
The hard part is, I can't paint my nails very easily any more.   In college I would paint them a new color every night.  I'm not even kidding, every freaking night.  It was a running joke in the sorority about what color Kathleen's nails would be that day.  Instead of a real status on Facebook I would just put up what color I was wearing.  It was a great way to relax; it was a time during the day where I couldn't write a paper, or draw a poster, or paint a rock with puffy paint (did I mention I was in a sorority?  There are a lot of posters and puffy paint in a sorority.)  It gave me a time where I had to relax and be alone with my thoughts, a time when I couldn't multi-task.
Now, however, painting my nails is more of an ordeal than it is a spa experience.  I have a tremor, and between the difficulty of grasping the brush and the shaking of my hand, my hands end up looking more like a hot, hot mess combining Picasso and Kesha.  And toes- forget that.To bend and twist around to try and reach them is too painful to happen more than once a month. (Thank God polish seems to last longer on toenails.)
It's very hard to let go of something I have loved so much for so long, that has been essentially a part of me for over a decade.
Same goes for the make up I love buying.  I used to adore getting dolled up, learning new ways to put on eye shadow, finding fun and funky combinations of colors.  Wearing drastically different lipstick from  day to day can completely change who you are, in my opinion.  But, when I wake up to get ready for work, fingers swollen, knees and hips stiff, it is awfully hard to find the energy or the conviction to do anything more than mascara and concealer.
How frustrating it is, to lose those little things.  And the loss of feeling like wearing makeup is doubly painful after a bad night's sleep when I look that much worse, or some stomach bug I picked up and now I'm covered in burst blood vessels from yakking.  (Yep. That happens a lot to me.  People think I have some sort of transient freckle condition or something.)

What do you guys think?  Do you have this same experience with something?  I know most people don't understand why I don't "just get up earlier and put makeup on then?"  OHMYGOD, how did I not think of that before this moment??? (I'm so glad those people exist to help me think of these things. ) But hey, maybe there's something magical that I'm missing- advice from anybody?

Stay tuned

OK, so my goal on this rainy (because if course I just bought a cute bikini) long weekend is to not only post a new blog, but also to stock pile a few more.  Look for real content today or tomorrow.  Or more likely, at an ungodly hour tonight.