How I Survived Black Friday Weekend

Okay, to be honest, I’m not sure I actually did survive it. I mean most retail workers probably feel the same way, and Black Friday in Canada has become almost as big as it is in the States. The sales are ridiculously good and people are ready to start their holiday shopping. Since I’m a retail supervisor, for me Black Friday entails a 12 hour shift spent mostly running around. But not just on Black Friday, also the two days prior and the day after, (then I had Sunday off because it’s my day to volunteer at a children’s hospital), and of course Cyber Monday.

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Our holiday tree display at work.

Surviving this type of craziness is tough for anyone. Now try adding in some chronic pain, fatigue, digestion issues and all that fun stuff and it’s nearly impossible. But I managed to make it through. Mostly because of the adrenaline rush that comes along when it’s super busy. My biggest mistake was that I didn’t rest enough on the first three shifts (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday). I took 10-minute lunch breaks to eat and that’s about it. Saturday and Monday I took my full half hour breaks but those shifts I also only worked 8 hours instead of 12 so I wasn’t pushed as hard.

IMG_0017Took a walk on Sunday night to help destress from the weekend.

Now, of course, coming off the weekend (though extended Black Friday sale is this coming weekend), I’m extra tired, and extra sore, and decided this would be the week I started at the gym (just a short workout on Tuesday and a longer one with a personal trainer yesterday). If I’m going to keep surviving the rest of the holiday season I’m going to need to build my strength back up. On Tuesday, my rheumatologist told me she doesn’t think I should work in retail, but in the meantime I was like “gotta pay my bills.” Plus it’s not the long term plan, it’s the “get me through grad school” plan. I’ll sit more when I’m a psychotherapist.

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First workout in years. Feels so good to be back at the gym!

To everyone who had a crazy Black Friday weekend, I hope you’re taking some time to rest up and recharge before the Holiday season gets any crazier.

Autoimmune Disease VS. The Flu

Interested in the most fucked part of winter? Catching the flu. I mean, in general it totally sucks, but as soon as you have an autoimmune disease or some other chronic illness, it actually sucks that much more. How much more? —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–At least that many dots more. For one, it’s easier for us to catch something. Our immune systems are already messed up so they don’t know what to do. Yes, we can take preventative measures (I did get my flu shot, make sure to get yours!) but they don’t make us immune.

IMG_1584Bed rest and too much Netflix.

I stared down at my coworkers early last week as they were coughing and sneezing. To make matters worse, I work in retail, so I additionally have to deal with the coughing and sneezing of customers. Even though I’m the Operations Supervisor, I never take a cash till (that’s another one of my preventative measures – money is disgusting). To be fair, I usually end up with a cold every year because they are impossible to avoid, but I haven’t had the flu in a few years.

IMG_1578My brother was in town (of course it would fall on the weekend I’m sick) so I pulled myself together for a supper out with him.

Welcome to Wednesday night, while at work my face went completely pale, I had a fever, and a sore throat. I went home and ended up with the flu. I hadn’t had something this bad since I was in LA six years ago (that was the worst flu I ever had). Alas a few days of bed rest, drinking some orange juice, lots of tea and lots of water seemed to wear it off. The cold continues to linger, but colds do that. My physical pain was also much, much worse with the flu. I suppose that makes sense since aches and pains are common flu symptoms anyway. I added my heating pad to my remedy mix, moving it around to different regions that were giving me the most pain (mainly my hips, ribs, and knees). Of course, with increased pain comes anxiety. You should’ve known better than to go near anyone sick. This could’ve been prevented. Of course, these things are not true but hindsight is 20/20.

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I’m hoping this is my only terrible illness of the season; out of the way early. To my fellow chronic pain warriors, I hope you don’t get sick this winter. And if you do, remember, that you are awesome and it’s just a bump you can get through.

I often find that changes come in groups of two or three. The thing about living with chronic pain is that when these changes bring along new people into your life there is that often necessary conversation about it. And the hope that maybe they’ll understand just a little bit, or rather, enough to not make it add more challenges.

IMG_1253As many crazy changes as October brought, flying away to LA was one I needed to bring as well.

“What triggers it (pain)?” asked my new boss when I told him about my autoimmune disease. My answer: stress, illness, weather, and sometimes nothing in particular. Then of course there was my need to reassure him that it wouldn’t affect my work, but sometimes I’ll need to call in sick (I called in yesterday), and that there is a doctor’s note in my file. How will all this play out at work? Only time will tell. I’m hoping he’s like the other GMs I’ve had that have generally been pretty good about it, though I know sick calls is the thing they hate the most, it’s also not my favourite thing either (like it’s hella boring staying home all day because you’re in too much pain, or for me yesterday, feverish to actually do something).

IMG_1432Fever, aches & pains, and a weird red dot by my eye are what Saturday brought to me.

As I said, changes often come in multiples. I’ve gone on a few dates with a woman, and while I don’t want to go into the details on such a public forum, let’s just say I rarely date anymore. After my last breakup, I went on so many dates that I burnt myself out, found that every date was the same (other than two friends I made, which turned out to be two of my best friends), and overall, I’m very happy being single. Explaining chronic pain, or at least mentioning to a potential love interest is something I don’t shy away from. Usually it comes out on the first date, if it doesn’t bother them then I figure date two will come (I also always mention that I’m divorced on date one in case that bothers anyone). Take me as I am or don’t waste my time. Reactions always come in one of two ways – either lack thereof, or a million questions. Personally, I always kind of hope for somewhere in between but that may be wishful thinking.

IMG_1304Keeping up with my social life is an important part of my mental health – we were headed to Rocky Horror Picture Show, thus the costumes.

Managing chronic pain isn’t easy, and when you’re thinking about how you’re affecting other people in your life, and how those other people are affecting you, it certainly doesn’t make it any easier. But navigating the waters is just part of life.

IMG_1540According to this gem my friend literally just sent me, all I need to be happy is Food, Sleep and Friends.
Check, Check and Check.

P.S. I realize it’s been a few crazy busy weeks since I last posted. I’ll try to ramp up the frequency again. Between the two psychology courses I’m taking at school, holiday season beginning at work, volunteering at the children’s hospital, and trying to manage a social life, I need to do a better job of making time to write this blog, because it is as important to me as any of those other things, and I don’t like making excuses for slacking.