Sunday when I awoke, I found it difficult to get up. Body pain was surging through me. Particularly my back (upper and lower), left hip and leg, and right ankle. Though pain in my knees, elbows, fingers and toes would all be apparent throughout the day as well. Clearly this is a flare. I threw out my plans of going to the gym for the day… though I somehow got myself downtown for awhile so I could do some Christmas shopping. Even then, walking around with everything hurting didn’t really make the day as fun as it could’ve been. I spent the latter half of the day in bed, watching Netflix (and Disney+) and trying to relax, using heat on and off.
I have fallen in love with Baby Yoda.
Monday, same thing. Decide against the gym. However, I had plans with my bestie to meet for breakfast. So I dragged myself to the restaurant, seemingly forgot about the pain for awhile as we shared a lot of laughs. Then I headed in for a massage. My RMT is literally amazing and 45 minutes with her definitely helped. Afterwards she told me that she could’ve spent 45 minutes on my neck alone and that I need to go back soon. So I guess i’ll be going back soon. After a brow wax appointment I had made the week before, I once again headed home to bed, heat and relaxation. (For those of you wondering, I did do a lot of studying these two days as well).
Spike is also unimpressed.
It’s okay, I was thinking this whole time. Why? Because it coincides with my semi-annual rheumatology appoint. This never happens. She never sees me in an active flare (minus my first few appointments with her over 3 years ago). And then this morning, as I’m getting ready to leave for the hospital… the hospital calls and my appointment is cancelled due to some sort of an emergency. I used a personal business day as always, and apparently this was not necessary. As much as I understand that these circumstances are out of my control… I actually really need an appointment ASAP. Two reasons: (1) if she sees me in a flare, I’m more likely to get a concrete diagnosis and/or maybe stronger medication; and (2) I need a doctor’s note for work. I know what brought this flare on. Crazy, insane hours. I get it, I work retail and it’s the busy time of year. But a 4am-2pm shift, followed by a 6am-3pm shift, followed by a 1:30pm-10pm shift is really hard on my body. Will I survive this holiday season? I’ll keep you all updated.
The way the cold affects my body is unbelievable… and unbelievably annoying. I know this happens every winter… though it’s pretty early and not supposed to quite be winter yet. Toronto just broke a 30+ year record for coldest temp on this day, and we’ve had early snowfall. Not impressed. And my body was the first to notice.
For starters, my joints and nerves all freak out when it’s cold. I tend to have a lot more pain, in most regions of my body, though my hips and hands are usually the worst. My solutions – layers upon layers… and then of course running into heated areas as fast as possible.
My back is also usually more sore in the cold. I often use my electric heating pad when I’m studying or sitting and watching Netflix, to provide some relief. And of course, hot baths a few times a week is great for my joints, muscles, nerves, and stress! At least once a week with Epsom salts, and the rest with bubble baths and sometimes essential oils.
Work was unusually cold last week. My coworker and I could swear the heat was broken, but management told us we were crazy. Turns out, the heat was broken (and now has been fixed). My hands turned red in the store. My knuckles and fingertips were particularly bad. Though it didn’t quite look like pictures of Raynaud’s that I’ve seen online, I know that Raynaud’s is common in lupus, so possibly?
This pic actually doesn’t make them look too bad. It was way worse in person. My coworker thought they looked terrible.
What I really need is to live in Southern California or somewhere else that’s really warm! Or at least moderately temperate. Somewhere that never goes into the minuses. Until then, I guess I’ll take my yearly vacation down south and make the most of it.
The dream. My most recent trip to LA (2018).
It’s an interesting question since there has been so much emphasis put on decreasing stigma over the past few years. I do think that it varies by employer, and many employees are still sensitive about it. However, I have seen some evolution at my workplace over the past few years, and since I’ve worked for the same company on and off for over a decade, it works as a good firsthand account.
Image from: https://www.pdhealth.mil/news/blog/reducing-self-stigma-mental-health-important-physical-health
More recently I’ve witnessed a few employees admit, to my general manager, that some of their sick days were mental health days. His reaction was genuine, with a “that’s no problem” attitude, understanding that it happens to everyone and is sometimes needed. No negative repercussions. At the same time, no one ever says they’re taking a mental health day when they actually call in sick (myself included). Interesting dichotomy.
Image from: https://www.hercampus.com/school/utah/why-mental-health-days-need-be-taken-seriously
A few weeks ago we had some regional managers in our store. One was the regional Health & Safety Manager, and the other the regional HR manager. My GM talked to me after their visit. He told me that he was informed that my Mental Health First Aid certification needed to be removed from our Health & Safety board, and could not be put up anywhere in the store. We could only let employees verbally know. He couldn’t give me a reason for this, but we both inferred that it has to do with not being a company paid for and sanctioned certification. They want us to just refer employees to the Life Solutions number. What they seem to be missing is that Mental Health First Aid certified team members will always refer to that service, as well as other ones they know about that are specific to that individuals needs. To be honest, I’ve used Life Solutions before and they are fairly robotic and not overly helpful. I’ll refer staff to them, but also give other options. I also paid for my certification myself… they should be lucky that I have it! Very short-sighted by a company that claims to be one of the best employers in the country. Don’t get me wrong, they do a lot of other things right, they just should also promote positive mental health in the workplace!
Sorry that was a bit of a rant! Mental health is so important, as is creating a positive work environment. The system seems to be changing for the better, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.