Sunday, May 3, 2015

The One Where She Says "Oh Snap!" or Not....

I have changed a lot in the last 6 months. I've learned some interesting lessons that I never thought I would understand, I've gained some new ways to cope (which really surprise me) and I've become a little more calm than I usually am (alright, I said a little, people).

Seriously, I've started to meditate and I've found a few things that really speak to me when I'm frustrated and don't have an outlet to put that anywhere, other than just being really angry because I have this rotten disease. I color. Yes, I'm a 44 (almost 45 year old) and I color in adult coloring books (mind out of the gutter, please). To my great surprise, I'm not too bad at it and every once in awhile I get done with a picture and I think, "wow, that could actually use a frame and a wall." Surprising for coloring at this age but there it is.

I also have been using music therapy. It's amazing to have music that can soothe me when I'm angry and want to scream along too music. Or music that can put me to sleep every night. Or the best kind of music that makes me happy to be alive and that I love singing along too. We don't realize how much music can make or break our day depending on the type of music and the mood we are in. Anyone diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis should be handed a music CD and a coloring book and markers when they leave their rheum's office (ok, maybe some info about the disease would be good too, picky, picky).

My other absolute, number one love is photography. I have a ton of landscaping in my backyard. When we bought this house we had really never been into landscaping before but there was none so I kind of went crazy. My backyard 10 years later is a jungle that I love. Trees that bloom with white flowers that are so heavy the branches bend with their weight. Tulips that my husband planted for me and then we both forgot about and when they came up orange this year (my favorite color right now) it was even sweeter (now if I could get the hoppy bunny to stop eating them that would be even better). New leaves reddish brown and yellow on my maple trees, my day lilies growing like crazy. My magnolia bush having a crazy, huge year with a ton of purple flowers and big bumblebees bzzzing around my yard My lilacs which I will miss blooming this year while I'm traveling in California (at least I didn't miss them because I was in the hospital like last year).

As you can tell Spring is my second favorite season of the year (after Fall, oh the colors). It's like everyone is handed a new beginning and everyone is out there making a good show of it. I love to be in my backyard, it's my happy place. Even on the days that I can't get out there I can still see it from my window and enjoy (the tulips are right outside my window so I can enjoy them even when I feel icky, every day the first thing I do is open my blinds to check on them).

So, by this time you are thinking, "Ok Melissa, we get it you love your backyard, and your point is?" Alright, so maybe I gush a bit but it's gush worthy. As you can imagine photography and my backyard go together like two peas in a pod. I think I've probably taken 400 pictures since things started to bloom (and that's just of the tulips, not really but close). I have an awesome camera. It's a Canon Rebel xTi, I love it, it's huge and clunky and sometimes its size actually works for me because the weight keeps my hands steady. I have spent hours in my backyard all ready this year. The nice thing is when I get overwhelmed I can grab my camera and go spend 10 minutes tiptoeing though my tulips and come back inside with decent pictures (I've even framed some) and a completely different mind set. In. Ten. Minutes.

Now pretty much the only thing that can do that for me is meditation, and I do a lot of that too but sometimes I like to be awake instead of taking 10 minutes out of my day to completely calm myself. And if I take pictures, I have pictures.

If you click on this one you can see a bee .
So, what happens when your go to coping mechanism is not an option? Today the frustration level was really high, lots of stuff happening, not enough time and I'm not feeling well. I was really busy I didn't have time to sit down and color during a busy day, I just can't justify that. Instead, I grabbed my camera and outside I went for the most frustrating 10 minutes of my life.

I'm tired and not feeling well with an infection and every time I held up my camera too take a picture I couldn't stop shaking. In fact, the shaking was so bad that that the camera wouldn't even take a picture. Now, I know...you're thinking get another camera and while I agree, I'm $1100 into this camera already. I have awesome lenses and filters and plain and simple I love this camera. I stood outside and looked at the beautiful flowers that I wanted to photograph and I wanted to cry. What happens when your coping mechanism doesn't help?

Which is exactly what I was thinking when I was standing there. Ok, what do I do now? Taking pictures was not an option today. I came back in the house and looked at the pictures that I had taken and deleted about half of them because they were blurry. I kept about half because even with the slight blur they were still pretty. I thought kind of like me, just not quite right today.

I pushed through the rest of the day, which wasn't easy the frustration level was high and in the end what I really needed for my weary body was a 3 hour nap. When I woke up I realized that all is not lost and if it comes down to it I will adapt and get another camera because I love to take pictures, it's truly a passion (it has to be for 300 tulip pictures).

The lesson that I took away from this experience was sometimes you're go to thing isn't going to be easy, and sometimes it may let you down and not help, but exasperate you more. You don't give up, maybe you take a nap and try again, maybe you buy a new camera, maybe you get a monopod, or maybe you just wait until you're a little less shaky and you feel better.

The extreme loss I felt while standing out there with my camera leaned up against my chest looking at the flowers on my tree was so huge. The loss of my camera and the loss of my hobby, not to mention the loss of my body were ideas I just didn't know how to process. This is always something I've been decent at and something that I could do no matter what my body was doing. The idea of not doing it again was really soul crushing.

After I was able to realize how upset I was and how much of a loss taking pictures was to me I was able to realize that however I needed to do it, I would need to find a way to do it. When you find something that helps you cope and it turns into something that you can't do anymore then you adapt. Having RA is already so much about adapting yourself and your health into the world we live in. It's not easy and definitely not for SISSIES (but I'm pretty sure that not many of us are sissies) but we do it every day, in big and small ways. So, if getting a new lighter camera is what I have to do and use both cameras depending on my hands and health that day I will, the cost will be cheaper than 6 months in therapy and I will enjoy tiptoeing through my tulips a whole lot more.

I learned something today, RA may take so many things from my life. When it starts to take the things I really love that's when I start fighting back...

I'm Never Giving Up!

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