What You Don’t See | #chronicliving #rheumatoidarthritis

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What You Don't See - Rheumatoid Arthritis Invisible Illness Invisible Symptoms Blog Post | Monica with RA

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The thing about invisible illnesses is in the name. They are invisible. Most of the time you cannot see the symptoms as they present themselves. From looking at a person with a chronic illness, like Rheumatoid Arthritis, you cannot see the pain, the fatigue, and the constant battle their body fights against itself.

What You Don't See - Rheumatoid Arthritis Invisible Illness Invisible Symptoms Blog Post | Monica with RAI took some makeup selfies the other day with Sunsilk and looking back on the photos you could never guess that I was in a terrible flare.

What You Don't See - Rheumatoid Arthritis Invisible Illness Invisible Symptoms Blog Post | Monica with RAWhat you saw: an ear to ear grin because it was sunny, I was wearing makeup and I was with my cat.

What you didn’t see: that my skin was dry as a desert, that my lips were chronically bleeding and my hair was falling out in clumps.


What You Don't See - Rheumatoid Arthritis Invisible Illness Invisible Symptoms Blog Post | Monica with RAPeople with invisible illnesses are great actors. Even while we feel sick and terrible we have to play “able-bodied” and march on with life.

What you see: I walk my dogs at least two hours a day without a grimace. I clean and change the cat litter. I bend down to pick up Affie and Sunsilk. I climb the stairs to the kitchen to feed them. I cook their food.

What you don’t see: I am in so much pain it takes my entire existence to move. I experience so much of it I seriously consider taking a drill to my foot because that pain is probably less than what I feel right now.

 

What You Don't See - Rheumatoid Arthritis Invisible Illness Invisible Symptoms Blog Post | Monica with RADon’t get it wrong, I don’t always feel THIS bad but when I do, I can’t call in sick to my life. I have to keep moving forward.

Just remember, what you see in a photo is never the whole story. There is always something you don’t see.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.


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(Please note, any contributions will be donated to charities supporting black activism)

The thing about invisible illnesses is in the name. They are invisible. Most of the time you cannot see the symptoms as they present themselves. From looking at a person with a chronic illness, you cannot see the pain, the fatigue, and the constant battle their body fights against itself.

I took some makeup selfies the other day with Sunsilk and looking back on the photos you could never guess that I was in a terrible flare.

What you saw: a ear to ear grin because it was sunny, I was wearing makeup and I was with my cat.

What you didn’t see: that my skin has been dry as the a desert, that my lips have been bleeding and my hair is falling out in clumps.

People with invisible illnesses are great actors. Even while we feel sick and terrible we have to play “able-bodied” and march on with life.

What you see: I walk my dogs at least two hours a day without a grimace. I clean and change the cat litter. I bend down to pick up Affie and Sunsilk. I climb the stairs to the kitchen to feed them. I cook their food.

What you don’t see: I am in so much pain that I seriously consider taking a power drill to my foot because that pain is less than what I am feeling. Every move I make takes my entire existence but, I keep going because I have to.

Do Better | #chronicliving

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The one big thing that I have learned about myself over the last few days is just how passive I’ve become. I am not just talking about the specific happenings in the United States but about everything.
I have a platform, I have influence (however small) and I need to use it. What’s the point if I don’t speak out on the issues that matter to me? I have gone pretty quiet on my social media and that’s not okay.

Yes, I need to educate myself on racial matters but I also need to speak about other things. I initially began my blog/social media to educate others about living with chronic illnesses. I haven’t spoken about that in a long time. I share my story but that’s it. I can do more.
On my Youtube, I like making “trash talk” videos or, empties, because I like using things up, I don’t like waste, and I try to be nature conscious. I don’t talk about it but I should.

I need to. I can. I should do better.

I don’t know what form this will take yet. Maybe I start with being more vocal and posting more. Maybe I start making nail art videos for IG where I show arthritis-friendly techniques. Maybe I start publicly breaking down my privilege? I don’t know yet.

But, I know that I need to change and speak up.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.

Like what you see? Please consider supporting my content by donating through PayPal or Venmo: @Monica-Sengupta!
(Please note, any contributions will be donated to charities supporting black activism)

Beauty of Nature | #naturalhealing #optoutside

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Washington DC Spring Storm || Monica w/ RA

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Aside from not going to work, my lifestyle hasn’t changed dramatically with this new world order. I still wake up, take care of my pets, nap, do some online work, read, play my apps, care of my pets, and go to sleep.

I love nature, I love being outside. I used to rock-climb and hike which are two things that are now very difficult for me. However, I’ve been forcing myself to sit outside (even when it’s chilly) and just enjoying being there. I’m not talking dog walks or errands but just immersing myself in nature.

It was almost 80 degrees one day in March (which if you live on the East Coast, hasn’t really happened in years). Before it got too sweltering for words I went outside and just sat on the front steps.

It was quiet. I couldn’t hear anything except for the wind rustling through the leaves. The trees swayed gently. It had just rained and everything smelled fresh and looked green. It was late so not even the birds were singing.

The world (or my corner of the neighborhood) felt happy, safe, and renewed. From where I was sitting, I could never guess a pandemic was ravaging Earth.

I only spent ten minutes outside, letting the sun sink into my skin (of course, with an ample barrier of sun protection between us) and breathed in.

For a moment, I was at peace, my small corner of the world was at peace.

This was the only time that day I was not bombarded with little things: work, news, pets, or responsibilities. It was just me and nature.

There is something absolutely revitalizing about being out of doors. Our species started there so we are wired to enjoy, revel in, and thrive in it.

Just a few minutes a day outside and I feel more alive, more productive, and just a better form of myself.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.

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Hi, I’m Monica and I am Immunocompromised | #rheumatoidarthritis

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I am in that vulnerable category everyone is talking about. If I contract Coronavirus I am at high risk of developing complications from it, including death.

Yet, even though I am fully aware of this scary truth, I have never been so calm.

Ten years of working in a veterinary clinic, ten years with Rheumatoid Arthritis and almost 20 years with multiple pets have prepared me for this very moment. The moment I prove I can survive.

I know how to wash my hands properly, I know how to maintain a sanitary environment, I know to avoid large crowds and people who are sick.

I know how to stay healthy.

 

Yes, CO-VID 19 is front and center, spreading at unprecedented rates but I have been fighting to stay healthy for many years. Complications from a simple cold, caught at work, or bacterial infection, from a tiny cat scratch, could have serious repercussions for me. I live my life with the constant threat that my body cannot save itself if it gets sick.

That is my reality.

Just because Coronavirus exists doesn’t mean I am any more vulnerable than I have been for the last decade. I am tired of hearing (through the media) that I need to be protected like some helpless lamb.

My immunocompromised state actually makes me uniquely qualified of riding out this storm; definitely more so than the average person who has the privilege of perfect physical health.

Don’t tell me I will die if I get the Coronavirus. I know that. I also know I could die from any other attack on my non-functional immune system. I am not incopetent, I am not incapable. In fact, this is where I will dominate.

For the first time since my diagnosis, I feel powerful. I feel in control of my body, my disease, and my life.

I take daily precautions to minimize the risk of illness. I am protected in ways most people are not. I am already fighting against winter cold and flu. Now is the best time for me to challenge everything else.

If I get sick, I will develop acute symptoms much sooner than the 14-day incubation period of this disease. This makes me less likely to pass on the virus to anyone else, unknowingly, which in turn, protects others.

This pandemic is not scary to me. If I get COVID-19, I will handle it the same way I always do: take care that the symptoms don’t worsen and I continue to give my body the best fighting chance.

 

Hi, I’m Monica and I have RA. I am immunocompromised and I am ready.

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And Finally I Sleep… | #chronicfatigue

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Simple Purple Nails with Born Pretty Store stamping plate with Pahlish and Zoya Nail Polishes | Monica with RAThe day after I wrote my previous blog post I managed to nap except, not really. I remained semi-conscious during the entire thing. Though I think I was asleep, too, because if I was awake then I would be more cognizant of time, right? What I mean was that while I was conscious I was trying to sleep but I was not necessarily lying there ticking away the minutes. It was a weird feeling, blatantly aware I was napping and actually doing it, both at the same time.

I can’t say I didn’t rest, though. While I didn’t feel energized afterward, I didn’t wake up groggy like I usually do. Weird feelings.

I experienced these episodes another couple of days but since yesterday, I’ve completely zonked out during my daily naps. I am not sure what changed. Maybe I was tired enough now that I’m napping later in the day. Maybe, there was too much going on in my head to properly power down before. Whatever the reason, I’m finally back on track. Now, I just have to tackle the fatigue that grows with every day.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.

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Trying to Embrace the Nap || #chronicfatigue

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Freehand Winter Berries Nail Art with Zoya Nail Polish and Acrylic Paints | Monica with RA

For the past five years (at least), I’ve made a conscious effort to nap and rest more, as my body needed it. It’s hard to say why but if I don’t get my midday nap in I am totally gone by 5 or 6pm.

I made a resolution to not be so hard on myself when I did need a break. You can see my 2020 resolutions post here. And I have been really good to myself, in that respect. I look forward to my rest and embrace the nap…every day!

But, for the last week or so, I haven’t been able to fall asleep. When I am doing well, disease-wise, I don’t need to rest during the day but right now I wake up feeling lethargic. I feel the lure to lay down but once I’m horizontal I cannot fall asleep!

My mind races a mile a minute and I can’t calm it. I feel worried but I am not sure why I feel that way.

I’ve gotten pretty good at managing my stress and one technique is to identify what is bothering me. However, right now, I can’t put a finger on the reason.

Marmalade is stable (she has severe kidney disease), Mocha is doing well behaviorally, and Affie/Sunsilk are living like champions. Work is going well, I feel financially secure and my relationships are strong. So, what is it?

February was hard because Marmalade was not well and Sunsilk lost her sight suddenly (it has since returned) but I never felt particularly overwhelmed during that time.

Can it be a delayed reaction to that previous stress? Maybe I was running on adrenaline for a few weeks and now that I have a chance to breathe my body is just spent.

I don’t want to get into a bad habit, though. I am dragging by late afternoon and cannot get anything done after 3pm. I don’t want this to be a new normal where I spend the entire day in a zombie state.

Hopefully, like Rheumatoid Arthritis flares, this fatigue will pass. Fingers crossed because I cannot go on like this!

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.

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20 Resolutions for 2020 || #betterliving

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Well, I am sure there is nothing novel about this post but I am on a huge “this decade is going to be better than the last” kick. The past ten years sucked so I’m pretty sure the 20s will be a massive improvement even if I don’t try at all.

2010  to 2019 marked giving up my dreams, my life as I knew it and a part of myself. I spent the past decade ignoring my Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis and fighting against my body. I thought if I ignored it, my condition would improve on its own. Obviously, mind over matter didn’t work because my RA could be better managed.

This decade I want to do better. I want to get my disease under control. I want to learn how to manage a full-time life so that I can re-visit old dreams and make them realities.

Scroll down to see if you have any of the same resolutions as me. Maybe we can keep them up together.

20 New Year's Resolutions for 2020 | New Years Resolutions | Monica with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog 2020)

But, before you scroll down, don’t forget to…

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I just didn’t do enough of it last year. I had a lot to say but never actually put thought to paper. They kept swirling around my head and weighing me down. Honestly, I think part of the reason I was not mentally well was that I did not provide enough of a release for my brain.

Sleep more

My body needs the rest. It wages war against itself. I battle fatigue and pain daily. I tire myself out, even more, when I fight against my body. I need to embrace it, the nap and better my sleep hygiene. If I sleep more, I’ll experience fewer or decreased Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms.

Drink more water

If it’s not summer I sometimes only drink 2, maybe 3, at most. That’s just not enough, especially with my autoimmune condition. If I want to feel better, I need to put in the work and hydrating is the best way to optimize my health.

Read more

I didn’t read enough last year. In total, I think I read maybe 10 books? Unacceptable. I love to read. I need to do it more. As of this post, I have already finished three books.

20 New Year's Resolutions for 2020 | New Years Resolutions | Monica with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog 2020)

Spend even more time with the pets

My girls are getting older and I don’t know how much time I have left with them. I need to love them more, and more, and “the mostest ever”. Now.

Exercise more

I am not climbing right now so I’ve been exercising less. Exercising less means my joints are more stiff and painful than usual. If I want to increase my physical ability I better get moving! I’m building up my stamina with at home works outs (mostly dedicated to the abs so I can get back on the climbing wall!) I already feel more mobile and less like the Tin Man since the movement oils (no pun intended) the joints!

Make more videos

I like making videos. I have ideas I just need to film them.

Paint my nails more

I also love painting my nails. However, given my pets’ schedules, it’s hard to find a good chunk of time where I can sit and get them done. I need to include time for my hobbies because I enjoy them and they make me happy!

Eat better

I don’t mean diet or restrict. I just want to be more aware of the things I am putting in my body. My diet doesn’t completely affect my RA but eating better does reduce some inflammatory symptoms.
I take my daily Tumeric Milk Latte and am already noticing a small difference in physical symptoms.

20 New Year's Resolutions for 2020 | New Years Resolutions | Monica with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog 2020)

Stick to a schedule

I think it’ll be better for my RA and my mind if I stick to a routine. If my body acclimatizes to a set schedule I will conserve energy and get more done.

Unplug more often

This is pretty self-explanatory. I spend entirely too much time on my devices. I don’t like that the first thing I do every morning is check my phone, log into email and Instagram. I should get up, open the window and look outside. Less digital, better mental health.

Listen to my body

I spent years fighting my body, hoping that if I thought about it hard enough my RA would just go away. Maybe it’s time to listen to my body and work with it instead of against it.

Be patient with myself

On the same note, I not only need to listen to my body but also not feel guilty when I take it slow. I am not able-bodied anymore. I have limitations. If I’m okay with them, maybe the mental change will positively impact my condition.

Stay organized

I have a tendency to live in organized chaos. Monica, repeat after me: clean space, clear mind!

20 New Year's Resolutions for 2020 | New Years Resolutions | Monica with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog 2020)

Take something out, put it back

Same thread: putting things back where they belong is my first defense against chaos.

Waste less

I am already quite conscious of my waste. I recently started using washable, reusable cotton rounds. I use reusable tumblers for coffee and plastic or metal straws. They’re little things but I think I could do even better.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When I thought about the amount of non-recyclable waste in my everyday life I was horrified (especially when it comes to shipping materials). I am making a cat tree out of old shipping boxes and trying to bunch items into fewer shipments.

Keep better track of my finances

At the moment, keeping track of my finances is basically only buying necessities. I want to do better and actually log how much I spend and where. If I budget properly I keep track of my money and probably save it in the process.

20 New Year's Resolutions for 2020 | New Years Resolutions | Monica with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog 2020)

Live more

I have become the biggest homebody.  I am mostly an introvert and completely happy on my own. Also, socializing usually means dinner and drinks which are super expensive. And, I just don’t like spending the money on those things. I don’t really have an excuse as I live in a great city with other low-cost activities, always! I should take more advantage of them.

Think of, at least, one positive thing per day

I felt really bad at the end of last year and I was mentally in a bad place. At the beginning of the year, I told myself I would think of one positive thing a day. Preferably in the morning so I start out in a good mood!


 

So, what about you? Do you have any resolutions for the new year? Are you keeping up with them? Comment below!

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