Sunday, August 7, 2011

The importance of the first impression...

I was checking my diary the other day for what I had scheduled this week, and was shocked to realise the date read as August!

"Impossible", I thought to myself.

But indeed, my diary was correct, and it is the 8th month of the year, the beginning of my last semester of my Undergrad degree, and the middle of an abnormal Victorian winter.

We had a few days last week of 21 degrees (Celcius) and I was wearing a t-shirt outside, without a cardigan, jumper, scarf and coat piled on top. Crazy! The news reported the warmest winter day on 36 years, so it wasn't just my imagination!

I am very much so a 'Summer Girl' and I think it differs with Arthritis sufferers, but Winter is the most uncomfortable season for me. Although heat makes my joints swell, Summer is more comfortable for me as heat is generally more soothing on my joints.
The cold makes me ache and stiffen up, and I have a pretty much constant headache for the whole season.
I am having issues with my neck of late, that is frustrating me to no end, for the more intense and more frequent headaches than usual that I am experiencing. The cold contributes to this, and as I have short hair, I don't have anything around my neck to keep it warm.

Because I choose to have short hair, thus lose the benefit of the warmth of long hair on my neck, I got thinking the other day, to what level do we do things that make us uncomfortable or how do we modify our lives and our surroundings to create physical comfort??

I have to modify a lot of my daily activities from what 'Non-RA' people would do, to ensure I can get through the day with less pain and restriction and be able to function the next day, and not just sleep the day away.

Something I had thought of previously, due to my general life approach- to think what it would be like to be in another person's shoes, and was inspired more recently by a blog I was reading last night (I can't remember which one and can't seem to find it, sorry), made me think of  the idea of modification of general tasks to accommodate for unwanted and outside influences.

There are a lot of people out there that have chronic illnesses, suffer from other non-chronic medical conditions, and have physical injuries or emotional/mental stresses and illnesses. So I was thinking about this, and that having a chronic illness is not the only condition that affects day-to-day life.

Of late I feel that I don't want to explain my condition to strangers as well as associates who may not know of my condition, but this idea that may people suffer from outside effects on their lives that they may not have any control over, has changed my mindset a little. My recent work in the mental health sector has also opened up my eyes to the positive aspects of discussion and talking in breaking down barriers and stigmas.

There is no reason to deny, hide or brush over my condition. Education and discussion of it will make non-sufferers aware that it exists more than they realise, and this, in turn, will lessen the shock when someone does ask why you are limping, or when they look at a 20-something getting out of a car that has a disabled parking permit that it is their permit. Maybe they will think twice about judging others at face value and that there is often more to any story than what is presented.

I am almost at the stage of counting down the days until the warmer weather arrives, but I guess it is more practical to just take every day as it comes and live in the 'here and now', rather that look to the future for satisfaction, otherwise I'd be missing a lot of enjoyment and pleasure.

Here is to living like there's no tomorrow, breaking down barriers, and making others think twice :)

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