Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A little lupus help from my friends...

Just to close the circle on Monday's post – here’s how my errand-running turned out:

Remember that dry cleaning I needed to pick up, but had to forgo because of the sun, the time, and the heat? And remember the other errand I wasn’t able to fit in because I was up against my nap time? Well, guess who came to the rescue and accomplished both of them that same day? My husband, that’s who! He knew Dar, Deirdre and I had reluctantly skipped out on both errands earlier in the day (and that I had done so in order to be a responsible, healthy lupite), so he took it upon himself to run both errands. And I didn’t even ask him to do so! He just suddenly announced that he was going to run out…and pick up the dry cleaning, and run that errand. And you know what? I let him! Now is that a good husband/lupite relationship, or what?

It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes he’s not able to pinch hit, and I’m not as willing to let him help. But in this case, it worked out perfectly.

Along these same lines, here are just a few more ways my family and friends have pitched in to help when I’ve needed it. And NONE of these were solicited – they just took it upon themselves to help. Need a loved one of yours to step in and help? Feel free to pass on this post…maybe it will give them some ideas, without you even asking!

1) Years ago, my garden was a mess. And I mean a mess. Weeds everywhere, flowers that needed to be dead-headed, and overgrown bushes that desperately needed to be pruned. And I just couldn’t do it. Not only was I exhausted day in and day out, my joints were out of control – arthritic, pained, and swollen. There was no way these fingers of mine were going to be tugging on any weed anytime soon. Plus, the hours of the day when the garden was out of the sun were limited – so had I been able to muster up the energy to tend to the garden, it would have been before 6am or after 8pm. Not ideal hours for this lupite! I mentioned the fact to my sister, maybe once, that I just hated coming home, driving into the driveway, and seeing that mess in the front yard. It was disheartening and disappointing – just another reminder of what lupus was preventing me from accomplishing. So what happened one weekend while we were away? My sister weeded, pruned, and dead-headed like crazy – I came home and the garden was immaculate. It looked like a professional landscaping company had come in with a staff of 20 to do the job. I cried when I saw it – touched beyond belief that she would take it upon herself to do what I couldn’t.

Of course, today, I’m fully capable of weeding my garden (although whether I do or not is another story!) But I never forget the kindness Katie extended that particular weekend. With every weed I pull now, I think about what she did.

2) Every summer, we head to the Jersey shore to rest, relax and have some fun in the surf with Johnny’s family. It’s a wonderful week – usually around the 4th of July – and now that Deirdre's with us, the shore is an absolute blast. That said, I still have to use my best lupite judgement when it comes to a full week at the beach: not too much time in the sun, not too many late nights, and plenty of napping. My in-laws are particularly wonderful about making sure all of those things can happen...but I still have to do my part to actually MAKE them happen.

Perfect example: the beach umbrella. My in-laws have purchased a bigger and better umbrella every summer since I can remember, particularly since I was diagnosed with lupus. They go above and beyond when it comes to making sure I can have my fun in the sun (or, more aptly, the shade). Of course, I have to make sure I a) actually sit under the umbrella, and b) remember to bring it down when I come to the beach. Most of the time, someone's been up early and set up chairs and the umbrella. But on the rare occasion that they haven't, all I have to do is grab the umbrella (which isn't that heavy) and bring it down. A couple of summers ago, before Deirdre, I headed down to the beach, intending to just stay an hour or so. I was lathered up with lotion, had my cover-up on, but didn't feel like hauling the umbrella down for just the hour. So I didn't. When I got down to the beach, I grabbed a chair and found my spot in the sand. Most of the family were off swimming, eating, etc., but my sister-in-law, Katie, was there. She was just getting ready to head back to the house for a drink, but would be back in just a minute. She commented on the fact that I didn't have the umbrella, and I said I was only staying down for an hour or so, so I would just tough it out. She asked if I was sure, and I said yes.

Of course, 10 minutes later, back she comes to the beach, drink in one hand, and you guessed it, umbrella in the other. She thought enough to bring it down, even when I was too stubborn to bring it myself. And guess how long I stayed out that day? Closer to two hours. I could have never made it without the umbrella - but I had a wonderful, symptom-free day in the end...thanks to Katie!

3) For one of my most recent book tours, I headed to Indiana to speak at state-wide Symposiums on back to back weekends. My parents still live in Indiana, so Deirdre and I enjoyed a week with PaPa and DeeDee in between speaking gigs. My best friend from high school, Jodie, lives an hour away from my parents, and we always try to get together once or twice while I'm home. While the week was filled with daily travel for one reason or another, we managed to drive up to meet Jodie
and her adorable little boy (her adorable little girl was in school) for lunch. We had a great visit (although only an hour or so), and we definitely wanted to fit in another trip. We talked about making something happen over the weekend, and we made plans to talk in a few days.

When the weekend arrived, I was pooped! I'd had an early morning start the day of the Symposium, was busy most of the morning and into the afternoon, and was pretty much wiped out from the week of traveling, speaking, selling, etc. When Jodie and I talked, she immediately offered to come to our house to see me, if I was even feeling up to visiting. I said that would be great - knowing full well that I would have NEVER been able to make another 2-hour round trip in the car. Had she not offered, I'm sure I would have felt compelled to make the trip up to her house, so thank goodness she read my mind! (Knowing her, she probably detected the exhaustion in my voice - she's that good!) Jodie and her daughter arranged to come down late on Sunday afternoon, kindly taking into consideration my long afternoon nap. We had a great time - and I know she saved me a few swollen fingers.

So even if I don't do that great of a job taking care of myself 100% of the time...my friends and family certainly take up the slack. Thanks, guys!

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