Upgrading My Life 101 – ADHD

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Brainscan of brains with and without ADHD

Brainscan of brains with and without ADHD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s lesson.  What did I learn today and how did it improve my life?

Today, I learned that I may have a touch of Adult ADHD.  I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “touch of ADHD”.  Also, I should note that there was no diagnosis.  However, it would explain a lot of things.

I’ve heard that adults can have ADHD.  Personally, never thinking that could be me, because I struggle to keep my energy up.  Apparently, you can have ADHD and not be outwardly hyperactive.  As stated in this article:  http://helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_adult_symptoms.htm

You don’t have to be hyperactive to have ADD / ADHD

“Adults with ADD/ADHD are much less likely to be hyperactive than their younger counterparts. Only a small slice of adults with ADD/ADHD, in fact, suffer from prominent symptoms of hyperactivity. Remember that names can be deceiving and you may very well have ADD/ADHD if you have one or more of the symptoms above—even if you lack hyperactivity.”

Whoa!  That was a huge shock to me.  Afterall, it is called Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  When I think about people I’ve known to have this disorder, they were bouncing off the walls or fidgety.  That about summed up what I knew about ADD/ADHD.  There is a lot more to it than that I’ve found.

For example, there is also a symptom known as Hyperfocus.  This really caught my eye.  When I’m working on a task or project, I can become engulfed with only that and nothing else.  To me, this is good.  To those around me, it can be quite annoying.  From the same article listed previously http://helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_adult_symptoms.htm, here is an excerpt explaining it:

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Hyperfocus

“While you’re probably aware that people with ADD/ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks that aren’t interesting to them, you may not know that there’s another side: a tendency to become absorbed in tasks that are stimulating and rewarding. This paradoxical symptom is called hyperfocus.

Hyperfocus is actually a coping mechanism for distraction—a way of tuning out
the chaos. It can be so strong that you become oblivious to everything going on
around you. For example, you may be so engrossed in a book, a TV show, or your
computer that you completely lose track of time and neglect the things you’re
 supposed to be doing. Hyperfocus can be an asset when channeled into productive
activities, but it can also lead to work and relationship problems if left
unchecked.”

The thing is, this happens to a lot of people and they don’t all have ADD/ADHD.  The question is, how many of the other symptoms do they experience and how long has it been going on?  Obviously, self diagnosis is not a good idea.  I will speak with my doctor about this.  As should anyone else.  Especially, if one feels things are out of control.

In my case, I’m going to start with improving my lifestyle, as I have no interest in medications at this point.  Anyhow, improving lifestyle could only be positive regardless of whether I have ADHD.  When there are things I can do to help myself, why not?  Continuing exercise, working harder on sticking to a routine, trying to curb those cravings for midnight snacks, and lots of alarms.  Ultimately, creating better habits.

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The Day I Bought a TV While Wearing Sunglasses

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English: A human eye after the pupil was dilat...

Image via Wikipedia - Not my eye.

For some time now, my eyes have been feeling weaker and giving me a bit of trouble.  I have never worn glasses or had a professional eye exam.  Considering I’m 31, I felt I had waited too long and needed to have my eyes checked.  Yesterday was that day. 

My mom had cataract surgery in her early 60’s and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis so I chose to have the dilating drops used for a more thorough exam.  I was nervous about it.  I’d heard that it makes your eyes sensitive to light while in effect and vision can be blurry.  Thinking back, I don’t know why I was nervous.  Maybe just fear of the unknown.

Almost as soon as I arrived, I was called back.  This is maybe a good thing.  You know, no time to change my mind and run away.  Once I was in the exam room, and had spoken with the optometrist, he was getting the drops.  My heart raced!  I felt dizzy.  My voice got a little shaky.  I’m not sure if he noticed or not.  I tried hard to hide it.  Before I knew it, the drops were in and I was still alive!  Feeling a little foolish, but just fine.

He then proceeded with the eye exam.  I kept waiting for this light sensitivity to kick in or something to happen, but I got through the whole first part of the exam without a hitch.  Then he left me in the room for about five minutes so to give the drops some more time to start working.  By the time he came back in, I did notice my eyes were feeling more sensitive to light.  He did a few more tests and that was it.

We talked about what he found.  My eyes are actually doing pretty good.  A astigmatism in my right eye, some farsightedness, dry eyes (I’m to use drops everyday), but nothing majorly scary.  What a relief.  I will be wearing glasses for reading, driving, and using the computer.  Which isn’t too bad.  I know two-year-olds that wear glasses all the time.

Finally, I was done and he said to take a look at some glasses while I wait for someone to help me finish up.  I saw some, picked them up, and tried them on.  When I looked in the mirror I laughed so hard and loud, I embarrassed myself.  No, the glasses weren’t that horrible.  It wasn’t because I felt silly for worrying so much.  It was because MY PUPILS WERE HUGE!!!  The image of a cartoon kitten being super cute popped in my mind.  Or a cartoon in love.  They were ridiculous!

It’s funny how you’re supposed to pick out glasses when your eyes are in this state, but I did make it through.  I hope they look as ok as I thought when I actually get them in a couple of weeks.  I really couldn’t tell because I kept fixating on these HUGE PUPILS!

My eyes were still sensitive to light and I forgot my sunglasses, so the employee (which happens to be a friend) said she could give me some.  She then warned me they weren’t cute.  I laughed and said that would be ok.  She was right.  Wow!  My husband came to pick me up and immediately picked on my new shades.  My two-year-old daughter was in the back seat laughing at “silly mommy”.  We all laughed and then I said, “ok let’s go to Wal-Mart!”  My husband quickly came up with many reasons we couldn’t go right then.  Of course, we all know the real reason.  He didn’t want to be found on People of Walmart because he was with me and these silly sunglasses.  Maybe not that extreme, but he was definitely thinking along those lines.  When I asked him, he told me I was right.  So we laughed some more.  The thing is, I didn’t care.  I was on a mission.

After borrowing his sunglasses, because that was the deal and he wouldn’t go in with me otherwise, we went to Wal-Mart.  My mission was to figure out the right size flat screen for our family room.  Yes, I wanted to buy a tv and my eyes were all whacked out.  Still wearing sunglasses on a gloomy day inside the store, we headed to the electronics department.  When we started talking to the associate about what they had in stock, he was looking at me…a lot.  I mean who shops for tv’s with sunglasses on?  I explained what was going on and showed him my eyes and he jumped.  It was so funny!

Long story short, we left with a tv.  I can see clearly now and am pretty proud of our purchase considering.  It looks great and it’s something I’m sure I’ll always remember.  The day I bought a tv wearing sunglasses!

Brushing Off the Dust and Catching Up

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East Slope in June 2011

Image by Just a Prairie Boy via Flickr

Has it really been so long?!  Re-reading my own posts, I realized the huge hurdle I’ve jumped.  What do I mean?  I still feel good.  In fact, the other day, it occurred to me that having RA doesn’t phase me much these days.  Of course, I still have to poke myself with Enbrel once a week and take an NSAID twice a day, but that’s pretty much the extent of my RA frame of mind.  Have I really done it?  Have I really reclaimed my body?  Stiffness comes and goes, but it’s not the.. I can’t move for a week kind of stiffness.  It’s more like the, I’ve been sitting the same way too long, kind of stiffness.   So, YAY!!!  If I can do it, so can you!  If you haven’t already that is.  *smiles*

Now, moving on to a sad note.  There is a reason for my sharing this…  My mom passed away in June 2011 at 67.  She was a hardworking, intelligent, tough little woman, and a dedicated RN.  Unfortunately, she developed COPD and her body just couldn’t cope anymore.   It was/is probably one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to deal with in my lifetime.  I feared the stress would wreak havoc on my body, but it didn’t.  What it did do, was send me into a world of chaos.  A world of rediscovery.  A yearning to explore far away cities, climb mountains, swim with dolphins.  You know, live.  I had decided that I’d had enough deprivation.  Those of us with RA are faced with the feeling of deprivation far too often.  The problem was.. I had kids, bills, responsibilities, and now a dog.  It wasn’t like I could just pick up and go like I wanted to.  Looking back now, I may have just been wanting to run.  Well, time inched by and reality set in.  Then it just hit me.  I can explore those places I’d like to go.  Climbing a mountain isn’t impossible.  I CAN swim with dolphins, even if I can’t swim.  So, I’m not really deprived.  It’s just a matter of setting a goal and following through.  In the meantime, I have a beautiful family, a desire to learn, and most importantly I CAN MOVE!!!  Things began to calm down after that.  Maybe the chill of the coming winter set in too.  No matter why, I felt more at ease.

My mom consistently told me, “God will heal you”.  She’s one of the few people in this world that truly saw what was happening to me.  Like she felt it in her own bones.  She would push me to soak my feet in Epsom Salts, she would rub Ben-Gay on me even as I fought her, she would tell me to pump those legs while I’m sitting there, and remind me to raise those arms up.  In other words, she was my biggest support.  At first, I thought that support was gone when we lost her.  In a way, it is.  At the same time, it will always be there.  As I cook a meal, I can hear her telling me what to do next.  When I go shopping late in the evening, I can hear her telling me to be careful.  When the day has been too hard, I can hear her telling to take one day at a time.  She made a positive impact on me.  As a mom should.  You never know how much of an impact you can make on someone and how it will affect their life.  Even if you can only move your mouth to speak, especially with the way things go viral now, you CAN make a difference!  So..keep those positive attitudes up and don’t forget to stretch!

My Mom

To My Disbelief…

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Winter is moving in and I’m still doing ok. *Knock on wood* Ever since the “new me” came to be earlier this year, I’ve been fearing a let down. Spring came and went, things were ok. Summer came and went, wow this is amazing. Now Fall is here and on it’s way out and I still can’t complain at my body. My energy levels are still up most of the time and overall pain isn’t a factor. Which is great considering my daughter is now one year old and mobile. My son is surprised to see me doing things and questions me quite frequently because he only knew the sore mommy…the tired mommy…the I can’t honey, mommy. The joy and disbelief on his face outranks mine. Tossing a football around with him in the backyard seemed only a dream even last year. Now it’s reality. I swear I even saw a tear in his eye. For a five-year old, that’s huge! 

I’m still a little nervous as to what will happen when the temperatures drop to zero and below freezing.  I guess I’ll do my best to stay warm.  Although, at least one time this winter;  I want to have a snowball fight, make snow angels, go sledding, and build a snowman with my family.  Followed by us all cozied up together with our hands wrapped around mugs of hot chocolate and rosy cheeks.  There will have to be pictures as well.  A way to remember the time I pushed the boundaries and enjoyed things with my family instead of standing by and watching.  Someone else will have to hold the camera this winter!

Sad News

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My mom was admitted to the hospital today with congestive heart failure. My posts may be rare in the coming weeks. Wishing you all pain-free days!

***UPDATE***  My mom is home from the hospital and doing fair.  Although she has to make many lifestyle changes, things are looking ok.  I’m hoping to find some time very soon to get back to writing.

To My Reader(s)

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Thanks for the support.  Seeing those views coming in, keeps me writing.  I’ve been mostly writing about RA.  That’s the topic I know best and I’m hoping maybe I can actually help someone.  May you keep moving, keep smiling, keep trying, keep reading, and keep writing!