Monday, June 1, 2015

A recap of Arthritis Introspective G8


These amazing women made my Memorial Day weekend fantastic. I can't say enough about them, or the many men and women I met at G8. Like, I'm seriously having a really hard time writing this post.

If I could've picked a quote for the meeting, it probably would be:


In reality, we all have very real and frustrating fears. At the same time, we've been through so much that some of those seem to be worries more than fears. Either way, AI is a group that's here to support us during those hard times and celebrate good times with us. That's not something that I've

Friday night, I got to spend some time with amazing people including meeting Kevin, the founder and current president of AI. I spent a good amount of the entire weekend with my dear friend Melissa from 710.9. We also got to meet Joe Coe from Creaky Joints in person and he was even cooler than I thought.

Me, Joe, and Melissa Hicks
Saturday morning started off with a keynote from Angela Durazo on her illness journey, but not before Kevin discussed his journey creating AI and Britt led us in a mini meditation. She did this ALL weekend and I loved it.




Next, we attended Fit Aimee's talk entitled "Holistic Experience: One Woman's Journey."


She discussed her journey with adverse side effects from medications once she get treatment and how, through a more holistic lifestyle, she's been much more fit and healthy. She did say, though, that she needs to seek out a new rheumatologist for returning and worsening pains. With what's gone on with me lately, I know how hard that is.

Inspired by her talk and the comments made by others during it, I'm working on eating a bit healthier, trying to really avoid bad foods, and adding a few more vitamins and such into my daily pills.

Melissa and I got to have lunch with Joe Coe, Britt Johnson, and several others who are affiliated with Creaky Joints, which was just a blast.

We took an amazing group picture before the next session.


Because of Aimee, everyone was hitting the water hard. With my crip hands, I couldn't get cups separated!


My new goal is to make crip hands a thing. Seriously.

Next up was a talk by Lucky from The Tool Shed, a feminist and sex positive store in the Milwaukee area, on Sex and Arthritis.


Lucky has lupus, and so she really spoke from the heart on a lot of these things. I appreciated that she was up front, frank, and threw in some jokes to ease us. It's not an easy topic to discuss, especially if you're struggling with sex.

The evening's reception was at Who's on Third, which was amazing! Before we headed out there, Melissa and I definitely needed a drink!






And, of course, duck face!

I'm doing a duck billed playpus a la Julia Roberts
Trip to the sex shop!


The guinea pigs were a little bummed that I kept leaving early and coming back later in the evening than normal, especially with daddy piggie (T) gone all weekend. They were not pleased with this picture more, though, because I did not have treats in my phone.


Jaq (brown) chittered at me as if to say 'Mom, you're an asshole.'

So they got treats.

I gave them snuggles too and headed out to Milwaukee, noticing as I was driving how crummy and achy I was. I figured it was just fibro pain because I *did* sneak a few very glutenous fried cheese curds at the reception...


I honestly spent most of the day sitting on the floor because of how crummy I felt. It was sad times.

Sunday morning began with a keynote from Mark Guimond from AF on Arthritis Advocacy. It was an interesting session, but not necessarily as compelling for those of us who are already involved with the AF's eAdvocate or Ambassador programs.

After the talk, I  got to spend a few minutes with a very flarey Kenzie. We clearly needed to take a selfie to commemorate our awesomeness before she headed home.

I wound up SO involved with the next session that I didn't even tweet. It was called 'Loved ones - taking care of you first' and was led by Jen Ziegler who is the program director at the Pacific Region AF and another amazing person I was so glad to meet. We focused a lot on self-care ideas, which is something I've been posting a lot about mostly because I'm finally working on that for myself.
Lunch was SO good. We had a nice salad, a tasty entree including mashed potatoes, and the gluten free dessert was this flourless cake/fudge deal. It looked (and I hope tasted) even better than the regular cake everyone got.


We had a raffle afterwards and I made out like a bandit - mostly because too many people at my table couldn't fit or didn't want to deal with taking their winnings on their plane rides home. I snagged a nice bracelet, a funky cool fabric necklace, and a pack of Partylite candles.

After lunch, it was totally time for the session I was most excited about - Social media: finding your tribe from the Hurt Blogger herself!


The cool thing about Britt's session was how interactive it was and how helpful everyone was. I was really the only Reddit user in the room so I discussed how helpful it's been for me, more for dealing with my childhood/family issues than illness issues, and the things you really have to watch out for there and on many other social networks.

I felt SO smart.

After Britt was done, a bunch of us had to take some awesome 'good-bye, see you soon hopefully' selfies! DUH!
Photobombs = awesome
Britt had to head out shortly into our carrot cake-filled send off, which was too bad. But it was great to talk with Kevin a little bit about how amazing the weekend was and how excited I was for next year.

I got to go to dinner with Melissa, her dude, and Joe from Creaky Joints, which was a hoot. I really had SO much fun. We talked about organizations, advocacy ideas, and random silly things. I dropped them back off at the hotel and started to head home.

I called my sister to check in with her. That's a long drive to do by yourself so many days in a row you know? Plus I hadn't had a chance to really talk with her most of the weekend and I was excited to hear how my niblings and her were doing.

And that brings me to Sunday night collapsing in my apartment.


And, also, the enjoyable experience of using the Liberator wedge I bought not for sexy times for but propping my knees up all day Monday.

I have a World's Dumbest addiction...

Thankfully, T was back from hanging out with his dad by the time I got home Sunday and was able to help me shower Monday and such. I used to really dread asking for that help, but I think having this flare after AI has really helped to change that feeling. Here were strangers offering to introduce me to others or open up their rooms so I could nap if I needed to or share Biofreeze. They were so happy to lend a hand and be there for me - why should I feel guilty of asking the same of my loved ones?

Also also, watching Tom Hardy in Mad Mex really REALLY helped. I mean, who could feel bad looking at this face?

Bad example?

Well, the tattoos help too
I stayed home from work on Wednesday. The upside of that was making it to therapy AND Spoonie Chat in one night! Thursday at work, I looked hella fly.


Friday it was too hot to think in my office, so ick. I had ice packs and braces going. It was great.

The interesting this is that this a flare that was worth it, and I don't think I've had a lot of those. I had such an amazing time at AI whether that was with people like Britt or Melissa, who are established bloggers, or people really involved or others who are just at the beginning of their illness journey. The coming together of so many non-judgmental people was amazing. I've never experienced that and I want so much more of it.

This makes me even more excited for the Juvenile Arthritis Conference and Medicine X later this year because I know I will get to see some of these amazing faces there as well.

If you're interested in reading more from the conference, you can follow the hashtag #aisupport (or just click that link!) or check out Melissa's Storify! You can also visit the AI site here.


3 comments:

  1. I'm glad it was so amazing! Everyone seems so kind and awesome. I really do hope I can get there next year!

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    Replies
    1. I hope so too! I am glad, though, that you stayed home this year. It was definitely SUPER exhausting.

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  2. I was so glad you were there with me! It was an amazing experience, and you made it even awesomer for me. <3

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