March 21, 2012

Take a Hint, Already!

We communicate with each other in many ways.  Verbal or nonverbal; blunt or sarcastic; written words or images.  We pass notes, sing songs, and pat each others' backs.  Nowadays, technology aides our communications - and I'm not talking about emails.  With a tap of the smartphone we send "smilies" and with a click of a mouse we share entire articles & websites through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

In this complex environment of the human society, we often use hints to convey our thoughts.  A glare to let someone know they crossed a line, or perhaps a piece of gum offered to resolve unfriendly breath.  

Sometimes, these hints aren't enough, and we are forced to take more obvious efforts to elicit a reaction from another person.

On the whole, I consider myself an adequately observant and perceptive person, able to effectively function in society by interpreting social hints.  But I know I'm not perfect, and occasionally miss the obvious.  Alas, it seems I recently have failed to take a hint, and thrice failed to attend to the hints of some of my most esteemed colleagues.  

I must, therefore, apologize to Julia, Jazzcat, and Pamela.  When Miss Julia gave me a hint on March 2, I was moved but stretched too thin to react at the time.  Two days later, Jazzcat attempted to remind me of the hint, but I had yet to get my life quite in order and then, well, it just kept slipping my mind.  Two days ago, Pamela issued me the final warning, and I figured it's time I take the hint, already!

And so, I'm honored & humbled to accept - three times over - the Liebster Award!

According to my benefactors, this award is given blogger-a-blogger to someone with less than 200 followers who the giver feels deserves some special recognition, and serves as a way to build a network of high-quality blogs & bloggers.  Pamela added an explanation of the award's name & message:

The Liebster Award takes its name from the German word meaning 'Beloved, Dearest, or Favorite'.

I'm so, so touched to think I might be so loved:)

And so, I share my love with a handful of my beloved fellow bloggers.  In keeping with the spirit of the award, I will select only five recipients, none of which will be those who have already shared this honor with me.  Not an easy task, as they are some of my all-time favorites!

  1. Let's start with one of my oldest favorites - Jen Daisybee.  Jen blogs at "Suicidal No More" and is one of the most consistent defenders AND educators for all things mental-health related.  An advocate in the truest sense of the word, Jen has guest-blogged for me, presented at countless live events, and is unrelenting in her quest to fulfill her own personal growth needs.
  2. From a classic to a recent find - my next choice is Elisa.  I am glad to have found her blog, "Sjogrens Style", which lives up to its name by covering everything from 'flare wear' to 'how to fashionably wear a logo tee' (perfect for those of us who like to sport our Sjogren's Walkabout shirts).  However, there's more to this blogger than clothes alone - including discussions of treatments, innovations, and life with a chronic invisible illness.
  3. What's the point in having family if not to indulge in nepotism - I'm also choosing my brother, Jon.  His blog "The Aspie Epilogue" will bring you to new considerations and insights, whether dealing with a diagnosis on the Autistic Spectrum or not.  However, I can't stress enough that there is something more here than the sum of the words.  The way this boy (in my head, he'll forever be 10 years old) writes blows my mind.  It seems in writing he can achieve clarity of expression in ways even beyond his hard-earned social skills allow him verbally.  Listen not only to the lyrics but also the melody in these posts to get the most out of them.
  4. I can't forget Maria, who authors the blog "Going Down Swinging".  Another shining example of what a bit of old-fashioned stubbornness can achieve when coupled with self-education and common sense, Maria takes us with her on her ride through this crazy world complete with successes, set-backs, and lots and lots of smiles.
  5. To be honest, I'm not entire certain just how many followers my last choice has, but I couldn't bear to skip her.  Tosha, who blogs at "Bottled Time", is one of my newest acquaintances.  We were 'introduced' when she entered a post for the first UII carnival, and I'm quickly falling in love.  Tosha's voice is very special and I suggest you join me in getting to know her better.
So there!  Go!  TAKE THE HINT, and share the love!!!

March 10, 2012

UII Blog Carnival #1 - Successes!

Wow, I am overwhelmed!  I was nervous about putting out the request for submissions to our first blog carnival, because I thought no one would respond.  It's not always easy to break into new projects.  But your support was overwhelming!  Many of my blogger friends posted links encouraging others to sign up, sent in their own submissions, and WEGO Health jumped in before I could even ask, sending bloggers my way.

And what an inspiring bunch of writers you are!  The topic for this first UII Blog Carnival was 'success stories'.  I asked writers to send me their tales of treatments/procedures/tips that made their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, better.  This was my sneaky way of giving you a two-for-one: (1) really good reasons to be positive and hopeful, and (2) some concrete ideas of things that have worked for others.  Enjoy - I did!

Image of Awesome Kid found here.

Elisa, who tweets as @SjogrensStyle and maintains a blog by the same name, reminds us even things that aren't perfect can still be pretty great.  Her post "Friday Favorite: Plaquenil" covers the joy of an improved general well-being, weighing benefits & risks, and best of all - answers a question I've been wondering about for years (thanks for the history lesson)!

Licensed marriage & family therapist Laura shakes things up a bit...literally.  Instead of a traditional blog, she sent me a link to one of her articles published on the website HalfMoonBayPatch, titled "Dancing Despite Disabilities".  I'll be honest, I think Laura wanted to remind us our lives & passions don't stop when we're diagnosed, and I LOVE that message...but I also saw a hidden gem in this article.  Read closely and see if you notice the way one person helped themselves GET a diagnosis - which in turn led to their ability to regain their life!  Follow Laura on Twitter at @lcstrom.

@IBSTales tweeter Sophie Lee discusses a set of challenges familiar to many readers.  After beginning several treatments at once, she now wonders which are actually helping and which may be extraneous.  However, stopping them poses the risk of returning symptoms.  Read about the successful treatments Sophie uses & how she works through the question of which are really necessary in her timeless post, "Gaining Control".

Our next contributor copes with many "invisible" realities which complicate her life, especially how she interacts socially.  Blogging under the pseudonym Displaced and tweeting at @GonnaEatWorms, this blogger touches on many of the emotions that come with prioritizing your own needs.  I relate to many topics in her post "Claude Raines has nothing on me!", such as the silver lining to having a condition which is 'invisible' and the inherent responsibility many of us have to force society to deal with things that make it uncomfortable.

My brother Jon, who tweets at @thedorfist, has been a guest blogger for me in the past.  He's started a new blog, chronicling his revelations in the post-collegiate world of the Asperger's degree holder in The Aspie Epilogue.  In his recent post, "...But Does It Blend?", Jon discusses key considerations in moving past emotional explosions (or helping an Aspie to do so) and how to grow from these experiences.

Sjogren's and other invisible illnesses are not limited to the English-speaking, of course.  One of my long-time favorites, Jazzcat, is a bilingual blogger!  Jazzcat's entries are written first in her native French, then translated (by her, not a machine!) into English in the second half of every post.  After beginning to practice yoga a year ago, she swears by it for therapeutic & mobility purposes today.  Read about her first attempts in her post "Yoga Cat" and her recent update, "Flying Away".  Merci, Jazzcat!  C'est tres bien!

Kristen, better known as Blogger Mama, shares her discovery of a new type of eye exam which is performed more quickly and is gentler on the patient than traditional exam methods (especially for those who need special exams for medical reasons, such as taking Plaquenil)!  I'll be speaking to my doctor soon about the method Kristen described in her post "Eye Doctor"!

Then there's Julia - ah yes, @JuliaReasonWell on Twitter - who never disappoints!  Enlisting her trusty Cannon camera and accomplice Goldie the Prius, Julia reminds us that we have to make choices but it's ok to sometimes choose what makes us happy.  In her post "Where Julia Went in the Sunshine", she chooses enjoying some of her favorite spots in nature (with the proper precautions for a Sjoggie, of course).  Check it out to see how she balances wants & needs, along with some rockin' photography!

My new friend Tosha doesn't tweet, but does host a Facebook group with the same name as her blog, Bottled Time.  Her post, "I Do Tricks for Treats!: My First Experience with Cimzia for Inflammatory Disease", is quite funny!  While discussing the very serious & important topic of injectable biologic medications, the post is sprinkled with chuckle-worthy pictures & chortle-inducing perspectives.  Don't skip the links at the end of the post - even the descriptions were an endorphin boost!

A woman who claims to actually be capable of "Falling With Grace" - a feat I will never master, as I am a pro at falling but not so great with doing it gracefully - practices a habit we can all do.  As blogger Amy explains in her post, "Word", this tip doesn't require money, equipment, special food, or even much time...just willingness to give it a genuine try.  Now that's a hard one to ignore!

Embracing a similar approach, chronic patient Chelsey started her blog, HOPE - Helping Other Patients Everywhere.  I relate to many ideas in her post "Encouragement and Perseverance", which describes (and demonstrates!) her in-charge mentality for dealing with very intrusive chronic illnesses.  I think my favorite part is the 'conversation' between Chelsey & her illness.  We should all be so determined!!

Bennet Dunlap (@DiabetesMayVary) is pretty unique among our carnival bloggers.  He is the caregiver for his children with Diabetes, one of two male contributors, and one of four contributors I've actually met in person - and, will be presenting with UII at a conference in May on the Digital Patient Bill of Rights, which was developed at the Digital Health Coalition event we did together in September.  In his classic post "What Is Your Goal?", Bennet delves into the questions parents of kids with chronic health issues must ask of - and answer for - themselves.  Bennet reminds us to keep our eyes on the real prize.

How about one more for the road?  Our favorite 'gimpy girl', Bridget, shares her way of staying 'Bridget' despite the best efforts of her aggressive chronic illness.  See how, by "Sewing Through the Pain", Bridget found a way to really leave her illness out the equation (safely).  She's not battling it, ignoring it, or even attacking.  She's simply being herself in spite of it.  And I love her for that:)

"...or Brother"!  Image found on SodaHead, here.
And there you have it!  Lucky 13 contributors with actually 14 posts among them, for your hopeful & healthful pleasure!  These bloggers collectively share an incredible array of tactics for making life as a chronic patient better - physically, emotionally, and even spiritually, and I know you'll enjoy what you find.

Gee, I can't wait for the next topic!!

March 6, 2012

Lines Are Still Open

I recently put out a call for entries for the first UII Blog Carnival.  The topic for the inaugural carnival is "success"; I'm asking writers to send me their posts about tips, treatments, or procedures which succeeded in making their lives better!

Want to contribute but haven't gotten around to it?  There's still time!

I'm envisioning a telethon drive....
(((Soft effervescent music plays as the camera fades out of Jenny pondering an idea and onto a TV host with  very big teeth, speaking animatedly into a microphone.)))
Pic of the original king of the telethon, Jerry Lewis, found here.
"That's right, increase traffic to your blog, share your tips with other patients like you, meet new people who know what it's like to live with your challenges, AND help support UII - Understanding Invisible Illnesses!  Get all this and more for the low "cost" of contributing a post to the First EVER UII Blog Carnival!

We're getting close to the end of the post drive but you can still be part of this historical moment; the lines are still open!  Just send your entry to Jenny by Friday, March 9 and you'll receive all the thank-you gifts mentioned above!"

I think I've spent too much time reading the posts of a certain other, more creative, Sjoggie blogger.
So, send me your posts to read instead!!

For your convenience, here's all the info again in one spot:

  • Send the following info to me at "uii(dot)jennyp(at)gmail(dot)com" by FRIDAY, MARCH 9:
    • Your name (or pseudonym)
    • Twitter handle (if applicable)
    • Name of your blog
    • Link to a post which discusses a success (tip or trick, procedure, treatment, anything!)
  • The post can be new or old, written for this carnival or for any other reason
  • The post should be upbeat, discussing an idea that worked for you (or a loved one), but otherwise this is wide open - any condition, any time, any idea that worked!
  • Naturally, I retain the right to exclude any posts that are inappropriate, but that is unlikely to happen:)
Please comment or email me with any questions!  This is already shaping up to me an impressive list of writers, and I'd love to include you as well!  We have some amazing entries so far, and a few bloggers who have promised (you know who you are...).
Pic of security pug found here (b/c mine is always on nap duty).