My parents used to say shout OBNO! like honking geese whenever they thought we were being obnoxious.  That, in itself, is sort of obnoxious.

With that cautionary noise in my head, I think I am being kind of obnoxious lately about how excited I am to go to Napa, to see friends and family, to run this marathon, and to celebrate.  So I hope I’m not being offputting. 

I am fairly confident I am going to run a bad race.  Most of my training has been indoors, and I am deep in the throes of a flare of my RA. 

I am medically cleared to run, mind you.  My lower extremities are unaffected.  My rheumatologist and I have a very close relationship, and one of the more hilarious conversations we have had of late was when I was feeling sorry for myself, and he looked at me quizzically, as if to say What is wrong with you?  I stared him down for a moment.  And then he stared me back down.  You can’t run a marathon on your hands, he said with a laugh.  Touche.

I said yesterday that I always had a mantra for a race.  And I do, and I was only half-kidding about the ones I offered.  Depending on where I am at the moment I run, my mantra might be super aggressive, or very Zen.

I am currently in a very good place, personally and professionally.  But I am facing some extremely difficult choices medically.  And I have to accept that my body will not be perfect.  By that I mean – I suppose, after years of living with a chronic disease, it’s just now dawning on me that I’m not ever going to feel perfectly well. 

My rheumatologist and I talked for a very long time the other day about this.  I’m a model patient, for the most part.  I exercise, I generally eat the right things (except for maybe a bit too much sugar).  I am extremely medication-compliant.  I don’t miss appointments and I dutifully see the phlebotomist; have my blood drawn like clockwork.  My bloodwork usually looks okay.  I subject myself to a good deal of stress, but I have an excellent support network.

In other words, I do it all right. 

But it won’t make it go away.  Which is funny, and strange to me in a meaningful sort of way.  And most of the time, I feel really good.  And for a long time, I’ve felt great.  But there is no rhyme or reason to autoimmune conditions, and so this flare came on, and I’ve simply had to live with it.

I know I’m lucky.  I know it could be worse.  I know that my disease (like my life) is well-controlled.  But I suppose I’ve never fully accepted that I wouldn’t always feel good.  And this is the first time I’ve ever had a flare like this while completely on my own.

But I manage.  I am one for systems and controls.  I have the drycleaner button my shirts to a certain button, so I can slip them on (that was one of my more brilliant work-arounds, if you ask me.)  I ask my doormen to open things.  I tell the pharmacy to give me the easy-open bottles, and they inevitably screw it up.  I ask my housekeeper to take care of certain things I might’ve done without thinking before.

This will pass.  It always does.  For the moment it sucks.  However, there is a good deal for which to be grateful – starting with what I CAN do.  I am, after all, soon to be a ten-time marathoner.  Ten.  How can I lament the buttons I can’t button right now, or the keys it is painful to press, when what works, works well?

(This reminds me of a conversation I once had with PG, where I asked What should work does work?  And he replied, Toyotas.)

(I digress)

So what works; what doesn’t suck is that I am about to take a trip with some people I love.  I’ve had a number of crap birthdays in recent years, and I’m excited to spend this birthday weekend participating  in an activity I love, and seeing my parents, and spending time on the Pacific – which is the place I always go back to when I need a rest.

As with all feats of derring-do with the Women of Winesday, we undertake them with purpose.  Each of the women running the Napa Valley Marathon this weekend will be doing so for her own reasons, and will likely have her own mantra as she makes her way through the course.  I had had something else in mind when I signed up, and I was thinking something entirely different when I began training.

I know what my mantra will be: You can’t run a marathon on your hands.

And also, don’t shit your pants.

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