The Scamp and Gratitude Challenge Week 18 and 19

I am way behind in the challenge. Way way behind. I have been spending my time trying to get things ready for my move, and I have been trying to get some yoga sessions in before I leave. I was able to find a Groupon that allowed me 30 days of unlimited classes at a new studio by house, and so far, it has been a nice change from doing routines in my backyard.

I’m feeling a bit strange lately, which is why it is important to get back to the challenge. Today I handed over my car to the new owner, and I am starting to have to think about what to pack. I have 30 days left in the US and I think it is starting to set in that I am about to leave for good. I have a place to live, I finally have all the paperwork I need for my visa, and I have meetings and work set up for when I get to Scotland, and the people around me are starting to express their excitement. I am starting to feel very strange about it. I have spent almost three years trying to get back to Scotland,and now it is starting to become real that I actually get to go back.

So back to the challenge. Week 18 is all about the weather. This is easy. Right now the weather is just about perfect. The days are sunny and warm, and the nights are warm enough that I can have my window open and enjoy the breeze and fresh air while I sleep. Lately I have been able to work on my tan too, so by the time I get to Spain for vacation, I will look nice and golden. I am really going to miss the warm weather and the sun, but I am looking forward to the definitive seasons that Scotland offers. I’m looking forward to sunny days in summer, the leaves changing in fall, snow flurries in winter, and the cherry blossoms in bloom in the spring. I know that Scotland sees a lot of rain and wind, but I think the change will be nice. I’m looking forward to practicing yoga in the park, walking everywhere, and my umbrella turning inside out on a walk from the bus to campus. I will miss warm sunny days in California, but that will make visits home that much better.

Week 19 is health. This one is very important to me. May is Lupus Awareness Month. I was diagnosed in 2008, but I feel very lucky. This disease can be horrible, but so far, I have been able to manage my symptoms, and keep the bad days few and far between. For those who are not super familiar with Lupus, breaks it down:

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).

These are some additional facts about lupus that you should know:

  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

I have been lucky that I am mild. My health has been stable lately, and I have been fortunate enough to have access to doctors that can monitor me and keep me healthy. I know that I complain about Obamacare, but it is nice to have access to doctors and affordable medication. I am hoping that I can keep the trend of feeling good for a long long time.

This week’s gratitude challenge has temporarily calmed my fears and worries about the the coming month and moving to Scotland.

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