From time to time, I’ll get inflammation in my eye. It’s a condition called “Iritis” or “Uveitis.” I’m convinced that stress brings it on. Living with iritis is a cornerstone reason behind my push to an early retirement.
I was 25 when iritis struck the first time. Talk about scary. My right eye kept getting redder by the day, and more and more painful to the touch. Because this isn’t a garden-variety condition, every GP I saw figured I had pink eye.
Finally, with my eye as red as Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey, and not able to tolerate any light without major discomfort, I went to the urgent care. And bingo, iritis was its name-o. Steroid drops to the rescue. Problem solved. Or so I thought…
Living with iritis
Over the years this little bugger has stuck with me. Sometimes I’ll go a year or two without a flare-up. Since the kids were born, I’ve averaged about two a year. With time, you get familiar with your friends from the chronic condition club.
The one thing I learned from the first occurrence, is if you’re not careful with iritis, and don’t get it treated right away, you could go blind in the affected eye. (Lucky for me, I get iritis in both eyes, but never at the same time.)
Ever seen that 70s Show, or the film “Black Swan”? Or, one of my favorite comedies ever, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? Mila Kunis starred in each of those. She’s also got chronic iritis, but definitely to a degree worse than I do. She had gone blind in one eye because of it.
The eyes were just the beginning. Over time, I noticed occasional bouts of joint pain in my fingers. Arthritis? Seriously? The eye doc had told me back when I had my second go-around with an eye flare-up: There is probably an underlying cause. Golly gee. That’s great.
If nothing else, I did live a fairly active life in my 20s and early 30s. I didn’t necessarily eat a super healthy diet, but I wasn’t a junk food junkie either.
Self treatment and finding solutions
Coming clean, the worst part about my inflammatory condition to-date has been the interruption to my schedule. I have to go see the eye doc so he can confirm the flare up and ensure my steroid drops aren’t causing the internal pressure to get too high. When the pressure gets too high is when bad sh*t happens, like glaucoma.
I’ve been able to keep the joint pain at-bay with a combination of regular (at least every other day) exercise and going with a gluten-free diet. I stumbled across the Primal Blueprint, thanks to you-know-who, and it’s actually proven to be helpful.
I recommend giving the Primal Blueprint a try. However, I’m still a little skeptical of going too heavy on meat. I’ve also given up on cow’s milk and most cheeses, opting instead for goat yogurt and goat cheese. Just experimenting. As you can imagine, I miss pizza and craft beer like a motherfo.
Stress it seems, is behind most of this. As much as I have control over diet and eliminating inflammatory foods, there is always stress; that nebulous cloud of weird fight-or-flight response we encounter sometimes often, but always sometimes.
Workplace stress is something I’ve figured I could manage. The irony is that I can’t associate my flare-ups to periods of having a bad boss, and instead, I seem to have more flare-ups during a period of the best bosses in my career.
On the homefront
Maybe it truly is then, the stress of home life and raising twins that’s behind my recent run of flare-bears? Even if it is, I know this for a fact: This is the kind of “hardship” I signed up for. And it’s truly the most rewarding kind there is.
I’ve read up enough on it to know that raising kids can be hard in the moment, but is ultimately one of the most rewarding things in a life, and a contributor to longevity. Sure, it’d be more fun to go golfing or go out partying on weekends. But there’s simply no comparison to the sustained level of love and pride that being part of a family yields. Everything in phases, right?
Because I have a mindset to solve problems (ask Mrs. Cubert – when she just wants to vent, I just want to solve. I have to remember to simply zip it and listen! 🙂 ) I’m always calculating. What if I could retire early (for example)? Would getting away from the cubicle help me manage stress better, and hence the eye thing?
What if we moved? And yes, this is a topic for a blog post coming to you soon. Winter can be a real bitch in these parts. And March and early April generally are the worst, despite the increased daylight and slightly warmer temps.
I’m going full on wuss here, but my eye doc says he sees the most flare-up cases this time of year, for whatever reason. I think it’s simply seasonal lag – i.e., “I’m tired of this sh*t and ready for it to be SPRING.” That’s what our eyes are telling us. And our brains too, I reckon.
Inspiration and hope
Ready to give up social media yet? Haha! But truly, that’s a stressor you might be better off without. I’ve been pretty bad about staying away from Twitter outside of my appointed morning window on the desktop. Calling myself out now. Stop, Cubert! hand slap
But thanks to Twitter, I came to read about Angela’s hearing loss on Tread Lightly, Retire Early. I am inspired by her sharing her story like that. I’m also inspired by Tanja and Mark over at ONL for sharing their stories of migraines and inflammatory bugaboos. Could be there’s a common theme among many of us early retiree types: Stress sucks. Let’s eliminate one of the biggest sources – The Rat Race.
If nothing else, after last week’s admission of being a fraud, I wanted to come clean about a key driver behind my own early retirement journey. So now you know. And if you’re HLA-B27 positive, welcome to a very special club. 😉