Relax. Don’t Do It.

I have Psoriatic Arthritis (like Phil Mickelson only without the green jacket). It is pretty debilitating unless I am on my medication. In fact, when my arthritis first started – I was newly married, and in my very early 20’s – my now-ex-husband would have to carry me to the bathroom, or up and down our apartment stairs. Luckily, there are excellent medications on the market now. I have been on Remicade for a long time, and I recently switched to a self-injectable called Humira. These medications are the reason I can be active, and run, and lift weights, and do all the wonderful things that cause me injuries like a torn ACL.

Without the medication I experience a lot of pain and a lot of fatigue.

The thing about these arthritis medications is that they suppress the immune system. A lowered immune system is not the optimal scenario for recovering from surgery – which is why my rheumatologist took me off my medication 3 weeks prior to my surgery. My arthritis, no longer curbed and subdued by the biologics, is now flaring and painful. I am back on medication – but it is taking a while to really kick in.

Because of the flare, I am in pain and fatigued. Luckily for me I work at Nike with a wonderful bunch of people. Not only are the members of my team really understanding, but Nike has Quiet Rooms in each building on campus.

A Quiet Room is where one goes when one needs to pump breast milk, or take a pregnancy nap, or take a fatigue nap. There is no sign-up, you just go to the room and if it is unoccupied you occupy it.

Last week, I needed the Quiet Room. No, the ACL surgery and lack of arthritis medication had not caused me to spontaneously lactate. I had slept 8 hours the night before – for those of you who don’t know me, that is sleeping in. I had gotten to work in the morning and slept in the car for another hour before going into work. I had worked for about 3 hours, and I was completely done-in with fatigue.

I found out where the Quiet Room was and elevatored it down there.

The room is long and windowless. It has a harshly bright overhead light that I had to turn on when I got inside so that I could see my way to the end of the long room, to a chair and a lamp. I turned on the lamp so that I could make it back to the door of the room to turn the overhead light off. This was quite a process and I practically had to nap mid-way through it in order to complete the task. The chair in the room had an ottoman so that I could pretend it was a comfortable sleeping environment by putting my feet up.

On a table near the chair was a stack of magazines – in case I wanted to read while napping. Also on the table was what might inaccurately be described as a pillow; more accurate would be a sheaf of paper surrounded by fabric. The pillow was so crinkly and thin it reminded me of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. I tried to be the Roadrunner and really believed the pillow was a pillow and not just a relief painted on a rock.

I set my alarm for an hour and closed my eyes. I drifted off to sleep and was suddenly awakened by a knocking on the door. I sat up and listened in case it was just my brain playing tricks on me and I heard the knocking again. It was an awfully loud knock for a Quiet Room. I looked at my clock and noted I had only been in the room for a little over 30 minutes. I stumbled to the door and opened it. I was greeted by a woman who looked at me with an accusatory scowl and said, “You are only allowed to be in here for an hour.” My brain was like molasses still caught in the fog of fatigued sleep. I looked at my phone clock again and looked at the accuser. “I have only been in here for 30 minutes.”

The woman looked confused as though she had just woken up from a nap.

“Oh, well, maybe someone was in here before you.”

I went back to the chair and closed my eyes and spent the next 15 minutes trying to fall asleep and not think about the fact that my alarm was going to go off in 20 minutes. I gave up the last 5 minutes and went back to work.

I then made an anonymous suggestion that they rename the Quiet Room to the Knock-On-The-Door-In-The-Middle-Of-Your-Nap-Because-We-Didn’t-Have-The-Forethought-To-Create-A-Sign-Up-Sheet-To-Keep-Track-Of-Who-Is-In-Here-So-It-Could-Be-A-Real-Quiet-Room-And-I-Hope-You-Didn’t-Get-Any-Breast-Milk-On-Your-Shirt-By-Being-Startled-By-Our-Knocking Room.

I think it’s catchy.

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