All posts filed under: RA Solutions

These are the things I do to hep me cope with my RA.

RA Solutions Gardening

I have the misfortune of having a painfully, progressing rheumatoid arthritis. My RA started when I was older. An older onset RA tends to be more severe like it is trying to make up past time. After eight years, most of my joints are affected. I have neuropathy in my feet and joint damage in my hands and feet. I walk with a cane when I’m out and frequently use a walker to get around at home. I am disabled. It has taken me a long time to admit it. But the upside is that I can make changes to my life so that I can manage in spite of disability. The long cozy nights by the fire have given way to the longer days of spring. It is time to be out in the garden. My roses were amazing all through May. My clematis is covered in large dark blue flowers. Hosta fill one corner of my patio. All my herbs have renewed themselves. I enjoy the fruits of past garden labors and am …

Using Heat and Cold for RA

Heat and cold application can be a helpful tool in managing the symptoms of RA.  Have you mulled the idea of using ice or warm compresses to make your joints feel better, but was unsure what you should use so didn’t do anything? Should I use heat? Should I use ice? The answers are simple and unless taken to extreme, heat/cold applications are non-invasive, safe, and helpful for many arthritis sufferers. In sports medicine Ice is used for an immediate injury such as an ankle sprain. We have all experienced the call for ice after someone falls or is hit in a sports event. When applied to the skin, ice causes the local blood vessels to constrict. This slows down the circulation and will reduce new inflammation and swelling to the affected area.  Ice will also numb the area quieting pain receptors and reducing pain. Ice from the ice chest or a very cold soda can are usually available at a soccer game or similar sports game. It makes ice an easily obtainable, useful remedy. …

RA and the Bread Machine

In December I had the urge to make bread. It was the same urge that I had several years ago to start knitting. I knitted everyone a beanie, or a wrap or a special heart to say I cared.  I am still knitting. I am working on a blanket project that is over half done, a wrap for my Watertown, NY sister-in-law and a fluffy, bright red beanie for a friend. Now I am adding breadmaking to my list of activities. I researched bread machines on the internet. Found the one I liked, a two-pound Oster and added it to my wish list. Eventually, Amazon made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. In December during my hip replacement recovery, I became the happy owner of an Oster bread machine. The bread is made in loaf form, has nine plus settings and produces perfect bread mostly by itself in a little over three hours. Along with the machine, I ordered The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German. It was her first book and I …

Real Life and RA

Having a debilitating, chronic disease makes me much more aware of others who struggle to have a normal life with a chronic disease. For those who have RA,  pain is a central issue. The exhaustion that comes with inflammation is also the issue. Life becomes a daily struggle for those who wake up in pain, and who need to make that pain manageable so they can carry on with their daily duties of children and/or work.  Depression is common among those with RA. Easy to see why. I am not easily depressed. I can see too many of the little pleasures of life that make it worth the downside. But there are moments when the struggle to put pain in its place becomes just too much to live with. That is a big, clear signal for a time out. I can have a time out and so can many who have family to take the children or have a job where hours are flexible. But there are many who are  scraping by so need to …

RA feet and orthotics

My RA started in my feet. About 20% of patients are introduced to RA via painful feet and about 95% of RA patients eventually do have feet involvement.  RA struck my poor feet first.  Diagnosis was slow as my primary doc, an internist, later said I was too old to have RA and that the pulses in my feet were strong so my feet were fine. Once I was diagnosed. Methotrexate (MTX) was my first RA drug. The dose was gradually increased until I reached the max of 25 mg/week.  I tolerated the nausea and diarrhea which eventually passed.  MTX helped me but by this time my feet were in a lot of pain and I walked with great difficulty. I was sent to a podiatrist who declared right off the bat that he didn’t do foot surgery for RA. Fine, I thought. I had read about the horrors of RA foot surgery and I wanted none of it. I did need to know what would help. He did three things for me. He ordered …

Knitting and RA

Last summer I had a strong urge to take up knitting again. I hadn’t knitted in many years and wasn’t sure I remembered how. I bought a book for teaching children how to knit and learned quickly that knitting was like riding a bike, once learned not to be forgotten. I enjoyed the projects. Easy. Big needles. Satisfying. The basket in the picture was one of the projects. Circular needles. A few years ago I was sent to a  hand clinic for my RA. I learned a series of exercises to strengthen my fingers, hands and wrists. It was the most helpful process I had had for my RA. I still do the exercises. I have added knitting as another way to exercise my hands. I enjoy projects simple and repetitive and I enjoy projects with complicated precise instructions. I usually knit a bit every day. There are times when I can’t knit. My hands are too inflamed. Sometimes my shoulder is too inflamed. So I just stop for a bit and carry on when …

Walking with Wisdom Woman

RA Attitude After an MRI of my lumbar spine. Seeing the bad news. Being sent to yet another specialist. Spine and Pain Clinic. I was totally discouraged. In the same small office complex, I visit my rheumatologist, my neurologist, my oncologist, my palliative care nurse and now a pain doc. And this is just one of the office buildings I visit. I was discouraged because I could see it as another proof that my body was falling apart. Am I on a steep slippery slope looking downwards? Scary. I was scared. Then, as if by magic, my Irish-French Canadian genes kick in. What to do? A long time ago I had come to the conclusion that I needed to keep my primary focus on the activities of my life.  My writing. My family. My friends. My Hobbit House Projects. I would not ignore my medical issues. I would care for them well. And then I would bring my focus back to the activities of my life. Sometimes I could do more and sometimes less. It …