All posts filed under: Self Management

What is it that I do to help myself

RA Tool Hand Exercises

Another asset in our RA tool box is hand exercises. We need to maintain our flexibility and our strength. Deciding that I needed to be able to do more for myself, I asked my Doc to send me to the Albuquerque Health Plex Physical Therapy Hand Clinic. Wow!  is all I can say. My hands were thrilled with the weekly professional paraffin wax treatment. I learned a set of exercises that will help me maintain my hand function. I do them daily. They can be done anywhere.  Below are instructions for a few. I was fitted for hand orthotics custom made for me. I have them for night use when I am in a flare. My hands are protected while I sleep. I asked and I received. I am also fortunate to have a physical therapy department that is expert in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Finger Walking Place fingers and wrist on the table palm down. Hold thumb in hitchhiking position. Walk each finger one at a time toward thumb. Return to original position …

gardening notes

Albuquerque will be 95 today. Yesterday it was 98. We missed the set of super hot temperatures for July. So we are just catching up. Blue skies. Nice. This is the Rio Grande. We have plenty of water in it this year. And now we have more. Torrential downpour came later this afternoon. Reminds me of Miami. I am happy to see the rain. I would dance it it but the lightening forbids it.  I have those big office wastebaskets to gather water where it comes down the hardest. This is great for my RA as I just need to scoop the water in a little bucket to water container plants. I feel like I am doing a good thing. I have passed out of the RA Flare Fog. Don’t know if it is residual from the Medrol Pack or the Orencia starting to work. I am cheering for the Orencia. Feels so good to move.  Hope it lasts for awhile. Back out in the yard. This is Apricot Sunset. Climber. Strong and beautiful.  Roses …

My RA 10 minute exercise plan

  Repeat after me Move! Historically, I have always been a mover: swimming laps, walking a big dog, yoga classes, physically active job, cancer rehab, silver sneakers core, tai chi, gardening, etc.  RA changed a lot of that. I reached a point where I was so sick I could hardly move. I moved only because it hurt more when I didn’t move. I don’t think anyone understands how hard it can be just to get dressed. Running errands is exhausting. Going to the gym, just a dream for the moment. I cannot walk far  as I have bad ankle and foot damage. Going to the gym, for now, feels like planning a trip to the moon. However, I know that muscle strength, flexibility, aerobic conditioning are vital to RA stability. And it needs to happen every day. When I feel better, I swim laps. In June it was a quarter mile free style. Felt good.  Presently, that seems overwhelming. Not the swimming but the dynamics around it. I have devised a ten minute exercise set …

Massage and RA

Garrett is amazing.  He is tall and lanky. Arty. Welcoming. He is a student at the ABQ School of Massage and he gave me a massage at their free cancer clinic. I remember my first experience. Coming out of the massage room, I felt renewed. Massage therapy started as a new adventure for me.  My RA needed help.  So did I.    Massage therapy seemed like a good thing to try. I made the appointment. After the first massage,  I received an email from Garrett asking if I would be the subject of his case study on Rheumatoid Arthritis. I would receive six free massages. He would ask me questions about my RA.  Of course, I said yes.  I needed another tool in my RA toolbox. I am a lucky woman.  My adventure continues. Today was my 5th massage. I follow the routine of each massage. I check off my choices on Garrett’s  before pain scale sheet. Next I undress in the massage room and slide under the sheet and blanket.  Lights are low.  A quiet space.  …

Keeping RA Feet happy

My RA feet are much happier today.  They had not been happy for several years.  RA had started in my feet and included my ankles.  Pain and unstable gait were serious problems. I was sent to a podiatrist. He ordered weight bearing x-rays of my feet which showed deteriorating joints. He sent me for the following inserts that are available at New Balance stores. About $50 a pair. ProThotics, Motion Control performance insoles Support and stability for overall foot health and comfort Anti-friction fabric, breathable, anti-microbial Vy-Gel shock absorption across the forefoot and heel strike to protect against fasciitis Strong arch and metatarsal features help to relieve pain and guard against harmful over- pronation Structural stabilizer promotes maximum stability and helps correct postural alignment Polyurethane base layer provides cushioning that will never flatten out over time Bio-mechanical design helps prevent pronation and rolling ankles on uneven terrain. They live up to their promise. I have two pairs. Yes, they are expensive but have made an incredible difference for me. My podiatrist also sent me for …

Memory Palace for those precious memories

I’m sure that you have heard how helpful a memory palace can be.   Generally, a memory palace is a system for remembering information.  It is a very special system and can be used in a variety of ways. It is an excellent way to store all your favorite memories so you know where they are located.  It is a place to visit when you want to feel good.  The memory of a feeling, the  feel of a breeze on your cheek. The smell of the fresh morning air. Hugging your chubby baby. Hearing your favorite guy laugh. The good feelings of friends and family happy together. Happy carefree times with children. Valuable memories. It can be memories of favorite books, movies maybe. A memory palace can be anything. Mine is a comfortable old white house with a wrap around porch. An old fashioned wooden screen door. Hardwood floors. Library where many of my memories are stored. A kitchen. Back porch and trees.   I can add rooms but I do think mood more than specifics. I can …

Exploring and moving

Do you really want to spend any time walking on a treadmill or  riding a stationary bike?  Indoors? Sure, it’s great if you live in Watertown, NY and you get socked in with snow. It’s also good if you live in a bad neighborhood.  But if you live in Albuquerque( ABQ to us), there is more to be had.    Walking with your camera in the great open spaces. I am a professional photographer. I have all the big expensive cameras with the impressive lens. I also have a seriously progressing Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have been lying low with pain and inflammation. Finally, I am ready to move again.  Baby steps.  Out walking trying to get my legs again, I take an old digital Canon. Fast. Satisfying. Easy. I would never have seen these Sand hill Cranes when walking on a treadmill. I love these guys. Makes my heart happy to see these 4 foot visitors from the North. One of the oldest surviving birds, they mate for life and care for their young for a …

A sometime treacherous trip made easier

  Rheumatoid Arthritis brings  new meaning to the expression ‘adapt or perish’. Life will never be the same once diagnosed with RA. Life can be very good. It can be great. In RA a good life needs help. It needs adaptation. I do remember the days when I would park at the farthest space in a parking lot just to get just a little more walking into my day. When RA hit me like a lightning bolt and started its invasion of my body, I no longer had that luxury.

A gift from heaven

When I saw his face I knew instantly that we would be a great match. He had that feisty, can take on the world look. Round face, green eyes, tabby markings in a huge Main Coon Cat. I saw his face on the Animal Humane Website. I met the photographer who had taken his photograph, a volunteer. I did not get that image, but it had been the one that drew me in. I went cross town to the Animal Humane site on Virginia. I looked for him. He was not in the general cat areas. It was the photographer who found him. On his kennel was a sign: You choose your price. He was on the higher shelf. I invited him down. He came. Gorgeous face. His body had been shaved except for his head and a big puff at the end of his tail. He was a bag of bones.  He was 8 years old, deserted and on the big decline. I took him home. Now he eats a breakfast of fish and a dinner …

RA tools-Massage

In the proper spirit of being the manager for my RA, I thought about what tool I could use to help manage my RA. Top on my list was massage:  Helps the pain-tense muscles to relax. Stimulates the lymphatics. And best of all is a thoroughly relaxing experience. Today I had an hour massage at ABQ Medical Massage Therapy. It was an Oncology Massage. I have several cancers as well as RA and they do open a few doors. The massage was given by Sean, a senior student. I was directed to a quiet room. Asked if the room temperature was okay. Offered water. And directed to disrobe to my comfort level. I go to my panties. Lay down on the table which was warm and cozy. Covered up with a sheet and a light blanket. When Sean returned, he adjusted my head pillow and placed a pillow under my knees. Quiet music. Sean worked his magic as he worked my body into relaxation. Peaceful bliss. I felt pampered and happy. When I was diagnosed …