While everyone that has RA has their own particular flavor of RA, we all share a few things. We all share the fact that we have autoimmune arthritis. We all have some degree of pain and stiffness, many of us have some level of disfigurement or some level of disability. More importantly, we all have to get through each and every day. It made me wonder how many of us have special ways of getting our days done as elegantly as possible.
Up and at-em…
When you wake up, be gentle with yourself. Take stock of your body and how it is feeling and note anywhere that might give you problems. Take a deep breath and relax and don’t push yourself more than you have to. Nothing that you have to do is likely to not be able to wait the extra thirty or even ninety seconds that it takes to wake up to your day.
It is on days when I get caught up in other people’s reality rather than my own, and don’t take this time to take stock and set my mind in a positive direction that I end up having really bad mood and bad outlook kind of days. Just being able to take those few minutes is often all that it takes to make that big of a difference.
It also let’s me in on what other things I might need to do a little differently during my morning due to the interesting things I find. If it is an easy, less stiff, less achy day, I can use whatever cup I want to drink my coffee… Or tea… Or whatever I feel like in the morning.
Coffee cups (beverage cups) are a big deal with me. I’m not sure if genetics plays any part in it or not, but I know that I probably have as many cups and mugs as my grandfather did. They line the tops of my kitchen cupboards and fill (over-fill) my cup cupboard. They fill my heart with smiles because when i use them they bring to mind the situation or the person that is connected to them.
If there are any questions about my hands… I know I need to use one of my ‘bad day’ cups. I buy cups that make me smile. But I buy cups with good days and bad days in mind. A bad day means using maybe a smaller plastic (melmac?) cup. One with a handle that I can hook my thumb through and hold my palm under the cup to help control it and not dump the coffee all over myself (to this end, I also usually add one or two ice cubes to make the beverage of choice less scalding hot… Just in case).
An alternative to the smaller plastic cup is the jumbo sized ceramic one. This one I can slide my whole hand into so I can use bigger, less painful joints. This bigger one has the additional benefit of meaning that ouchy feet have to make fewer trips to the coffee pot.
I even have one or two cups that are plastic and big with huge hand sized handles for really bad days.
I’ve found that it is much easier for me to put the plug in the bathtub with my foot than it is for me to bend over and put it in with my hands. That is as much because of the osteoarthritis in my back than my RA, but it is still a consideration.
I have also discovered that, despite the fact that it kind of tends to irritate people, I take hot baths, often multiple times a day, often even in the warmest weather because my tootsies get really cold. I know that it is a waste of water. I know that it is a waste of time. I don’t care. And really you shouldn’t either. Whatever helps, whatever makes you feel better, that’s what really matters.
I found those stick on the bottom of the bathtub feet and flowers from like the 60s and 70s that keep you from slipping (until they get brittle and cut your feet) in the tub. I have those to keep from falling when I feel inelegant.
On Your Way
Plastic glasses and plates are often more practical than glass. I’ve wrapped some silverware with rubber bands to make it easier to hold when my hands hurt. It isn’t sexy, but it works, and really that matters at least as much as anything.
I’ve wrapped my car keys in several rubber bands to, as a way to make holding them and turning them easier. Fortunately, I can just push the garage door opener and it magically opens, but some days the car keys are a challenge.
I’ve given up trying to wear completely business appropriate shoes to work. With feet that are sometimes okay in the morning but by lunch time are totally not happy with even marginally pinchy shoes, comfortable matters more than sexy. I sometimes wear my Vibrams Five Fingers leather shoes. They look less dorky and are still squishy enough to give when my toes get angry. Sometimes tennies. Heels seem to be a thing of the past.
I’ve found that, even if you don’t have to lay down to zip your super tight jeans, a fork is often a helpful tool to pull up a zipper.
Fingerless gloves (or several pairs of those cheap “magic” gloves that come out every winter now with their fingers strategically cut off at the places I want them cut off) are great for days when the air conditioning makes my hands ache. They are also good to keep the Tiger Balm from getting all over everything and staining my shirt.
Wrapping it up
I guess the biggest ‘get through your day’ tips though that I have are… be gentle with yourself. It is your body. It is your life. You need to live it. You know your limitations. Some days they suck. Okay, okay, limitations suck on a good day. But they are what they are and the best thing we can do is live within them. That… and your biggest ‘tool’ to help you get through your day is your willingness to ask for help when you need it. I know a lot of us would rather shut our hands repeatedly in the car door than to ask for help. Independence seems to matter way more after we find ourselves needing help than it ever did before, but there are times when we just need to suck it up, swallow our pride, and admit that we need help. We need other people. We need… whatever it is when need.
And sometimes, the biggest thing we need is an understanding ear, a virtual pain free hug, and a smile to brighten our day!!!
Want more ideas on dealing with day to day life of having RA, visit the WAAD website to connect with others just like us here–
you can sign up to attend the WAAD Virtual Convention at this registration link–