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  • 5 Items That Make Life a Little Easier When Living with an Autoimmune Disease.

    When you start trying to find ways to live with an Auto Immune Disease you start looking for things that can make it a little easier. Here are five items that I found to make my days a breeze. No Tie Shoelaces for Tennis Shoes or Slip on Shoes I don’t know why this one took so long for me to look into but, I recently purchased some and these things are amazing. What a way to save my hands and fingers. I was having so much difficulty getting my tennis shoes tied in the morning. Like most folks who have joint pain in the legs, feet or hands or have difficulty bending down, slip on shoes are my choice of footwear 90% of the time. But when I exercise I really need to wear a tennis shoe. When tying my shoe laces my fingers felt stiff and uncoordinated. Now all I need to do is slip my tennis shoes on and I’m ready to go! No tie shoelaces come in a variety of styles to fit your style or preference in look. Jar openers My husband was on a business trip and I was home alone with my son. My son loves apple juice and I could not get the bottle open. My hands were screaming with pain as I tried to fight with the cap on the bottle. I eventually got it open, but the joints in my hands and wrists were hot, painful and useless for the next couple hours. Not what I needed while I was trying to make dinner and get my son through his nightly routine. I went online the next day and found the jar opener you see below. It has been a hand and wrist saver so many times. There are many different types of jar or bottle openers. From handheld to under cabinet mounted to fully electric there is a jar opener for just about everyone’s preference. Electronic Reader I love reading, but once I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis holding a book became really difficult. While holding a book open doesn’t take a lot of pressure, it’s enough tension on my joints that I could only hold a book for about 15 minutes. An electric reader helped a lot because I no longer needed to hold the book open. There are reader apps like Kindle so if you already own a tablet or smartphone you can download the app and continue to enjoy reading. Tablet Pillow So I actually bought this for my son when he uses his tablet, but I found it very useful for when I use a tablet or read from my electronic reader. It has three different viewing angles and can hold different size tablets or electronic readers. In your lap, on a tabletop or even on the counter while you are cooking. This device allows me to reduce the need to use my hands, thus reducing pain in my fingers, hands and wrists. Compression items Oh my goodness. These have really helped over time. I have compression socks and fingerless gloves. They helped with my swelling and reduced my pain. They won’t make the pain completely disappear, but they will get it down to a reasonable level for me. For socks, there are different levels of compression so take the time to read up. Plus they come in a lot of fun colors, patterns and styles. I hope these ideas help you as well as spark some of your own on what can make life a little easier. Remember, we need to try and find new ways to continue to do the things we enjoy. Adjust, don’t give up.

  • 5 Things That Make Life a Little Easier When Living with an Autoimmune Disease.

    Let’s face it, life is hard. Just getting through the day to day can be hard for anyone. Those who deal with autoimmune diseases have to endure pain, fatigue, brain fog and low energy levels every day on top of the usual stressors that life brings. I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis for a number of years now and have come up with a few alternatives or tricks that make things a little easier. Here’s 5 that might help you as well. Leaving The Door Cracked If you come into my home you will inevitably find a door or two cracked. Closet, bathroom, bedroom it doesn’t really matter, if it’s an interior door it is usually wide open or at least cracked. This is because I found turning door knobs to be really painful. We recently moved and our new home has lever door handles and these are a lot easier for me to use, but I still leave doors cracked. Doing Chores Over Multiple Days This took me a while to get used to. Before RA I would complete my chores all in one day. But that’s not something I can do now. Trying to clean bathrooms, vacuum and clean floors and laundry in one day is more than my body can handle. Instead I break it down over several days. I’ll clean the mirrors and counters in the bathroom one day and the toilets and floor another day. I also try to keep the cleaning products in the same room that they are used in. This does mean that if you have more than one bathroom like I do, you have multiples of the same cleaning products. But this saves me from having to carry the products around. Prepping Food Over Time or Multiple Days I love to bake and after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis I had a lot of difficulty doing any sort of baking. Pulling out the tools and ingredients and then the measuring, pouring and mixing was just too much for my joints. I would be exhausted and in pain afterward or sometimes into the next day. So I looked for a way to do things a little differently. I learned that if I take one day to measure out the ingredients and then another day to do the mixing and baking I can save my joints from pain and save some energy as well. Sometimes I have measured out the dry and wet ingredients on separate days. This does require some planning but being able to continue to do what I enjoy is worth it. Re-Arranging the Kitchen Most folks will put the most used items, like plates, bowls, forks and spoons within easy reach. I also take into consideration the weight of items that I don’t use as frequently and if it is easier for me to reach up and bring it down or reach down and bring it up. For example, glass mixing bowls are easier for me to bring down to the counter, while my cast iron pan is easier for me to bring up to the counter. I am lucky enough to have a pantry large enough that I can store my electric mixer and air fryer at almost waist height. This makes pulling them out and putting them away much easier. Clothing with Less Buttons I love a nice button up shirt. They look great dressed up for the office or dressed down for spending time with friends. Buuuuut, buttoning up the shirt can be really difficult for folks who have joint pain. My fingers can feel thick and like I have no dexterity. On those days I opt for something I can pull over my head instead. It doesn’t have to be a plain ol’ t-shirt. I’ll reach for a tunic, a shell, peasant blouse, etc. You could also use a nice polo shirt or even a sweater on cooler days. Buttons also appear on pants, but with more people working from home these days sweatpants have received an overhaul. You can look for pants called traveler, everyday or day pants. Joggers and even yoga pants have been elevated from workout to business casual. These typically don’t have buttons and are easy to slide on and off. I own several pairs of bootcut yoga and jogger pants. They are comfortable and stylish enough so you don’t look like you’ve been in your pajamas all day. I hope these ideas help you as well as spark some of your own on how to make life a bit easier for yourself. Take care of yourself, because you deserve it.

  • You Are Worth It: Motivation to Care for Yourself and Your Autoimmune Disease.

    My journey started with changing how I viewed myself and this wasn't necessarily easy. A lot of stuff goes into how we view ourselves and I'll admit the words of other people affected how I looked at myself. I had to push that aside. I couldn't let what others said get into my head and live there. Sometimes our own voice is overlooked in our desire to be accepted but our thoughts of ourselves need to be the most important ones. You have to say to yourself I am worth the time and effort it's going to take to feel better. I am worth the investment, because frankly, you are. Call it whatever you want, self care, taking back your life, whatever, just remember that you are indeed worth all the time and effort it takes. And when you are down and depressed, which can happen from time to time. Say to yourself, I know I'm worth the 5 minutes to read about my medication. I know I am worth a few moments to read about how I can eat a little better. I know I am worth it and I have a right to it. This isn't about some catchy phrase that you say to yourself in the mirror. Although if that helps, then I wholeheartedly support you. This is about a belief that you need to have. It can be really difficult dealing with an autoimmune disease on top of everyday life. It can get really depressing and you can end up feeling like you can't handle the battle, that you're not up to it. That you're not in control and the disease is dictating your life. That you have been robbed of the life you once had. I spent a lot of time feeling like this, accepting what RA told me what I could not do. I finally came to realize that I wasn't living. I was longing. Longing not to be tired, longing not to feel pain, longing for the things I used to do, Longing to feel human again. I couldn't go on like that and after years of longing, I decided it was time to figure out how to live better with RA. And this is what I'm talking about here. I had to start believing that I was worthy of my own time. I was worthy of my own effort. That I had a right to those things and had a right to take care of me. That for an hour or so everything and everyone else could wait, while I worked a little on me to get better. So I could feel better, more awake, less brain fog, more present in my day. So that I could feel more in control. Take the time to read the pamphlet that comes with your medication. Take the time to find a healthy snack. Take the time to stretch your limbs in the morning. Take a moment to appreciate that you are up and tackling your day despite this disease. Celebrate it. Because some days just getting the day is all we can do. You are worthy of your time. You are worthy of the effort. You have a right to feel better and you have a right to your own time. Take it and be there for yourself. You are worth it.

  • Being your own advocate for your Autoimmune Disease.

    What does being your own advocate look like? What does it mean? For me when I first thought of advocating, I had thoughts of confrontation and disagreements and fighting for rights. All things that make me feel stress and anxiety. Yes, those things can happen. However advocating for yourself is also self care and self love. Advocating also means doing the research and asking the questions to get the information to improve your health and your life. It means being there for yourself. If a doctor prescribes you a new medication ask them about the side effects ask them what exactly does the medication do to help. Ask them how long it will take to see a change and when you get the medication, read the pamphlet that comes with it. Understand what you are putting into your body. At times I see people state that their doctor told them to diet and exercise, but there was no direction beyond that. This is where we as the patients need to ask. What kind of exercise? What types of exercises should I avoid? What types of foods should I avoid? Is there a specific diet I should follow? Here's what happened when I asked my doctor these types of questions; Dr. "You need to keep moving, so I want you to add some exercise each week." Me: What type of exercises, because I used to use weight machines a lot." Dr. "You'll want to avoid those. Try low impact. Anything that doesn't put stress on your joints." Me: "Okay, like walking? I like to walk." Dr. "No, that can hurt your knees and ankles. Water exercises, elliptical, those types of activities." On another visit I asked about nutrition, this is how the conversation went; Me: "what is the best diet that I can follow? I have noticed an improvement in my symptoms since working on my diet, but I don't know if I'm following the correct diet." Dr. "There really isn't one specific diet that we can recommend other than possibly a heart healthy diet, due to the fact that your disease can increase issues with your heart." Me: "Are you allowed to recommend or refer a patient to see a dietitian or someone that can help me create a good diet?" Dr. "Unfortunately no." To be honest I was a bit bummed about the walking thing. I like to walk. But, you can see that I was given some specific answers and some not so specific answers. But I asked the questions and now I have a place to start and that can make all the difference in the world. Advocating for yourself can feel uncomfortable. Especially if you feel that your doctor doesn’t seem to want to listen or if they come off as rude or judgmental. Sometimes it is better to find a doctor that will listen or at least not come off as they’re judging your life choices. But finding a new doctor has its own challenges. Insurance may not cover any other Rheumatologist or their may be only one in the area. If this is the case you may be able to tell the PA or nurse that you have questions and can they let the doctor know or if your doctor is like mine and they have you fill out a questionnaire right be for you enter the exam room, you can write them on that. The point is to start. Even if it's just one question. Advocating for yourself is a way for each of us to be better patients. Better informed about our disease, the medications we take and our bodies. It’s a way for us to take action in our own health and well being. Be there for yourself, because you deserve it.

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