STS with Osteoarthritis (Surviving the Season)
I cancelled all of my plans and appointments for today. Once in a great while I have to accept the fact that I'm not invincible. The irony is that I've just spent a few loooong days working on our upcoming Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. I stood too long helping to assemble packets and carried too many heavy boxes. Today, I'm "paying" for it by aching even in non-arthritic joints. All of our readers need to hear a warning about over-doing it and its' consequences, and I, of all people, need to listen to my own advice!
After having survived a variety of joint replacements and orthopedic surgeries (compliments of osteoarthritis), I actually do have some tips, hints, and resources for aids that will help our community.
Depending on the severity of your arthritis, you may wish to check out the web-site: Aids for Arthritis.com. They have a wide variety of products- from kitchen gadgets to household and car accessories- that may be helpful to you.
Fiskars (the company that produces scissors as well as hand tools for gardening) has many tools now with grips that are adapted to the needs of the arthritis sufferer. I have found several items that I needed post-op, but are still in use in my house. The long-handled shoehorn is great. I use the "grabbers" often enough that I now have several spread out in my home. They are perfect for snagging that piece of paper that slid under the dining table or fell behind your desk! I keep a small pair of scissors in my car as well as a few places in my house. With the arthritis in my hands, I find it very frustrating to ATTEMPT to open everything from packages down to catsup packets. I'll admit I don't have a good grip (but of course my friends prefer to say that "I'm losing my grip!!!"). I also keep an assortment of different sizes of rubber bands in my kitchen---they are awesome to help open that stubborn jar lid.
Because I have some osteoarthritis involvement in each hand, I've found that Styrofoam cups are too slippery for me. If there's nothing else available and you're at a coffee shop, ask for one of those "jackets" for the cup, which makes them less slick! After I had a steel plate put in my ankle due to -- you guessed it -- osteoarthritis, I found it impossible to wear sneakers. I talked to my favorite shoe repair person and when I explained that the collar of my shoe rubbed in the wrong place, he began sewing a few stitches on one side of the tongue of the shoe so it doesn't move and cause that pressure. I had just assumed that I'd have to go through life with out that kind of shoe!
A folding cane is wonderful. If you don't want to look "old", buy some of the brightly colored aluminum walking poles. They are very much in style right now and really help my balance. Because I'm a nature photographer, I always carry a collapsible monopod. It's very lightweight and functions as a one-legged tripod, but also is a great walking stick and usually runs under $30. By the way, I SELDOM go out with the crazed crowds in a shopping frenzy. If I HAVE to, though, I always carry one of the above to aid in balance. I'm far less likely to fall with that extra support!
Although I'm well-educated and consider myself a fairly intelligent person, the Sock Aid was not made for me!!! I tried very hard to learn to use it after my first hip replacement with little success. I think that I most definitely must have a personality conflict with that aid because I tried even harder after my second hip surgery to no avail. Out of sheer frustration, I finally relegated it to the back of my closet and went without socks until I could actually (kind of) put them on by myself!
Two of my most favorite "aids" weren't designed for people with special needs. I've found that my folding 2-step stepladder is invaluable; with my balance problems I obviously don't use it as a ladder anymore, but it's wonderful for holding cooling cookie sheets, wrapping paper rolls (greeting card components) and even holding an open cook book! By the way, so I don't have to wrestle with cookbooks, I've taken my favorite recipes, put them in plastic photo pages and store them in a 3-ring notebook, which stays open (and clean) while I'm using it. My new favorite is an electric mattress pad. It's wonderful to get into a warm bed, which seems to really help those aching joints, and I put a timer on so it turns off after a few hours. The most important survival technique for people with osteoarthritis is to learn to take care of your self. Splurge on an occasional massage. Take the time to relax in warm water swimming pools. Take a nap or read a book. Much to my surprise, the whole world didn't shut down when I only made two kinds of Christmas cookies (instead of 100) last year.
Since the holidays are a time for sharing---please contact the following internet sights EVERY DAY. Click to Give: The Hunger Site and The Child Health Site are two options, but there are other charities as well. By clicking once on each sight, the advertisers donate a certain amount of food for each click on the hunger site, and provide medical care for children on the other. They can actually both be reached on the same web-site. Just think, it will take less than 30 seconds out of your busy day and you don't have to wear out your "plastic", or even find a parking place. Please share these websites with everyone you know, but remember-DO IT DAILY!
Read our Healthy Holiday Guide for more tips on eating healthy, staying active and managing stress throughout the holiday season.
Learn more about preventing and alleviating osteoarthritis pain through diet, exercise and medication.