Pollyanna Penguin’s middle-size adventure

November 27, 2009 at 11:45 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Following on from my big adventure to Barcelona earlier in the year, I’m off to Wales for the weekend. It’s going to take substantially longer to get there than it did to get to Barcelona. I’m going by train and I’m rather dreading the journey.

Fortunately Maggie, she of the occasional comments on this blog and provider of the link to the real life chocolate pizza, is putting me up for a night on the way there, so that breaks the journey a bit, but next week I shall be coming home from Wales in one fell swoop.

On the train I’ll be able to get up and stretch my legs now and then, and I might even be able to sleep for part of it, so it has advantages over car travel from an R.A. point of view. Hopefully I won’t get too madly stiff. What I’m worried about is the fact that I have a total of ten trains to catch in the next five days, excluding London Underground links which are the biggest pain of all, and the British train service is notoriously unreliable … to put it politely. Combine that with severe weather warnings across the south of England (I have to travel through London both ways), and it could be an ‘interesting’ weekend.

At least I’m looking forward to seeing Maggie and family and my friends in Wales. Pity that all their Christmas presents are due to arrive in the post to me at work today, and I’m not going into work – I didn’t time that very well!

An unexpected treat!

November 23, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We’d intended to have a day trip up to Blakeney Point yesterday, on the north Norfolk coast. It’s an area of slightly bleak but beautiful marshland, famous for its bird-life and a sunsets, and a lovely place for a walk. Unfortunately it was pouring when I woke up, and I was as a stiff as a board and in pain, so pretty much my first thought on waking was, ‘We ain’t goin’ nowhere.’ My second thought was, ‘Then again … it is only half-past-five…’

In typical Polly Penguin doing the positive thing fashion I thought, ‘I’m sure if I go to sleep again I’ll be fine when I wake up, and so will the weather.’ I wasn’t. It wasn’t.

But gradually, with some TLC (and perhaps more importantly coffee) from hubby (and some TLC from middle-sized cat too) I started to thaw and bend, and the sun started to come out, so we thought we’d risk it and go.

I’m so glad we did, although our arrival and first few minutes were not auspicious. It’s quite a long drive so we felt the need to avail ourselves of the facilities and then top up on coffee, but although Blakeney is a famous beauty spot it is remarkably unspoiled. This is of course a GOOD THING … until you want coffee and a loo. I remembered seeing a big sign outside the King’s Arms saying ‘Kenco Coffee served here,’ so we trudged down, me still somewhat stiff and pained. There was a girl outside emptying bins who gave us a blank look and then ignored us. I eventually found the door, which didn’t look too inviting, went in and was me by a fellow giving me another blank stare. ‘Are you doing coffees?’ I asked. Blank stare. Then, ‘Nah, we don’t open ’til twelve.’ I pointed out that the big sign outside saying coffee was being served was, in that case a tad misleading. We walked out to the accompaniment of further blank stares.

Things got better after that. We decided to brave the Blakeney Hotel. Nothing outside to say they served coffee – it’s not the kind of place that has notices outside. Far too grand. In fact it’s not the kind of place that a pair of scruffs in walking boots and wellies felt all that comfortable about going in to, but we thought we’d risk it, especially as nobody really goes to Blakeney Point if they aren’t walking boot/wellie brigade. The charming receptionist said yes, they were serving coffees, and where would we like them? We chose the magnificent ‘sun lounge’ looking over the marsh to the sea, and had a very enjoyable coffee there before heading off on our walk. Nicely thawed I felt able to tackle a short potter around on the marsh.

We did even have some sunshine! Then hubby said, quite unexpectedly, that he thought he’d treat me to lunch at the hotel! Yum! I’m sure that melon with lemon sorbet and a port syrup, followed by roast pork with all the trimmings and a rhubarb and ginger trifle would not be what the rheumy would recommend, but hey, it was a treat and it was absolutely delicious! Service was very good too on the whole, although there was some confusion regarding post lunch coffee. (Yes, I know, I drank too much coffee yesterday!) We got it in the end though, and it rounded off a lovely meal very nicely. We sat in the Sun Lounge again and watched the rain lashing down outside!

By sheer amazing luck we’d just decided we’d better wend our weary way when out came the sun again, so we didn’t even get wet walking to the car park. Did get this lovely shot of a boat against the stormy sky, with the sun catching it just right.

Boat at Blakeney

Then home past a lovely rainbow, and even got to see a barn owl drifting along in a field by the side of the road. One of my favourite birds and always a treat to see.

So a day with a very unpromising start certainly turned out to be full of promise after all. And talking of promise, hubby’s promising me one of his Hubby Special Shepherd’s Pies, so I need to go and eat it. (Although you’d think after yesterday’s lunch I wouldn’t need anything for a week!)-

Wax bath therapy

November 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m slightly confused because my lovely physio has suggested wax bath therapy for my hands … and referred me to an occupational therapist for it. My confusion arises from the fact that I would have thought that wax bath therapy was a physio sort of thing to do and definitely not an OT thing! I wonder if the OT will say the same when I see her? I wonder how long it will take to see her, given that it took seven months to get a physio appointment.

Anyway, if anyone has ever used a wax bath could they let me know; I’d be really interested to know if it helped at all. I did find a research paper that said it could be helpful in RA if combined with exercises but not on its own – well my hands certainly get plenty of exercise with all the typing and craft stuff, and I do some simple range of motion type exercises in the mornings too, so perhaps the wax thing will do some good.

Life without RA seems like a lifetime away

November 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I do hope that RA hasn’t come to define my life, but I when Robin at The Truth About JRA asked me about a medical test I’d taken some years ago and I couldn’t remember I found myself thinking ‘That was before R.A. Well … I can’t be expected to remember THAT far back!’

I was diagnosed eighteen months ago.

That scares me. I’m not sure what to ‘do’ with this realisation that RA has become such a big part of me … possibly the best thing would be to screw it up in a small ball and throw it in the waste paper bin.

Thank goodness that if I wake up with this thought at four in the morning I have my trusty iPod to console me – newly loaded with two excellent glum thought-destroying missiles – Cranford (a present from hubby) and Pride and Prejudice (a present from me!) I can also picture Wren building a chocolate pizza, which is sure to cheer me up!

Chocolate Pizza – it’s out there!

November 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Thanks to Maggie for bringing this to light. After a lengthy discussion in comments about a chocolate pizza diet, Maggie found this actual, real life chocolate pizza ! And as an added bonus there’s a picture of a man on there who bears a resemblance to the gorgeous David Tenant! Mmm, chocolate pizza and David Tenant – what a combination that would be! I have to say, a 10″ chocolate pizza from firebox doesn’t come cheap … but if it came with David Tenant (or DDT as he is rather unfortunately known around her (Divine David Tenant), it would certainly be a bargain.

Apologies to all those expecting a serious and thought-provoking post. It’s been a loooooooooong day (and anyway, you should have known better!)

A little bit of trumpet blowing

November 16, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Me | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Actually trumpet blowing was one thing I didn’t get round to over the weekend, but I did finish off these three craft projects, and I’m especially proud of this bag.

Miranda day bag s

It’s not my design, it’s from Joan Hawley’s Lazy Girl Designs (And no, she hasn’t sent me a free pattern, I don’t know her personally and I am in no way being paid to endorse her designs!) The thing is that I don’t DO quilting – in fact my friend Steph and I are kinda proud to stick out like sore thumbs at our sewing group as the ones who DON’T DO QUILTING. And yet I managed to follow the instructions in the midst of period and fizzle … so well done to Joan H for making them so nice and clear. (OK, so I did have to sew one bit on three times ’cause I kept messing up, but only one bit …)

I also completed the crocheted twirly scarf, which is a lot nicer ‘in the flesh’ so to speak than it is on the photo.

crochet twirly scarf s

And finally, I have at last completed this wall-hanging which is part of a City and Guilds embroidery course I’m doing. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been working on this on and off. It’s  ‘all my own work’ in the sense that I designed it as an embroidery/applique from scratch, although it’s very closely based on part of an old Japanese print.

Japanese girl

If anyone’s very familiar with the print they’ll notice that my girl is a mirror image of the original. Oops! Wasn’t meant to be but by the time I realised, it was too late.

So now I have to start on the next bit of my City and Guilds module, and I’m not looking forward to it because it has to be an abstract based on my face! I don’t like abstract much and I don’t like my face much either! Oh well, it’ll be a challlenge!

Wet, wet, wet …

November 16, 2009 at 10:38 am | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

It rained all day on Friday, and I had to come home early from work because I was in a significant amount of pain and just not working effectively. It is entirely possible that teaching ‘the boss’ to crochet was not the best move for either my achy hands or our workload, but it was fun!

Ohoh, I thought, here comes a proper flare … then, curiously, in the evening I felt much better (even though it was still wet). The next day I woke up with one of my approximately five-monthly periods! I’ve said before that I often find I’m completely R.A. symptom free while menstruating, and sure enough I was almost symptom free over most of the weekend …apart from period backache of course … well, there’s always something.

It probably helped that we had a beautiful day yesterday, sunny, bright, deep blue autumnal sky, gentle breeze, trees clinging on to the last of their leaves, almost sparkling in a variety of fiery hues … lovely. (Why isn’t fiery spelled firey? Sorry, I have a tendency to go off on tangents like this … you may have noticed.)

Unfortunately it’s been pouring most of the night and it’s still pouring now … and I HURT! ‘The boss’ has a day off today so, as there are only the two of us, I ought to be here manning the (dead quiet) phones, just in case I miss something vital. Not sure how long I’ll stick it though! The problem is, the moment I do decide, ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough!’ and go home, I know some client will ring with something vital. (I even know which client … the same one that picks every single occasion when I’m away to find something urgent that needs doing!)

So I shall probably struggle manfully (womanfully, penguinfully?) on and just collapse these evening in front of some silly comedy on the telly or something. At least I know there is some silly comedy to collapse in front of. There’s Miranda at 8:30 – I’m still not sure about this. It’s only had one outing so far, last week, and it’s very old-fashioned Victoria Wood style humour, pretty basic gags, but the lead, Miranda Hart, is very good. Then there’s huge tracts of the wonderful ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ series to watch, as Hubby got the whole shebang from my bro for his birthday. It’s the series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the eponymous roles. (Not sure I’ve used eponymous correctly there, but it’s a great word, isn’t it?) It ran to four series and is ideal to watch when feeling ‘carp’. The script takes a few liberties with the original P G Wodehouse stories, but I rarely find it worries me, and Fry and Laurie have absolutely become Jeeves and Wooster for me, to the extent that when I read the original books I hear Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s voices in my head! (Hmm, afraid that last sentence makes me sound crackers, but never mind … I probably am.)

Right back to work … oh joy … Mantra for the day: “Me gusta mi trabajo, Me gusta mi trabajo, Me gusta mi trabajo…” (I like my work in Spanish … Hoping the mantra might a) help me learn Spanish, and b) convince me that me gusta mi trabajo! (I do … really I do … just not today!)

Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not …

November 12, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Today I got my excellent and informative copy of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society magazine. In it is a very short piece about a very small piece of Norwegian research showing something that will come as no surprise to many RA sufferers: levels of RA pain may be affected by the weather.

I can’t tell you who the researchers were, what research they did or how they reached their conclusions because NRAS, for all the magazine is interesting and informative, haven’t seen fit to share any of that information with us. However, they said that 61% of the people they studied were affected by the weather (although they only studied 36 people), and that different people were affected by different weather conditions.

Well, I’ve noticed in the past that I certainly feel it before a storm, and I’m wondering if my coming and going fizzle (it’s fizzing away merrily again today after a ‘day off’ yesterday) is related to the fact that we’re having lovely, sunny days followed by very wet, rainy nights. Then again perhaps it was the lack of chocolate pizza last night?

I’m afraid I’m too lazy to keep a weather/RA diary and try to work it out, and anyway there are so many weather-related factors that it might be hard to do that without a mini weather station in the garden!

I hope I’ve spelled weather and whether correctly throughout – I’m very tired, so not promising anything on that front!

Seem to be OK today …

November 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 15 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was getting to the point yesterday afternoon where I was fairly convinced I was having at least a fizzle … some reasonably significant pain in the afternoon, tiredness too, and by the time I went to bed I couldn’t find a comfortable position because however I lay something hurt.

I’d had a busy, fun evening and a very unhealthy dinner! Yesterday was the night of our local sewing/quilting/crafting/whatever group and as a friend of mine who works locally but lives some way away also goes along, I asked if she wanted to come back to ours for a quick bite to eat before we went. I warned her it would only be pizza because we were in a hurry … so not a healthy start there … and she kindly contributed a chocolate putting with chocolate sauce AND cream for afters! Oh dear … but yum.

Anyway, here’s the thing … I feel much better today! So perhaps pizza and chocolate pudding is my ideal RA diet?

Erm no … before i got lots of angry comments, I’m not entirely serious! But it does show how careful you have to be not to attribute RA (or lack of it) to things without doing some serious research and testing!

Physiotherapy – what’s it all about?

November 9, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wren posted a comment asking about physio and I thought it might get a bit long-winded for a comment answer, so I’m making a post out of it!

This was Wren’s comment – sorry Wren, just realised that this answer is going to come a bit too late for your appointment! “On another subject: How often do you see your physio (physical therapist)? What do you do at the appointments? Are there special exercises? I’m curious because I keep reading of others having PTs they go to frequently, but this is something that I’ve never done, or even had suggested by my doc. I’m seeing him on Saturday morning, and I plan to ask about it, but in the meantime, how does this work for you?”

I personally see my physio every two weeks at the moment, but that’s a timing that we decided between us and it’s changed over the months I’ve been seeing her. I started seeing her weekly when things were really bad and we’ve moved on to two weekly. We tried three-weekly but that didn’t work out – by the time I saw her after three weeks my shoulders were in agony!

There are indeed special exercises, but again they’re entirely individual to each patient. I think it’s fair to say that generally you don’t do any exercises during a flare, reduced exercises during a “fizzle” (if you have fizzles, as I do!) and you try really hard to do them when things are fine, but frequently forget! Luckily I have a very understanding physio (this is afterall the woman who recommended a year’s supply of cake, but she says I’m not allowed to post that story!!) and she appreciates that it’s hard to remember to do the exercises when things are good!

What we do at the appointments is 1) Talk through how I’ve been over the last couple of weeks since I’ve seen her 2) Decide what needs doing this time 3) Do it. Usually, what needs doing is either ultrasound on my knee(s) or ultrasound on my neck and shoulder(s) or both. Again, I’m lucky to have such a flexible and understanding physio. By the time I got to see her, I’d been seeing another physio privately for months. Long story – see here and we’d established that ultrasound works for me. Again, it’s a very personal thing. Some people find acupuncture fantastic, especially, apparently, for knees – I don’t. Some people find ultrasound completely useless – I don’t.

If there’s a different joint giving me problems we’ll talk through that and discuss if there are any exercises that might help, or whether ultrasound, TENS etc. might help.

I have a whole selection of exercises that I should do regularly for my neck, shoulders and knee, and a bunch of others to ease morning stiffness in other parts of me. The knee, neck and shoulder exercises are more to strengthen the muscles in those parts, so that they can do a better job of supporting the joints, rather than to actually do anything to the joints themselves.

The attitude of the nurse practitioners is ‘use it or lose it’, so the consensus seems to be that the more you exercise (within limits), the better. Not being the world’s most active person the only time I’m likely to overdo those limits is when I’m having a flare (where minimal exercise is fine) or if I’m doing crochet, embroidery etc. and don’t want to stop although my hands hurt!

I hope this helps explain the whole physiotherapy/physical therapy thing a bit, but it is, I stress again, only my own very personal viewpoint, and I know that every physio is different (because I’ve seen at least five over the years) and every patient is different. I reckon if you find a physio that suits you it can only help, so why not give it a try?

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com. | The Pool Theme.
Entries and comments feeds.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 90 other followers