Wakey wakey, rise and make the coffee …

December 31, 2011 at 11:50 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments

I was woken from a deeeeeep sleep this morning by hubby going ‘beep beep, beep beep, beep beep …’

‘Eh, g-g-g-wha? isi time ta ger-gup?’ I said sleepily.

‘Yes, and I want my coffee in bed!’ replied hubby. Well, how cruel! ‘Seemed a shame to wake you from such a deep sleep,’ he said cheerfully.

‘Didn’t stop you from doing it,’ I grumbled, climbing creakily (and crankily) out of bed.

‘Well, no. You told me yesterday, when it was actually your turn to make the coffee but I made it, that I should have woken you up and gone “Get out of bed you lazy bird, it’s your turn to make the coffee.” I didn’t do it then so I’m doing it now …’

Me and my big mouth! He’s quite right, I did say that yesterday. I don’t know what possessed me.

I groggily hunted for something to put on over my nightie and found a tatty, ratty and definitely catty old jumper. ‘What?’ I hear you cry. ‘Doesn’t the poor penguin even has a dressing-gown to keep her aching bones warm?’ Well yes … it’s warm and pink and very, very snug … and I’m sure the cat lovers among you will understand when I say:

Enormous Cat snuggled happily on my dressing gown

How could I move a cat this cute?

But in the end I’m glad hubby got me up relatively early, because I managed to squeeze in some exercise before starting my mammoth New Year cookathon, and of course I feel a lot better for it.

Isn’t motivation a funny thing? I (almost) always feel better for a 20-minute embarrassing bop in front of an exercise video, and yet I can rarely motivate myself to do it! Mind you, it’s a darned sight easier when I’m not at work for nine hours a day. I guess that’s the fundamental difference. Anyone think I’m overworking?

Happy Christmas, Happy Channukah, Happy New Year!

December 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment

Happy Christmas, Happy Channukah, Happy New Year! Wishing you all a peaceful, successful and healthful New Year!

The joys of a winter routine hospital appointment

December 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I really hate the winter half of my six-monthly hospital appointments. I suppose it could be worse. I have the nurse practitioner visit (usually bad) in summer (not so bad), and the consultant or registrar visit (usually OK) in winter (not so good), so you could say it balances out. I have just had my visit to the register – a very nice young lady who, while obviously struggling with the basics of the English language, still clearly had an excellent grasp of autoimmune diseases! It took rather a long time to find any of that out though.

At the risk of sounding like one of those very bad school essays (‘What I did on my holidays: I got up at 4am. Mummy was cross and said go back to bed. I got up again at 6am. We left the house at 7am. We arrived in Wales at 11:30 am’ etc.) here’s why I hate the winter appointment. I left work at 10:15 for what should have been an approximately half-hour drive to the hospital for an appointment a bit after 11. Why leave such a long time? Because it’s December. The weather was a bit rubbish and if you have an appointment you can guarantee to get stuck behind something slow. I did. Then there’s the car parking – always fun. I struck gold in the third car-park I tried. As you can imagine, after driving round three car parks, all for several minutes, I was starting to cut it fine, but as soon as I reached the Rheumatology Department I realised I need not have worried. The waiting room was heaving! I handed in my appointment letter, took my seat and waited … and waited … and waited. The usual charmless nurselet called me in, did the ‘weigh and wee’ and then I got sent to the equally busy inner weighting room … where I waited … and waited … and waited.

After about an hour a nurse came out and wrote next to my consultant’s name on the notice board ‘running one hour late’. Twenty-five minutes or so after that, I finally got seen. Fortunately I’d taken in a good book. Unfortunately, as it wasn’t so cold as last year, and they were probably even more short-staffed, no one offered us a drink. I hadn’t had time for a drink on arrival because it was time to check in, so I was a bit parched.

Useful appointment with nice registrar followed, which culminated in a further referral (who knows where, who knows when … but no hurry, nothing urgent!) and a blood test. ‘Will you give me a form so that I can get the test at my GP?’ I asked. ‘No, no,’ she said, no doubt intending to be most helpful, ‘you have it here. Just go to the blood test department …’

So, by now thirsty and pretty peckish too, but thinking I’d better get this done before heading for a café, I went and found the blood test department. Guess what? The waiting room was heaving AGAIN. That’s another reason for hating the December appointment. People get ill in the winter!

I went up to reception and got a ticket – 73. The number just called was 63. Only ten, I thought. Surely it won’t be that long. ‘What’s the waiting time likely to be, just roughly?’ I asked the receptionist. ‘Hmm,’ she said. ‘Could be up to 45 minutes … but it might be much quicker.’ Aaaaaaaaaaaargh. 45 minutes? Aaaaaaaaaaargh! And we were so busy at work too. So I phoned the duty junior penguin at work and went ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh’ down the phone at her. (It’s in the job description – ‘be prepared to listen to senior penguin going aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh periodically’.)

As it turned out though, the queue did go down quickly. All of a sudden they were charging through people and I was the only one left, and then my number came up, and in I went to be processed. (It did feel a bit like that this time, but given the numbers they were having to get through, I can’t really blame them!)

And so back home, stuck behind another slow lorry most of the way and then, somewhat peculiarly, a slow ambulance!  I eventually got back into work at around 2.15.

Four hours out of work: total time with medical staff, approximately 15 minutes. Frustration factor: high.

Merry Christmas, Felis Navidad, Feliz Natal and Happy Chanukah to all.

Knee Cosy

December 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh crumbs – it’s snowing! You may remember that in my previous post I was winging about the cold the other day; well, it’s colder.

Yesterday the journey home was worse than I ever. I had a hectic day at work but I felt fine (if a little stressed) … and then I left the office to go home.

The moment my left knee found itself outside it started to complain, and the complaints got louder as I drove, to the point where I knew I wasn’t able to concentrate a hundred percent on my driving. Not good!

Although I get the ‘traditional’ sore and achy hands and feet of RA, the worst affected thing has always been my left knee, and if I have a flare that’s usually where it starts. This is the first year I’ve really noticed the cold affecting it though.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to keep that knee warm, specifically while driving. A lap blanket (Afghan in the US I believe) wouldn’t be safe, as it might slip into the foot-well and get tangled with my driving foot. (Fortunately, considering the sate of the left knee, I drive an automatic!)

I’ve decided the solution might be a ‘knee cosy’! I’m not quite sure yet how it would work. Perhaps a combination of a sports-style knee protector and a pouch that could incorporate one of those gel reusable hand-warmer type things?

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to discover I’m not the first person (by a long, long way) to think up the neat ‘knee cosy’ moniker, but people are using it as a name for lap blankets, not for my cunning plan. I may have to make this my Christmas craft project!

Warm, spicy sauna

December 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

No, unfortunately I have not just come back from a spa break or something. The warm, spicy sauna was my kitchen a few hours ago, and very nice it was too, having come in from work absolutely freezing.

The trouble is, if you can call it a trouble, that I only live a couple of miles from work, so I get into my freezing car at the end of the day and arrive home frozen to the core ten minutes or so later, as the car hasn’t had time to warm up. No good for me or the car really!  I definitely find joints stiffen more when they’re really cold, and I generally arrive home pretty achy at this time of year. Hubby, being the good sort he is, is usually there to provide warming hugs and coffee (unless he’s working late), but today I decided I needed something really warming for supper too.

So I made Polly Penguin’s Super-easy Vaguely Moroccan-inspired Chicken and Couscous, which always goes down well. Since this involves much froiling (a combination of boiling, broiling and frying, except that really it isn’t frying as I don’t use any extra fat) and lots of lovely warm-smelling spices, by the time I’d finished the kitchen was steamy and smelling like a spice market, and I was WARM! Even warmer when I’d eaten it.

If anyone else fancies turning their kitchen into a spicy sauna, here’s how, but I warn you it’s a bit vague as recipes go because I don’t tend to measure anything, including time!

 

Polly Penguin’s Super-easy Vaguely Moroccan-inspired Chicken and Couscous

Serves one penguin and one hubby

 

1 large onion

1 chicken breast (I’m sure Quorn would work equally well)

Half a can of tinned plum tomatoes

A couple of squirts of tomato purée

6-8 green cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

A generous grating of fresh nutmeg

Couscous – I like to cheat with a packet that’s got bits and bobs mixed into it

 

Dry stir fry the chicken over a fairly high heat, adding a little boiling water as necessary to stop it sticking to the pan. Add the onion and a bit more water and turn the heat down. Lightly crush the cardamom pods, and chuck these in along with the rest of the spices. Allow the onion to soften for five mins or so adding boiling water as necessary. Then chuck in half a can of tomatoes and allow to simmer on a medium to high heat until it’s reduced (i.e. a lot of the water from the tomatoes has boiled off) . Then turn down to a low heat and prepare the couscous as per instructions on pack. This generally involves waiting five minutes. Once the couscous is prepared and you’re waiting for it to be ready, add the tomato purée to the pan and stir in, which will thicken everything up beautifully.

Serve up and enjoy – and feel lovely and warm and, if like me you hardly ever cook properly, virtuous!

The whole thing only takes about half an hour from getting the onion out of the cupboard to serving up, so you don’t have to be on your feet for ages either … and there’s plenty of time in between for a quick sit down!

(I kinda spoilt the warming effect by following this up with a toffee ice cream … oops!)

Polly’s first guest blog

December 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

Possibly less exciting than ‘baby’s first tooth’ or in our case perhaps Tiny Cat 2’s first brave trip into the living room, but still pretty exciting. I have a guest blog over on The Patient Experience … so a quick hello to all you new readers, and I hope some of you will stick around!

I also wanted to post a new take on the age-old moan of just about every RA victim/patient/sufferer I know: the frustration of trying to explain it to people. I think every RA blogger must have blogged about this at some point, too. I know I have. But here’s a new take on it that I think is lovely, from Carole, who commented on this blog recently. Talking about the number of people who don’t understand about RA (and in her case MS too!) she said: ‘Hopefully they will remain blissfully unawakened.’ A very nice, charitable way of looking at it, I thought!

Complete surveys and raise money for NRAS

December 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment

The Patient Intelligence Panel (PIP) is an online research platform for chronically ill patients (although I wouldn’t consider myself as chronically ILL, even if I do have a chronic condition), which focuses on research into quality of life (which makes a nice change in itself!). They are supporting NRAS by donating £1 for every person who signs up to their surveys, and for every survey you complete.

If you have RA you can register with PIP Health here.

Register for PIP Health by entering your details on the right hand side of this page – it’s free! About once a month, you will receive short surveys about your experiences of Arthritis. All surveys are voluntary, but we will donate £1 to NRAS for every survey you complete.

Please do, because NRAS do really great work to raise awareness of RA in the UK AND to help people who have it.

Keep drinking the milk, girls (and guys ?)

December 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, women younger than 50 with rheumatoid arthritis are very significantly more at risk of sustaining osteoporotic fractures (for which you presumably have to have osteoporosis first) than women of a similar age who don’t have RA.

The article is somewhat confusing, as it also states ‘Young men with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are also at an increased risk, but not until they are over age 50 years.’ Um … is it me? You can find the article here and make up your own minds.

I think what the researchers are saying, and what the article is trying to say but not very clearly, is that anyone with RA is more likely to have osteoporosis than those without this dratted disease, which is common knowledge amongst most rheumatoid arthritis patients, I suspect, but if you’re under 50 you’re much more likely to get it than those who don’t have RA. Cheerful thought for the day!

Oh well, forewarned is forearmed; don’t let your calcium levels go down! (Not actually sure what you do to stop ‘em, except drink milk, and of course most doctors won’t be testing for it unless you’re over 50 … or 60 …) Perhaps that’s why more ‘young’ women actually sustain osteoporotic fractures – because it’s not until they have a fracture and wonder why that anyone realises they have osteoporosis? Cheerful thought number two!!

Off for a pint … of milk!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. | The Pool Theme.
Entries and comments feeds.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 90 other followers