Tags: aches, filing, RA, Rheumatoid arthritis, transportation, Wales
I have just got back from a short trip to Wales – or a long trip, depending on how you look at it. I was there for about 2.5 days – but I also spent 16 hours travelling! I don’t know why sitting on your butt on a train is tiring, but it is! Fortunately I was fine RA-wise while I was there, even though I was visiting a friend with a dog and a bunch of mad cats that periodically had to be chucked off me, the bed or sundry bits of furniture, and even though we spent most of the 2.5 days filing.
I am NOT good at filing. First we cleared out a load of old papers from a filing cabinet, and then we cleared out a load of papers from boxes and put the ones she needed to keep IN the filing cabinet. The trouble is that neither of us are any good at filing – firstly thinking of suitable headings for things – like car insurance: do you file it under insurance, car insurance, motor insurance, auto insurance? ‘Well, where would you look for it when you went to find it?’ says I. ‘Dunno,’ says she … ‘I’m putting under car insurance,’ says I with a sinking feeling that EVERY time she’s looking for something in future I’m going to get a phone-call asking what we filed it under.
Secondly the actual physical act of filing. It’s a lot of hand movement for one thing, and my hands are rather sore this morning. Also, you know those cabinets with hanging files that you put papers in? Well I KEPT putting the darned papers in BETWEEN the hanging files so they ended up on the bottom of the drawer instead of filed. I’d only realise hours later when I went to file another car insurance document only to find that the car insurance file was empty. ‘I know I filed some of these earlier … ah … there they are, on the bottom of the drawer …’ It was biiiiig, deep drawer in quite a tall cabinet. I think this may be why my shoulders are also aching this morning.
Still, even with all that going on I was fine … until I got home. I think it’s a question of when you stop you realise how tired you are. While I was there I did not stop! I have now ground to a rather achy halt!
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday Polly Penguin, Happy Birthday toooo me… and a very jolly birthday it’s been in spite of the cold, the snow, the lack of water supply and the intermittently painful wrist.
On the bright side, the day started well with coffee in bed and some lovely pressies, including a complete surprise pair of lovely earnings from hubby (as well as the book I’d asked for, which is splendid), followed by a leisurely trip to Norwich to visit the new Art Nouveau exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. Most definitely worth a visit, especially as I’m planning to enter an Art Nouveau themed embroidery competition. Their new cafe (very nice indeed apart from dodgy milk jugs) had just opened too so we were able to get a nice coffee there. (I’ve over-done the coffee a bit today and won’t be sleeping tonight I fear!)
We then went into the city centre seeking lunch and decided to try somewhere I must have walked past a hundred times – and it was FAB! (More coffee, of course!) It’s called ‘The Library’ and details are here for anyone passing through Norwich. We will definitely be going back!
Then dragged poor hubby round a couple of shops ’cause it was my birthday and he couldn’t say no … and that’s where things started to go fractionally down hill. Coming out of one my right wrist suddenly twinged, and it’s been twinging every since. Now a twinge sounds pretty mild but I don’t know how else to describe it – it hurts like blazes for a second or less, so painful I sometimes cry out involuntarily, stops and starts a few times, and then is alright for several minutes. There’s no redness of swelling and I have full movement so I don’t know what the heck’s going on! Any ideas anyone? I have it wrapped in the wheat-pack bro and SIL got me for Christmas, which seems to help a bit.
Also when we got home and went to make tea like a true Brit, I discovered there was no water coming out of the cold tap in the kitchen! Having got poor hubby emptying out the under-sink cupboard, unscrewing the tap, shoving wire hangers down the pipes, checking the cold water tank in the loft etc. I finally thought, ‘Perhaps I should check with Anglian Water to see if there’s a general problem …’; at roughly the same time, hubby thought, ‘Perhaps I should check with the neighbours to see if they have a problem.’ Again at roughly the same time I established there was and he established they did … currently Anglian Water are hoping it will be fixed by 8:30 … let’s hope so. Fortunately as we’ve been out all day we have a pretty full water tank!
All in all though, in spite of minor tribulations, a damn fine birthday. Off to read one of the super books I got. Probably the plant evolution one and not the crochet one, as I can’t crochet too easily with one arm wrapped in a wheat pack …
I recently became the proud owner of a mobile thermal therapy knee support thingy. I’ve been finding recently that the cold really triggers the pain in my left knee, and recently I’ve had plenty of cold to test out this theory with! The biggest problem is driving to and from work, as the car doesn’t have time to heat up so it’s a cooooooooold ten minutes or so. I have a couple of lovely thermal wheat pack thingies that you heat up in the microwave, but wasn’t too sure how safe they’d be balanced on my knee in the car while driving … so, before I got all your excellent suggestions about crocheted mini-wheat packs that I could strap on etc., hubby bought me a ‘mobile thermal therapy’ thing that has a gel pack inside that you microwave (or freeze depending on what’s required) and slip into the strap-on thing and wear on the knee.
The gel pack certainly works fine. The strap-on thing also works fine as far as keeping it on the knee in the car goes.
When it comes to ‘mobile’ though, I’m not so sure! I was going out to meet a friend for a coffee this afternoon and the knee was really playing up so while at work I thought I’d heat it up and strap it on.
I think part of the problem was that I was wearing jeans. Every time I tried to strap the darned thing on it would either slip or my jeans would start to ride up. We ended up with Junior Penguin 2 sitting on the floor holding down my trousers while I strapped on the support! Heaven knows what any passers by would have thought, had they chosen that moment to look in the window.
Anyhow, it stayed put right from the door of my office to the front door of the building … and then started to slip slightly. by the time I’d reached my car it had slipped a LOT so I opened up the car, sat down, adjusted it and then set off again (on foot) to meet my friend. The crossing was about 50 yards away … before I got there it was slipping again.
Did I mention that this thing is BULKY too? I felt a complete clown hobbling along with this thing slipsliding away … so I took it off, tucked it under my arm, and hobbled to the coffee shop with a frozen knee.
On the bright side, when I got there, I was able to strap it on for our hour’s chat and warm the knee up again!
I think it works better with ‘proper’ trousers as opposed to jeans, so will try that. Otherwise, back to the crochet and wheat-pack drawing board!
Tags: aches, arthritis, exercise, fatigue, joint pain, knee, pain, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology, sleep, stiffness, tiredness, work
I’ve spent the last six months on a very useful course run by our local university business school, on helping small businesses to grow. It’s been great and I’ve met some lovely people along the way. Tonight we were asked to do a ‘showcase’ where each of the businesses on the course had a little exhibition stand and said a few words into a mike and generally chatted to invited guests, university bigwigs, previous course attendees and each other.
Unfortunately I was dreading it because I knew the admin was a mess. Fortunately although the admin was a mess, a handful of very brave people had stepped in at the last minute to salvage what they could, and they did a marvellous job. However, as suspected, when we arrived to set up our exhibit, rather than the floor-plan with everyone’s tables labelled, display boards there and of course, vital for me, and definitely requested in advance, CHAIRS, there was organised chaos.
Fortunately the wonderful people who’d stepped in at the last minute were on hand to sort everything out, and equally fortunately we’d brought some folding chairs with us! I did feel sorry for some of the others though, as there were no chairs available at all.
Having said that, once the evening got going I hardly had a chance to sit down, as we were all buzzing about and chatting to each other. There was a really good atmosphere and, in spite of not looking forward to it, we had FUN. On the other hand, I’m absolutely wiped out, completely shattered, totally exhausted … and my left knee is giving me gyp from so much standing around.
Entirely my own fault of course. I had a chair, I have the capability to sit down in it, but I suppose it was partly not wanting to miss out on anything and partly the old not wanting to admit I had a problem, leading to one of those conversations. You know the ones: ‘My auntie’s got arthritis too. It’s all cleared up though since she started rubbing in bindweed’ or ‘all you have to do to get rid of it is lose some weight.’* What I should have done was go and have a chat with the yoga lady and get her to give me some stretching exercises – but every time I looked in her direction (at least right up until the last few minutes) she was deep in conversation.
Oh well, working from home tomorrow so I think that might start with a bit of a lie-in!
* Not that I’m denying that would help!
As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog, or many other RA or inflammatory disease blogs out there, for a while, IAAM is the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement – and it aims to bring help, awareness and understanding to people with autoimmune diseases across the world.
They have a number of interesting and useful projects in the pipeline, and like all charities, they need financial help in getting them going.
Find A Cure Panel (FACP) specialises in patient research for serious diseases including RA – and NEXT WEEK, FACP has an anonymous and confidential online survey for those with RA who are on medication. If you complete the survey, FACP will donate $25 to IAAM!
Unfortunately I can’t participate as it’s for US patients only – but I know a lot of my readers are in the US, so please do take the time to fill this survey in if you possibly can. It’s for a worthy cause!
If you’d like to participate, or see if you qualify, please email firstname.lastname@example.org AND WRITE: FACP RA Survey/IAAM IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Don’t forget to add IAAM in that email so that they get the funding!
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:
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?
Tags: arthritis, consultant, diagnosis, doctor, GP, hospital, joint pain, R.A., RA, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatology, stress, weather, work
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.
Tags: aches, arthritis, cold, flare, flare-up, joint pain, knee, knee cosy, pain, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology, stiffness, stress, warm, weather
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!
Tags: aches, arthritis, R.A., recipe, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), stiffness, weather, work
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!)