Great Blogs I have Read this Week

September 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 6 Comments

It’s the final day of the 3rd Annual RA Blog Week – thank you Rick for getting me posting again – I wish you had time to do this monthly throughout the year so that I’d get blogging more! Today the prompt is to discuss great blogs I’ve read this week.

I have read a LOT of great blogs this week, some from old friends like Cathy and Rick, some from people I hadn’t come across before and some from new bloggers. Way, waaaay too many to mention but here are a few that stood out for me.

On mental health day, Cathy posted a lovely, thought provoking and positive blog. It was also great to read Steph’s blog from The Young Face of Arthritis – especially ‘Don’t. So true. (What am I on about? Go read it!) Some people are going through hell at the moment and still have found the strength to comment on mental health. The one that stood out here for me is from Unexpected Advocate – the says ‘Answers? Hell no!’ But then she gives a pretty good answer at the end I reckon: “I only have one life to live. I will not miss it because I am bitter or angry.” Go girl!

Then we had tips and tricks – I’m sure there are loads and loads of fine ones out there, but I haven’t had time to read them all yet, except for Leigh’s. Unlike any of my posts ever, this is short, sharp and to the point – taking in the big picture very nicely.

Then we had Partners. Many, many of us are so darned lucky with our partners, most certainly including me! Leigh, aka Phat50Chick, is one of those, and Cathy and Rick again, and also Lori, the Chicken Whisperer! And then, something completely different! Lene’s best friend is … her body! A fascinating, super-positive read!

And finally … hobbies. It’s sad to hear how many people find their hobbies harder, such as Leigh, who’s had a really rough time of it this year. But she’ll persevere, I’m sure, as have PsA Mermaid with her beading, and Aimee over on Capture, Craft, Cook, who sounds a bit like me (a little over-hobbied but loving it).  I also enjoyed Rick’s very entertaining post on inheriting his father’s collecting bug!

I’ve read so many along the way but failed to make notes or be in any way organised, so those who I haven’t mentioned – you still wrote great blogs!! Thanks to everyone who participated in RA blog week and special thanks to Rick for organising it. I’ve had a blast and hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.

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Hobbies

September 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Posted in arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, crafting, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 8 Comments
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Heavens to Murgatroyd, the woman with more hobbies than days of the year nearly forgot to write a third annual blog week post with the prompt hobbies!

Well, where do I start? I’ve done ‘crafty stuff’ since I was a tot, especially needlework. I can remember learning to sew a simple picture in pale green cotton on a slightly darker green background (fabric that I think was part of the ‘Daisy suit’ I had when I was four … and I can’t have been much more than four when I was sewing that picture). I haven’t stopped since really. On top of that I love to crochet, I do botanical painting/drawing, I’ve recently started making felt (and even taught a class on it recently … don’t ask, just don’t ask … I think I have to do that about once every ten years to remind myself that it is NOT my vocation!), I read a lot and I’m learning Spanish. I love to go for walks in the country, I’m very interested in entomology and especially plant galls, but natural history in general and … I write a blog … about once a year for Annual RA Blog Week!!

I’d say all my hints and tips from hints and tips day earlier in the week also apply to ‘managing’ ones hobbies, and I have to say when it comes to pacing yourself I kinda fail … well, with this many hobbies how the heck am I supposed to pace myself? I mean really … BUT I do try (with some gentle nagging from hubby) to stop doing whatever crafty thing (or painting thing or Spanish thing or natural history thing) is occupying my brain by about 9 pm each evening so that I have an hour to wind down before I go to sleep; and I do try really hard to pace myself at least by saying if I’m, for instance, going on a felting workshop one weekend, I won’t do a painting workshop the weekend before or after. (Epic fail on that this last month, but never mind – I had a ball on both weekend workshops!)

RA has slowed down or almost stopped some of my hobbies – crochet is the biggest problem. Just last year I worked on, and completed, a big project crocheting a waistcoat (vest to those across the pond) which went brilliantly, but this year I’m finding my hands just won’t put up with hours at a time of crochet, so I’ve been concentrating more on other things – hey, no shortage of those … especially as I also work full time! The other one is going for walks – I still do, and I still love it, but walks have to be either carefully planned (so that I know I can stop and sit) or just short! On the whole they’re short! Luckily we have three beautiful nature reserves close to where we live so we have a good choice of walks – even though one of the reserves is the size of a postage stamp. Some of the hand sewing I really enjoy has slowed a bit too – I certainly do less of everything than I used to … maybe fatigue … maybe just age!

I love all of my hobbies and I’m very grateful that I haven’t had to give any of them up altogether. Having hobbies keeps me (relatively) sane and takes my mind off both work and health problems. In fact painting (when it’s going well) is like a good meditation – I just forget about the world and focus on the painting and can get lost in it for an hour or two and wonder where the time has gone. I find all my hobbies relaxing (unless I’m trying to teach them) and fun, and I think having fun and relaxation in life is vital to keeping things balanced and happy. I’ll never be a master of anything because I’m too busy having fun being a Jack of all trades, but that’s just fine by me.

 

A panegyric to my partner

September 27, 2017 at 9:05 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 10 Comments

Today’s annual blog week prompt is partners – where would we be without them?

I am incredibly lucky in having my hubby to support me, which he does in a million different ways, from doing the vast majority of the housework all of the time, to fetching and carrying when I’m having a flare, to just being cool about it when all I want to do is flop about like a damp squid and maybe read a book. He’s also handy in the kitchen and although I usually cook (if you can grace it with the name cooking!), if I’m not well he’s perfectly capable of diving in there and rustling something up for both of us, which is something he often does at the weekend anyway. He’s also happy for me to go bombing off doing my own thing – for instance in the last month or so I’ve been away for a painting weekend, a felting weekend and to visit a friend in Wales, leaving him at home to mind the cat!

Things aren’t always perfect – once in a blue moon we bicker or he makes some little comment that I, in a state of fatigue and flare, take the wrong way and have a good sulk about, but the important thing is that if something like that does happen we can always talk through it – maybe not right then but certainly within a day or two. There was once a comment, right in the middle of a flare, on the lines of he was sick of hearing about how I wasn’t feeling good – just once mind, in over ten years of marriage – and yes, I found that hurtful, but then I took a good look at myself and thought, ‘By heck – I have been whinging a lot lately, and it’s not like he doesn’t know how I’m feeling, and he’s exhausted himself over the last few days running around looking after me… which is why he’s being a miserable git!’ Now, I’m not saying that stopped me sulking or feeling miffed … but at least I was able to see it from his point of view too.

Of course it’s hard having a chronic disease but it’s also hard being the partner of someone with a chronic disease – it’s not what either of us expected when we first got together, but like everything else in life, you’ve just got deal with the lemons life throws at you and try to make lemonade. (By the way, life, if you fancy a change, throw me some elder flowers instead; I quite fancy trying to make elder flower cordial!)

I’m not a terrible wife  – I do do ‘stuff’ around the house and support hubby in his hubby hobbies (such as learning calculus, strangely enough), although it might not sound like it from the above, and I do work longer hours, but he does more ‘stuff’ for sure! There’s no doubt about it, I’m incredibly lucky in my helpful, laid back, thoughtful, supportive and, importantly, cuddly hubby!

 

Tips and Tricks for managing RA

September 26, 2017 at 11:59 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments

Today is Day 2 of RA Blog week – all about tips and tricks for managing the physical difficulties of RA. I’m going to refer back to a previous post for this one because a) everything in there is still relevant to me now and b) I’m a tad short of time after an exhausting day yesterday failing to obey rule two of my tips! Here is the link to my previous post about tips and tricks for coping with RA.  It actually covers a bit of how to cope mentally as well, but as I said in yesterday’s post, the two are inextricably linked for me! I look forward to reading everyone else’s tips and tricks and seeing what I can pick up from the wonderful RA blogging community!

Mental stability and RA

September 25, 2017 at 8:19 am | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 5 Comments
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Good heavens – it’s RA Blog week again!

It seems like only yesterday that Rick at RA Diabetes Blog was organising the last RA blog week … I’m not sure where this last year’s gone!

Today’s prompt for RA Blog Week is mental health – well, the reason I started this blog in the first place was partly to keep me sane … but then again, the reason I’ve hardly posted the last few years is the fact I haven’t had major RA problems and I therefore haven’t had the commensurate mental health issues. However, I do believe they are, for me, commensurate and correlated.

I have mentioned before that if the RA is bad then I can’t sleep, and how important sleep is for me. I think this short post about dreaming and sleeping sums up just how important sleep is for my mental health – and if the RA is bad, then the pain keeps me awake and a downward spiral ensues. I remember once when I had a very bad flare, even though I’d experienced equally bad flares before and come through them, I got very, very down with this one and convinced that I was never going to walk normally again, if at all. WRONG, thankfully – unless I’m in a flare I walk without aids all the time – I’m very lucky that my RA is mild and well-controlled. However, with that flare I was getting hardly any sleep, and when I did sleep I was probably dreaming (knowing me) about life in a wheelchair … although at least in my wheelchair dreams my wheelchair is often a flying one so not so bad … but I digress; the point is that’s an example of how the RA, lack of sleep, feeling low cycle can just spiral down and down.

So … how do I stop that happening? Well, there are two main areas to deal with and these are dealing with the RA flare itself and sleeping better. Since there is a Tips and Tricks post coming up later in RA blog week, in which I plan to talk about pain management, I’ll talk a bit about sleeping better here.

I’ve never ever been a good sleeper. As a young teenager I used to love listening to the radio between midnight and 2 am … because even though I was supposed to be asleep I was mostly awake anyway, so why not? I’ve always been one for very vivid and usually completely bonkers dreams, which quite often are not pleasant. I also move around a lot in my sleep, talk a lot, shout quite a bit and am generally not a pleasant person to be with … or to be! But just recently, helped by watching some lectures on sleep physiology and also on chronic pain (even though I don’t have chronic pain, thank goodness) and mostly helped by Hubby deciding he was going to buy some fancy Bluetooth lighting, I’ve found two strategies that really help me sleep.

The first is very simple – blackout curtains! My, what a difference. I was always waking up at 4am or thereabouts in the summer and the light would be streaming in through the not-so-thick curtains and I’d think ‘Gosh, I’m wide awake’ and then I’d be lying there trying to get back to sleep and not managing very well for often an hour or two. Now, having gone through the painful process of making myself some blackout curtains (I HATE MAKING CURTAINS), I no longer have this problem.

The second is the Bluetooth lighting system that hubby got, which at first I thought was sheer indulgence – you can control the lights from your i-Pad? Big, fat, hairy deal (although I did have to admit it was rather fun) – you can also get up and flick a switch, and that’s slightly less lazy… ! But I was wrong, and here’s why.

  1. You can control the ‘colour temperature’ of the lighting, and one of the sleep lectures mentioned that warmer, more orange lighting was more conducive to getting to sleep while cooler, more blue lighting was energizing and waking.
  2. I can now set the light in my bedroom to gradually dim from normal brightness to ‘nightlight’ over about half an hour.

So half an hour before I think I should be trying to sleep, I turn my warm light onto the gradual dimming program and by ‘lights-out time’ the light is very nearly out ,and so am I. Honestly, I feel soooo sleepy at that point most nights and I’m … well, out like a light. This really was never the case before – normal for me would be falling asleep half an hour to an hour after the lights went out.

As I said before, good sleep and mental health are inextricably linked for me, so this is a massive help. I am also finding that with better sleep (and other things like Pilates, and consciousness about the position/posture I’m in etc.) I’m physically healthier too, so it’s a win-win … kind of an upward spiral I hope, rather than the downward one I mentioned earlier.

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