For all of you who have known and loved (or hated) me, you know that when I received my first Mobility Assistance Dog (Emmy) from PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services) it was a life-changing event! I was able to walk farther, walk up and down the steep driveway to get mail, and go to my clients’ offices.


Emmy Retrieves My Cane

Emmy Retrieves My Cane

















When Emmy retired because of medical reasons, I was devastated. PAALS came up with a solution, and I now have Warrior! We’ve been partners for a little over a year, and despite my shoulder surgery in April, and the long recovery involved, we are doing well together.

Warrior Doing Laundry for Me

Warrior Doing Laundry for Me

Warrior Getting Shirt Out of Washer

Warrior Getting Shirt Out of Washer

Warrior With Shirt to be Put In Dryer

Warrior With Shirt to be Put In Dryer









The emergency is this: PAALS is in BIG TROUBLE!! For 9 years, this little 501(c)(3) organization has worked like an ant colony not only to provide quality-trained dogs for people like me (mobility needs), for children with autism, and for facilities (like PT clinics), but more and more for Veterans with PTSD. The Veterans who can go through the PAALS program and receive their dogs are able to “function far better in society, staying calm and being able to go out in the community and lead a relatively normal life.” The staff and volunteers have, at the same time, been working extremely hard to scrape the money together to get their own building and facility for housing and training the dogs.

In May, 2015, they finally were able to purchase a building with an adequately sized, fenced-in area. With weeks and weeks of hard work by volunteers and staff, they were able to renovate the building to meet the specialized needs of their dogs, staff and clients. They moved their operations into the new building in early August. There was much optimism and cheering!

BUT, almost immediately, DISASTER STRUCK!! They suffered from a sewage backup from down the street, that left 2 inches of raw sewage in the entire building! Fortunately, the dogs were gone for the weekend, so none of them were harmed, but the staff came in to an absolute catastrophe on Monday morning. Unfortunately, the sewage had probably been in place for more than 24 hours, which is extremely harmful.

The sewer company, East Richland County Public Service District, found that the blockage was in the main line. They sent a company to clean it up, however, there have been insurance issues, so the company only got rid of the sewage and treated the floors with a cleansing agent. Since the raw sewage had been sitting and the cleanup went slowly, PAALS now has a problem with mold, so the cleanup and repair work is going to be extensive. PAALS has been told several times that no insurance is going to cover it, except a $5000 allotment from the state. The estimate to clean up and repair the building (remove and replace the drywall and flooring and thoroughly clean the studs) is over $130,000. They just don’t have this kind of money – They had spent most of their money buying and renovating the building.

They are now stuck with an unusable building that can’t be sold and is very expensive to make usable. I don’t want this catastrophe to cause the end of PAALS!!

What can be done? Even if Himself and I lived in South Carolina, we would not be able to volunteer or do anything to help. We have limited funds ourselves, being retired and on Social Security, and being “aged and decrepit,” are not be able to do any of the manual labor. Thus, we are trying to help them to our ability with fundraising. So far, in 1 day, 75 people have raised $5000! This is mainly in $25 and $50 increments, with a few larger donations.

Just donations of $5 or $10 will help. More, if possible, of course, but ANYTHING you can give is important and gladly, gratefully accepted by PAALS. You can donate directly to PAALS by going to their website HERE or by going to their GOFUNDME page.

You can also help PAALS by spreading the news to your friends and relations. I know that every organization in the world is asking for money. And many are very worthy causes – perhaps a cause you have supported for years. But PAALS has done so much good already, it would just about destroy all the people on the waiting list if they could not get their dogs! And the staff and volunteers who have put their time, energy, money and blood into building this little organization would simply be devastated. Those of us who already have PAALS dogs would be left trying to continue without the support of the PAALS organization.

Please “Help PAALS Get Back On Their Paws!

Thank you so VERY MUCH!

These items are not all necessary. Only you know your needs, so I have provided as inclusive a list as I can think of. More items may be added in the future, and I am open to suggestions from you, my dear handicapped, differently abled, or disabled brothers and sisters (pick your preferred appellation).

Most products link to an Amazon location. I do have an Amazon Affiliate account. A few cents from each purchase come to me, but do not add to your price. If you object to that, then go to Amazon and search using the search term listed here.

Multi Purpose Soft Grip Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears

Non-Adhesive Non-Slip Shelf and Drawer Liner, use to hold cutting board in place as well as opening jars and bottles by hand (NB: available in most grocery stores in the shelf liner shelves – usually less expensive than Amazon, but always check it out.)

Stand Mixer:
If you anticipate using a stand mixer a LOT for heavy stuff (I can make bread dough myself!) then I recommend the
Kitchen Aid – always look for a sale!
IF you only use a stand mixer occasionally, I’d go with a cheaper model, like the
Hamilton Beach 63325 6-Speed Stand Mixer

Emulsion hand mixer

Electric jar/Electric can opener

Books to rest your elbow for stability while cutting

All Star Bamboo Cutting Board – Thick Sturdy Medium Sized – A larger, heavier board doesn’t move around as you cut on it, but if it is too heavy, and you don’t have much counter space, you may not be able to move it from here to there. If you prefer, a light-weight plastic cutting board can be used for most light and medium cutting. This set of 3 will fill most needs. The set description says it is non-slip. If you are using a plastic cutting board that does slip, this is where the non-adhesive, non-slip shelf liner cut to just about 1/2″ smaller on each side, will really help!

Long Micro plane , for zesting with stability

Electric vegetable peeler or an OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler

Egg Slicer

Kitchen timer with large display and buttons, making it easier to read and set

Mini Food Processor or coffee grinder for chopping small amounts

Food processor

Electric Knife

Rocker knife

Plastic measuring cups – I recommend you get these at your local “large” grocery store. They are cheaper and more easily replaced. The ones with soft handle coverings I can use even on “hurting hands” days.

Plastic colander I do encourage people to investigate the OXO Good Grips products. While they are a bit more expensive than other brands, they were originally developed (if I recall correctly) by a man whose wife had RA. They certainly are easier to use than most other products.

Slow cooker – The Rival slow cookers have done best for us. Currently we have and use 3 different sizes: 2 cup; 2 quart; and 5 quart. It is so easy to just dump stuff in them in the morning and supper is ready when we are! “Zillions” of slow cooker (crock pot) recipes are available on the web for free, so I wouldn’t bother getting a slow cooker recipe book unless you are a cookbook collector.

Counter top fryer – now this is a NECESSITY! This is the one we have, and we use it all.the.time!

Barbeque fork , use this when hands are painful; hold in the bend of your arm, use chin for stability.

Large handled ladles and serving utensils with thick handles for easy gripping

Portable Rolling Wire Shelf Wood Top Kitchen Storage Trolley for moving heavy items, for example, pots of water from sink to stove, serving bowls and platters from kitchen to dining area. This one is a steal! If Himself had not been such a great woodworker when we were redoing the kitchen, I’d have gotten this for us. But Himself built a lovely Birch counter-top table that is perfect for sitting together in the kitchen and having Fondue, or waffles, or Bagna Cauda, or other things that require eating in the kitchen!

Lightweight bamboo steamer for steaming vegetables or fish. When you steam items, you should use parchment paper as a liner. This will make cleanup easy–just rinse the steamer with hot water, and air dry (don’t soak in water for an extended period).

A long pretty piece of material to hook through refrigerator and cabinet doors for easy opening. You can also use a kitchen towel. If cabinets have knobs, wind a slender rope around the base, once or twice, then knot  

Two step Step stool with rubber treads and a back bar to grasp when climbing

Thick handle pizza cutter or pastry wheel for cutting dough

Marble cheese cutter with a wire handle for cutting cheese , found in most kitchen stores

Chair for resting when you need that must needed break .

Hands free telephone, like a Bluetooth for your cell; you know it will ring when your hands are a mess.

Apple corer / slicer for cutting and coring of apples , potatoes, and other vegetables

Mango corer

Pineapple corer – unnecessary; you can get your fresh pineapple cored and skinned at the grocery store. They will also slice it the thickness you prefer if you ask!

Electric juicer

Hanging pot rack or wall hooks to hang the things used most and of course pots – IF you have sufficient wall space, that is. If not, try to store pots, pans and skillets on shelves the right height that you do NOT have to bend over.

Hooks to hang pot holders and dish towels upon

Counter top Spice rack 

Lazy Susans for the inside of cupboards for everything from canned goods to dishes

Whenever possible use Ergonomic, lightweight cooking tools that have thick grips and non-slip handles.

Remember – if you have a suggestion, tip or an assistance hack or device, please let me know in the comments section!

Cheerio, y’all!


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via Ponderisms.

I just uploaded a new blog post to Ancient Reptile. Please do check it out!

Himself, bless his heart, is accompanying me to San Diego so I can speak at a small educational section at the annual American College of Rheumatology (ACR) meeting and educational sessions. Himself will be taking care of me – and I will be taking care of him. Most of our disabilities seem to “complement” each other, so I can help him and he can help me.

We will both be volunteering at the RPF, the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, exhibit. We’ll answer questions about the organization and encourage people to join and become involved in our fight against Rheumatoid Disease (formerly Rheumatoid Arthritis). If YOU haven’t visited the website, please do. And join!

{More information about past meetings of ACR may be found on several posts at RA Warrior: HERE and HERE-2012A and HERE-2012B and HERE-2011A and HERE-2011B and HERE-2011C and HERE-2011D and HERE-2010A and HERE-2010B and HERE-2010C.}

A person with Rheumatoid Disease (PRD) has special things to consider when packing up and going anywhere. Today I started packing – that means I had to separate out the dirty clothes I need to take and to separate out the new clothes that I need to be rinsed out before being worn (or even packed!). Jewelry for each outfit. Shoes – clean? need to visit the shoe guy on Monday? Medications – a dosepak of Medrol is a necessity. I need to see about extra Medrol, and be sure I have enough of my other meds to get me through the trip. All this will take me 3-4 days!

Asking one of the kiddos to pick us up and drive us to the airport at that ungodly hour of 5AM!!

Saturday – take the cat to the Vet for boarding. Call TSA at Airport to give up assistance boarding (we’ll both need wheelchairs to the gate, and wheelchairs to meet us at plane in San Diego. Get to bed VERY EARLY on Saturday – have to be UP by 4AM on Sunday and leave at 5AM to be at airport by 6AM. Plane leaves at 8AM.

Crossing 3 time zones will be difficult east to west, but when we return on Thursday, it will be horrible going from west to east.

All this will leave us totally FLATTENED and we will need a minimum of 3-5 days to recover and recoup.


My Mother’s Keeper

This blog [I am My Mother’s Keeper – A Job I Cherish!] reminds me, somewhat, of my mother’s last few years.

Momma about 1940

Momma about 1940

Momma about 1955

Momma about 1955

Momma (left) in Nursing Home about 1977

Momma (left) in Nursing Home about 1977

It certainly is a cautionary tale for all relatives, friends and caregivers. It can help prepare for what is, all to frequently, the future of their lives. No matter how many siblings or children there are, or how deeply they are (or are not) involved, care-giving usually devolves down to one person or one family group.

With the recent admissions that there really are to be “Death Panels” related to Obamacare, relatives and friends more and more will have to be assuming care-giving to the elderly and chronically ill. This is a step backward from our current system, but actually could be a step forward from the impersonal care currently given. It retreats to the days in which family and friends were closer and more involved with the elderly and chronically ill, but could be a step forward to more hands-and-hearts-on care. Instead of living one’s last days among a group of strangers, one can live at home with loved ones close by. There would seem to be more opportunity for saying all the things that need saying before someone dies.

Yes, there is the problem of “too much burden” on the home care-givers. Smaller families and individuals will be forced to rely on friends, acquaintances, Churches and volunteer groups. Is this bad? The transition to more family care-giving will be UGLY! But the final “product” has the potential to be very good.

“Author and organizational consultant William Bridges developed a model that explains the process of transition. This three stage model focuses on the adjustment that people make when they are going through a transition. Bridges states that “transition starts with an ending and ends with a beginning.” [Bridges’ Transition Theory in imjoeboe blog].

Bridges' Transition Theory

Bridges’ Transition Theory

It’s that “neutral zone” that can be UGLY! Change is always difficult. Aging and chronic illness are difficult – and can be UGLY! Surmounting those difficulties and the ugliness can become something to look back on with pride – after the grief! Grief is something I will deal with in another post.

Helps Getting Dressed

I was researching Multiple Sclerosis after a discussion about it with Himself. Like RA, MS is an autoimmune disease. Unlike RA, it is pretty much confined to the neurological system, but it wreaks havoc there. It inexorably progresses until the patient is pretty much bed-ridden. But I was fascinated to find an article that discussed in specific detail the kinds of daily accommodations people with MS must make. Many of those accommodations are things that would help those of us with RA. So I thought I would discuss these in a series of posts. This first one is about getting dressed, and the things we can do to adapt to decreasing coordination and strength.

  • Get dressed while sitting in a chair that has arm rests. This will help you keep your balance. 
    • Note from Turtlemom: this will also give you a place to rest your arms to reduce fatigue.
  • Roll from side to side to get pants over your hips. You can do this while sitting in a chair or lying down on your bed.
  • Wear clothes that are loose-fitting and have elastic waistbands.
  • Choose wrap-around clothing instead of the pull-over type. Also choose clothing that opens in the front, not the back.
    • Note from Turtlemom: Finding bras that fasten in the front – that actually fit and give support – is very difficult. Especially for those of us who are, shall I say, “over-endowed.” I have gone through one brand and style after another. My search continues…
  • Wear clothing with large, flat buttons or use Velcro closures.
    • Note from Turtlemom: I’m not to the Velcro closure stage, yet. I do have jackets and coats with large buttons – they make a BIG difference!
  • Use a buttonhook to button clothing.
    • Note from Turtlemom: As I mainly wear tee shirts and other over-the-head shirts, this is not a problem, as yet.
  • If you have shoulder weakness, use a dressing stick to get your coat or shirt on and off.
    • Note from Turtlemom: This I may have to invest in during 2012.
  • Use a zipper pull or attach a leather loop on the end of the zipper to zip pants or jackets.
    • Note from Turtlemom: OR, use elastic-waist pants and skirts. I do have a loops either of leather or braided thread or string on the two jackets that have zippers.
  • Use devices such as a sock aid and a long-handled shoehorn for additional assistance.
    • Note from Turtlemom: Now, I do have a Carex Sock Aid that I got through Amazon that I use during flares. I will say that it was especially helpful for about the first 5 weeks after  I had my knee replaced back in September 2011. With me mostly wearing Crocs, I usually don’t need a long-handled shoehorn. Occasionally, though, I wear athletic shoes, and I use elastic shoelaces and my long-handled shoehorn (purchased from my local Red Wing Shoes Store) at those times.

I can do many things myself with just a little assistance from the ingenious devices available from the many suppliers that abound on the internet and through paper catalogs. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Wright Stuff (Daily Living Aids Page)

Allegro Medical (Dressing Aids Page)

Buck and Buck

Disability Products (Dressing Aids Page)

Last, but not least, there is Amazon.com! They have an amazing amount of disability assistance products in their Health & Personal Care section.

I will admit that the clothing leaves a lot to be desired. The women’s clothing is all big flower prints or in “little old lady” colors. But looking at the adaptive methods used, I can get my daughter or one of her “sewing friends” to make one for me. I can go to little craft shops and find things to use to attach to zippers that I can grasp and pull. There are also hooks I can use to attach the pulls.


Hobby Lobby,

and Michael’s

are all good sources, and the people there are friendly and helpful.

One last thing – check the non-disability websites, too. Their products are considerably cheaper, and the products usually don’t look like the disability clothing lines – more stylish, etc. I would only get the more expensive disability clothing if I couldn’t find anything more stylish and, perhaps, less expensive, that could be adapted.

Please let me know of adaptations you use when getting dressed!


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