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Archive for the ‘Overcome’ Category

A member of our local RA Support Group, and friend to all of us in the group, died last week – of complications of Rheumatoid Disease. Just like Glenn Frey did a few months ago.

She repeatedly had bronchitis through the winter, then, just as spring was in full bloom, she developed bronchitis again, but this time antibiotics didn’t help. She was hospitalized, then developed pneumonia. Two weeks later, she died.

Some would say it was complications of her medications – all those immune suppressants she was on – that were the cause of her death. But those of us who fight the same fight know: it was Rheumatoid Disease that was the cause.

Our immune systems are broken. Our immune systems have gone bezerk and are attacking our own tissues. Although the joint tissues are the most noticeable, Rheumatoid Disease affects the heart, lungs, eyes, ears, and kidneys, not to mention arteries and veins. It gives the patient overwhelming fatigue and brain fog. In fact, Airways Abnormalities May Represent Preclinical Rheumatoid Arthritis! This was an astounding piece of information to me when I first read it. Rheumatoid Disease may very well start in the lungs! [RAWarrior.com: Preclinical Rheumatoid Disease – There Are No Joints In The Lungs]

According to a recent study at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “RA is associated with a 40 percent increased risk of death.” [RAWarrior.com: Rheumatoid Arthritis Mortality] My own mother died of complications of Rheumatoid Disease (Arthritis) after fighting the illness for 15 years. She was only 59 when she died. Her grandchildren hardly got to know her at all. She was 15 years post diagnosis.

My friend had had RD for many years, and had the deep love of her only child – a daughter, who is totally devastated. I, too, was my mother’s only child, and was devastated by her death. Due to modern treatments, I have lived longer than I expected to. But the complications of the medications and treatments are taking a serious toll. Even though they are slowing the course of the disease, they are quite capable of killing me. So I see my Rheumatologist regularly, and inbetween times I see my Primary Care doctor. Then as joints give out, I have orthopedic surgeries – two so far and a third looms on the horizon.

We MUST find a cure for this disease! It robs us of function, family, friends. It ravages children, adolescents, mothers and fathers and grandparents. It is a leading cause of disability and loss of employment – not just in the USA, but across the world.

Rest in peace, my friend. You are no longer in pain. You are no longer crippled. You are free of this VILE disease that robbed us of you. God bless you and make your Memory Eternal.

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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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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.

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I have to say, I’m very grateful to The Wright Stuff for allowing me to showcase some of their products that I find very useful. This one, the Leg Loop Leg Lifter, is one I’m very interested in because my knees and hips are getting really painful and stiff. They are making some crackly sounds, too. I’m having some problems getting in and out of the car from time to time, too, so I definitely think one of these is in my future.

I prefer this one to the others I have looked at because it doesn’t require hand strength. I can slip my foot into the foot loop, and slide my arm into the inaccurately named hand loop. So I will save my hand joints and use my larger joints to help lift my leg into the car. That’s where I most need it. But if you have problems with lifting your legs onto a wheel chair foot rest, or lifting your legs into bed, this device will shortly become your best friend! It’s a great idea for those with hip replacement or knee replacement, or for that waiting period before you can have the surgery.

The manufacturer has made the middle of this device rigid – almost like a pole. This gives a bit more control than just a strap.

Leg Loop Leg Lifter

Leg Loop Leg Lifter

Although the picture shows the model using his hand on the rigid portion, that is not necessary. It can be used simply by resting the hand loop on your forearm. You can also brace the loop arm with your other forearm to get a double-arm effect.

Another one, the Triple Loop Quad Leg Lifter may be appropriate, too. It does not have the rigid mid-portion of the Leg Loop Leg Lifter which is the aspect I, personally, find more appealing.

Triple Loop Quad Leg Lifter

Triple Loop Quad Leg Lifter

The Triple Loop Quad Leg Lifter is designed for quadriplegics, and has three loops so one can choose the loop or loops most helpful for you. Although designed for quadriplegics, it can be very helpful for those of us who simply have weak legs and hands.

The Wright Stuff has a number of other styles of leg lifters. If these two don’t look like they will work for you, perhaps one of the other styles will.

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I remember seeing pictures of people with fingerless gloves when I was a child. My impression then was that these were poor people who didn’t have the money to buy “real” gloves that weren’t worn out.

Well, things are different now. I’m more grown-up (ya’ think?) and I frequently wear fingerless gloves. They allow me to keep my hands, and at least the bottoms of my fingers, warm. This is important for those of  us with rheumatoid arthritis – keeping joints warm reduces pain and stiffness while increasing the ability of the joint to move and be used with much less pain.

We keep our home fairly cool, because my husband overheats very easily. As we both say, it’s easier to put stuff on than take stuff off. So I use fingerless gloves frequently – mainly in the winter, but frequently in the summer when the AC is on.

I ordered mine from Amazon. They have many different styles and colors during the fall and early winter – this is the best time to buy. They are not overly expensive, and if you need other items from Amazon, group them so that you will have no shipping. This is cool!

Fingerless gloves

Fingerless gloves in my favorite color.

They make typing a lot more comfortable. When I’m not typing, or using my fingers, I frequently pull the finger-stubs of my fingerless gloves up to cover all of my fingers. You may notice that these are getting frayed from being used a lot! It’s about time for a new pair. I like this style, so I will stick to it. I may get the Rainbow or Fuchsia ones. I like happy colors around me to make me smile and feel good. And THAT’s good for my arthritis, too!

Fingerless gloves in my favorite color.

Mine are long so my wrists and lower forearms are kept warm, too. You may want shorter ones like THESE or THESE.

OR, you can simply search the web from Google using the search term: fingerless gloves. You will get hundreds of thousands “hits.” All colors and lengths. There are also patterns for knitting your own – if you or someone you know knits.

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Those of us who develop a handicap or disability often find ourselves unable to function in the non-handicapped world. Tools, kitchen utensils, even toothbrushes seem to defy our ability to use them. Perhaps others in our families just don’t understand why we can’t continue to function as usual.

My handicap is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I am blessed to have a mild-to-moderate case at this point. I am careful to add the “at this point” because I never know from day to day how I will be the next day. I could suddenly find myself completely unable to walk, to use my hands, to raise my arms. And so it goes. There is the pain factor – not to be sneezed at – and the fatigue factor – another misery, as if the RA patient didn’t have enough to worry about.

My motto is a saying that my ex-Marine husband uses a lot: “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” I need to Improvise and Adapt in order to Overcome the disabling effects of my RA.

So this blog (which supersedes “Ancient Reptile”) will detail the various things that can be used to Overcome disabilities. There will be a new post about twice a week, sometimes more often, and frequently accompanied by photos to show how something works in the “real” world of one handicapped / disabled woman.

There will be, I hope, some guest posters, who will share their accommodations to their disabilities. In addition, I hope you, the readers, will contribute comments that will include suggestions for items to use or ways to do things. If you have suggestions for how this blog should be arranged and organized, I’m all eyes (and ears)!

It will be several days before the next post, but, in the meantime, I hope you will subscribe via RSS or e-mail.

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