October 31, 2017

#542 – What to Wear Home From Surgery


The Recovery Room nurses were impressed when my husband slung back the curtain and I emerged in my 3-piece pajama set. “Oh, you’re smart. So many people struggle to get into their street clothes after surgery,” was one of the comments I heard. We had to leave home just after 5 a.m. in order to be at the hospital for 6:30, so with the trauma of surgery and the early morning wake up, I figured that since I was going back to bed, I should make it easy for hubby to help me dress in my one-handed state.

I’ve written about this wonderful 3-piece cotton pajama set before. It’s a must-have if you’re experiencing hot flashes.

Holly seems to like it, too!


October 29, 2017

#541 – Surgery for a Ruptured Thumb Tendon


While clicking Holly’s leash, things got out of hand. I heard a snap, then I was unable to flex my thumb. (It could have been any action that caused the rupture, so poor Holly can’t be blamed for this.) About a decade ago I ruptured a tendon in the last joint of my ring finger and didn’t do anything about it, thinking that it would heal on its own. This time I knew that it was important to get it seen to asap. Within a week, I had surgery.

I learned that I had a vestigial (extra) tendon, or Palmaris Longus muscle, that could be used in my tendon reconstruction surgery. I opted for a nerve block, which took some time to do. By not having a general anaesthetic, I was awake for the surgey. My wonderful surgeons even allowed me to have two peaks at my own inner workings! Then the shields, er curtain, went back up. Yes, I realize that particular view is not for everyone, but I found the whole procedure fascinating. Needless to say, I’d rather not have gone through it, but it needed to be done.

Fortunately, the tendon ruptured in my wrist, so the incision was minimized. My tendon was fraying like some old rope that a mountain climber had no choice but to use. The surgeon removed the offending sharp bit of bone in my carpal tunnel in order to prevent it from fraying my newly repaired tendon.

The afternoon of the surgery, I was thrilled to see that I could once again bend my thumb! I now have some gentle thumb exercises to do every hour. The rest of the time I must wear a (hot) splint to protect the thumb. I plan on getting back into the pool with my splint, once my incision heals, which it almost has done. For the time being, I’ll be letting things slip through my fingers!




September 30, 2017

#540 – #RABlogWeek: Day 5 – Well Said!


Another year, another #RABlogWeek. While I haven’t been able to visit everyone, here are some words that resonated with me.


RADiabetes – Mental Health

Today I am 60 and I am noticing that I may not have 30 years to spend enduring things.  So with the help of Sheryl, therapy and age I have adopted a new mantra.  I do not have time to endure things.  If it is not fun I simply do not do it.  I can endure, but today I do it with a good laugh and sometimes a sigh.  It’s been long enough. I realize not everything is fun, but I look for the fun in everything.”


IPerCyst – 7 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

While having doctors who listened really helped, I had to learn how to really focus on good mental health. Here are some of the ways I learned to practice good mental health.” (Check them out by clicking Nicole’s blog.)


Kat Elton True Health Blog – The Experience of Rheumatoid Arthritis: How Much to Say

It took years, but what I finally came to understand is this: RA is a lonely experience and it is okay to keep most of it to yourself with most of the people in your life, including loved ones. But it is vitally important that you have at least one person who you can share your full experience with.

For most of the people in my life I keep a “need to know” rule. I tell them about my pain if they will be affected by it in some way. Otherwise, I keep it to myself unless they ask me a direct question about it. I am honest when asked a direct question but I always choose my words carefully unless I am with someone who is safe. A safe person for me is someone who listens, and expresses support but doesn’t try to direct me or tell me how I’m feeling. I can tell if a person is safe by how I feel after I talk to them. If I feel worse, I need to scale back my level of openness about my suffering. If I feel better, I know the person is safe to open up to.”


Arthritis Wisdom – My Number One Household Hack

It seems as though it is always something.  For someone who works very hard to make my RA footprint as small as possible in my day-to-day life, it sure is on my mind often, more like always!  If it isn’t planning what’s for dinner keeping anti-inflammatory foods in mind it is assessing my schedule keeping over commitment and stress in mind.  The disease seems like a fulltime job at times!  My household hacks ease this footprint burden.

‘It is not the daily increase but daily decrease.  Hack away at the unessential.’        Bruce Lee.”


The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo – Tips and Tricks

I think it is my stubborn streak (or possibly stupidity) that prevents me from buying any gadgets that are intended to make life with RA easier. It is silly I know, but by refusing to accept them into my life, I somehow feel like I have taken a stand against RA. But, if I am honest, I have learned many tricks to work around my limitations.”


Phat50 Chick with RA – The best tips from those living with RA

Attitude.  I say attitude is everything.  I say Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it.  That’s the greatest lesson I learned from a decade of therapy.  It’s all on me.  I can face each day in misery or I can squeeze joy out of small things – like a beautiful sunset, or a phone call from the right person.  I have really learned to not sweat the small stuff.  I urge others with RA to understand that there is very little we can control, beyond our own reactions to what happens to us.  You can’t control everyone and everything around you, you can only control your response.”


The Old Lady in My Bones – Along for the Ride

I always thought RA was my journey but it became both of ours, and that was okay by him. Sometimes it’s a ride through a dark stormy night with no visibility – other times we hang our heads out the window and swallow the wind. Wherever the road takes us, it’s always an adventure, and I can’t wait to see where we travel next.”


The Dog and Duck – Partners

I argue that I am capable of doing something and he reminds me, sometimes gently, that I am not.  He does not want to see me sick or in pain and does his best to keep it that way. We all know that does not work all the time.”


The Seated View – My Best Friend

That’s when I started listening to my body, to what it had to say. I have memories of moments where I remember opening up and hearing it crying the way I wanted to cry, hearing  it tell me that it was trying, was doing its best and I realized that hating my body, blaming it and accusing it of betrayal meant hating myself. That is when I realized that my body and I are partners in this life, that we support each other, that there is no separation between me and it. We are a whole, a unit and together, we get up every morning and we get through the day. Some days are good and some days are less good, but when I go to bed, I try to remember gratitude towards this, my best friend.”


My Medical Musings – The End or the Start of a New Beginning

It may be the end of life as you know it now but it can be the start of a whole new fulfilling life. That process takes time, even years but don’t lose hope. Keep dreaming & thinking about what you can physically & mentally cope with and eventually you too will reinvent yourself.

The end will be the start of a new beginning!”


Pollyanna Penguin’s RA Blog

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!)”


Capture, Craft, and Cook – Hobbies #Redefining RA

I enjoy finding beauty in our everyday objects. Anything can become a beautiful image with the right lighting and angle. That’s how I like to view my life as well, there may be some ugly bumps and bruises, but look at it from a different angle or perspective, and suddenly it becomes beautiful again.”


Speaking of words, the last word goes to Rick Phillips of the RADiabetes blog. Join me in giving him a standing ovation for not only his hard work, but also for his caring, sharing and great sense of humour. Thank you, Rick!

September 28, 2017

#539 – #RABlogWeek: Day 4 – Hobbies



A hobby is defined as an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure. Most of my hobbies have been active ones. Racquetball, alpine and nordic skiing, cycling, travel, rambling and roaming, camping, wind-surfing and of course, swimming.

When I lived in smaller cities in Ontario and Manitoba, I used to get in the car and see where the road would take me.

Some hobbies were short-lived. I took up knitting and drawing while I recuperated from my surgeries.  Other hobbies morphed into work. In my teens and twenties I life-guarded and taught swimming. An interest in languages led to a B.Ed. and a job spanning 3 provinces teaching FSL (French as a 2nd Language) and ESL (English as a 2nd Language).

As the years progress and I tally more years with RA than without, a number of activities I love have fallen away.

During the last 10 years, or so, you’ll have noticed that I rarely invite you for dinner. If I do, it’s usually a pot-luck. The house has probably not had the white glove treatment, although it’s not terrible-horrible.

I do have some constants that have kept me in shape and entertained me for most of my life  – swimming, walking and reading. Lately, I’ve taken to watching old movies and foreign films. Over the course of the winter, I think we watched every Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Live music is a favourite, too. Being on, in or near water will always feature in my life.

Since being diagnosed, I have always focused on living the best possible life that I can. My disease is a part of me. I cannot change that, so instead I focus on how to live fully alongside it.  I have learned to adapt my hobbies to my abilities and my abilities to my hobbies.

If I spend my time thinking about RA and its manifestations and ramifications, I feel worse. When I cultivate my hobbies and interests I find that it brings about a shift in the wind, which provides a breath of fresh air that prevents me from having a suffocating sense of futility and “Why-me?” Yes, sometimes those winds of change are the gale force of a hurricane and all you can do is hang on until the storm passes. And it does.

Hobbies add breadth and depth to your life. They serve as an invaluable distraction from life with RA. They move you out of yourself into the community and give you something to share with others.

Life changes in living arrangements, friends, family, work and health can bring about changes in hobbies. The friend you used to go to ___________ with may have moved away. Your finances may force you into quitting that expensive, but well-loved activity. Family commitments may mean you no longer have time for __________. Health concerns may mean you can no longer do things like skiing, windsurfing and cycling.

Rather than giving up, you find a new group of friends. Discover a more budget-friendly hobby. See about getting help for your family commitments. When it comes to health, RA in particular, you cast out to see what other hobbies can catch your interest. The possibilities are as vast as the Seven Seas. Make it a good day to go fishing and see which hobbies you can reel in and enjoy.



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