Archive for ‘A Rheumful of Tips’

April 28, 2020

Budget Tip – Bidet to Save on that Precious Commodity

By now, the toilet paper hoarding is old news. However, for the sake of using less to save more, I have a budget suggestion so you can save on that precious commodity. Install a bidet!

Prior to my hemorrhoidectomy in the fall, I decided that it would be an easier and more gentle way to let water do the cleaning. (Yes, I am somewhat embarrassed to even say that I had that surgery, which is why I haven’t yet blogged about it.)

I ordered the Luxe Bidet Neo 185 from Amazon, which is a non-electrical self-cleaning model that attaches to the cold water supply valve. But don’t worry about literally freezing your butt off – you won’t need to operate the bidet for that long a period of time to get the job done.

There are now a number of different types that are easy to install with a little know-how and good hands. If I were a little more agile and had better hand mobility, even I could install it. “It’s just that easy!” as Shel Busey, a local home improvement radio and television personality used to say.

This particular model has a male and female spray, although either works fine; it depends how you perch on your throne. There is also a self-cleaning function.

A word of caution: when I was showing a friend the features, I almost soaked her. You need to be seated in order to prevent a fountain of water from spraying across the room.

As far as the toilet paper budget goes; it is a savings. I’ve noticed I’m using far less toilet paper and that’s money that you won’t be flushing down the toilet!

April 13, 2020

#580 Budget Tips in the Time of COVID-19

Image by Pixabay.

Not only has Covid-19 presented us with a new vocabulary (social distancing, covidiot, self-isolation, etc.), it has also strained the budgets of governments, businesses and individuals. Many people have to make their dollars stretch further in this unprecedented time. Howver, for this is not a new concept for those who live with a chronic illness.

Life with a chronic illness is not cheap, even with healthcare coverage. Inability to work, or reduced working hours; healthcare premiums; medications; user fees for occupational therapy, physio-therapy; support services such as massage therapy, acupuncture, therapy, etc.; assitive devices; orthotics…the list goes on.

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), for 43 years, so I understand the budget wrestling that a chronic illness requires. Not only does rheumatoid arthritis impact your physical health, but it can have a huge impact on your financial health, as well.

Just as stretching is good for you, it is also good for your budget. I look for small (and sometimes big) ways to save. In this short series, I’ll share some budget tips that can help you do more with less and to make the things you do have go further. When you implement this practice, you’ll find that there’s an environmental benefit, as well.

The 3 Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle); the slogan that encourages environmental sustainability, can also enhance the health of your budget. Two for the price of one – see, you’re already ahead!

If you’re struggling during Covid-19, you may like to adapt or adopt some of the things I’m doing to stay emotionally well, which in turns helps to keep you mentally, physically and spiritually well: COVID-19 Stress Strategies.

January 1, 2020

Your 2020 “Givens”

Annie Spratt

Happy New Year! 2020 – a round year to round out your list of “givens.” 

In order to manage my disease, I’ve developed a list of “givens,” – the things that allow me to live “companionably” with RA. This list has evolved over the years to include more self-care. I have also given myself time to incorporate it into my lifestyle. Suffice to say that I was not quite ready for some habits. Or perhaps the habits weren’t ready for me!

Here are some examples of the things on my list of givens:

  • Getting some form of exercise/movement each day. This could be as simple as putting on some tunes and dancing around the living room, going for a swim, doing Essentrics or venturing out for a walk. Cleaning also counts.
  • Choosing foods that are nutritionally sound, even if I slip up with some of those things on my “naughty, but nice list.” Ice-cream, chocolate….
  • Listening to my body and learning its language.
  • Making sure I get enough rest and sleep.
  • Transforming my stress.
  • With stress transformation, comes the realization that sometimes life, and RA, can get in the way of bowing down to my givens. If that’s the case, I pick up the list the next hour or the next day. The important thing is that I get back to it as soon as possible.

Driving in a New Direction in 2020

A new year and a new decade may just the catalyst you need to expand your list of givens that will drive you in a new direction. If your resolution list is as lengthy as your “Dear Santa List” once was, you may wish to pare it down to make it more manageable. You want to be successful at each step along the way.

Start small. Another option is to do this Start, Stop, Continue exercise that is reflective of where you’ve been, whether you wish to stay there and what needs fixing/adding/augmenting. 

For me, it is a better “vehicle” than that (often broken down) resolution list. This is the destination for 2020: New Year Renewal

What things are on your “given” list for 2020?


December 9, 2019

Essentrics Are Essential, Especially with RA

It started with a trip to the library. While perusing the DVDs I came across the Essentrics Pain-Relief Workouts : Standing, Floor and Barre Workouts. I loved how at ease I felt while doing the exercises. The best part was that I felt much more limber after doing a workout almost-first-thing in the morning. (By the way, you do not need a barre – a chair serves as your barre.)

What I love about these exercises is that they are gentle. Miranda Esmonde-White, who retired from the National Ballet Company of Canada, knows her stuff. If her routines are good enough for the Montreal Canadiens and Cirque de Soleil, they are good enough for me! (No, you don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit or to take part.)

In the beginner DVDs, Miranda cautions you to respect your body. If it hurts, don’t push into the pain. Instead, go back to the point where you don’t feel pain, thereby allowing your brain to send the message to your body that it is safe to move to that point. Do what you can, while respecting your limitations, which will more than likely change for the better over time. You’re encouraged to relax while you do lazy, circular movements, reminiscent of T’ai Chi, that help to lengthen and strengthen your muscles.

As a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, you know that range of motion exercises are vital, especially if you wish to maintain the mobility that you do have. Your often-neglected hands and feet aren’t forgotten in Essentrics. A full-body workout in 20 to 30 minutes. Isn’t that worthy of your time? As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

I have also checked out Classical Stretch – Age Reversing Workouts for Beginners – Mobility and Bone Strengthening, Aging Backwards – Connective Tissue Workouts, Essentrics – The Ultimate Stretch Workouts, Essentrics – Strength and Stretch in Motion, Essentrics – Toning for Beginners – Standing, Floor and Barre, Essentrics – Full Body Toning – Standing and Floor, Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 1 and Essentrics Body Sculpting Series – Volume 2. (I found the latter two DVDs, which are led by Sahra, Miranda’s daughter, more challenging to do in the morning. They were much easier to do in the afternoon.)

The library also had Aging Backwards – 10 Years Younger, 10 Years Lighter, 30 Minutes a Day. This book is a wonderful “User’s Manual,” that introduces you to your muscles, ligaments and joints. You’ll learn about the difference in strengthening your muscles concentrically (by shortening them as in weight-lifting), and essentrically, (strengthening by lengthening, as in Essentrics). Aging myths, fitness and disease prevention, injury recovery and exercises are also included in the book.


Apart from the cost of the DVDs, which I’d class as $$, you don’t need expensive gear. Maybe an exercise mat if you have hardwood floors, a sturdy chair and an exercise band. For the exercise band you can use a towel, or braid your old pantyhose if you’d prefer something stretchy. (I remember doing that in the 80s when I did those Jane Fonda exercise videos. Do you remember VCR tapes?)

My feet tend to slip on the carpet, so I put socks on that have a rubberized non-slip sole:

Do Better When You Know Better

In my 20s and 30s, I taught fitness classes. If only I knew then what I know now, bolstered with the information I gleaned from Miranda. It is what it is, so by applying the principles I’ve learned from Miranda in her Essentrics program, I can do better in order to live better.

Perhaps if I were 10-15 years younger, I’d consider beoming an instructor. Similar to my Auntie Stress hat, I suspect that I would become my own best client. That’s how much I believe in the Essentrics system.

The movements I’ve learned and practiced in the livingroom accompany me as I go about my day. I am more mindful of how I walk and stand (something that is covered in the How To section of Classical Stretch Posture and Pain Relief DVD). I have even incorporated some of the movements into my pool exercises.

No, I am not being compensated for this review! Darn! 😉 I’m sharing this information with you so that you can take back the reins of your life and giddy-on-up to feeling and doing better!


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