Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)

By way of background, I am a 43-year-old wife and mother of two grade-schoolers and have had severe rheumatoid arthritis now for nearly 10 years. My husband is understanding and supportive. My disease has caused deformity of my hands and feet. My fingers are recognizably gnarled and have bumps, called nodules. My wrists have nearly fused so that I can move them very little. My toes have cocked up and I have calluses under the pads at the bottoms of my feet. My knees are chronically slightly swollen, as are many of the small joints of my knuckles.

Things that most people take for granted, for example sleeping, bathing, brushing one's teeth, getting dressed, making meals, and even driving a car, are extremely challenging for me.

Wake up and get the kids ready for school!

My day begins after what I had hoped would be a fair night's rest. When I sleep, I typically need to shift from side to side in bed because my shoulders become stiff and sore when I stay on one side for over half an hour. After sitting up at the side of the bed, I am careful to stand slowly since my knees, like all of my joints, are particularly stiff in the morning. I slowly make my way to the kitchen and prepare coffee and lunches for my children.

Because my finger dexterity has been impaired with my deformities, I favor the premade snack packs to accompany their sandwiches. I use a knife with an oversized grip handle to spread the jellies and peanut butter on the bread. To open jars, I use a lid gripper pad. I screw the lids back on loosely so that next time they are more easily removed. Fruits are added with no extra preparation necessary from me.

The kids prepare their own breakfast cereals. I eat toast with jelly and have a bowl of cereal. With my breakfast, I take my medications. Each of my bottles has an easy-open lid for patients with arthritis. Because my joint pains were particularly bothersome today, I added acetaminophen (Tylenol). I must place my medications well out of normal reach of the children since many of them contain chemicals that could be harmful to them.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2015