Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
I undress from my nightgown and shower while waiting for the morning medications to start working. I like my shower particularly warm as it seems to help my joints loosen up. Shampooing my hair is sometimes difficult with my hands and I have adapted the use of a scrub brush for my hair. I must be very careful entering and leaving the shower because the instability of my legs puts me at risk of falling. I dry off with a towel in front of a space heater fan.
As you can see, for me, it is not a matter of jumping out of bed, quickly fixing lunches for my children, and a quick shower. It is more of a calculated process, using tools I've found that help me adapt and accomplish simple tasks.
Dressing, carpooling, and exercising
Getting dressed is "challenging." I tend to use clothing that does not require much buttoning. It is very difficult for my fingers to work a button. Many of my shirts are pullover or have Velcro attachments. I do have a button hooker that I use when buttoning is needed. My bra can be fastened in front and reversed or I ask my husband to fasten it for me. Most of my pants have elastic waistbands and do not require buttoning or zipping. My shoes are especially wide and most often during the day I wear running shoes for comfort. My job is taking care of my household, so I can basically dress for comfort and don't have to dress for fashion!
I am in a carpool for the children's school, and today is my driving day. Getting into and out of the car is slow, and I always appreciate it when one of the kids opens the door for me. I have a special key enlarger attachment for my car and house keys, which makes it easier to turn the key. Operating the vehicle is doable but often causes joint aching in my wrists.
At home, I like to exercise every day. I start with a variety of stretching exercises to loosen up. I then usually either ride a stationary bike or go on a walk. Once a week, I use our neighborhood pool to swim. Exercise makes me feel good and seems to give me a sense of control over my body.
Like any family, our household chores are endless. I make good use of attachments to the vacuum that help me get to places that are hard to reach. Our door handles are lever-style instead of knobs, so that it is easier for me to turn them. I only rarely do any ironing and have the luxury of knowing the dry cleaner by name. The children are pretty good about tidying up their rooms.
The challenges cooking evening meals, bedtime routines, and sex?
For cooking on the stove, I use special grippers to manage the handles of pots and pans. We have an electric can opener that is kind to my weak fingers. We are having salmon tonight that my husband will cook on the grill. My doctor says that the fish oil in salmon can actually reduce some of the inflammation in my joints. I take my evening medications with my dinner.
Everyone pitches in with the dishes and we have a
After dinner, the kids do homework. My husband or I are frequently called upon to assist with this or that. Afterward, we watch some television for an hour and decide it's time to pack it in. The kids are tucked into bed with a kiss.
Undressing can be as equally challenging as dressing. My husband frequently assists me with the undressing, whereas he somehow isn't always available in the morning. When my joints are not too actively inflamed, I am able to have sexual intercourse with pleasure. Tonight was one of those nights. As a result, dressing for bed tonight was accomplished with an aerobic high.
Final preparations for bed involves plugging in the electric toothbrush again and flossing. I lubricate my eyes with artificial tears just before going to bed. I have had a full day and am quite tired. My wrists are a bit sore tonight, perhaps from all of the vacuuming and/or driving or perhaps from bad luck. I strap on my wrist splints and after a few chapters of my novel, I call it a night.
Good night and thanks for listening.
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2012