Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fatigue

Saw more logs
Sleep is so important to those of us with an already weak immune system.

It’s no secret that catching major Z’s can be virtually impossible when you have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), especially when your disease is flaring. Whatever the reason for not being able to sleep; pain, stress, anger, all of the above; sleep is so important for your overall health. In fact, insomnia can further damage an already dysfunctional immune system.

In Health Monitor’s March 2012 issue of “My Guide to RA”, they share 5 tips to help us Rheumies saw more logs (a fancy way to say “get more sleep”).

1. Cover the basics. Your bedroom should help you relax. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, high-quality pillows and no clutter.

2. Develop a relaxation ritual. Plan to relax and wind down at least one hour before you go to sleep. This could include dimming the lights, turning off the TV, listening to soft music, meditating, and/or taking a warm bath with candles and a book.

3. Stretch, stretch, stretch! At home—and even on the road when you travel for work – Some make it a priority to take a hot shower each night. And then follow up with a series of stretches, including yoga.

4. Have sleep and pain medications ready. Check with your doctor to identify the appropriate medicine to take in the evening. After three or four nights of poor sleep, some will turn to a prescribed sleep medication—but only after they have gone through the typical routine of stretching and a hot shower. Tim, a man afflicted by RA said “I used to reach for a sleep aid when I could have stretched,” he notes. “It is so convenient to take the pill.”

5. Exercise regularly. “I try to get good exercise during the course of the day. It just makes my joints feel more lubricated,” says Tim, who likes to walk, bike, swim and work out on the elliptical machine. However, he makes sure to work out earlier in the day, as exercising late will stimulate him and keep him awake.

However it is that you choose to stay in shape through exercise and or relax, just make an effort to do it. Your body will thank you and be more apt to rest at night. God knows you deserve it because fighting disease can definitely take a toll on your system. The full article can be found here.


Kristy takes control of her Rheumatoid Arthritis before it takes control of her

This is a pretty inspirational video on a young Australian woman diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not only does it prove that arthritis doesn’t discriminate as she was young, fit and active when her symptoms began, but it also shows how a positive outlook and quick action can help make this chronic disease more tolerable.

Cooking with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the US. Those affected by Arthritis know that everyday tasks, even the most simple ones can be extremely difficult to manage. As someone affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I know all too well how difficult it can sometimes be to get out of bed, get dressed, wash my hair and brush my teeth, let alone cook myself a meal. But the truth is I love food. And I not to brag, but I know my way around the kitchen pretty well.

Unfortunately, when my arthritis is flaring, I’m typically left to eat some random unidentified food from my local grocer’s freezer. This stinks because my recent conversion to a gluten free diet coupled with my love for home cooked meals don’t allow for many short cuts around the kitchen nor a desire to eat prepackaged food.

I was recently introduced to Trudeau’s line of Stress Less kitchen gadgets. They offer a range of Arthritis friendly everyday household kitchen items like salt and pepper shakers, a cheese grater, pizza cutter, garlic press and can opener. I’ve recently purchased all of the above and can say they are a life saver when my hands are aching. These products are easy to hold and handle when my fingers are weak and numb. I’ve documented some of my most recent meals made easier by Trudeau’s Stress Less kitchen gadgets below.

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Do you have any tips to share for people cooking with Arthritis? I would love to hear about them!

Kstew Vents about RA

Get outside and stay active this summer! Your joints will thank you.

Hey all – The summer always seems to get away from me. I cannot believe it’s already August 1st. Where does the time go? It’s been a while since I’ve written, so I wanted to post a quick note to give you some updates on a few things.

  • KStew Vents about RA finally has a home on facebook!
    • I have to admit, I’m technologically challenged so it took me a while to figure out how to integrate my blog with facebook, but I’m finally starting to get a hang of this internet thingy. Visit my facebook site for more frequent postings with links to articles and other important stuff going on in the Arthritis community.
  • I’m becoming a super sampler!
    • I’ve been in touch with some product developers who are creating really awesome tools  to make the lives of us rhuemies easier. As I test these products and post reviews, I am looking for help from my readers to give feedback on similar products they’ve found. Afterall sharing is caring.
  • The details for the 6th Annual Chicagoland Arthritis Foundation event at Rockit Bar & Grill are almost finalized.
    • Once the ticket sales link is active, I will be sure to send it out to everyone. In the meantime, be sure to save the date for Friday, September 9th to attend this hot happy hour event.
  • What used to be called the Arthritis Foundation Associate Board is now officially going to be called the Arthritis Foundation Associate Leadership Council.
    • Just wanting to clear up any potential confusion for those who might already be connected to the group.
    • If you’re not already connected and you’re a young professional from Chicago looking to get involved in the community, please drop me a line for more information about us! We’re always looking for new recruits.
  • Chicago’s annual Jingle Bell Run 5K will take place at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Saturday, December 17th. The festivities kick off at 9AM.
    • Click here to join my team, “Stews Strut from the Start”

That’s it for now! I hope everyone’s having a great, healthy summer. Please do yourself a favor by going outside and staying active. Your joints will thank you.



Arthritis Weather Index

As most of you Rheumies know, a slight change in weather can lead to some of the nastiest flare ups. While my Rheumatologist swears up and down that there is no tie between RA and rainy or cold weather, I simply beg to differ. My hips can usually predict when storms are a brewing. If you weren’t granted this unwanted weather girl (or boy) gift, check out the Arthritis Weather Index. It is a cool site that can help determine what your joints can expect based on barometric pressure and temperature changes in your local area. 


Yoga Helps Control Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain – in Your Mind and Your Body

No one can argue that Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) isn’t extremely painful. Medical companies, Scientists and Physicians continually do their best to come up with new and improved medications to slow the crippling effects of the disease and manage pain while Rheumatologists work hard to determine the most beneficial combinations of those medications to treat your RA.

You have a personal responsibility as someone diagnosed with RA to manage your disease to the best of your ability as your team of doctors and supporters can’t be with you every single moment of your day. It’s been proven time and time again that diet and exercise can help control the feelings of fatigue, pain and inflammation that go hand and hand with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Eating foods infused with the right vitamins and/or taking oral supplements is just the first step to controlling your disease. The second major step to controlling your RA is to exercise regularly and to do so smartly. This doesn’t mean you should necessarily be out there running marathons. We have arthritis people, which means we need to adjust our exercise regimens to protect our joints as much as possible. Speed walking, weight training, elliptical work, martial arts, yoga and swimming are just a few examples of ways to get your heart moving without damaging your joints. Yoga however is my preferred method of exercise.

The John Hopkins Center for Arthritis indicates that “yoga can be a meaningful and enjoyable alternative to traditional forms of exercise such as aerobics or aquatic exercise with important health benefits. Yoga can play an important role in reducing stress and frustration that results from pain and disability, and increasing positive feelings and wellbeing. Drug treatments for OA and RA have improved markedly in the last few years. Despite this, arthritis cannot be cured, and even the best medications and medical care can only help so much. There is a great need for additional activities patients can do to reduce pain, disability, and take control of the overall impact arthritis may have on their lives. Thus, the evidence suggests that, when combined with a program of good medical care, yoga may provide important additional physical and psychological health benefits for arthritis patients. Scientists at Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center hope to be at the forefront of exploring this relationship through rigorously conducted clinical research trials.”

I’ve personally found yoga to be a God send in my RA treatment plan. Not only does it make my body stronger while increasing my energy levels, but it also calms my mind and picks up my spirits. Yoga is an emotional getaway for many people, especially those with chronic diseases. If you allow your practice to take over your mind and your body, you can truly escape to a place where pain and other negative feelings are non-existent… even if just for an hour.

On that note,
Namas-De my dear readers.