Exploring women’s arthritis issues and needs

AS it Goes – Whither Goes the Weather

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.netI live in fear of the weather forecast for next Tuesday. For that matter, the following Saturday also doesn’t sound very promising. According to on-line forecasts, the weather is going to put arthritis sufferers at high risk of increased aches and pains. Several on-line weather services now provide daily advice about weather conditions for people with health conditions, giving advance notice that will allow them to plan appropriate activities. Amusingly, some on-line services also have indexes with warnings for bad hair days, mood swings, and attentiveness. Continue reading

AS it Goes – Sharing a positive message

Pen with words

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People who live with chronic pain understand when I say that life often gets in the way of living. They understand that coping on a daily basis with pain sometimes is a full-time profession. We can become so preoccupied with minimizing our various physical challenges that life simply passes us by. Any plans to enjoy the too-short summer are shelved while we minister to limitations imposed by our arthritis and its associated inflammatory conditions. Instead of planning outdoor fun activities, we spend our days looking for ways to be comfortable, or trying to find the balance between moving too much or too little. Continue reading

AS it Goes – Light-hearted poetry helps to cope

“Spring has sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where the birdie is?

The little bird is on the wing,

But thats absurd!

Because the wing is on the bird!

 

Stuart Miles_FDP.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This little ditty, which many of us learned as children, should be changed for all chronic pain sufferers: substitute “pain” for “bird”! (The verse is equally nonsensical if you read bird or pain, with apologies to author Ogden Nash, an American poet best known for writing pithy and funny light verse). Continue reading

AS it Goes – Bridging the Patient-Doctor Divide

The doctor is listeningA checkup appointment at my rheumatologist (doctor who specializes in arthritis) always leads to some interesting discussions. Most of the time I try to “research” a topic beforehand, so that I am armed with the latest background information on whatever are my most pressing concerns at the time. When I launch into my questions (I always have a list written out), I have a better-than-even chance of holding a meaningful conversation with my rheumy. In turn, I get more out of the conversation instead of returning home with questions that even Google cannot answer. Understanding what he is really saying provides me with the sense that I am in control of my ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and not the other way around (AS controlling me?) Continue reading

AS it Goes – Ready, Willing, and Able to WYASO

Fran wearing her Vivofit bracelet for WYASO

Fran wearing her Vivofit bracelet

The “Walk Your A.S. Off” (WYASO) campaign is gearing up for another year with April designated as training month and May 1st as the official kickoff of the campaign. The goal of WYASO is to promote awareness of spondylitis (and the family of related diseases) and to encourage people to become more active, specifically through keeping track of their daily steps or other physical activities. Continue reading

AS it Goes – We are ALL Arthritis Athletes

Arthritis athletes

Courtesy of Vlado | freedigitalphotos.net

The litany of famous athletes who suffer from various types of arthritis is long: golfers, cyclists, figure skaters, baseball stars, downhill skiers … you get the idea. There are countless athletes performing and competing at world-class levels in every imaginable sport. They do it all despite their arthritis and many have become high-profile and public supporters for their form of arthritis.

These athletes have found a way to compete at the highest echelon of their sport even as they suffer from the effects of arthritis. They do it with the aid of sports psychologists (keep attitudes positive), physiotherapists (keep joints limber), coaches (keep on the game), trainers (keep in top physical shape), medical personnel (keep tweaking meds), and maybe a financial advisor and a business agent too. On the other hand, we mere mortals must play all those roles (and more) by ourselves and all at the same time. The team behind us is far less comprehensive: probably a medical doc (rheumatologist) and then a bunch of friends and family cheering us on from the sidelines.

We are all arthritis athletes

Courtesy of lamnee | freedigitalphotos.net

In recent years, arthritis research and advocacy organizations have made important inroads in creating public awareness about the many types of arthritis (and related inflammatory diseases). However, I think that there’s nothing like an athlete’s star power to help focus attention on arthritis, which until recently was not understood or even considered a “serious” disease by many health professionals.

Athletes are terrific ambassadors for spreading the word about arthritis; their personal stories provide comfort and inspiration about how they cope with their condition during their sports careers. They possess the ideal public platform to get out the message about arthritis’ deleterious impact on millions of lives. In bringing awareness to the seriousness of the disease, they also help to direct more dollars towards research and ultimately, a cure.

Fran HalterPersonally, we all deserve to consider ourselves as winners. Every day, we haul our pain around with us, we cope with hurting joints and aches, and the secondary effects created by various medications, including fatigue and depression. Unlike high-performing athletes, we do this without the benefit of a team of medical and/or health professionals. We participate as best we can in the “game” of life; we find our personal motivation and encouragement to keep moving. We may not run marathons, bolt down ski slopes at breakneck speeds, or drive a golf ball 300 yards, but we are all arthritis athletes in our own right. ~Fran

AS it Goes – The Debate over NSAIDs

Pain relief (and NSAIDs)

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The long-term usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) has always concerned me. Through the years I have taken different types of NSAIDs for varying periods. These NSAIDs even included (for a short time) VIOXX, which was pulled off the shelves in 2004 after studies confirmed that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. For many years I have taken diclofenac, which now researchers also believe carries a high cardiovascular risk, especially for people with a history of heart disease or other risk factors such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Continue reading

AS it Goes – Fall Flares

frozen fall leavesLike many people with arthritis, the change of seasons is a killer. This autumn, in particular, has been most unkind. First, my ankylosing spondylitis flared, and then aches and pains mysteriously appeared in various joints as the weather waxed and waned. Seriously: first a wicked snow storm dumped 10 cm of snow one day with temperatures plunging to negative digits, and then in the span of three days, the temperature soared to 18 °C! Continue reading

AS it Goes – My Donation is in the Mail

It’s that time of year again . . .

Donate: donation is in the mail

Image courtesy of Winnond | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

when the soliciting machine cranks up its fundraising pleas for donations to worthy or charitable causes. I regularly receive solicitations from university alumni associations, hospital foundations and non-profit organizations asking me for a contribution. Sometimes these groups ratchet up their fundraising appeals with personal telephone calls, asking me to renew an earlier pledge or to make a one-time “special” donation for an especially critical need. Continue reading