Living your best life with arthritis.

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!

This fall has been nastier than usual, with the osteoarthritis in my knee becoming more pronounced and hobbling me for several weeks. I followed the RICE principle— rest, ice, compression and elevation—to no avail. I finally capitulated and got a cortisone shot in the knee to get me over the rough patch, and then began physiotherapy to get the knee back in proper working order (is that possible?) As a bonus, the physiotherapist gave me a few cold laser treatments on my osteo-ridden thumbs, which also have been pains—literally—of late.

Joint flare

Image courtesy of Scottchan |

The knee problem meant that my daily afternoon ramble through forest and dale was off limits. In fact, it was one of those epic trail hikes that crippled my knee in the first place. However, my loyal dog walking companion, Agatha, is pleased with the reprieve from those long walks. Agatha’s arthritic hind end has been causing her much discomfort recently and we now make weekly visits to the vet for cartophen shots to get her inflammation under control. Pets feel the changing weather patterns as much as their owners.

Most arthritis patients will tell you that their aches flare at the change in seasons, but medical research still has not made a definitive link between weather patterns and arthritis. However, there’s definitely “something” in the air and even weather forecasters, such as, offer a daily indice for arthritis sufferers, advising when the weather is beneficial for arthritis pain or at high risk.

Fran HalterTo add insult to injury, my husband’s golf elbow (which is a tendonitis in the elbow from something wonky in his golf swing) also began to ache. He, too, ended up in the doctor’s office complaining about the joint’s stiffness and tenderness. A little cortisone shot, some physio and he will be right in a couple of weeks. It certainly has been a challenging fall for our inflamed household. ~Fran

Do weather changes affect your arthritis, too?

Qualman-Davies Award winner: Ms. Catherine Hofstetter

Ms. Catherine Hofstetter is the inaugural recipient of the 2014 Qualman-Davies Arthritis Consumer Community Leadership Award.

Catherine Hofstetter Picture

A successful business owner living with rheumatoid arthritis, Cathy has been an arthritis advocate for seventeen years championing the patient experience, promoting more effective treatments and healthcare policies, and motivating and mentoring consumers to become involved in research decision-making and positive reform of the healthcare system.

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AS it Goes – Life’s Bumps and Bruises

Illustration of two bandages taped across cut

Photo courtesy of kjnnt at

The other day I noticed a large blue bruise on my shin. You would think that if your shin sports a two-inch round contusion, you would be able to recall what you had done to end up with that discoloration. But for the life of me, I could not remember hitting my shin so hard that it looked like someone had whacked my leg with a baseball bat.

Small bruises are not an uncommon occurrence for me. I often find small bruises on my arms and legs (last week I found one on my stomach) in varying shades of blue, green and yellow. My favourite is the rainbow-streaked bruise created on the inside of my lower arm after I have had a blood test. Continue reading

Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes


Today, the Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes is shining on Zandrea Bailey, sixth finisher in the Miss Universe Jamaica (MUJ) 2014 pageant.

Picture of Zandrea Bailey



When the 24-year-old graced the stage of MUJ 2014, nobody would have guessed she was battling a form of lupus called Systematic Lupus Erythematosus.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) occurs when the body’s immune system begins to malfunction and attack healthy tissue in various parts of the body, causing inflammation and damage. Tissues affected can include the skin, joints, muscles, kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and brain.

Zandrea’s introduction to lupus was at an early age, through her mother. Her mother has been living with Discoid Lupus for 23 years.

In 2011, Zandrea’s friends and family encouraged her to join the Miss Jamaica World Beauty Pageant; however, she failed to make the final that year. Determined, she said:

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Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes

Picture of JG ChaykoToday, the “Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes” is shining on J.G. Chayko of The Old Lady in my Bones. 

The Old Lady in my Bones is an arthritis blog by J.G. Chayko (Julia), a writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Julia was diagnosed with early Rheumatoid Arthritis in her thirties. She developed her blog to share her experiences of living with this disease, as well as create awareness that arthritis can affect the young too.

“It [arthritis] is a debilitating disease that destroys lives. It affects employment, personal relationships and can cause depression. Knowledge is power. The more you learn about your situation, you can live a fulfilling life despite your disease. Sometimes you must learn to let your old life die and create a new one, like a re-birth.” – J.G. Chayko

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Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Today, in the first article of our “Spotlight on Arthritis Superheroes” series, we shine the spotlight on Helena Madsen and her blog, Chronic Marriage.

Chronic Marriage is a blog run by Helena Madsen, a wife, mother, writer, and counselor who lives with Muscular Dystrophy. Her blog is all about living with chronic illness AND helping couples build an extraordinary marriage. Continue reading