Saturday, May 24, 2014

I also garden ...

I'm still battling with some of the worst pain I've experienced so far. I realized the other day that I am going on about a year since the hand pain first started. This weekend though, regardless of the pain, I have to get my garden in. I have lots of baby plants that need to get moved outside. I need to get my seeds in the ground. So, as I posted before I just keep going as best I can. I often am moving at a snail's pace, but I'm moving.
I'll post some photos after I get things in so you can watch them grow with me.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pain is at all time high ...

My doctor has upped my medication but so far i'm not seeing a huge improvement. Hurts to do many everyday tasks. I'm rather grumpy. I should probably sit in the chair and rest today, but i won't. Because sitting really just makes the stiffness worse, so how's that going to help. I will rest some, work a little and just repeat. Keeping moving and at least accomplishing a little bit is my goal right now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Still struggling...pain is at worst it's been...

I am continuing to struggle with pain. My joints and my muscles are both flared up right now. I am struggling with some very simple tasks of every day life, like stirring - I was so upset Sunday when I made a potato salad for our Mother's Day cook out and I had to stop several times while trying to stir it, my hand was hurting so bad, even up into my arm, and I felt like I had so much weakness. Lots of other tasks are the same. But, I'm such a hard headed, determined person that I refuse to give up. I just keep trudging through my every day life the best I can. I certainly don't accomplish as much as I'd like but I try to at least accomplish some. I have done some sewing, though not nearly as much as I need to do. I've also done some gardening and outdoor work, again not as much as I should or would like to do but it's something. It's a refusal on my part to let this disease win. I have a call in to my doctor to ask what I should do next, I'm hoping maybe an adjustment to meds with give me some relief.

Well enough sad me stuff, here is a few pictures of what I've been up to lately.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Perhaps dumping my Dr wasn't the best idea :(

I haven't posted much. I'm just not sure where to go from here. I wanted to believe that going gluten free was going to help the RA pain, it hasn't. It has definitely helped other areas, but not the RA pain. I wanted to believe getting rid of the extra medicines would get rid of some of the foggy "side effects" and help me stick to my affirmation that the Dr was just prescribing "roulette" style, and to some degree I guess I am right there. I don't necessarily feel any better than I would have with the meds, so adding them back in wouldn't really "cure" anything. But, I have to admit that something has to be done I suppose. I can't keep up with the painful joints & muscles. I want to live a normal life, but something as simple as a long walk, or an hour gardening leaves me achy and sore for days. How is that possible? I just keep moving and doing what I want, but I'm grumpy and sore and sad because of the pain. For now I'm just trying to figure out where to go from here....
I don't know that anyone but me is actually reading this blog, so I guess I'm just getting the idea out there for myself. I'll update myself when I decide where to go next ;)
For now though I have a show coming up in 1 week and I am not ready, so off to the sewing room I go for the weekend.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

And SEW it starts

The sewing room is almost totally done, okay so it will likely never be "Done". But after tomorrow everything should be here in this house. The organization will likely be an ongoing project as I find what works and what doesn't work for me.

I am currently working on the last custom order I will be taking on for a while. It's organic cotton pillow covers. I will have those finished today and my reward will be to move on to some fun upcycled dresses. I will likely lose a dress or two to my daughters wardrobe, but the rest will be for sale in the Etsy shop.

You're probably thinking, what is an upcycle? Well it's a "new" term used to describe taking something and repurposing it into something new. In my case I take a clothing item and add to it to make something new and fun. Yesterday for a quick break in the mundane I took Olivia's too small John Deere overalls and made them into a new dress.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

So I am gonna make the Dr. mad ...

Okay it's confession time. I took myself off most of the medications the Dr has given me. They weren't working and every time I'd suggest to them that they weren't working, I got an attitude that I didn't know what I was talking about. I HURT, all the time. And I need it to stop, I don't want or need to spend months taking a bunch of crap that isn't helping. SO, I just took myself off of most of it. I am still taking a couple of the pain medications to help with the daily pain.

I also started the gluten free diet in hopes it would help with the pain. So far it's not helping with the pain, however it has helped my digestive system immensely and I'm also sleeping better. So it's helping something which is a plus.

I am very hopeful that with the weather FINALLY taking a turn towards spring here in NNY that I will start to see a change in my pain level. I'm also hoping that when I can get outside and exercise a bit, I will begin to see more progress in decrease in pain.

I am also continuing to see my chiropractor, that helps more than any of the drugs the rheumatologist throws at me.

Stay tuned to see if I regret my decision to "fire" the rheumatology Dr.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Sewing room progress....

Finally making some project in the sewing room move & organization. Check it out! Happy monday!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

So very sorry.... life exploded...

Girl Scout cookies came in and BAM my life exploded. I'm the leader for my daughter's troop. We ordered somewhere over 2000 boxes of cookies, so yah the last couple weeks have been a bit ummm, NUTS! And let me tell you what a great time I picked to go gluten free. I did finally cave after several days and ate a grand total of 4 cookies and yes you guessed it, major tummy problems, so obviously I am on the right track going gluten free.

On that note, I have noticed some improvement in my pain level. Huge improvement in energy level. And minor improvement in sleep. So perhaps, just perhaps I am on to something that might finally help. I have yet to notice improvement in the muscle pain associated with the fibromyalgia, but honestly I've dealt with that for so long I would probably not know what to do if it got better. Okay, but yah I would like to try it!

So I will continue with my gluten free (for the most part) eating. I hope to eventually go to mostly low low carb eating, limiting myself to only carbs found in fruits & veggies. And keeping any other carbs to a bare minimum. It's a slow process and I fully recognize that.

I will attempt to get back to updating this blog on a much more consistent basis.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Rambling...

First up I am using my cervical traction unit. So far I'm not noticing much difference in my neck pain, but hoping that continual stretching of the neck will lead to less pinching and pain in my shoulders and neck.

I am going through what is termed gluten withdrawl. Who knew wheat and other gluten products were basically like a drug. I am dealing with headaches, nausea and a flu like feeling. But it should resolve soon, and hopefully I will notice more improvements without gluten in my diet. So far I am noticing my GI system seems happier. I won't go into details other than things are much improved in that area :)

I am almost ready to finish my sewing room move finally. I have my tables set up. My shelving ready. My office chair & mat in place. Just gotta get organized and do the actual move. Hopefully very very soon. Though, as usual life is crazy busy, so we shall see.

Happy Monday! Hope you all are feeling good.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gluten free... WHY?

Thought I would provide some insight as to why I am trying to go Gluten Free in my diet.

It's a big change for sure to not eat anything that has gluten in it, but you might be asking, why? You may also be like gluten? what is that? So here are some answers for you.

The 7 Basic Signs of Gluten Sensitivity -

* Digestive Issues
* Fatigue & Crankiness
* Dizziness
* Headaches
* Mood Issues
* Joint Swelling / Pain
* Eczema / Skin Rash

For me, I can honestly say I have all of those signs. All of them have been attributed to various things in the past. Fibromyalgia takes the blame most of the time.

I am not at all doubting the RA diagnosis, however I am wondering if a continual increase in my sensitivity to gluten isn't what has exacerbated all of these symptoms making the diagnosis more apparent?

I have no real "medical" answers. My Dr. is supportive of alternative therapy in that she says "well some people say it helps, can't hurt to try it". But that's about it. I like my Dr but I am so over just trying another drug, another drug and yet more drugs.

I don't see her for about 2 weeks so I'm hoping that by then I'll have some idea if going GF is going to make a difference for me.

Stay tuned, today is day 4 of GF and so far I'm doing pretty well with it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A big change for me... Gluten Free trial...

So today is the day I decided to try going gluten free. I will be sharing my reasoning, my trials and my results (hopefully positive ones), over the next few weeks. I've done a lot of research online, talked with my chiropractor and talked to numerous friends who have gone gluten free for various reasons. I am hoping to see a positive response in my body quickly but i also know that it will take time to really see the most benefit.

I am also picking up my cervical traction collar this week. I will be letting you know how that goes with helping with my neck and shoulder pain as well as my headaches.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cervical Traction..

A couple weeks ago my chiropractor brought up an option I had not yet heard of or considered. This particular therapy is aimed at my biggest problem, neck pain. Associated with the neck pain comes bad headaches, and even nausea at times.

Cervical traction sounds kinda extreme, but it's actually not. Think of a neck collar, like those used on accident victims. Only a lot more technical and fancy.

I should be receiving the device this week, and none to soon in my opinion as my neck pain is at an all time high, thanks to countless hours of sewing getting costumes ready for dance competitions.

I will of course report back. Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My research journey continued ... trial & error takes time ...

So there are a few things I will be trying in the next months to see if I can improve my pain, stiffness and fatigue myself vs. trying more medications. I'm just not much of a medications kind of person, especially since I'm seeing no results and feel like what's really happening is just masking the problems with more problems.

Here's what I have started -
Chiropractic care. Now, this is not necessarily new, I have used chiropractic care sporadically for years. However, what I am trying now is to use it regularly and to also talk to my chiropractor about my diet, supplements and other alternatives.
Chiropractors are much more than just "bone snappers." They really do have a vast amount of knowledge on alternative therapy. Your mileage may vary depending on whom you choose as a practitioner. But, i recommend trying it, it does seem to really help some of my pain, especially in my neck and hips.

More information about proper body alignment and health can be found here -
How Chiropractors Benefit Your Health (Via Fox News 2012)

Mayo Clinic Basics on Chiropractic Care

Another good explanation of Chiropractic Care (Alive has lots of information on natural health & wellness)

The other thing I am incorporating into my diet right now are essential fatty acids, in the form of Fish Oil Supplements. I talked briefly about this in another blog post. But here is some information on this supplement as well as a few other things that can naturally help your body fight joint pain & inflammation as well as boost your immune system.

Fish Oils (from Arthritis Research UK)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (University of Maryland Article - talks about many diseases Omega-3's can help)

So that's where I am at right now. Chiropractic care & fish oil for now. Researching many more supplements, diet changes & lifestyle changes. So please stay tuned and SHARE this blog with anyone you think may benefit from this information, that's why I started it ;-)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to me... a reflection on being 37 years o l d ....

So this year, turning 37 has become just a reminder that I am feeling O L D. I mean my neck is so stiff and sore. My hands are so slow working some days, and other times they just don't plain work right. It hurts to walk for too long because my ankles and feet become so sore, that taking another step just doesn't seem worth the pain. At night it's hard to sleep because my hips hurt so badly that no matter how I lay, I am not comfortable.

Should a 37 year old woman be feeling this way? I don't think so.

So I continue on my quest to change that. I'm determined, though tired thinking about it so much. Currently I am putting several plans into action, I will share more on each of the things I'm doing in the coming weeks.

That's all for today. Enjoy your day. Enjoy your family. Savor the good things in your life. Stay positive that you can change the negative.

Advice for myself but happy to share with you all too!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chiropractic Care & Exercise for RA

I have found a lot of information out there about Chiropractic care and Rheumatoid Arthritis. As usual you will find some swear by it's help, others say it's no help. *shrug* I suppose it's best to say "your mileage may vary". I however and hopeful that this more natural approach to tackling my disease will work. I am already frustrated by the Dr. mentality of "throw some pills at it and see if it helps". I would much rather focus on range of motion, moderate exercise and nutritional changes & supplements.

What am I hoping regular chiropractic care will bring me? My goals are -
Improve my range of motion of my joints.
Have more flexibility & stamina to exercise without pain.
Greatly improve my muscle tone and my strength.

I am exploring nutritional supplements and diet changes as well.

At this point I have absolutely no exercise program. I am just too sore and in pain from everyday household activities to even consider extra exercise. But, I realize this is super important to get myself out of this flare. I'm already finding that "resting" my joints that hurt does not help, they just feel stiff and sore. No improvement comes from simply trying to not use them. Instead, I am finding that using them the best I can is helping keep them limber. For example, one might think knitting is a really bad idea for someone with pain & stiffness in their hands. I am finding the opposite. Short intervals of knitting (an hour or two max) seems to help me feel like my hands are less stiff. I experience no extra pain when I spend a short amount of time knitting.
The same I am finding true for sewing. The biggest complaints I have for pain related to sewing is the neck pain i have from the focused attention it requires. The ergonomics of my sewing area need to be addressed to help with the stiffness & pain i have in my back, shoulders and neck. It's for sure a work in progress.

My chiropractor is working hard with me on getting those shoulders & neck loosened up. I am even considering a special medical device to help my cervical spine, but more about that later.

For now I encourage you to do your own research. Find what's going to work for you. I will share more along the way.

Happy Sunday! Sarah

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chiropractic Care & RA (and fibromyalgia too)

I'm doing a lot of research on the benefits, and potential negatives of choosing Chiropractic care for your RA & Fibromyalgia pain.

I've used Chiropractic care for years on and off, always finding it very beneficial. I had stopped going in the fall, choosing to give the various medications my Dr was prescribing a chance to work. Clearly that isn't happening, and I'm rather disheartened with the traditional medical field at the moment.

Not only am I back with my chiropractor, I'm also looking a much more homeopathic course of treatment.

Will I still see my Dr. Yes, for the time being anyway.

LOTS more to come on this subject in the coming weeks. For now, do you use more holistic or homeopathic remedies for your pain? Comment and let me know.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

BLAH !!!!!

That pretty much sums up my feelings on just about every subject lately. I'm so so so sore. I'm so so so tired. I'm so so so grumpy. And to top it off I'm also sick. Antibiotics are on board so hopefully that will at least take care of the sinus, ear & throat infection.

Progress is being made on the house. The girls are fully in their new bedroom, just need to do a bit more arranging of toys and such and it will be good.

My sewing space here in the house is also coming right along. However, now I have to stop all projects and start on the big dance studio order. I have 12 snowmen costumes and 16 various animal costumes to get put together.

I hope to have time to do some more research and provide more interesting content to the blog soon.

Please comment and let me know you are reading, I'd really like to hear from you.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So sorry I have been MIA ...

I guess MIA isn't really the right term. I am not really "missing" am more just tired, sore and not feeling very inspired to say much at all.

I was supposed to have an appointment with the DR today, but thanks to good ole mother nature, I had to reschedule until Monday. What's another 5 days right? I'm already in pain so eh, whatever I suppose.

As you can probably tell from the tone of my writing, I am grumpy. My little one had strep throat and ear infection last week. I think she passed on the strep throat to her mom, great :( I'm also just in a boatload of pain right now. I tried doing some sewing yesterday, and it was a slow process full of mistakes, I hate sewing like that. When I can't clear my mind fog and my hands are just working so slow.

Taking today off. So working on it Wednesday has become, taking a break Wednesday this week.

Hoping to be back to a more optimistic, cheerful self soon. Stay tuned :)


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Painful weekend ...

Yesterday my daughter had basketball and a girl scout event. I sat on bleachers at the basketball game and did some standing & some sitting on a metal folding chair at the other event. Last night I was so very sore. And I woke up this morning in horrible pain.

I am so very tired of RA making even the most stupid simple things so hard for me. I have a follow up this week with my Dr and I am hoping she has a new plan for pain management because so far it's definitely not working.

I hope to get back to regular blogging this week. My little one finally started feeling better yesterday. Today I am moving the girls bedroom, despite the RA pain. I'm just going to power through and get it done.

Happy Superbowl Sunday. By the way, I do not watch sports, but I do like the Super Bowl commercials. LOL


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sorry ... sick little one ...

Hope to be back to posting soon. My 2 year old got sick over the weekend. I thought she was getting better, but went downhill fast yesterday morning. New medicine and lots of rest and she's okay so far this morning. Hoping by tomorrow to be back to "normal".

Stay tuned ;-) In the mean time check out some of my links in the side bar --->
My etsy shop plus sites I just love to use.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow, sub-zero temps, worst winter ever???

Well probably not the worst ever, but boy is it the worst weather wise I can remember in recent years anyway. And, it's not just here in NNY, it's everywhere around the country.

Sometimes I am on Facebook, I just want to post something like "Yes, the weather stinks, let's find something else to talk about." But then inevitably I find myself talking about the weather again. Seems like every store, bank or wherever you go someone says something like "wow it's cold", "can you believe this snow", etc. I mean the grumpy I am sick of winter part of me wants to snip at them "no really? duh do you think i don't notice my fingers are blue, or my boots are covered in snow?"

But then my sweet, nice pleasant side of me replies with a "yes sure is." Etc etc etc.

One final BLAH for this cold Tuesday.

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's not the sub zero that makes me hurt, it's the SHIFTS back and forth ...

So here in NNY, we just went through yet another stretch of sub-zero temps and I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I didn't feel "worse". My no stretch of the matter, was I feeling good, but I wasn't feeling worse. However last night overnight, the temps shifted up into the 20's and I am not sitting here with extremely sore hips, ankles, feet & hands. DARN!

This got me searching the internet this morning for scientific data to support how I'm feeling. I found a pretty interesting article that pointed me to an old study by Dr Hollander, in which he built a climate chamber and demonstrated that high humidity combined with low barometric pressure were associated with increased joint pain and stiffness. The theory of the study was that inflamed joints swell as the barometric pressure drops. The swelling irritates the nerves around the joints that sense pain and causes more stiffness.

So off to look at the barometer data for the last day or so. Currently the humidity is high and the barometer is now climbing up a bit after having taken a dip yesterday/last night. So I would say that for me personally this "theory" holds true.

Another interesting little thing I found in my search comes from which has an "aches & pains" forecast, cool right? So you can check that out here and see for your area what it has to say. Aches & Pains Forecast on Weatherbug

Overall what I already knew, I've spent some time validating. Dramatic changes in humidity, temperature and barometric pressure can and does affect pain of arthritis.

And with that, I am off to take a hot shower and see if I can get moving today.

Happy Monday! Sarah

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Simplify ... Possessions don't define us ...

I'll be honest. I haven't blogged much this week because I don't want to talk about my RA. I've been a hermit all week because of the severe sub zero temperatures we are dealing with here in Northern NY.

I've been busy this month, getting rid of "things". It has been in preparation for the moving of the girls bedroom & creating a sewing room here in our home. At first, I was facing the task and just dreading it. I knew it had to be done, but still ugh, how awful doing all this sorting, cleaning & throwing away of junk was going to be, right?

I was wrong. It's incredibly freeing. Parting with "things" that I have not used, literally in years. I have always been somewhat of a pack rat. Constantly thinking, I might use that for "x", someday. But then someday never seems to arrive.

By no means am I becoming a minimalist. But I have instead become realistic. I pick up an item and I say to myself these three questions.
1 - Can I live without it? Is it an heirloom? There are family items I will never part with. But let's be honest sometimes utter junk invokes a memory we don't want to let go of. So in my case I do allow myself a small amount of "junk" that is attached to an important memory. I suggest a memory box for these items. One smallish keepsake box that is tasked to hold all your special treasures. 2 - Will I use it? Keeping in mind a reasonable projected timeline for when I will actually use it.
3 - Can someone else use it? Based on the items condition, usefulness and value I determine if I will sell it or gift it to someone.

On Thursday, the local mission store came and picked up a large load of donations. It was freeing to have those items out of our storage room & onto hopefully someone else that will be blessed by them. The same can be true of the huge bags of clothing I have hauled off to the donation drop boxes. Going through the girls clothes and gifting them to people that can use them. Going through mine & hubby's clothing and doing the same or sending it off to the donation box. It's hard to believe just how much "stuff" we've held onto. And for what reason?

The hard room is yet to come in the "letting go" and simplify phase of this project. I have attempted to pair down the fabric stash. But let's face it, I have so much fabric. And with that comes a significant investment. It's just not something I can drop into a goodwill box. So my goal relating to that is this -
I will USE up as much of my fabric as possible. Instead of going and buying new fabric to create with, I will come up with ways to use what I have first. I have so many patterns, pattern books and saved tutorials for all kinds of awesome projects. Also, I will sew up all those fabrics I have in mind for a project, but keep getting set aside. That way, my girls may actually not require any store bought clothing at all this year, a huge money saver!

How does this relate to my RA? I feel like the less I have to worry about, the less stress it will cause. Stress about "things." Sure there is lots of guilty feeling about not tackling the clutter, not keeping your house tidy enough and other feelings of guilt when you have a debilitating disease like RA. The less "things" there are to vacuum around, dust & move from one place to another is certainly easier on your body. Less stress, less work to do = a happier life living with RA, right?

I sure think so! Join me in my quest to simplify.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Working on it Wednesday is here again ...

It's working on it Wednesday again. Seems time is just flying by this January. What are your current projects, I'd love to hear about them.

I've been doing quite a bit of knitting, now "quite a bit" for me is a ruffle scarf and a couple hats in like the last month. I don't knit a lot. And, you'd think that knitting would make my hand pain worse, but in all actuality I'm beginning to think it's helping the pain.

I have absolutely nothing to back me up on this. But, it seems like a bit of knitting every day is helping keep my hands more limber. I am certainly still having a lot of pain, and I continue to have difficulty with gripping tasks. However, the knitting most definitely has not made the pain worse, so to me that's a positive.

A couple of times this week, my finger joints have felt pretty stiff and sore. I thought about not picking up the knitting because of that. But, I did it anyway and what i found was that after a short session of knitting (less than an hour), my fingers were markedly less stiff. I think the action of knitting is perhaps helping to keep my fingers more limber.

By no means am I going to try sitting and knitting for hours on end, I know that would be a disaster and I would likely be in significant pain and have cramping in my hands. But hey i think a "normal" person would too. I guess my "working on it" Wednesday this week is just that, "working on it". I'm figuring out what does and does not fit into my life with RA.

That said, it's also -30 F here this morning. I have NO INTENTION of going anywhere other than under a warm blanket. Yesterday it was -23 F for a low. The furthest I went yesterday was a quick trip to my mailbox. The positive to all this?? Well I'm not as sore as I was during the last bad cold snap we have 2 weeks ago. So maybe just maybe the medicine is starting to help?

Eternal Optimist? Yep, that's me.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fiskers Easy Action Scissors (my own review)

**This post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Fiskers, or JoAnn Fabric, they did not provide a product to review, nor ask for my opinion.**

I purchased these scissors at my local JoAnn Fabrics store when they were on sale recently.
Easy Action Scissors

The description of the product from the Fiskers website is -
Winner of the Arthritis Foundation® Ease-of-Use Commendation, our Easy Action™ Scissors are the perfect choice for people with arthritis or limited hand strength. A spring-action design opens the blades after each cut, greatly reducing the effort needed for this basic motion. High-grade, stainless-steel blades feature a specially ground edge for maximum sharpness, tested to cut all the way to the tip — essential for anyone who cuts fabric. An ergonomically sculpted handle with Softgrip® provides excellent cutting control and comfort, and a bent handle design keeps materials flat for precise cuts every time. Features Ideal for cutting a wide variety of materials including denim, leather and multiple layers of fabric Awarded the Arthritis Foundation® Ease-of-Use Commendation for a design that is easy-to-use for people with arthritis or limited hand strength Spring-action design gently opens blades after each cut to reduce hand strain Blades ground to a razor edge cut through heavy material with less effort Hardened, stainless-steel blades provide lasting durability Ergonomic handle is sculpted to fit your hand, maximizing cutting control and sensitivity Softgrip® handle adds comfort Bent handle design keeps material flat for mistake-free cutting Length: approximately 10" Lifetime warranty

I have been having increased difficulty with gripping objects, even to the point of dropping my coffee cup the other morning because I simply lost my grip. Some door knobs are proving to be extremely difficult too. And because I have a large costume order coming up in the month of February, I needed to find a way to do a large amount of cutting while limiting the pain.

Right away I was impressed with the soft grip of the handles. It was a bit of a learning curve for me to get used to the spring action of the blades. I think with a little more practice i will be able to do the majority of my cutting out of patterns with these blades.

The other thing i was very impressed with is how incredibly sharp and precise the blades are. I think when it comes to cutting heavier fabrics like denim and canvas I will really see a big improvement over traditional scissors.

One of the first problems i encountered with the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis was cutting with scissors & using a can opener. The electric opener my husband bought me for Christmas solved that problem and I'm very hopeful that these scissors will to some degree solve the cutting with scissors trouble.

Please leave me comments with products you've found to help your limitations due to RA.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sewing Saturdays & Sundays ...

An ideal weekend? Is there such a thing, I don't know. But for me I know that any day is a good day for sewing. I hope to devote my weekend blog posts to sewing ideas, inspirations, and just sharing in general things I love to do.

Right now I am working on refining my sewing skills & techniques. I'm a great sewer but like every other profession or hobby, there is always room for improvement.

This weekend I am devoting some time to taking an online course about techniques. This class is offered by Craftsy. Craftsy is an online store that offers video tutorials on hundreds of different crafting related topics from sewing to knitting, photography to painting, even cake decorating.

What's so great about this you might say? Well you can take each portion of your class on your time, anytime. Up in the middle of the night with insomnia, great go watch a 20 minute segment of your class. It fits into any schedule.
Take a look at what they have to offer. They are offering some awesome sales this weekend 1/18 & 1/19.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Treatment Topic Thursday ...

Thursdays I will devote to talking about treatments, both conventional and unconventional. I will try to go in detail of each topic and hopefully you will find the information helpful. If there is a topic you would like me to research and post about I'd be happy to try to do that, just message me.

Today's topic is Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine). This is the first try drug for RA according to my doctor. They start here because it is the least likely of the RA treatment drugs to cause side effects. The interesting thing about this medication is that it's actual original use was as an anti-malarial drug.

It's used to treat the inflammation of both RA and Lupus.

Possible side effects -

abdominal cramps, diarrhea, heart problems, reduced appetite, headache, nausea & vomiting, altered eye pigmentation, acne, anemia, bleaching of hair, blisters in mouth and eyes, blood disorders, convulsions, significant vision difficulties, diminished reflexes, emotional changes, excessive coloring of the skin, hearing loss, hives, itching, liver problems or failure, loss of hair, muscle paralysis, weakness or atrophy, nightmares, psoriasis, reading difficulties, tinnitus, skin inflammation and scaling, skin rash, vertigo and weight loss

That huge list of side effects doesn't exactly seem "mild" to me. I have been on this drug now since my diagnosis in October. I have noticed no improvement in my symptoms as of yet though I was told improvement should be noticed in 6-8 weeks. My dose was increased in November after being on it for 6 full weeks. Still, no improvement has been seen. At my recent appointment i discussed with the doctor that I am seeing no improvement with all the drugs they have me on, including this one. In fact, I am feeling worse. She added another drug to my "cocktail" and wants to see if this one will help the others also work better. So, when i go back in February we will consider which drugs are or aren't helping and again adjust.

For me this is the frustrating part of being at the beginning of this process. A large list of medications to take daily, side effects you aren't sure are coming with this drug or that drug. And continued pain to the point you don't think ANY of it is helping.

Trying to stay positive is definitely an UPHILL battle for me right now. I pray daily for answers, for pain relief and for strength to do the things I have to do. This little saying was posted on Facebook the other day, it accurately describes how i feel many days lately.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What day is.... what day is it ...

It's HUMP Day.

But on this blog I am going to call it "Working On It Wednesday!"

It will be a weekly chat from me about how I'm "working on it". It will be a weekly focus on what I am struggling with, working on or attempting to do. Might be about my RA. Might be about my work from home business. Might be a hobby I am exploring.

So what am i working on this week? After having a lot of pain over the weekend, I have noticed as the temperature has risen this week, my pain has decreased some. So, I'm seizing that opportunity and continuing the sorting, cleaning and re-arranging of the house in anticipation of my sewing studio moving back here.

It's amazing the amount of things I am finding that I had totally forgotten about. Phew, it's crazy. Things that we have had in our "storage room" since we moved into this house 11 years ago. I am a HUGE pile of items for our local charity thrift store. And a HUGE pile of garbage stuff too.

I am gonna keep at it. I'll post some updated photos perhaps another day.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fiskers spring action scissors ...

So I contacted a few companies that make cutting implements to inquire about products that might help me as I deal with the hand pain associated with this lovely disease.
The Fisker's Company replied that they do have a line of "spring action" scissors that are for people with hand problems. So this week I saw in the JoAnn ad that they have them on sale. So, I'm hoping to get a pair and try them out. Super reasonable price
Check them out here. Does anyone have sewing tools they have found work well for days when you need to sew but your hands are hurting? Would love to hear about them.

This post is in no way endorsed by The Fiskers company or by JoAnn fabric. Neither company has contacted me to review or endorse this item. I am just doing my own market research.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weather changes ... making plans ...

Remember your old grandma or grandpa that would say "oh there's a storm coming, i can feel it in my ______ " , fill in the blank with their ailing body part. Well, let me tell you folks, i surely feel like an old arthritic grandma this week.
Not much to post about this weekend as progress on my reorganization is slow. But I am continuing to try and be positive and upbeat. But, boy is it sure hard.
So while I'm not busy doing actual organizing i sure am busy searching for ways to organize. Making a list of things I want to try and tackle. Who has a pinterest account? It sure is a great place for storing ideas. Want to follow me on pinterest? I have a couple boards that might interest you.
Sarah on Pinterest

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Clean up continues ...

After being "stuck" inside for 3 days thanks to the "blizzard" we got here in Northern NY. I am heading out to the studio space today to continue cleaning up and organizing. It will be refreshing to get out for the day. I will post some photos for you to enjoy tonight or tomorrow.
Happy Cleaning ! Sarah

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alternative Treatments ..

Of course as with any other disease there is all kinds of information out there about alternative therapies that can help. I have yet to try anything but traditional medication therapies since I am still so new in this process. But, like any other modern woman, I'm always looking through websites, articles in magazines and books, that discuss treatments both traditional and non-traditional.
This particular article i found on talks about 10 alternative therapies. While most were standard things I'd heard before, exercise, physical therapy, etc. This talks about using a very common, readily available nutritional supplement.

Fish oil can ease pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Fish-oil capsules may, in fact, be as effective for relieving pain and inflammation as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen and naproxen), according to Dr. Kolasinski. RA patients in the studies that found fish oil helpful took high doses, typically 4 grams a day or four standard fish-oil capsules. Most people consuming fish oil for overall health take one or two capsules daily. But there's no strong evidence that other dietary supplements or herbs, such as glucosamine or evening primrose oil, have any benefit in RA patients. “The herbals are really not where it’s at,” Dr. Kolasinski says. Also, be sure to tell your physician and pharmacist about any nonprescription remedies you use.

The original article is found here -
Is there anyone that has any input on this from personal experience? Would love to hear about it, leave me a comment or message me.
Off to continue the organizing for the room moves ;-)
Happy Hump Day! Sarah

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My challenge for the next few weeks ...

I have housed my sewing studio at my mother's home, 10 miles away for the last 4 ish years. It has worked well for me to have a dedicated area to sew, but it's also had drawbacks. With a 2 year old, 7 years, one year old basset hounds, a husband and house to take care of, really finding enough time to get there and get enough done is hard. So, we are finally cleaning out the large bedroom we've used for a storage area since we moved into this house about 11 years ago. That room will be for our 2 girls and their multitude of toys. Then their current room will become my new sewing space. It's a 9'x13' room with some wall storage. I will move most all of my storage shelves and my desk as well as ALL of my supplies. It will be a challenge just to get the rooms all moved and then to get my sewing space arranged. Phew.... well since I am sharing with you all my life adjusting to RA, this is part of it too. So here are my before pictures.
*WARNING graphic messy bedrooms, storage areas & sewing disaster areas to follow*
Here is my current sewing area at my mom's -

And here is our large storage "room" that will become the girls new bedroom -

And finally, this will be my new sewing studio -

Now to get at it....

Monday, January 6, 2014

Treatment - the sooner the better ...

A comment to a previous post got me thinking more in depth about something i already knew, modern treatment of RA is far more successful at putting people into remission than it used to be.
CNN has this great article from 2012 that talks about this in detail. Click this link to see the article. Advances In RA Treatment - The Sooner The Better
The frustration on my end is of course that I am at the beginning of the RA. I am at the so far nothing is working part. As is the normal course of action my rheumatologist is starting with the first line medications. So far, no difference has been seen for me. I made an appointment for this Friday, as I am just in so much pain. I wasn't actually due to follow up until February. I just don't want to keep waiting when i am seeing absolutely no changes, and an increase of symptoms.
Another issue i have is that my doctor cannot just skip over medications to something more aggressive in treating RA. Thanks to managed care, most insurance companies (mine included) now require step therapy. The basic idea is that to save money, the insurance company requires your doctor to first prescribe the baseline (read into this CHEAPER) drugs first. Before moving on to the more aggressive and newer drugs (read EXPENSIVE) for treatment, you first have to fail at being helped.
But with a disease as potentially dangerous as RA if it's not put into remission quickly, this just seems less than satisfactory. But, what can one do...
I just keep taking my medicines and keeping track of symptoms. I will follow up as often as I need to with my rheumatologist to make sure I stay on track to remission.
Now to brace for the 4-6 potential feet (yes FEET) of snow we are predicted to get over the next 48 hours. *sigh*

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Right Angle: Proper Ergonomics for Sewing Tables

This article on Craftsy is a great resource when shopping for a sewing table. It's basic information but it reminds us that what works great for one sewer may not work for another. Simple buying a "sewing table" does not necessarily provide a perfect fit for you.
I myself use a desk originally designed as a computer work space. It's large and fits into a corner, and it's the perfect height for me to sit comfortably at. It also is large and accommodates my 3 different machines I use all the time, therefore eliminating the need to have to set up & take down machines for different functions.
Finding a chair that had height adjustment may also be the answer to making your table work to the proper height for you. For me it's also important to have a separate cutting table at approximately waist height. I often cut several patterns out at one time. I also often am cutting from bolts of fabric vs. small pieces of fabric. Therefore trying to cut on a shorter table (for instance a dining room table) would cause a big increase in stress to my back & neck from bending over to cut for a long period of time.
With RA working in an ergonomic environment is so important. Keeping our hands, wrists, shoulders & neck from additional strain & potential damage to joints is so important.
I am currently revamping my sewing space and as I set it up, I will be thinking in depth about my comfort and ergonomics of how i do my work.
I will share some before and after shots of my space. At this point progress is slow, thanks to an increase in pain with the cold temps here, but I hope to make a bit of progress every day and soon be back to sewing.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Sub Zero Temperatures in NNY = worst pain so far

We have below zero temps here in Northern NY state. With the wind chill we have temps around -35 fahrenheit. I am experience joint pain in places I've never had it much before. My ankles & feet, back & hips and then of course my hands are very painful.
I found a very interesting article while i was browsing the internet about cold weather and it's effect on RA and other related diseases.
Fact or Myth: Weather Affects Arthritic Joint Pain

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My sewing hands ...

I love to sew. I've turned my love of sewing into a small work from home mom business. It's very small now, but i had hoped to grow it more and more each year. I'm not giving up on that dream, but I am worried.
I love to make unique things. From clothing for kids to super hero capes & masks. I even do a lot of re-purposing of items into new & exciting things. I even quilt from time to time.
So of course in the back of my mind lately has been, what will I do if I have to give up this hobby? Well the only answer I can come up with is that I will NOT give up. I don't want to, I don't intend to and I hopefully don't have to.
I am exploring options to make sewing work better for me. I am moving my sewing studio back to my home, so that I can sew more when I am feeling good, no need to get out to "go" to the sewing space, it's right here. I am also working on ways to make that space more ergonomic and comfortable for me.
So my word for today is ADJUST. I am going to adjust my surrounding to work better for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions 2014 ...

I'll admit I'm not great with resolutions, but i intend to stick to them this year. I need to get my RA under control. I need to continue my work from home mom sewing business. I will prevail in 2014.

    Write a new blog post at least 5 days a week.
    Create & post at least one tutorial every month.
    Lose 50 lbs.
    Exercise at least 5 days per week.
    Find either a local or online support group for people with RA.

There it is, seems very attainable to me.
Feel free to comment with your goals for 2014. I'd love to hear them. I hope that one of your goals will be to follow my journey this year.