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.