Great Gadgets: Save Your Hands While Opening Pesky Plastic Packages

Pyranna Plastic OpenerHave you ever tried to open one of those plastic clamshell packages with scissors or a knife? It is not an easy task. I recently bought a Bluetooth and it was like pulling teeth to get that little sucker out of the packaging. After a lot of effort, I was able to remove the device, but ended up with swollen hands. Bah!

Regular scissors are not sharp enough and a knife is just too dangerous (for a clumsy soul like me). Today, I present three possible solutions to this problem. Drum roll, please…

Wired magazine suggests using a trusty ol’ can opener to set your gizmo free. This idea will definitely be easier on your joints than scissors, but can openers are not known to be an arthritis warrior’s BFF. Then there is the Pyranna and the OpenX Dual-Blade. Their names make them sound pretty bad-ass, and they just might be better options and come highly recommended. Share your recommendations in the comments, or give us your review if you’ve used any of these tools.

Open plastic packages with:
A Can Opener [how-to solution via Wired]
OpenX Dual-Blade [via Lifehacker]

Top 4 Lessons I Learned At Comic-Con About Managing My Rheumatoid Arthritis

Comic-Con Exhibition HallI’ve had RA for 11 years, yet I still need to be reminded to be good to my body and not overdo it. Two weeks after the Juvenile Arthritis Conference, feeling more committed to taking better care of myself, I went down to San Diego for the annual monstrosity that is Comic-Con. For those of you who have never been, the convention is a gigantic world where comic books, movies, TV, collectibles (and more) collide to create a sensory overload. Trust me. It’s a whole lot of fun, but it means a lot of walking and standing. These lessons may seem obvious, but when you mix Rheumatoid Arthritis with stubbornness… well, you guys understand.

The Lessons:

  • Take regular sitting breaks to rest the feet.
  • Don’t forget to take your medicine even if you get back to the hotel room late and just want to crash. Your body worked overtime today and the meds will help you achieve a better tomorrow.
  • It’s okay to wear light colored sneakers (instead of your cute, but uncomfortable open toed heels) with dark jeans and a dressy black top because comfort sometimes must win over style.
  • When your sweet boyfriend suggests taking a taxi back to the hotel, rather than walking a mile, don’t say, “I think I’ll be okay to walk.” The appropriate response is, “Thanks for looking out for me; that’s a great idea.”

How do you manage a long day of standing and walking? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Raising Awareness Through Celebs & PSAs

Scrub's Donald Faison is in Lupus PSAThe Lupus Foundation of America enlisted the celebritydom of Donald Faison and Sarah Chalke from NBC’s ABC’s Scrub’s cast to create a few great PSAs designed to raise awareness about the disease. This got me thinking. I would love to see some celeb PSAs for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Scleoderma … how much time do you have? This list could go on for a while. I would also love to see a PSA that takes a crack at educating the public about what it means to have an “invisible” disease like arthritis. A little understanding could go a long way. And maybe sometime in the near future we won’t have to do a fake limp into the mall after parking in a handicap space with our placard.

Which disease would your fantasy PSA focus on and and what would you like to see it communicate to the public? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Lupus Foundation of America PSAs [via Despite Lupus]

UK Is Not NICE To Arthritis Patients

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had decided that NHS (National Health Service) arthritis patients in England and Wales can only try one anti-TNF drug. Yes, you read that correctly. Doctors will only get one shot at prescribing the “right” anti-TNF therapy for each of their patients. No pressure there.

Say that one drug is Remicade. If Remicade does not work for a patient or loses its effectiveness over time, people in the UK will not be allowed to try a second TNF inhibitor therapy, such as Enbrel or Humira. Knowing how Enbrel and other anti-TNFs have been life-changing drugs for me and my arthritis friends, this information in this news article really disturbs me.

NICE said that giving patients two, or even three, anti-TNFs is not cost-effective and that doctors should offer patients the next drug in line – rituximab – which costs about £3,000 less per year than the cheapest anti-TNF.

However, around a quarter of patients do not gain any benefit from rituximab.


Charities and patient groups are planning to appeal the ruling before the draft guidance is approved in the fall.

I have a lot of complaints about the U.S. health care system, but this definitely makes me appreciate our system a lot more. What do you think of this ruling?

Plan to Curb Arthritis Drug Use

Best Giveaway At The JA Conference

Warm Whiskers SlippersA company called Warm Whiskers was giving away what looked like a cute little stuffed dog to all the kids in attendance. Upon closer inspection, I learned these furry friends actually doubled as heat wraps! Some of their animal-shaped products include, neck wraps, body wraps, body pillows, slippers, pocket critters, and eye pillows. What a great idea for relieving tension The little pup at the top of this page is my favorite!

Most of the critters can be heated or frozen, and are filled with buckwheat, flaxseed, and sometimes lavender.

Warm Whiskers

Back From The Juvenile Arthritis Conference

JA Art GalleryThe Juvenile Arthritis Conference in Costa Mesa, CA was a great success! Met a lot of interesting people and saw some good sessions. Thirty-seven states and two countries (Canada & New Zealand) were represented! Some of highlights: meeting Amye Leong (author of Get a Grip: A Take-Charge Approach to Living with Arthritis), the discovery of Warm Whiskers, the Parenting & Arthritis session for Young Adults, the Art & Arthritis keynote… my list could go on and on! Lots of highlights! I’m waiting to receive a CD of all the presentations so that I can make sure I give you as much info as possible. Stay tuned for the juicy details.

The accompanying photo is a piece of artwork that one of the kids created over the weekend, and then was displayed along with many others in an “art gallery” last Saturday night. These kids all had a lot of artistic talent!

Btw, I am seriously considering going to Houston to attend the conference next year. Who’s with me?

Sometimes Laughter Is The Best Medicine

I created a few arthritis-related T-shirts and hope that they provide a giggle or a smile. I sported the “My Rheumatologist is My Hero” tee at the JA Conference this past weekend. These shirts are great for arthritis walks, arthritis camps, support group meetings or the gym! Be sure to check back, I’ll be adding more in the coming weeks. In the comments, let me know if there is a slogan that you’d like to see featured!

The Merchandise Store on Facebook

The Merchandise Store on Zazzle Attends JA Conference

JA ConferenceI’ll be attending the national JA (Juvenile Arthritis) conference from July 10th through July 13th in Costa Mesa, CA. In addition to the JA sessions for parents, they also have a Young Adult track, which I will be participating in. Energy-permitting, I hope to make a few blog posts over the course of those four days. I’ll definitely be sharing the information I gathered, in addition to my own thoughts upon my return. The two sessions that I am most looking forward to? Art & Rheumatic Disease, plus Pregnancy & Arthritis. Stay tuned, my friends!

If you are attending JA, please feel free to share your conference impressions in the comments.

JA Conference