Shopping For Shoes Can Be “Ruff” When You Have Arthritis

Finding Comfortable Shoes Can Be One of my greatest frustrations since being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 11 years ago is shoe shopping. My size 8 1/2 feet were already a tad wide in my pre-rheumy days, but have since expanded into a full W. Most stores do not carry wide shoes. Most shoes that come in Wide at said stores are not “cute.” Sigh…

I have the most difficulty finding shoes that I can wear with a dress. Most of those type of shoes are pinching my poor swollen feet an hour into the evening. Sigh…

Over time, I have come to realize (I was going to say “accept,” but I’m not quite there yet.) that it’s better (for me) to own plain shoes that are comfortable than cute shoes that are not. But sometimes a girl would like to wear some cute shoes! Am I right?

Typically, my solution is to go up a half size to 9, and that mostly works, but I can tell that the size 9 doesn’t not fit as well as it could. It is good enough, but just doesn’t quite feel right.

Enter, a blog that vow wows to “help women find a shoe that not only looks good but feels good.” Kristen, who runs the blog, has rheumatoid arthritis and understands the importance of comfort shoes. Her content organization (a few categories, for example: Roomy Toe Box Shoes, Supportive Flats/Loafers, and Comfortable Pumps/Heels) makes it super-easy to find what you are looking for. Combine that with great images and a light-hearted writing style and you’ve got my new favorite blog.

She sums up her site in three words: Comfort. Fashion. Deals. I’ll sum up this post in nine: Yay, Kristen! Thank you for providing this awesome service.

Please share your shoe stories or tips in the comments and don’t forget to check out Kristen’s site!

Great Gadgets: Collapsible Cargo Cart

Collapsible Cargo CrateWhen I go from my car to my apartment, I have a tendency to carry way too much because I don’t want to make a second trip. But my body (especially my fingers) is never happy with me for forcing it to endure this time-saving tactic. So today, I introduce the answer to my problems (and maybe yours, too!): the handy-dandy Collapsible Cargo Crate. Ta da!

It’s kinda sad that a plastic, black and red crate brings me so much excitement. What can I say; I’m a sucker for useful tools that will make life with rheumatoid arthritis easier and more efficient. And this is just the item I didn’t realize I was looking for. It will save my fingers from those plastic grocery bags (ouch!) and I should be able to bring more items up to my apartment in one load. Even better, when not in use, it can be collapsed and stored flat in the trunk of my car. Sweet!

Use it to cart groceries, books, magazines, your Smurf collection, items for Goodwill, or other cumbersome things.

Buy it on Amazon [Read more about it at the Rubbermaid site]

3 Reasons To Keep A Food Diary / Health Journal

Food DiaryI wish I could say that I am diligent about keeping track of what I eat in a colorful little food diary that I carry around with me everywhere. But I do no such thing. Every so often I think about how it could be useful to keep a diary for a month at the very least, but, let’s be honest, it sounds like a lot of work.

Am I the only one that thinks this? I hope not. I don’t want to find out that not only am I a bad journalist, but I am lazy and whiny, too.

I think part of the reason I don’t keep a food dairy is because I enjoy food so much that I don’t want to find out, for instance, that the delicious, buttery Parrano cheese from Trader Joe’s is possibly the cause of an increase in inflammation. I don’t want to feel compelled to change my eating habits based on my findings. Have I mentioned that I’m stubborn, too?

But a recent post by healthy eating blogger, Ali Hale, got me thinking. What if I sucked it up and kept a food/health diary? Without a doubt, I know I’d learn a thing or two that might actually help me manage my RA better. It also just might help me achieve a healthier state — RA or no RA. Literally as I am writing this post, I have decided that I’m going to give this a two week try. If my scribbling goes well, I’ll go the whole month.

Here are my three reasons why I think keeping a food/health diary would be beneficial:

  1. I’ll find out if I am truly eating a balanced diet
  2. I may find certain foods appear to give me more (or less) energy
  3. I may find a particular food seems to aggravate my arthritis

Okay, so let’s think about how to go about this. In addition to meals and snacks, here are the other items I will record:

  • # of glasses of water, juice, coffee, etc.
  • Hours of sleep from the previous night
  • Level of inflammation on a scale of one to ten (with ten meaning my hands look like the Pillsbury Doughboy’s)
  • Level of perceived energy for the day on a scale of one to ten
  • Indicate the days I took my Enbrel Shot
  • Indicate the days I forgot to take my other regular meds

Seems like a lot of items, but I want to do this right so I can get a full picture. And now that I’m committed, nothing can stop me! I hope. I created a nifty little excel sheet that I will fill in. If you want to download the template, click here. Alright, I’m on my way! Who’s with me?

In the meantime, check out Ali Hales’ 5 Reasons to Write Down Everything You Eat for a Week [via Lifehacker]

Three Tips On Living Life More Optimistically

Having a chronic disease not only has a way of zapping your energy, but it can also deliver a mighty blow to your optimism as well — especially when you are first diagnosed and trying to sort out all the new information:

I have WHAT? I need to give myself a SHOT to feel better? I CAN’T play softball anymore? I need HELP opening the salsa jar now? I don’t have TIME to be slowed down by this disease! Bah!

Thomas Edison was an optimistic fellow and has some great tips that one can apply to managing their disease or to life in general. The folks over at Life Dev have the complete post, but I’ll offer up my favorite tip to get you started:

1) There is no such thing as a failure- there are only unexpected outcomes which will provide valuable guidance for future work

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. -Thomas Edison

Edison believed that most people gave up to soon and walked away from success, accepting failure. He viewed negative events as temporary setbacks on his inevitable path to success. To live like Edison, coach yourself to not take setbacks personally, and instead think of them as temporary glitches on your way to success.

When I am having a bad day, I think of that line from the movie Galaxy Quest: Never give up; never surrender!” That helps keep me on the right track, mentally.

On days when your body isn’t cooperating and you just feel like crawling back in bed, but you can’t because you have responsibilities to attend to … how do you stay positive? Leave your tips in the comments.

Read Life Dev’s full post on living optimistically here.

Eating Healthy: 11 Foods You Aren’t Consuming

This informative post from Tara Parker-Pope’s blog provides the “What, Why, and How” for eating healthful foods (such as cinnamon, beets, and frozen blueberries) that might not find their way into your kitchen on a regular basis. These eats are worth a second look!

The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating [via the New York Times Well Blog]

Rules for Doctors And Patients

Dr. Rob, a primary care physician who blogs over at Musings of a Distractible Mind, has posted two very good pieces that may just help foster better relationships between doctors and patients and vice versa. One post is targeted at doctors, listing rules on how to best get along with their patients. Another post is for patients with rules on how to really get the most out of their relationship with their doc. For instance, a “rule” for a patient:

Rule 6: No news might be bad news
“No news is good news” can be a fatal assumption.  Never assume that your doctor will call you if there is a problem.  I get 50-60 new documents (labs, x-rays, consults, hospital notes) every day.  I order hundreds of tests every week.  I just cannot keep track of them all.  Some will get sent to the wrong doctor and some results never get sent at all.  Despite our best efforts to develop a system that will close this loop, there are some documents I just don’t get.

I have to sheepishly admit that I am one of those patients that has gone by the “no news is good news” idea. Needless to say, I won’t be using that flawed assumption anymore!

Dr. Rob says his “purpose in writing these posts is to get both sides looking at things through the other’s perspective.” I think he succeeds!

Post your “rules” in the comments!

Rules for Doctors & Rules for Patients

How To Explain To Friends And Family What It’s Like to Live With A Chronic Disease

Spoon with a SmileIf you live with an arthritis-related chronic disease, it is imperative that you know about The Spoon Theory.  Imperative, I say! It might just be the best tool out there for helping your loved ones understand your disease a little bit better.

Blogger, website founder, and Lupus & Fibro warrior Christine Donato came up with the most excellent description (on the fly, no less!) about how the lifestyle of someone with a chronic disease is different from a person who is healthy. Hence, the Spoon Theory was born!

Essentially, the theory explains that someone with a chronic disease has a limited amount of “spoons” to get them through each day, therefore he/she has to budget them wisely so that he/she does not run out before the day is over. For instance getting up, making breakfast, showering and getting dressed would require at least four spoons.

Excerpt from the Spoon Theory:

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war.

Christine’s theory is a great way explain to friends and family alike why you sometimes have to cancel plans, or why you need to rest in between activities, or why sometimes you don’t have the benefit of a “second wind.”

Have you come up with creative ways to give your loved ones insight into your disease? Share your story in the comments!

The Spoon Theory (PDF) [via]

Six-Part Podcast Series On Managing Crohn’s

Drug company Abbott (known for making HUMIRA) has created a six-part podcast series that focuses on issues that people with Crohn’s disease might be faced with. Normally, I’d be cautions to recommend anything that a drug company skins as helpful information, but this seems like an honest effort on their part. If the first episode is any indication, the main goal of these podcasts is to deliver relevant information about disease management.

Here’s what the site says the Crohn’s Casts will offer:

The podcast series shares insights and tips from health professionals regarding diet and nutrition, the emotional impact of the disease and its effect on relationships. Each Crohn’s Cast also includes a first-hand account from a person living with Crohn’s disease.

The first podcast is about 10 minutes long. You can listen to it directly on the site or download it as an mp3. Two episodes are currently available: “Food–Friend or Foe” and “Enjoying Eating.” Other topics are listed below with the dates that the will become available:

  • August 20, 2008 – Understanding the Mind-Gut Connection
  • September 3, 2008 – Coping with Crohn’s
  • September 17, 2008 – Dating Dilemmas
  • October 1, 2008 – For Better or For Worse

Crohn’s Casts [via Fayette Fitness & Health]

New Drug Gets An Approval Recomendation For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Actemra, a new treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis received an approval recommendation by a government advisory panel last week. Made by Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Actemra is a biologic drug that would be administered to patients by infusion. A final decision from the FDA is expected in mid-September.

According to Reuters:

Actemra works differently from other drugs on the market in that it blocks interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune-system protein involved in inflammation. Other widely used drugs block a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
Committee members said Actemra’s ability to relieve symptoms outweighed potential risks, but some urged tracking of patients’ liver function and cholesterol levels.

It’s always good to have new options!

Read the full Reuters article here.