Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your physical AND emotional health
Right now, it’s probably difficult enough to take care of your physical health, but your emotional health is just as important. If your body hurts, your emotions follow; and if your emotions are hurt, your body wants to slow down. Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders can make us feels isolated and alone, especially when there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Continue reading #WeLiveYes Take Care of Yourself, Emotionally & Physically→
Due to COVID-19, millions of Americans are working from home for the first time. But tons of people have been working from home for a while, especially people with chronic illnesses like autoimmune arthritis. I personally have rheumatoid arthritis, and while my preference is to go into my company’s office, I work for a company with a great remote work policy. This policy enabled me to work exclusively from home in early 2019 after a hospitalization (a whole month before my doctors felt comfortable with me working in the office). That’s not my only work-at-home experience, as my pain and suppressed immune system have had me at home more days than I would like. Continue reading Chronically Awesome Tips for Working from Home→
Emily Simpson is used to pressure. On The Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC), she regularly navigates the drama and intense scrutiny that come with being part of a reality show. Yet even the stress of having cameras document her every move didn’t compare to the difficulties of living with chronic arthritis pain.
I’m someone living with rheumatoid arthritis in Washington State, one of the first areas where COVID-19 was being diagnosed and spreading. My immunosuppressive drugs make me, and people like me, less able to fight off infections like this novel coronavirus. As a result, I decided early-on to self-quarantine to protect myself during this public health outbreak. Continue reading Silver Linings→
On the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, Dr. Leigh Callahan shares the many benefits of walking and strategies to help you walk with ease. Listen today.
Walking may seem like such a basic function, that most people don’t give it a second thought. It takes the biomechanics of how your body works, together with your nervous system and brain, to get you from point A to point B. A toddler taking those first steps is a momentous occasion for parents. The next thing they know, that toddler is off to the races. It’s just part of what we as humans do, without thinking about all that goes into the ability to do it.
Until the day that you can’t. When you have so much pain in your joints that getting out of bed is excruciating. So, instead, you crawl to the bathroom or you slide down the stairs because that’s easier and less painful.
For people like us who have arthritis, this may sound all too familiar. Personally, I’ve done both of those things. When every step I took hurt, I’ve crawled to the bathroom because my feet hurt too much. I’ve taught young kids to slide down the stairs for fun, but I’ve done it out of necessity because my knees hurt too much to walk down the stairs.
When you’re in that much pain, the idea of going for a walk to get your joints moving can be daunting. When I can’t even walk to the bathroom, how am I supposed to go on a walk for exercise?
Well, luckily, we can take baby steps and still make progress. We can stretch and do some exercises while seated in a chair and work a little each day toward increasing the number of steps we take. Every little bit counts.
Struggling with the idea of making walking a part of your physical activity routine? In this episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast, Dr. Leigh F. Callahan, PhD, a scientist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will help you learn how to take that first step.
Dr. Callahan specializes in arthritis and outcomes research, physical activity interventions and health disparities. She helped develop the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease program and talks to Julie and me about the many physical and mental benefits of walking, as well as sharing tips and what you need to know to get started.
As an occupational therapist, I know the benefits of walking. I’m certified as a Walk With Ease instructor, and I have seen for myself how this program can make a difference in people’s lives. Listen to the latest Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast to hear about one especially meaningful success story — and learn how to make walking part of your arthritis management routine.
When the first COVID-19 case was reported in Maryland my first thought was, “How can I help people through this?” A friend shared a photo of surgical masks she’d made for a hospital and I knew then this would be my purpose for the foreseeable future. To date, more than 200 masks have been donated to hospitals, infusion centers, hospice centers, nursing homes, and friends and family members. Continue reading Community Threads Drive Fundraising Efforts→
Helen King has a good read on the pulse of the arthritis community these days. She has been a major volunteer for our cause since being diagnosed with an aggressive case of rheumatoid arthritis six years ago. The pain and accompanying symptoms she experienced, like intense fatigue, were often unbearable. Today, she still battles occasional flares, as well as mental and emotional challenges, but her treatment regimen helps manage her condition.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Helen — who leads a local Live Yes! Connect Group in the Philadelphia area (eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey) — has experienced the pandemic’s impact herself and has heard from others with arthritis about how the crisis has affected them.
“Perhaps a silver-lining in this situation is there’s greater awareness about those who are immune-compromised and at greater risk of the coronavirus,” says Helen. “It’s also wonderful that we have technology today to connect virtually, which didn’t exist 20 years ago.” Her local group of about 100 members has been connecting online to offer each other support during these trying times.
Helen is a dedicated volunteer, not only facilitating her local support group, but also chairing the local Arthritis Foundation leadership board and representing patients as a Platinum Ambassador in advocacy efforts. Last year, she was national honoree for the walk event, and she keeps plowing ahead. Since 2017, she and her Walk to Cure Arthritis team have raised over $200,000 through donations and sponsorships.
“Our commitment, as donors and volunteers, is what helps keeps the Arthritis Foundation’s work going,” Helen says. “We need to fuel the connections the Foundation makes possible, like local Live Yes! Connect Groups and the 24/7 Online Community. Right now, we need dependable information about exercising, eating right and other tips. Advocacy actions are vital to addressing possible drug shortages and other barriers. And licensed social workers at the Foundation’s Helpline help with insurance concerns, local resource referrals and connecting with others who know what living with arthritis is like.”
This year’s Virtual Walk to Cure Arthritis will be different, but Helen emphasizes that the event is more important than ever. “All of us are working hard with the Arthritis Foundation to make this a successful connective event. On May 16, we’re going to rally together and raise awareness and funds for vital research, resources and connections.”
The May 16 Facebook Live event, at 4 p.m. ET, will feature specialists like dieticians and rheumatologists — plus, many Arthritis Warriors and Champions of Yes who have stories and tips to share to inspire us all.
“We will learn and grow, be creative and innovative, raise more awareness and funds,” says Helen. “We hope everyone will Share Their 54, on behalf of the 54 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis. Tell 54 others about this fundraiser. Do 54 stretches, walk 54 steps or whatever activity you can do to stay healthy. Give or raise $54 to support our mission. What if the 54 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis gave just $1? That would throw a lifeline to those living with arthritis and other chronic diseases.”
Helen also hopes everyone will consider putting some of the money they’re not spending right now toward this fundraiser. “The hair coloring or manicures/pedicures you can’t have right now, other things you have to skip, saving money on gas and tolls. Every dollar counts to keep these crucial services going.”
Helen likens the COVID-19 battle everyone has experienced these past several weeks with the challenges people who have arthritis encounter daily. Feeling isolated. The sleeplessness, extra stress, anxiety and depression many of us encounter. Being concerned about going out and getting exposed, as a high-risk individual, while picking up groceries and medications … and taking care of other pressing needs.
“This is how arthritis patients already live,” she says. “There’s just an extra layer to it all now, bringing increased stress, which can cause more arthritis flares. The connections we can make are invaluable, thanks to the Arthritis Foundation. We will eventually get past this current crisis. But arthritis will still be here. We still need to conquer it. And now is the time to really step up to this challenge.”
Read any study on the reasons people fear stress and you’re sure to find finances at the top of the list. Income taxes, insurance coverages and retirement and estate planning can be stressful enough during the best of times. When life gets challenging, they are especially so.
On the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, we debunk some of the most common medical misconceptions about arthritis with Andrew Laster, MD. Listen today.
In the age of information, people are inundated with the “new” and “trendy” and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. This is true when it comes to diet and self-care trends, it’s true when it comes to the news we consume, and it’s especially true when we learn new health information. As we face all the information out there, people who live with chronic illnesses like arthritis must be vigilant in separating fact from fiction not only for themselves but for those around them. I find myself smiling at the number of times I’ve taught someone, “Yes, kids really do get arthritis too!”