Pens And Needles: Singing Beyond Our Bodies

Pens and Needles“I love to sing because it is such a physical act; but I also love to sing because the music I produce is incorporeal. It thrusts out and away from these sore, stiff bones, this heart that doesn’t know quite what to do with itself. Singing with others reminds me that we are all so much more than our bodies. We are so much more than the things that hurt us.

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Be sure this read this absolutely beautiful post – it’s a great start to the Christmas season!

Cooking With Arthritis

A cook with arthritis adapts to kitchen, writes a book

Melinda Winner was in her 20s when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Born with the use of one arm, and now battling pain, Winner sank into depression. She gained 100 pounds and thought her dreams of being a chef were fading.

Winner, now 48, took control and lost the extra weight through walking and smarter eating. Through a series of adaptations, she rediscovered her love of cooking and regained her independence. She has written a book to help others do the same: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking With Arthritis.

Winner has appeared on the Food Network and local newscasts. She conducts cooking seminars, where she demonstrates how to use everyday objects to overcome different physical limitations. She says her successes stem from sheer determination.

“I’m not one of these people that give up,” she said. “I’m a true survivor.”

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Illustrated Guide to Cooking with ArthritisA Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis
by Melinda Winner

Are you one of the millions of people that suffer from arthritis, a chronic disease, or a physical injury? Is cooking your passion or, at the very least, a necessity? Come along on a culinary journey around the world with Melinda Winner in her second cookbook, A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis, which will bring the millions of physically challenged individuals back into the kitchen pain free and fearless. As a physically challenged individual herself, Melinda shares techniques for creating mouthwatering recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts, as well as delicious rubs, sauces, and jellies. An Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis is packed full of delectable, original recipes sure to delight any palate and is a must-have for any cookbook collection. Each easy-to-read recipe is written for use by anyone, physically challenged or not, and includes an informative section of kitchen terms, culinary resources, and basic tips to help make everyday life simpler.

Arthritis RadioArthritis Radio Episode 1: Cooking With Arthritis

Our first guest, Melinda Winner, is a woman on a mission – which is – to make the world aware of a debilitating disease that steals the lives of men, women and children every day in this country.  She will soon be setting off on a life changing adventure across the United States. Melinda will start here in Pittsburgh, PA and head north, then south, east and west, visiting every state in the union.  She has vowed not to stop until America becomes aware of the severity of auto immune system diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Melinda wants to help all 46 million+ sufferers of these diseases.

Melinda is also a noted cook. Her talents have taken her all the way to the Food network.  She competed on the Ultimate Recipe Showdown in 2008.  She has also authored two books:  The first, Yankee Cooking with Southern Charm was released in 2008.  The Second: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis has just been released.  This book is the first of its kind.  This book was designed to help the physically challenged regain their independence in the kitchen.

Updated: Melinda Winner also guest blogs at AFWPA Rheum For Wellness:

Frequent Flier Miles

Frequent FlierThis past Friday, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy went to the neighborhood health clinic to get an injection of Diclofenac 75mg.

There was nothing new about this routine. I have gone through it many times before, in order to get this intramuscular shot. I pay the fee, and then walk into the nurse’s office. She checks my prescription against the box. I walk into the neighboring room, and slightly drop my pants. She comes in with the alcohol swab and syringe in hand. I get my injection, and them we are done.

Start to finish, it usually lasts no more than five minutes. I then go on my way.

There was something different this last time around, though. As soon as I walked through the door, the nurse saw me and exclaimed out loud “Caserito, how are you doing?”

[*Caserito is a term of endearment that vendors use for their frequent customers. It is most commonly used in the market, where all of the vendors of one type of item are grouped together, and everyone knows which customer belongs to which vendor.]

I was heartened with this response. When it comes to health care, it’s nice to be recognized. The people at this clinic know that I generally come in for these injections when I am not doing too well, and they respond accordingly – usually with a few words of support.

A few years ago, I went to the same clinic frequently…when the method of my methotrexate therapy changed from oral to injection. At that time, I was not too excited when I was recognized (by a nurse other than my current one). I was still a relative newbie to the who rheumatoid arthritis world, and I didn’t enjoy anything anything about the “routine”.

In fact, I was even a little weirded out the first time I went in. The nurse asked me if I was taking this medicine because of rheumatoid arthritis. (I was just familiarizing myself with methotrexate, so it still came as shock that anyone else – even a nurse – would know what this medicine was used for.) When I asked her how she was so familiar with this medication, she told me that there were a few other guys my age – who lived in this same neighborhood – who were taking methotrexate injections for rheumatoid arthritis.

I’ve never met one of these other guys my age who live with rheumatoid arthritis, but I’ve always wondered who they are.

So yes, I am such a frequent customer that even the nurses at the local health clinic recognize me and no longer check my box of Diclofenac 75mg against my prescription. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. In fact, it’s probably a good thing.

Now, if I can only get enough miles for a free trip to Paris…

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

Sunday Break

Because there is no such think as taking too many breaks!


Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is the fourth of five children. For our first Christmas, my mother would make each one of us a stocking with our name and felt cut-out designs. When we would woke up on Christmas morning, there was never any confusion about which stocking belonged to who.

Christmas Stocking

My stocking got many years of actual use…but around two years ago – when I was nearing my 35 years – it started showing some wear and tear (just like me…and come to think of it, the worst of the wear was right about the heel and the toes!). It was time to protect it for many years to come, so I got it mounted in an archival frame. Each December, I continue to hang it on my wall with pride.


I am getting ready to re-read The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. I have always been interested in examining the role of all of the senses and how they relate to the architectural experiences. Some of my clearest remembrances of built space invoke not only visual memories, but also auditory and olfactory memories.

I also really like it when the sense of touch is present. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, next time you visit Louis Kahn’s Kimball Art Museum be sure to to enter from the park in the back and not the parking garage in the front, and you will know what I mean. (You will also be approaching the museum in the way that the architect had intended for people to enter.)


All six volumes of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower are headed my way. I am also thinking of purchasing a copy of Under the Dome: A Novel (which is discounted 59% at Amazon!). Has anyone read this latest book yet?


A week from today next Sunday morning, my parents will be starting their long journey to South America for the holidays…and won’t arrive until Monday morning. I can’t wait. There is still a lot that we have to do this coming week, including renting a portable oxygen tank for my father!

(Have I ever shared that I live 3,640 m/11,942 ft about sea level? Water takes absolutely forever to boil…and even then, it only reaches about 90ºC, as compared to the 100ºC at sea level. Don’t even get me started on baking. And the local airport is the highest commercial airport in the world, with an extra long runway that is needed for planes to land and take-off in the thin air.)


Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!