Patient Voices: Rheumatoid Arthritis

The pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis can damage the joints and many other organs of the body. Unlike the more common osteoarthritis, which afflicts primarily older people, rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age. While early treatments for R.A. worked to relieve the pain associated with this condition, newer medications can prevent joint damage before it causes serious disabilities. But regardless of whether R.A. occurs in a child or an adult, stiffness and pain can make life difficult. Here, six men and women speak about their experiences with R.A.

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One of the six voices belongs to Sara Nash, from The Single Gal’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis!

How To Have Fun With Your RA

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is often asked: Is it possible to have fun with your RA?

Sure it is!

Here are just some of the ways in which I have some fun with my rheumatoid arthritis:

1. Pretend that I am riding a roller coaster.

2. Play some bingo.

3. Come up with my own Rube Goldberg inventions in order to accomplish what used to be a simple task. (I find this one particularly appealing. Hey, what can I say? One of the items that is already packed in my parents’ suitcase for their upcoming visit is a marble run kit. This will make my third set.)

It’s Friday…so go have some fun this weekend!


Rube Goldberg: Inventions!

Welcome to the world of that archetypal American, Reuben Lucius Goldberg, the dean of American cartoonists for most of the twentieth century. For more than sixty-five years, Rube Goldberg’s syndicated cartoons — he produced more than fifty strips — appeared in as many as a thousand newspapers annually He was earning a hundred thousand dollars a year…in 1915. He wrote hit songs and stories and was, in succession, a star in vaudeville, motion pictures, newsreels, radio, and, finally, television.

He even, at the age of eighty, began an entirely new career as a sculptor, and, in inimitable Goldberg fashion, was soon selling his work to galleries, collectors, and museums all over the world. Sure, Rube won the Pulitzer Prize. Every year some cartoonist wins the Pulitzer Prize. But the National Cartoonists Society named its award — the Reuben — after you-know-who.

But it was Rube’s “Inventions,” those drawings of intricate and whimsical machines, that earned Rube his very own entry in Webster’s New World Dictionary:

Rube Goldberg…adjective…Designating any very complicated invention, machine, scheme, etc. laboriously contrived to perform a seemingly simple operation.

“Inventions,” even the earliest ones that date from 1914, are still being republished and recycled today as they have been over the last eighty-five years. New generations rediscover and enjoy them every day, even though their creator cleaned his pens, put the cap on his bottle of Higgins Black India Ink, and cleared his drawing board for the last time almost thirty years ago. The inventions inspired the National Rube Goldberg™ Machine Contest, held annually at Purdue University, an “Olympics of complexity” in which hundreds of engineering students from American universities and colleges — and even middle and high schools — compete to build and run Rube Goldberg invention machines that perform, in twenty or more steps, the annual challenge.

In 1970 the Smithsonian Institution hosted a show honoring Rube Goldberg’s lifework. In a life filled with superlatives, it hardly needs mentioning that Rube is the only living cartoonist and humorist to have been so honored. In his speech at the show’s opening, Rube said, “Many of the younger generation know my name in a vague way and connect it with grotesque inventions, but don’t believe that I ever existed as a person. They think I am a nonperson, just a name that signifies a tangled web of pipes or wires or strings that suggest machinery. My name to them is like spiral staircase, veal cutlets, barber’s itch — terms that give you an immediate picture of what they mean…”

So welcome to a collection of spiral staircases and veal cutlets — to the inventions of an American original, a creative genius named Rube Goldberg.

More Info: Rube Goldberg: Inventions!

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

Arthritis Ireland: Become A Juvenile Arthritis Mentor

Arthritis Ireland LogoNow, as part of Arthritis Ireland’s Juvenile Arthritis Programme, adults who themselves have/had juvenile arthritis can provide children with arthritis and their families with valuable insight and support. Becoming a JA Mentor allows adults to pass on the benefit of their experiences with arthritis, increasing the confidence of children and their families by helping them to better understand their condition and its impact on their lives. As an adult who has grown up with juvenile arthritis you will have so much relevant information to share with us and families affected by the condition. With your insight and knowledge we can develop supports that will impact positively on the lives of children and families now experiencing what you have been through.

Mentors can be just a phone call or email away when a young person is looking for their personal perspective on attending further education or planning an around the world trip. Adults who have lived with juvenile arthritis, we need your experience!

If you’re interested in becoming a JA Mentor or would like more information please contact Michelle Towey, Programme Co-ordinator on 01 6470208 or email

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Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Many Things, But It Is Never Boring!

“Life is never boring, but some people choose to be bored.” -Wayne Dyer

UniqueA few weeks back, when Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy returned to the gym, he found himself speaking with a classmate before yoga class.The conversation included much of what you might expect, such as “how have you been doing?” (her to me) and “how are you liking the new yoga instructor?” (me to her).

What was out of the ordinary, at least in my opinion, was her response to my question. Maybe before I lived with RA, I would have gone along with her frame of mind without missing a beat. But on this recent day I instead found myself holding back my thoughts, and biting my tongue.

“I’m really liking the new instructor,” she said – “but it’s getting a little boring. The classes are the same every day.”

If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that living with rheumatoid arthritis is many things, but it is never boring!

Even if I do the same yoga routine every or the rest of my life , each and every episode would be as unique and non-boring as it could possibly be. Some days, it would be my left ankle that I could not put much weight on. Other days, I would have to perform the entire routine without placing any weight on my wrists, as I have done many times in the past. There would be days like yesterday, where I would not even make it to class.

By the way, my best friends came into town yesterday: cold weather and rain! My feet were so stiff in the morning that I could not get out to bed. Luckily, they eventually warmed up and I was able to make my 11:00 am physical therapy appointment.

Sometimes the uniqueness of each session would not even relate to my body and to my rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes, it would be the changing angle of the morning sun or the different birds that are singing in the nearby park that would make each class unique.

Maybe if RA had not entered my life, I would still be like my friend – bored of the beauty that constantly surrounds us, and bored of my body’s ability to move. Wren from RheumaBlog recently wrote some similar thought about the beauty of Everyday Magic.

So I found myself chuckling inwards during the conversation before class that day. Here is this lady (seemingly healthy) complaining about the fact that she finds it boring to perform the same routine every day, talking to me (who lives with RA) who was estatic about the fact that I was returning to the gym after a two month absence.

It is during times like this, when I feel very grateful for the lessons that rheumatoid arthritis continues to teach me. For the longest time I fought tooth and nail against the presence of RA in my body. I am happy that I have now reached a moment where I can, like many of my fellow RA bloggers, accept it and continue to find the bright side of living with this illness.

And, I can continue to find solace in the fact that at least my life will never be boring!

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

Rheumatoid Arthritis Blog: 18+ Years Living With RA

Sticks & Stones

Chronicling my journey living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): looking back at what brought me here, processing the here and now, and considering the future.

“I started having shoulder pain in the mornings in the winter of 1991 – not something I gave much thought, chalking it up to usual aches and pains of being a on the junior high school volleyball team. And then volleyball season ended, and my shoulders and wrists still hurt. Off to my family doctor I went and some physio was prescribed, ultrasound on my wrists. The first time I heard arthritis mentioned was by the tech performing the treatment and of course, I said I was too young. And I was, wasn’t I?

My GP wasn’t sure so he sent me to an internist who tested me to no avail for 3-4 months. Finally, after a trip to a lupus and chronic disease conference for teenagers in search of some answers, I felt confident that I didn’t have lupus (thank God) but was convinced that his course of treatment – or lack thereof – was not doing me any favours. At the time I was on 8 aspirin a day, and then had to take medication for the minor ulcer developing in my 16 year old stomach. The ironies of taking medication for my medication.

At my appointment a few weeks after I got back from the conference, I demanded a referral to Sick Kids in Toronto (I lived in Brampton at the time). Picture a 16 year old demanding a referral for treatment. My mom sat beside me in silent support. With a bit of time and experience with the medical field, I have learned that all doctors are not created equal, and he didn’t have a clue. It was an early lesson on being your own health care advocate.”