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!

Personal TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) Machine

During Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy’s first physical therapy session years ago, he became familiar with TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) treatment. The idea is simple: place electrode pads on the area that is hurting, and then deliver an analgesic electrical current in order to provide some temporary pain relief.

When I returned home from this first session and shared the news at home, my nephew’s ears immediately perked up. (He was spending part of the summer with us, and was probably around ten years old at the time.) “You mean they are electrocuting you?” Of course, during my next session my nephew was anxiously sitting in the corner of the room with a big grin on his face as they applied the electrodes. I think he was a little let down when he did not see me convulsing in pain after the machine was turned on.

Early on my former physical therapist recommended that I purchase my own personal TENS machine to use at home. I looked at many models, some inexpensive (manual knobs) and some expensive (digital settings). I went with the less expensive model, and have not regretted it since.

Don’t be deceived as I was with the battery power source. When I used this machine for the first time, I thought to myself “how good can this $50 battery-powered machine really be…am I even going to be able to feel the current?” With that it mind, I applied the electrodes to my shoulder and then immediately cranked the settings up to maximum power. As my arm started flailing around uncontrollably, I shouted out for someone to please help me turn off the machine. So trust me when I say that this machine can deliver a punch. (My nephew would have had a blast had he been around on this occasion!)

This model has two channels, which means that I can apply it to both wrists at the same time…or to one shoulder and one elbow. The electrode pads are easy to take on and off (and seem to stay stickier for a longer time if stored in the refrigerator.)

Please check with your doctor first to see if TENS treatment for you. If it is, I would highly recommend this machine – it’s affordable, easy to use, and perfect for those moments when you need some temporary yet immediate pain relief at home.


TENS Machine
TENS Battery-Operated portable Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator for Pain Relief

The Sonic Tens is a pocket-sized, portable, battery operated TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) which is used for the symptomatic relief and management of chronic (long term) pain. Relieve Pain and Rebuild, Re-educate, Tone, and Stimulate Muscles. TENS is a non evasive method intended to be used to alleviate pain. The Sonic TENS sends impulses through the skin that stimulate the nerve (or nerves) in the treatment area. Features include: Dual Channels which may be isolated between channels – meaning you can either station. Wave Form: Modified, square wave form with zero net direct current (DC) component. Pulse Amplitude: 0 to 80 mA each channel, adjustable (500 ohm load). Pulse Frequency: 2-150 Hz adjustable. Pulse Width: 60 – 250 Microseconds adjustable. Modulation mode: Pulse width is automatically varied in a cyclic pattern over an interval of nominally 4.0 seconds. Burst MOde 7 Pulses per Burst, 2 Bursts per second. 100 Hz internal frequency of burst. Maximum Charge: 20 micro coulombs per pulse. Power Source: 9 Volt Alkaliine Battery. Battery Life: 70 hours average useage (alkaline). Size 3.5 ” x .5 x 2.5″. Weight of unit without battery: 3 oz. FDA 510K approved.

More Info: TENS Battery-Operated portable Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator for Pain Relief

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

My Warm Giraffe Heat Pack

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy really likes items that are not only functional, but that are whimsical as well. They need not always be humorous in nature. Just as long as they are designed with design in mind, I love them. (It must be the design student that still exists inside of me.)

So this past year, when I was visiting one of my favorite stores in San Francisco (Rainbow Grocery), I was thrilled to find this scented heat pack in the form of a giraffe. Not only do I love giraffes (they actually had a wide assortment of animals), but I loved the notion of taking a somewhat mundane scented heat pack and wrapping it up with a stuffed animal.

The heat pack is easy to take in and out, and heats up in seconds in a microwave. When the scent begins to wear out, all you have to do is douse it with a few drops of your favorite aromatherapy essential oil.

So while I’m heading into warmer weather (these past few days have been some of the warmest all year), I thought some of my friends up in the northern hemisphere might like to share in my recent discovery, as they move into the cold winter months! After all, how could you not like a heat pack that smiles at you?


Hot Hugs Giraffe
Aroma Home Hot Hugs Microwavable Giraffe Heat Pack with Lavender and Chamomile Pure Essential Oil – Made in England

Heat packs are fabulous to use for aches and pains, muscular tension, stress or cramps. Can’t sleep on a cold night? A cozy heat pack will work its magic. Cold Feet? Heat packs keep your footsies warm and comfortable. Heat packs soothe and calm children. Children love to cuddle with plush warm companions. Heat packs are easy to travel with, especially on a long flight or bus ride. Beneath this giraffe’s furry tummy is a wheat sachet. Simply heat it in the microwave and enjoy a warm cuddle every time. Just give them a big hug and bask in the aroma of pure lavender and chamomile, which promotes sleep and well-being. Yummy, sweet smelling animals. Hot Hugs are innovatively packaged and are 100% natural making them the perfect gift. Go on, spread some animal magic. Made in England.

More Info:Aroma Home Hot Hugs

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

Winter Must-Haves

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy's Joints Gone Wild

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is glad to be heading into warmer weather. Winter this past year not only started a month earlier, but it also ended a month later. On top of these two extra months of winter, temperatures were much lower than usual – and, it snowed much more than usual. While most of my readers continue to move towards colder temperatures, down here in the Southern Hemisphere things are the exact opposite. The days are getting both longer and warmer. I am loving it.

I’ll do my best to send some of this sun and warm weather up north, but I can’t make any promises. I know how hard cold weather can be when living with rheumatoid arthritis. For some of my hints on coping with winter, please see My Own Personal Kryptonite.

“When Superman was exposed to one particular thing, he immediately lost all of his powers and became weak.  The thing that had such an immediate and pronounced effect on Superman was green kryptonite.  Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has his own personal kryptonite – but it’s called winter.”

Today I thought it would be good if we could share some of our must-have items for winter. I’ll go ahead and start.

I have never been much of a slipper guy…that is, up until I had rheumatoid arthritis. Before, I believed in the power of bare feet,  and sometimes just walking around with socks if it was a little chilly. (Hey, I grew up in South Texas, where our slippers were beach sandals!)

But since I have been living with rheumatoid arthritis, this has all changed. As soon as I get out of bed, there is no way I am going to make things worse by putting my feet on a cold floor. So I’ve gone through slipper after slipper during the past few years. This past year, I decided to spend a little more on a slipper that was not only more comfortable, but which would last longer as well. I haven’t regretted a cent that I spent on my slippers, shown below.


Mens Slippers Qwaruba

Qwaruba Men’s Cabin Fever Cocoa Sheepskin Slippers

  • 100% Australian Merino Sheepskin upper & insole
  • Opera stylng with twin elastic side-gores
  • Seamless footbed
  • Double lock-stitched suede “mudguard”
  • Lasted upper
  • “Memory” foam midsole
  • Lightweight indoor/outdoor TPR (Rubber) “Diamond” outsole
  • Qwaruba donates all profits to charity

More Info:

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy

Pill Organizer

Did I take my pills this morning? Did I take my pills this afternoon? Did I take my pills this evening? In the past, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy used to ask himself these questions quite often. With no way of knowing the answer, I was often left with choosing between a) not take the pills on the assumption that I already took them, or b) go ahead and take the pills on the risk that I was doubling my normal dosage.

All of this confusion has been removed since I started using a weekly pill organizer. I chose one that allowed me to set up the entire week at once, and which had each day divided into morning, noon, evening, and bedtime. With just a quick glance I can immediately tell if there was any dosage that I forgot to take.

And the best past about the pill organizer that I chose is that it allows me to carry around just the strip for each day. Each night before I got to sleep, as I finish my day’s medication, I return that strip to the tray and take out the strip for the following day. Not only does this allow for a more discrete presence on my desk or nightstand, but it also allows me to slip it in my pocket if I am going to be on the go for a large part of the day.


Pill Organizer

Walgreens 7 Day Removable Medication Organizer 7 Day

  • Seven removable 1-day pill reminders.
  • Unique snap-in storage tray.
  • Prescription information label included.
  • The One-Day-At-A-Time Weekly Medication Organizer Tray contains seven individual 1-day pill reminders and a unique snap-in storage tray.
  • It allows you to fill a week’s medication at one time and offers the convenience of taking one day’s medication with you.
  • The individual 1-day pill reminders have four compartments to cover all times of the day.
  • Each pill reminder is printed with the day of the week and the time of the day on each compartment.
  • This convenient feature allows you to set up a full week’s medication at one time.
  • The unique snap-in organizer tray holds each 1-day pill reminder in a handy storage container.
  • An easy to use prescription information label is included to assist you in taking the correct dosage at the right time.

More Info:…

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