Monthly Archives: July 2009

LivingRheum Celebrating 100th Post!


When I started the day I was trying to decide on the direction for today’s post when I looked up and noticed that this would be my 100th post.  I know that in the big scheme of things that this is probably small potatoes but to me it is a really big deal. When I began this journey I could never have imagined that I would have 10 things to say about rheumatoid arthritis, let alone 100.  Now I have an abundance of ideas and I find it hard to decide which one to use first.  This has truly been a labor of love.  I realize that this is a small milestone but I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one my readers that have encouraged me and really are the reason that this blog is so successful. I am immensely grateful to all of you for your kind words of encouragement and support. It makes me strive to be a better writer and advocate. I especially want to thank my husband, Eric. It was his idea that I start this blog and it was through his endless tech support and guidance that this was even possible. I also want to thank my kids for allowing me to share a part of our lives with the world that would otherwise remained private.  A special thank you to Nate who has an amazing ability to spell and has become my de factor editor and came up with the idea of sharing my recipes to fight inflammation.

Massage for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Massage has been used for centuries to improve health and ease pain in the body-mind. There are more than 100 different types of bodywork they include deep tissue massage, acupressure massage and Swedish massage.  Each one has it’s own technique and approach to bodywork. The benefits of massage therapy for rheumatoid arthritis are increased circulation, flexibility and massage can strengthen the immune system, reduce pain,stress and anxiety.  There is scientific evidence that massage lowers cortisol(stress hormone) levels and  improves immune system function.

When deciding on a massage it is important to find a competent massage therapist that is familiar with rheumatoid arthritis and or other autoimmune disease(s) that you may have. Find a therapist that  is trained in many different techniques.  They will be able to guide you in choosing the best therapy for your particular needs. You can  also check with The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or The American Massage Therapy Association for a listing of certified massage therapists in your area.

Check with your insurance company before you schedule an appointment with a massage therapist.  The session may be offered at a reduced rate through your insurance provider or it may be covered if your doctor prescribed it. Check with your rheumatologist before you make the appointment, he/she may be able to recommend a therapist or give you specific cautions.  Make sure that if you are flaring to hold off until it is under control. Do not have massage on an inflamed joint, it may make it worse.

Once you have the appointment, make sure that you express what it is that you hope to gain from this experience.  Maybe you just want to relax or perhaps there is a particular part of your body that needs special attention.  Be clear about the amount of pain or discomfort that you are experiencing prior to starting the massage and communicate if you are experiencing pain during the process.  When the massage is over make sure to drink plenty of water.  Massage increases circulation and releases toxins trapped in tight muscles.  Water will help to flush out those toxins.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:Had to Throw a Pity Party

As some of you may know, the past few months it has been one thing after the other around here.  We had one person after the next with the swine flu; all the while I have been dealing with the effects of lyme disease and rheumatoid arthritis with no RA meds.  The doctor took me off the medication so that the Tamiflu stood a chance of helping get rid of the H1N1 virus that had overtaken my house. All that was fine and as far as I can tell worked well, but the consequence of all this is that my hands are really swollen and painful once again.  On top of my hands being swollen, painful and holding on to anything is next to impossible, the effects of the lyme disease have left me with unbelievable fatigue and muscle soreness.

I have done my best to just accept that for the time being this is what my reality is and I know that it is a temporary situation.  I am usually pretty good at dealing with this sort of thing because I know that it is out of my hands.  There is only so much I can do right now.  I am drinking water like it is going out of style.  I am staying away from my known trigger foods and Lord knows I have been getting a lot of sleep.  I have been meditating and exercising the joints that aren’t painful. I am doing everything I know to do to improve the quality of my life and yet it is still very hard.

Yesterday I fell apart. I am really not sure exactly what set me off. Was it my husband asking “Why are your hands so swollen?” which to me seemed like the dumbest question ever. Was it when my son innocently asked me to play a game of badminton outside with him? I would have loved to play but my hands couldn’t grip the racket. Was it when I was attempting to make breakfast and I couldn’t even crack the eggs and needed to ask for help?  Maybe it was all of that and more.  I suppose it really doesn’t matter what set me off, but I just started crying.

What started as a trickle streaming down my cheek turned out to be an all out torrent of tears.  For the next hour I cried, I blubbered, I wept and I felt really sorry for myself.  This disease is so hard, sometimes harder than I can often put into words.  It takes me away from all that I want to do sometimes.  It is painful and when I am in pain I am not my real self.  It distracts me from what I truly want to be doing.  Sometimes, and yesterday in particular, it feels like it is something separate from me that is demanding my focus,  demanding my attention.  Like a spoiled child that will do whatever it takes to get what it wants.  And so with my mounting frustration and anger and pain, I cried. And I cried. And I cried. And then I cried some more.

And when I had gone thought the better part of a box of tissue and I felt as though I had no more tears I cried a little more. After a good long time of wallowing in my self pity, I started to feel better.  I really think I just needed to get rid of some of the frustration and anger and sadness.  I felt it all and had cried it all out of me.  I can’t begin to express how much better I feel.

My hands are still swollen and I am typing this with three fingers, but I feel so much better.  I had forgotten that when the disease was new and the emotions that come with it were new, every once in a while I would have a good old fashioned pity party.  I wouldn’t want it to be a very long party, but every once in a while, when the disease got the better of me I would just let it all out and I always felt better.  I wanted to share this so if you are feeling like I did maybe a good cry will help you feel better like I do.

Thai Chicken with Tahini Wrap

Chicken Wrap

This is a tasty recipe that is loaded with anti-inflammatory such as ginger,garlic, turmeric, honey and cabbage. It also has vitamins C, D, E and Folic Acid.  It is a great lunch or a nice light dinner.


1 Cup                    Orange Juice

1 Tablespoon     Paprika

1 teaspoon          Turmeric

2 teaspoon          Cumin

1 ½ teaspoon      Orange Zest

1 Tablespoon      Fresh Ginger Minced

2                              Whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

With a mallet pound out the chicken to a uniform thickness. Place all the dry ingredients into a zip close bag with the chicken and coat the chicken completely just be moving it around the bag. When coated add the orange juice, orange zest and ginger. Close bag and refrigerate.While the chicken is marinating, prepare the dressing and vegetables.


3 Tablespoon     Tahini

½ Cup                   Orange Juice

½ Cup                   Sour Cream or Yogurt

2 Clove                 Garlic (minced)

1                              Shallot (minced)

2 Tablespoon     Soy Sauce (Good Quality like Tamari)

1 Tablespoon     Sushi Vinegar

¼ teaspoon        Chili paste

2 Tablespoon     Honey

1 Tablespoon     Cilantro

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk until everything is incorporated.If whisking is an issue you can put all the ingredients in the blender in pulse until well mixed. Place in refrigerator and chill.


½ Cup                   Shredded Cabbage

1                             Carrot Julienned

½                           Cucumber peeled, seeded and julienned

½ Cup                   Bean Sprouts

1/8                        Red Onion sliced really thin

½                           Zucchini julienned

6 Whole Wheat Wraps ( I used the rectangular ones. I find it easier to wrap)

The longer you marinade the chicken the more flavors it will have.  I only marinaded mine for the time it took me to prepare the dressing and the vegetables and it tasted great.  Make sure your grill is really hot and grill the chicken for about 8-10 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chicken. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes.  Slice the chicken into thin strips.

Layer the vegetables close to the end of the wrap leaving about 1 inch on either side(the short side) and about 2 inches from one edge(the long side) of the wrap. .  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables. Layer chicken strips on top of vegetables.

Fold up the sides and while holding them in grab the end on the wrap with your thumbs and fold over the filling then start to roll the wrap toward the end the wrap. I like to cut the wrap into 2 pieces to make it a little easier to hold.  Serve and enjoy!

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Fight Inflammation with Turmeric

Turmeric has been used as a treatment for inflammation for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional Indian medicine that is practiced elsewhere as an alternative medicine. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry it’s distinctive flavor and color and is also used in making  mustard and pickles. Turmeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant and is related to gingeturmericrootr.

Turmeric is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that can damage healthy cells and cell membranes.  Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and in recent studies decreased the duration of morning stiffness for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.turmericpowder

The University of Arizona College of Medicine study found that turmeric inhibits a transcription factor, which is a protein that controls when genes are switched on or off.  Once activated it binds to genes that produce inflammatory proteins that can result in joint damage.  This study suggests that turmeric may be useful in fighting inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis as well as other diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and asthma.

If you are looking for a natural way to decrease inflammation, turmeric is a good place to start.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Gadget: Find of the Month


The other day when I was out and about I mosied into the As Seen On TV store and found this handy little gizmo that has made my life a whole lot easier.  It is called the Pyranna.  Turns out I had never seen this on TV so it was a real neat find for me.  It was only $9.95 so I figured that if it didn’t work it was only a small investment to lose.  Turns out it was a great buy. The opener fits easily into my hand and with very little effort sliced opened the one package I hate opening the most (and with my kids is in constant need) battery packages. I have long since given up on trying to open those packages on my own. It is just too painful to try and get scissors to do the job.   I usually get my husband to do it for me, but it can be a real pain waiting for him to get home just to get into one of those plastic packages.  Since it is new I can’t comment on it’s durability but  based on my trials I would recommend this product.

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