Common Difficulties in Artritis Patients
by Dr Shrikrishna M Joshi
For last 24 years, I am suffering from "RHEUMETOID ARTHRITIS". I tried home remedies, ayurveda, homeopathy for the cure of this disease , but nothing helped . Then I came to Pune and consulted arthritis specialist (Rheumatologist) doctor, since then my arthritis was under some control .Sometimes, I suffer from acute arthritis. Arthritis requires constant consultation and follow up, so I keep coming to Pune regularly for my treatment.
At any given day and date, whenever I used to visit the dispensary for the treatment, it is always full of patients, from children to old coming from different religions and background. Everybody having different symptoms for the same disease ARTHRITIS! A thought always crossed my mindwhat kind of difficulties these people must be facing in the family, socially and at the work place? I always wanted to reach out to them and strike a conversation, but you cannot connect with each and everyone due to lack of time.
Then I came in contact with "MISSION ARTHRITIS INDIA". "MAI", this institute has given a platform or a stage to all of us who are suffering from arthritis. Then began the journey of "let's walk together hand in hand. At the starting of this year, MAI organized a grand seminar! It included guidance from many specialist doctors, discussions, interactive sessions of questions and answers. Last but not the least- melodious music, orchestra and drama. People from Aurangabad, Ratnagiri, Mumbai and Banglore participated in the programme. People from faraway places also participated in the seminar .But this happy event lasted only for a short while. This little time was not enough to get to know each other properly, but TEAM MAI came out with a brilliant solution to this problem. a "WHATSAPP". This was the way to get in touch with each and everyone and at the same time a boon of advanced technology to us! There were 80 members, and then started the chain reaction of sharing jokes, information, videos, puzzles and many more things. It was a pleasant breakaway and joy in our routine lives. For a short while it gave us respite from our pain. The main reason and objective to form this association was to bring together all the patients with arthritis, to understand each other's problem and to find solutions to over come them, while knowing and understanding each other in this journey made life happy and content for all of us. This opportunity is given by MAI when we voice our problems and difficulties. Common people may find them very trivial and laughable, but people who suffer from arthritis can relate to them very well. One who suffers and bears this pain can understand what I mean to convey.
I am listing here few of problems which are common for people with arthritis. I have solutions to some of them and to some of them I do not.
- Today is Sunday, a very routine activity to cut nails, but a difficult one for people with arthritis. Due to arthritis it becomes a humongous task. We feel very awkward to ask for help every time. Due to medication, some suffer from skin disorders. Sometimes the skin becomes irritable and itches. To stop this , we tend to scratch the area, again there is a risk of infection spreading to other areas of the skin, the vicious circle never ends , same old rigmarole doctors, medicines and it continues! The question is can we avoid this? The answer is yes to a certain extent. Due to the deformities, our fingers don't have the strength to hold the nail cutter and apply pressure to cut the nails. But if we can fix a clamp to the nail cutter and then fix the nail cutter to a side of the table or any firm surface then it will be easier. For personal hygiene, it is very important to cut the nails. A nail cutter with a clamp is just an idea that crossed my mind. Do we get this kind of a nail cutter or can anyone manufacture it? If you have any brilliant ideas please convey them to MAI as they may help in making our lives better.
- 25 to 30 years back, when the use of elastic was not so common we had to sometimes use a chord for our daily clothes and dressing up .But thanks to the use of elastic in many of daily clothes, life has become easy for us.
- Another difficult task is to button up a shirt or shirt sleeves and this becomes a tedious and time consuming task. I just cut open the loops a little wider with a pair of scissors so it becomes easier to button up the shirt. Another solution to this is to use press buttons. Instead of buttons for sleeves I use velcro - easy and fast! Isn't that a brilliant idea? To use a T-shirt instead of a shirt is also a good idea.
- While purchasing a pair of jeans, I ask the shop keeper to remove the buttons and use hooks instead.
- When I buy a pair of sports shoes, I buy a pair which has a velcro. As I have a flat foot, I always use a cushion support under my feet. It becomes easier for me to walk and my feet don't ache.
- When I remove my socks, I just roll it down. It then becomes very easy while I wear them, I just insert my foot inside the roll and roll out the socks. If I am experiencing pain in my foot, I apply a balm or an ointment and them wear my socks. Some of you may already be following this practice, but it's a good advice for new patients!
- Sometimes the arthritis pain is so acute that you cannot get out of the bed, or your routine activities become difficult. If you buy a folding table, and keep it at your bedside you can eat your food with ease. You can also read and write on that table. You can fold it and use it as back rest. It can be used with ease when you are not sick.
- It becomes very difficult for arthritis patients to bend down and pick up things, be it a pen or change or anything else. Can anyone invent a stick with a clamp at the bottom of the stick, with which it will be easier to pick up things that fall down. Can anyone come with an idea for this purpose?
- For arthritis patients, it is very important to remember that clothing with chord must be best avoided. As while using the chord it may snap or get entangled. Patients with arthritis do not have enough strength in their hand to avoid such a problem. If we avoid wearing clothing with chord, it will save us from lot of embarrassment and trouble. Try using clothing with elastic.
- While having your bath it is advisable to sit on a tall stool and take a bath. Also use antiskid tiles in the bathroom to avoid any accidents. It also advisable to use western style toilet. There are many difficulties, but we can find solutions to them. Use of press buttons, elastics are practical and good solutions. Generally the percentage of arthritis is found in women. If women come up with their problems openly, it will be easier to find solutions to them.
Mrs. Jyoti Patil, who is a member at MAI, has come up with some great solutions. They are especially for the women who have arthritis and find some routine tasks difficult to perform. Like using a food processor for cutting of vegetables instead of knife and kneading of the dough. Using containers which are easy to pull and open instead of container with threads. Instead of cleaning the house with rotating taps, use taps with long handles; cleaning with light weight brooms and keeping the height of the kitchen platform a little shorter so that it is easy to work , using pair of tongs with good support etc.
If we implement these suggestions in our daily routine life will be easier for us arthritis patients. If we can find practical solutions to the existing problems, then life will not be a punishment for us.