Category Archives: Wellness

Thank You One and All!!


I have tried to reply to each of your comments but they keep bouncing back to me, so, I decided to say thank you in an article.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your fabulous comments about my blog and content.

I get a lot of questions about how I get my blog to load so fast.  I have no idea except that I would have to give the credit to wordpress for their excellent format.  They make it so easy for you to pick a design and format.

As for the content that I provide, my goal is to help as many people as I can to understand their arthritis.  It’s not easy to understand why you have so much pain and since I have had arthritis for nearly 14 years now, and I’ve been doing research into the why’s and what for’s for nearly that long, I just want to share what I’ve found.  It’s been my experience that the doctors, not all doctors, and the drug companies would like to not give us all the information we need to make wise health decisions so that we keep coming back and paying more to get answers.  There are answers to our pain.  We just have to dig a little deeper and that’s what my business is all about.  I do the digging for you.

I am glad to hear that I am helping so many people.   Thank you so much for all your replies!!

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Arthritis and Sex: Alternatives To Intercourse Part 4


Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures

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There are other ways to make love and to have your body respond to sexual stimulation besides intercourse.  Some of them might be familiar to you, while others may be less so, but all of them are normal, natural expressions, of human sexuality.  These alternatives can be helpful when you’re having arthritis pain.

You don’t have to have penetration to have sensation, pleasure and satisfaction.  Here is a lesson in stimulation for both men and women.  The end of the penis is its most sensitive part and the clitoris and opening to the vagina are far more sensitive than the interior of the vagina.  A misconception among many men is that an erection and penetration of the vagina is necessary to please his partner.  This isn’t necessarily true. There are many women who have greater satisfaction through genital stimulation, whether it’s manual or oral.

Women can have problems with decreased lubrication, causing the vagina to be dry, and it can make having intercourse uncomfortable.  The decreased lubrication can be caused by certain medications, by some diseases like lupus, scleroderma and Sjogren’s syndrome, or can be a natural change due to aging.  Using a vaginal lubricant will make it easier in any position.  A word of caution though, petroleum jelly products and other oily substances are not recommended because they may carry germs which could cause infection.  It’s best to use a germ free lubricant, such as K-Y jelly or Steri-Lube, and these are available without a prescription.

There will be times when you’re not able to have sexual intercourse in the usual way, but you can still enjoy your sexuality.  There are other ways to express your affection and bring sexual enjoyment and excite to the body.

Manual sex

There are times when sexual intercourse is not possible because of pain, but you and your partner can still enjoy lovemaking.  Using your hands to caress, manual sex, can be a satisfying alternative to sexual intercourse as well as fondling , stroking the genitals, the breast, and all areas of sensitivity, can excite both of you to orgasm and fulfillment as complete as having intercourse.  You might enjoy your orgasms together , or take turns.  You can embrace and gently caress your loved one as he or she stimulates his or her own genitals to climax when your hands are swollen and sore. Your warmth , caring, and reassuring embrace will convey completely the love you want to give.

A vibrator is another alternative when your hands are hurting.  It can be the kind of vibrator found in small appliance departments that’s used for light massage of the neck or face.  Another type is the tube-shaped vibrator, which is lighter and easier to handle, and are available at some stores or through mail order.

If you move the vibrator gently over the sensitive areas of your partner’s body, especially against the underside of the penis or clitoris, it will quickly bring about sexual pleasure.  A word of caution though, it is possible that the vibrator may irritate the genitals if it’s used often or too long.  You might want to lubricate it with a sterile jelly, or use a clean handkerchief between the vibrator and the area to be stimulated.  If you have skin that’s thin and dry or is tender, you shouldn’t use this device often, if at all.

Oral sex

Oral sex is the use of the tongue and mouth directly on the genitals to bring pleasure to your partner. It’s an approach to sexual fulfillment which can be very stimulating.

Even with your best efforts, there’s going to be times when you have no interest in sex or you can’t become sexually aroused and you still want to provide for the needs of your partner.  The alternative methods suggested here may be what you’re looking for.  As you learn more about what your partner enjoys, you’ll gain the confidence to bring pleasure and fulfillment to him or her.

Masturbation, or self – stimulation, is another very common, healthy, and satisfying form of sexual activity.  It provides valuable reinforcement and reassurance about your own personal sexuality, and it can also increase responsiveness during intercourse.

When you prepare for this sexual experience make sure you have privacy and you might want to create an atmosphere by listening to soft music just as you might with a partner, or by reading erotic material or looking at erotic pictures or a movie.  You will want to make sure that you are rested and that you have taken your pain medication ahead of time so that you will be more comfortable.  Self – stimulation is done by stroking or rubbing the sensitive areas of your body. If your fingers are swollen or painful because of your arthritis, you can use a vibrator.

Your attitude about your sexual relationships is important.  Some people look at sex as a duty, while others look at it as if it were a gift.  The truth is that it’s probably somewhere between for most of us.  If you have emotional complications that come up between you and your partner, like resentment, guilt, or any other strongly negative feelings related to your physical relationship, you might want to consider talking to a counselor.  You can also talk to your doctor about the effects of your arthritis and it’s treatment on your sexual relations.

My own experience with arthritis and sex

My husband is experiencing resentment, and guilt and he also blames me.  He gets it sometimes and then there are those times, mostly when he is drinking, that he says the most hurtful things to me about sex.  Things like, how repulsive I am, how disgusting I am, how he never wants to have sex with me ever, how he wants someone who is younger and doesn’t have any health issues.  Then in the next breath he will tell me how much he wants to have sex with me, no emotions though, just sex.  I am learning to disassociate myself from him when he starts to say those things and I never try to defend myself because in the past it’s done nothing but make it worse.  It didn’t just start, it’s been going on for over 12 years.  I found these suggestions too late to work for me but if you are in the same situation or something similar,  you will want to consider giving them a try.

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Arthritis and Sex: Positions Part 3


Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures

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Finding new positions for intercourse can put less strain on painful joints and, in turn, improve your sex life.  The mission position can be very uncomfortable for a person who’s experiencing pain.

Here are a few ways to find a comfortable position:

  • Have your partner provide most of the body action, if movement causes your pain. You may prefer a position which allows you to move away if you suddenly have pain.
  • Think about what you do to make yourself more comfortable when you are lying in bed.  Maybe these changes in position can be adapted to your lovemaking for greater comfort and increased pleasure for you and your partner.

Below you’ll find new ideas about different positions, they aren’t for everyone, but they are good starting points.  As you start to experiment be sure to tell each other how comfortable and satisfied you are with the new position.  The goal is to work together for your mutual pleasure and comfort.

  1. Both partners line on their side.  The man enters from behind, and the woman can place a pillow between her knees.  This position is good when a woman has hip problems.
  2. The woman lives on her back, knees together, with pillow under hips and thighs.  The man will be supporting his own body weight on his hands and knees.  This can be used when a woman has hip or knee problems, or is unable to move her legs a part.
  3. Side position with partners facing each other.  This can be used if the man has back problem, and the woman must provide most of the hip movement.
  4. Both partners are standing.  The man enters from behind , and the woman uses furniture, at a comfortable height, for support and balance.
  5. The woman is kneeling, her upper body supported by furniture.  She can be supported by a pillow. This position may be helpful when the woman has a hip problem but it’s not good if your shoulders are pain.
  6. The man lies on his back using pillows for support.  The woman can support her own body weight on her elbows and/or knees.  This can be used when the man has hip or knee problems.

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Arthritis and Sex: Introduction Part 1


Hoboken, New Jersey, July 2008

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Whether you have arthritis or not you may encounter challenges in attaining sexual enjoyment. Arthritis usually doesn’t directly affect the sexual parts of the body, but  it can make it difficult for you and your partner, such as:

  • Physical problems due to arthritis – examples, fatigue, pain, stiffness, vaginal dryness,
  • Side effects from your medications – examples, fatigue, impotence, risk for infections, weight gain or bloating,
  • Emotional reactions – examples, negative self-image, depression, or other emotional problems that may or may not be part of your arthritis,
  • Relationship problems – examples, conflicts with your partner related to the stresses of your illness, or your partner’s fear of causing you physical pain.   This has been the biggest obstacle my husband and I have had since I was diagnosed with arthritis in 1999.  The first thing he said when he found out that I had arthritis and fibromyalgia was, “Well, my life is over.”

Problems like these may decrease your interest in sex and may change how you think and feel about yourself.   Your body may physically be able to respond sexually, but the way you or your partner feels or the way you see yourself may limit your interest in sex.

Making love isn’t just all about intercourse, there other ways to enjoy sexual relations and express your love for your partner.

Accepting your body changes and restoring your self-image.

Changes to your body or the way you look and the way you move, don’t change who you area as a person, but they can interfere with an otherwise healthy self-image by causing you to feel less attractive, less youthful, or less confident sexually or socially.   You will want to work through these negative feelings, to accept your body changes, and to keep up your personal interest in life.

Here are some things that you can do to help replace those negative feelings you may be experiencing and open up the communication lines between you and your partner.

Communicate:

If you have arthritis, you might want to ask your partner how he or she feels about the changes in your body.  Be prepared because you may not hear what you want or need to hear.   If your partner is concerned that he/she will cause you more pain then you are already going through, or they have negative feeling about the changes your body is going through, he/she may be anxious about being sexual with you.   Both of you may start to avoid sex together, and this could create tension between you, that’s why talking to each other is so important and can help to prevent any of these things from happening.

You really need to let your partner know when you are not interested in sex or you just aren’t able to have sex physically. This could help to prevent any misunderstanding and will enable the both of you to stay close with one another at times when you need it the most.

There are other ways to express affection while you seek ways to pleasure each other, physically.   If you talk to each other you will discover what is satisfying for the two of you.   If you have a difficult time starting the conversation about these matters then you might find help from your doctor, minister, nurse, social worker, or therapist.

Take care of yourself:

Carefully grooming yourself can help you improve your self-image.   You can select the right cut or design in clothes and choose colors that look good on you to help you look and feel better.   Making it one of your daily goals to look you best, will boost your moral and have a positive effect on those around you.

Don’t accept stereotypes:

Because you’re disabled, your partner may mistakenly assume that you’re not interested in sex, this doesn’t mean that you have to accept this view.   There are people with severe disabilities who have satisfying sexual relationships and so can you.   Satisfying sex can help with you accepting changes in your body, enhance your confidence in your own sexuality, and help you to feel better physically.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Tips For Learning How to Relax Part 10


Stress

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Practice every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. A new habit takes about 30 days of repeating until it begins to feel like a part of your natural routine.

Choose your favorite method or methods, be creative and remember, there is any way that is the best way to relax. It’s what works for you and you alone.

Work in short relaxation breaks during your day, when you can and try to use some very simple methods such as deep breathing, even if it’s only for a minute or two.

If you can manage your stress, you can manage your pain and feel healthier. You will also be able to cope with the extra demands your arthritis puts on you.

Summary

  1. Learn to identify the situations you can do something about and those you can’t.
  2. Work at reducing the causes of your stress by communicating better, and respecting your limits of energy and pain.
  3. Simplify your life, “look on the bright side,” and develop and keep a sense of humor.
  4. Prepare for stressful events by getting extra rest regardless of what anyone else says or does.
  5. If you run into a stressful situation that you just can’t avoid, remember that you can’t change others, and keep in mind that no one is perfect. If it’s really serious then seek professional help.
  6. Practice relaxation methods to overcome the effects of stress that you can’t avoid. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness.
  7. Managing your stress is your job and when you have it under control, it’ll be easier to keep your arthritis under control.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Overcoming the Harmful Effects of Stress Part 9


Mzi sit

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Learning how to relax is one of the most important ways to cope with stress in a positive way. It’s more than just sitting back and being quite, it’s an active process involving methods that calm your body and mind. It takes practice but once you know how to do it, it will become second nature to you.

You will want to keep in mind that there is no right way to get relaxed and that whatever works for you is what’s important. You may have to try different methods until you find one or two that you like best. I am giving you a couple of methods that have worked for me.

1. Practice relaxation techniques.

  • First, you want to try to set a time in a quiet place away from people, TV, radio and any other distractions.
  • Now close your eyes and slowly tense and then relax the muscles in your body that feel tense. Start at your feet and work your way up to your neck.
  • Next, sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and your arms at your sides. Close your eyes and breathe in, saying to yourself, “I am ….,” then breathe out saying “… relaxed.” Continue to breathe slowly, silently repeating to yourself something like “My hands are … warm; my feet … are warm; my forehead … is cool; my breathing … is deep and smooth; my heartbeat is … calm and steady; I am … happy; I feel calm … and at peace.”

This next suggestions uses imagery, or “mental pictures” to help you relax.

  • Light a candle, and focus your attention on the flame for a few minutes, close your eyes and watch the image of the flame for a minute or two.
  •  Imagine a white cloud floating toward you, it wraps itself around your pain and stress, a breeze comes along and blows away the cloud, your pain and your stress.
  • Think about a place you where you felt comfortable and happy, feel every detail as much as you possibly can, how it looks, how it smells, sounds and feels. Remember all those positive feelings you had when you were there and keep them in your mind. Don’t let any negative thoughts creep in, pain or stress.
  • Imagine that you’ve put all your concerns, worries and pain in a helium balloon, now let go of it and watch everything float away.

By allowing your mind to wander or “go on vacation” so to speak, you will help in reducing your stress.

Here are just a few suggestions but by all means create your own.

  • Watch a sunset
  • Take your shoes off and walk in the grass
  • Sit on the beach and dig your toes into the sand.
  • Listen to the birds on a sunny day.
  • Make a fire and just sit there listening to it crackle and watch the flames as they dance.

2. Learn to overcome any barriers you may have when it comes to relaxing. You have to really want to relax if you want to overcome any barriers you might have. You might have some of these common blocks when it comes to relaxing.

  •  feelings of guilt for taking time from your busy schedule,
  • being made fun of by others;
  • not being able to stop and take time;
  • fear of “loss of control.”

If you can learn to relax you will gain better control of the demands your life makes on you. Not only that, but if you devote some time to relaxing, later on you’ll be able to do more and enjoy yourself more.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Accepting What You Can’t Change Part 8


REMEMBER THE DUCK, KEEP POSTIVE !!!

You have to realize that you can change only yourself, not others.

Most of us spend far too much time trying to change our spouses, children or even the doctors. We want to make them different, or to have them act in a certain way and when those changes don’t happen, we feel frustrated, tense and upset. No one has the power to change another person and when they do change it’s because they want to change not because you want them too. I was notorious for this until my pastor pointed out to me that I can’t make people do what I want them to do, they have to do it themselves. It’s funny, when other people tell us what they see in us, we finally get it. We never see it in ourselves, we figure that we would never act that way, even when we’re doing it.

Having the courage to be imperfect.

You need to stop trying to be the perfect parent, spouse, child, patient, employee, or boss. No one is perfect!! Trying to be perfect is admirable, but doing so takes it’s toll on your time, energy and the way you feel about yourself. Life isn’t fair and drugs have side effects, doctors may be grouchy sometimes, and your family isn’t always going to understand what’s going on with you. You have to try to roll with the punches and be flexible so that you can keep your positive attitude no matter how hard it may get.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Guidelines cont. Part 6


Stress Management courseSimplify your life as much as possible.

Take a look at the activities you do and decide which ones are most valuable and omit these that aren’t. Are all those tasks and chores really necessary? Maybe they’re only important in your mind. Your family and friends will enjoy you more when you’re rested and healthy, so don’t get worn out trying to do too much, instead you may want to try to just a few thing and do them well. Always ask for help when you need it and accept any help gratefully. Give others a chance to experience the joy of giving. Also, use any aids and devices that will make your everyday tasks easier.

Manage your time and conserve your energy.

If you usually have pain and limited energy, it’s natural to want to work harder on the days you feel real good. I always do this and sometimes, not always, I end up paying for it the next couple of days. But, instead of trying to do everything, organize each day the night before or in the morning. Plan to do the less stressful or hardest jobs early in the day and make sure you schedule some rest time and remember to take them before you get worn out. Also, you will want to pace yourself by doing a heavy task and then a light task and don’t try to do too many heavy chores in one day. Combine your chores or errands so you can get more done with less effort.

Set short-term and life goals for yourself.

Setting goals can give you something to work for and they give you satisfaction of knowing that you really can achieve them. If you set short-term, achievable goals, taking one day at a time, and remember to include your hobbies (if you have any) and your friends into your planning, and be sure to be flexible about the time needed to complete each goal, you’ll actually find that you get more done in a single day then if you don’t plan out your days. My husband makes fun of me because I plan out each day, right down to the hour. This includes my housework, and I do it because if I don’t, nothing will get done. I’ll have a lot of half-finished projects sitting around.

You may also want to take some time to think about your life goals. Ask yourself, “How has my life changed since I last thought about my goals?” “Has my arthritis affected them?” What is most important to me now?” “What do I want to achieve?” Consider what it is you want out of your life as you answer these questions. Here are some links to some worksheets that may help you with setting your goals:  http://www.SMARTGoalsGuide.com

You have to realize that drugs and alcohol don’t solve life’s problems.

If you smoke and your under a lot of stress, you tend to smoke more, if you drink alcohol, or use marijuana, or other drugs in an attempt to solve or to escape from life’s problems, they will only add to your health problems. They don’t help you manage stress and in fact, in the long run they will increase your stress. Instead of turning to drugs and alcohol, see a mental health counselor or ask your local health service or hospital about programs offered in stress management.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Guidelines cont. Part 5


Overview of biological circadian clock in huma...

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Try not to get depressed.

This is another one that is hard for me not to do. When you have arthritis, it can bring out feelings of depression and you may feel sad or “blue,” or have more serious thoughts of hopelessness and despair. Depression can make you feel miserable and increase your pain. You may start to wonder “why me” or “why are other people able to do things I can’t?” You may even become angry or start to feel sorry for yourself, but you need to know that you’re not alone. These are common feelings with others who have arthritis. I have these feeling as well but on most days it empowers me to push myself a bit further than the day before or even the week before. Your depression will depend on how you deal with events in your life, whether they are real or imagined. If you believe you’re a helpless victim of depression, you probably won’t do anything to overcome it. Here are some tips to help you manage your depression:

  • You are responsible for how you feel. If you are aware that your state of mind is up to you, then you are more likely to take an active role in improving your mood.
  • Take care of yourself. I know it sounds selfish but it isn’t. You’re special so pamper yourself. Try something good to eat, take a leisurely bath, or buy yourself something nice.
  • Be a “doer.” When you’re feeling down in dumps, go do something you want to do, get involved in a neighborhood or volunteer at an organization such as the local Arthritis Chapter, or at a homeless shelter. Do something besides sitting at home thinking about how depressed you are. Don’t forget the joy of giving.
  • Find new activities to replace the old ones you can no longer do so you will continue to grow and develop.
  • Discover new outlets for creativity
  • Always remember that you have the right to cry any time you want. Crying is actually a healthy way of relieving tension.
  • Talk to your family and friends, go and visit them or call them if you are unable to get out because of your arthritis. Don’t let your arthritis set you apart from others.
  • Think about what set your depression off to begin with and then learn to avoid those events in the future.  If you are keeping a journal, reread your entries, you may have written something down that will help you to remember what it was that set your depression off.
  • Stay alert for the signs of depression that last for more than two weeks. If you continue to have signs such as eating or sleeping too much or too little, or feeling hopeless, forgetful, restless, or more tired than usual, be sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible. This could be a sign that there is a change or imbalance in the body’s chemistry.

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Arthritis and Stress Management: Guidelines to a Stress Management Program Part 4


Cover of "Reducing Stress (Essential Mana...

Cover of Reducing Stress (Essential Managers)

Here are some guidelines for following a program to manage stress.

  1. Reducing stress
  • Identify the causes of stress in your life.
  • What causes you to worry and what are your concerns?
  • What are the situations that make you feel anxious, nervous or afraid?
  • Once you have identified what the stressful aspects of your life are, then you can decide whether you can change them.
  • Keeping a stress diary to record the events in your life that cause stress and recording any physical symptoms you have, and making notes on the ways that helped you to manage your stress, this will give you a better understanding of what upsets you the most and which ways of managing stress helped you cope the best. Next, you will want to try to prevent those situations from occurring, whether it’s avoiding those situations all together or disengaging from those stressors. Here is an example of what I’m talking about. If watching violent programs on TV upsets you, don’t watch them! If important family events usually make you anxious, plan to get extra rest ahead of time so you are better able to cope. If you have family members who don’t get it, try not to let them discourage you or make you feel guilty for doing  what you have to do for your own health. I have been through this and it was really more stressful than the actual family event.

2.  Share your thoughts and feelings.

  • This can be harder than it sounds but it’s usually helpful to talk to someone about your concerns. Maybe a family member or a friend, it’s been my experience that this doesn’t always work unless your family member and friend are willing to listen without making hurting comments, a co-worker or member of the clergy can help you see your problems in a different way.
  • Learn to tell others when you can’t do certain things. Saying “no” to people is important and you shouldn’t feel guilty when you do. Maybe, turning down any extra duty, for a short time, will help to reduce your stress. Know and respect your limits of energy, pain, and time. If you don’t do this you can become so worn out that you can’t be the kind of friend, lover, or parent you want to be. After 12 years of arthritis I am still struggling with this.
  • Know this, you have the right to decide if you want to discuss your arthritis and if having arthritis limits your activity, then it may be a good reason to mention it. Otherwise, your arthritis is a private matter.
  • Learn to express anger and other negative emotions without hurting others. It’s OK to be angry, but try to saying, “I’m feeling angry,” instead of, “you’re making me angry.” This lets you express your feelings without blaming someone else. “Striking” someone with words will only make that person feel under attack and can make the conflict harder to resolve. Learn to express your feelings will enable you to improve relationships with the people who are important to you.
  • Make sure that you have an activity that will help you to cool off when you’re angry. Holding in your anger can only produce more stress. Listening to music, singing, or talking to a friend you can trust are good examples of ways to vent feelings. You can do physical activities such as walking or working in your garden are just a few examples of how to dispel your anger.

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