Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Medicated Mid-Life


My Medicated Life

I figured it out. I want to someday wake up like those women in the mattress ads on TV. So full of life and vigor, they boldly greet the day, challenging negativity with a spewing bottle of champagne, or a run across town.
Simmons Beautyrest Commercial

Opposed to how I receive the morning, rolling into the fetal position, fearful of what will hurt worse. I wish I could sit up tall giggling, leaping out of bed like Mikhail Baryshnikov, now that’s a goal.

Instead, I look like some kind of cross between a peg legged pirate and slug.

My mind immediately filters to the day before, scouring what I did to make fill-in-the-blank hurt, i.e. my shoulders, arms, back, you name it. I know I pulled something the day before, and my muscles and joints remind me with a reckoning. No joke, sometimes, it was something as simple as carrying in grocery bags, yoga poses, or even moving unassuming household items around.  

I try to remind myself to perform at least gentle stretching exercises every day. Living with RA and fibromyalgia make body movements critical and necessary to well-being. Taking the time for a few stretches helps the ache the next day. Also, after I get out of bed, moving around takes care of some of the pain as well. My balance is challenged when I first get moving around, so, I take caution not to jump straight into the shower, or try balance poses in yoga. J

If I have some time between awakening and actually getting out of bed, I might take ibuprofen or an NSAID, especially if I’ve had a rather busy day before. I don’t take pain relievers/anti-inflammatory medications every day. Honestly, I want them to continue working for me for a long time. I guess I’m afraid if I overuse them, they will lose effectiveness.

Our bodies remind us it’s essential to keep moving.


Try these simple stretches I found on the RA website linked above:

Hand and wrist- Try this exercise to both stretch and strengthen your wrists and fingers.

1. Start by making a fist with your hand, then in one quick movement extend all fingers at once out straight, with your fingers spread.

2. Retract your fingers into a fist again.

3. Repeat this 5 times with each hand.

Shoulder and upper back

This exercise can be used to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your upper back and shoulders.

1. Start by getting on your hands and knees on your exercise mat, with your face looking down directly on the mat (keep your head and neck parallel to the mat). If you have problems with your knees, you may place a folded towel or blanket below your knees for extra cushion.

2. Gradually and slowly reach your right arm out in front, keeping your arm parallel to the floor and at the approximate level of your ear. Point your fingers straight out.

3. Maintain this position for a count of 5 and then return your arm slowly back down so that your hand is back on the mat.

4. Repeat this 10 times for each arm (of course, you can do less to start, with the goal of working up to 10).

Side of your body

This stretching exercise focuses on the back muscles on the sides of your torso and is useful if you are tight or stiff in this area and subject to spasms when you twist the wrong way.

1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Do not lock your knees. Stand relaxed and upright.

2. Place your right hand on your waist, above your hip, with your thumb toward the back and index finger towards the front.

3. Reach your left arm above your head, with your palm facing the right. Try to keep your shoulders level.

4. Begin to bend sideways to the right, bending from the waist. Allow your right hand to slide gently down the outside of your thigh. Move in one plane while your left arm reaches over your head and shoulders.

5. You should feel a gentle stretch in your torso and down your left side. Remember to breathe and hold the stretch for a count to 5.

6. Move slowly as you return to the original upright position. Allow your left arm to drift down to your side.

7. Reverse the exercise for the other side of your body.

Hamstring

Use this stretch to lengthen and loosen your hamstrings (the muscle oppositeyour thigh at the back of your leg) while stretching your lower back.

1. Start by lying on your back on your exercise mat, keeping your arms down at your sides. Flex your knees (only partially) and place your feet flat on the mat. You may place a rolled blanket under your knees if that makes you feel more comfortable.

2. Slowly bend your right knee and lift it toward your torso until you can reach and clasp your hands behind your hamstring. If you have difficulty reaching, you may use a folded towel or yoga strap to reach around your upper leg.

3. Extend your leg, keeping your foot pointed toward the ceiling. Try to straighten your leg. If you can’t straighten it, loosen your grip on your thigh and don’t pull it so close to your chest.

4. Once you’re able to straighten your leg, hold for a count of 5.

5. Slowly and gradually, lower your right leg and foot back down to the mat.

6. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.

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