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134 Responses to “Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability Makes Things Difficult”

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    1. Inez via facebook says:


    2. Sharon via facebook says:

      Walking for sure, exercising, washing my hair, and being so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

    3. Tina says:

      Pumping gas, washing my hair, using my mouse, some days: putting my contacts in! picking up my dog to put her on the bed w/ me at night. And one that I noticed the other day: using a regular stapler! I didn’t remember it being that hard to press the last time I used it (pre-flare).

    4. Tina says:

      oh, and putting small earrings in or fastening a small clasp on a necklace or bracelet.

      • Tina,
        Yep, I totally gave up jewelry when RA got to my wrists, hands… I cannot manage put it on & everything is too heavy anyway. I use tiny easy earrings. Nothing else.

        Stapler: I have to lean w/my whole arm.

    5. mel O says:

      bathroom at night definitely. when you have to have so much water with these oral meds, or stresses during a flare. 😛
      suddenly i have overactive bladder at 1,3, and 5 am! 😛
      let me sleep!

    6. Nanc says:

      After 38 years with arthritis I’ve found many solutions to these odd problems we face. Don’t give up on necklaces, there are magnets available to clip on your necklace and make it easy to use. They don’t affect the look at all.

      Glad I’m not the only one with potty issues, but there is a solution, a couple of them at larger med supply stores that might help. Not cheap, but my right shoulder is going to heck, so will have to invest in one soon.

      I would rather shop on line for these types of things. There’s a site called Active Forever and even Amazon carries them.

      Hope this can help someone.

    7. Beth says:

      Cutting my nails…toes especially
      writing (a thick barreled or ergonomic pen is a bit easier
      tying my shoes
      picking up a gallon of milk
      opening the twist top with ring on a gallon of milk

    8. kathy says:

      cutting up vegtables, picking up heavy pots, I used to love to cook, but lately wrists /hands/fingers sore. I agree with walking/exercise, climbing stairs

    9. Denise says:

      Reading books and even magazines have become difficult. Sometimes turning the pages of a magazine can become unbearable. And who ever thought books could become so incredibly heavy. They never used to be.

    10. Nikki Vanderbush says:

      I work at a fast food restaurant and let me tell you it is hard sometimes. Hard to wrap the food, really hard to squeeze the ketchup bottles. I have to use 2 hands. I am always asking for assistance. and forget about lifting anything 10 lbs or more or even over your head…ha ha…that’ll happen…nope!!!

    11. Nikki Vanderbush says:

      oh, I thought of more…
      putting on clothes, especially socks, curling my hair, using a can opener..i used to open those cans real quick.

      I totally agree on the exhausted part. I am so tired ALL the time, it is just crazy!

    12. Jakki Keeble says:

      Cleaning your teeth properly. My hubby got me an Oral B electric toothbrush to help with that one.

    13. Sherron Capitano says:

      Cutting nails, washing hair, using a hair brush, opening anything with a twist top like water bottles or juice. Opening doors with knobs (changed all of them in the house to the handle type that you just push down on–that really helped.) Picking up my two year old. Fastening her into her car seat. Changing a diaper. Putting accessories in her hair. Using scissors. Cutting up vegetables or really anything involving using a knife. Writing checks to pay bills–it sure doesn’t look like my handwriting any more.

    14. Julie says:

      Picking up coins.

      Scratching anywhere but especially the back.

      Pulling a sweater over the head.

      Peeling a banana or any fruit.

      Opening a bottle of milk (especially the ones with the peelable lids), or cartons of drinks.

      Drying your back properly.

      Pulling heavy wet washing out of the washing machine.

      Writing your signature on anything official (its different everytime)

      Unwrapping a stock cube or a dishwasher tablet.

      opening the little pots of milk/creamer in fast food oulets.

      Wearing a wedding ring.

      Using a spray can for anything (de-oderent to killing flies)

      Using a razor (husband has R.A not me)

      • Wow Julie, did your husband make this list? I have had my kids do all those things for me for a long time. It sounds just like I wrote this list myself! The spray can is IMPOSSIBLE!

        • Julie says:

          I do them all for him. I am his carer now. He is mostly wheelchair bound. He can hobble around the house and just get to the car, but no further than that. He is one of the people who have had horrendous side effects from all the medication they have tried him on. So he is only on ant-inflammatories etc.

          The latest incident was him using the public toilets at a supermarket and having to yell for me to go into the gents to unstick the end of the toilet roll for him (no disabled toilets).
          I cannot think of anytthing he does, anything at all, that does not involve some pain or pain and embarressment.

          • I’m sorry Julie. I’m very thankful for you though. There is some talk about an online support for spouses – would you be interested in something like that?

        • I second all the above.
          Wouldn’t you love to have someone wash your hair all the time?

          Kelly, I hear you about the handwriting—————–YIKES, that’s a shocker! My grade school nuns would be shocked : )

          God Bless my husband for buying me a Kindle for my birthday last year. Sometimes it’s still hard to push the button to turn the page———but I haven’t had to give up on my passion for reading——-yet.

          Thank you and God Bless you for all that you do!

          • I can’t wait until I can get a laptop as light as a Kindle. And yes, I’d love to have someone wash my hair. It’s been 2 weeks now. I’ve seen the same hairdresser for yrs so she has seen me thru it all. I always tell her I need her to come to my house. So far, no luck. 😛

    15. Leigh says:

      RE: Flossing – It’s easier with those thin plastic disposable floss holders. You just move that between the teeth and it makes life so much easier.

    16. Laila Newton says:

      opening a fresh-sealed container
      picking up the child toy you just stepped on in the middle of the night

    17. Veronica T. says:

      The worst I have found are wet dishes. Some days there is just no way that I can grip them tight enough to keep them from falling and breaking. Thank goodness my S/O is willing to do the dishes on my really bad days.

    18. Robyn says:

      It is so warming to not feel alone with all the tasks that were just a part of life and now my life is figuring out to do all those things and relating to all the above. I use Corelle ware dishes and always try lifting any dishes before I’m tempted to try something else, even if I think I like the design. I found a gadget called a J-Popper and it tucks under the ring pull lids on cans. Mostly I can use it. Now we need something to cut food we eat. Maybe someone could invent a small electric knife. I have every electric device I can think of for slicing, chopping etc.. When my washing machine needed replacing I got one of those without the middle agitator since it hurt so to get clothes into or out of the washing machine. I never knew wet clothes could be so heavy. Remember making a “Kings X or as some know it a cross your fingers sign. I recently had thoughts of doing this one day not long ago and discovered it to be a thing of the past. I don’t know how many times when trying to use a finger nail file it has flown in a direction of its own. Why can’t they make little rubber gripper tips for finger nail clippers. It takes almost a week to get my nails clipped and another week or so to file them. I find if I clip a teeny bit at a time I can do the job, but holding onto the clippers is hard too. I have seriously thought about a bedside commode, or one of those high riser toilet seats, but don’t have room for the commode and my husband would have a good laugh if he saw the high riser, even though he probably needs it worse than me since his hips are so bad. For those night trips I use a flashlight and who would have thought that would be a challenge. I have trouble just pushing in a button to get one on, so use a slide on button flashlight, and that is difficult at times too. I now have a twist on flashlight and that helps. Thanks for reading all this, but it just helps realize I’m not alone.

    19. Tanya Tudor says:

      Great list focusing on the hands, the other joints cause,
      brushing hair,
      brushing teeth
      wiping after toileting
      picking a piece of paper off the floor
      pouring a glass of milk
      scrubbing dishes
      getting shoes on and forget tying them
      lifting a pot off the stove
      basically anything that involves movement

    20. Cyndi says:

      ~ Gardening, weeding…Thank you Mother Nature for perennials!
      Getting out of a beach chair (semi gracefully)
      Taking my pills out of my pill case, often they all end up on the floor.
      My wonderful cast iron cookware
      Sqeezing my shampoo/ conditioner
      Untangling my jewelrey
      Texting and emailing on my Iphone- sometimes nonsensense
      Definately sleeping & eating a real meal
      Rising up from the toilet
      Holding back the leash when my dog takes off after a critter
      Taking care of my honeybees…of course getting that lid off the jar of honey!
      Reading, eyes are going, fast

    21. Carla says:

      using an key to open doors or the gas cap lock

    22. Nicole says:

      Washing dishes, shaking hands, holding my daughters’ hands, writing, using my rosary, I get sooo tired and I am used to being busy with work, children, volounteer groups. I am going to have to give stuff up. My heart is acting up and my brething is sometimes difficult. I’m Aenemic. So much that came naturally. I loved to walk, I can’t always do it the way I used to.

    23. Jane says:

      I found your website today, Sept.26,2010. Thank-you… I have RA in some form or fashion,… depends on the day and the name used to diagnose it. The more I read, the more I realize how reassuring it is, for those of us with some form of the autoimmune disease(s) mentioned,to know others out there “get it”. To be able to ask questions that the average person would never even think of in their lifetime.
      My kids also suffer from this stuff. They have more information than I did and that is good. As more is learned about the diseases we “lump up” into the “umbrella of names”, used to describe inflammatory arthritis, the better the chances are for those who “walk their walk with it”. I hope to connect with others and in particular, those who may be trying to deal with Social Security and being able to get benefits. What a mess the system is when it comes to helping those who have health issues due to RA and the variety of diseases it presents as. I am grateful to have found your website. I was disagnosed over 15yrs. ago. I have siblings with the RA in some form or name but as someone who has lived with it and had children with issues related to auto immune disease, I am glad to be able to connect with others. Thank-you

    24. Heather says:

      My hardest one before my medicine really started helping was flipping on light-switches. Oh that was soooo painful!

    25. Sassy says:

      all the above and I’ll add my own.
      Turning on the water in the kitchen sink, we have those evil little knobs, the manager gave me the ok to chuck those evil things to the curb and to buy a one handle facet.
      I’m also finding out that I can’t always wear my favorite Levi 501 Jeans at times because of my fingers being to stiff/sore/swollen to button the buttons.

      I also have issues with writing, I am a student so this is a huge issue for me, fortunately I have found the bigger ink pens and pencils work better for me, ( such as the big barrel Dr.something brand ink pens and mechanical pencils.)

      so far I am still able to wear my lace up roper boots, and my regular tennis shoes.

    26. Trina says:

      my church uses a chalice (sort of a fancy candle) to begin services and meetings. while attending a meeting recently i was asked by our reverend, without warning, to light the chalice. they offered me a matchbook to do so. i struggled to separate out the match and then strike it. this took me several attempts, and since this was intended to be a reverent moment in front of others that should have been smooth and seamless, i was embarrassed!

    27. Kelly says:

      All of the above plus:
      Forgetting to take your nightly meds, which makes the next morning very difficult until the prednisone kicks in.
      Diapering a wiggly infant/baby first thing in the morning.
      Making formula because you cant breastfeed.
      Little hands grabbing and pulling fingers while you hold his/her bottle.
      Not being able to get down on the floor to play with baby, or if you do then you have hell getting back up.
      Having no energy left by mid afternoon, but the day isnt over yet.
      Relying on your older children to play gopher because you are too sore/tired, and feeling guilty about it… I could go on and on but you get my drift.

    28. Linda Newsom says:

      I have dropped and broken many glasses,bowls and plates. Went to target and had to buy plastic dishes.I know its more expensive but I can only buy quart size milk cartons. When I go to the grocery store I cant lift the things from the grocery cart to put on conveyer belt.

    29. April says:

      opening Bottles/jars – coke bottle especially
      writing more than a couple sentances
      driving is one that I didn’t expect but wow does it hurt – elbows, shoulders, wrists,and my darn ankles.
      Steps especially going down steps
      cutting meat especially by the time I make it through my son’s plate and then part of mine.
      Heavy pots and or plates of food
      Pushing doors open
      Blister pack of pills – HATE THEM

      Letter opener or scissors are the most useful tools – packages of food to even helping on those darn blister packs pills. I have several of these all over the house.

      The blister packs – I often will have a pill bottle and have friend open them and store them in the bottle instead.

    30. Annie W says:

      I agree with everything everyone said. My biggest are:
      -removing eggs from the egg carton
      -holding a glass or anything for that matter, that doesn’t have a handle.
      -tucking in sheets really hurts

      • Annie W says:

        I keep 2 small needle nose pliers in my kitchen. They are a life saver for opening little pull tabs. I find I use them for many other things since my fingers can’t grip anything. I also bought some of the bubbly non stick shelf covering and cut it into larger sizes to hold things, such as a jar or bottle while trying to open it. Works good for the lids too. Since my husband is a service disabled veteran and our daughter has gone off to college, I find it really hard, because now I am the one doing everything. Shoveling snow last winter just about killed me, and of course we had more snow than ever! Glad I found your site. Thanks

    31. Laura says:

      Hello, I think there are some things that RA makes difficult to make too. I am 29 years old, I was diagnosed with RA when I was 21. I am a civil engineer, and I wanted to be one since I was like 5. I was in my third year of college (here in Costa Rica college careers last 5 years) when all the pain started, suddenly some things that I used to do, like studying late hours at nigh were impossible, I needed like 8 hours of sleep at least so I can function the next day. My arms and whist were in pain all the time, especially when I was making a test. But my pain and stiffness never stopped me. I got my degree, I never told a professor: “I can’t take that test, or I can’t do the homework…” because I thought they will never believe me, but the pain was there, and it was real. Last year I climbed the highest mountain in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripó, it’s not the Everest , but it was my Everest, and when it is only like 100 m height left to climb, you have to do it like you are climbing a three, with your hands in the rocks, so carefully that you wouldn’t fall. And when I reach to the top, I was crying tears of joy, the pain was still there, but I didn’t care… it was so beautiful….. I got used to make some of the things that I do in a daily basis a little bit slower than usual, because of the stiffness and pain, and I was ok with it. But this weekend my boyfriend brought me a Harry Potter Lego (I love Lego, since I was 5, around the same time I discover that I want to make houses) and it was de castle. I was so excited that I opened right away and in many years, I think, it was the first time that my pain really pissed me off, because I wanted so bad to remember when I was a kid, sitting in the floor making houses with my lego, but the parts were so small that my hands really hurt… So in conclusion, I want to add to the list, that Rheumatoid Arthritis makes difficult to enjoy Harry Potter Lego.

    32. tina says:

      I hate to show my pain when im out, so refuse to take my stick. i try not to limp too much, cant take being stared at so one of the things i find really hard to take is the gfact when i sit down at a table for a meal in a restaurant with my husband he has to push my chair in for me and pull it out for me to stand…i hate it!!!
      I forget i cant do things until i try, most of the things mentioned have given me problems at one time or another.
      I would love to tie my hair up in a pony tail, cant use dental floss,toilet hygeine is a biggy too.
      I now have to use an automatic car and there are days i cant drive at all.
      xx tina

    33. Katelyn says:

      Typing on the computer can be a real challenge. Or signing your name on a receipt and holding a cup for more than a few minutes.

    34. CaraBray says:

      Using hair care and styling products – blow dryers are HEAVY! Hairspray can be hard to push, and gel hard to squeeze.

      Brushing teeth and squeezing out toothpaste can be painful.

      Putting on and tying shoes

      Stirring batter for pancakes or stirring instant mashed potatoes

      • I have a hair dryer suggestion. For several months, I couldn’t get my arms up to even reach my hair (shoulders) at all… Then my shoulders were slightly better so I struggled with my hair dryer a couple times a month. Then a light bulb moment – to find a lighter dryer – I actually founde one 1/3 the weight of my previous one! Cannot believe I used the heavy one when I pick that thing up! I wore out the lite one and even bought another one last month. Still don’t do my hair very often since it’s still hard – my hands are more affected now & it hurts the fingers & wrists as well… and there are times my shoulders will not go up there for a while… But the light dryer makes it possible at least some of the time. Also I recenltly got a curling iron to go back to the high school method in case that is easier on certain days – It’s all hard I know but I hope u can at least find some lighter appliances to help a little.
        My dryer: Helen of Troy Professional Lite. I got it at Sally store, but I think it can be bought online too. Here’s one I easily found on Google search that has a different name, but looks just like mine:

    35. Phyllis Crubaugh says:

      Well, even though it doesn’t affect a large number of people- I can’t milk my goats any more. Farm chores are nearly impossible to accomplish. Bucking hay, grooming a horse, milking, lifting feed bags, catching a pig or chicken. This is the first year that I haven’t had a Turkey from our own farm on the table for Thanksgiving in years. I couldn’t pluck the bird! I had to sell all of my Turkeys.

      I can still churn butter since I attached a thick cloth to the handle of the churn to grab onto. I can no longer knead the dough to make homemade bread for the butter to melt onto though. Bummer.

      Also- tweezers are impossible to use any more. I have hairs sticking out all over my face and developing a Uni-Brow.

    36. bia says:

      my biggest pain is when otheers around me are in denial about the fact that i have RA especially when they consider my age (23). but i had it long time and got diagnosed late, thats why life kind of tougher on me then my peers and siblings.


      spreading toothpaste
      turning in bed
      scratching my back
      rubbing back with loofah
      wipping tears

    37. Mona says:

      Almost all of the above hold true in some form or fashion, depending on the day. The hardest is not being able to demonstrate dance steps for my daughter anymore (she’s 9, I’m 36, she’s following in my footsteps of being a dancer, but I’m not able to help her like I used to). Also, not being able to pitch the baseball to my 5 year old son…
      The other extremely annoying task for me actually came last November, before my official diagnosis. It was while “trying” to decorate the Christmas tree. Everything was difficult, but at one point, my wrist just gave out, and I dropped a 30 year old ornament, leaving it to crash to pieces. It was a mirror of my battle with this awful disease, but I refuse to break!

    38. janie says:

      This site is so good, reading other peoples difficulties and courage.Apart from agreeing with all the tasks etc, i used to be able to play the guitar,just a bit of jamming with my husband, but now i can’t make a chord.These things sneak up and the disappointment is at first hard and then i try to focus on all the things i can do,such as walk the beach with my dog.

    39. Cris says:

      First, thank you for this website. It helps to know others ‘get it’ no one else really understands!
      ditto you list and add
      Doing ponies in my little girls hair
      Putting my dogs on a leash
      Driving :(
      Coloring with my kids
      Makeup and hair (somedays)
      Holding a book
      Opening med bottles
      Changing diapers
      next week we will change the door handles in our home :(
      I think one thing that really gets to me is, I can’t hold my coffee in the morning, I miss those simple tasks being easy.
      Usually I am a very positive person, today, not so much.

    40. Rebecca Richard says:

      The things that have been super hard for me this week are, squeezing water from a cleaning cloth (impossible) applying lotion to my hands,( hurts terribly). The gas cap on my van ( impossible), it’s embarrassing to wait at the pump for someone to pull up, then ask them for help.

    41. Louise Davison says:

      Turning the door handle to let the dogs go out
      Not being able to get up off the floor without help – I’m playing with the dogs or cleaning the floor and some days I can’t get up
      Not being able to put on socks first thing in the mornings
      Not being able to get on or off the toilet without using the towel bar.
      Being told to quit my whining because this person got sick of hearing it

    42. Katrina says:

      Brushing your hair!
      Brushing your teeth!
      Pulling up your pants
      Eating a taco or crunchy things (when RA affects your jaw)
      Moving! Lol.

    43. Stacey says:

      I am an icu nurse…so:

      unscrewing IV caps (impossible). I use a hemastat. Screwing IV pumps (heavy) to the poles in patient rooms (there can be 15 of these for one patient). Removing the plastic bags that for some reason the hospital ties around all the iv pumps after cleaning (I keep my scissors in my pocket). Suctioning patients on ventilators. Drawing blood. Starting IVs (use to be pretty easy). Running a cardiac code (I work in the neuro trauma icu). Lifting patients that weigh 4 times as much as I do.

      Being on your feet for your entire 13 hour night shift, without a break or lunch, and having your co-workers not understand why you want to cry at the end of the day, when they are going out for drinks. Brushing your teeth…agreed. I use a sonic care and an air flosser (much better). Running to the bathroom and trying to get the door code entered fast enough (tiny buttons)so you can vomit after taking MTX. Cleaning a roman bath tub (I use a clean mop so I don’t have to bend my knees). I have become a master of improvisation since RA. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to. Sadly…I have been doing this line of work for over 20 years. It’s all I know how to do, so I have to find a way to keep doing it.

    44. Angela says:

      Issues with remembering or short term memory. Does anyone else experience this?

    45. Gene Dallinger says:

      Arthritis makes you depressed angry an helpless, you get tired of asking people to do things for you, a lot of people don’t realizes what you go though to do everyday task.

    46. Genevieve says:

      I agree about the refrigerator door!! When we changed the refrigerator, I tried all models, opening/closing them to see how my hands handle it. The vendros must have think I was crazy.

    47. Kim Hutzler says:

      My biggest one is shampoo and conditioner bottles, way to hard to squeeze.

    48. […] for RA patients to receive physical assistance or exceptions that they require to accommodate their limitations. […]

    49. Suzanne says:

      I just found this site, thank you!, but I was reading all the things people find hard to see what symptoms other people have as I am relatively newly diagnosed, but of course realize I am not new to RA, just to a diagnosis!. A they say everyone is different, and I don’t know anyone else with RA. Why is everyone just listing things that are hard that mainly uses their hands? it reminds me of all the narrow minded doctors that looked at my hands and said “no RA here”.
      I have problems walking, getting out of my chair, getting in and out of the car, I can’t bend my knees enough anymore to cut my toe nails! I can’t vacuum the floor without feeling like I have hyper-extended my knee,(if I vacuum one room, then I am too tired to do anything else that day!)…

    50. Kate says:

      Well it appears that no one has contributed any new posts as of late so I’ll add a few. Of course we can all agree with all of the above especially if you’ve been a member of this club that NONE OF US asked to join. I was diagnosed in 2005 with a fierce onset and excruciating pain and from that first day it has never let up and never gone into a remission. I am in constant pain and constant flare. I once walked around for two weeks with horrible, horrible hip pain and sacral pain. Even though the RA had never affected my hips I just thought it was a new site and wrote it off to very very bad RA pain. I waited for two weeks for my appointment with my Rhuematologist to check it out because believe it or not ” we RA sufferers just learn to live and adapt to the pain”! Well when I saw my Doc, who I have a very good reporte with, I told him about the terrible pain and he did a Bilateral hip and sacral X-Ray then called me out to look at the films and said ” well Kate you really did it up good this time……what were you doing right before the pain started?”. I told him that I was at a wedding and just for ONE DANCE I WAS JITTERBUGGING”. He than informed me that not only did I have a fractured right hip but I also had a fractured left pelvis!!! I spent eight weeks flat on my back with absolutely no weight bearing and to boot I was home alone during the week, as my spouse travels for work and has this job because of the awesome health benefits. SO ADD TO MY LIST OF HARD THINGS TO DO……JITTERBUGGING. MORAL TO THE STORY: if anybody every thinks you are exaggerating your pain level, tell them to jump in the lake…we RAers actually tolerate pain that most people couldn’t because we become so used to living with living for two weeks with a fractured pelvis and hip. Oh and last but not least….unlocking the door with your keys and turning the key in the lock! Not happening so I got a lock with coded LED LIT NUMBERS, MUCH NICER! Thanks for letting me post this. My prayers go out to all of us and thank you Kelly for being our Commander in Chief at the helm….I don’t know how I would have had the ability to take this challenge on without your daily posts and wealth of reading and vast amounts of information that educated me and made me realize in spite of everyone telling me I was a hypochondriac and exaggerating all my symptoms that I’m not crazy after all! Love you Kelly, keep on keeping on!

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