Scheming to do big tasks with rheumatoid arthritis (UPDATED 2016)
Remember the old movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”? Sometimes I think I am living in it! Everything in my world is too large for me now. Cups of coffee are too heavy to lift; dishes are too heavy to wash; pulling on a gas pump feels like wrestling a python. How would I ever do big tasks with rheumatoid arthritis hindering me?
I feel a bit helpless most days… but I like to look on the bright side. So, I am repeatedly thinking, “Is there any way for the new me to ever tackle a big project again?” Of course, for some of them, the answer is clearly, “NO.”
No, I can no longer lift 50lb. bags of concrete. No, I cannot move a ton of fill dirt with a wheelbarrow. And, NO, I will not be planting trees or trimming them 15 feet above my head.
However, I have amazed even myself with some of the things that Im have gotten accomplished over the last few years. Every day is different, as many of you know. So, I always hold out hope that there will be more good days coming and I still keep a list of projects I wish to accomplish “someday.”
After yesterday’s post about the me before RA, I thought we could all use a little encouragement as to how to approach those “larger than life” sized tasks with our new “reduced” abilities. For the things we still keep on our lists, here are my suggestions for doing big tasks with rheumatoid arthritis tagging along.
6 strategies for big tasks with rheumatoid arthritis
How can you do big jobs with undersized ability from RA disability?
1) Plan. Plan out the details and study the process to mentally prepare. Get an accurate view of what steps you will need to take.
2) Find different tools. Take time to gather tools which will be more appropriate for you: smaller, lighter weight, and higher quality like this Softtough pruning snip. Examples include child-sized garden tools, smaller sized professional paint brushes, and soft rubber mats to kneel on.
3) Ready, set, wait. Gather all of your supplies and wait for a good time. That might mean a good shoulder day or a good hand day. It might mean a week with no doctor’s appointments. If you plan ahead, when a good moment comes, you will be able to seize it.
4) Enlist help. Find someone to partner with you, even if you are a big DIY’er. He / she can help with little tasks like opening cans, carrying tools to the site and setting them up, and cleaning up the utensils or trash. This allows you to preserve your strength for the actual task. Also, helpers are your back-up when you need a break. (I cook this way with my kids almost daily.)
5) Work in bytes. Take frequent breaks. I have painted a room this way: paint for 15 minutes… lie on the floor 15 minutes… Rinse. Repeat. Your new motto is “PATIENCE MAKES PERFECT.”
6) Do something else. No, I don’t mean give up! But think outside the box. When I bought a $10 chair at the Salvation Army, I thought I would just re-upholster it as always. What was I thinking? I don’t have the strength to pull and staple!
After I thought about it a while (only one year!), I realized I might be able to sew a sloppy slipcover instead. Maybe you can think of something different which will be just as good, but more feasible for you to undertake.
By the way, I used every step on this list to accomplish my chair.
What big tasks with rheumatoid arthritis are in your future?
So, what is on your list? Is it making jelly or homemade pizza? Writing a blog? Planting flowers? Taking a road trip? Sewing a baby quilt? Teaching a class? Building a snowman? (Still on mine!) Don’t just do something; sit there. Sit, but scheme.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Makes Things Difficult
- Working and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Joint Protection for Rheumatoid Arthritis