Rheumatoid Arthritis Help with Bags and Books | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Rheumatoid Arthritis Help with Bags and Books

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Creates Makeovers and Bag Ladies

grocery bag

A before RA and after RA story

This is a before and after story about some ladies with bags. But it’s not Extreme Makeover. It’s before and after RA. Before RA, I never accepted help from the baggers at the grocery store. I didn’t need help. (Maybe my mom read the Little Red Hen to me one too many times, but I tried to do everything by myself.) 

Shopping before Rheumatoid Arthritis was funny

Well, grocery shopping is one of those things that changes drastically when Rheumatoid Arthritis moves in. I used to also shop at Wal-Mart during odd hours when the stores were empty. Often, I’d go early or late while the kids slept. It was just easier on everybody else.

When I’d back the station wagon into the driveway with my loot, I’d scurry around to the back to pick up all the bags at once. I could set several bags on each arm, starting up near the shoulder. Then, I’d put the heaviest things in my hands. I shut the huge door with a bump of my hip. Within a minute, I was ringing the doorbell with my elbow saying, “Let Momma in.”

Usually, they didn’t have a chance to carry a single bag because I took care of them in a wink. It seemed to me like a waste of time to go back to the car several times. Why not just be uncomfortable for 2 minutes? There is never enough time, so why waste any?

I can hardly hold back the laughter as I picture myself acting out that scene hundreds of times. If I had only known the future – more of my energy as an able-bodied woman should have been spent playing tennis!

Shopping with Rheumatoid Arthritis: help is an opportunity for blessing

What a difference today is from all that! Since the Rheumatoid Arthritis, I do not usually risk going to the store alone. I almost always have helping hands to carry heavy stuff – and bring in the bags. When you think about it, this whole “before and after makeover” thing has affected much more than just me. I have to accept help – and someone has to offer it cheerfully. 😉 Sometimes, I do have to go it alone and it can make for pretty some rough moments. There was a lady just like me at the library recently. She was dragging her bag of loot – books – toward her car. Fortunately for her, my friend Leslie was nearby. She saw her and rushed up to help. She carried her load and struck up a conversation.

My friend called me that night so excited:

“I met a woman with RA – helped her at the library!” My friend was so blessed that she had the chance to do one thing to make life with RA a bit easier for that woman at that moment. I don’t know who was blessed more.

But both of them are so beautiful to me. No makeover necessary here. I am the one who taught my friend about RA. However, I know I do not take credit for her being a Good Samaritan.

You see, I met Leslie at Sam’s Club 10 years ago. I had injured my back trimming my trees and I could not lift the 50 lb. bag of dog food I was buying for Gabriel. She loaded the dog food into my cart. And ten minutes later, into my station wagon. Guess I did accept help before RA after all – at least sometimes.

I just saw this ridiculous new tool on sale on TV. It is a giant plastic ring that you can use to carry all of your grocery bags at once. I laughed out loud. I’d like to review cool tools on my website, but you can suspect I won’t recommend that one!

“Look! You don’t have to carry all the bags at once. Let someone help you and then go play tennis together.” I didn’t say that – it was the makeover talking. 😎

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


31 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis Help with Bags and Books

  • May 29, 2009 at 7:29 pm
    Permalink

    Just visited your blog using the link in your Rescuing Sprite comments.

    Think I probably have RA although I’ve never been treated for it. I certainly identify with the grocery situation. I’ve learned to make an extra trip or two to unload groceries from my car although most times my husband does most of the unloading if he’s at home when I get there. What makes me the angriest is to load up my arms and discover that the door is locked and I have two or three bags hanging from my left arm and right arm is holding a gallon of milk and then I have to fish in my purse for the door key. AAAAH GAD!

    I have learned to buy frozen orange juice concentrate rather than fresh in the carton, gravy mixes in a pouch rather than canned gravy, etc…substituting lighter weight items for heavy ones. It really helps most times.

    I can remember being so proud of being so strong. As a young girl I used to carry 50 lb. chicken feed bags from the feed store, used to carry beer cartons for husband in our earlier years of marriage, etc., but no more. The heaviest thing I now carry when necessary is the 18 lb. bag of dog food for our 4 dogs. And even that, I usually just leave in the car for husband to bring in whenever he gets to it.

    Also, I read about Gabriel. I’m sure you have a big hole in your family now after 19 years with him. You were lucky that he was so good about grooming. We currently have our 3rd yorkie who just loves to get as messy and tangled as he can and he isn’t as cooperative about being combed out as the previous yorkies were. I’ve just recently purchased a portable grooming table so I can anchor him where he can’t get away from me. Am hoping to have better luck combing him more thoroughly and cutting out any snarly mats he acquires.

    Didn’t mean to run on so much.

    Cherish the memories of Gabriel’s funny quirks and the happy times with him.

    Beverly

    Reply
  • May 29, 2009 at 8:34 pm
    Permalink

    Shopping for groceries is something that I too cannot do alone at the moment. As for the grocery bags, I’m not even part of the process from start to end. Makes it difficult to schedule at times, but in the end isn’t it better to have company in the grocery store? I think so…

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 2:16 pm
    Permalink

    Beverly,
    You are right, it is humbling isn’t it when we can’t do all those things we were known by. I used to do lots of pushups and situps, too. I was proud that I might be able to impress my kids at least. Hahaha. Ah well; it’s different now.
    Love hearing about how you get different things done, Kelly

    Reply
  • June 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm
    Permalink

    Hey Guy!
    Yeah, I used to think doing it like the Little Red Hen was cool. But, I do love to see my sons push the cart and pickup the heavy stuff.
    It’s really humbling to see a guy w/ RA though. We women are used to being considered weaker. Must be hard for a man.

    Reply
  • November 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm
    Permalink

    I can sure relate. I had to give up Border Collie rescue b/c of this, too–had to buy lots of dog food, and carrying was difficult at first, then not able to later. I hate shopping. Glad you have a great perspective about this!

    Reply
  • November 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve stopped assuming people packing groceries are telepathic.

    I’ve started changing what I do at Walmart, since their checkouts are set up to have the clerk immediately put groceries into random plastic bags that fall apart the moment they get in the car.

    I bring my own tote bags, which means putting them on the kitchen door knob the MOMENT I unpack them, so they’ll get back into the car.

    Now as I put the food onto the conveyor belt, I do it in order of which tote it is going into, and most importantly, I then place the tote on top of the food that is going into it. So far the clerks all get it immediately.

    Reply
    • July 21, 2014 at 9:24 pm
      Permalink

      Great idea about putting your totes with the groceries u want bagged in them. I, unfortunately, frequently forget my totes as well but hoestly, they are easier on the hands than than the usual plastic bags provided. Reusable totes also are much less likely to rip & this is a huge advantage since after the grocery grind bending over 2 pick anything up is absolutely impossible!!! My tip, in addition to all the great ones listed (in the witty way that only us chronic ilnessers can understand), is to b sure 2 bag refrigerated & frozen together & nonperishables with other nonperishables. This allows us the luxury of not having to carry all the bags in when we arrive home since its more than likely that we have had to buy a lot….because we inevitability have put off going in the first place because we know we will pay for it!!!! Incidentally, more places are selling food & necessities online now. Even those of us in remote areas are now able to take advantage of these services!!! Target has a new service called “subscriptions” where u can set up regular delivery of nonperishable items, as well as other necessities like cleaning products, pet food, health & beauty, OTC meds, etc & with free delivery!!! This could make the needed trips to the local market a little less taxing, granted you can lift your delivered goods boxes up off the porch!!!
      P.S. I tried those ring things that are supposed to make cwrrying all your bags in one hand. They didn’t really help!!

      Reply
  • December 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm
    Permalink

    I tend to carry my own bags tothe store butI also have my scooter for things to go on.. i pick out certain things.. pack them a certain way and mymom rescues them off of my scooter once I return home from shopping so I c an get up in the first place lol.

    I have a whole ritual and I never thought about it much until reading this and thinking about yeh.. wow…yes,ido have a method to shopping with arthritis…. the things we adapt/change to without eve realizing it over time.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2010 at 11:17 am
    Permalink

    I am still at the “I can do it in several trips so leave me alone” phase. Denial? Perhaps. But now that they have pulled my med for the Fibro- that may be about to change. First test will be luggage next week. LOL

    Reply
  • March 20, 2010 at 11:18 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for this post! I can relate. Shopping is a huge exhaustor for me, and I’m still trying to learn how to tackle it in smarter ways. Since I live alone, there are some things (like big bags of cat food, or unpacking after a trip) that simply sit in the car until I have help or extra energy to haul them in. Just last weekend, I learned that it was okay to say, “Ya know, yes, could you please get a bla bla for me?” when someone at a favorite garden shop asked if I needed help. For someone who has always been strong and fiercely independent, it was a major eye-opener that it was okay to be humble and ask for help, and that I was no less “me” than I was before. I also found it ironic and funny that the “bla bla” I had asked the clerk to get for me was a “Drama Queen” poppy! Ha! I’ve also learned to budget my steps better. Every footstep that I can save – be it by planning better, or accepting help – I can use keep in reserve to use in another way.
    Brenda

    Reply
    • March 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm
      Permalink

      Great advice about accepting help & reserving strength. We do learn out limits the hard way & I guess that’s ok – that’s how we know what they are.

      Enjoy the poppy. I love the “bla-bla”! :rotfl:

      Reply
    • July 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Brenda!! I can so relate. One way I have found to deal with things like big bags of cat food & litter (cause who wants to pay more money for less?!?!?!) is to take a rubbermaid or similar type of container (a bigger one), a cup and something to clip the top of the bag & then just scoop out smaller amounts out as I need them. I leave the big bags/containers in my trunk until I have used enough to where I can carry it in myself.
      Good luck, Mel
      P.S. Leaving some cat litter in your trunk is actually a good idea in the winter. If you are stuck in the snow ir spinning your wheels on ice you can sprinkle cat litter on the ground around the tires to help gain some traction!!! Getting trapped in the ice or snow can be no fun, especially if cold weather makes your bones/joints ache!!!!

      Reply
  • March 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm
    Permalink

    I use the totes instead if plastic store bags and my friend, oh how I love her, bought me a cart-type thing made of material on wheels with a handle that I put totes in and roll in to my apartment. Living alone this has by far been the easiest way for me. 5gal.water jugs are gotten by my son or my ex-boyfriend.There shopping done time for a nap…LOL :rose:

    Reply
  • March 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm
    Permalink

    I was so proud of myself for going “green” by purchasing a bunch of the cloth grocery bags. BUT no matter how many times I ask the bag boys not to fill them more than 1/2 full, I always get home with huge, tightly-packed, 30 lb. bags of groceries!!!! Grrrrr I had to quit using them because they seem to always put only a couple of items in the plastic bags and I can handle those alright. When I win the lottery I am going to hire a personal shopper to go grocery shopping for me. LOL

    Reply
    • March 20, 2010 at 11:10 pm
      Permalink

      Diane, great! When I find the gold at the end of the rainbow, I’ll join you in that. I really need a secretary & a maid about now… :rainbow:

      Reply
  • June 13, 2010 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    Sounds so familiarI 2 was that lady I can do everything myself, well that’s all changed now I need help ,still try 2 do it all ,but I am always rescued by someone I cry out 2.Need help shopping for food.. don’t like to send anyone to the store I wanna b the one to go and pick out my items.Some things you just have to do yourself..Rox<3

    Reply
    • June 13, 2010 at 11:18 am
      Permalink

      Hi Roxie, I’ve been both ladies before & of course we’d rather be be the lady who can help others than the one who needs help. You remind me that without those who need to be rescued, the others wouldn’t have anyone to help! :heart:

      Reply
  • September 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm
    Permalink

    Some of the great advantages of advanced age and limited budget–for nearly 10 years I’ve had an aide to do housework for me at no cost. Now my income has gone up a bit, so I have to pay 1/3 of her salary, but it’s worth it to me and then some. We recently added 1 more hour a week and she goes to the store for the heavy stuff, or I leave the non-perishables in the car for her to bring in. Living alone, and with my family all at a distance, I would not be able to manage now without her help. All my friends who used to help me are themselves decrepit now, too! LOL, but true!

    Reply
    • September 9, 2010 at 12:21 am
      Permalink

      That sounds like you have some good help there, Lyn. That’s great to hear. Unless something changes, I’ll always need help too. Hopefully, my kids will always be able to do it. I do worry about this sometimes.

      Reply
    • July 21, 2014 at 9:53 pm
      Permalink

      This is so terrifying for me! I live with my parents now. I am 40 now & my 80+ year old dad has to help me!!! He goes on errands & drives me to my appointments. My mom is a few years younger so she should be around for a while longer to help me but after that…????? What is gonna happen to me?!?!?!? I am not married and dont have have any children. Who is gonna help take care of me??? I do as much as I can but I need help with even my basics, like bathing. I wont be able to even afford meds, co-pays & rent/utilities on what I get from my SS disability!!!!! I just am going to have to put it in the hands of a higher power but I am still scared. I was a nurse for 15 years and the way things are looking now I’m gonna wnd up homeless and in pain…

      Reply
  • July 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm
    Permalink

    Just read your Help with bags and books and I had to laugh that was so me for years. Having RA I have had to make major changes in how I do things and even after 5 years I still have a hard time asking for help. Just discovered your website and have really enjoyed it. Thanks

    Reply
  • March 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm
    Permalink

    I was telling a few friends this very thing the other day–before RA, I carried and juggled tons of bags: I was the queen of independence who did it all myself. I also always rushed in to grocery stores after work, and grabbed a small basket for quick trips. Now, since RA, I ALWAYS get a cart–a basket is just too heavy, painful, and difficult to carry, and once I get home, I make a million trips in and out of the house to bring smaller, lighter bags into the house, or I ask for help, which I never did before.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm
    Permalink

    The library trips depress me the most. I love the books and the public libraries, but I just can’t handle carrying the books in or out, even with parking in handicapped parking. There’s just no way for me to do it alone.

    Hubby bought a Kindle recently and that has been a lifesaver for reading, along with a beautiful bookholder cushion I bought from Amazon. I found this wonderful for reading in bed or curling up in a comfy chair, and it isn’t much trouble to turn the pages. It certainly saves my hands from cramping up trying to hold the book (or Kindle)! (It also comes in other colors) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049VCA04/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    For studying purposes, I wish I’d had this when I was in college. I’ve found it great for serious text studies, and it is high quality in finish and details. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KVDBXQ/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have nothing to gain from offering these links except the hope that others will be helped as I have been by these products. It’s been a relief for me to resume my bookworm ways!

    Reply
  • March 14, 2013 at 11:46 am
    Permalink

    The cloth shopping bags are a necessity, I have about 12. The baggers at Publix are starting to remember to pack several very light bags, the handles are much easier to carry.I still walk pretty well so multiple trips are ok. The plastic bags feel like they are cutting my knuckles in half. I’m so lucky though because my husband does 99% of the shopping. He is also learning which weird things I need help withHe’s doing cool thingslike popping open all jars before he puts them in fridge, leaving them not so tightly closed.I love that man.

    Reply
  • March 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm
    Permalink

    I use to hate grocery shopping , but now I miss it. I do most of food shopping on-line now.It so so hard not to be able to do the things you once did. Sometimes I’m to proud to admit that I can’t do things. That’s when I pay the price & do it anyway. It’s not worth it to let pride get in the way. Admitting to myself & others is a work in progress for me.

    Reply
    • July 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm
      Permalink

      I will not eat trans fats, processed foods, red meat & G.M.O.’s & eat only wild fish & organics. Hate others doing my shopping etc… If you can shop on-line great for you. I don’t trust paying on line, banking on line or anything, no privacy. Plus only buying organics is hard to do if not impossible & get delivered.

      Reply
  • March 22, 2013 at 11:32 am
    Permalink

    What a great post. This is so me. I used to walk (or even run) to the farmers market and load up on produce (nice, wet, heavy produce) and carry the bags the half mile home on my hands, then get out and go for a roller blade, or more walks, or for a workout at the gym. I’ve always been reluctant to allow people to help me carry things, or help me work around the house, but I’m learning I just HAVE to accept it when it’s offered. And I have to start learning how to ask for help, too. A few weeks ago I had a bad reaction to methotrexate and couldn’t feel my arms and legs well enough to walk properly. I had to go shopping as I was out of food, so Dad, thankfully, drove me. I wanted so much to use one of those chair carts, but just couldn’t bear to be there yet, so I shuffled around the store leaning on the grocery cart for support. I can’t continue to be that ridiculous, but it’s so hard to give up that self-image of the independent, fit person I used to be.

    It really helps to see the posts here and on FB that let me know that I’m not alone, and allow me to see how other people deal with the physical changes and the emotional responses to those changes. It’s tougher than I ever would have imagined it to be.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm
    Permalink

    Why I use electric shopping carts wherever they have them. (Wallmart a pain. Will not let you take the mobility cart outside, Wallmart a pain in many ways anyway!) Have actually had people ? or challenge me, “Well, you walked in without a mobilty cart”. Hate having to “explain” it all to them. Does it have to be their business?, I think. I look normal. Same for disabled parking. Had one person actually walk around my car several times saying “lady this is disabled parking” after I pointed at my disability plates they just stared at me – & then proceeded walking around me, you sure are looking good to me don’t look disabled he said. Sometimes am o.k. to walk for a while, sometimes not. Furniture areas in stores can be a great place to test out a bed or coach or lawn chair & get off your feet. Unless people see swelling, disfigurement, etc… they don’t understand. I usually explain the R.A., most of the stores I frequent know now know me & understand. Employee turnover is high, so find myself re-explaining. They are so afraid you or some one in the parking lot will steal or take the mobile disablity cart, so guess they must monitor it & take you to your car & bring it back. Fine with me. Some of the mobile carts at K-Mart looked bent up horrible. I was told they were stolen, & someone took a joyride into the canal with them. People do some stupid things.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm
    Permalink

    It took me a while to get over being embarrased about using a mobile disablity cart. Don’t even think twice about it now. If you need it you need it, who cares what others think.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm
    Permalink

    I struggle with the cart thing and I still have not went to get my handicap tag for the front mirrorI feel like I’m giving in to the disease.crazy huh?.Do you mind me asking how old you are and how long have you been sick? I’m 52 and been sick since I was about 33-35 years old. Thanks

    Reply
    • August 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm
      Permalink

      hi Sharron – I think it’s pretty typical to hit at the age it hit you – about 40 seems to be the peak age though it can even strike kids. I was 40 when the symptoms went full-blown, but like most people, I had lighter symptoms since the teen years.
      Do what you need to take of yourself – and that includes your self esteem. If the parking tag doesn’t make sense yet, then you can wait. But if you are struggling, you can get the help you need. Best wishes.

      Reply
“imaware™
    Advertisement
Would You Like Free Email Updates?
Stay in touch with RA Warrior.
We respect your privacy. Your email address will never be shared.