Monthly Archives: June 2014

My Miracle Pen

I’m a writer. Which means I write things, well… a lot. When I was first diagnosed with RA I was terrified that my painfully swollen and stiff fingers would prevent me from being able to pick up a pen. For the most part, I was right. The skinny, generic pens that you can buy in packs of 12 at the grocery store weren’t cutting it anymore. Inkier ballpoint pens and gel pens fixed the problem of having to press down hard on the paper, but they were still awkward to hold. So then I tried fatter pens, which were easier to grip, but they still required pressure to work. I was getting one benefit or the other, but never both.

So like any other frustrated, Internet-addicted young person, I turned to Google. That’s how I stumbled upon the PenAgain. It’s a weird wishbone-shaped writing instrument meant for people with arthritis, carpal tunnel, and other debilitating diseases. It’s designed so that you use the palm of your hand to guide the pen and apply pressure. Since a PenAgain pen only costs $5, I was willing to take the risk despite my initial skepticism. It couldn’t hurt to try it.

I pretty much fell in love with the pen, in case you didn’t get that vibe from the title of this post. It replaced every other pen bouncing around in my backpack. I felt less panic going into 3 hour-long college finals because I knew I could tackle the essays without worrying about my hands giving out. It was easier to jot down messages and fill out paperwork at work. Yeah, I totally got some strange looks from the people around me when they saw me using it, but that hardly matters.

Even though I’m in remission and can use regular pens for the most part, I still gravitate towards PenAgain. It’s easily one of the best RA-related purchases I’ve ever made. My only critique is that there are occasions when the pen will stop writing in the middle of a word, so I find myself scribbling on a piece of scrap paper to get it working again. Also, because of its design, the ink cartridges on these things are pretty short, so if you’re going to be using it a lot you’re going to want to have a backup pen or a stockpile of ink refills. I don’t mind this part so much because the refills aren’t expensive at all, and I realize that I write more than the average person on most days.

You can purchase a PenAgain pen (or pencil!) here.

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Turtle in Peanut Butter

I hated running as a child. HATED it (and I was on the track team, go figure). I always finished last, was easily out of breath, and I knew I’d be limping for the rest of the day after a meet. In hindsight, running would probably have been less stressful if I had been aware of my RA.

Taken from Facebook

Taken from Facebook

Naturally, one would think that I would continue avoiding it at all costs. Except, after 10 years of a strict no-running policy and two years away from physical activity in general, I had something to prove to myself.  If the rest of my life is changing, why should my exercise routine stay the same?

So last week I decided it was now or never. I needed a way to de-stress fast. I called up my friend, downloaded the Couch 2 5K app, and headed to the park. The meme to the left is a wonderfully accurate representation of how that session went. And you know what? It doesn’t matter anymore.

I was out of breath. My sides were hurting and my muscles were on fire. I wasn’t sure I could run another step. I couldn’t keep up with my friend at all, and she kept doubling back to meet up with me so that we could at least do the walking portion of the program together. I could have made an excuse at any time, blamed my joints for being uncooperative. But I got up and did it.

In hindsight, it was never actually about running. My goal isn’t to run marathons or break records. The goal was to find a freedom that I thought was long gone. Two years ago, I could barely pull myself out of bed each day. Walking was difficult and stairs were impossible. Exercise? Ha…

I’ve come a long way. I accomplished a goal I never thought possible. The fact that I I’ve been accomplishing it without any sort of joint pain is just an added bonus. Every lap around the track is one more win against RA. This disease has taken so much away from me, but I’m drawing the line here.

Old me had to turn down plans with friends because it required walking more than a few blocks. New me is walking 4 miles a day and running for twenty minutes on top of that. That freaking rocks, and it’s better motivation than the 87492856875445211268089237 purple “Participant” ribbons I’ve collected. I’m getting my life back.

 


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