Top tips preparing for the exams

Exa, time

We’re in exam season, when the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert will dominate the lives of young people and their families across the country. This can be a stressful time in any household, but when someone lives with arthritis, it can make things a little more challenging.

We’ve put together some tips and information which will hopefully help you in the next couple of weeks.  You will also be able to read some first hand advice from Emily on how she survived the Leaving Cert.

During the exams

Keep talking and sharing with someone you trust about how things are for you during the exams!

Don’t miss out on sleep

Staying up all night might seem like a great idea, but getting enough sleep is hugely important especially when you have arthritis. Not only will it help concentration levels but it will also help the body to recover.

Eat well

Eating well and having a good breakfast will help with energy levels and fatigue.

Stay hydrated

Stay hydrated, drink lots of water and make sure to bring a bottle into the exam. We get dehydrated very easily when stressed and nervous!

Arrive early

Get to the exam hall or room early. Not only will it allow you to get set up but it will make things a little less stressful.

Pens

It might seem a little obvious, but try and test all your pens beforehand. Find a pen that is comfortable to use if you are writing the exam.

Movement breaks

Take stretch or movement breaks if you can or at least move your joints at the desk every 20 minutes to avoid cramps and excessive pain.

Ice packs/heat packs

Bring a supply of ice packs or heat packs into the exam hall if you can.

Medication

When in exam mode it’s easy to forget about our routine, remembering to take medication is really important.

Exercise

Some fresh air and gentle exercise will do you the world of good, even if it is only a 10 or 20 minute gentle stroll.

Exam supports

If you have exam supports, don’t be afraid to make the most of them and use them.

 

After the exam

Don’t forget that an unsuccessful exam is not the end of the world; you can try again, do better next time or take a different course, subject level, etc.

If you are heading to third level education, you can make contact with us in Arthritis Ireland and we will be happy to let you know of available supports.

 

Emily’s story

Emily

My name is Emily, I’m 20 years old, I have juvenile psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, and two years ago I did my Leaving Cert.

It’s difficult to know where to start when it comes to things as big as the Leaving Cert year, but I guess I’ll start it off with a positive. I did it, thousands of other people did it, you can do it, I promise.

 

Going on holidays with arthritis

by Maeve Ferns, Services Support Officer 

Holidays

Planning for long distance travel arrangements

  • Do your homework – how are you travelling?
  • What sort of places will you visit?
  • What type of accommodation will you be staying in?

Travel bags and suitcases

  • Choose the right suitcase and carry bag – decide whether a push type case or a pull case is best.
  • Are the straps the correct size, for carrying or lifting?
  • Pack light.

Medications

  • Make sure to bring all the medications you will require during your holiday.
  • Bring contact information for your GP/consultant, in-date prescriptions and your health insurance information.
  • Consider keeping all the required medications for each leg of your journey in your hand luggage.
  • Maybe divide medications between bags, in case a bag is lost en route.
  • Prior to travelling, inform the travel company that you will be travelling with prescribed medications.
  • Ask if the travel company has any specific requirements relating to medications.
  • Ensure you use an adequate cooler bag (test for temperature maintenance and length of cooling time prior to travelling) to transport medications which require being maintained at a specific temperature.
  • Research a method of replacing medications at your holiday destination prior to the trip – the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland can be contacted directly at info@psi.ie with queries relating to going abroad and sourcing medications in particular countries.
  • Take into account advice from your GP/consultant regarding medications and sun sensitivity and suitable sun screens.

While on the journey

  • If going by car, stop regularly to stretch and walk.
  • If travelling by plane, train or bus, maybe request the aisle seat in order that it is possible to stand up often, to stretch and walk.

Accommodation

  • Pick accommodation carefully – if required, make sure there is access to lifts, or perhaps request ground level accommodation.
  • Consider the need for a refrigerator in order to keep medications at a specific temperature or to store snacks and drinks to be taken with medications.
  • Take into account distances from accommodation to restaurants and leisure activities.
  • Look for heated swimming pools.

Other considerations

  • Carry a letter from your GP/consultant regarding any metal joint implants.
  • Remember any aids which are required to make holiday time more enjoyable.
  • Bring details of any specific travel insurance for arthritis.
  • Remember to stay hydrated always.

Most importantly have a wonderful holiday!

Arthritis Life-Hacks, to make life a little easier

By Gloria Shannon.

1. Zippy String
Tie a piece of string to your zips so that during a flare these are much easier to pull up or down! You can hide the piece of string on the inside of your jacket/dress/jeans, and the extra bit of length will allow easier grip.

2. Less tearing and more cutting.
Carry scissors everywhere. Using your teeth or painfully trying to open packages, bags and even the end of a toothpaste tube can be hell, and that’s on a good day. Invest in scissors have one in each room of the house and carry small nail scissors for when you are out and about. (Just maybe leave them at home if you happen to be taking a flight somewhere!)

3. Create some height
This is one I used very early on before I even knew something was up. I noticed it was starting to get really difficult to get out of low chairs…or chairs of any kind really. So I started putting some cushions under me before I would sit down. It seriously aided my ability to get up off the couch on my own! For bed try and get a higher mattress or put one on top of the other to make getting out of bed all the easier!

4. Shopping!
Shopping trips are one of the most daunting if you are sore in any way, all the walking followed by all the bags! It is much better to carry your shopping bags on your forearm and not within the crook of your elbow or with swollen or sore fingers. It may feel a little odd or uncomfortable at first, but it will certainly help. Also, do take breaks if shopping for a long time.

5. Open Sesame
When opening heavy doors try using your shoulder or forearms instead of your hands or wrists. It can make opening the door much easier and cause much less pain.

6. Moving and Shaking
Sitting in the one spot because it hurts to move may seem to make sense, but actually, you are just going to cause your joints to stiffen more. In work or even at home in front of the TV get up every 20 minutes or so. Try and walk around the room or stand and stretch. It’s good for your joints to believe it or not!

7. Cook enough to feed an army!
Cook in batches, that way you are only cooking a couple of times a week and putting less stress on your joints. You can freeze the rest and have it during the week when you do not feel up to cooking. Also when filling heavy saucepans why not use a plastic cup and fill them up bit by bit. That way may seem slower, but it won’t hurt!

8. Heat it up!
Heat pads, especially wheat ones, are super helpful during a flare up. If you are already en-route and don’t have access to a heat pad, I would recommend popping into your local shop and grabbing a takeaway cup of tea or coffee. Even if you don’t drink it, hold your two hands around the cup, and the warmth will help ache your sore hands. If it is your knees at you, hold the cup between your knees.

9. Grip it
Combing your hair, brushing your teeth opening jars….these are things that we do every day more than once and are quite important. But they are a struggle most days for me. Use rubber bands or a damp washcloth or tea towel to help you get some traction and open jars much easier!

For combing your hair and brushing your teeth if you are struggling to keep grip of the handle. Slit a tennis or ping pong ball and slide the handle of your brush inside. This allows you to have a much better grip and isn’t as painful to get these everyday routines done!

10. Ask for Help
For me, this has to be the one that is the most important life-hacks. Unfortunately, there are things that we are just not going to be able to do, or that we will certainly struggle with. There is no shame in asking for help. Pride can be a great thing, but it can also be a deadly sin don’t let the fact that you need help from time to time stop you achieving anything. It is something you have to accept and even embrace, let your partner carry the heavier bag, let your sister cut your steak or let your kids help with the chores. Out of the all the many tips I or any other person living with arthritis could give you I hope this is the one you truly get on board. Needing help does not make you weak or a nuisance or useless or any of the other things you have running through your head when you sit there having a full on debate with yourself about whether or not to just say ‘Actually would you mind…’ Most of the time you will find people are much happier to help than watching you struggle.

Obviously, you want to have and maintain some independence, but no one got through life without a little help now and then.

I hope these tips helped, what are your #ArthritisLifeHacks, I would love to know, so do share in the comments below or on any of Arthritis Ireland social media accounts.

To read more from Gloria, log on to her blog:
https://thegirlwiththeoldladybones.wordpress.com/https://thegirlwiththeoldladybones.wordpress.com/

“Two hips replaced, two young children, two years waiting”

Walk the Camino with Q102 in support of Arthritis Ireland

fb-4

Dublin’s favourite radio station have teamed up with Follow the Camino to take on the challenge of walking the famous last 100kms of the Camino de Santiago to raise funds for Arthritis Ireland. The trip will take place the last week in March and all are welcome to join.

Have you ever thought about a walking holiday but not quite sure if you are brave or fit enough? This trip will take you through the lush green landscape of Galicia 20kms at a time. Fund-raisers will only cover a small section a day and will be in a group of like-minded and supportive people all there for the right reasons and with good intentions.

The trip from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain is a magical one to tick off the bucket list. The Camino is a special place where people have been walking for over 1,000 years. People take the pilgrimage for many reasons. Some to find the answers to what they are doing with their life or find the courage to make a change, some walk for inspiration or self-development, others for adventure or fitness.

It is said that you start to walk the Camino for one reason and by the time you finish you have figured out the real reason you needed to.

Galicia itself is one of the most beautiful parts of Spain.  It is covered in rich green forests, soft rolling hills, fields filled with sunflowers on of course vineyards, lots of vineyards.

The Camino is also one of the rare places where wine can be cheaper than water so after a long day’s walking there nothing like sitting down to a huge meal and a well deserved glass of the local vino.

The good thing about a walking holiday in Galicia is as, the food is so delicious you can eat as much as you like completely guilt free in the knowledge that you are walking it all right back off. Indulge in tapas and pintxos to your heart’s content, it would be a mortal sin to walk the Camino and not sample the local, fresh produce.  Galicians love the freshest of food so much so, that some of the accommodation you stay in actually grow their own vegetables and cook them for your right out of the ground.

One of the most iconic foods along the Camino de Santiago is Pulpo or octopus.  It doesn’t matter weather you like it or now.  It’s a must try.  No Camino de Santiago experience is complete without the obligatory taste of Pulpo.  You’ll see it everywhere you go, especially in a small town call Melide just out Santiago de Compostela.  Melide is famous for the best Pulpo in the whole of Galicia so most pilgrims wait until they arrive there to taste the Pulpo.  The best way to describe the taste is that it’s similar to Calamari but, without the batter on the outside.

One of the most memorable things about walking the Camino de Santiago is the other pilgrims.  You’ll find yourself fall in to step with many of the same people every day and actually build up quite the friendship.  Remember everyone is walking this famous way for their own reasons, some very deep and profound.  You’ll be inspired by the many stories you hear from your fellow pilgrims and become completely engrossed in the stories they’ll share with you over a coffee break or even strolling along together.  Walking the Camino is an enlightening experience so don’t be surprised if you come home a bigger person, bigger as in self growth.  You’ll find yourself to be more open-minded, more creative or more patient.  There’s a reason people have been walking the Camino for over a millennium.  Go there, learn the reason.  Find out for yourself.

If you’d like to join in with the crew from Q102 to raise funds for Arthritis Ireland contact https://www.followthecamino.com/Q102

 

Thanks to Edward Smith for this blog, read the full post by clicking this link http://bit.ly/2k43TX4

 

Dreams are Goals with Deadlines!!!

new-year-blog

You may love the idea of setting New Year resolutions but find that fatigue, flare-ups or life generally gets in the way, and you end up being more dispirited than when you started out. This year why not approach it differently by making small efforts throughout the year.

The New Year is a wonderful opportunity to look forward with positive energy and lay out what you would like that year to bring you. There is no doubt that when you are more positive and set clear goals, you do actually achieve more. Studies have shown that people who set goals achieve more are less stressed, less anxious and more content with life generally. When we make a mental pledge to ourselves to do or achieve something (no matter how big or small) we DO feel a sense of achievement in achieving it. This feel good sensation can be re-experienced by acknowledging the success to yourself and others.

You can make your goals your blueprint for your life. You should decide what you want (your goals) and then work out a plan as to how you intend to achieve them. The goals should be challenging and yet realistic.

Goals can come from many areas of our lives but to simplify these we can put them into 3 areas of focus: personal goals; ‘thing’ goals; and economic goals. You might want to learn a new skill, get healthier, lose weight, learn to swim, conquer a fear, climb a specific mountain, visit your family more, be a better friend, write a book, improve your memory, get a specific job, study a specific course or pass those exams. Whatever they are, make them as specific as possible, and try to include a timeline by when you would like to have completed them which will give them some impetus.

So now the goals are set, what can we do to help us achieve them? Something that is actually very helpful is to write down your goals (with measures and timeline where possible e.g. I will lose 2lbs by the end of March).  Putting them in writing is a way of making them ‘real’ and gives you that feeling of making a ‘contract’ with yourself. The important thing is to make yourself accountable and do not blame others if you do not succeed. The most important thing is to decide what you want to do, and break out step-by-step how you intend to achieve it. In reality, there may be obstacles in your way before you get there so we need to accept that it may not always be plain sailing. When a bad day, fatigue or a flare-up causes a setback, then consider it just that – a setback, not a roadblock. Best laid plans will always be scuppered, but the real test is how we respond when things go wrong and how we choose to respond. To achieve important goals that we value and that are important we must accept it will involve a journey for us and we need to appreciate each step of that journey. So no matter how long the setback, try not to turn it into a roadblock!

The biggest obstacle to achieving your goals can be yourself. Begin by being positive, believing in yourself and accepting that anything is possible. As Henry Ford says “If you believe you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!” Your results are predictable, if you believe you can do it you will, but if you believe and keep telling yourself you can’t, you certainly won’t. Feed your positive self, not your negative one. Then the impossible becomes possible. Be specific in what you want and turn your desires, dreams and ambitions into goals. Be willing to challenge yourself, be determined and don’t give up. Michael Jordan once admitted that he missed more than 9000 shots, lost over 300 games and on 26 occasions he was trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. He said, “I failed and failed over and over and over again in my life  … and that is why I succeed”.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again but next time, do it differently or better and achieve your goal. It’s worth it, and so are you. Above all keep positive and believe in yourself…..and of course, DO make those New Year resolutions and go for it with great determination.

Remember Dreams can be goals with deadlines!

Top Tips for New Year resolutions.

  1. Set Realistic goals.
  2. Focus on your goals.
  3. Take your desires seriously.
  4. Have a plan of action…plan A, plan B, plan C you will probably need them all.
  5. Believe in yourself, have your own positive mantra.
  6. Take courage, challenge yourself.
  7. Be determined, don’t give up.
  8. Don’t give up, persist, and take one step at a time.
  9. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  10. Make yourself accountable to yourself or others.
  11. Acknowledge each step achieved.
  12. And Finally….. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS!

Top Tips, so you can enjoy the Christmas break

christmas-tips

For many of us, Christmas is a time we look forward to. We enjoy spending time with our families, preparing and enjoying wonderful food and exchanging gifts. But with so many things to shop for and so much preparation and planning to be done, it can also be a very busy time of year for people with arthritis that places extra demands on us and can cause fatigue, stress and even pain. However, by making a few small changes, you can preserve the enjoyment and prevent the hassles, making for a stress-free Christmas.

Before

Good organisation and planning can really help with Christmas preparations. This is easier said than done, but by making a list of jobs that need to be done you can take one thing at a time and reduce the chance of forgetting to do something.

Do as much as you can in advance. There are plenty of things that can be made or done in the weeks or days before that will cut down the workload on the day. For example, you can make your sauces and soups in advance and freeze them. Then label them using an indelible marker to make them easier to find in the freezer. Take advantage of gift wrapping services in shops, but make sure to label the gifts to avoid confusion! Setting and decorating your table the week before will not only have you more organised but will also add to the festive feel of your house!

Most large supermarkets now have an online shopping facility that will deliver directly to your doorstep. You can browse, shop and pay online and at the end of it, someone else will even do the packing and heavy lifting for you! This is especially helpful when stocking up on heavy beverages!

Make it convenient. Many supermarkets are making life easier for us by providing great quality ‘convenience’ foods such as pre-prepared vegetables, readymade finger-foods and delicious deserts. Save yourself time and energy by buying pre-peeled and chopped carrots, oven-ready party food and mince pies. Only you will know the difference!

During

We often feel compelled to do more than we can handle around this time of year and the stress of a heavier workload can exacerbate pain. Delegating jobs to your other half, your children or even your guests is a smart way of getting things done, not a sign of weakness. Ask your family members to help out on the day as their Christmas gift to you. Assign jobs that will make the day less tiresome for you such as taking care of the dishwasher or serving drinks. If you have guests coming, you could ask them to contribute to the meal by making the brandy butter or Christmas puddings.

Make the job easier by using the right tools and taking regular breaks. Find arthritis friendly utensils to make preparations easier. Lightweight utensils with grips and bigger handles will make your preparations easier. Sit down whenever you can. Taking the weight off your feet will ease fatigue and enable you to get more done.

After

Relax and enjoy! Remember, Christmas is a time to enjoy with family and friends. Try not to get caught up in the stress and do things at a pace that suits you.

Top Tips

·         Buy pre-washed and chopped vegetables.

·         Use arthritis-friendly kitchen utensils.

·         Take a load off – sit down whenever possible!

·         Delegate – you don’t have to do it all by yourself!

·         Enjoy! Remember that the day is about you and your family.