Same dragon, different day.

Coping With ItI turned off the dryer and reached in, burying my hands in the deep-heated load of towels that had just finished the dry cycle. Oh, that felt so good! For a long moment, I just left them there, wiggling my fingers and letting the heat sink into my achy hands …

Life doesn’t stop just because I have rheumatoid disease. It goes on–and so do we. Please read more at RheumatoidArthritis.net.

Categories: RA

As you might have noticed, I got into a redecorating mood again and gave RheumaBlog a new-ish look. This particular WordPress theme, Bloggy, will work better whether you’re reading this from your smartphone, your tablet, or your laptop or desktop computer. I figured I probably ought to bring RheumaBlog into the 21st Century, even if I had to do it kicking and screaming.


Illustration by Howard David Johnson

I’ve been skirmishing with the rheuma-dragon frequently these days. He tends to attack my hands and feet, for the most part. That damned dragon means to bring me to my knees.

I categorically refuse. I’m keeping my weapons sharp: three different DMARDs; the biologic Orencia, which I self-inject weekly; the nerve-pain medication gabapentin; Cymbalta, an anti-depressant indicated for chronic pain; an NSAID, and the usual vitamins and minerals. I’m also keeping an eye on my nutrition and portion-control; the gabapentin and Cymbalta have increased my appetite–an aggravating side-effect of both drugs–so I’ve gained weight, the very last thing I need.

My hands and wrists ache and twinge every day, but I’m still art-ing and still writing, but I’ve had to restrict the latter to writing articles for RheumatoidArthritis.net, a truly top-quality website that reaches thousands upon thousands of my fellow rheuma-dragon fighters. By doing that I’m saving my hands for my art, which I’m creating almost exclusively in a digital format, now.

I’ve found that sketching and painting via computer is a bit easier on my joints; I don’t need to use much pressure on the stylus, and my digital art program allows me to cover what would be large areas of paper or canvas with color without much effort. I’m still learning how to use this wonderfully magical new tool, but I’m having so much fun with it! Every day I learn something new about what the program–or “app,” which I think is the current correct name for it–can do. And by participating in the Twitter art challenges @AnimalAlphabets and @colour_collective, I never run out of things to draw and paint. Twitter has also introduced me to literally hundreds of my fellow artists/illustrators. I’m learning from them, as well, simply by looking at the wonderful work they post. And some of them have blogs or websites in which they actually teach. I’m an avid, hungry student!

I thought I’d share some of my recent digital artwork with you. And, while I’m not quite there yet, I hope to make some of it available for purchase one of these days soon. Prints, T-shirts, totes, mugs … we’ll see. I’m dreaming.

The art:

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Categories: RA

I plan to take part in this helpful and informative Twitter chat. Join me there! And thanks, Carla, for reminding me and others about it!

Carla's Corner

On Thursday, April 13 at 7 pm ET, Megan Starshak (@TheGreatBM) and Keri Ann Flaccomio (@keriannecdotes) will host the first #FinelyTuned Twitter chat, “Being Your Own Advocate in Treatment Decisions,” with special guest Aimed Alliance (@aimedalliance), a non-profit organization committed to improving access and transparency around quality, patient-centered health care. To participate in the conversation that evening, all you have to do is follow the #FinelyTuned hashtag on Twitter.

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Categories: RA

StrategerizingWhat do you do when your rheumatoid disease flares? Do you have an “action plan?”

I don’t have one of those. My flares don’t come and go like they once did—they’re pretty much constant these days. What I did—and do have—is a strategy aimed at soothing (if not actually relieving) the joint pain and helping me cope with it.

Read all about it at RheumatoidArthritis.net. And thanks for stopping by! It means so much to me! I hope that reading about my “strategerizing” tactics will help you cope succussfully, day by day, with your rheumatoid disease.

Categories: RA

I’ve been fighting an annoying rosacea flare since November last year. It’s sort of fun (and


WC Fields illustration by Rocky Sawyer

sardonic) to blame it on the outcome of the presidential election, but I doubt that’s what actually triggered it. Like that famous old comedian and actor WC Fields,  I’ve had the skin disease for decades, now. In my case, it comes and goes without warning.

Increased inflammation in my body is what causes my rosacea to flare, making my face look like a summer strawberry year-round. My autoimmune rheumatoid disease causes that systemic inflammation. And that brings up my next leap of logic: Might rosacea and rheumatoid disease be related?

Find out here. 

Categories: RA


You know, laughter is good for you.

I was just chortling at our black cat Kitty-Kitty (I know, I know, but it fits her perfectly), who’s mrrp-ing with longing at a tiny hummingbird at the feeder just outside the window. She can’t get the hummer and wouldn’t really know what to do with it if she did, but that plaintive little mrrp just slays me …

I love writing about the gifts my little buddies give me each day–and how those gifts affect my physical and mental well being. Read more here.

Categories: RA


Illustration courtesy RheumatoidArthritis.net

It’s this @*#!! rheumatoid disease, which is making my hands feel like padded garden gloves filled with gravel, sand, and shattered glass. My feet are OK, today, and the rest of me feels just generally tender and battered. I figure this is how I’d feel after going a round with Ali and recuperating for a month…

Please read the rest of the story here.

Categories: RA

heartfeltOver the years I’ve had countless people, from dear friends to complete strangers, offer me heartfelt advice about how to treat my rheumatoid disease. I can’t remember ever asking for it–the “helpful” words just spill from their lips, unsolicited.

I decided to look into what motivates people–family members, friends, complete and utter strangers–to do this. Read more at RheumatoidArthritis.net.

Categories: RA

creakytinman-ranet-huHere’s how my mornings begin: I move suddenly from restless sleep to restless wakefulness. Instead of being warm and comfortable, wishing I didn’t have to get out of my soft cocoon, I’m warm and uncomfortable, and I want to get up because maybe I’ll feel better than I do right now in bed.

For a minute or so, though, I take stock of what hurts: my knuckles and wrists; both ankles, seemingly every joint, tendon, and ligament in both feet; and at least one hip.

Whadda party!

…and so it goes. You can read the rest right here.

Categories: RA

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