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RA Don’t Rain On My Parade

There’s nothing worse than navigating New York City streets during rush hour than New York City streets during rush hour in the rain.  A sea of umbrellas to navigate through is incredibly difficult when holding the umbrella steady over your head isn’t always an easy thing.

In the last year or so, I’ve noticed that a lovely side effect of arthritis is that I cannot hold an umbrella for a significant amount of time.

It hasn’t always been this way.  Like I said, there was an imperceptible shift.  It’s a combination of my thumbs and my wrists.  They just don’t work like they used to.  My joints fatigue so easily.

Most of us have joint difficulties when it’s raining or the weather changes.  The barometric pressure messes with us.

So the rain is no fun as it is, made worse by fighting in a sea of umbrellas, when I’m working extra hard just to stay afloat.

Sometimes I wish I had an umbrella hat I could wear.  Sure, it would probably look dorky, and I am not sure how incredibly effective it would be in keeping me dry.  But something that I didn’t have to hold above my head would be greatly appreciated.

I had to stop using a hair dryer to dry my hair for the same reason.

So far I haven’t figured out any way around this, other than to try my best to work through the pain.  This is easier said than done, considering the fact that I have had issues with a loss of mobility in my elbows since I first got sick.

So it seems that the current swelling in my hands, fatigue in my wrists, and lack of mobility in my elbows have created a perfect storm when it comes to holding an umbrella.

Other things, too.  Lately I have a hard time holding books, especially hardcover ones, or ones that I’m reading that are uneven.

I do think I’m a bit in denial at the moment about disease activity, but that’s another post for another time.

I don’t think that people without arthritis or even our friends, family, and doctors, know the everyday ins and outs of what we go through, of all the little things they take for granted that can be incredibly difficult for us.

What are some of the everyday things you can no longer take for granted, other than some of the more obvious ones like opening jars and undoing buttons?

Do you have problems holding umbrellas?  If so, do you have any solutions for this, other than never leaving the house on rainy days?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Nan Hart moderator
    5 years ago

    For me anything involving cooking seems to trigger a flare in the hands as does carrying grocery bags by the handles or trying to put a 24 pack of water in my car….

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Sorry to hear that. Carrying grocery bags gets me, too. Isn’t it frustrating to have such difficulty with tasks that healthy people take for granted?

  • Loretta Tweed
    5 years ago

    I loved this! Using a cane now…usually I wear a baseball cap and/or a hood, so much easier. Using a bag I can wear over my shoulder or across…can’t hold purse like I use to so often just take my wallet and cell. Also have a cart if shopping. I can take it on the bus.

  • Helen Opczynski
    5 years ago

    Let me first say, I’m all in for the umbrella hat!! I’ve had JRA since age 8, I’m almost 45 now. Along the way, I’ve had to adapt in doing certain things or even not do them. Holding an umbrella is difficult enough as it is having RA, but even more so with purse and whatever else. Especially a child’s hand! When you’re first concern is the child’s safety, you’re not going to be concerned about trying to hold an umbrella. Thankfully, my boys are 14 and 10, so I don’t have to worry so much about hand holding anymore. Oh…..what about those windy days? My goodness, in the end, if my natural curly hair by the end of the day is a frizz ball, oh well! That’s when I put on my baseball cap. :). I know this disease with many others can really put a damper, in the literal sense, on things. I’ve learned, though, not until recently, to not let this disease control me. I try to find the good in the bad and am so grateful in the things I am able to do. Good luck to everyone!

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    I totally relate to the hair!

  • cory u
    6 years ago

    I don’t remember the last time I actually held an umbrella above my head. In major downpours, it’s mostly awkwardly propped by my head as I hug the handle with my arms. There’s a lot I’ve learned not to do with my hands.
    Doors are pushed by feet & forearms, hands slide through the handles of bags to lift with the arms & everything I can is hugged instead of lifted these days. I’ve become a very big hugger. I know how you feel indeed!
    -Cory U

  • Claudia A.
    6 years ago
  • Andrew Lumpe, PhD moderator
    6 years ago

    Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention. For me, the elbow presents the problem when trying to hold anything or to pick up something. I live in rainy Seattle and just wear a rain coat with a hood.

  • Schmotti
    6 years ago

    Over the years I had to learn to adapt and in the beginning it sure was not easy. So now when it rains I use a rain jacket. I also make sure I stay warm, dressing in layers. I like my comfort foods during rainy weather like soups and oatmeal. I had to learn to ask for help in a lot of things. I try to be grateful for what I can do. I am blessed to have a great husband. It is not always easy, but I refuse to give in. So I try to every day to make an effort to live and enjoy my life with what I am able to do right now and not dwell on what I can’t. I already went through that and I grieved for the things that I am now unable to do. I am not going back there, because it does not change anything for me and only makes me feel bad.So I am going forward, adapting as I have to and rely on others to help me.

  • Kathy B.
    6 years ago

    I know where you are coming from. There are good days and bad days. And the bad days make life a living…well you know what. They do have this new umbrella that I believe was on Shark Tank and the sharks bought into it. It requires nothing to hold onto and will not invert like traditional umbrellas. It is also clear so you can see through it while walking. It runs $49.99, and I wish I could afford it, but alas that is not the case. I am 46 and was diagnosed with RA when I was 22 and there have been some really bad stretches that have hindered my mobility, but I just keep plugging away.

  • Roxanne Chism
    6 years ago

    There are so many things that I use to take for granted that I can’t do or have difficulty doing now. The umbrella issue is definitely a problem but I also have trouble starting my car especially in the mornings or when the weather is cold or rainy. My fingers and wrist just do NOT cooperate anymore. But as time goes on we learn to adjust and find alternative methods of doing things. I have always be very independent so asking for help is a last resort. Good luck and prayers for all who battle this disease on a daily basis.

  • Melissa Davenport
    6 years ago

    I totally get this. I have the same issues with umbrellas. Fortunately, I have a car so I don’t need to use an umbrella very often but it is hard and some people don’t get it.

    I find it hard when using the cane and it’s raining. I can’t do a cane AND an umbrella. I think I’d like one of those umbrella hats too. 😉

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