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The things we used to take for granted

It is well understood that rheumatoid arthritis has a significant impact on the lives of those with this condition. While someone with RA may constantly be aware of the affect the disease has on his or her everyday life, there are also the little things that pop up now and again that we realize we once took for granted. One of our contributors, Leslie Rott, wrote an article about no longer being able to carry an umbrella while navigating the streets of New York City on a rainy day. So we decided to ask our Facebook Community to tell us what everyday things they can no longer take for granted. Over 160 people responded, and here’s what they shared:

I miss my hobbies

  • Writing
  • Holding a Book
  • Painting
  • Sketching
  • Typing
  • Using binoculars
  • Writing in cursive
  • Using scissors
  • Dancing
  • Playing instruments
  • Flying
  • Scuba diving
  • Playing on floor with my Grandson
  • Sewing and crafts
  • Sleeping through the night
  • Holding a camera
  • Holding the hymnal at church
  • Jumping
  • Holding a magazine up
  • Playing my guitar
  • Hand piecing quilts and knitting
  • Crochet
  • Sewing

Physical activities are no longer easy

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Walking up or down stairs
  • Standing
  • Sitting in the same position for too long
  • Exercising
  • Having sex
  • Going to the gym
  • Holding on to my dog’s leash & going for walks
  • Holding someone you love for long periods of time

I even miss being able to do housework

  • Doing dishes
  • Cleaning the house
  • Ironing
  • Vacuuming
  • Laundry
  • Turning door knobs
  • Holding the phone
  • Turning on a lamp
  • Holding umbrella
  • Can’t change my bed covers
  • Sweep
  • Mop
  • Scrubbing anything
  • Changing a light bulb
  • Doing yard work
  • Gardening
  • Changing a diaper
  • Dusting
  • Writing checks to pay bills

I can’t cook the way I used to

  • Cutting with knives
  • Peeling potatoes
  • Stirring things in a pot
  • Chopping food
  • Lifting the coffee pot to pour my coffee
  • Holding handle of fry pan
  • Stirring
  • Lifting a mug
  • Picking up a gallon milk
  • Pouring anything in a gallon jug
  • Opening a bag of chips
  • Cutting up a piece of steak
  • Picking up the teapot to pour a cup of tea,
  • Using a can opener
  • Using chopsticks
  • Opening a Jar

Getting ready to leave the house is a chore

  • Drying my hair
  • Taking a shower
  • Combing my hair
  • Putting on jewelry
  • Squeezing out toothpaste
  • Zipping and buttoning
  • Pressing my perfume bottle top
  • Pulling tights on
  • Getting dressed
  • Taking my medication out of its packet
  • Putting on eyeliner
  • Buttoning buttons
  • Making ponytails
  • Wear high heels
  • Taking a shower
  • Changing my clothes
  • Doing my kids’ hair
  • Putting on socks and shoes
  • Using Velcro
  • Wearing anything with zippers or buttons
  • Having a soak in the bath
  • Brushing my teeth
  • Trying to curl my hair

Even driving is more complicated

  • Turning the key in the car
  • Opening gas nozzle
  • Holding the steering wheel
  • Fastening a seatbelt
  • Opening car doors
  • Filling the car w gas
  • Driving
  • Washing the windows of the car
  • Turning the key in my car ignition
  • Riding my motorcycle
  • Going for a nice (long) drive


How about you? What tasks or activities can you no longer take for granted? Can you relate to our Facebook Community? Tell us in the comments!


  • Wren moderator
    5 years ago

    This list is both heartbreaking and true. I was amazed at how many of these I identified with. Thing is, the loss of function is insidious. I hardly noticed most of them until I’d been avoiding doing them for a long time.

    Also hard: somehow getting family and friends to understand this.

  • Kathy P.
    5 years ago

    BTW, could we perhaps have a tip category on the blog, moderated of course? It would be nice to know how others have incorporated things to get around their painful joint impediments.

  • Wren moderator
    5 years ago

    Good idea. I can’t hold a book or magazine for long in my RA hands. When they came out, e-readers seemed a godsend. I got one, and now can read to my heart’s content. When holding even the e-reader is difficult, I use it to listen to audiobooks.

  • Kathy P.
    5 years ago

    There are a lot of things I can’t do anymore, but I’ve managed to come up with a lot of modifications that help me. Here’s a couple of my favorites, so please check them out to see if they will help you!

    Gel-padded bicycle gloves–allow me to hold and use my tools, and most importantly, allow me to drive. The lower joints in my hands (palmar) are usually swollen and there’s a lot of deformation with the joints, ligaments and tendons, so the gel just kind of conforms around those irregularities and allow me to hold onto things without too much pain. Suede in the palmar side also helps to keep things from slipping.

    Sugru is a molding compound that has so many uses! I use it for my flux bottles (I’m a jeweler) so they don’t slip out of my hands, ditto for my hand tools. I have a short length of dowel rod attached to my car ignition key, so I’m able to turn the key without torqueing my fingers. It’s somewhat soft, durable and can be smooth or textured easily. It comes in different colors too.

    Vetrap is the cheaper version of self sticking wrap. It cushions handles–tools and canes. It can also cushion the bottoms of my feet when my toe joints are acting up. You can find it in pet stores and ranch suppliers (cheapest here because they use it for horses). Also good for wrapping joints for humans–and because it comes in different colors, you can be styling too.

    A good electric toothbrush–built up handle, does the work for you and no batteries to change. A little Sugru on it and you can make a customized grip.

    Big paperclips can be zipper pulls or used to hold bracelet and neck chains (unfold them) so you can fasten them. You can also use suede strips for pulls because they don’t slip out of your fingers and hands.

    I have several places that specialize in ability aids. Even if I don’t order from them, just looking at what they have often allows me to figure out a workaround on my own.

    Hope some of these things help others!

  • Judith Ghannoum
    5 years ago


  • Amy
    5 years ago

    Holy moly – thank you for the great tips!

  • Amy
    5 years ago

    The thing I miss the most is being able to have people over for dinner. It was our primary way of social ing and now I’m too tired to hold a conversation that long, let alone cook!

  • Joni Lyver
    5 years ago

    Grocery shopping! I need to go today . My husband now goes with me to help put things in the cart, out of the cart, in the car, out of the car and then putting them away! Whew! I’m tired already! I’m so grateful for his help!

  • Joni Lyver
    5 years ago

    I lost all my teeth due to RA and my medications and I’m in the process of getting dentures. U I took for granted chewing!

  • Libby
    5 years ago

    Me and my husband were just talking about this. What I miss the most is going out dancing. I used to do this every weekend. Now it is hard for me to dance even one song.
    Another thing I really miss now that the weather is nice is taking a run. These activities were taken for granted totally!!

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