Turn the Bottle, Not the Cork
Several years ago, when I drank a lot more champagne than I do now, I was given a marvelous tip for opening bottles of sparkling wine. Turning the cork to open the bottle can, and has, resulted in flying corks, wasted wine, and injured guests. Instead, put a cloth over the cork and, using one whole hand, hold the cork steady. Use the other hand to gently twist the whole bottle. This provides control of the cork as the bottle opens and keeps the cork from flying dangerously about.
What I’ve discovered since being diagnosed with RA is that this technique works with all kinds of jars. Not that you have to worry that a jar of jam will necessarily go spewing all over the kitchen – but this method actually makes jar lids easier to open because you’re using your entire hands. Normally when we open a lid we twist the (often stuck) lid which basically wrenches our fingers. If you hold the lid firmly with one hand (I use my right), then grasp the jar and turn with the other hand (my left), you’re using the force of both hands to open the jar and not twisting any sensitive finger joints.
When you think about it, having RA means you need to be adaptable. I still do most things that I used to pre-diagnosis, but I may not necessarily do them the same way. I sometimes take ramps instead of stairs and when I do take stairs, I always use the handrail and take one step at a time. I still get to where I’m going, I just get there a bit differently and a bit slower than I once did.
I’ve made all kinds of changes from major to minor – all allowing me to maintain my busy life as much as possible. Probably the largest change I made was when I traded cars the last time. I went from a low-slung auto to a crossover SUV that makes it much easier for me to get in and out of the car. I no longer have to climb in the car and then struggle to lug myself out – which can be a painful process. As another example, I didn’t want to spend the money on a memory foam mattress, but I invested in a much more affordable memory foam mattress topper that makes it more comfortable to sleep with painful joints and chronic bursitis. Smaller things like wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse help me use the computer. You don’t have to necessarily spend a lot of money on these adjustments. Great wrist rests can be custom made with a sock and some rice. (The homemade rice ones have the advantage of not only being cheap, they can be popped into the microwave or the freezer and used as handy heat or cold packs.) I’ve even figured out a way to fold sheets that makes it easier to put them on the bed.
RA gives us a lot of things – aches, pains, medical bills and aggravation. But it also affords us the ability to use our creativity and ingenuity to overcome obstacles. I can see a time when I will be using more assistive devices to help me do things – or a time where I might not be able to do certain things at all. But only if I can’t figure out a way up, over, around, or through the challenge.
Check-in: As we start a new year, how are you feeling?