I can’t remember her ever being pain-free. On the outside mum looked fine, but frequent visits to the hospital were proof that something was wrong. It all started with her knees hurting once in a while and progressed to the swelling in her hands and feet, with a side dish of really bad headaches. She first thought it was just exhaustion and everything else from leading a busy life, until one Saturday morning when she couldn’t even comb her hair. She couldn’t bend her fingers, her arms were hurting and felt heavy and she couldn’t feel her limbs, literally.
“This is less of just exhaustion, more of excruciating pain. Am I having a heart attack?”, mum calmly asked dad. Panic seized us all. It seemed as if dad was moving at a hundred kilometers an hour and so was everyone at the emergency room. I never felt more scared in my life. The jittery feeling, the fear of the unknown, and the complex anatomy of ER waiting room made the whole experience nerve-wracking. Doctors did few exams and kept mum overnight, and at 47 years of age, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
But my mom was too busy to let arthritis cramp her lifestyle. As she puts it, a painful distraction is not a welcome thing. She simply didn’t want this serious disease which affects over 3.5 million Australians to define her. She dismissed negativity and pessimism and accepted and adapted instead.
Along with the treatment program, she signed up for yoga and Pilates and started doing swimming for 45-60 minutes once a week. Low-impact exercise, swimming in particular, can help strengthen the muscles around the joints and ultimately lead to reduced arthritis pain. Her doctor also recommended a few arthritis aids Australia RA patients find most helpful.
Since bathroom was the most difficult room for mum to get around, especially getting in and out of the tub, her doctor suggested creating an accessible and safe bathing space with grab rails. These arthritis aids Australia Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend not only for disability patients but for all Australians ages 15 and up, since bathrooms are wet zones. Plus, installing grab rails was a fool-proof way to reduce slip and fall hazards without doing major bathroom renovation.
Grab rails are available in different shapes and sizes as well as styles, but we opted for the white ones that feature a durable suction cup. A pivot grip grantees superior safety ensuring easy and safe entering and exiting the bathtub. Besides being easy to install, they also double as towel racks and blend perfectly with the whole white-tile bathroom design. Not that we were concerned about bars sacrificing style, but the last thing we wanted was that sterile hospital look.
We also installed a tap turner, bath seat and adjustable mounting toilet grab rails. This very functional support system, designed to help with mobility around the toilet, has made getting up and down from the toilet easy and less painful for mum.
Although these arthritis aids do not cure, there is value in them. They’ve helped my mum maneuver around and control the pain. Thanks to them she can still do everything she used to, only at a different pace. What do you mean, you ask. Tasks that most of us take for granted, such as cooking, bathing, and even brushing teeth, are extremely challenging for her and often cause joint ache. Simply said, these arthritis aids have helped her feel the most like herself again.