Friday, May 29, 2009

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Creates Makeovers and Bag Ladies

This is a before and after story about some ladies with bags. But it’s not Extreme Makeover. It’s “Before RA and After RA.”

Before RA, I never accepted help from the baggers at the grocery store. I didn’t need help. (Maybe my mom read the Little Red Hen to me one too many times, but I tried to do everything by myself.)

Well, grocery shopping is one of those things that changes drastically when Rheumatoid Arthritis moves in. I used to also shop at Wal-Mart during odd hours when the stores were empty. Often, I’d go early or late while the kids slept. It was just easier on everybody else.

When I’d back the station wagon into the driveway with my loot, I’d scurry around to the back to pick up all the bags at once. I could set several bags on each arm, starting up near the shoulder. Then, I’d put the heaviest things in my hands. I shut the door with my hip. Within a minute, I was ringing the doorbell with my elbow saying, “Let Momma in.”

Usually, they didn’t have a chance to carry a single bag because I took care of them in a wink. It seemed to me like a waste of time to go back to the car several times. Why not just be uncomfortable for 2 minutes? There is never enough time, so why waste any?

I can hardly hold back the laughter as I picture myself acting out that scene hundreds of times. If I had only known the future - more of my energy as an able-bodied woman should have been spent playing tennis!

What a difference today is from all that! Since the Rheumatoid Arthritis, I do not usually risk going to the store alone. I almost always have helping hands to carry heavy stuff – and bring in the bags. When you think about it, this whole “before and after makeover” thing has affected much more than just me. I have to accept help – and someone has to offer it cheerfully. ; D

Sometimes, I do have to go it alone and it can make for pretty some rough moments. There was a lady just like me at the library recently. She was dragging her bag of loot – books - toward her car. Fortunately for her, my friend Leslie was nearby. She saw her and rushed up to help. She carried her load and struck up a conversation.

My friend called me that night so excited, “I met a woman with RA - at the library.” My friend was so blessed that she had the chance to do one thing to make life with RA a bit easier for that woman at that moment. I don’t know who was blessed more.

But both of them are so beautiful to me. No makeover necessary here. I am the one who taught my friend about RA. However, I know I do not take credit for her being a Good Samaritan.

You see, I met my friend at Sam’s club 10 years ago. I had injured my back trimming my trees and I could not lift the 50 lb. bag of dog food I was buying for Gabriel. She loaded the dog food into my cart. And ten minutes later, into my station wagon. Guess I did accept help before RA after all – at least sometimes.

I just saw this ridiculous new tool on sale on TV. It is a giant plastic ring that you can use to carry all of your grocery bags at once. I laughed out loud. I will be reviewing cool tools on my upcoming website, but you can suspect I won’t recommend that one!

“Look! You don’t have to carry all the bags at once. Let someone help you and then go play tennis together.” I didn’t say that – it was the makeover talking. ; D


bjc1050 said...

Just visited your blog using the link in your Rescuing Sprite comments.

Think I probably have RA although I've never been treated for it. I certainly identify with the grocery situation. I've learned to make an extra trip or two to unload groceries from my car although most times my husband does most of the unloading if he's at home when I get there. What makes me the angriest is to load up my arms and discover that the door is locked and I have two or three bags hanging from my left arm and right arm is holding a gallon of milk and then I have to fish in my purse for the door key. AAAAH GAD!

I have learned to buy frozen orange juice concentrate rather than fresh in the carton, gravy mixes in a pouch rather than canned gravy, etc...substituting lighter weight items for heavy ones. It really helps most times.

I can remember being so proud of being so strong. As a young girl I used to carry 50 lb. chicken feed bags from the feed store, used to carry beer cartons for husband in our earlier years of marriage, etc., but no more. The heaviest thing I now carry when necessary is the 18 lb. bag of dog food for our 4 dogs. And even that, I usually just leave in the car for husband to bring in whenever he gets to it.

Also, I read about Gabriel. I'm sure you have a big hole in your family now after 19 years with him. You were lucky that he was so good about grooming. We currently have our 3rd yorkie who just loves to get as messy and tangled as he can and he isn't as cooperative about being combed out as the previous yorkies were. I've just recently purchased a portable grooming table so I can anchor him where he can't get away from me. Am hoping to have better luck combing him more thoroughly and cutting out any snarly mats he acquires.

Didn't mean to run on so much.

Cherish the memories of Gabriel's funny quirks and the happy times with him.


RA Guy said...

Shopping for groceries is something that I too cannot do alone at the moment. As for the grocery bags, I'm not even part of the process from start to end. Makes it difficult to schedule at times, but in the end isn't it better to have company in the grocery store? I think so...

Kelly said...

You are right, it is humbling isn't it when we can't do all those things we were known by. I used to do lots of pushups and situps, too. I was proud that I might be able to impress my kids at least. Hahaha. Ah well; it's different now.
Love hearing about how you get different things done, Kelly

Kelly said...

Hey Guy!
Yeah, I used to think doing it like the Little Red Hen was cool. But, I do love to see my sons push the cart and pickup the heavy stuff.
It's really humbling to see a guy w/ RA though. We women are used to being considered weaker. Must be hard for a man.