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Bev's Story: Coping With Arthritis - Bev's story

Bev isn't letting the pain of arthritis in her hands and back keep her from doing her favorite activity—gardening. Nor does she let it keep her from doing anything else in her life.

She has found ways to help reduce the pain that allow her to still enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like seeing the season’s first crocus bloom.

Out in the garden

In the garden, Bev now plants her flowers and vegetables in flowerpots or raised garden beds instead of planting them directly in the ground. It’s easier this way, because she doesn't have to bend down too low to care for them, and it doesn't take as much effort to plant them. She also uses tools that have large, curved handles instead of thin, straight handles. Tools shaped like these help to take the pressure off of her back and the joints in her hands.

Bev has even found ways to modify some older tools to make them easier and more comfortable to use. "Gardening books and magazines always have wonderful ideas and innovations that you can use," she says. "For instance, I've cut off sections of the rubber insulation that is used to cover water pipes and slipped them over any of the garden tools that I'm going to use, because it gives me a little more cushion and a little extra width for my tools."

Around the house

In the kitchen, she has replaced most of her eating and cooking utensils with "things that have a big, fat rubber handle"—such as spoons, knives, vegetable peelers, and specially designed jar openers. That has made a big difference, she says, because the smaller the handle, the harder it is to grip it. And if she's doing anything for a long time, like peeling potatoes, a bigger handle makes it less painful to use.

She has also replaced most of the outside doorknobs to her house with handles that have a lever, and she’s thinking about replacing the ones inside too. Doorknobs, she says, are harder to open and can really hurt her hand and wrist when she tries to turn them.

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