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Insider Arthritis Tips Newsletter June 2010
June 15, 2010

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

-- Mother Teresa

Since we're starting the summer travel season, this month's newsletter discusses travel tips for arthritis sufferers

Traveling over the holidays can literally be a pain for arthritis sufferers. Here are some welcome tips...

Pack an extra two days of your medicines just in case your flight is cancelled.

Always, always carry your medicines with you. If you take a biologic, make sure you have a note from your doctor that explains what the medicine is for so you can clear security. Label all medicines.

Hydrate yourself. Drink plenty of water and keep a water bottle handy.

Drink alcohol in moderation, particularly when flying. The dehydration properties of alcohol are magnified by air travel.

The intoxicating properties of alcohol are also magnified. Not a good idea if you're taking arthritis medication.

Get an aisle or bulkhead seat on the plane. That will allow you to get up frequently to walk and stretch... and have more room.

If walking through an airport is going to be a chore, make sure you call and schedule someone to meet you with a wheelchair ahead of time. Airlines are usually very accommodating.

Eat frequent, healthy, light meals and snacks. You can pack your own which is probably the best idea. Avoid heavy, sugary, fatty foods.

Keep a complete medical history (allergies, medicines, eyeglass prescription, etc.) and your physician's contact information with you at all times.

If you're going someplace sunny, ask your rheumatologist about whether you need to worry about medicines sensitizing your skin and causing rashes. Use a high SPF sunscreen(50 or higher).

If you are traveling to a foreign country, make sure you know who and where to call if you have a medical emergency requiring the attendance of an English-speaking doctor. Also, carry your important papers in a neck pouch. Harder for a thief to get at it.

Bring a travel pillow for your neck and low back.

Travel vests are a great investment. These vests have lots of pockets to store stuff.

Dress for comfort- not for style- and by all means wear comfortable shoes. Consider using a walking stick or cane if you're going to be doing a lot of walking. Clothes that use velcro fasteners instead of buttons may make dressing and undressing easier.

Use wheeled luggage when possible.

Ask for assistance when stowing your bag in the overhead bin. Better to get help than strain your back or shoulders.

You can use your carry on as a footrest.

Travel increases your contact with germs. Make sure you take your nutritional supplements- particularly vitamin C. Airplanes and airports are loaded with bacteria (as apparently are some cruise ships!). Avoid drinking the water in countries where sanitation is suspect. That goes for ice in drinks as well.

To ensure better sleep, use eyeshades and earplugs.

Dress in layers.

Use moisturizer on the face and hands. Use lip balm.

Walk as much as possible if traveling on an airplane. This will help reduce the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)- blood clots.

Plan to take time for reentry...

Wei's World June 2010

Last month I wrote about my mother-in-law, Marcia Hearst.

This month I’m writing about my father-in-law, Martin Hearst.

He was born and raised in Boston. And if you didn’t know, all he had to do was open his mouth and start talking. You could cut his accent with a knife.

He was extremely proud of his experiences in World War II. He spent four years with the U.S. Army artillery in the Philippines during World War II.

One story he told me was about why he never ate rice. He said that they had rice with their army rations every day when he was in the Phillipines… which is why he never wanted to eat rice again after he came back. One positive was that he lost a lot of weight and came back in pretty good shape.

Like many returning GIs, he went to school and bought a small house and began a family. He and Marcia had three daughters. You can bet the toilet seat was always down in their house.

Martin was a diehard Boston sports fan. He lived and died with the Red Sox and Celtics. He had his favorite lounger that served as both the best seat in the house for watching sports on TV and also a great place for a nap.

He also loved the beach and would spend time with his family “down on the Cape.” Martin always wore large sunglasses. He told me he did that so he could watch the pretty girls in their bikinis walk by without Marcia getting mad at him.

He and Marcia kept kosher so there were certain foods he never had. And he had a peculiar relationship with chicken. He didn’t like to eat chicken if it came on a bone. He would only eat it if he could cut it. I teased him about that.

And his favorite Chinese dish was beef with scallions (without rice of course.) This dish had the unfortunate side effect of creating a lot of gas so you knew better than to hang around Martin too closely after he had had this for dinner.

He had a stroke this past year. And he passed away on May 2nd. But he left this world the best way possible, surrounded by his family and suffering no pain.

He was a great husband and father. This Wei’s World is dedicated to the memory of Martin Donald Hearst.

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