Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Intimacy

In chronic disease when you think of intimacy or sex  there is always the question - Is it me or is it my health?  I never thought it was the rheumatoid arthritis, but with all of that pain and fatigue having a sex life was the last thing on my mind when I first became ill.  It used to be so painful when any part of me was bumped by accident that I would build a little barrier between me and my husband to protect my hands and feet. That is the most unromantic thing I expect I'll ever say in public.

As the years have passed I have resorted to all kinds of methods to wake up in the morning in better shape.  This now includes resting splints on my hands, another splint to keep one foot from moving in a painful way at night and a neck support collar which has helped with neck and shoulder pain.  But the upshot is not too pretty.  Add that to a strong desire for comfort and enjoying a duvet as my only cover because of the weight and awkwardness of covers and I am sure I seem antisocial as well as unromantic. I certainly don't look cool and beautiful in my own mind.

Depression is also an issue for some at any point in the road you take with chronic illness. That also puts a damper on things

Lately I found a study on PubMed.  This one is called "Evaluation of Sexual Dysfunction in Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Controlled Study".   Sorry RA Guy and other men - I am sure this problem is not confined to women with RA but the authors did not study you.   Here's the link and another about Sexual Function in Women With Chronic Illness and Cancer

Are you surprised to hear that active RA has a measurable effect on your sexual function? I guess the answer is to get healthy overall to counteract this gap that can develop in our lives but there are not many solid ideas out there to help in this area. Maybe it seems to be a lesser issue with all the health worries that come with chronic disease. 

At the Sjogren's Conference this year there will be a speaker who will address this topic at the request of the members. It's a vital area in our lives but there is a real lack of advice.

When we're over 64 we'll still be together

The song below always makes me laugh because I can identify with it, with all of my occupational therapy help in the night.

Here's a song for all of the people out there sleeping with OT aids and CPAPs, along with their partners.

After the ball was over
Katie took out her glass eye
Took out her teeth to wash them
Hung up her hair to dry
Threw her peg leg in the corner
Hung her wax ear on the wall
You'd never recognize Katie 
After the ball. 

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