Sunday, April 10, 2011


Early this morning my dad passed away.  He was at home, surrounded by lots of love, just the way he wanted it.
I am looking forward to spending time this week with all five of my siblings, their families, my stepmom, and my mom. I know a lot of happy memories will be shared. My family in Kansas has been so wonderful in keeping me up to date and a part of his last days. Within minutes of my sister calling with the news, my stepmom sent me an “I love you” message. This is how she has been through all of this, putting our hearts before anything else. No wonder my dad loved her so much. I really do have an awesome family.

Thanks for all your warm thoughts and prayers. They have helped and will continue to help. I can’t even begin to explain how lucky I feel to have been loved by him all my years. He has left me with a lot and I am so thankful for that.

Dad and Cathy 2007

Friday, April 8, 2011

Acceptance of Chronic Illness

I have recently become a fan of The Healthy Skeptic.  I thought this post titled "Living with chronic illness: the power of acceptance" was especially good and want to share it with you.  Enjoy.

A Rough Week

When I went home to Kansas three weeks ago, it was to say "good-bye" to my dad.  He knew that was why I was there but he wasn't ready to actually say "good-bye".   He still visualized himself outside doing yard work this summer.  In fact, when Steve and Alexander put some outdoor chairs together for him, he said, "If they don't have time, I will get to them later."  That was fine.  Just being with him, holding his hand, and making little jokes with him was enough.  Plus, I know that he wasn't ready to give up the fight at that time and by saying "good-bye" he was giving up. 

Since returning to Illinois, I have felt unbalanced.  I feel angry at everyone and negative about the situations I am in.  I know I am grieving.  I have been waking up in a state of panic since Hospice took over care last week.  All the conversations I have with friends and family seem meaningless unless they are about my dad. 

This week, as things are coming to an end, I have felt so many feelings.  I have tried denying he will be gone so that maybe it won't really happen, I have shed tons of tears, I have shared my feelings and wonderful memories with my family, I have felt extreme panic thinking "the call" is coming any time, and finally today I woke up feeling acceptance. 

There are few people in this world that love us 100% unconditionally.  My dad has definitely been one of those people.  He has made me a better person through his examples of loving others and through his long talks with me.  He has a heart as kind as you could ever imagine.  I am not just saying that because he is my dad either, others outside our family agree.  :)  He has been a constant support through all my ups and downs in life.  It is no wonder I feel such grief. 

"The call" will be coming soon.  The next few weeks and probably months will continue to be hard for my family and me.  When I think about how we will feel, an image of my dad's face and especially his eyes always come into my mind.  I can always feel his true feelings through his eyes.  The image is of him reminding us of how absolutely lucky we are to have each other.  I know he is right.  I also know how absolutely lucky I am to have been loved my entire life by someone as great as my dad. 

Dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

One great thing about rheumatoid arthritis is just when you think you have hit your worst possible flare and wonder how you will ever survive it, RA, like a storm, moves on and gives you a break. It is during this time that everything about living life feels new and exciting! ~ The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo

This is a post I wrote for my personal blog some time ago. When I realized that whatever flare I was experiencing at the time would eventually come to an end, I found it easier to accept the pain because I knew it is only a short lived presence in my life.  

You can read the rest of the post here

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Question - How Do I Get My Toes Into Five Finger Toe Holes?

On Monday I posted that I LOVE my Vibram Five Fingers.  Why?  Because after wearing them outside for the last week and a half on walks with my dog, my feet feel wonderful.  This is completely different than how my feet generally feel after a long walk where my toes are numb and the balls of my feet burn.

I received a question from Wren over at Rheumablog  that I thought I would answer in a post as it is a great question.

"I have to know, though: HOW do you get your toes into the toe-holes? I remember years ago someone gave me a pair of toe-socks. Cool! I tried to put them on... and spent the next ten minutes trying to get my short toes divided evenly into the right holes...

I decided they might be cute, but toe-socks were definitely WAY too much trouble!

So, spill! How do you manage this? Do you have well-shaped, flexible toes? Should I be jealous?"

No need to be jealous Wren. Once I get my feet into my Five Fingers, I absolutely LOVE them.  I feel light and bouncy as I walk.  I don't feel the stress on my joints that comes with the supportive shoes I generally wear.  What I failed to mention though in my last post is that I HATE getting my toes into the Five Fingers. 

Rheumatoid arthritis has been a part of my life for over seven years now.  During that time some toes have separated which means others are cramped together or top of each other.  Also, I have hammertoes, especially on my right foot.  So, getting my toes to fit into specific little spots when my fingers don't always want to cooperate isn't an easy task or one that I much enjoy.  If it wasn't for the difference in how my feet feel afterwards, I wouldn't even bother.   But, once they are on, I feel like I can wear them all day.  In fact, I once napped in them.  They are so light they feel like slippers.  (I had them on and didn't want to have to get them back on later in the day.)

Here's how it works:
My left foot almost always fits into the Five Fingers shoe with ease. (Thank you left foot!) Each toe finds its little home and is completely happy.

The right foot on the other hand, is a rebel.  This foot has toes that have big gaps between them which means other toes are almost on top of each other.

I have to put my foot in and out of the shoe several times before I find a position I think will be comfortable. 

Once in, I have to use my fingers to try and separate my toes and move them into the position of the shoe toes.  My baby toe just won't separate from the others and often never finds a happy spot.

Once the toes are all in their spots, I work at pushing the hammertoes further down into their slots.  They never get as comfortable as my left foot, but they are content.

As readers to my blog know, I tend to need to try out alternatives to what is normally recommended for rheumatoid arthritis.  My current goal is to do some barefoot walking as the temperatures warm up here is the Chicago suburbs.  I have spent the winter reading both the pros and cons of barefoot walking and like everything I do, I am making this choice because it is the one that feels right for me.  When I take my shoes off, I feel free.  I like to wiggle my toes.  I like using the muscles in my feet.  And I love seeing people in public who are barefoot.  It always bring an image of freedom to me, something I like and admire in people. 

If you are interested in a minimalist shoe and don't want to deal with finding a home for each of your toes, check out Merrell's new barefoot shoe.  If I hadn't received my Five Fingers for Christmas, I would definitely have gone for these.

*I want to be honest with my rheumatoid arthritis readers. I am feeling really good right now. My flares are seldom and not very intense. You guys know how I felt last year at this time. There is no way I would have had the energy, strength, or flexibility to deal with putting these shoes on during that time. My Dansko clogs were a challenge at the time and all I had to do was slip my feet into them.  But this is where I am now and it is fun experimenting and finds what works best for me.

*Update:  I realized what the benefit of the toes are in this shoe.  With each toe having its own home, they don't curl up when walking.  I notice that with my "supportive" shoes, my toes curl up when I walk.  Maybe that is why my feet and toes don't hurt when walking in the Five Fingers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Love my Five Fingers!

After a complete week and a half of actually wearing my Vibram Five Fingers outside for my morning walks, I am happy to report that I am in love with them!!! Each morning I have walked about two miles in these glove like shoes. The main differences between these shoes compared to "regular" shoes is
  • I feel super light walking. 
  • My step is lighter which puts noticeably less pressure on my RA knees and hips.
  • And the best news is that my feet don't hurt when I get home. Awesome!