Sunday, January 31, 2010

Photography & Arthritis

Photography & Arthritis:  There's got to be a link.  No, no, not a medical link...Don't think I'm that totally crazy to suggest that sort of thing, LOLOL! ;^} )

I'm talking about a link (the CHALLENGE of) between HAVING Arthritis, and, DOING Photography.  

It's quite difficult sometimes to even think about doing photography when I'm feeling pain from my arthritis.  Nevertheless, the overwhelming drive to be creative...and to be a CREATIVE in the face-of-pain, is what makes even the "Arthritic Photographer" sally forth in the quest to pursue and to capture a tremendous capture.

Nevertheless, I kid you not, when the arthritis pain sets in, and it is usually most HORRIBLE in the waking hours of the morning, SOMETIMES most of the times, I just don't feel like doing anything, not even photography.  I'll get back to this in a moment.

This may be a side-note, but I thought I would mention it.  I never before thought that arthritis could be seen from the outside on the skin.  I'm not talking about the deformations of joints that one normally envisions when placing Arthritis and Deformations, side-by-side.  No, this is something different. 

Of course, there are skin-versions of arthritis, such as scleroderma, a disease of the connective tissue (skin), which causes hardening and thickening.  But that is not it, either.  I'm talking about a skin rash, or perhaps, a skin reaction in the form of a temporary rash.

I wake up every morning with a tightened rib-cage due to Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).  This morning, however, is one of the first times I had a rash on the skin of my chest (in the pain area).  That seemed new.  It appeared odd to me.  I have no idea if AS pain can cause skin rash:  I've had AS for 26-years, and the incidents of skin rash on my chest are rare, so rare that I don't remember the last time it happened.  

I'm just wondering if skin rashes could be associated with the AS.  More specifically, when AS is MOST ACTIVE, can it trigger a skin reaction in the form of an allergic type rash?  

Has anyone else with AS ever noticed rashes during their worst times of pain?  It would be interesting to find out if there is a link, some sort of connection.


So...WHAT can you do?  What can you do when you want (or need) to take photographs, but the arthritis pain seems overbearing?  My suggestions, mind you, are not proven medical therapy:  These are the things that I normally do in these instances when Photography meets Frankenstein's Arthritic Monster.  And believe me, sometimes I feel like "The Monster" with parts and pieces not quite put together right, with appendages just kind of hang'en there in the joints, bones seeming to rub together.  And I can swear, I can hear the squeakiness of the ball and socket joints (kind of kidding!).  Forget the drugs (if you can) - maybe some Pennsylvania 40-Weight Oil would be a better solution! 


Nevertheless, here are some things you can try when the arthritis pain is at its worst:
  1. Don't over-sleep!  I find that the longer I sleep, being more than 5-hours at one interrupted time, the stiffer my joints get.  Inaction seems to lead to stiffness.
  2. Think thoughts of GRATITUDE!  It is very easy to let the pain of arthritis immediately affect your thoughts and mood in the morning and this is deadly to your wellbeing.  Arthritis is like a HUGE SLAP in the face as soon as you become awake.  Don't let it get to you (so much).  To change your thinking start running through the reasons you are grateful for being alive.  Run through the list of blessings you have and forget about thinking of the troubles and heartaches you face - these negative thoughts will lead to your downfall!  Attempt with all your heart, to focus on the positives that you have in your life, and this will help you muffle the heartaches, "limitations" (e.g., maybe you can't make a fist all the way because your fingers are stiff and painful; maybe you can't run any more or walk normally; maybe you can only sit for a couple hours until it becomes unbearable; and the list could go on and on), and pains you suffer because of arthritis pain.  I have my own list of negatives that run through my head - BUT I KNOW I HAVE TO SQUASH THEM!
  3. DO some sort of light warmup EXERCISE in the Morning!  You do not need to go full force RAMBO-adrenaline-rush exercising in the morning.  Start out light.  
 
Copyright Nawfal Nur 2010
"Just Relax!" 
  • For painful and stiff fingers, get one of those squishy exercise balls (see my photo above).  
  • Stretch and also do some deep breathing to loosen up the ribcage.  
  • Walk around a bit to stretch and loosen up leg muscles and get the joints moving.  
  • Drink some water and hydrate yourself.  
  • If you need some pills, then you know what you need, but attempt to do non-med attempts at feeling better, first.  I know this doesn't always work, and I know the Voltaren people love me.  However, my liver probably hate me by now considering all the meds I've taken over the years.  Just use some intuition and judgment.
These little exercises do help (to some degree) for people with stiff joint types of arthritis: They help me.  Seek medical attention and advice for specific exercises and routines that will be best for what you have - what's good for me, may not be good for you.  It is BEST to be informed about your own situation and then go from there.

What about the Photography!   

Well, if you still have the energy, and if the pain has subsided, and the rusty joints have loosened up, then your photography endeavors WILL BE so, so, so much more enjoyable.  

I know firsthand how pain can zap the fun out of things that are normally fun and exciting.  Attempt to not allow pain and stiffness to stop you from enjoying photography.  Because photography sometimes requires a lot of walking, standing, bending, lying down on the ground, carrying around heavy equipment bags, twisting, turning, and getting into a lot of irregular positions just to get that "perfect" shot, that Arthritis can sure make your passion-hobby-career (photography) a BIG PAIN!  Attempt not to let it.

It is up to you to reduce the pain as much as possible, and enjoy photography, and life!

Good Luck!