I promise to share what exercises that I did during my recovery process. I was/am indeed a very active and healthy person by nature. When I was diagnosed with RA in Jun 2014, I was very depressed and I could not see any future ahead again.
Though I had muscle wastage and I was left with only 38 kg, I determined to regain my health hence I worked very closely with my rheumatologist and the physiotherapist. I am now back to my normal weight and I am back to a very active and healthy normal life.
I could not touch my own face hence I cut my long hair. I could not change my own clothes and I could not put on my shoes, basically I depended very much on my daughter to take care of me for about 10 months. Since I could not lift my hands up, I started to use a 2 1/2 feet long stick to move my hands up and down, front and back every morning and night. I started to feel that my hands could move up higher after about 4 months of painful non-stop exercising.
My rheumy sent me to the physiotherapist after 4 months of treatment. Before that, because I had muscle wastage, my rheumy sent me to the occupational therapist in Sept 2014, 2 months after the medication.
Beside using the stick to move my hands, I also used thera band to slowly build my strength. Anything that I could use to move my hands up, I just used them. I walked my hands up a wall, a pole or a tree to the height that I could tolerate the pain. I hold my hands for a while then I let them down for a rest and started the process again.
When I got stronger, I used a soft ball to throw and catch them so that I could exercise and maintained the flexibility of my wrists and fingers. I also used the hand grips to work on my fingers too. I was still in great pain while I was doing all the exercises above.
I used to test if I could do the yoga posts but very sad to say that I could not until many months down the road. My daughter used to send me to the garden nearby after work. After a few rounds of walking around the garden, she would send me to the play-ground in the garden and I started to make use of those equipment to work on my hands and legs. That helped a lot to build my muscle and strength again. You can see those equipment that I used in the pictures.
I could not walk properly at the start because my knees and ankles would just give way even on a very flat road. So my daughter was always with me to ensure I did not fall over. Walking a lot eventually put my ankles and knees back to the sense of balancing my body.
A year of painful and hard work exercising, I tested if I could do some yoga posts. I was so glad that I finally could do a few posts. Thereafter, I continue the normal exercises and added on to some simple yoga posts and eventually I continue the proper yoga and pilates now.
I could not squat and I could not sit on the floor at the beginning. I hold the table top or any solid thing of the right height and started to squat a bit every day. Slowly, I slid myself down to the floor from the sofa set and started to bend my ankles with my hands. It was very painful and hard work those days because my joints were still swollen and in great pain. However, with my determination to live a normal life again, I made it and today I am a healthy and an active person again.
For those who do not know what kind of exercises to start with, my advice is to do anything that can move your joints and at the level that you can tolerate the pain. The earlier you start your exercises, the faster you will recover from the stiffness of your joints. You need not go round to look for any specific equipment or place to work with your joints, you can just do it with anything around you as long as you move your joints.
I hope my experience will help you to get on with your exercises without fear immediately. Trust yourself and listen to your own body are the keys to regain your health again.