Elizabeth (Windy) Riggs
Near Atlanta GA
How long have you lived with RA?
Probably 30 years with mild, atypical flares, but not “officially” diagnosed until 5 years ago.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with RA?
First and Foremost: find a great Rheumatologist who is up on the latest treatments and who believes in aggressive treatment of RA.
Second: get referrals for PT and hand therapy early on – a home exercise program designed for you will help you keep mobile longer, and early hand therapy and, even, splints, will help you keep your hands mobile longer.
Do you use any mobility aids?
Yes – a cane at the moment, but coming up on a walker and possibly a scooter. I also use hand/wrist splints, and foot/ankle splints.
Most importantly, I have a wonderful mobility service dog, Emmy, who picks things up for me, does the laundry with me, turns wall switches on and off for me, and generally keeps me from over-working my hips and lower back.
How has living with RA helped to improve your life?
I am more grateful, daily, for all the truly important things in life – my husband, our children, our grandchildren, our priest who brings Holy Communion to us when we can’t get to Church.
Do you have any visible signs of RA?
Yes, my MCPs are sometimes swollen as are my PIPs. I have misshapen knees and very swollen toes and MTPs.
Can you please describe some of your favorite coping strategies for living with RA?
Meditation, prayer, stretching, and distraction. Unfavorite coping involves taking Lortabs when it’s really bad, but I try to avoid that. I HATE taking yet another pill, and I don’t like the way they make me feel – dizzy and sleepy, and brain-foggy.
In particular, the Prayer of the Heart (The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”) is wonderful for taking my mind off myself and sending it Heavenward. Listening to Russian Orthodox chant is guaranteed to remove nearly all my pain.
Staying active through working with my little Emmy (service dog) helps a lot, too.
Can you please describe your current medical (traditional and alternative) treatments?
Methotrexate 2.5 mg tabs 4 in AM and 4 in PM one day a week, Leucovorin 25mg x2 one day a week, Folic Acid 5mg every day, Plaquenil 200mg twice a day, home exercise program twice a day; chiropractic twice a month and the occasional massage.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?
The only thing I don’t love about my life is that I can no longer dance with my husband (who used to teach at an Astaire Dance Studio). There is nothing like a lovely waltz to make a woman feel pretty and princess-like. I also just loved doing the Swing. So I frequently just close my eyes and remember “those days.” It brings a smile to my face.
I’m a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, as is my husband. Sharing our faith is most important to us.
My greatest life experiences so far have been: converting to Orthodox Christianity, caving in Idaho, and attending Russian Orthodox Choir Conferences – Oh! that music!
Favorite Bible Verses:
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
I will sing unto the Lord throughout my life, I will chant to my God for as long as I have my being. May my words be sweet unto Him, and I will rejoice in the Lord.
Favorite Authors: Robert Heinlein; Mercedes Lackey; Anne MacCaffrey, Fr. Steven Ritter, Sarah Elizabeth Cowrie, St. Nikolai Velimirovic – among many others
I have several blogs:
(wherein I post Ladys Daybook pages and archived pages from my past):
(wherein I post mainly the daily integration of the Church Calendar into my life):
The Painted Turtle
(wherein, like a painted turtle, I post a montage of this and that):
Living With the Woof
(wherein I detail my life with my mobility service dog, Emmy):
The Funnies Etc
(wherein I post those silly or inspirational or humorous e-mail posts received from various friends)
And my husband has one:
Rumblings of an Ol’ Curmudgeon
(wherein he posts his recipes and assorted rants on various subjects)