Pain Management of the Arthritis Variety

You too? I’m finding arthritis to be very common among my peers.

Where I’m headed

My father was middle aged when I was born and old when I was in my 20s and 30s. He suffered from very painful arthritis in several parts of his body. I remember thinking, I’m going to take care of myself and that won’t be me. Wrong. . . that is me.

I started running when I was 17 years old, having been told it was a great way to lose baby fat; I had a lot of baby fat. One of my two female roommates struggled with her weight as well and so, we ran together. A combination of running and eating better helped me become a trimmer, happier young man. Running became an addiction. In truth, I ran to survive. Running was one of the only activities that would calm my brain. It provided results and allowed me to eat pretty much anything I loved. I ran almost everyday for thirty years. I ran marathons. I ran when I traveled. A few years ago I had so much pain from inflammation, I had to stop running.

Being a large man, 6 ft., 200 lbs., didn’t pair well with running. That’s a whole lot of weight hitting that hard New York City pavement. Running eventually led to inflammation of my joints, which eventually led to chronic arthritis.

I recall doing laps in my Brooklyn pool (my building had an indoor pool) and feeling cramping in feet, thinking what the heck is this? It was the early stages of arthritis; more than likely from running. That cramping and discomfort has never gone away and now, I live with it in my feet, knees, lower back, shoulders, and just recently my hands. It’s chronic and annoying as hell. I am a fairly physical person; always on the move, always challenging my physical limitations. It’s getting harder and harder to keep that up.

Five Remedies

A few of these remedies are healthier than others. I will list them in order of what I believe to be the healthiest to the potentially dangerous:

  1. Stretching — I’m not sure if stretching actually helps arthritis, but I do know it feels good. Inflammation can make you stiff and stiffness is uncomfortable and painful. Loosening up your joints can give you sweet relief. I stretch at the gym for about 10 minutes before I workout in the morning. I know that I should probably spend more time on my back and legs, but I’m always anxious to start my workout and get it over with.
  2. Devil’s Claw — Native to southern Africa, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems (Mt. Sinai). I’ve been taking Devil’s Claw in pill form for three months. It took four-to-six weeks to feel the effects. I’m not 100% sold on Devil’s Claw; however, I did notice that when I went from 500 to 1500 mg. three times a day, it did make a difference. You never really know if it’s the placebo effect or it’s truly working. I’m going to keep taking it; it’s inexpensive, has no side effects, and it is recommended by medical doctors throughout Europe.
  3. Cayenne — Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and it often causes redness, swelling, pain, or heat. Cayenne pepper and other hot spices are widely considered powerful anti-inflammatory spices that can help reduce chronic inflammation and pain (HealthifyMe). I take a 1/4 teaspoon in warm water every morning. It’s not easy to swallow, but it’s another thing I believe can only help. And . . . it’s really cheap.
  4. CBDResearch suggests that CBD can ease inflammation, among other potential benefits. Research suggests that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, as it affects certain cell viability. It may also have a synergetic effect on rheumatoid arthritis medication (Google). I don’t know enough about CBD to tout its benefits. I use it as a topical remedy in cream form. I purchased CBD oil (without THC) and put a few drops in body cream. I rub it into my shoulders and back and hope for the best. I wish I could tell you it works; I’m not sure.
  5. Ibuprofen — a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain, and helps to relieve symptoms of arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or juvenile arthritis), such as inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain (Mayo Clinic). The current recommendations for ibuprofen are to limit daily use to no more than 30 days. Dosing can range from 400 mg to 800 mg up to 4 times a day, with a daily maximum of 3200 mg per day. Above this limit, the negative effects of COX inhibition begin to outweigh the desired benefits of decreased discomfort and pain ( This last bit is what concerns me. I dated a medical doctor for several years. He repeatedly warned me about the long term side-effects of ibuprofen. I only take ibuprofen if my pain or discomfort is intolerable; not very often.

I’m not going to lie, I fear that the inflammation in my joints willworsen over time. The only hope is there has been tremendous relief in my right knee pain. I suffered with intense discomfort for several years and when I moved to Portugal this pain went away. I’m not sure if less humidity contributed to its disappearance or if no longer running helped it go away; perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I am grateful. It gives me hope that I might find relief in other parts of my body.

Arthritis in my hands is a big concern. It seems to be isolated to the joints between my thumb and the pointing finger. Stretching and rubbing the area does help.

I hope my own experience and research has been helpful for some of you who suffer as I do. Helping ourselves through life’s challenges, empowers us to work through any obstacle to our happiness and well-being. I’m challenging myself to stay positive.

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.”

— Anonymous

Upcoming Travel

Provence (south of France) today. I’ll be visiting several wineries and returning to points-of-interest; it’s been awhile since I visited Provence. I will be seeing friends and eating well. My Airbnb has an amazing view of Marseille; a city I’ve never visited. I think this trip will do me a world of good.

Current State-of-Mind

I had a day this week that blew me away and I hope it happens again soon. I woke up on Monday morning feeling like Superman. I knew that I could and would accomplish anything and I did. I ran through my To Do list in record time and I did a lot that wasn’t on my list. My energy level was at an all-time high; I took full advantage of it and reaped the rewards.

I’ve done some redecorating in my apartment and I’m very pleased with the results. My nest has always been important to me, as I get older even more so. Minimal, colorful, and comfortable — that’s what I like. More and more, I trust my instincts and embrace the results.

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” —John C. Maxwell

As always please forgive grammatical and/or typographical errors. Especially this time as I am writing on my tablet.


What is purpose? Why I need a purpose? Will I find my purpose?



a person’s sense of resolve or determination.
“there was a new sense of purpose in her step as she set off”
synonyms: determination, resoluteness, resolution,

resolve, firmness (of purpose), steadfastness, backbonedrivepushthrustenthusiasmambitioninitia-tiveenterprisemotivation, single-mindedness, commitmentconviction,


Whenever I think of purpose, I am reminded of Steve Martin who plays Navin in The Jerk, where he goes on and on about his “special purpose.” The purpose I’ll be discussing is not quite the same; my purpose is less sexual in nature. I’m certain that’s a better way to go.
A person’s sense of resolve or determination; that’s seems essential to me. So I ask myself, do I have purpose? Considering that I am a planner and that I need to have future goals or plans to look forward to, I would say that I have purpose. However, now that I am no longer a pet owner — I hate the word owner when referring to a pet, it seems to me that a pet is a member of your family and ownership isn’t really the right word, so I’m going to change that to having a pet — that is a huge obligation that I longer need to consider. I don’t plan to acquire another pet anytime soon; losing Giorgio has provided an opportunity to explore the world without being tied down. This was Giorgio’s final gift to me. I miss the little guy.
When you have a career, a sense of purpose comes easily.  For over 30 years I focused on education; first on my Ph.D. and then educating others. I truly felt that I was making a difference. Then I focused on creating a consulting business and when I achieved a certain amount of success (over 20 clients in two years) I decided consulting was not fulfilling and that I needed to move on. There were parts of consulting that I enjoyed immensely; however, convincing potential clients that they needed my help or any help, was tough on the ego. And that brings me to now . . .
I did some professional writing in Portland, Maine and discovered how much I enjoy it. The question I need to ask myself is do I want to take it further than a blog? I thought perhaps putting together a memoir (a collection of all of the personal stories from my blog) might be worth pursuing. I’m frankly concerned about those that might not like what they see in print and I’m not sure the purging is worth the pain. The other option might be an Expat How To book. Either of these two considerations would be fulfilling and perhaps helpful to others.
Daily Stuff
There are many things I do on a daily basis which provide purpose. For example, I am motivated to rise in the morning for two big reasons:  1) I love the quiet. It’s usually dark and the city is still sleeping. I make coffee and either work on my blog or read. Sometimes I watch the news, but with all the negative things going on in Trump world, I’ve been attempting to avoid this trap, and 2) I have always had more energy at the start of the day. That is after a good night’s sleep and sleep has been elusive lately.
Going to the gym is a big part of my physical drive. I enjoy the community I have at the gym and I like how it makes me feel. I usually do my market shopping after the gym. I’m freshly showered, shaved and raring to go.
I have always looked forward to lunch and dinner. I don’t think about breakfast much, but I do mix it up in the morning. I eat whatever I feel like that day (ex., eggs, toast, cereal, avocado, fresh juice, granola). I don’t eat all of those items on the same day. I start thinking about lunch at around 10:00 a.m. and I usually have a salad, sandwich, or leftovers by 12:30/1:00 p.m. I’m inspired by the food at the market and that’s when and where my dinner decision is made. The Algarve is a great place for fresh fish, beautiful vegetables, fruit (amazing oranges and melon), organic chicken and charcuterie. I like to make enough so that I have leftovers for the next day. In the summer, I freeze homemade tomato sauce and pesto (basil and parsley from my terrace garden) , so that I can have summer dishes during the winter. I’m no Martha Stewart, but using my freezer to store food is something I learned from my father.
I have a terrace garden (see as much as I could get in the two frames below). My terrace is very long and narrow and has lots of room for potted plants. I’m growing flowers, succulents and herbs. Tending to my garden brings me a great deal of pleasure and purpose. I am proud of what I grow and enjoy sitting out on the terrace, either by myself or with friends. It got started in June so I have aways to go.


I’m a film buff, so I go to the cinema at least once a week. I prefer a matinée because I’m less likely to fall asleep. And for you snarky folks, it’s not because I’m getting old; movies are more likely to make me sleepy in the evening, probably because film allows me to take mind off of other things that may be troubling, thus I become more relaxed and sleepy. Theatre has the same effect on me, but alas, there is little or no theatre in English in Faro. We do have live ballet and opera at the cinema; a big plus.

architecture building business cinema
Photo by Nathan Engel on

Now that I’m living in Portugal, I believe it would be in my best interest to learn to speak Portuguese. I started with an on-line tutor about four months prior to relocating. Frederico who lives in London, but he is from Lisbon, was a great help; however, I knew that what I was learning would “stick” once I moved to Portugal and started hearing the language daily. In theory, this is true. The problem lies in the number of Portuguese people who speak English. Anyone aged 40 or younger (older people as well) has a pretty good grasp on the English language. They learned English in school, they watch non-dubbed American film and television, and I believe they enjoy speaking English. Many Portuguese people need to know how to speak English for work. This can make an English-speaking person in Portugal very lazy. I’m dedicating time to learning the language, but not enough time. I’d like to be able to converse in Portuguese sometime in the next two years. I plan to take classes and spend more time practicing. This is a necessary goal and a great way to keep my aging brain active.
It is also important for me to practice my driving here. I’ve rented a car a couple of times and I feel a certain level of confidence; however, I want to improve. The roundabouts that are everywhere in Europe, are very efficient, but tricky and they’re so much better than traffic lights. European drivers tend to be faster, take more risk, and they are not very tolerant of beginners. I know this is a huge generalization, but even Europeans would agree with this assessment. I’ll have a car for a few days in November, so I plan to practice.
A few weeks ago I was complaining (to myself) that many of my new friends here in Portugal live 45 to 90 minutes away. Then it occurred to me that when I lived in Brooklyn, many of my friends were either outside of Brooklyn or over an hour away by subway. So what am I complaining about? The only issue has been coordinating the train or bus schedule with visits outside of Faro. It’s a minor inconvenience, therefore, I’m going to heretofore just be grateful to have wonderful people in my life no matter where I live. I have more time in my schedule for socializing and that’s a good thing. I’m trying not to fill my dance card so that I can be more spontaneous. I know several of you who know me are reading this and laughing out loud. People can change you know.
Volunteer Work
I need to work with animals, it’s non-negotiable. I have discovered that there is a pet shelter in both Olhão and Loulé. Neither city is far away, so I will be looking into spending some time at one of these shelters. I have been volunteering since I was in my early twenties; few things in my life have been as satisfying. I cannot adopt or foster right now; therefore, this will be the next best thing.
I struggle with travel. I love routine, I love my own bed, and I love cooking my own food. When I travel, I sacrifice a great deal; poor me right?. Having stated this, I truly do want to see the world and I don’t mean by watching the travel channel. I now have the time to be more methodical and smarter about travel. I can take longer trips and combine multiple locations, thus making travel more economical and less of a hassle. The last thing I want is more time in airports and the shuffling of my luggage from one hotel to another. I want to spend more time in one place, I want to see people I care about who live in other countries; and I want to be able to boast about the deals I garner.
Possible Citizenship in Portugal
Keeping up with the red tape of full-time residency in a foreign country is a full-time job. I am obviously exaggerating, but seriously, there is a lot of paperwork. It seems at times that policy and law surrounding living in Portugal is intentionally ambiguous or confusing. I had some recent issues with attaining a Portuguese driver’s license. Several expats have warned me about the process. It was clear, that if I did not complete the process for acquiring a Portuguese driver’s license within the allotted 90 days from becoming a legal resident, I would have to go through the process as if I were attaining my very first driver’s license and I would have to take the written and physical driving test in Portuguese. Clearly, that was enough to motivate me to get this done ASAP. Except that there was a huge obstacle. Apparently I should have known that the Portuguese Consulate in Boston needed to verify my Maine driver’s license prior to relocating to Portugal. How could I have not known this? I won’t go into details about how I managed to get a temporary Portuguese driver’s license, however, what I will say is that I believe in my heart, it would have been easier to compete in Hawaii’s Iron Man competition and place.
After a few years of renewing my temporary residence, I will be eligible for dual citizenship (I will never give up my U.S. citizenship). This will not be an easy process, but if it mean shorter lines at passport control in airports all over the world, I am willing to at least try.
In Summary
I highly recommend the exercise of laying it all out. If like me, you are sitting around wondering what you are going to do with your life, it will certainly help you to see and realize, that you have a lot going on.
I won’t lie, I miss the feeling I got when considering that the school I worked for would shut down if I missed a day at the office. I miss the routine of Giorgio jumping into my bed in the morning for a one hour cuddle (that was always the best hour of my day), I miss my weekly poker game, I miss southern barbecue, I miss hopping into my car to see friends and family, I miss English being spoken all around me, I miss the thrill of anticipating my annual raise and bonus, and I miss using work as an excuse to decline social engagements. I can go on, but I ‘m afraid if I do, I will begin to regret early retirement. So where does this leave me when considering purpose?
What I have in my life today, is that opportunity to relax without guilt, take care of my spiritual, physical and mental health, and the ability to see the world. None of these are minor commitments. If I accomplish half of what I have planned for the next ten years, I will be successful, happy and satisfied or at the very least, I can tell myself that I am all of these things. I can also look forward to change. Change is a constant we can count on. Okay, I am motivated.