Alaska resident Jeni McDaniel leads an active life. So when rheumatoid arthritis began inflaming her joints, she made some changes that helped her cope with the pain.
Eight years ago, Jeni McDaniel moved to Alaska from Arizona. It was a dream come true: Jeni had visited the region with her family as a child and always wanted to return and live in the state known as the Last Frontier. “It was just one of those places I fell in love with,” she says. “I thought someday I’ll live in Alaska. Someday the time will be right.” But years passed. “One day I realized the time’s never going to be right. So I took the leap.” She landed a job working in construction administration and moved to Anchorage.
Her Alaskan adventure was everything Jeni wanted—hunting, fishing, camping, beautiful rivers, majestic mountains. But a year ago, at 33, she began to experience joint pain that impacted her active lifestyle. Her doctors eventually diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. There is no cure, but medicine and other approaches can be used to mitigate the pain. Here’s Jeni’s story in her own words.
On Living in Alaska
It’s magical. I see the same mountains every single day, but there are always subtle differences. The views give me chills. This is one of those amazing places that takes my breath away on a daily basis. There isn’t anything about Alaska that I don’t like.
The Effects of Pain
With rheumatoid arthritis, your own immune system attacks your joints. Your body is trying to fix itself, but something isn’t working. I mostly get pain in my hands, elbows and shoulders, but I’ve also had flares in my hips and knees. When I get a flare, I have no range of motion whatsoever in the affected joint. And the smallest bump is so painful.
The Decision to Get a New Bed
Even before the diagnosis, there were times when I would wake up in the morning feeling completely unrested. I realized the sleeplessness was caused in part by the mattress I was sleeping on. I decided to look into my options for buying a new mattress. Around that time, Sleep Number opened its first store in Anchorage.
Why She Chose Sleep Number
My grandmother, who was actually one of my best friends before she passed, had a Sleep Number bed. Growing up, I remember, I would go to her house and play on her bed. Of course, as a kid, I thought it was awesome because I could inflate it and deflate it. I loved changing the settings. I grew up thinking that Sleep Number was a ‘really fun bed!’”
Visiting the store, I realized that the beds were not just “really fun,” they were also great for my body. I wasn’t in pain the day I went in, but I could just tell the relief that you get when I laid down, where there is no pressure on your joints. I realized that regardless of the cost, this was something I needed to invest in for myself. I bought an I-8. I tell everyone about it.
How She Got Her Strength Back
I’ve always been super strong. I recently started competing in the Highland Games, which is based on a Scottish tradition that involves throwing heavy objects. I’ve always been the person people rely on when they need someone strong to do something.
But until I made some changes, my arthritis was affecting my strength. I’d come home after a long day and start making spaghetti until I discovered that I couldn’t open the jar of sauce because my hands hurt so back. I thought, “I’m the strong person and suddenly I can’t even open a jar of spaghetti sauce?!”
I made some changes to my diet that have significantly helped reduce flare ups. And I take medication. But the mattress has definitely been a game changer in my life. I’m finally getting the sleep that I need.
To learn more about Sleep Number® beds and find a store near you, visit www.sleepnumber.com.
Or read Darrell Bays’s story about how better sleep restored his dream.