Thursday, September 30, 2010

About Rice Bags

Last week, while feeling splendid about having a sewing machine, i mentioned the word, "rice bags."  (O.k. i know; it's two words.)  Since then, i have gotten a couple of questions, (one from Beth at Pursuing Life, who shares my name and many of my aspirations; you should check out her blog).  So i'm going to tell you about rice bags and why they're so wonderful.  Let us reminisce....

Here's the why:

A long time ago....circa February 2001, very nearly before Valentine's Day, i came down with a mysterious illness that put me in the hospital for four days - one of those days being Valentine's Day - because said illness kept me from breathing.  I like breathing, so we went to the doctor.  The symptoms of this illness (hang on!  this is going to get interesting!) included very painful breathing of very shallow breaths and the discovery by doctors (with their tests and whatnot) that the lining around my heart and lungs were filled with fluid.  Filled so much so that the first doctor i went to thought i had an enlarged heart.

After scads of tests and examinations by cardiologists and pulmonologists and rheumatologists, who all discovered that they had no understanding about what was wrong with me and were determined to stop trying to find out, the discovery was that i had no heart disease, no lung disease, and no Lupus, thank you very much.  So they cured me with steroids and sent me home with a bottle of codeine cough syrup.  Well, they cured me well enough to get me breathing in for the most part.  They didn't cure me at all, to be honest, and i continued to have flare-ups, which were very painful - and especially annoying.  Annoying because i like to do things.  When you can't breathe, you also can't do things.

Then, my mom's (don't tune me out) chiropractor said that your back can be "out" in some certain way that can cause your heart to fail to drain fluid the way it's supposed to.  So, i found a chiropractor here and told her what the other one had said.  After one treatment, i had instant relief.  While i was in the office, my chiropractor explained to me certain things about how the neck and posture and the way i sleep might be contributing to my problems.

This is when i became very aware of my sleeping posture and a sometimes stiff neck.

Hold on, here's where the rice bags come in.

The previous Christmas, my sister-in-law, Sunny, had made everyone a rice bag.  This item could be heated up in the microwave and then placed anyplace you wanted to be warm.  I discovered that my rice bag was wonderful for my neck and for relaxing my muscles so that i could breathe.  Do you think rice bags are wonderful yet?

Here's the what:

This is a store-bought rice bag, which may actually contain buckwheat or something like that. It came with a horribly ugly cover, which i have since removed.  This has most recently been used inside a plastic bag to warm baby chicks while in transit.

If you were feeling really groovy, you could make a rice bag like this.  This one is filled with air, but you know.

This is the case, sans rice, for the rice bag i am making.  This is also the general shape of the one Sunny made for me all those years ago.  I put it under my neck to keep my spine straight while i went to sleep, and it served double duty, relaxing my neck muscles.  The one Sunny made me was a casualty of a house fire (fire #3, i think), so i'm long overdue in replacing it.

Rice bags are very simply bags of rice.  You can use a sock and rubberband to make one if you want to. Just make sure your sock has no holes.  Ha!

Rice bags can be microwave heated for heating packs and frozen for ice packs.  They're really wonderful.  God knew what he was doing when he made rice.  It's good for much more than food.  


  1. What a great idea Beth. I need a rice bag and you've made me reconsider my need to see a chiropractor.
    Amy :)

  2. Thanks for the explanation! I had seen these before (the sock and rubber band variety) and wondered if that's what you might be talking about.

    (We really do have a lot in common, btw, I've been tested for lupus, too!)

    Thanks for the shout-out :D

  3. Rice Bags Saved My Life. I therefore thought everyone in the world would want to have their lives saved by rice bags and I made 300 of them and tried to sell them. Ultimately, I gave away 293 rice bags.

    The ones I sold contained lavender buds. That is a wonderful addition.

    But then I got really motivated and wanted to make one to hang over the back of my chair so my back would be relaxed while I did my typing. So, I cut two 24x18" pieces of fabric, sewed them together, turned them, and sewed 3 inch wide vertical channels. Filled each channel with 1.2 cup rice, made a vertical row of stitches, and repeated until the bag turned into a bunch of squares that held rice. It looked like a down comforter, but with rice. It rolled up nicely, fit around non flat places, and took four to five minutes to heat in the microwave. It stayed hot for a long time. I loaned it to someone who had menstrual cramps. She gave me $40 and would not return the bag. I made four more, and sold each one for $25. Then made one more for myself and my sewing machine broke.

    That is my rice bag saga. I hope everyone you know wants a rice bag made personally for them! They SO rock !!!!

  4. Kris, you're so funny, and i'm so sorry your sewing machine broke. I had forgotten about your amazingly creative rice bag pattern. I will have to try my hand. Will you send me a picture?

  5. Sure, after I work today I will try to remember..... Hope it turns out...


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