EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — Marita Loffredo courageously and even humorously acknowledges her mortality.
“It usually happens in your sleep,” she said with a smile. “So it’s like, that’s not so bad. I’ll take that. As long as it doesn’t hurt.”
She has lived with an alphabet soup of diseases that are killing her, starting with juvenile polymyositis, an ailment that causes muscle fibers to become inflamed. She was diagnosed as an energized 17 year old who was an active dancer.
“I just went from being able to do everything to I literally couldn’t even turn a door knob,” she said.
Between then and now, there have been a half dozen other diagnoses including rheumatoid arthritis and heart-weakening pulmonary hypertension.
“But there’s only so much you can do,” she said, adding that her strength is founded on faith.
She focused on solving a problem that most of us can do with ease by going to a clothing store.
But when your hand is gnarled like hers, gloves don’t fit. That would be a winter-time problem for most of us. Poor circulation makes it a year-round issue for arthritis patients.
“So I really needed something. And there was nothing out there,” she said. “So I decided to do it [myself].”
She sketched drawings. Stitched prototypes. Searched for the right fabric.
“It had to be warm, wind resistant,” she said. “But also needed to be thin enough to pick things up, to feel things in your hand.”
After years of work and she ended up with a trademarked invention called Phalang-EASE Mittens. They open up wide enough for arthritic hands, but then contract to fit the wrist, without being too big on the hand.
She’s as proud of her inventive journey, as she is of the mittens.
“It’s really inspiring to take an idea and bring it from a drawing to an actual thing,” she said.
She admits it was quite the learning experience, dealing with everything from getting a trademark to finding a manufacturer. But while frustration, she saw the glass as half full.
So, we suggested a new invention for her; Bottling up her positive attitude and selling that.
“That would be awesome,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll have to work on that one.”
One of her sons competes in Toughman contests. The other is a black belt. They’ve both said their mother of invention is far stronger than they are.Email Walt at firstname.lastname@example.org with you story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.