I can remember the day the doctor told me I had arthritis. It was sunny outside and I had just taken the kids out for a kick around in the local park. Rather than reject their calls for 'just another five minutes' I'd carried on, desperately trying to conceal the fact that every swing of my foot brought a stab of pain.
In the beginning I'd thought it was something that would clear itself up, but after my joints started to swell and ache I was forced to concede that the only way I was going to get to the bottom of this was to swallow my pride and go and see the medics. When the diagnosis came through I don’t mind admitting I was devastated. For some reason I had it my mind that arthritis was something that happens when you're older; but the truth is that with the right (or perhaps I should say 'wrong') circumstances it can happen to anyone – even an apparently healthy 44 year old.
After I'd finally come round to dealing with what I'd been told, things suddenly got a whole lot easier. Once whatever problem you have has got a name, it's less daunting to plan coherent strategies to deal with it. You're never on your own either. There is so much support out there from charities, the medical profession and other sources that you can still live a very full life without having to take a backwards step. Take work for example. My first thought was: 'how am I going to continue to do my job?' Well thanks to a flexible employer and the finer points of the Equalities Act 2010, I can now carry on without fear that I will be discriminated against. I know that I could never give up work either – it makes me feel like I am contributing to society and helps to bolster my self-worth.
The same principles apply in the home. I can't quite do the things I used to be able to do (although the wife claims she doesn't notice any difference!) but we've been able to adapt the way we live. We have plenty of clear floor space to ensure that there's no difficult areas for me to negotiate and I have walking aids within easy reach should I need them. We've also been very careful about making sure that I get the right support for my body when I am seated in the living and dining room. Furniture Village has been absolutely invaluable in this, as their team of experts have been able to advise us on what will work best for me. I do urge anyone who is in a similar position not to overlook the suitability of the furniture they are sitting/sleeping on as it really does make a huge difference to your quality of life.
If anyone reading this thinks that arthritis is a full stop, then I hope that this short bio has given you some inspiration. It's really not the end – in fact in some ways it's the beginning. I've certainly never been busier - this week I've hit the campaign trail to promote National Arthritis Week and next week promises to be just as busy! In truth, other people with arthritis still live active lives full of excitement and incident, so don't ever feel like you can't too.
About the Author
David is 44 and an arthritis sufferer. Arthritis is a disease that can effect people of any age. For more information go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org