Life with osteoarthritis

More than 27 million people across the world are living with osteoarthritis, so I am one a very select few with this disease!!.

Having been diagnosed less than 3 months ago I am not yet fully conversant with the impact of the disease.

What did it mean to me when I found out?

Was I surprised?

It was and it wasn’t a total shock, because my mum has osteoarthritis and I have the same nobby fingers that she does, so it was a fair bet that I would also get the very same problems she has lived with for a while now.

The thing is I wasn’t meant to get it until much later in life, not at 56, rather late sixties like my mum, so for this reason it was a total surprise and I was not ready.

Gout Hurts here
Gout hits at the ball of the big toe

Osteoarthritis is definitely the most common form of arthritis. However knee arthritis, hip arthritis, Gout all are discussed as different forms of arthritis, but in reality they are a form of osteoarthritis themselves.

How does osteoarthritis affect people?

Being new to this I can only relate some of the issues I have come across, I am not bringing into this conversation effects that I have read, as these are not first hand experiences to me.

In no way does this invalidate the experiences of others, rather it explains what I have experienced.

You will see what can happen in the daily life of someone with osteoarthritis, and you can make up your own mind.

Each new day

One of the hardest things is the difference each new day brings:

  • today you may wake up with sore hands and feet
  • tomorrow it may be back, neck and shoulders
  • the following day you may feel great until later in the day.

The uncertainty of feelings does affect how you feel, reduces your confidence in your abilities and makes it difficult for those around you.

A loss of self confidence, reduced motivation and drive, potentially unable to work, at times being unable to  do basic tasks, and it is quite a difficult struggle to deal with the variable issues of each day.

 

What can you expect from this website?

This site is not to be seen as a place where I can whinge about how bad I have it, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think “why me?” at some stage, because I did!

pain relief
live on these …

But that feeling is long gone now, I simply want this site to show the ups and downs of life with osteoarthritis, and I am sure it would be similar to any other disease which involves chronic pain.

I might stagger you with some facts from time to time, might bore you with daily life but I want people to gain an appreciation of the feelings that people get in a situation where their life is turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

There will be phases where I state that I can beat this disease (hope I can), but in reality all I want is to be able to live as normal a life as I can, whilst trying to get better and dealing with whatever hurdles get put in front of me.

I will be looking at every aspect of life!

Is getting healthy a good option?

Should I go and get a gym membership?

Is there a natural solution?

Can I still do the things I used to, but in a different way?

I don’t expect that a diet will solve my arthritis, but some books, websites and people say: “How I beat arthritis”, good for them I say.

But how, if you have had arthritis for 30 odd years can you say that you have beaten arthritis, that it is cured?

Surely the lumps on my fingers will still be there?

It seems to me that those who say: “How to cure arthritis” are using a fair bit of licence in the meaning of the word “cure”.

There is a definition of “cure” somewhere, and it goes a bit like this:

If we can treat and reduce the effects of arthritis

then we have cured it!

WOW!   Does this mean that my arthritis is cured, because I am being treated??

If this is the case then the common cold should be cured as soon as we take a headache pill, or a tablet to make us breathe a bit easier, but who thinks that? It still takes a couple of days before we are totally better.

What other people, organisations have to say

I have read information from various government agencies, arthritis foundations, forums and more and the common theme is that we (those with the chronic pain) can:

  • adapt our lives so we can manage our daily tasks;
  • are happy to be told how to live with pain.

A lot of what I have read is written by people who have absolutely no idea:

  • what osteoarthritis is like (hell I still don’t even know all of it!),
  • on how bad the pain can be,
  • on how to deal with not not being able to hold  a knife and fork,
  • on whether we are happy to take drugs which cause a multitude of other problems for which the solution is to prescribe more drugs,
  • even the associations who are supposed to represent those with chronic pain seem to forget that it is not as easy as “take a tablet, get some exercise, eat healthy”

I have a relative who has an incurable disease and currently takes around (at last count) 31 tablets each day, just so he can live to see the next day.

The thing with this  is that at least a third of those tablets are taken to cure the effects of another drug he is taking!!

What do I want out of life?

My plans from before being diagnosed with osteoarthritis have not changed, I am still going to:

  • be going overseas,
  • travel with my partner around Australia,
  • fix and repair my 4wd so that I can travel,
  • paint the house,
  • maintain the garden,
  • live my life

What I do know is that whilst I want to do these things I have found that one day I can do a few hours of work but then I have to recover the next day, and sometimes for two days.

And if I decide to recover for another day I could still get sore somewhere, just because I took it easy!!  Fun Hey?

Just a little bit slower, that’s all!

and in between the bad days I will do all of this!

Symptoms of arthritis

Sudden pain anywhere anytime, tiredness frequently, you can’t do what you once could, any knock on any affected joint causes sharpeffect of arthritis and very uncomfortable pain and this is usually the fingers as these are the most used joints. These joints in my hand here hurt on and off all the time, but if I were to knock any of those joints (say on a door as I go through) the pain stops you in your tracks.

Obviously, just by looking at the fingers there are many things that I can’t do that I once did, more on that later!

What is arthritis?

Perhaps it is now timely to discuss what exactly is Osteoarthritis (OA). It is a chronic condition (degenerative joint disease) of the joints and in most people it is as a result of normal wear and tear of our daily lives which causes it.

People who play a lot of sport in their younger days may develop arthritis at a younger age, most likely this is because they have accelerated the ageing process of their bodies, which naturally includes joints.

In normal speak it is when the padding (cartilage) between the joints wears out, have a guess at what this does, causes pain! The pain it causes differs from person to person, so in most situations when someone says they have pain from arthritis and that it hurts a helluva lot … believe them!

Now where, what next?

Now that we know the symptoms and what OA is actually where do we go?

Do we just accept that, live with it and take painkillers for the rest of our lives and watch TV as there is nothing else that we can do without hurting ourselves? A dilemma? Not likely, but I can see how attractive that option is, especially if you have got it worse than I do!

In the short time since I have been diagnosed I have tried to eat healthier, take supplements and have found some relief, but I also take some strong medication.

My question here is simple: Is it the medication making the difference or is the better eating and vitamin intake making the difference?

Continue reading through this site, ask questions and hopefully we can generate a discussion or two.

Email questions to me at steve@livingwithosteoarthritis.com or comment below and I will respond as soon as possible (Please remember that I may be laid up for a day or two)

 

 

Working out what you can and can't do