There’s a lot you can do to help manage your arthritis.
- Weight management
- Healthy eating
- Pain management
- Medical management
- Using a health professional team
- Acknowledging your emotions and mental health
- Seeking help
For more detailed information, see our booklet 10 Steps for Living Well with Arthritis. You can also call us on our Arthritis Infoline on 1800 011 041, we’re here to help.
Erica has rheumatoid arthritis.
“At the age of 39 in February 2006, my world turned upside down, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. At that time, I was using a walking stick to get out of bed, simply to go to the bathroom, thanks to the mass of inflammation in my knee and ankles. I truly thought I would be in a wheelchair within a few years.
I had seven years on a combination of drugs, followed by three years in total remission without any medication. The past three years I have been back on two drugs. It is not obvious to anyone that I have a condition – I walk normally most of the time, however, ask me to kneel, squat or run and that’s a different story. Fatigue also catches up with me so at the end of the day I can be known to be a little cranky!
Managing my arthritis involves a variety of methods that enable me to continue with an active life. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any pain – I do daily. I manage my life based on some sound principles for coping with chronic illness (developed by me with adaptations to the late Ken Alexander’s 14 Principles of Coping for the Relatives) and facilitate workshops centred around the principles.
Let’s look at some of the principles.
Research treatment options – I listen to and question my rheumatologist. I look at the evidence about complimentary medicines/therapies. I use a combination of medications, alternative therapies that work for my body, and follow the sound advice of my rheumatologist.
Maintain a healthy life balance (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) – this involves many things including cycling, regular meal times, following the anti-inflammatory diet to the best of my ability (I do indulge and certainly don’t go without what I like), spiritual exercises (similar to mindfulness meditation).
Clarify your values – these are your personal compass, guiding every decision you make. Health is my number one value and every decision I make, be it in a split second, or with greater thought, I first consider the impact on my health. This determines how much I commit to each day so that I make the best use of my energy. Without my health I am of no use to anyone.
Rest when your body tells you its time – I’ve trained myself to have power naps and take these the moment I know that I have nothing left (when I’m yawning, my eyes are watering, I’m cranky and I have no energy or capacity for anything). I can take a seven to ten-minute power nap and be re-energised for the remainder of the day/evening.
Take very great care of yourself. You and everyone around you deserves this!”
Thank you to Erica for sharing your story and insight.
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