This is What Arthritis Looks Like
By 2040 there will be one million people in New Zealand living with debilitating Arthritis.
If you don’t think Arthritis affects you, think again. How many people do you know who have a form of Arthritis? Ask around; the answers will shock you.
There are currently more than 700,000 people who have Arthritis in New Zealand. Half of them are our Nanna, Grandad, Mum, Dad, Aunty or Uncle. The other half are younger than 65 and are of working age or younger.
Radiographical Axial Spondyloarthritis
“Arthritis has stolen my life. It affects my balance. I struggle to put socks on my feet. When my shoulders are bad, my husband brushes my hair.”
Everyone is affected by Arthritis. The Frost family have two people with Arthritis in one household. Mum Kylie (46) has radiographical axial spondyloarthritis, and daughter Samantha (8) has a form of juvenile Arthritis that is still getting an exact diagnosis.
Samantha says the hardest part of having Arthritis is missing out on things because her legs hurt. “If I didn’t have Arthritis, I would run around a lot more without getting sore. Missing out on things that I enjoy makes me sad.” Samantha has a little pain all the time.
“Sometimes it gets worse, and then I cry a lot, but I don’t say much about my pain anymore unless it is really bad.”
Why should Samantha keep her pain to herself? Arthritis is a pain in the butt. It always stops Samantha’s Mum, Kylie, in her tracks. The hardest part about living with Arthritis is not being able to do things that others are doing, and Kylie says that if she can do them, it takes longer and is harder to recover. Because they have Arthritis, they have to always be on guard and watch everything they do.
No one should have to live half a life in constant pain. That’s why Arthritis New Zealand works very hard to help people manage their pain, guide them on nutrition, exercise, joint protection, and mental wellbeing. We also advise on how best to communicate with doctors and other health professionals.
Kylie says she has a dull, constant ache all the time, and the nasty flare-ups come occasionally.
“It feels like there are lead weights tied around my arms and legs, it’s difficult to lift my head, the pain in my back gets so bad I can’t move my arms. My lower back hurts with every single step I take.”
“Arthritis has stolen my life. It affects my balance. I struggle to put socks on my feet. When my shoulders are bad, my husband brushes my hair. I use scissors to open packets as I have poor strength in my hands. Housework is extremely tiring.”
A form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis
“I don’t say much about my pain anymore unless it is really bad.”
Kylie knows the importance of managing Arthritis well. She knows how important it is to find the right foods, exercise correctly and stay strong. Arthritis New Zealand plays a significant role in helping people with Arthritis to understand all the aspects of managing their Arthritis.
But, even knowing and managing your Arthritis well as Kylie does, there is the constant tiredness, forgetfulness, and mental toll that living in chronic pain can bring. Arthritis New Zealand helps people feel connected, not alone, and part of a community that understands by running virtual meets, sharing inspirational quotes, lifting spirits, and bringing people together online and in person.
“I want people to know that it isn’t only the elderly that get Arthritis. It is painful and debilitating and never lets up. Just because you can’t see the war doesn’t mean that I am winning the battle!”
This is what Arthritis looks like. An invisible disability!