This is What Arthritis Looks Like

Hannah is only 39 years old and has trouble accepting her Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosis because she feels too young and fit to have Arthritis. This is a real misconception about Arthritis! It does not only affect people over 65 years old. Half of the 700,000 people in New Zealand that have Arthritis are of working age, some are children.

“All I want is to be fit and healthy. I have worked hard to lose a lot of weight in my life to live my best possible life – being fit and healthy for my children, but that’s a constant struggle with Arthritis.”

Hannah

Hannah

Psoriatic Arthritis

“I take strong pain killers every day. When I try and reduce them, I am in a lot of pain. I still get breakthrough pain almost every day despite the strong regular pain killers I take.”

Flare-ups

A flare-up is exhausting. The all-consuming fatigue is next level. Hannah struggles to brush her hair and feed herself during a bad flare-up. “I don’t like it when I struggle to do my daughter’s hair or unclip her from her car seat.” The constant pain wears her down emotionally as well.

“I take strong pain killers every day. When I try and reduce them, I am in a lot of pain. I still get breakthrough pain almost every day despite the strong regular pain killers I take.”

 

“I take DMARDs including one via injection. I also take prescription-only pain medication and other supportive drugs to manage the side effects of the main drugs. I also take a few different vitamins (on prescription) due to deficiencies related to the autoimmune disease.”

 

Arthritis affects everything

Arthritis affects almost everything you do, and it is impossible to ignore. Hannah says the most challenging part is managing the pain and grieving the possibilities of what could have been if she didn’t have Arthritis.

“I can’t continue to train as a powerlifter. I can’t work full time. I grieve a lot for what I could do previously, I can’t help but compare myself to others my age and how well they can do things I want to be doing. I worry a lot about my health and every little flare or change causes a lot of anxiety.”

Arthritis has changed Hannah’s life. “I no longer lift heavy weights, I try and do low impact exercise, I have done more running since diagnosis but found now it is very hard. I am training for a triathlon but have accepted I will likely walk most of the run leg. I struggle with the idea of pacing and am constantly in a boom and bust cycle.”

Arthritis is unacceptable

“I want the world to know that Arthritis affects many people of all ages and fitness levels. I wish it was viewed more as a disease than a condition. It’s not something that can be cured but something that needs a lot of management. For many, there isn’t a satisfactory management solution available.

 

“Diagnosis is hard, access to treatments is hard, there is no cure and learning to accept that is very difficult. I hope that one day there are better treatments available, clearer diagnosis paths and better access to drugs.”

Hannah manages the online support group on Facebook and says the people there are amazing. “That small bit of ‘oh you too? I feel like that too…’ goes so far to make you feel less alone in this sometimes very lonely feeling journey.”

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