Usually, I wake up around 6.30 am after being attacked by kisses from my 8-month-old puppy, Loki. He knows it’s time for walkies! As we walk, the sun rises, and I prepare myself for the day I have Osteoarthritis (OA) in my toes and hands, so getting myself moving every morning is part of my wellness plan.
Once I’m at work, I compile our tailored support packs to people’s diagnoses and get them ready to mail out. Thanks to our supporters, the information is medically reviewed and helps people manage their condition, their pain and get best from life.
Then it’s time to hit the phones! Our supporters enable us to provide one-to-one support to people struggling with symptoms. I get a call from 65-year-old widower Sally, who has OA in her lower back. She’s struggling with the pain, and there are tears in her voice. She hasn’t been able to walk, and she’s had to stop pursuing her passion, gardening. She tells me how she has become depressed and socially isolated. Her family don’t live nearby to help her either.
I talk to her about how to warm up her body in the morning and the importance of movement. I talk to her about tips and tools to help her get dressed, such as a sock aid, because not being able to get dressed brings down her mood for the day. We arrange that I would send her some tailored information so she could learn more about how to manage her condition.
I’ll also offer to match her with a trained volunteer who has a similar condition to Sally who can offer her emotional support and advice. She says she will think about it. In the meantime, she agrees to join our next pain management webinar and our Facebook private group for people with OA.
By the end of the call, Sally is sounding better and more hopeful. She tells me she will accept an invitation to swim with a friend at their local pool. She’d put it off, but after hearing how important movement is, she is going to give it a go. Sometimes, people can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel when they are in so much pain.
The call takes half an hour and another half an hour of my time to pull together a specialised pack for Sally based on the information from the call.
After a quick coffee, I receive another call from 48-year-old Caleb from Hamilton. He’s had a flare-up from Gout Arthritis and hasn’t been able to walk properly or put on his work boots. He feels angry and frustrated. Caleb has three kids, and he’s not working. It’s putting extra pressure on his family.
When he first got Gout, he went to the pharmacy, and he’s been managing his condition with painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I encourage him to see his doctor and advise him on what medication to ask his doctor about.
He was surprised and delighted to learn that if he is on the right medication at the right dosage, it may eliminate his flare-ups completely. I also recommend he join a private online support group for people with Gout Arthritis.
I update the case notes for both Sally and Caleb because I often get repeat calls. Last year, we worked on 970 cases from across the country.
After lunch, I work on a presentation that I will present to a group of about 50 people who want to understand more about how to live well with arthritis. This is just one of these types of information sessions we try to bring to regions across the country.
After some extra admin tasks, I pack up and head home, back to Loki, my husband and three kids. Luckily, we have a cooking roster, and it’s not my turn to cook!
I have just completed a Diploma in Health Coaching so I can offer even better support to people with arthritis.