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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Have Moved!

The Arthritis Ireland Blog has been moved to our own website...for uptodate blogs, news and events visit

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Niamh Costello's Story

Thursday October 22nd

Niamh jumped out of bed looking forward to her week ahead as you can guess Niamh in great form..What a great feeling to have when Niamh comes into our bedroom smiling.. She has done her physio routine put on her muscle rub and is ready for breakfast and her medication. When she comes in from school we go for a swim and Niamh just loves it..

Niamh in great from she goes swimming with her school and tells me she was in a relay race and loved it..I later get a phonecall from another child's mother to tell me Niamh was upset at swimming today as the team she was picked to be in complained they didn't want Niamh on their team as Niamh had arthritis and would slow them down.. I am really mad but I decide not to say anything to Niamh she has had a course of counselling to deal with any negative feelings so I feel it best I leave her to stand up for herself she is 10 and will come up against children who don't understand again and agian..

Niamh doin great today and goes into school to see an article she did for irish exaiminer posted up in all school rooms.. The principal had organised it.I get a phonecall from another parent woth arthritis having a tough time at the moment and we share our worries..

I was on local radio a few weeks back talking about arthritis and I get a phonecall from a guy selling a product called juice plus. he says it will help to boost immune system.. I come offf the call and have a good cry I find it upsetting to read and hear of all these cures!!! I know they work for some people but I have tries a hell of a lot of things and nothing as good as the Meth. yet.. The reason I feel upset is the fact I feel I have to try these things... I owe it to Niamh to try...Niamh heading to her physio today she looking forward to it because she will be able to push herself today as she pain free...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kids with Arthritis Deserve Better

Young people with arthritis decided that enough was enough and are joining forces with Arthritis Ireland to campaign for improved paediatric rheumatology services. Launching Kids With Arthritis Deserve Better during National Arthritis Week, they are calling on people to visit to sign their petition demanding the immediate appointment of a second paediatric rheumatologist.

There is currently only one paediatric rheumatologist for the 1,000 children in Ireland living with arthritis, who also has a commitment to general paediatrics. As a result, children with arthritis are being forced to endure chronic pain, risk deformity and muscle wastage as they wait up to 13 months for an appointment with her. This is in sharp contrast to the international best practice recommendations that children with arthritis should be seen within 6 weeks of onset of symptoms.

Breffni Molloy speaks about how limited access to rheumatology services impact's on his life...

My name is Breffni Molloy. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at the age of 13 during my first year in secondary school. As I live in Co. Galway, I was referred to an adult rheumatologist and she referred me to Dr. Killeen to make the final diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

At this stage, the arthritis had spread from my foot to my wrists, elbows, shoulders and knees. I was in a lot of pain and found it very difficult to do normal things like getting up in the morning, which could take up to an hour. I found it very painful to walk and spent nearly all the time in bed or lying on the couch during the day. I missed seeing my friends every day as I wasn’t well enough to go back to school for the rest of first year.

I have been on methotrexate for the last 2 and a half years, and have to have monthly blood tests done to make sure this drug doesn’t damage my live.

I had my last flare up before my junior cert this year and was started on steroids by my GP because I couldn’t get an appointment with Dr. Killeen before my exams. When I finally got to see her I had to return a few weeks later to the day ward in Crumlin to have my knees aspirated and injected with steroids. I find these three to four hour journeys to Dublin very tiring.

We desperately need more consultant paediatric rheumatologist in the country so that young people can be seen on time and receive the right treatment. For too long the voices of young people have been ignored, so I’m asking you please to listen to us now and do the right thing.

Please visit and sign the petition for the appointment of a paediatric rheumatologist now! Your support will make a difference

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to look ahead all the time whilst living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

When Mary Whelan woke up and couldn’t move her hands, she suspected arthritis. Eight years on, arthritis is a part of her life, but it’s not running it.

Mary Whelan (45) went from running marathons and doing step-aerobics to being helped by husband John to wash her hair and get out of a chair. In 2000, she became will with Rheumatoid Arthritis but, today, she’s back in control of her own life.

“For the first four years, I was very sick, and totally dependant on my husband”, said Mary, mother of four children, William (21), Roisin (20), Niamh (11) and baby Suzanne, who died shortly after birth in 1985. “I had RA all over my body”, she said adding that it took time before she was prescribed an anti-TNF therapy. “Within two weeks of that, I was walking around with very little pain. I still have pain and I wouldn’t be able to pound the roads like I did during the marathons as some of my joints are eroded.”

But through it all – the visits to her GP, the visits to the Rheumatology clinic in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, the visits to the Rheumatology Rehab Clinic at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, she remained positive. ”The thing about the medication is that it takes so long to find the right one for you”, said Mary, who lives in Arklow, Co. Wicklow. “It takes up to three months to see the effect of the medication, then the dose is upped and that takes another three months to judge, but in the meantime, you’re getting worse. But, at the same time, I can’t stress enough that there’s life at the end of the tunnel and I always tell people not to give up in the search for the right medication for them”.

Whilst Mary had to give up work after she got RA, her love of art has persisted, and she maintained that interest and her involvement with an art group throughout her arthritis. Today, she designs and makes personalised cards, has published a children’s poetry book and paints watercolours and acrylics of landscapes, seascapes and still life, a far cry from the day in 2000 when she woke up and couldn’t move her hands.

“At my worst, I kept going. When I was taking Niamh to school, I would get up half an hour earlier than usual just to give myself time to get going. Then, we’d set off for school half an hour earlier to give up time. I felt I had to keep going because I had the children. I also felt that I could either sink or swim with the arthritis. I used to say to myself that I could either sit there in solid pain and not move and have everyone waiting on me, or I could get up and get moving and lost some of the stiffness in a few hours.

“At the same time, you have to respect your joints. I always make sure that I take all my medications. You have to follow your rheumatologist’s advice, keep your weight down and exercise. I lost a stone-and-a half and it definitely benefits the joints in my feet and hips. And I go to aqua aerobics so I get all the benefits of exercise without feeling all the work!”

Oh, and she keeps busy, fundraising for Arthritis Ireland, the Jack and Jill Foundation and local charities!

This article was taken from Arthritis Life, Winter 2008. To subscribe to Arthritis Life, click here

Monday, September 28, 2009

Niamh Costello's Story

Hi everyone I haven't been bloggin recently... Niamh has had a tough few weeks. Her knees and a toe have been very sore. We got call from Dr Killeen who has started her on codeine phosphate. We are hoping this will help with pain. She has been on it a week and it is helping with pain. Niamh is just exhausted. Falling asleep in school. Bed at 8pm everynight. She finds swimming exhausting too..We were in hospital for blood test this morning.. Niamh has blood test every 6wks. On my way out we meet a friend who suggested Niamh should try a strict diet of wheat and dairy free...It reminded me of M. Binchy article of 10 things not to say to someone who has arthritis and I chuckled to myself...Life with a child with artritis is very hard on us all. Niamh doesn't look sick so it is hard to explain to people she has a disability..I find it a lonely disease to have as a child . Niamh gets a ray of hope where she is pain free and gets to lead a normal life then with a bang it reminds her she is not a normal child ...Niamh went to visit her great gran aunt yesterday who was 103 and Niamh's joint's were in worse shape then aunty Liza...Niamh was walking slower ...i would love to wrap Niamh up in cotton wool but I know this is the wrong thing to do. She has to learn to cope....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Growing up with Ray

By Kate McKenna

Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at age fifteen was surreal. I didn’t understand how it had happened, what was going to happen or what it ment to my life. They told me everything I needed to know but it didn’t make sense. I was in total denial and had deemed myself invincible – I wasn’t going to let this get to me.

I had to start going for naps during and after school – not very cool when you’re a teenager and all your friends are full of life. They were very supportive of me though and I am so grateful to them for getting me through that difficult year.

When I reached sixth year, the RA was so sore that I couldn’t tie my shoe laces, button my shirt or brush my hair. My little sister had to come in every morning to help me get dressed and help put up my hair. It was even sore to walk. I felt like I had been reverted back to a child – with my parents having to cut up my meals for me because I couldn’t use cutlery properly.

Obviously, I had to give up hockey. My mom encouraged me to coach instead, which was very beneficial to me in the long run. It was hard not to be on the team anymore though but I really enjoyed coaching.

There were a few key people during this time that helped me so much. I was going to my GP, Ciara, once a week to get injections – she was so good to me during all this and helped with the psychological side of things as well as the physical. I was very depressed. Between the actual physical pain and the impact it was having on my life, I felt like I was losing the will to live.

I managed to do my leaving cert – I was allowed to take breaks during the exam which was helpful because it was so sore to write at the time. I didn’t expect much but my parents encouraged me to just do it. I passed the exams, but not with very good results. Of course I was disappointed, but very proud that I had done them. I promised myself that when I got better I would go to college and get a degree.

At this stage, I was seeing the late Dr Michael Kelly in Blackrock Clinic. We had developed a good relationship and he was always so nice to me. We used to make eachother laugh – which is nice when you are getting cortisone injections into every joint in your body! He made me think that it was not such a depressing thing and that I could live a normal life – “do whatever you can do”. I’m sorry I never got to tell him just how much he influenced my life before he died.

It has been 12 years since I was diagnosed, which actually seems like a lot when you put it down on paper! Apart from the occasional flare up, I am in good health. I am still taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets every day, as well as injecting Methotrexate and and anti-tnf every week. But it’s just the norm at this stage!

I am working a job I love, working indirectly with children; I am playing hockey and even completed a triathlon recently! I am studying a degree at night and hope someday to work as a clinical psychologist. I have never felt as good.

RA has taught me a lot – it’s taught me you are stronger than you think you are, and even if something is painful, you can get through it. It’s taught me that good friends stick around when you’re in good form and bad. But most of all, it’s taught me that you should always “do what you can do”.

For information on support services available for people affected by Juvenile Arthritis, see the Juvenile Arthritis section of our website:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Niamh's Story

What a very exciting week.........

1st September
Niamh is getting used to the early morning starts.. When a child has a bad flare up it is very hard on everyone. Niamh has to get up half an hour before Caoimhe to have a warm bath and do her exercises. As she has stopped her naproxen her knees are really getting stiff and painful. I was hoping the meth inj alone would keep arthritis at bay..but it doesn't look like it..We are all so upset because Niamh was doing so well..

2nd September
Niamh is having a good day today and is in great form. We go swimming after school and Niamh is so good at doing her exercises twice a day.

3rd September

How exciting we head to Dublin when Declan gets in from work as Niamh is on television in the morn talking about arthritis. We have to stop every half hour as Niamh needs to get out and stretch her knees. We hardly sleep as we all excited...

4th September

We have an early start 6.30am so Niamh has a long soak in bath does her exercises and off we go... We are delighted to meet John and Sarah from Arthritis Ireland and Niamh was a star...she was dying to talk more about her arthritis ..We head home after breakfast and Niamh gets loads of calls from her friends..Niamh has inj at 4.30pm and heads for a swim

5th September

Niamh has another exciting day u12 camoige team in cahir playing in county final Niamh on panel doesn't get to play but they win so everyone delighted.. We have a bad evening as Niamh in pain she and we spend a while crying together it does I beleive help to get frustration out..I feel so helpless.. I so wish it was me in pain not an inocent 10 yr old...

6th September
Niamh spends Sunday on couch as she in to much pain to do anything..

7th september

Niamh doesn't want to get out of bed as her knees too sore and she gets very upset.. I help her out and lift her into bath with Declan's help. She is very siff today and
we late for school..her friends are waiting to hear all about her television debut.. but they know by Niamh's tears she is having a bad day and they take her bag and hug her..

Monday, August 31, 2009

10 Things to Never say to Someone with Arthritis

by Maeve Binchy

We've had fantastic feedback since this article was published by the Irish Times to coincide with the launch of our Helpline (1890 252846). So, we thought we should share it with you again. Enjoy!

The bestselling author Maeve Binchy, Arthritis Ireland’s helpline patron, who has arthritis herself, has learnt through her own experience the things you shouldn’t say to someone who has arthritis:

1 "Cheer up, nobody ever died of arthritis." This statement is, oddly,not cheering at all. We have dark,broody feelings that if people did die of arthritis there might have been huge, well-funded research projects over the last few decades, which could have come up with a cure.

2 "It’s just a sign of old age, it will come to us all.” No, it’s not a sign of old age. Even toddlers can get arthritis, and some old people never get a twinge of it. The very worst phrase you can use is "Haven’t you had a good innings?".

3 Remember that marvellous radio series about disabilities called "Does he take sugar?". The message of that title means you should never ask, in the hearing of someone with arthritis: 'Do you think she’ll b able to manage the stairs?' Arthritis can make us many things, but it certainly doesn’t make us deaf.

4 Avoid mentioning magic cures, as anyone with arthritis will already have heard of vinegars, honey, mussels, berry teas, and so on. We will probably have tried them too. It is dispiriting to be told of someone else who was once bent double but now climbs mountains before breakfast.

5 Don’t ever say: “That walking stick is very ageing – I wouldn’t use it if I were you.” Did you think we thought of the stick as a fashion accessory? Of course we know it’s hardly rejuvenating to be seen bent over a stick, but when the alternative is a knee or a hip that could let us down, or pitch us into the traffic, then the stick is a great help. It is
sad when people give us the impression that it makes us look 100 years old. At last we are getting out there, and that should be praised and encouraged.

6 Never let the phrase “a touch of arthritis” pass your lips. You don’t say someone has a touch of diabetes or a touch of asthma. It is denying sympathy and concern for people who have a painful and ever-present condition to minimise it to just “a touch”.

7 Don’t suggest a healthy walk to blow away the cobwebs. People whose joints are unreliable don’t want to get further proof of this when they are halfway down the pier. Unless you are a physiotherapist, don’t impose exercise on others.

8 Don’t tell people with arthritis to go and live in a hot, dry climate like Arizona. We know It might be easier on the joints, but some of us are very happy here with family and friends, and we don’t want to be packed off like remittance men.

9 One time you shouldn’t stay silent is when your favourite restaurants, theatres or galleries are difficult to access for a friend with arthritis. Before you turn your back on them, be sure to tell the owners or proprietors exactly why you will not be making a booking. You can be very polite and praising (“I hear such good things about your place”), but after the flattery should come the reason for regret (“Can I just confirm that
there isn’t a lift and that the cloakrooms are up or down a light of stairs?”). If enough people were to do this, it would not take long to improve facilities. If we don’t tell the offenders, how will they know there’s a problem?

10 Don’t ever say, sadly, how tragic it is that nothing has been done for people with arthritis. Plenty is being done. Just contact Arthritis Ireland, or phone its new helpline. Then you will have an idea of how much is happening and you can be a true and informed friend rather than a false and frightening one.

Reprinted with the permission of the Irish Times

Niamh's Story

We are so used to injecting Niamh with meth on a Friday pm that I forgot to include it in blog last week....

August 25th

Niamh up and doing exercises at 8am takes her losamel before breakfast and naproxen and folic acid after. Niamh is in a very positive mood today and goes on her bike for a half hr after breakfast. Her knees look swollen and hot so after her bike I alternate with hot and cold towels..I ring her occupational terapist to come meet us in school next week as Niamh needs to ger measured for her chair. Her posture is so important.School are great to her she is allowed to get up and walk around class if she gets very stiff. After lunch it is off for a swim.. I really do beleive swimming is the most important exercise for a child with arthritis and I see a hugh difference in Niamh's mobility after a swim.. Niamh does her exercises after tea.

August 26th

Niamh has early morn appt with school dentist for a check up.. she gets up early to run a bath to ease her joints.. This helps her to do her exercises. Losamel before bfast and naproxen after. We are so lucky to have a wheelchair sticker so we can park near dentist entry. Niamh is very bad on steps and takes a gd 10 mins to climb up.I ring my doctor as niamh having such a bad re action to naproxen.. Should I take her off it??? He says no wait for dr Kileen to come back. Her forehead covered in water blisters.. Niamh spends the afternoon on her bike and when it comes to evening exercises caoimhe her 5yr old sister is always on hand to offer support..

August 27th

Niamh is very sore this morning and spends the day in alot of pain.. I am so upset as she was doing so well. She is unable to ride bike so I take her for a swim.. I gave up work to look after Niamh so I can only imagine how difficult it is to work and look after a child who is sick...especially a child who can be good for weeks on end and then in agony.. Every day is so deifferent. The only downside to not working is the fact thatt I am constantly aroud Niamh so I sometimes can get dragged down by it all..

August 28th 29th and 30th

Fridays are injection day and niamh starts to get tense after lunch. granny comes in at 5pm to hold her hand. I give it in her leg and we certainly have had some drama.. she pulled her leg away one day and I stabbed myself she has got so upset that I had to put it in while she not looking... we getting better at it...

We had to travel on saturday to meet Declan's aunt for lunch Niamh very sore and stiff after 1.5 hrs in car we spend a little time massaging knees and putting cold ice on it before we go in..Niamh is so so so brave...

Sunday we have a camoige match Niamh can barely walk let alone run but her teammates are there for her and give her support.She can't wait to get home to a hot bath...


very exciting day Caoimhe starts school.. This takes Niamh's mind off her Arthritis while Caoimhe runs in school gate Niamh has to be supported by her dad...

Talk soon

Monday, August 24, 2009

Niamh Costello's Story

Well our last week has been a real mix of laughter, tears and positivity..........

Wed August 19th
Usual start to day for Niamh, exercise plan, losamel before breakfast after, naproxen and folic acid. Niamh spent an hour on her bike as this helps to keep knees mobile. I spend a little time surfin net always on the look out for any hints and tips to ease Niamh's pain. At the moment we using Pernaton gel this seems to help with pain.Got a phone call asking was Niamh able to travel to a camoige match tonight, for any child this is a nobrainer....But for Niamh it meant an hour on a bus to the match so she arrives very stiff and has to do extra exercises when she gets to pitch..We went and how proud was I to see Niamh running on for last 10 mins of the game. I could see how much pain she in but she ran and chased ball like every other girl... and they won........ Long hour journey home after..

Thurs August 20th

God did Niamh pay for last night.... She very sore and spends about an hour feeling very sorry for herself.. Usual questions.. why me? Will I have it for life? Why do I have such a bad life? I try always to see positive and encorage Niamh to not let it take over her life. It won't beat us.. We had to travel 10 miles to get Niamh's eyes tested for uveitis a condition associated with J A. Niamh has never had it but we get checked every six months..We had a swim in the afternoon and this cheered her up..

Fri August 21st,Sat August 22nd,Sun August 23rd

Usual start every morning except on sat and sun niamh has a friend to stay and doesn't always want to do her exercise's on front of other people... She spends time playing and having a very normal weekend.. Niamh never complains to her friend's and they are very unaware how much pain she is in...

Mon August 24th

Niamh woke up with large blister on her face.. I am in a right panic I ring crumlin but Dr Killeen not back for another 2 wks.. I ring my dr but he doesn't want me to stop naproxen which he is pretty sure is causing it...Niamh lying on couch looking pretty miserable....

Talk soon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Niamh Costello's Story

Hi my name is Wendy Costello and my blog is all about my beautiful daughter Niamh. She is now 10 but all our lives changed when Niamh was diagnosed with Juvenile Arhrits at 3yrs. We had no Dr Killeen then. We went to see Dr Monaghan in Crumlin who diagnosed her but her on steroids and then locally injected her 1 joint affected, her left knee. We got on with life as Niamh totally went into remisson for 4 yrs............ We thought that was it until that day sitting in the japanese gardens in Kildare when Niamh said Mum my knee hurts.. Back to crumlin to meet Dr Killeen. Usual treatment.... steroids,nurofen then local injection none of which was working this time. It then spread to right knee at this stage Niamh was a very sore and frightened girl. her whole life was turned upside down. Camoige stopped. Physio started I was now looking up internet for help . ringing arthritis Ireland and meeting parents in crumlin for any sort of advice on things....Niamh went through terrible pain I couldn't see her knees they were so swollen she spent her time in a wheelchair it was too hard to walk anywhere. before Dr Killeen went on maternity leave last year I begged her to put her on methetrexate as she had zero quality of life. So she started on meth tablets a year ago and naproxen. We then met Prof Duffy who quickly put ger on inj as tablets not workin and slowly Niamh started to feel better. Her swimming and physio had to srart full belt now she was most days pain free..Her muscles were deflated in her legs due to lack of exercise we had a hard road ahead of us..We were up with Dr Killeen 4 wks ago she took Niamh off naproxen and put her on feldene Niamh had a severe reaction to this and came out in water blisters on her face. She has had a terrible flare up since coming off naproxen. Dr killeen on hols now so I awaiting her return to see next step>>>Isn't it mad only 1 person in Ireland can make theses decisions>......My doctor afraid to intervene in any of Niamh's medication..

Tuesday 18th August
Niamh woke up at 8am a little stiff and sore does her exercise routine this takes 30 mins her sister Caoimhe 5yrs joins in...
Takes a losamel before bfast and a folic acid and naproxen after
Niamh heads to swimming pool whick is 12 miles from us and has a swim for 45 mins
She takes a rest for afternoon
That is us up to date.... Talk soon

Monday, August 10, 2009

A problem named is a problem halved

Solving problems is a core part of Arthritis Ireland’s Living Well with Arthritis programme. Here, we outline how to list solutions to problems and work through them Solving problems is a tool, a great skill to acquire and an empowering process to master. As a tool, it helps you to solve an immediate problem. As a skill, it’s like riding a bicycle – once learned, you can use it again and again. And as a process, it involves mastering a number of steps. So, when you come up against a obstacle – such as how to do the shopping or make the dinner - you can engage in the problem-solving process to help you achieve your goal. problem may not be solvable now.

As a first step, identify and name the problem you’re tackling so that you can find a solution that works for you.
Steps towards solving problems:
1. Identify the problem
2. List ideas to solve the problem
3. Select one method to try
4. Assess the results
5. Substitute another idea
6. Use other resources
7. Accept that the

This is the most difficult and most important step. Then think about and list all the possible ways of tackling the problem. From your list of possible solutions, sort out which are the most relevant to your situation and which are realistic or manageable. If the problem is solved – great! If not …

Try another idea from the list. Have a look at the results, fine-tuning what went wrong. Work your way down the list of solutions until you’ve used all the ideas on your list, assessing all the while why a particular solution didn’t work. Were you trying to achieve too much? Were you too tired that day for the solution to work?

You may need to use other resources to help make another list. Ask friends, family, professionals for ideas if your solutions didn't work, then go back to the Problem-Solving Steps, and continue until you’ve used all the items on your new list. If your problem is still unsolved, then…You can revisit it at another time.

You can problem solve anytime you have an issue to tackle or a goal to achieve. Follow the problem-solving steps by yourself, with a friend, or in a group. Working with others is great because you have access to a wide variety of viewpoints and potential solutions. Once you have learned the steps and begun to implement the process, problem-solving will be a new skill, which ou can use at any stage to get the most out of your life.

Originally published in Arthritis Life, April 2009. To subscribe to Arthritis Life, click here:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Living Well with Arthritis

by Maureen Colfor

Some time ago, I experienced quite severe pain in my left foot. I put up with it for some time but when I experienced pain in my knees, I eventually decided to look for help. Following visits to G.P., orthopaedic consultant, x-rays, scans, several courses of anti-inflammatory medication it was decided that I had osteoarthritis and really at my age (I was in my opinion a young fifty something !!) it is to be expected and I would just have to accept it.

I had always led a very busy, active life and found it very difficult to adjust to a life of constant pain and much reduced activity. It wasn’t a life- threatening condition and there did not seem to be much help available. Armed with a walking stick and painkiller, I could get around slowly.

So when I saw a small advertisement for a course entitled “ Living Well with Arthritis “ I decided to apply.
It was with a fair degree of scepticism that I attended the first session. There I met fourteen people, all with some form of arthritis, and the two lovely ladies who would direct the course. It is no exaggeration to say that attending that course was the best thing I had done since first experiencing pain in my foot a long time previously – at this time I was having pain in both feet and in my knees and hands also.

For two hours every Monday morning for six weeks we attended the workshops. It was a very hands-on experience as we got involved in learning how to manage arthritis. The title “Living Well with Arthritis” exactly describes the course.
The two ladies who directed the course were extremely positive and encouraging while certainly not dismissing the difficulties experienced by those with arthritis. The fact that one of them had been living well with arthritis for many years was an inspiration to us all while the other lady was an expert on many aspects of arthritis.

The basis of the course was to help the participant
(a) to manage his/her arthritis
(b) to reduce pain
(c) to deal with problems caused by arthritis
(d) to realise the importance of exercise.
A very practical approach was taken in the work shops on such topics as types of arthritis, self management plans, useful gadgets, importance of exercise including details of suitable exercises, how to cope with related problems e.g. depression, fatigue, sleeplessness etc etc.

One of the main lessons learned was goal setting. Every week each person was asked to set a reasonable a goal e.g. “I will walk for twenty minutes on four days next week” or “I will cut out chocolate and desserts as a first step to losing weight.”
The emphasis was on setting achievable goals. The following week we all reported honestly on how we got on with goals!! The trick was to start again after a “bad” week. Some of us discovered that keeping a diary was a good idea where we entered each day how we got on with our goals. That diary acts as my conscience three years later.!! I fill it in every day, noting how long I spend on flexibility exercises or going for walk not to mention the days I managed stay away from chocolate!! Of course there are a few blanks.

We learned a lot on that course. We were given much practical help.
In fact we found it so helpful that we decided to continue the good work. So three years later, twelve of us meet once a month and follow the format we learned at the course. We have become very good friends and all agree that the meetings have developed into a much-appreciated support group.

Since attending that course in 2006, I have abandoned the walking stick, walk regularly, get out to socialise and I have become a member of Arthritis Ireland – have even become involved in helping out with one of Arthritis Ireland’s many wonderful ventures,the Arthritis Ireland Helpline and made some great friends, all of whom understand the difficulties experienced by those of us with arthritis.

I know it is a cliché to talk about life-changing experiences but I can honestly say, in my case, attending ' Living Well with Arthritis' was a real life change for me.

P.S. For € 20.00 it has got to be the best value for money available !!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

JIM by Lilian Webb

No Jim is not a new man in my life – though JIM has been a new found ‘friend’ since March…well, maybe not so much a friend, as a companion – a challenging one!

You see, as a member of Arthritis Ireland, I was invited to get my Joints In Motion –JIM! On the understanding that exercise is vital for my arthritis, and I don’t do exercise very much – I saw JIM as my challenge! So, I committed myself and sent off my registeration fee of €10!

So, on the 15th March, I set off getting into the walking habit – with a twenty minute walk around the block. Gradually I extended it so that on the 29th april, I had achievd one hour 25 minutes. I drove the route in the car to prove it would equate to about 5kms!

Two days before the walk I attended the Kildare Branch Arthritis Ireland meeting and met six others who were also taking part in the walk. They had organised a bus – so I signed up for the transport! They also had been participating in a programme sponsored by the HSE and Kildare Sports Partnership for founr week – but I was unable to attend these. By all accounts, the programme was very valuable.

So, the day dawned! My very comfortable Eco shoes were donned and in my rucksack was my wet gear, camera, number, safety pin, map and €10 for the busfare.

The day could not have been kinder – dry – with a gentle breeze and some clouds. Our bus was the shuttle bus to Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre with Marilyn Monroe on the sides – I’m definitely not a follower of fashion – so I found the fact I was on a Style Icon Museum bus very amusing!

While others warmed up to exercises before the walk, I took photo’s and propped myself up beside a tree wanting to get started. When I saw there was a lady of almost 100 taking part (looking very glamorous in a wheelchair) and a small child (equally pretty on a pink Molly tricycle), that encouraged me no end as I was unsure if I’d make the 5 kms!

At noon, John Church blew the horn and I set off. After about five minutes, I was joined by Pauline Murphy, whom I had met two days previously. I took her photo at the finish line for 2.5kms but Pauline decided she would continue on – though only signed up for 2.5kms. The time had passed for her as we talked.

By this stage there was a long line of people stretched way ahead of us. We had not seen any of the orher 11 Kildare Branch walkers since the start!

As we approached the finish line, the music got louder. We got a cheer and ‘Well done’ from the Arthritis Ireland folk. One man took a photo of Pauline and myself – my stick up in the air between us at the finish line. Maybe I should call my walking stick – which I call my third leg, like the Isle of Man – which has to accompany me – JIM!

It was 1.17!!

I was delighted to receive my t-shirt with ‘Finisher’ emblazoned on! Since, I wore it to collect my sponsorship.

As well as arthritis in common, I found out that Pauline was also a member of a local writers’ group. So, both of us had subject matter for our next night to write!