Some of the most common questions I get from people when I mention that I volunteer for Arthritis Ireland is ‘What do you do for them?’ And thats when I smile and happily inform them that I facilitate a course twice a year called ‘Living Well with Arthritis. I’ve been involved since 2013 and have helped facilitate courses in Ennis, Galway city and county. ( these courses also run in most county’s by other volunteers).
The next questions they generally ask is “Why do I do it?’And then ‘What’s it all about?’.
Well I do it for a number of reasons and one is to give something back to the community.
See, I completed the course when I was first diagnosed with Osteoarthrtitis in 2010 and to say that it was a turning point in my acceptance of my Arthritis is an understatement. I was 30 and was told that I would need to have my hip replaced soon and I didn’t know anyone else (under 60) who had arthritis. If I’m honest I didn’t even know what arthritis really was and what it meant for me or what the future held. I saw an advert in the local paper and the words self management and arthritis jumped out at me and I just signed up.
It was a 6 week course and they were about 12 other people there who looked as nervous as me on that first night… Those people soon become my friends. 🙂
Throughout the evenings we shared stories about pain, fatigue, medications, dealing with emotions, coping with perceptions of the arthritis (both ours and other peoples). We also swapped tips and advice of how to continue enjoying our life’s, how to get a good nights sleep, how to mange flair ups etc..
We chatted about exercise and healthy eating. We gave each other confidence on how to deal with health professionals and manage the medications and the side effects.
During those 6 weeks they was plenty of laughter and a few tears but most importantly friendships were formed and my nerves and woes of the futures was some what replaced with the knowledge that I wasn’t the only young person to have arthritis and that these people accepted and understood me.
That was nearly 6 years ago and me and my arthritis have been through a lot together and I’m happy to say a lot of those events have been shared with those friends I made at the course. Nothing beats a conversation with someone who nods in agreement when you are trying to explain ‘your deep pain inside’ or ‘ fibro fog’ ..
(Sorry non arthritis people, they are something’s you just don’t get) 🙂
So then I trained as a facilitator to help other people with arthritis or fibromyalgia get that acceptance, to have that light bulb moment, to meet other people ‘like them’.
It’s a great course (look it up on http://www.arthritisireland.ie) and it’s for all ages both male and female and I would highly recommend it to anyone that deals with Arthritis. It won’t cure you but it will definitely help you in every other way.
Stay holistic 🙂
Ps my new hip is 3 years old now and never been better 🙂