We’d love to hear your thoughts on this month’s discussion topic. All topics will be archived under the ‘Discussion’ menu item each month for people to look at and comment on anytime.

Living with chronic pain and thinking of the things we want to do today, tomorrow or a two years down the track can be a daunting and depressing activity for many. But how do we all create a life outside of arthritis. What gets us up every day? How do we keep going when the going gets tough? We all need dreams and life goals. How can we live our lives the best way possible whilst living with these incredibly debilitating diseases.

Please leave a comment below to add to the discussion.

4 thoughts on “January Discussion Topic – Strategies for a fulfilling life with arthritis

  • January 14, 2015 at 10:51 pm
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    What keeps me going and lets me put arthritis on the back seat as much as possible is to be busy. I like to continually plan new things to do, new challenges for myself. I am a bit of a volunteer junkie and find that this keeps me active, including my mind and provides a lot of enjoyment. It also allows me to learn new skills and over the years all of these have been useful and applicable in my work and day to day life. It also allows me to meet so many wonderful people, something I love doing. Spending time and learning things from people of all ages is something I thrive on.

    Since moving to the hills I have taken up gardening – and I do what I can. Some days you can’t stop me but others, when going through more pain than normal I might just pull a few weeds out and sit on the back deck watching birds and drinking tea. I like to do some sort of activity every day – no matter how small as I find sitting around makes my joints worse and in my mind I feel like I am wasting time.

    I love nature and putting myself amongst it as much as possible (which is easy now where I live) has made a world of difference to my life. Taking time to observe life – first blooms, mother birds feeding babies, the seasonal changes, spiders forming webs, the sounds and smells of the forest – these remind me that life is going on all the time. I am a small part of it but I can choose to be a bigger part of it if I want to. It’s a powerful thought for me.

    Death (although a morbid thought) is something that also drives me. Sounds weird but I feel like we really have to make the most of our time here on earth, no matter the circumstances. I have been dealt some shitty cards but that’s no-one else’s problem but mine and there are ALWAYS people far worse off than me, who remind me of the things I can do. So I choose to deal with it the best way I can. There’s been some very difficult times with many major surgeries and I have had pain every day for nearly 33 years, but I am not going to stand by and let this stupid disease rule my life. I am the driver and it’s staying in the back seat.

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    • January 31, 2015 at 11:23 pm
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      A fabulous topic that gets my mind moving with how I have managed since being diagnosed.
      You know what, i just thought the moment i was told I needed new discs in my neck, this aint going to stop me, this may slow me down for a while but it definitely wont stop me!
      Then there was the fibro dx, and on top of that RA then not long after Osteoporosis! Wow, that packed a punch i tell you but I was still determined to work, still determined to get off the couch and get out of my pj’s & every day try to do as much as I could, have a little plan and step by step move forward.
      I wasnt able to work for very long post neck fusion, infact being told I had to give up work permanently was a real kick in the bum, but i was still determined to help out someone, do something on the days that i could to keep busy and to keep the self esteem up and those good endorphins kicking in.
      It took a long long time to get the right drug mix especially pain analgesia, nothing worked & if it did it knocked me out and landed me in bed for weeks at a time & it was NOT how i chose to live my life!
      So on the good days amongst spates of hospital for kidney infections, mini strokes TIA’s….i chose to do a self management course for chronic conditions and chronic pain and a physio got me on the path to managing exercise again as i was always a walker and did yoga and had found myself doing nil and it was affecting me greatly as i was seizing up more and more.
      So short walks, more short walks, not with anyone as that would force me to walk further than i needed, I was winning & more than anything i was enjoying it too.
      Now 6 years later I am managing 3 walks a week with friends and we walk approx 6kms each walk & then I do yoga twice a week for an hour each class & that is my key to keeping on keeping on & i am so proud of myself to get to this point with managing my health
      I am lucky I dont suffer depression too much at all, the times I did were more environmental & once i moved to where I am now my life is pure bliss & I am happy and content amongst my grandchildren & family & many wonderful friends I have made.

      Reply
  • January 24, 2015 at 1:00 am
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    I recently qualified for a partial Disability Support Pension which means I no longer have to actively seek regular employment. Up until then I was working 3 days a week, running my own direct selling business and attempting to study online. However in the last year I’ve been hit with one health issue after another which really forced me to reassess my abilities.
    The fact that I qualified for the DSP in light of all the federal budget restrictions made me stop and think about how the terms ‘disabled’ and ‘pensioner’ actually applied to me. I’ve had a Mobility Allowance and Health Care Card for years plus a disabled parking sticker but for some reason this new assessment has affected how I view myself. At 44 am I really in the same category as old age pensioners? Am I doomed to watch daytime TV for the rest of my life? Is this it for me?

    Well the simple answer is a resounding NO!

    Before I stopped regular work I already had different activities on the go. My direct selling business is very flexible and can be run through party plan, mail order and online and I can speed it up and slow it down at anytime. As I have needed to spend a lot of my time at home allowing my body to rest and recuperate I have been able to focus more on the online aspect of my business.

    I had also dappled with online freelance work last year and have now made that a bigger focus. I’ve been able to use a lot of my administration and sales skills in new ways by writing website content, business documents, setting up spreadsheets and now even ghost-writing e-books for a variety of employers. This has really been challenging and fun. I’ve learned heaps and it keeps me busy.

    Now that I have a bit of energy again, I’ve also been able to re-start my online Diploma course in Business Administration. I am determined to catch up and develop new skills here too as I think ultimately I will be running some sort of online business from home.

    These are all things that I CAN do. Yes there are days when my body doesn’t play the game and fatigue or pain may slow me down but I have deliberately chosen flexible, causal work to allow for that. Yes it has also had a huge impact on my budget but again I am trying to be flexible there too and to generate income from multiple sources. I was greatly inspired by a book called ‘Making a Living Without a Job’ by Barbra Winter that explores this concept and I recommend it for people who are struggling to maintain work in a regular job. We need to think outside the square when it comes to work and career choices.

    If you don’t think you have the computer skills to work or study online there are plenty of low cost courses available through libraries and neighbourhood houses. You could also gain other new skills this way too. The key is you ‘Gotta Wanna”. In other words, no one is going to come up with a magic solution for you, you have to be open to change and try new approaches to things.

    My other tips for leading a fulfilling life is to not fight against your condition. Acceptance isn’t ‘giving in’. Giving in is doing nothing. Acceptance is saying “Ok, I’ve got this thing so what can I do to manage it and maybe improve it?” The reality is we can still do most things, we may just have to adapt HOW we do them or how long we spend on them. We need to learn to balance work, rest and play and to listen to our body’s needs.

    My final tip is to have a great support team around you. This can include medical professionals, family and friends and support groups like YWASG. I also recommend professional counselling if you are struggling to adapt to the changes that chronic illness throws at you. Talking to people who understand what you are going through is one of the best ways to deal with the emotional ups and downs that we all get. Help is out there, you just have to ask for it.

    I know that this has been a rather long-winded reply (those who know me won’t be surprised ) but I hope my experience may help some of you even in a small way.
    I’m always happy for people to contact me here or on facebook if you need some support.

    Cheers,
    Rosemary

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  • February 2, 2015 at 11:46 pm
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    What helps me each day is:
    1. Aim to be the best I can be every day.
    2. Do whatever it takes (to achieve point 1).
    3. Be positive.

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