Arthritis can be an invisible disease, easy to hide from the people around us. Dads can be especially good at this. At the Kelowna Arthritis Centre, we offer many educational programs for different kinds of arthritis. Most classes are well attended – by women. I frequently get asked whether men get arthritis too. Yes, they do. Many hide its impact from family, employers, friends and more than likely, from themselves. Arthritis may seem like a one-way street - one that leads to never ending pain and a steady decline in the ability and enjoyment of doing things.
Looking down that street may be very discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be. Yoda (Star Wars) had it right when he said, “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are ... a different game you should play”.
Sometimes it may have to be about finding a new game. When one tennis player lost the side to side motion in his ankle, he had to give that sport up. Luckily, he found he enjoyed running just as much and was able to switch from one sport to another. He didn’t stop; he switched to something else he could do.
Sometimes it may be about adapting your game. If you can’t golf 18 holes any more, that doesn’t mean you have to give up golf. It may mean adapting how much you are doing. You may want to try a shorter game, playing less frequently, or perhaps trying a new course with fewer hills. It may be about adapting your technique, so consider working with a golf pro who can help you adapt your stance or swing. Try adapting the tools too, by changing your shoes, the grips or using a cart, for example. Work towards playing in such a way that does not aggravate your joints.
These same principles can apply to everything you do. If a driving holiday is getting too uncomfortable and you’re thinking of giving it up, try changing it up. Make more frequent stops so you can stretch. If your hands get sore, try larger, softer steering wheel covers and easing up on how hard you hold the wheel.
The challenge is in finding the right adjustment to determine what works best for you – whether on the job, in sports, exercise, driving or yard work. Joint pain often causes difficulty with daily activities and one has to be creative and inventive to overcome these challenges.
Learning about your type of arthritis, how your joints may be changing, various treatment options and the many approaches to self help will guide you through that u-turn. As Peter, a program participant with the Kelowna Arthritis Centre, said, “Many of the applications I learned about “work” simply because I actually apply and practice the techniques. While this may seem obvious, I often haven’t applied various techniques because I didn’t have a support system to remind me or to encourage me to continue with a particular process.”
Be patient, give new things a chance to work and you’ll find ways to help improve the impact of your arthritis – and hopefully, have a Happy and pain-free Father’s Day.
Trudy Battaglio has her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Political Science (Community Development). Trudy is Manager of Education & Services with The Arthritis Society in the Interior, BC, and manages The Arthritis Society’s Kelowna Arthritis Centre.
For more information about arthritis and The Arthritis Society - www.arthritis.ca
Save the Date: Walk to Fight Arthritis Kelowna– June 9, 2013