- Location Newcastle upon Tyne
- Type of Arthritis Osteoarthritis
My wife and I retired early, to chase our dreams to sail around the world. We currently live for the majority of the year on our sailboat in the Mediterranean, we began travelling ten years ago. Five years ago I started having problems with my knees, predominantly pain and swelling. When I sought medical assistance in Turkey, I found out it was arthritis.
A change of plans
We had to change our plans a little, being limited in what I could, I got less and less mobile as time passed. Now I’m having trouble with my hands and fingers - I struggle to pick up small change or anything like that, and I'm in constantly in pain. Our long-term plans had to put on hold. About two or three years ago, we decided that sailing around the world wasn’t really possible any longer. I was told my only option was a knee replacement, I had also been insulin-dependent for 36 years, so I was a little concerned as to what the future would bring regards to my health.
I didn’t go ahead with the knee replacement, there are certain functions that many people sometimes struggle with after knee replacements, like kneeling or balance. I would have to do both of those functions to sail safely.
My wife and I decided to continue as best we could, we have a number of plans, but we’re in a bit of a no-man’s land at the moment.
I was also checked yearly for RA, as my mum was a long term sufferer. I had already had five cartilage trims because of rugby or sailing accidents, a problematic shoulder and hands along with the associated pain.
Finding Arthritis Care
I first came into contact with Arthritis Care in November 2016, I had tried to manage everything myself and be self-sufficient, but resulted in sleep deprivation problems, which were getting to me. I saw an advertisement for a talk by Arthritis Care at my doctor’s surgery, I went along and met up with Annie (peer support). My main issues were to do with tiredness and extreme exhaustion. Annie and I had a chat, she gave me more of an understanding of fatigue, and the need to understand limitations, both issues I’d never really considered before.
I had always been a non-stop character and always on the go, so it was useful to learn how to manage my limitations. Wrongly, I was trying to do more and more, fighting my condition, that wasn’t helping me at all. Identifying my fatigue and the effect of my limitations, rather than continuing to fight them, helped me a lot.
Becoming a volunteer
We usually spend a portion of the winter in the UK and Annie began talking about the need for volunteers at Arthritis Care and thought I’d give it a go. I now do walk-ins and I am listed for various events, such as pain management clinics and library drop-ins. I learnt a tremendous amount, even in the first few events, and it was great to meet so many people with similar issues, it was a “win/win” situation. The participation and my colleagues’ shared experiences gave me a much more positive outlook in our future ahead than I had before. I will be going back to sailing in the spring, with a much more positive frame of mind which is already increasing the possibilities and plans in our near future. The knee replacements will come in time, that too is now viewed in a much more positive manner by myself.