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World Arthritis Day: Diagnosis, then isolation!

World Arthritis Day: Diagnosis, then isolation!

“Remember those with arthritis!” is Arthritis New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Rob Mitchell’s message for World Arthritis Day.

World Arthritis Day is celebrated every year on 12 October. It provides an opportunity for those with arthritis to have their voices heard, and the opportunity to highlight some of the issues they face.

“One of the biggest issues people living with arthritis face is the lack of public awareness of the impact of this chronic health condition. It is a timely reminder to all that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in New Zealand for young and old.”

Dominic Hoey has been a musician, a poet, and an author since the age of 14.
“For 6 months I was having trouble walking and the pain was excruciating” says Dominic.

“I was working as a chef when I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), one of the more than 140 different forms of arthritis. I often had back pain, but so did everyone else in the kitchen. But then I became bedridden. I was only 34 at the time and I just didn’t imagine that it could be arthritis. I thought arthritis was a disease that affected only old people. And I’d always been really healthy so I didn’t suspect it at all.

The pain and stiffness finally had a name but it was the end of my cooking career!

But it really hasn’t been until the last few months that I realised I have quite a serious disease and the changes in my life I have to make. At first it was like “oh I can get out of bed now and do stuff” but recently I realised I’ve got to deal with this for the rest of my life, you know. And I knew no-one with this condition, and my friends didn’t understand at all.

When I first got diagnosed the doctor gave me some pamphlets, but it wasn’t until recently when I got my life back to normal, I contacted Arthritis New Zealand to see if there was counselling. Also because I’d really like to do some advocacy work for them. I’ve now met quite a few people in my circle and in the art world that have AS or something similar.

I feel that being open about it makes me feel less isolated. There is a tendency for people with arthritis to feel ashamed about it, but it helps to talk about it and through talking to others I’m getting better at not feeling embarrassed.”

Mr Mitchell says that World Arthritis day is a positive day, and an opportunity to highlight the fact that although there isn’t yet a cure for any form of arthritis, with the right support most people with arthritis can live active and fulfilling lives.


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