Want to talk to someone about your arthritis?
“It’s all about how you manage arthritis… By calling the helpline, we can offer support and help around managing your condition.”
I’m Christine and I was diagnosed with arthritis nine years ago. It started with pains in my left knee and the doctor told me to take paracetamol, but I knew it was more than that. I had stabbing pains and my knee would just buckle.
I persevered with the doctor though and they agreed to a knee replacement eight years ago.
When I first came out of hospital it was very difficult. After six weeks I started back at work and the worst bit was driving. I ended up ruining the clutch on the car and we had to get a new one.
Since then, it’s not been great. I had 80% movement but then I had a fall in the garden, and it swelled up and now I can’t bend it at all. The only way they can correct it is another operation.
The time I have a lot of pain is after walking. I can’t kneel for so long either. If it’s anything low down, I sit on my bottom and shuffle along. I try to just adapt to what I can do and not what I can’t do.
I hadn’t heard of Versus Arthritis before I started working for them and that’s how I felt I lost out. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my arthritis or upcoming surgery.
“Even though I do have arthritis, I won’t let it get in the way.”
I moved to Devon four months ago and I absolutely love it. I have two Shih tzu and I love going for walks with them. I just love walking and when I’m not walking, I’m working as a helpline advisor for Versus Arthritis.
We’re open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm in the evening.
I feel like in life if it is meant to happen, it will. Things happen for a reason. That’s how I feel about working for Versus Arthritis.
It’s the type of role that suits me because of my experiences living with arthritis and the type of person I am. I am empathetic and a good listener. The calls get to me emotionally, and can touch me in different ways.
I get so much out of the job, no call is the same and how that person will need my help changes. Some days can be really challenging but being able to help someone outweighs the challenges.
I feel I can give people help and support and help them manage their condition. That keeps me going. Knowing we’re making a difference and how much more there is still to do.
“A couple of weeks ago there was a call, that really got to me.”
The caller was emotional and a lady that was a nurse. She’d been a nurse for 20 years, always worked hard and had good attendance. She then developed pain in her knees, back and hands.
Her condition had caused her to have six months off work as a nurse is an energetic job. That was the bit that was really upsetting her. She was worried about her job and losing it.
She loved her job so much, she couldn’t imagine another job. She felt that the people at work didn’t understand even though it was in a hospital setting.
I asked her if she’d spoken to her colleagues. It broke my heart listening to her. We talked at length about her concerns for over half an hour. How her condition impacts her daily life from work down to opening a jar in the kitchen.
“I listened. I let her talk.”
I advised her to get a letter from her GP that she can take to her employer. I informed her about the information from the 2010 Equality Act and how employers have to make adjustments legally.
I signposted her to a financial organisation if she did lose her job and needed financial help. I also told her about aids and adaptations around the home. We also spoke about her medication and other alternative treatments.
That’s the support I gave her. By calling the helpline, she could talk about her problems. I gave her support to help her continue the job that she loves.
She was so down in her mood but by the end of the call she sounded more positive. I love it at the end of the call when you can hear someone’s mood lift.
“Sometimes people find it easier to talk to people over the phone than face to face.”
They tell us more than what they tell their family. You can contact us via email too at [email protected] which some people prefer.
We are not medically trained, and we always advise people speak to their doctors too. I encourage them to advocate for themselves as I had had to do to get my knee replacement nine years ago.
I’ve learned a lot in the last two years. My future is still with Versus Arthritis and being near the sea and the beach.
I think it’s a fantastic charity to work for. The people are lovely and friendly. I’ve been working since I was 16 and this is the best job I ever had. What I give to it and what I get out, it’s just amazing.
I wish that when I was diagnosed many years ago and I didn’t know how to manage my condition, I had known about Versus Arthritis. I think people can gain a lot from calling us.
It’s all about how you manage the condition. By calling the helpline, we can offer support and help about managing your condition.
If you’re living with arthritis, pain or related conditions, we’re here to help:
- If you would like to talk to someone, you can call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520.
- Talk to our arthritis virtual assistant, 24/7.
- Join our online community.
- Stay in touch and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.