Today is World Arthritis Day. The one day in the year when people cannot pretend that the various forms of Arthritis does not exist and does not affect millions of people. It's a day for raising awareness on Arthritis and honouring those who live with the chronic pain day in, day out, and still manage to give you a smile or a few.
I attended a World Arthritis Day event of the Arthritis Foundation of Johannesburg yesterday and once again felt immensely grateful that I can have access to biologic treatment and that my early diagnosis means that my disease will not leave my body deformed in old age. As I watched patients come in on cructhes, barely able to stand up straight, it saddened me to know that these people, who are already in their 60s and older, did not have access to the right medication at the right time.
And there we were, myself and three of my fellow Humira patients, performing last year's Live and Dance for Life campaign dance and addressing the audience about the difference the right medication and being part of a patient support network, has made to our lives. They were enthusiatic to hear what we had to say and they watched the dance with unbelief. Which I guess is the standard response to seeing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis patients DANCE!
We raise awareness and share our stories for these patients. To highlight the true plight of someone living with an auto-immune disease, to make our voices heard and be the voice of those who are too tired and in too much pain to fight. We raise awareness to make medical aids see what an amazing difference biologic treatment can make and that they are robbing a patient of the opportunity to take back their lives by not covering the cost of the treatment.
We raise awareness to dispel stigmas about Arthritis and make people see that it can affect anyone, no matter their age, race or gender.
The theme of this year's World Arthritis Day and World Arthritis Month (October) is
"Move to Improve".
The message: Keep moving. No matter how slowly or how you do it; just be sure that you don't have too much joint swelling and can move without doing any damage. Be it through exercising in a heated pool, doing aqua aerobics, stretching, yoga, or my personal favourite of course, dancing.
But take it easy...remember that you're moving to improve, not to impress.
I think I will be honouring myself and my 10-year Rheumatoid Arthritis journey with a little dancing infront of my mirror tonight....and maybe a dance movie. Don't judge my celebratory activities!
Raise hope, raise awareness, raise those joints back to life and keep them moving!
And that's Trixie's RA Trix for World Arthritis Day!