Free arthri­tis sem­i­nar

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Monique Freer

Sharon Sleeth was just a child when she was first di­ag­nosed with rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

Af­ter over­com­ing it and learn­ing to walk again, she was di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion again when she was 30.

Thirty-five years on Ms Sleeth is living with rheuma­toid arthri­tis and os­teoarthri­tis, but is determined not to let the dis­ease ruin her qual­ity of life.

‘‘You wake up in the morn­ing not know­ing what the day will be like,’’ Ms Sleeth said.

‘‘You have to pace your­self and lis­ten to your body, you have to learn to give things up or pri­ori­tise.’’

Ms Sleeth is the con­venor of the Be­nalla Arthri­tis Sup­port Group, which fo­cuses on pro­vid­ing sup­port and in­for­ma­tion for peo­ple in the Be­nalla dis­trict living with or car­ing for some­one with arthri­tis, os­teo­poro­sis or other mus­cu­loskele­tal con­di­tions.

‘‘As a group we take re­spon­si­bil­ity for each other and we care about each other,’’ she said.

‘‘It pro­vides com­pan­ion­ship, and the knowl­edge that you are not alone.’’

The group formed about three years ago out of a fo­rum with Arthri­tis Vic­to­ria. There are about 35 mem­bers, although the meet­ing at­ten­dance fluc­tu­ates through­out the year.

Arthri­tis Vic­to­ria is re­turn­ing to Be­nalla this month to de­liver a free sem­i­nar for the com­mu­nity about living well with arthri­tis.

Be­nalla Com­mu­nity Health nurse Deb­o­rah Smith said the sem­i­nar would pro­vide peo­ple living with arthri­tis or sim­i­lar con­di­tions with in­for­ma­tion and re­sources that could be used to im­prove health man­age­ment and daily living.

‘‘The com­mu­nity pro­grams of­fi­cer, Sarah-Jane Dyren­furth, brings along some other things that we may not have thought of or we may not have in Be­nalla yet,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘She pro­vides lots of ideas for man­ag­ing symptoms, pain, med­i­ca­tion etcetera.’’

Part of self-man­age­ment of arthri­tis in­volves the sup­port of car­ers and for Ms Sleeth this in­volves a lot of in­put from her hus­band.

‘‘You have to learn to rely on other peo­ple, which is frus­trat­ing for me be­cause I like to be in­de­pen­dent,’’ she said.

‘‘You def­i­nitely give up your in­de­pen­dence with arthri­tis or any­thing chronic, or you learn to do things dif­fer­ently.’’

Ms Sleeth said she does med­i­ta­tion, drinks chamomile tea and keeps men­tally ac­tive to try and re­duce the im­pact arthri­tis has on her life­style.

She also be­lieves med­i­ca­tion, a good health pro­fes­sional and ad­e­quate sup­port were es­sen­tial for man­ag­ing day-to­day life with arthri­tis.

The Living Well with Arthri­tis sem­i­nar will be held on Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 23, from 1.30 pm to 4 pm at Be­nalla Com­mu­nity Care, 45 Coster St, Be­nalla. Reg­is­tra­tion will oc­cur from 1 pm.

Any­one is wel­come to at­tend, how­ever, for cater­ing pur­poses please phone 5761 4500 ahead of the event.

Sup­port helps: Be­nalla Com­mu­nity Health nurse Deb­o­rah

Smith and Be­nalla Arthri­tis Sup­port Group con­venor Sharon

Sleeth.

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