Free arthritis seminar
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