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The Arthritis Newsletter

Fall 2013

Arthritis Under 25: Arthritis and Your Social Life

By Sharan Rai

 

Having trouble figuring out how your arthritis fits into your social life? Here are some tried-and-true tips collected by the Consumer Advisory Board and friends.

 

What (Not) to Wear

 

Let’s face it – arthritis and sky-high stilettos don’t partner very well. But what’s a girl to do when she has a cute dress and sore feet … wear Uggs? Thankfully, the modern female has options when it comes to footwear. Flats can be a nice alternative when your joints are sore and fatigued.

 

“When I was having a really bad flare, I generally tried to avoid high heels (though it was one of my G.F. Strong goals to be able to walk in them again – and I can!) in favour of wedges. They’re easier to be in for longer periods of time. That being said, girls will be girls.” –Anonymous

 

“I try to gauge how I’m feeling, what the night is going to be like, and also the venue. Will it have seats for me to rest? Or am I going to be standing all night? Am I flared up today or feeling ok? Then I’ll decide which shoes to wear based on the above. One great thing that I carry with me when I’m wearing more pretty (but uncomfortable) shoes are a pair of thin foldable flats.  So when it comes time to walk home, I pull out my flats and – instant relief!” –Karen

 

Drinking

 

We all get invited to parties. And parties often serve alcohol. However, certain medications (such as Methotrexate) may be associated with liver toxicity, and patients should talk to their doctor to find out if alcohol consumption is strongly cautioned for the medication they are taking. For those with a medical limit, it can be difficult to maneuver through these socially accepted norms at an event.

 

“My favourite approach is to be blunt. I usually just say ‘sorry, my medical limit is 1. But I’ll have that one with you!’ I find people respect you for your responsibility. Being blunt has also allowed me to focus on learning to have fun without alcohol — rather than constantly trying to hide my reality.” –Logan

 

“I’ve never been able to drink because I don’t make enough of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, plus the medications on top of that. To my friends it’s a complete non-issue, but when I’m meeting new people they’re often surprised.  I just tell them that my body treats alcohol like a toxin, and make jokes about how I go straight to passing out and bypass the drunk phase! They usually then realize the gravity of my situation, don’t press the issue, and we can move on to more interesting topics of conversation.” –Karen

 

Home Sweet Home

 

Even if you make plans to go out with your friends, you might not feel up to staying out as late as everybody else in the group. Having friends that understand your struggle makes all the difference.

 

“Even though I’m in remission, the one symptom I still struggle with is fatigue. Barring a term paper or something, I’m really not one to stay up too late. I usually make this clear to my friends upfront, and I make alternate arrangements to get home earlier.” –Anonymous

 

“My friends all know about my condition. I try to let them know that day if I’m not feeling that well (meaning either my pain levels are high and/or I am fatigued). I just give them a heads up that I may not be up to staying out late, and on the rare occasion when I’ve been badly flared I have had to outright cancel my plans.  They’re great, they understand.  It’s important to have good people around you who are compassionate! These days, now that I’m older it’s not so much of an issue, because everyone else around me wants to go home at 10!” –Karen

 

Just Not Feeling It

 

You made plans. The day came. And… your body feels awful, and the only thing that sounds remotely appealing is sitting on your couch eating pizza and watching a movie. Been there, done that (awesome, by the way). But how do you explain that to everybody else?

 

“A big part of learning to live with a chronic disease was surrounding myself with people who understand my condition. Sure, it’s a bummer when I have to bail at the last minute, but my friends are very understanding. They’ll even offer to modify the activity so that I might feel more up to going (like switching from a club to a restaurant).” –Anonymous 

 

“When that happens, I usually feel doubly worse because I know I’m missing out on something. The key for me is finding a project or interest I’m passionate about — so that when my Arthritis unavoidably gets in the way, there’s always something to look forward to doing.”–Logan

 

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