Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I've got Osteoarthritis

About a month ago I discovered that I have osteoarthritis. This was after I had a number of tests at the outpatients department at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford. I decided to go to my GP because I've been finding it more and more difficult to walk over the past few months due to my legs seeming to be getting very stiff. Other people have noticed and have asked me if I'm alright. Climbing stairs, tying my shoe-laces and getting in and out of the bath are especially difficult. My doctor referred me to the rheumatology clinic where I was examined and had my legs X-rayed. The condition is in both knees, but worse in my left one. I have to have further tests on my hips, but the rheumatologist suspects I have it there as well. I probably don't have it in my back because that would be very painful. Osteoarthritis is a disorder of bone joints caused by a breakdown of the various tissues of the joint. Unfortunately it is very common and about three million people in the UK have it; mostly older people than myself, but it can strike at any age. I am in a high-risk group because of having been a hospital porter for twenty-three years. All the countless miles and miles I walked in the John Radcliffe Hospital for so long, as well as the pushing, pulling and lifting, have literally worn down my joints by mechanical fatigue. The good news is that I am not in pain, unlike many other osteoarthritis-sufferers, although my left knee sometimes hurts a bit and I need to prop it up on a pillow in bed at night. The stiffness is not so bad that I can't work. In fact the rheumatologist asked me what my job was and I told him, I am a gardener, house-cleaner and odd-job man. He told me that this was good because it gave me moderate exercise and that is beneficial for osteoarthritis. It also prevents me putting on weight which would make the condition much worse. He recommended I take up swimming; this is not something I liked doing last time I tried it, but I'll give it another go. I already do a gym workout regularly. There is no cure for osteoarthritis and for some sufferers it can be debilitating, but this is not inevitable. With the right care it can be managed and people with it can lead normal lives. I am not complaining or seeking sympathy, in fact at the hospital I have seen so many people in far worse conditions than myself; conditions I would not repeat. Also this adds another silver lining to my dismissal from the NHS, see:; if I had not been kicked out of hospital portering in January 2012 then my osteoarthritis would probably have developed much faster. Being still in portering I would certainly then have been forced onto a light duty regime which would involve covering reception, manning the dispatch desk or other boring activities that would drive me up the wall. So I am not too bothered by my diagnosis; it is not impinging on my normal life.