During the two-day event, a number of families gave their insights into living with arthritis. Those presenting covered the different aspects of the condition, such as looking after a new born baby while suffering from the disease, the challenges of arthritis as a teenager and the tragedy of nursing and ultimately losing a parent to the condition.
For the first seminar, EAF Director of Operations and Patient Support Katrina Thornely shared her experiences of growing up with arthritis after being diagnosed with the condition as a child. She was also able to speak candidly about the opposing perspective of having arthritis as a mother, as earlier this year she gave birth to a healthy young Oscar, who is now eight months old.
Explaining her role as a mum with arthritis, Katrina revealed how what would normally be simple tasks are huge undertakings for her but that with a mixture of ingenuity and perseverance she and her husband Sam have been able to create an environment that supports her condition and enables her to bring up her baby son.
Del Wauku gave perhaps one of the most touching accounts of the two-day event, sharing with the audience the tragic story of how he nursed his mother through rheumatoid arthritis until her death. Del’s mother, Gloria, lived with arthritis in Ghana for eight-years, but was only diagnosed with the condition in the last two years of her life when her blood samples were sent to South Africa for analysis.
“They were always giving her expensive drugs that didn’t work – no one had any clue what was wrong,” said Del. “It was very difficult for her, especially when she didn’t know what it was. “My mother was a very hard working lady, she had been her whole life, but when she got sick I would have to wake her up in the mornings, help shower her, lotion her back, it completely changed her life.”
The two most essential messages Del hoped people would take from his story were the importance of getting the right diagnosis early and how vital it was to get the right medication through consistency of care. It is the same message the EAF wishes to promote, as early identification for the disease is key to successful treatment.
In fact a recent study by Dubai-based arthritis specialist and Founding EAF member, Dr. Humeira Badsha, indicated that improved public awareness has resulted in timeframes for diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in the UAE being reduced by 45 percent over the last four years, from 14 months to eight months. However, there is still room for improvement, with European countries such as the Netherlands diagnosing the condition within just five months.
Arthritis affects about one in five people in the UAE. Contrary to popular belief, the disease does not only occur in the elderly, children and teenagers are also susceptible, with the most severe forms occurring mostly in younger people. The average age of onset of the condition is between 40 and 60 years.
Sunday, October 14- 2012 @ 15:53 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.