My name's Elaine

My name's Elaine.
I've got osteoarthritis.

I was first diagnosed
with osteoarthritis when I was 25,

but it really didn't start
to impact on my life

until I was in my mid-40s.

It's possible that I got arthritis
so young

because I had had some damage
to my bones

when I was a child
through a car accident.

I've got arthritis in my knees
and in my neck,

in my hands, in my jaw,
which I was most surprised about,

and I've started to get some arthritis
in my hips as well now.

When I was first diagnosed
I dealt with it

by ignoring the fact
that I'd actually had the diagnosis,

not talking about it
even to close friends and relatives.

Really it was my mid-40s that it started
to impact on my lifestyle.

I went back to the GP
and had a rediagnosis

and at that point went on
to a selection of painkillers,

eventually having three operations
on my knees

which made a vast difference,
a really big improvement,

but it is a progressive condition

and things have got worse
over the years.

At the moment I'm on painkillers
and anti-inflammatories

and they're working quite well,

but managing my condition
is a whole raft of ideas

and it isn't just the medication
that I take.

It's very important for me
to balance exercise and rest

and to know that I have to allow
for rest periods in my days,

allow for rest periods in my week.

I can do lots of things
but I can't do them one after the other,

so if I want to go out with my friends

I have to rest before I go
and I have to rest afterwards,

and I have to actually write that
on the calendar.

It's also important
to keep socially active,

so that you're out with people,
so that your mind's busy,

so that you're not focusing on your pain
all the time.

And to do things where you can
totally lose yourself in your activity.

I think my own road to Damascus
was when I visited my local library

and there they had an arthritis centre,
a resource centre,

where I found out lots of information
about arthritis.

One of the things I did then was to join
Arthritis Care, get their magazine,

and suddenly I discovered
that there were lots of people out there

in exactly the same condition
that I was in,

but they'd got lots of ideas about how
to overcome difficulties in their life.

It's very important to remember
that knowledge is power

and that knowledge can help you
to manage your condition.

Your brain is the best painkiller
that you've got.

If you understand what's happening
with your body,

you're more likely to be able

to deal with the situations
that you find yourself in,

you're more likely to be able
to communicate well with your GP

so that he, in turn,

can provide you with
the best treatment that's available.