Jack's Story - Arthritis Action

Jack’s Story

In 1989, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I had a painful and swollen right knee joint, so I went to my GP who referred me to the hospital. They performed an arthroscopy, which is like keyhole surgery. They saw damage around the joint, so were quickly able to diagnosis rheumatoid arthritis.

I wasn’t happy when I was first diagnosed, as it was confirmation that I really did have a problem in my joints. I didn’t get much support from family or doctors, and wasn’t prescribed any medication to help.

In the years that followed, I started developing pain in other joints. The pain was from mild to acute, and varied day by day, week by week. The condition didn’t stop me from doing any particular activity, but it was always there constantly in the background no matter what I did.

I felt there was more I could do than just wait until my condition got worse, and decided that I needed to get something done about it. My GP offered steroids and other medication to help deal with the pain, but these came with serious side effects and wasn’t how I wanted to tackle the problem.

In 1991, I came across The Arthritic Association (now Arthritis Action) and liked what I found, so joined, and became a member 2 years after my diagnosis. The charity’s self-management approach has really helped improve my symptoms. Their recommendations on diet and exercise have been particularly helpful. I keep exercising by walking, doing pilates, and keeping mobile. I was taking medication for Ulcerative Colitis, but thankfully that has gone into remission. I started doing my own research into gut bacteria, had my Microbiome mapped, and began experimenting with fermented foods, as diet is an important factor for controlling inflammation.

Nowadays, I feel great! I have regular chiropractic treatments for lower back pain, which have been effective and give me more energy and better sleep. The body heals itself, so understanding your body in relation to inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and colitis can give you a better chance of managing flare-ups.

Arthritis Action also offers me emotional support along with practical help. I used to attend the charity’s London clinic for monthly treatments, to keep things in check, until it closed. The charity is there for you when you need it. They’ll take you on board and give you the motivation and support you need to manage your condition. If you have arthritis, I strongly recommend joining to receive the help and support they can offer.

I have a keen interest in observational astronomy. Through better management of my condition, I can now pursue my passion to a higher level. I run my own astronomical observatory and collaborate with an international team of Small Telescope Scientists on various research projects. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.