Richard's Story - Arthritis Action

Richard’s Story

Cycling enthusiast and charity fundraiser Richard reveals how keeping fit and carefully managing his surroundings has helped him manage his arthritis and maintain a healthy, happy life 20 years after his initial diagnosis.

“I am 62, and a retired NHS frontline care worker. I have had seronegative inflammatory arthritis for 21 years now, which I understand is a type of rheumatoid arthritis. I mainly manage my condition by medication – sulfasalazine, which works very well for me, with a few side effects – as well as exercise and scrupulous attention to the conditions I put myself in. Cold and damp conditions, for example, are the worst for my arthritis. However, I take part in volunteer work in different parts of India, such as Mother Teresa’s Hospice in Kolkata, and have found that the conditions of India are good for my condition. The hot, dry conditions of hospital wards during my career were similarly good. Over time I’ve learnt to read my own body and understand how best to pick my surroundings to manage my condition. In my early years of the illness, I was using a wheelchair and crutches. These days, with more knowledge and experience, I live a vigorous retired life and am able-bodied.

The Rheumatologist I periodically see at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, suggested that I try more cycling, swimming, walking (but not running) and certain gym exercises. I find the cross-trainer to be particularly helpful as its low impact on my joints. Weight-bearing exercises are also good, I’m told, as it goes some way towards building the muscles around the joints, and preventing osteoporosis – which I am at risk of as it is in my immediate family. Sitting still for long periods of time can also create pain problems for me, so if I am attending a concert or large gathering then I will always sit at the back or ends of a row where I can stretch my legs.

“Over time I’ve learnt to read my own body and understand how best to pick my surroundings to manage my condition.”

I recently began a long fundraising bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for a social development project in Kolkata, India that I am involved with – though I also promised to donate 5% of my fundraising to Arthritis Action. The charity has been a big help to me in terms of offering advice and support, and I’m hugely appreciation of it’s vital work. In total I raised £13,841.00, which I am very pleased with.

The ride progressed well for the first 11 days, and I cycled from Land’s End to mid-Wales in the middle of a heatwave! Unfortunately, I then caught some version of Norovirus and became very sick, so I returned home to recover. I plan to complete the second half of the ride in May 2022. This time I shall be followed by a friend in a camper van for back-up!

If you wish to read further updates of my bike ride, you can do so here: