Carmel Smith (aged 73)
Carmel Smith has had both knees and a hip replaced and was worried that her mobility would be reduced after the surgeries. After her experience with Arthritis Ireland’s self-management programme, Carmel was inspired to become a helpline volunteer and walking group leader.
“The first sign of arthritis for me was in my knee. The pain was sometimes so bad that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. When I went to the doctor I was told I’d need both my knees replaced. I was 61 at the time and I was determined not to do so.
“Through the years I’d heard a lot of horror stories about surgery and I didn’t want to put myself through that. I persevered for a while, but eventually my doctor insisted on the surgery. I reluctantly agreed.
“With all of these surgeries, you have a period of rehabilitation and I was determined for arthritis not to have a major impact on my life. That’s why I kept at the physio the whole way through and kept walking. I think that made all the difference in the long-time success of the surgeries.
“It was something I learned when I did Arthritis Ireland’s Living Well with Arthritis self-management programme. It was there I realised that how you manage your lifestyle can have a big impact on your arthritis.
“It actually inspired me to get involved with Arthritis Ireland because I felt that, since this had helped me so much, I wanted to pass on that help to others. I trained as a helpline volunteer and also set up a walking group in Tallaght that meets every week. It’s great to be able to help out others who are in a similar situation to you.”