“Life will have highs and lows, it’s important to talk about it and make the most of every day.”

16 March 2020
A golf course.
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Martyn, 73, has always been a keen sportsman, and golf has become a great passion of his in his later years.

Here he shares his experience of living with rheumatoid arthritis, the good and low days and how it hasn't stopped him from enjoying life and doing what he loves. 

"When I was in my 30s, I started getting severe pain in my hips and in my lower back."

When I was in my 30s, I played a lot of field hockey to a high standard. I played for a local club in Coventry and for the Warwickshire County and Midlands team. It was during that time I was getting severe pain in my hips and in my lower back.

A father of one of the hockey team players, who was a doctor examined me and told me I had arthritis. He said that there were no magic potions to fix it. I just took paracetamol and put up with it. 

I moved to Chippenham, Wiltshire for business but carried on playing hockey for a local team. It was here that I started to play golf. The arthritis was very troublesome but again I kept taking painkillers.

I focused on my work and I worked hard in progressing my career. Eventually we moved north to Macclesfield and I worked as a Sales and Marketing Director out of headquarters in Manchester.

“I had to give up playing hockey eventually and played more golf.”

I was still struggling with pain in my hips. I had to give up playing hockey eventually and continued my sports with more golf. I have a friend with whom I played golf with who was an orthopaedic surgeon, he told me I needed to have my left hip replaced.

I had my left hip replaced in 1999 also my right hip in 2001. I thought that it would cure the problems I was having, no such luck! 

My gait whilst walking prior to hip replacement was poor and the “bone geometry” was affected which resulted in pain in my back. This resulted in having two laminectomies and decompression of spine. The second operation was very successful.

To this day I struggle with the pain, though I now realise it's the combination of arthritis and my age.

“I try to get rest when I need to and take it easy”

In addition to arthritis I also suffer from restless legs, the combination of which are treated with drugs. Generally, I experience pain more when I am walking, sometimes it's a significant problem when playing golf. 

Although I try to get rest, I've been advised to exercise; so, golf and short gym sessions help. 

The pain has always been down my left leg but now it has transferred to the right side. I’ve seen the doctor and will be seeing another specialist soon.

I use anti-inflammatory drugs, mainly ibuprofen and paracetamol to manage it.

My advice would be to find what works for you. Drugs effect people in different ways, talk with your doctor and chemist. Ask about the side effects and take the advice of the professionals.

“I have a great family and a very understanding wife, and she will not let me feel sorry for myself” 

Sometimes I do feel depressed, but I have a very understanding wife and she won't let me feel sorry for myself. She listens to me, commiserates and says the right things. It’s important to have support and to try and get on with life.

My family is very important to me, my daughter and son both have children and I love having time with my grand kids. Between them they're into football, rugby and model car racing – they're great to be around, and we enjoy time together. 

"You need to look to the future and make the best of what you’ve got"

There’s lots of advice out there, what to eat to what you shouldn’t do. I think you should talk to organisations like Versus Arthritis, read about other people’s experiences and be aware of people who have arthritis - like me. 

"You are not alone"

Life will have highs and lows, it’s important to talk about it and make the most of everyday. You need to look to the future and make the best of what you’ve got.

Join groups or a club and find people to talk to. I’ve lived with arthritis for 40 years and I've learnt that it’s not the end of the world. There will be difficulties in any life, you must try and keep your chin up. I always appreciate a good chat to the golf club!

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