“Many of our members are an example to us and show us that despite our problems, we can enjoy life.”

27 May 2020
Members of the Chester branch at hospital, doing aerobics in a swimming pool and together at a dinner party.
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Pete, 83, is the chair of the Versus Arthritis Chester group. He was diagnosed 20 years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and here he shares more about the branch and how the members help to support each other.

“We will return to our normal branch activities wiser and stronger " 

I am writing this at this worrying time due to the coronavirus and lockdown. In Chester we’re trying to keep in touch with members by phone and emails.

This is not easy for an 83-year-old who is not very computer literate. We’re not down and we’re well aware that if we all stick by the advice, we’ll return to our normal branch activities wiser and stronger.

“I first noticed my knees were clicking a lot”

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over 25 years ago. At the time, I was still working as an area sales manager. I first noticed my knees were clicking a lot. Like many men, I ignored it and it slowly got worse, until eventually I could hardly walk without pain. Being an active person, this was extremely depressing.

My son and wife eventually persuaded me to go and see my GP. This led to blood tests and a visit to a consultant, who confirmed the GP’s opinion. Which was very basic, there is no cure, just medication.

Eventually, I needed two knee replacements over a 6-month period. If you have a joint replacement, my advice would be to listen to your physio, yes it hurts, but if you do the exercises it does get better and easier.

“I decided to try and balance rest with exercise and looked for new things to do”

Thankfully, I have always been optimistic and decided arthritis was not going to get the better of me. I made changes to my lifestyle, this meant no more golf, not that I was any good!

I decided to try and balance rest with exercise and looked for new things to do. I wanted to keep my brain working.

My neighbour suggested I get involved with the local arthritis branch, I joined and soon became vice chair, which followed on to being chairman of a large branch. Our Versus Arthritis Chester branch has 83 members at the moment.

“Our Chester branch is extremely active, and I have a committee with some very dedicated members”

After taking on the role of vice chair, I started to do training for one to one and group pain management discussions. This led to talking to groups and hosting drop ins at the two local hospitals in Chester. All of which I enjoy and it also helps to control the pain.

Our Chester branch is extremely active, and I have a committee with some very dedicated members.

Normally, we run monthly meetings with talks, entertainment and each meeting finishes with chair exercise to music run by a professional trained exerciser, Emma.

We’re also lucky to have access to a hydrotherapy pool during term-time at a local special needs school. Again, before lockdown we were having twice weekly sessions after school. Emma does the exercises and we find it all beneficial and enjoyable.

“Many of our members are an example to us and show us that despite our problems, we can enjoy life”

Many of our members have not only arthritis but also many other related problems.

For example, one has a condition which is hereditary and means her joints can come out of their sockets. At times she has to have medication whilst in the pool - but she’s always smiling.

Another member has had two kidney replacements and has to have dialysis three times a week. They still come along on the days when they’re not receiving treatment.

One of our gentlemen has had 3 hip replacements, all of which have not been successful and now has Parkinson’s.

Many of our members are an example to us all and show us that despite our problems, we can enjoy life.

“Running the Chester branch has certainly helped keep me occupy my mind and live with my arthritis”

Running the Chester branch has certainly helped keep me occupy my mind and live with my arthritis. Hopefully, we’ve helped each other along the way too.

I like to keep busy and try to keep up with my grandchildren! Sue and I have two grandchildren, Jacob and Olivia, both are growing up fast! They help in many ways and are another way of forgetting the pain and discomfort.

On a personal note being a Freemen of the city. I do have an interest in local history and in the summer, I can normally be found as a Guide of the City sightseeing buses. When life gets back to normal and if your ever in Chester, come on one of my tours!

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