We caught up with Maria from Sydney to talk about life with osteoarthritis, and what to do when you’re faced with many years of managing your condition. Maria has osteoarthritis in her knees and ankles. Maria went undiagnosed for some time before discovering she had osteoarthritis.
“When I had my ankle operated on I found out I’d developed osteoarthritis and then I had both knees operated on. Before my operation I had a lot of pain in my knees; I couldn’t get in and out of the car or walk up stairs. I had a lot of weakness in those joints.”
Following her operation Maria tries to stay active, so a big part of her management programme is exercise.
“At least once a week, I do a class, although I’m limited by my knee. I do an over-55s class, which keeps my heart moving.”
On top of her classes, Maria does a form of tai chi to keep her body, and her brain, flexible. “I do tàijíquán and that’s much more gentle,” she says. 'It’s good because it’s your mind as well as your body, and it’s fluid motion.
“I feel I can be more active since I started doing exercise. I’m not so stiff, and they say the more you do the better you do. Sometimes I feel like I should do more, but I have a very busy lifestyle. I’m not like my husband – he goes to the gym twice a week! But I try to do as much as I can, with walking and my classes. Recently I’ve been doing aqua aerobics, which is so much easier on my knees.
“There are chair exercise classes that can I go to with the seniors' group, but I feel like I’m not ready for that yet.”
We know that a positive attitude is incredibly important to your health and Maria knows that, too.
“I try to be positive and keep healthy. My husband has such an amazingly positive attitude towards life that I want to be like him, and that helps me mentally.
“With most of my friends, we’ve gotten to a point where we wonder why we’re talking about our ailments. We say 'Let’s make a promise to talk about the happy things and have a laugh'.”