Has it been 8 years since that day? After playing golf, I sat down but couldn’t get up or walk. Diagnosed with a non-curable autoimmune disease, psoriatic arthritis, plus fibromyalgia.
I was 40 and the difficulties in mobility were overwhelming. I was physically and emotionally drained because of the pain. At work with typing, getting up and down from my chair. At home with grabbing, twisting and holding things. I needed help from my husband and my 4-year-old son. Help pouring milk, cutting my food and eating because my jaws were difficult to open.
After trial and errors in medications and visits to the doctor for 9 months, I found The Arthritis Society’s Winnipeg office.
I was welcomed with open arms as a volunteer to organize the library. I read all the brochures. I followed the self-care programs and services. The arthritis aquatics changed my life, giving me more mobility.
Society staff shared their own personal challenges with arthritis. We laughed and cried together. The Arthritis Society gave me hope. And I wanted to give back, so I trained to deliver arthritis education programs and presentations. I learned a lot from the people I helped.
I continued managing a travel agency, dealing with flare-ups and setbacks. I educated my staff and others about workplace and arthritis. I joined The Society’s divisional advisory board and have served for 6 years. I support all the fundraising events.
My family has been part of the Walk to Fight Arthritis since the beginning. That 5 km means a lot to me, even if I’m the last one walking. Sometimes it’s the cane that gets me to the finish line because in the middle of the Walk, my feet are heavy, like stepping on hard stone, from the heels to the balls. The hips want to give up and my toes feel swollen with pins and needles, by the end even my hands are sore.
The Walk is my reminder that I can’t take mobility for granted. I was so proud at the 2014 Walk, when my company and team won a fundraising award.
My Filipino community, my family, my doctors, The Arthritis Society Manitoba & Nunavut Division – I’m so thankful for their support.
My life has taken a different direction with arthritis. As a wife and a mother I will never give up. The disease must live with me.
Consuelo (Contessa) Benson