Living now for almost 16 years with a severe case of ankylosing spondylitis, I was both intrigued and perplexed when The Arthritis Society announced it would host its first-ever Quebec Forum on Arthritis.
First reaction: I wondered what would be presented that I didn’t know already. After all, I have been negotiating with Mr. Arthritis and his whims every day for 16 years. I have a wonderful relationship with my rheumatologist and I benefit from the skills and expertise of many other health care professionals. Despite my reluctance, I threw caution to the wind and signed up for the Forum.
A fortunate decision! That October morning I was greeted by warm hosts and, from that moment on, I felt part of something important. Meeting others with arthritis, sharing coffee and stories, was incredibly eye-opening. Those who had just received their diagnosis had so much to discover. For veterans like me, it was hope that brought me there. Hope to find new ways to improve my quality of life.
The carefully chosen speakers delivered us the real goods. There was no place for clichés about living with pain – we all know intimately what this is like. Researchers gave us accounts of what they were up to, and what fascinating discoveries they were closing in on. This community of people touched by arthritis came together, and the atmosphere was at once supportive and genuine. I’ve been living with ankylosing spondylitis for so long – but I’d never experienced anything like the Forum.
We aren’t all living alone, separately. We are connected, and now I understand that connection so vividly.
I left the Forum having gained knowledge, mixing what I already know with fresh new ideas while pondering the new scientific discoveries we’ve made. The biggest thing is that I returned home feeling like I was being carried by a great tidal wave of hope.