Innervoice.life is a website dedicated to telling the inspiring stories of athletes describing their journeys to health, discovery and personal victories. Below is an excerpt of the most recent “innervoice” story, featuring ACE President and Founder Cheryl Koehn.
Picture from Innervoice.life
EMOTIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY
I no longer play competitive volleyball, or any other sport for that matter. But the inner high-performance athlete is alive and well inside of me, and helps me overcome challenges every minute of every day. Not long after I retired from competitive volleyball, I developed severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that leads to uncontrolled inflammation and joint swelling, immobility and eventual destruction. From the day I was diagnosed, something inside of me said “don’t stop moving, keep trying to do the things you love”. Little did I know, that perspective is what research would prove years later: high intensity exercise in the setting of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis is a good thing, as long as you protect your joints from improper movement or stress, or when they are actively inflamed.
I approach my life with rheumatoid arthritis the exact same way I did my competitive sporting life. Emotionally and spiritually, I can be tougher than the toughest times I face. I may not be able to do half of what I used to physically, but I have finely honed team skills that help me in the community development work I lead. I recognise that overcoming a challenge requires thoughtful planning and work, and then more work, before you can “win”. Nothing came easy for me on the volleyball court, and the same is true in life. I know that is very cliché, but clichés exist for a reason; they’re usually true!
Putting on clothes can be a difficult task for people living with arthritis, limited mobility and range of motion, and other medical problems.
For someone living with arthritis, simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces, or pulling up a zipper, are made difficult by joint pain and inflammation. Caregivers can help in this aspect but it can be a demeaning, intimate and tricky task for both parties. People with Alzheimer or dementia may also have trouble in dressing themselves. They may forget how to put on a shirt or which way the buttons face.
One way to make things easier is to use adaptive clothes. Adaptive clothes have details like Velcro tabs instead of zips and buttons, as well as adjustable or removable components that help to save time and reduce the risk of injury. “More importantly, this type of clothing improves one’s comfort and bolsters self-esteem,” said Ms. Punithamani Kandasamy, a registered nurse and caregiving trainer at Active Global Specialised Caregivers. In an interview with the Straight Times in Singapore, Ms. Punithamani explains how different types of adaptive apparel and footwear can be useful for both the wearer and the caregiver. Below is an excerpt from the interview: Continue reading
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone quality. This results in bones becoming thin and weak, which increases the risk of fracture as they are easy to break. It is known as the “silent thief” because bone loss occurs without any symptoms. In fact, often it is not until someone fractures a wrist, spine, rib, or hip that osteoporosis is suspected (and often it is missed even after a fragility fracture).
As many as two million Canadians have osteoporosis. One in four women, including a third of women aged 60-70 years and two thirds of women aged 80 years and older, will be diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Research shows that weight-bearing exercise, including soccer, is an effective way to reduce the amount of bone loss over time and preserve bone mass, and thus, reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis and having a fracture. To prepare for the FIF Women’s World Cup™ this weekend and Father’s Day, #TeamArthritis challenges you to do something that reduce your chance of getting osteoporosis.
Fran wearing her Vivofit bracelet
The “Walk Your A.S. Off” (WYASO) campaign is gearing up for another year with April designated as training month and May 1st as the official kickoff of the campaign. The goal of WYASO is to promote awareness of spondylitis (and the family of related diseases) and to encourage people to become more active, specifically through keeping track of their daily steps or other physical activities. Continue reading
Courtesy of Vlado | freedigitalphotos.net
The litany of famous athletes who suffer from various types of arthritis is long: golfers, cyclists, figure skaters, baseball stars, downhill skiers … you get the idea. There are countless athletes performing and competing at world-class levels in every imaginable sport. They do it all despite their arthritis and many have become high-profile and public supporters for their form of arthritis.
These athletes have found a way to compete at the highest echelon of their sport even as they suffer from the effects of arthritis. They do it with the aid of sports psychologists (keep attitudes positive), physiotherapists (keep joints limber), coaches (keep on the game), trainers (keep in top physical shape), medical personnel (keep tweaking meds), and maybe a financial advisor and a business agent too. On the other hand, we mere mortals must play all those roles (and more) by ourselves and all at the same time. The team behind us is far less comprehensive: probably a medical doc (rheumatologist) and then a bunch of friends and family cheering us on from the sidelines.
Courtesy of lamnee | freedigitalphotos.net
In recent years, arthritis research and advocacy organizations have made important inroads in creating public awareness about the many types of arthritis (and related inflammatory diseases). However, I think that there’s nothing like an athlete’s star power to help focus attention on arthritis, which until recently was not understood or even considered a “serious” disease by many health professionals.
Athletes are terrific ambassadors for spreading the word about arthritis; their personal stories provide comfort and inspiration about how they cope with their condition during their sports careers. They possess the ideal public platform to get out the message about arthritis’ deleterious impact on millions of lives. In bringing awareness to the seriousness of the disease, they also help to direct more dollars towards research and ultimately, a cure.
Personally, we all deserve to consider ourselves as winners. Every day, we haul our pain around with us, we cope with hurting joints and aches, and the secondary effects created by various medications, including fatigue and depression. Unlike high-performing athletes, we do this without the benefit of a team of medical and/or health professionals. We participate as best we can in the “game” of life; we find our personal motivation and encouragement to keep moving. We may not run marathons, bolt down ski slopes at breakneck speeds, or drive a golf ball 300 yards, but we are all arthritis athletes in our own right. ~Fran
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The long-term usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) has always concerned me. Through the years I have taken different types of NSAIDs for varying periods. These NSAIDs even included (for a short time) VIOXX, which was pulled off the shelves in 2004 after studies confirmed that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. For many years I have taken diclofenac, which now researchers also believe carries a high cardiovascular risk, especially for people with a history of heart disease or other risk factors such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Continue reading