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    shortening posted:
    The story behind my user name; I used to be 5'1" and due to over 40 years of Degenerative arthritis I'm now 4'9". I've had to make many adaptations in the last several years as my mobility is more challenging. I can only stand for about 5 minutes, max, and that's with a curved spine. The compression in my spine is not equal so I have to watch my balance as the left side is shorter than the right. I try not to dwell on what I can't do because I would be wasting precious moments in my life and that's just not for me. You learn to change how you do certain activities and sometimes there are some you just can't do anymore, but I keep moving and do seated exercises to increase my strength. I have been very overweight since I was a child and suffered both emotional and physical abuse from my late Mother for over 45 years. I'm finally in a better place emotionally and I believe that's helped me deal with my aches & pains. There are so many people I see that have bigger issues to contend with every day and that's when I tell myself I'm lucky to be able to do what I can. I'd love to hear feedback from others who are facing similar issues with degenerative arthritis as I find it helps me to reach out and offer positive reinforcement.

    georgia888 responded:
    Hello Shortening,
    I'm always looking to share my condition with others who suffer from OA & I see you & I have much in common. You don't mention your age however, if you've been suffering for 40 years, I must assume that you are at least middle-aged.

    I am 56 years old & experienced my first symptoms about 4 years ago. At that time I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but an MRI did show moderate to severe OA in my spine. In the past year, I've developed what is often severe lower back pain due to spinal stenosis. Most of my life I have maintained a slender figure. I have always eaten well & exercise daily. I believe genetics play a huge part in my condition as I have the same figure as a paternal aunt who suffered with severe OA. The last few years of her life, she stood with her back parallel to the ground, in other words at a 45 degree angle. Amazingly, she still managed to garden & travel. She did use a walker & at times, a wheelchair.

    Like you, I maintain a good attitude. I visit a warm water pool daily to help with flexibility & mobility. I try to live day-to-day & not think of the future however, when I do, I fear that I will be in the same shape as my aunt. The one difference between us is that she was overweight. I easily could be as I love food but I realize any extra weight is very bad on the joints.

    Are you able to exercise at all? Do you use an aid to help with walking?

    I've learned to live with the pain but I fear the progression that this disease will inevitably take. I believe I can handle more pain but I don't want to lose my independence.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to your reply.

    shortening replied to georgia888's response:
    I will be 59 in October and not only do I fit into the OA category, but also depression & anxiety. I was emotionally & physically abused by my mother after my biological father died suddenly when I was 4. I have two older brothers and one biological sister. I come from a blended family as I also have a stepbrother and half-sister. I don't remember my Dad, but have been told he treated me like a princess. I have been in therapy the better part of my life and have finally been able to forgive my Mom. It wasn't easy, but in order for me to move on with my life I needed to put that to rest. She and my stepfather have both passed on. I used food as comfort from the age of 5 and on into adulthood. I lost 72 pounds once by walking 10-12 miles a week. All of the walking I did was on a hard surface and has caused hairline fractures in my feet. Now I do as much seated exercises as I can because it takes the weight off of my feet and knees. My OA is also in my lower sacrum and worse on the left side. Now it's moving into my neck so I have this lump at the top of my spine. OA is genetic in both sides of my family so I guess it was a given that some family members would have it eventually.

    When you spoke about your aunt I fear that's what will happen to me, but as I said, I try to take one day at a time and do what I'm able. I live in a rural area and now that I've shrunk in height some of the pools in our area are actually too deep for me to water walk; I LOVE IT! We have a Super 8 in the community I am moving to, but they won't let anyone outside of guest's use their pool. It's a shame to spend that much money and not have it used. Liability issues!

    My youngest sister (health information specialist) has been my biggest challenge because without concrete proof, in black & white, she thinks I'm being lazy and eating too much. I've met with 3 different nutritionist's and all of them told me I'm not eating enough, but I'm just not hungry plus standing to cook is brutal to my back and feet. Some days are more challenging than others, but I refer to Erma Bombeck's book title "Who said life was a bowl of cherries". I really appreciate hearing from someone who understands my situation. I'm going to be moving back to my hometown soon so I can be closer to the siblings that help me out with rides, etc. My brother and sister-in-law are very close to me. My other biological siblings have OA, as well, but they have been diagnosed within the last 5 years.

    I have a wonderful Psychiatrist I see on a regular basis and I've learned how to use my voice that was quiet for so many years when I was afraid to open my mouth for fear of what may happen next. It's been interesting to see how my family has responded to me speaking openly about my challenges, but I'm going to keep moving for as long as I can. I have used a rollator for about 4 years and it's a blessing. I can take the back off and put my laundry baskets on it or when I go shopping I put a basket on the seat and fill it up with my purchases to bring into my apartment in one trip. My recent visit to the doctor was difficult for me to hear; no steps. All of my family have steps no matter where you go to get into their homes. I haven't figured out how I'm going to tell them, but will have that discussion soon. Well, I'm getting long-winded, but I was so excited that someone out there replied to my post.
    georgia888 replied to shortening's response:
    So good to hear back from you, shortening! You must have a good sense of humor to choose this name.

    I can also relate to being quiet. As my one sister advises, we are too old now to be timid & quiet. These are our last opportunities to speak up, so let's do just that!

    Again, attitude is so important & it sounds like yours is a well adjusted one.

    Best wishes to you.

    georgia888 replied to shortening's response:
    I forgot to mention, I, too, have an October birthday!

    shortening replied to georgia888's response:
    My birthday is the day before Halloween, scary! I find it takes much less energy to fret and worry than it does to be positive and it also makes me feel better. I haven't always been a positive thinker, but I'm finding speaking up for myself is empowering! We only get one chance at life so I plan to make the best of what I've been given! I hope you are having a good day.
    My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style

    Maya Angelou
    anita532 responded:
    I am 61 and have lost 3 inches due to OA. I was also severely abused physically and emotionally by my mother until the day I left home. The day she died 8 years ago was a good day for me. I believe that those of us that were severely physically and emotionally abused have a greater tendency to acquire auto immune diseases than other people. Life isn't very fair to many of us.

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