Valerie Martel doesn’t play her piano much anymore; her left wrist becomes inflamed and the pain is too great.
But that’s not her least favourite part about living with arthritis – what’s worse is that her daughter and granddaughter live with it, too.
“It’s a dubious distinction to be three generations who have some form of inflammatory arthritis,” Martel said. “And there’s great misconception that it’s just a disease for older people.”
She experienced joint inflammation for most of her life before being diagnosed last year. She knew how to deal with the flare-ups, and could get by.
“I treated them, and my physicians treated them as bush fires,” she said. “But that changed last year.”
Martel was diagnosed with with psoriatic arthritis, but because of other health conditions she could no longer take the anti-inflammatory medications she had relied on for years. However, she was more concerned about her granddaughter, Beatrice Compton, who had been diagnosed at age two with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
“At first, doctors thought she had a broken arm,” Martel said. “But after a month they took off her cast and her wrist was still red and swollen.”
Compton, now 10, takes a heavy medication called methotrexate, which is also used in chemotherapy, to keep her symptoms down. Martel, too, expects to be taking it eventually.
On Sunday (June 2), the symptoms will take a back seat to helping find better solutions, as Martel and her family take part in the annual Walk for Arthritis. Held in 45 communities across Canada, the walk raises money for the Arthritis Society. Since its inception over $10 million has been raised.
The Victoria walk gets underway at 10 a.m. at Selkirk Green Park and new B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin will be taking part. For more information visit walkforarthritis.ca.