Osteoarthritis advice please!

Robin59
Robin59 Member Posts: 20
edited 17. Aug 2021, 09:27 in Say hello

Hi my name is Annette and I am 61 with Osteoarthritis of the hips. Until recently I think I have coped quite well, I am a teaching assistant and although the condition has slowly got worse it hasn't stopped me working! But since the Lockdown last year (I had 11 weeks not working) I think I have probably not helped myself in that I didn't move around enough, spent long periods sitting (reading, computer work) and living on my own spending far too much time alone which isn't good for mental wellbeing. I also had a dog that I lost in November last year which hasn't helped. I have been considering my options during the Summer Holidays, working less hours, early retirement unfortunately a lot depends on my financial situation which isn't good. I have had to apply for Universal Credit (as I work for an Agency and don't get paid during the school holidays) and I have applied for PIP a few days ago.

I really don't want to not work partly because of the money and partly because as I said above it isn't good for your wellbeing, but I have no idea what else I could do or if schools would even be prepared to still employ me if my mobility is affected which it is.

Apologies for this initial message being so long but I would very much appreciate any practical advice or reading other people's experiences. I am trying to do exercises and I even bought myself a pedal exerciser to use when I am sitting down for longer periods.

Many thanks

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Comments

  • chrisb
    chrisb Moderator Posts: 276

    Hi @annettemcd and welcome to the Versus Arthritis forum.

    I see that you have OA of the hips and that during lockdown you’ve been less active than usual due to working less and sadly losing your dog.

    I note that you are trying to do exercises and have acquired a pedal exerciser.

    You should find some useful information including exercise routines from our website here:

    I’m not an expert in employee law but Versus Arthritis do have experts who can support you if you do have any workplace issues as a result of your mobility limitations with your school employment. This link shows you how to make contact with the right person within Versus Arthritis if you ever have the need to:


    I hope that you receive some useful feedback from other forum members.

    Best Wishes

    ChrisB (Moderator)

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Hi, I was in your position in January I have decided to go down the route of ill health retirement so far 4 reports and still waiting for a decision

    It’s not easy losing a fur baby it will make you feel worse and unsure while your grieving and I’m sorry I lost mine last year she was beautiful and I miss her every day, if working makes you feel better and you manage with your pain stick with it they can’t discriminate because of your age or disability

    I feel very isolated and not done myself any favours either by not staying active but my hands along with my knees and spine do cause me a lot of pain

    Write a for and against list and do what benefits you the most there’s always a solution I miss working but I don’t miss the struggle

    good luck I’m sure you will reach the right decision big hugs 🤗🤗😊💐

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Hi Jona thank you so much for your comment, it makes me feel better knowing I am not the only one. As you can imagine I can understand how you feel about your dog, it will take time to get over it. I think pets are a great help but doubt whether I will ever be able to afford another one.

    I am very undecided about what to do for the best, I've just applied for PIP but other than that it's a waiting game, I've always found the Summer holidays a difficult time and I just feel the Osteoarthritis stops me doing the things I enjoyed and the things I did to keep myself busy! I am feeling quite low about things at the moment but maybe that will change if I find I can still do work, perhaps less hours. Do you actually get PIP? I tried last year but it wasn't successful.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,725

    Making the decision to give up work is not easy and when I did 10 years ago my GP had been telling me to do so for months, in the end the decision was relatively easy as I was having trouble walking and writing and frequently had to call jobs off at the last minute which is not the thing to do when self-employed! I applied for, and got, PIP as I am disabled and live on my own; bearing in mind that PIP is designed to cover the additional costs of being disabled, you don't get it just because you are disabled. I was also able to get my pension payed early from a previous employer on the basis that if I was still working for them at the time I would have been retired on medical grounds (I was 52 at the time), after an independent medical that they set up it was approved. The worst thing I have found is that I am still in a state of mourning for what I am no longer able to do, being ex-forces and physically fit and fond of the gym, martial arts etc and now a wheelchair user. I live alone and am a cat person, I can honestly say that without my cat I don't know whether I would still be here; fortunately she is a good listener and needs me to look after her! Find something that you enjoy doing and can do, I have reverted to childhood (if I ever left it) and make models and dioramas. I can only do 10/15 minutes at a time before my hands, neck or something else gives out and I have to rest but I get satisfaction out of it and the end results are pretty good if I say so myself. My lounge looks like a museum though! Again, luckily the cat doesn't complain!!

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Hi Mike

    Thank you so much for your comments. It sounds to me that I have far less to complain about than you and I admire you for your positive attitude. I agree it's so hard to accept that I can't do things I used to take for granted. I didn't want to work till I am 66 (as I am a teaching assistant that isn't likely anyway) but I suppose I just had the idea in my head that I would try to keep going for a couple more years and build up my pension if I could. Trouble is in a school you have to be reasonably mobile and I have struggled this last school year. For me the main worry is financial, I can't afford to retire. I am 61 and although I do have a works pension it isn't enough to live on for 5 years till I can claim state pension.

    Pets do help don't they? I miss my dog so much, I had to have him put to sleep at the end of last year old age really (I had him for over 11 years which isn't bad for a dog but no consolation!) Like you say with your cat they need you to look after them and they are also a presence in the house.

    As I said in my original comment I do feel helpless as I have applied for things but have to wait another couple of weeks before I hear anything, one of the reasons I decided to try VersusArthritis is to see what experiences other people have had and maybe someone will come up with an idea I haven't thought of. I feel as if the Osteoarthritis has robbed me of all things I used to do to keep busy, gardening was one but that is so difficult now.

    I did wonder what sort of pain relief anyone else has been offered? Or is there something someone has tried and it works?? Because I am also a type 2 diabetic my GP is very reluctant to prescribe me anything stronger than paracetamol.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,725

    Ask your GP for a referral to your local Pain Clinic, they have more experience with pain and will be able to try different meds and treatments which may help you. I have been through the whole gamut of pain killers and am now left on Morphine, as others will tell you as well NOTHING gets rid of the pain it merely knocks the edge off!

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,303
    edited 22. Aug 2021, 11:13

    Hi @Robin59 , I'm sorry things have got so tough for you recently. And I’m sorry to hear about your dog. Like Mike, my cats are great company and keep me moving on bad days.

    I’m afraid I can’t advise on PIP etc, I’m self employed so it doesn’t apply to me. But my job is also mostly very active, and the pain and reduced mobility from OA in my hip severely restricted that so that my income has almost halved. I’m now 4 months post replacement surgery, but my recovery has been atypically slow, so while I’m now mostly pain free, muscle weakness still means I’m only working less than half time.

    In my case I was able to take stronger painkillers than you, so I can’t imagine how you’re coping with just paracetamol. But there are more things in the armoury that you can try. Have a look through this link. Oddly, despite it causing more pain, I found that gardening and working both helped on the basis of distraction, ie it took your focus away from the pain (even if it did involve a lot of grunting and odd contortions). It also gave the rest of my body a bit of a workout and boosted mental health.

    Exercising is also helpful to stop the rest of the body seizing up, which would do your hip no good. The “Let’s Move With Leon” sessions on this site are helpful, and quite good fun (no adrenalin pumping music involved!) and you can make them as gentle as they need to be. There are also exercises specific to hips that will strengthen the muscles around the hip to better support the joint.

    (apologies if you’ve already seen these.)

    As for gardening, I found I reprioritised what I did and found new ways to do it, (mostly involving long handled tools to reduce bending) and did so in shorter bursts. The hip would complain like made afterwards of course, but that was outweighed by the satisfaction of having got a few things done and getting my hands dirty. Make sure you schedule in some rest time afterwards, preferably including the next day, so perhaps keep to Friday pm and Saturday so you’re not pooped and your joints aren’t still inflamed when you go back to work on Monday. Fatigue is a common part of arthritis, so that needs to be managed as well by pacing yourself, allowing recovery time rather than just “pushing through”, and being kind to yourself.

    Finally, one more tip I found helpful was that for everything you have to give up as it’s just too hard or too painful, replace it with something you enjoy, and focus on the things you can do rather than those you can’t. Instead of just closing doors, reduced mobility can lead you in new and interesting directions 🙂

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Lilymary thank you very much for your response. I agree that work takes your mind of the arthritis, so I don't think that the summer holidays have done me any good at all! I am trying to do exercise but I didn't know about the specific exercises for the hip joint so I am going to look at them asap! I have a pedal exerciser which I am using when I sit for longer periods and I also bought myself some weights to strengthen my arms and shoulders. I don't expect miracles but I don't think it will do my any harm. I don't know what I am going to do about work, you have to be fairly mobile working in a Primary school (I can't do special needs any more sadly) But I think it's so important to do something as I think living on my own the lockdown last year and the school holidays have made my situation worse. I think I am at fault there because when I had all the time at home last year I wasn't very mobile at all, I was told I had the Osteoarthritis a few weeks before the lockdown began in the March but just didn't do enough to help myself something I really regret now.

  • Dozmac
    Dozmac Member Posts: 5

    Hi Robin59. Am sorry to hear all your news. This is just a quick post re PIP. It is notoriously difficult to get. My husband was lucky and got it first time. We used a lot of online resources for help in completing the forms as PIP is about how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. When answering any questions always reply as per your worst day, regardless if you sometimes have better days. If you do get turned down again, make sure you appeal. Loads of people win on appeal so don't give up. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist. Some have dedicated benefit experts. Also make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled such as Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit if you rent and help with your mortgage may be available if applicable

    Great website is Entitled to and turn 2 us both have great online benefit calculators which are definitely worth using. If I can be of any further help just ask x

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,725

    Some say that claimants are deliberately turned down for PIP because as the appeal is heard in Court in front of a Judge or Lawyer, a Doctor and an OT it puts a lot of people off even applying for an appeal, as a result the DWP save money!! I had been awarded the higher rate of the living element of PIP from day one but the lower mobility rate. When my condition worsened and I needed greater reliance on my wheelchair I applied for the higher rate of mobility and got turned down due to blatant lies from the assessor (luckily I had a witness with me at the assessment who took notes), anyway I went to appeal having submitted all necessary paperwork etc and spent a whole 5 minutes in front of the board before they awarded me the higher rate. Apart from the good advice of Dozmac above also contact the Adult Social Care department at your County Council, many have staff who will guide you through the appeal process and can even accompany you to the appeal if requested.

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Hi Robin59,

    Sorry couldn’t answer sooner I applied for pip 9 years ago and took it to appeal there were 3 in the room 2 middle aged women and a 30 something man I believe he was the doctor, he barked at me and was rather disgusting tbh the women took his lead so I walked away and was awarded nothing the whole process was humiliating and abhorrent my son told them what he thought of them and they just said with a huge degree of superiority they were sorry he felt that way he replied he was disgusted with them and the system that has been created to fail so we left. But don’t let that put you off I’m the 1 in 10

    I carried on working but have pushed myself and my spine has deteriorated badly now I walk with a stoop and the pain is unbearable the drs give me any painkillers I want, I’m told a bone spur pressing on a nerve is causing the severe tinnitus which drives me to distraction it’s horrendous but still they do nothing my blood tests used to be high for RA but now normal and now nearly all my blood tests are abnormal but they still don’t know what to do sounds incredible but true.

    The good news is after the 4 drs reports for ill health retirement I’ve been awarded it but have to wait 3 months for the amount but I have now got ESA and awaiting universal credit decision so if I’m frugal financially I should manage, my son has taken over my car so one less debt to worry about but as they say onward and upwards

    I hope you are keeping well and keeping your chin up 😊😊💐💐

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Hi Jona thank you for your reply

    The school holidays are nearly over so I am beginning to panic. Usually I would be confident of finding another school role (17 years as teaching assistant working for local authority and 3 for Agencies) but the Osteoarthritis has ruined that. I am 61, 62 in November and up to a few years ago I could have considered retirement, but that isn't an option now I can't afford to take early retirement so somehow have to carry on. I've just finished a role at a local school I was very lucky that the class teacher was more of a friend than a colleague and my mobility issues were never mentioned. I know I did a good job. But I just don't know what to do now, the Agency will look for other roles for me but my huge concern is that a different school won't want me because I am not fit, the school I just left may want me back but can I manage it? So many worrying questions. I don't feel there is any help out there, I have applied for Universal Credit (Agencies don't pay during holidays) and I had a Fit note from my GP because otherwise UC would expect me to 'actively look for work' this runs out on the 5th when schools go back. I stupidly applied for PIP wish I hadn't bothered, I spoke to an abrupt Welfare Benefits advisor from the local council who told me I didn't have a hope of getting anything, and the Job centre hasn't been any help at all. I don't want to give up work altogether not just because of the financial implications but because of my mental wellbeing too. I live on my own and go days without seeing or talking to anyone I don't think that does anyone any good. I'm sorry if this is rambling on a bit but it helps to write it down I just feel so helpless. If you or anyone else reading this can give any practical advice I would be very grateful, I don't know about you but it isn't sympathy I want (sympathy doesn't pay the bills) but understanding.

  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 38

    Hi @Robin59 A couple of thoughts which might help:

    Some years ago I helped a number of people apply for Attendance Allowance which is a different benefit to PIP, etc. I learnt you needed careful wording in the application and to appeal whenever an application was rejected. Internet research should help with both.

    I imagine the teaching assistant role is one where a reasonable degree of mobility is expected. But are there other roles which would suit your particular skills, experience and more limited mobility? With your contacts at schools and agencies are there, for example, school secretarial or admin posts you could obtain? Or perhaps you have computer or telephone skills which would allow you to work from home or in an office? Perhaps a discussion with a careers advisor or some lateral thinking and internet research will help suggest possibilities.

    Best of luck.

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Hi Robin59,

    I totally understand and get where your coming from and I know just how stressed you are I’m in the same position, pip is about how your condition affects you in your daily life ive never been shown any sympathy with either the medical professionals or social security officials there is a website called turn2us you can google it they have advisers there and can tell you what you can or cannot claim

    I think women who are of a certain age and are on their own are forgotten and it is worrying I stressed and still do about my future I’m younger in my head but my body is fighting me all the time all I can say is try, try and try again have you looked at working tax credits also?

    Jona 💐

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,725

    You can only get Attendance Allowance if you are over state pension age and require physical assistance.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 26,669

    Yes Mike is right about AA being for those who are over state retirement age, but back in the day it was all called attendance allowance...sigh🙄

    Love

    Toni xxx
  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Thank you all for your replies, Jona I agree 100% where you say we are ignored, I am 61 nearly 62 a couple of years ago I would have had the option to retire, I have friends who have done this (one was a teacher retired at 55) but of course they are all married, if you are on your own you just don't have the same options. I would like nothing better than to continue till 66 build up my pension if nothing else, but what are you supposed to do if you have something like Osteoarthritis that effects your mobility?? My Fit note runs out on the 5th (I had a reminder of this today from Universal Credit in case I had forgotten) so I have decided I will email my Agency Consultant to explain what my mobility problems are and also ask the Jobcentre for advice! You see I had an excellent year at my last school role, the class teacher deserves a medal as she never held it against me that I couldn't move very quickly!! The praise I had from her and the Head of the school was amazing and made me feel useful and part of the team, it's just unfortunate that as an Agency worker you have no security. It's all down to school finances. Working as a teaching assistant involves many skills, I am trying to be positive because I KNOW I did a good job, I have over 20 years experience and love the job, but is this enough, does it count for anything? I don't know.

    I admire all of you that are on here especially those of you who took the trouble to reply to my original message, I will let you know how I get on in the next few weeks, I don't find it easy to be positive but I will try.

    All the very best to you all😍

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    I really cannot understand how they can let a teacher with all your years experience down so badly we are in desperate need for teachers, doctors etc so I would have thought they would do everything they can to accolade you

    I think your doing the right thing ie the agency and job centre and I really hope they can come up with something for you 💐😊

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    That's very kind of you Jona, I'm not a teacher but a teaching assistant so maybe not worth that much!! I do tend to always expect the worst so I might be wrong, we will see. It's just this feeling of having no real options, the osteoarthritis has seen to that. I have always been very active three boys to look after on my own and I did a lot of walking to get from A to B. I am guilty of taking that for granted. I don't know what your GP is like but I seem to talk to GPs who have the attitude ' we can't cure Osteoarthritis so just take painkillers keep active and put up with it!!!' Then I get the added ' So you are also type 2 diabetic, oh dear you can't have strong painkillers' Since the Pandemic started I haven't seen a GP face to face and when I do talk to one it's never the same one. I hope that you and other people on here have had better experiences than me.

    😥

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Your just as important as teachers and don’t let anyone tell you different, I have the same attitude with my gp I’ve even had oh it’s not that bad well it is that bad and hopefully those that say it will know when their turn comes 😊 keep your chin up I’m not a fan of the medical professionals some are really good and some are bad but never forget they’re just like us but with a license and a knowledge xx💐💐

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    I did say I was going to post on here when I have some news, if anyone reads this can you accept my apologies if my post is negative or if I have just gone on too much. Today just isn't a good day.

    I had been promised a phone call by my Agency consultant on Wednesday, nothing. It is hard enough accepting I can't do my teaching assistant job as I used to do because of my mobility issues but this just makes me feel I am no use if I am not fit enough so why bother even telling me this? I have my first phone appointment with a work coach (universal credit) on Monday so will try and ask the right questions then. I will need another sick note otherwise they will assume I am fit for any type of work, but I was going to see if my Agency Consultant gets back to me first, before I do this (we only get phone consultations here in Sandwell so I would have to request a sick note that way) Otherwise I don't honestly know what to do for the best, I am beginning to panic. I want to work even if it's less hours 6 weeks at home have driven me mad. I am finding it very difficult to be positive, I am 61, young enough to still work, but old enough to feel I am on the scrap heap.😥

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Hi Robin59! hard as it is please try to stay positive your really having a very bad time I was the same as you but to be honest I’m just going to take one day at a time now otherwise I think I might go a bit mad no matter what we do or how hard we try other people just mess it up for us I fought so hard for so long it’s double the battle on your own I’m on my own and it’s frightening I know but there’s help out there sending you a big hug 😊💐

    Im looking into a rescue dog now ill never be able to replace my baby but at least I can give him or her love xx

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    I would love a new dog Jona, it would make a huge difference but it is all down to money again, lack of should I say. I really hope you can get one I did look into that myself but a lot of rescue centres are wanting £300 or more and that is just beyond me.

    Tomorrow is the first day of term first time in over 20 years that I haven't gone back to work, so I think that is making me feel worse. We all need a purpose in life, that is what got me out of bed this last year I knew I was doing a good job, working with lovely people and of course the kids. I wish they hadn't put the retirement age up to 66 because that is what is causing me all the financial headaches. I don't know if the Agency will find me a new role or if I could even do it but I would try what else can I do.?

    By the way do you do exercises? I am trying to do that too, sitting here now with my pedal exerciser, weights to try and build up my shoulder and arm muscles and some exercises recommended by VersusArthritis, I know I can't expect any miracles but sometimes wonder if it helps at all, it doesn't stop my left leg from locking if I stand too long!!

    Fingers crossed for you with the rescue centres, thank you for being there to put up with my moans please feel free to do the same if you need to

    😘

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 293

    Hi Robyn59,

    Your so right my purpose at the mo is to get up and keep going just to anger my ex 😉 I don’t exercise I wish I could I’ve got arthritis in nearly all my joints now and the pain is horrendous I’ve tried too but I end up crying literally screaming my grandson gave me a toy ball to squeeze so I do that a lot with my hands it mostly just leads to cramp which is horrible.

    If you explain at the rspca or the dogs trust and you can give a dog a good home I’m sure they will work something out for you after all a good loving home is hard to find keep your chin up I say tomorrow is another day I’m doing one day at a time now take care and keep peddling 😊💐

  • Robin59
    Robin59 Member Posts: 20

    Don't worry Jona peddling is what I am doing, 😀my son bought the exerciser for me, originally I was thinking of the winter when even if I am working again I will spend a lot of time sitting watching TV during the evenings. I had this daft idea that if I did the exercises they recommend the Osteoarthritis would miraculously disappear, which of course it doesn't. I don't mind the stiffness so much and even being slower than I used to be but sometimes if I stand for too long my left leg just stiffens up so much it is very painful to move, I just wish there was something I could do to combat that.

    I admire your positive attitude I really do you always sound much more accepting than me, I am so frustrated not being able to do things I used to do without thinking about it. 😘