Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and can affect one or more of our joints. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. These joints move the body parts which are connected to its bones. Arthritis is usually accompanied by pain and stiffness in your joints and this generally gets worse as you age. Three of the more well-known kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and gout.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down. Cartilage is the hard, slippery tissue which covers the ends of our bones. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that starts out in the lining of joints. Gout can cause sudden burning pain, stiffness and swelling in a joint. This pain usually starts out in your big toe and you can have attacks over and over unless it is treated. If left untreated, gout can harm your joints, tendons and other tissues. Gout seems to develop in people who have high levels of uric acid in their blood.
People who have injured a joint will more than likely develop arthritis in that joint. In other words, if you’ve had broken bones when you’re younger (like me), you’ll probably have arthritis in those joints when you get older. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
My Grandmother had problems with arthritis for most of her adult life. She always seemed to walk a little stiff-looking and I’m sure that had a lot to do with the fact that she had arthritis. I’m sure we’ve all heard people say, “Ol’ Arthur sure is giving me a fit today,” and they were talking about their arthritis.
As far as I know, the first time my Grandmother had an episode with arthritis, she ended up in the hospital for about a week. My Daddy, Clarence, was the oldest of her seven children, and I’m not sure how many other children had been born when she was hospitalized that first time. I just know that according to her, my Dad was just a small boy at the time.
Grandmother said when she came home from the hospital, she tried to get Daddy to come to her, but he just tried to hide in the corner of the room and wouldn’t have anything to do with her. After several unsuccessful attempts to get him to come and give her a hug, she decided she would fix him his favorite treat. Off she went into the kitchen and got out some apples. She split them open and put in some sugar, along with lots of cinnamon, and popped them into the oven. Yum, yum — baked apples!
When the apples were cooked, she took one out and blew on it, trying to help it cool quickly so she could take it to her sweet little standoffish boy. When it was cool enough, she carried it into the room where Daddy was still hiding in the corner. She held it out to him and he took it — oh so sweetly. Then, he threw it down on the floor and stomped on it!
Grandmother said it was hard, but she knew she couldn’t let him get by with such bad behavior, so she did what she had to do and spanked him. She said he cried and she felt like crying too, but then he ran into her arms and hugged and hugged her.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “There’s always two sides to every story.” Well, the other side of this story, is Grandaddy’s side of it. He says when Grandmother was hospitalized, the doctor came in and told them that she would never be able to walk again. He said he went home that night and prayed: “Lord, you know that Gladys and I have small children and I can’t raise them by myself, so I need you to heal her.” After he finished praying, Granddaddy said it was like he heard a voice telling him to take Grandmother to a chiropractor and she would be all right. That’s exactly what he did and with each treatment she seemed to move around better and better.
I don’t want to say that seeing a chiropractor works for everybody, I just know it worked for my grandmother. Over the years, she had other episodes when her arthritis was worse, so she would go back to the chiropractor and the treatments would help her so she could move around better. She always said she knew better than to go to bed and just stay there when her arthritis was acting up because it would just make it worse. She always felt that if she had continued to lay in the bed like they had her doing at the hospital, she would have been bed-ridden for the rest of her life.
A few years later, my grandparents saw that doctor again who had treated Grandmother while she was in the hospital that first time. I think he was amazed to see Grandmother walking down the hall because he called her “a walking miracle.”
All of this information about arthritis in our old age can certainly be discouraging. If we live long enough, chances are we’re all going to have some type of aches and pains. We’re all going to have to learn to roll with the punches and take the good along with the bad. After all, look at the alternative!
Azalea R. Bolton is a resident of Richmond County, member of the Story Spinners of Laurinburg, and member of the Richmond and Anson County Historical Societies.