man with backpack standing at Yosemite

3 Ways to Cope When Your Health Becomes a Barrier to Your Favorite Hobby


I’m only a stone’s throw away from the operating room to have my right ankle fused because of chronic osteoarthritis. I’m so close, I can see my surgeon’s face as he waits for me inside. He’s wrapped up in his scrubs along with the anesthesiologist and nurses.

Whether the ankle fusion happens next year or three years from now, that’s unknown. The only thing that is known is that it’s going to happen.

Since the when is unknown, I feel a greater sense of urgency to cross off a few items from my bucket list while my ankle is still healthy enough. One of those items is taking my dream hiking trip on the High Sierra Trail, which I’m scheduled to leave for later this week.

After this hike is over, I’ll still take short weekend trips, but those will only require a little walking, nothing like a 70-mile, 10-day hike through the Sierras. This is it. This is the one.

While visiting my doctor to discuss what this hike would mean for the health of my ankle, we both felt that it is not the best idea. We talked about the chances of feeling discomfort during and especially after the hike as well as damaging the ankle even more. While I was able to get a cortisone shot to help with any discomfort during the hike, it’s only temporary. What’ll happen after is more of the unknown.

I’ve been fortunate enough to remain pretty active for a long time. But now my osteoarthritis is dictating what I can and cannot do physically. When trying to manage chronic OA at the age of 38, it’s important that I know my limits and have realistic goals for my activity levels. I’ve finally come to the acceptance that it’s time to move on from hiking and find another activity to pursue.

When I return from my hike in mid-September, it’ll be time to find a new hobby. But I’ll be confident in my approach to find that hobby because of the way I’ve approached previous barriers created by my osteoarthritis. Below are three ways I’ve been able to approach those barriers:

1. Accept reality: Knowing that it’s time to move on helps make taking that first step that much easier in looking for something else.

2. Be proactive: For years I’ve been working hard to do what I can to remain healthy and be out ahead of my osteoarthritis limitations. I’ll be able to draw on that experience to help find out what’s next.

3. Keep an open mind: I don’t know what the experience will be like as I search for something else. But being open to new experiences will allow me to find the best fit for the next stage in managing my osteoarthritis.

There are a lot of unknowns about what’ll happen once the final hike is over, the health of my ankle being only one of them. But I’m not only looking forward to the taking this amazing trip, but for the adventure that will come after it as well.

Lead photo courtesy of Thinkstock Images

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Arthritis

two women shaking hands

Why I Sometimes Can’t Shake Hands

The handshake has been around for a very, very long time. And it’s the customary thing to do when you meet people for the first time. The problem is, sometimes I can’t shake hands. On days that my arthritis is acting up, you’ll notice my hands aren’t really doing anything. You won’t find me reading a book [...]
Teacher pointing to raised hands in classroom

13 Tips for Going Back to School With Juvenile Arthritis

Heading back to school with juvenile arthritis (JA) can be tricky on your joints. Follow this list from elementary to high school to make the most out of your school year! 1. Apply for a government disability code (IPP). This recognizes that you have a physical disability and allows you to use accommodations in the classroom. 2. Ask your physiotherapist to write a [...]
students in class

12 Tips for Students With Arthritis Entering Your First Year in College

Your first year of college is only a month away! Don’t let arthritis hold you back from the degree you deserve. Follow these 12 tips to finish your school year with straight A’s! 1. Register with your college’s accommodation center. Benefits include extra time and breaks during exams. 2. Apply for physical disability scholarships, loans and grants for scribes and arthritis-friendly equipment like [...]
Holding hands with a person with arthritis.

What My Father Taught Me About the Value of Caregivers

Eight years ago, my father passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. As I sat by his bedside, my thoughts turned to all those moments in my life when he was my caregiver. More than just his role as the dutiful parent, he became my main caregiver when I developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at [...]