It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for the last ten years or so. Seems I’ve inherited my mother’s and grandmother’s degenerative arthritis. My five foot, stoic Swedish grandmother always said, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. She kept on walking everywhere and never owned a car. She took two aspirin each day, a swig of Pepto Bismol, and lived to see her 102nd birthday. She bragged that she’d never been in a hospital except for her last few days.

My mother moved to Sarasota, Florida in her sixties and swam everyday. I don’t think she ever got out of her bathing suit. When I visited Florida all I got to see of her was a gray head sticking out of the water as she paddled her arthritis around. She would have lived forever like grandma if she hadn’t smoked. Point is, both women kept moving and became my role models for living with painful arthritis.

Unfortunately (for my poor arthritic bones) I chose two professions that kept me seated for over thirty years: a psychotherapy practice and writing! So, I was challenged in the “move it or lose it” department. In my fifties, and after a long day at the office, I began to notice how stiff and achy I was becoming. It was then I decided to walk on a treadmill each day while watching the morning news. A few years later I took up Pilates like a religion, and then water aerobics. I kept on moving so I could stay ahead of the pain. It worked—-for awhile.

I’ve retired from my private practice and found a wonderful place to exercise in a heated, salt water pool twice a week, however the dreaded pain finally caught up with me. In the last five years I’ve endured two knee replacements (at the same time, don’t ask), a shoulder replacement, and most recently received a new right hip. All through these operations (except when I was under anesthesia) I kept writing and working on a novel.

My daily mantra is, “ I will not let pain keep me from my goals” and yes, grandma—I promise, I will use it so I don’t lose it. Thanks for your inspiration.