Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Orange Gloves

I decided a while back I would make Monday nights my blog posting day. It's worked pretty well, until tonight. I've just realised it's 9.30pm and I haven't even thought about a topic.

So I'm going to fall back on something that's been going around the New Zealand arthritis community this week. Having arthritis does not feel like wearing big orange gloves!

- For my non-New Zealand readers, this last week has been Arthritis New Zealand's appeal week. Arthritis New Zealand is a wonderful service. They've helped me so much with emotional and practical support. It's been really great over the past few years knowing that if I need help with anything, from advice on appropriate exercise programmes to getting subsidised taxi vouchers, I have someone I can call.

Unfortunately, the appeal adverts have not been so helpful.

They feature New Zealand celebrities trying to do everyday tasks while wearing big orange gloves. Everyone I've talked to agrees, arthritis does not feel like wearing big orange gloves.

For one thing, these ads have absolutely no mention of pain. Personally, I have almost full function of my hands, but that doesn't mean that they are not extremely painful. Yes, arthritis does sometimes make my hands fumbly. There are times when I can't do up zips or find using a knife and fork difficult but this is a minor irritation compared to the long list of other symptoms and difficulties that come with the disease. For me, things like, not being able to put my socks on myself, not being able to pick up things if I drop them, not being able to walk/get up and down from chairs un-aided would be more relevant. Then of course there is the pain and the things that go along with constantly being in pain. Lack of sleep, inability to concentrate, general exhaustion and floods of emotion.

Too many people already think that arthritis is just something you get in your hands. I do give the campaign credit for using younger celebrities. This at least hints at the fact that arthritis is not only a condition you get as you age.

I don't know if it's possible for a 30second ad to really explain what it is like to have arthritis. Even as I read over this post I'm thinking I haven't really captured it. For people who haven't experience long-term pain, it's probably quite difficult to imagine what it's like. I guess what I'd really like to see in an arthritis campaign is people with arthritis telling their stories. Maybe next year, Arthritis New Zealand can do some ads similar to the Like Minds ads (people with experience of mental illness telling their stories.) I know those ads have helped with people's understanding of mental illness. It's time for people's understanding of arthritis to change too.

Little Miss Autoimmune


  1. I tried to comment before, but not sure it worked! Anyway, I have now blogged on the same topic! Was planning to do so after Sarah's Facebook post the other day, but you just kicked my butt into gear. Excellent post! Have quoted and linked you a little bit.

  2. Very well said my dear! It would be really good to have personal stories in the ads next year. Hopefully they read your blog hehe :-)