Yesterday I spent a couple of hours collecting for Arthritis New Zealand. It was far more tiring, but also far more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be.
So many people stopped and told me their stories. People of all ages either had a form of arthritis themselves, or had loved ones who did. They all gave so generously, donating handfuls of coins and a huge number of people gave $5, $10 or even $20 dollar notes. Many people were apologetic over not being able to give more, but every little bit makes a difference. By the time I dropped the bucket off at the bank, it was almost too heavy for me to carry.
One of the stories that really stuck with me was a young mother who showed me her very painful-looking wrist, and said that she was in the process of getting a diagnosis of Scleroderma. She said that Arthritis New Zealand had been incredibly helpful to her, which was great to hear.
Many other people who were not affected by arthritis themselves, stopped and asked me my story. Though many still asked what I’d done to my leg, others realised straight away my reason for having Molly-Stick and for collecting for Arthritis New Zealand. It was interesting to note that everyone had heard of lupus (possibly from watching House!) but no-one had ever come across Psoriatic Arthritis before. One man asked me how they treat arthritis in young people, and when I said chemotherapy he said “But that’s only for lupus, not for other types, isn’t it?” so I think it turned into quite an awareness raising exercise as well.
I ran into a few people I know, and one woman gave me a coin because she thought she’d recognised me as Mike’s daughter (I did tell her he’s not my dad.) I did have to laugh, as a couple of people I know avoided eye contact and quickly walked away (it’s okay, I wouldn’t have guilt tripped you!)
My tremors and joints were not a huge fan of the standing still for so long, so I did get rather shaky and probably looked like I was doing the needs-to-pee dance, as I shifted around trying to keep my joints from locking up. The bucket did end up on the floor at one point, as my hands decided they weren’t having any more of it, but some lovely ladies helped me out picking it up and reclaiming the coins that had made a break for freedom. Another very nice guy offered me an energy drink, to keep me going, however I decided that would probably not be the best idea seeing as I was already shaking!
As I said, the day was quite tiring. I was supposed to be collecting from 1pm-2pm but it wasn’t until about 2.30pm that I realised the time. As there was no-one available to collect after me, I decided to stay until 3pm as there were still many people donating. In fact, it became rather hard to leave as people were still coming up to me with coins as I was packing up to leave. I had to go into town to get a blood test straight after, then managed to fall asleep sitting upright in a café!
Thank you so much to everyone who donated, or came up and talked to me. Thank you too, to all the staff at New World Thorndon and Arthritis New Zealand who did such as great job of organising all of the collectors.
Little Miss Autoimmune