Information

Distraction is considered to be one of the best techniques for coping with pain

Date Posted: 07.08.2012

Maeve Binchy embraced life while coping with arthritis and heart disease, writes SYLVIA THOMPSON

AS LIBRARIES and bookshops throughout Ireland fed the huge demand for Maeve Binchy novels since her death last week, there were many sufferers of arthritis and heart disease who held special memories of her valiant and generous support of organisations such as Arthritis Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation.

John Church, chief executive of Arthritis Ireland, said she was a great advocate for the organisation. “She suffered with osteoarthritis for a long time and she personified the message we are trying to promote – which is to live well with arthritis because you’ve got it for life,” he said.

“She had a fantastic approach and outlook. Arthritis is not the most interesting subject, yet when she did radio interviews or when she wrote or spoke about it, she always made it light-hearted and fun,” said Mr Church.

Distraction is considered to be one of the best techniques for coping with pain and Maeve Binchy certainly used this technique to help herself and others. “Given her weight, I can only imagine that she had a lot of physical pain from the condition, but she took the Irish stoic approach and put up with it and had great happiness in her life,” he said.

Following a hip-replacement operation more than 12 years ago, Binchy wrote Aches Pains (Poolbeg, 1999), a humorous account of coping with illness. The popular paperback was illustrated by her friend Wendy Shea, who had also undergone a hip-replacement operation. The author royalties were donated to Arthritis Ireland.

In the introductory remarks of Aches Pains, Binchy described the book as a survival manual. “We wanted to pass on the advice that the cheerful survive somehow better and help themselves as well as everyone else along the way,” she wrote.

Binchy also suffered from heart failure and willingly lent her support to the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) on numerous occasions. Michael O’Shea, chief executive of the IHF, said the organisation enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with the author. “She was truly inspirational. No one could tell a story quite like Maeve and in 2010, she captured the audience when she spoke openly of her own heart failure experience as part of our Go Red for Women campaign,” he said.

The 2010 IHF awareness campaign alerted women to the fact that heart disease was not just a men’s disease. Dr Angie Brown, IHF’s medical director, spoke alongside Binchy at the public talk in the Royal College of Physicians.

“Despite her pain and discomfort, she came along and spoke about how scary it was to be a patient, how helpful it was to discuss her experiences with the nurses and how accepting support makes it so much easier.”

Remembering the event, Mr O’Shea added: “Only Maeve could speak of illness in such a warm and funny way to leave every face smiling. Everyone in that room felt uplifted, motivated and [felt] like they could conquer anything.

“Today, we remember Maeve for her joyous nature, embracing heart and fighting spirit.”

In ‘The Irish Times’, in January 2009, Arthritis Ireland launched a new helpline with the backing of arthritis sufferer Maeve Binchy. She wrote about the things you should never say to someone with the condition.

1 “Cheer up, nobody ever died of arthritis.” This statement is, oddly, not cheering at all. We have dark, broody feelings that if people did die of arthritis, there might have been huge, well-funded research projects over the last few decades, which could have come up with a cure.

2 “It’s just a sign of old age, it will come to us all.” No, it’s not a sign of old age. Even toddlers can get arthritis and some old people never get a twinge of it. The very worst phrase you can use is “Haven’t you had a good innings?”

3 Remember that marvellous radio series about disabilities called Does He Take Sugar? The message of that title means you should never ask, in the hearing of someone with arthritis: “Do you think she’ll be able to manage the stairs?” Arthritis can make us many things but it certainly doesn’t make us deaf.

4 Avoid mentioning magic cures, as anyone with arthritis will already have heard of vinegars, honey, mussels, berry teas, and so on. We will probably have tried them too. It is dispiriting to be told of someone else who was once bent double but now climbs mountains before breakfast.

5 Don’t ever say: “The walking stick is very ageing – I wouldn’t use it if I were you.” Did you think we thought of the stick as a fashion accessory? Of course we know it’s hardly rejuvenating to be seen bent over a stick, but when the alternative is a knee or a hip that could let us down, or pitch us into the traffic, then the stick is a great help. It is sad when people give us the impression that it makes us look 100 years old. At least we are getting out there, and that should be praised or encouraged.

6 Never let the phrase “a touch of arthritis” pass your lips. You don’t say someone has a touch of asthma. It is denying sympathy and concern for people who have a painful and ever-present condition to minimise it to just “a touch”.

7 Don’t suggest a healthy walk to blow away the cobwebs. People whose joints are unreliable don’t want to get further proof of this when they are halfway down the pier. Unless you are a physiotherapist, don’t impose exercise on others.

8 Don’t tell arthritis sufferers to go and live in a hot, dry climate like Arizona. We know it might be easier on the joints, but some of us are very happy here with family and friends, and we don’t want to be packed off like remittance men.

9 One time you shouldn’t stay silent is when your favourite restaurants, theatres or galleries are difficult to access for a friend with arthritis. Before you turn your back on them, be sure to tell the owners or proprietors exactly why you will not be making a booking. You can be polite and praising (“I hear such good things about your place”), but after the flattery should come the reason for regret (“Can I just confirm that there isn’t a lift and that the cloakrooms are up or down a flight of stairs?”). If enough people were to do this, it would not take long to improve facilities. If we don’t tell the offenders, how will they know there’s a problem?

10 Don’t ever say, sadly, how tragic it is that nothing has been done for poor arthritis sufferers. Plenty is being done. Just contact Arthritis Ireland, or phone its helpline (1890 252 846). Then you will have an idea of how much is happening and you can be a true and informed friend rather than a false and frightening one.
Source : Irish Times Health Supplement, August 7th 2012
 


Please choose a sector below

Cancer
  • Embarrassment and fear of wasting a doctor's time affect cancer survival rates read »
  • Cancer patients 'struggle' to meet costs read »
  • My mother died from breast cancer - should I now be tested to find out if I carry the gene? read »
  • Women: Cancer Symptoms You're Most Likely to Ignore read »
  • Women unaware of breast symptoms read »
  • The Good Gift Guide for Chemo Chums read »
  • Life After Cancer read »
Arthritis
  • Exercise and Arthritis read »
  • Caring for a Person with Arthritis read »
  • Self Management read »
  • Diet and Arthritis read »
  • Living with Arthritis read »
  • Distraction is considered to be one of the best techniques for coping with pain read »
Dementia
  • Million 'dementia friends' wanted for training read »
  • Popular anti-anxiety drug increases risk of dementia in elderly by 50pc read »
  • Women who look after their teeth and gums 'have lower risk of dementia read »
  • Get to Know the Symptons of Dementia read »
  • Lifestyle and home remedies for Dementia read »
  • Welcome to Dementiaville: read »
  • Louis Theroux on dementia: The capital of the forgetful read »
  • Panoroma : "Undercover : Elderly Care" read »
  • Basic Tips for Dementia Caregivers read »
  • What is Dementia? read »
  • Facts About Dementia read »
  • Diagnosing Dementia read »
  • Vascular Dementia read »
  • What to do if you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with Dementia read »
  • Treatment for Dementia read »
  • Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease read »
  • What to do if you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with Dementia read »
Case Studies
Alzheimer's
  • Loneliness can increase the risk of Alzheimer's in later life read »
  • Why is Alzheimer's disease linked to older age? read »
  • Sir Terry Pratchett: "I thought my Alzheimer's would be a lot worse than this by now" read »
  • Stress of Alzheimer's for families read »
  • Alzheimer's: When to stop driving read »
  • Alzheimer's: Understand and control wandering read »
  • Artificial butter flavouring ingredient 'behind key Alzheimer’s process' read »
  • A project with a holistic theme aims to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s read »
  • Strides in Alzheimer’s Research Presented at International Conference read »
  • Alzheimer's Disease Linked To Disrupted Sleep Patterns read »
  • New study maps Alzheimer's changes read »
  • Alzheimer's: How to help a caregiver read »
  • Vaccine hope for Alzheimer sufferers read »
  • Drama now on in Temple bar : How families are affected by Alzheimer’s read »
  • What is Alzheimer's disease ? read »
  • The Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease read »
  • The Alzheimer Society of Ireland read »
Stroke
  • Stroke victims recover use of weakened limbs by exercising unaffected limbs, research finds read »
  • Stroke victims too slow to call 999 read »
  • New movie - featuring older woman with a stroke read »
  • Eating tomatoes may stave off a stroke: research read »
  • Wife of Stroke Affected Husband Develops App for Rehab Speech Activities read »
  • National Stroke Week April 2012 read »
  • How can you reduce your risk of stroke? read »
  • How can you recognise the symptoms of a stroke? read »
  • What are the effects of a stroke? read »
  • What treatment is there for a stroke? read »
  • What is stroke rehabilitation? read »
  • Where can I go for more information on stroke? read »
  • What is a stroke? read »
  • What causes a stroke? read »
  • Preventing a stroke read »
  • Where can I get support after a stroke? read »
  • How do you recognise a stroke? read »
Parkinson's Disease
  • Saliva Gland Test for Parkinson's Disease? read »
  • Parkinson's Disease Research in 2012 - How Far We've Come and What Lies Ahead: read »
  • Shay Healy - How I cope with Parkinsons read »
  • Parkinson's Assocation of Ireland read »
  • Newly Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease read »
  • Signs & Symptoms of Parkinson's read »
  • What is Parkinsons ? read »
  • Living with Parkinsons read »
Children
  • Scientific breakthrough in study of the genetics of myopia read »
  • Family meals 'boost child fruit and vegetable intake' read »
  • 10-year-olds showing signs of heart disease read »
  • How do you know if you should keep your child off school ? read »
  • Wii games could help children overcome disabilities read »
  • Don't turn a blind eye to the dangers in your home read »
  • Twitter and Facebook 'harming children's development' read »
Multiple Sclerosis
Tracheostomies
Motor Neurone Disease
  • Motor neuron disease, and twins ! read »
  • Charity Take Me Out ! Wednesday April 18th, Dublin. Take part or come along ! read »
  • The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association read »
  • Can I still drive even though I have MND? read »
  • What are Stem Cells? read »
  • Can MND be reversed? read »
  • What's the Difference between MND and ALS? read »
  • What Causes MND? read »
  • Just Diagnosed with MND ? read »
Brain Injury Information
  • National Epilepsy Week 15th May 2012 read »
  • Services from Headway read »
  • Managing Stress after ABI read »
  • Challenging Behaviour following an Acquired Brain Injury read »
  • Attention and Concentration after an Acquired Brain Injury read »
  • Consequences of Acquired Brain Injury read »
  • What is an acquired brain injury? read »
Men's Health
  • Irish Men treating cars better than their bodies read »
  • Charity seeks hairy Irish males read »
  • Men's mental fitness gets a workout read »
  • MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE: KEVIN HUMPHREYS read »
  • Testicle self-check: How it’s done read »
Blog
  • Tax Relief on the Cost of Home Care - Latest from Revenue read »
  • HCCI issue statement in response to Irish Times Article read »
  • Calls for reform of home care read »
  • Tips for Keeping Warm in this Cold Weather read »
  • Goodbye Grangegorman read »
  • Diabetes: Is sitting the new smoking? read »
  • National Centre for the Protection of Older People's seminar on Financial Abuse read »
  • Gender-bending chemicals found in tin cans read »
  • Getting hip to beating pain read »
  • Chemicals in green tea and red wine may block the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease read »
  • Med diet may not protect the aging brain read »
  • St Valentine is also the patron saint of epilepsy. read »
  • Sopranos star reveals how he beat pain of depression read »
  • UK "Neighbours must help elderly more" read »
  • Time for a Spring clean – declutter your home and help Age Action read »
  • Poisoning risk from poorly fitted stoves read »
  • Homeopathy is 'rubbish', says chief medical officer read »
  • Protect your House from Cold and Floods read »
  • Prescription pitfalls: why do patients not always take their medicine? read »
  • Eating strawberries all year round could prevent heart attacks read »
  • Ease Your Irritable Bowel Symptoms read »
  • Flu season read »
  • January is Lung Cancer Awareness Month read »
  • Make your money stretch until payday read »
  • Note to My Patient read »
  • Older People with Sight Loss - Living at Home read »
  • Britain's first ever hand transplant read »
  • The Garden Bird Survey read »
  • Film review: Quartet read »
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol in January? read »
  • Is It Time to Find Elder Care For Your Aging Parent? read »
  • Why I did a good deed every day read »
  • Care in the Stone Age community revealed read »
  • Sternberg Active Life Award read »
  • Chicken soup really CAN fight a cold, say scientists read »
  • DIABETES DIET MAKING DISEASE-FIGHTING EATING EASIER read »
  • Tips for Entertaining Elderly or Frail Senior Guests in Your Home read »
  • Retirement age will increase read »
  • Don't Leave a Legacy; Live One read »
  • How to Stay Warm at Home Without a Heater read »
  • Budget 2013: Elderly hit with cuts to power and phone supports read »
  • Please stay for five more minutes read »
  • What's it like to grow up with a disabled sibling? read »
  • Self-tracking: the people turning their bodies into medical labs read »
  • Meningitis Symptoms in Adults read »
  • Fears over health and loneliness of elderly this winter read »
  • Pet owners more physically fit read »
  • The Seniors Alert Scheme - What You Need To Know read »
  • The change should be in how we perceive menopause read »
  • Is exercise better for your brain than crossword puzzles? read »
  • Free bus pass 'helps keep people healthy' read »
  • App for blind and visually impaired read »
  • A few easy steps to combat your stress read »
  • Are You a "Put Upon" ? read »
  • An Ageing Population read »
  • Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults read »
  • How to Prevent your First Fracture (Osteoporosis) read »
  • Migraine could be a pain in the neck read »
  • Japan's centenarian population reaches more than 50,000 read »
  • Easy to Chew Foods read »
  • A recipe to tackle malnutrition among the elderly read »
  • Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) read »
  • New blood test to spot breast cancer early read »
  • Never too old to get active read »
  • Gout cases double in a decade due to the affects of obesity read »
  • Ward off Winter Bugs Naturally read »
  • Is Your Home Ready for Winter ? read »
  • Is it getting harder to die in hospital ? read »
  • Cholesterol: Top 5 foods to lower your numbers read »
  • Marian Finucane speaks of the extraordinary home care her late daughter received read »
  • Healthy Habits for Children read »
  • Grannies on safari in Ireland read »
  • Free mouth cancer checks at 700 dental surgeries read »
  • Mind Moves read »
  • Give Beets a Chance read »
  • Give your body the NCT it deserves read »
  • US teen invents advanced cancer test using Google read »
  • Guide dogs for the mind to fight dementia read »
  • Dealing with Dementia read »
  • Paralympics Update : Ireland win gold and two bronze at Brands Hatch read »
  • Diabetes Ireland advises caution on 'diabetic' foods read »
  • Want to get out of hospital in record time ? Scoff yourself read »
  • Research Suggests that Regular Exercise Might Help You Live Longer read »
  • 67 year old joins TV3's Xpose fashion programme read »
  • Botox can treat problems from cerebral palsy to migraines read »
  • Irish Ladies Golf Union - District National Finals This Weekend read »
  • The Secrets of the Super Agers read »
  • How to Live to 100 - Nine Healthy Habits read »
  • Goodbye Olympics Hello Paralympics read »
  • The hardest choice: A time to care read »
  • 10 things you should never say to someone when they're sick read »
  • Share your Children read »
  • The art of healing - how art & photos can bring a touch of home read »
  • Why going to work on an egg is healthier than it used to be read »
  • Texting is now our most popular form of Communications read »
  • 'Come and live with me, Dad' read »
  • Ping Pong - never too old for gold read »
  • Nurses told to stop saying 'darling' to elderly patients because it shows 'a lack of respect' read »
  • "Mo Sco" Gridlock read »
  • Walking 'cuts breast cancer risk by 30%': read »
  • Irish Silver blogger short-listed for European IT award read »
  • Carers who provide the most intensive care often end up with health problems themselves read »
  • World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Conference - June 14th 2012 read »
  • National Carers Week June 13th -19th 2012 read »
  • Living wills Bill before Dail read »
  • With nursing home beds becoming scarce, it’s time to look at home care read »
  • Clue to Centenarians' Longevity: A Mediterranean Diet & Live at Home with your Family read »
  • Private Home Care at Bloom - Stand G17 in the Grand Pavilion read »
  • 100 years young and still going strong… thanks to her Nintendo! read »
  • 100 years young and still going strong… thanks to her Nintendo! read »
  • Well Elderly Group read »
  • Pilates: a fix for incontinence? read »
  • Sony Radio Academy Awards - Best Entertainment Programme goes to Golden Oldies read »
  • World Elder Abuse Day read »
  • 5 Regrets of Dying People read »
  • Urgently Seeking Carers Nationwide read »
  • Hand sanitiser kills virus on cruise ship read »
  • Visiting someone this year, why not bring some homemade soup and brown bread? read »
  • Revised grant amounts announced for Better Energy homes scheme read »
  • Grannies don't want a 'coffret' for Christmas read »
  • Eating fish just once a week could stave off Alzheimer's by stopping the brain from shrinking read »
  • VHI price increases 'will drive elderly out of market' read »
  • To All Our Carers read »
  • Prime Time Investigates Home Care read »
  • Stuck For Present Ideas read »
  • A Carers Story read »
  • Share A Golden Moment read »
  • What Can Your Carer Do For You read »