Losing any function of one’s body creates a sense of loss and vulnerability, as Proust once said, ‘since the soul is the body and body is the soul, to lose a part of one’s body is to lose a part of one’s soul…’ (Proust 14). Losing one’s vulnerability, therefore, creates senses that most of us never want to experience or even see someone else, especially those we love, experience. To view someone you care about in pain every day, and not have the ability or the resources to create some sort of relief that would subdue the pain and suffering, or moreover, eliminate the pain, lives one feeling helpless and tortured. I have watched my grandmother live with arthritis for more than ten years now. At first, it was unbearable to watch her in pain, but with time, we started viewing it as a part of life. This paper is an interview with Dr. Canaan who is a specialist with arthritis. The interview will aim to understand more about arthritis and how individuals can cope with the condition.
Dr. Canaan is a doctor at the local hospital, and he mainly deals with problems concerning arthritis and other related conditions. I sought an interview with him because I saw the need to educate myself and others of the facts about this painful condition, and some of the ways that the affected individuals can deal with the condition. The doctor said that I could meet him for an interview at the hospital in the afternoon. When I arrived at the hospital, I was apprehensive mainly because I was not sure about the kind of person doctor Canaan was. However, once I got in the office, I got the impression that he was a kind, patient and humorous person, and I relaxed. His office was full of numerous awards, diplomas and degrees from recognized medical institutions, something that imposed on me the idea that I was in the right place for the interview.
I had prepared a set of questions most of which had to do with an explanation of what arthritis is, what causes it, treatment and management plans for the disease, and what current studies are saying about the condition.
The doctor explained to me that arthritis is some kind of inflammation that affects different joints in the body. The doctor added that there are more than hundred types of arthritis adding that, ‘I know that when most people hear of arthritis they only think of contorted fingers and pain, but there is more to this disease. There are the primary types of arthritis, and then there are those forms of arthritis that only result, as a result, of other diseases’ (Dr. Canaan). According to the doctor, the most common forms of arthritis he had come across in his career included the degenerative form of arthritis, which results from infection or trauma to the joint. Other kinds of common forms of arthritis according to research include psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of related autoimmune diseases (Chan, Felson, Yood & Walker 814- 20).
Though I was familiar with this fact, Canaan pointed out that one of the major symptoms of arthritis, and one of the major complaints he receives from patients is the uncontrollable joint pain. I had seen my grandmother writhe with pain because of her arthritis, so I was aware of this. According to the doctor, ‘…pain is usually constant, and, at many times, it is localized to the affected or injured joint’ (Dr. Canaan).The pain is, as a result, of the inflammation that occurs in or around the joint. It can also result from tearing of the joint, from disease and even from strains on the muscles resulting from forceful and sudden movements against painful, stiff joints.
According to recent studies, arthritis is the number one cause of disability in aged individuals, in the United States, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1261- 5). The doctor agreed with this indicating that he had seen patients whose joints and limbs were so disfigured by the condition such that they were completely limited from engaging in daily activities, like taking showers, walking and even feeding themselves. Other symptoms of arthritis were also realized during the interview like loss of flexibility, tenderness and weakness of muscles, weight loss, inability to walk or use hands and fever. According to the doctor, if one experiences one or more of these symptoms they should visit their doctors for a physical examination, or to diagnose the problem, ‘…which only a professional can do…’ (Dr. Canaan).
On the question of treatment and management of arthritis, the doctors pointed out that scientists have not found a cure for the most common forms of arthritis yet. However, he argued that there were some management plans that doctors use on different patients according to their arthritis. These management plans range from physical therapy to medication to lifestyle changes to orthopedic bracing to joint replacement surgery. A doctor can make use of these management plans individually or in combination with another to manage the pain of the patients. According to the doctor, these treatment plans have been increasingly useful in helping slow the rate of arthritis and in reducing pain. Though scientists have not come up with concrete answers concerning the treatment of arthritis (Chan, Felson, Yood & Walker 814- 20), the doctor argued that more and more scientists are struggling to come up with new treatment and management options, and that they will soon come with better answers.
The interview was extremely enlightening as I learned more about my grandmother’s condition and I got to understand the disease better. The doctor was extremely helpful in answering all of my questions, and I was able to realize that there are more than one forms of arthritis and that each one of these forms have a specific treatment and management plan that doctors use on patients to slow down their inflammation, and, therefore, the arthritis, as well as, to reduce the pain of the patients. I also realized that thousands of individuals are suffering from the condition and that millions of families are going through the same pain as ours. However, the doctor gave me hope by indicating that scientists were working extremely hard to come up with better treatment and management plans for patient like my grandmother.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation – United States, 2007–2009.’ MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 59. 39 (2010): 1261–5. Print.
Chan, K, Felson, D., Yood, R. & Walker, A. ‘The lag time between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.’ Arthritis and rheumatism 37.6 (1994): 814–820. Print.
Dr. Canaan. Interview with Doctor Canaan on arthritis, 2011.
Lehrer, Jonah. Proust was a Neuroscientist. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.print.