Chronic fatigue and pain quickly diminished his ability to complete even simple tasks, leaving him unable to stand for any length of time or drive long distances.
The 47-year-old explained: “If I went for a walk, the fatigue would hit first and then the pain, especially in my hips and knees. I stopped going out because I’d be exhausted by the time I got to the pub. I just didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I was lucky work allowed me to do a two and a half day week, but I had no quality of life.”
That was three years ago, and Quentin’s grim situation continued until he enrolled in an Arthritis Ireland self-management course earlier this year.
Learning how to manage his condition triggered a shift in attitude, as he recalled: “Going into the course I hadn’t had one positive thought for three years. I used to run competitively so my idea of being fit and healthy was running long distances. The thought of a three-minute walk was a waste of time, but the course changed my mindset. Instead of focussing on not being able to run five miles, I started concentrating on being able to do a five-minute walk. I now make a weekly action plan and completing it gives me a great feeling of achievement. I also switched to an automatic car which makes driving easier. Previously I would have seen this as giving in to fibromyalgia. Now I see it as something that can help me function normally.”
“For the last Ireland rugby match I met up with a friend to watch it in the pub”, he said.
“Previously, I’d just not turn up because it was easier than having to explain myself if I was sore and needed to go home early. I’ve stopped avoiding exercise and when I can manage to walk for an hour a day I’ll plan a holiday, something I haven’t done in three years.”
Learning new ways of managing his condition has also given Quentin a huge confidence boost.
He insisted: “I’m a changed man. I’m happy now that I’ll be able to stay in work and I feel so much more positive.”
Arthritis Ireland’s autumn round of life-changing self-management courses gets underway in September. Click here to find one close to you.