Tackling the arthritis devil

LIVING WITH ARTHRITIS: Edith Holm, of Goonellbah, with her book My Little Devil, which details how she has managed her condition for many years.
LIVING WITH ARTHRITIS: Edith Holm, of Goonellbah, with her book My Little Devil, which details how she has managed her condition for many years.

EDITH Holm celebrated her 90th birthday this week.

She's pretty amazed she's made it this far - especially since she has suffered from agonising arthritis since the age of 32.

Edith has written a book, My Little Devil, telling how she has managed to live with the disease, and reduce the effects it might have had on her life.

"The simple things I do all the time may sound silly to other people, but they're not really silly - they're a big help," she told The Echo.

Her idiosyncratic ways of dealing with arthritis with a minimum of medication include rubbing paw-paw ointment on her feet and lower legs before going to bed, wrapping the limbs in plastic bags and covering them with socks.

"My feet would always get swollen and so sore during the night," she said.

"Wrapping them like that seems to take all the acidic fluid out of them."

In the book, Edith also details other ways plastic bags came in handy.

"When my back was really bad, I'd heat a damp bath towel in the microwave, get it out with barbecue tongs and put it in a plastic bag - then I'd lie down with the bag under my back and the heat would be so soothing," she said.

Other important parts of Edith's daily routine include self-massage and gentle exercises which are all detailed in the book.

"The pain of arthritis can be so severe, I can understand why it might lead to someone thinking of committing suicide," she said.

"I would have been in a wheelchair by the time I was 50 if I hadn't found ways of getting on top of it."

When first struck with the painful condition, she was a young wife and mother of three, working hard to build up the family farm at Blue Knob. She went on to have eight more children. The book chronicles Edith's working life on the farm and beyond, battling the pain.

"I've always been on the go," she said.

"I had no option. The cows had to be milked, the family had to be fed and the children had to be cared for. Our home and livelihood depended on me keeping on."

Asked how she managed to keep going when times were really tough, Edith adds another ingredient to her mix of remedies - her faith in God.

"I pray every day for the strength to get me through," she said.

Edith recommends the book to anyone who has ever had arthritis or any other chronic health condition, even depression.

My Little Devil is on sale now for $12 at the Lismore Visitor Information Centre.

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