Wendy developed initial symptoms of arthritis at the age of six. It took doctors a few months to diagnose her symptoms and by the time they confirmed her diagnosis, Wendy couldn’t walk and required help with all aspects of her life.
“I had a fairly traumatic childhood dealing with the disease… I think of my children and their friends. Their after school activities consist of playing sport, learning to swim, seeing friends and watching TV. My afternoons consisted of attending appointments – physiotherapy, occupations therapy, hydrotherapy, splinting clinics, outpatient rheumatology appointments.”
“At the times when the disease was uncontrollable I was hospitalised for long periods of time. I spent months and months of my childhood living in a shared ward and attending hospital school.”
“As the years progressed and my disease showed no signs of abating, my parents were told that I would end up in a wheelchair, that I would never be able to work, and that I would live off a government pension.”
At the age of 15, Wendy discovered there was a high chance her medication would leave her infertile and told by her doctors that her dreams of becoming a doctor were too ambitious due to the limitations caused by her debilitating disease.
Today, at the age of 46, Wendy has a degree in speech pathology and a post graduate diploma in business. She currently works as a speech pathologist specialising in the treatment of adolescents and adults with acquired neurogenic communication and swallowing disorders. Wendy is married with two children and is Consumer Director on the Arthritis Australia Board.