Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease. Although diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the age of 24, Joshuanette’s effervescent, optimistic personality does allow her to wallow in self-pity. Every day, she continues to live her best life in whatever way her disease allows her to, on that day.
When she first received her diagnosis, two years ago, Joshuanette did not fully understand the seriousness of the disease, and continued her life as usual. She did not do the required follow-ups with her doctor, no therapy or exercises, and her eating habits did not change. Now that the disease is taking a toll, affecting the way she operates, she is forced to do what was initially recommended. She is a Principles of Accounting teacher at Antigua’s All Saints Secondary School and a supervisor at one of Antigua restaurants. Mid-April 2019, she fell while on duty at the restaurant and was placed on two weeks leave. As her knees continued affecting her daily operations, she visited several doctors on the island and in October 2019, travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to visit the Peachtree Orthopedic Center. Upon her return to Antigua and Barbuda, for a while she adjusted certain aspects of her life, she once took for granted, but once again in December 2019, Joshuanette’s health played second fiddle, was placed on the back burner and therapy was no longer done. A fall in April 2020, however, finally changed her outlook on this disease she took way too lightly.
According to Mayo Clinic, Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. It is a degenerative disease, characterized by chronic joint pain and stiffness which can become so severe at times that daily tasks become difficult to accomplish. Two years after her diagnosis, 26-year-old Joshuanette’s legs are now constantly swollen, she no longer moves swiftly and walks with a painful limp; can only go sideways down the stairs and lives with the knowledge that there may come a time when she can no longer use her legs and a walker or wheelchair will be her mobility aid. She is fearful that her position at her second job as a restaurant supervisor, may come to an end in the near future as her knees been to fail her. She has been with the establishment for four years working 8 and sometimes 12-hour shifts but her knees may no longer allow her to continue.
In spite of it all, Joshuanette remains in high spirits. “I have my good days and my sad days,” she said, but no one will ever know which is her sad day as her buoyant demeanor always belie her pain and discomfort. As the effectiveness of her knees begin to fade, her outlook on life has shifted. She remembers her pharmacist saying to her, “you are taking this disease exceptionally light now, but someday you may not be able to walk. This disease has no cure, and it only gets worse.” Having always made light of her disease, thinking, “I am young so I’ve got time on my side,” her knees have given her a reality check and since her fall in April, working on a healthier version of herself is her focus. She is also on a path to “do the most,” she says, and if she ever gets to the stage where her mobility is lost, she wants to be able to relive her life via the content she would have created. This content is now being memorialized on an-going basis in what she calls, “Joshuanette’s World,” her YouTube Vlog.
“I live on one of the world’s most beautiful islands – Antigua and Barbuda. It is known for sun, sea and sand, an island surrounded by 365 beaches,” she said. Her doctor recommended physical therapy, incorporating exercises on the beach and even bike riding. Her Vlog, “Joshuanette’s World,” documents her trips to the beach for physical therapy – she intends to visit all of the 365 beaches on the island! The Vlog highlights places she venture on her walks as part of her physical therapy. She will be visiting historical sites and other interesting places, one day at a time to explore as best she can, document and share it with the world.
Joshuanette wants to publicly share her journey to let people know, especially those on her island, that many others are living with Osteoarthritis and there is no need to be ashamed. People have many misconceptions about disabilities and she sees herself as an educator in this regard. As a teacher, young eyes and ears are entrusted to her, and frequent opportunities arise where she can talk about disabilities with her students.
The first Video goes live on Joshuanette’s World Wednesday October 28th, 2020. This date is significant as it marks one year since her doctor’s visit in Atlanta. As a year has passed and her life is changing, she believes that sharing her story will ensure other know they are not alone.
Joshuanette has appeared on the breakfast morning TV show, Good Morning Antigua Barbuda and several radio broadcasts, where she spoke about her Vlog, her T-shirt line and a Walk for a Cure for arthritis. Her t-shirt line and walk are all geared towards assisting in finding a cure for arthritis. She gives thanks every day that despite her disability, she is still able to live a fulfilling life and hopes that her story will inspire others.