Linda Allen and Tim O'Sullivan launching the results of the RA NarRAtive initiative- a survey of people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Ireland

BEING diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a life-changing experience, but one Lucan woman has strived to channel her diagnosis in a positive direction.
Finnstown Priory resident Linda Allen was diagnosed with RA in 2006 when she was just 34 years old.
She told The Gazette that the diagnosis made her re-evaluate her life and that, in spite of the difficulties she faces, she has made positive changes in her life.
She said: “I was a workaholic and it kind of made me look at my life and what’s important. I did really change and have evolved.”
RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints.
This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints.
There are around 40,000 people living with RA in Ireland.
Arthritis Ireland recently launched their RA NaRAtive – the first ever survey of people living with RA in Ireland.
The survey found that the vast majority of those living with RA would like to reduce their pain.
This can be done with medication, but exercise is also a big factor in managing the condition.
Linda said that exercise and a proper diet are vital to managing the condition. “I had been exercising when I was younger, then got in to the job and studying, so the diet went out the window and exercise went out the window,” she said.
Linda did courses with Arthritis Ireland to learn how to manage her pain and eventually trained as a yoga instructor. Now she’s giving back by teaching yoga to other RA sufferers.
She said that it has been hugely rewarding to be able to help fellow sufferers who come to her classes. “It’s been great and the difference in them [her yoga students], I have to say it was really helping them.”
Her Linda’s yoga classes for people suffering with RA will resume in the Ballyfermot Community Centre from September. Anyone wishing to attend can email Linda at lindaallen424@gmail.com.