Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder that greatly impacts the lives of patients. Nearly 27 million individuals in the United States have the condition, which occurs more often in women after the age of 50, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
When an individual has osteoarthritis, there is a breakdown of the cartilage in the affected joint, such as the hips or knees. Having osteoarthritis can affect an individual’s everyday activities.
The Arthritis Foundation noted that the loss of joint function that can occur due to osteoarthritis can reduce an individual’s quality of life. But many individuals wait on average 7 to 11 years before they undergo joint replacement surgery.
To raise awareness on the physical and emotional effects of osteoarthritis, DePuy Orthopaedics has teamed up with The New York Times bestselling author Ellyn Spragins to create HadIKnownThen.com.
The free booklet contains letters from patients to their younger selves, providing encouragement about getting joint replacement surgery.
EmpowHER talked to Ellyn about how these letters to your younger self are empowering and what she hopes the project will do for patients with osteoarthritis. EmpowHER also talked to Diane, a Manhattan-based nurse who had chronic osteoarthritis.
Why is writing a letter to your younger self so empowering?
Writing a letter to yourself really touches on a true, emotional journey around whatever that point of difficulty is that you’re facing. I’ve found that writing, as opposed to simply thinking about what you would tell your younger self, has a way of crystallizing your thoughts and the message you’d like to deliver if you could somehow send a letter back in time.
On that same token, it’s also empowering for a reader of the letter when they understand the message the letter writer is sending to his or her younger self.