NI rheumatologist and chronic pain sufferer Adrian Pendleton cycling 672 miles for charity fundraiser
A consultant rheumatologist from Belfast, who himself suffers from chronic pain, is currently undertaking a huge cycling challenge for the charity Versus Arthritis, to support people living in pain every single day.
“I have personal insight into chronic pain now,” says Adrian Pendleton, a consultant rheumatologist at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust:
“Experiencing the sleepless nights and the dark place you can reach being in pain has made me look at what people with arthritis – my patients – go through with an extra level of understanding. There will be people in a much worse way than I am, but my insight into their pain has made me want to raise money for more holistic arthritis support, provided by Versus Arthritis.”
Adrian, 51, lives with his wife in Belfast and has treated people with arthritis for 30 years. He has been living with chronic shoulder pain since February 2020 after he injured his shoulder in a freak skiing accident.
Father-of-five Adrian said: “It took six months to get back to lying down and moving my arm. I was sitting upright in bed, closing my eyes for five minutes then waking up and not sleeping at all. This challenge isn’t about me, though. It’s for the people who live in much worse pain every day, like my patients.”
For over 18 million people in the UK with chronic pain – of which arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are one of the biggest causes – pain is their reality. Chronic pain like arthritis intrudes on everyday life, affecting a person’s ability to work, care for a family, move freely and live independently.
“I now think more about these wider effects of chronic pain during consultations,” says Adrian, “and I’m more aware that medication is not the be all and end all. People are still left with chronic disability, issues around sleep, unemployment, financial difficulties, and so on. But trying to cover these issues in a 15-minute consultation is a bit like opening Pandora’s Box and then shutting it again.
“I think Versus Arthritis has done a lot of good work in these areas. For example, the charity runs an exercise programme called Let’s Move with Leon which is designed to help people with arthritis improve their fitness and keep moving. The charity also has an Online Community where people share experiences and support one another. That sense of togetherness is very important, because a lot of people with arthritis stay silent about their condition and feel that their pain is dismissed.”
Adrian set off on July 2 to cycle from Mizen Head, the southernmost point of mainland Ireland, to Malin Head, the most northerly point.
He said, “I’ll be doing about 60 miles a day, it’s a big challenge. I’m cycling via the Wild Atlantic Way and the total climb on the route will equal the height of Mount Everest. I’m looking forward to it but I’m aware that I’m fortunate to be well enough to do this.”
If you need to talk to someone about your arthritis symptoms, or would like to find out about support, contact Versus Arthritis. Visit www.versusarthritis.org or tel 0800 520 0520
*To support Adrian’s fundraiser visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adrian-pendleton-cycle.