Michele and her husband David, a Watch Commander for Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service visited our centre in Penrith, Cumbria after admitting they had no quality of life.

For Northern Ireland couple Michele and David, day to day life had become a battle. Michele, who suffers from fibromyalgia, arthritis and depression, had been struggling to do her daily work, while her husband David was struggling to walk following a knee replacement that had come about following the rapid on set of arthritis and a torn cartilage. The pair had reached a point where they needed help to move on in their lives, so they turned to The Fire Fighters Charity for support.

David explained; “I had no day-to-day life, I couldn’t walk. Everything I enjoyed doing I had to give up, I couldn’t walk my dogs, I couldn’t play golf, I couldn’t even run or do the basics. If I was to kneel down it was a struggle to get back up again.

“We had no family life because when I would come home from work I was in bed. I would get up, go to work come home totally exhausted, go to bed and that was it.”

Michele also admitted that, with both of them being ill, it had started to take its toll on family life; “I had no quality of life at all,” she admitted. “I was just going to work, coming back and spending the day in bed and it was annoying my children as well, you know [they would say] ‘oh is nobody ever going to get out of bed in this house?’

However, having reached out for help and applied for rehabilitation support, the pair attended our rehabilitation programme at Jubilee House and catching up with them mid-way through their stay, they both wished they had accessed the services sooner as the benefits are plain to see.

“I am finding that my knee’s getting better,” explained David. “I had been walking so out of balance and so out of shape. My whole gate has changed so all the rest of my body is now re-adapting and they are fixing the adaptions for me.”

Michele added; “If you come across another problem while you are here they will still address it for you even though you might have come with something else. My shoulder sort of went at the start of the week as I was doing my exercises too quickly, so they adapted them for me. No matter what, people should never be afraid to say to them [the clinical team], look I have a twinge here that I have just noticed because they are just there, and they are on the ball.”

Michele has also found the programme structure particularly helpful when dealing with her illness.

“Here, they structure your day for you, which with my illness I find really helpful. I suffer from depression as well and when you have fibromyalgia you get bouts where you get really exhausted. I was staying in my bed all day, I just didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to do anything but now, they have given me an exercise regime, all the strength and exercises for my back. I can take all of that home and do those exercises in the house.

“I am actually out walking now which is great so it’s going to be fantastic for my mental health as well. They say that if your mental health is good, your fibromyalgia should ease off and be a lot better.

“And because we are here together and we have been exercising together there is a lot we are planning to do together when we are back home. It will give us a better quality of life, we will be able to walk the dogs together, exercise together. My exercises are easily adapted at home so they have set us up and it’s up to us now to use what they have given us and I am definitely going to use it.”