Richard Dorge loved refereeing high school basketball games in his spare time, but when his feet “stopped working” one day in 2015, running up and down the boards on the basketball court became impossible.
Richard remembers feeling frightened the day he received his diagnosis. Learned he was suffering from two forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), triggered terrifying memories of an uncle he grew up with who died of complications from RA. He recalled days when his uncle would scream in pain and times when he was “swollen up like a beach ball” due to side effects from the steroids he was taking. Richard felt angry and depressed about a future that looked grim. He was worried about ending up like his uncle.
The disease affected the mobility in Richard’s legs and also his arms. He struggled to accomplish simple activities like getting out of a chair. His knees stopped working and he was unable to use his arms because his shoulders couldn’t take the strain. In some of his darker moments, he asked himself, “What will the future hold? Will I continue to go down this road?”
Richard’s situation got worse before it got better. He was forced to take six weeks off work while doctors decided on a treatment plan, but in the end, the biologic drug Richard was prescribed proved to be effective. “It literally saved my life,” he says.
For now, his goal is remission - to reach the two-year mark without another acute episode of pain and inflammation. Luckily for Richard, he has good support from his wife “his sounding board” and other compassionate people around him who help him stay positive and hopeful. Richard has also found a way to give back. He is the Volunteer Site Coordinator for the Walk for Arthritis in Winnipeg which supports leading arthritis research and innovative solutions to improve the lives of people living with arthritis. He volunteers as a way to bring hope to others and to help a cause he feels passionate about. As Richard likes to tell people, “Arthritis can be lonely but it’s a disease, not a death sentence.”