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Clare on top of the world despite arthritis

Clare Crabb enjoys the view during her trip to Australia
Clare can't remember a time in her life when she didn't have arthritis.

She was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was just two years old.

But that hasn't stopped her from completing a degree in textiles at the University of Wolverhampton, travelling around Australia and working at a hospital and a university in London.

Growing up

Clare said: "I was diagnosed just before I turned three. I didn't really have a chance to react to the diagnosis because I was so young. It's all I have ever known, I don't remember not having arthritis.'I didn't really have a chance to react to the diagnosis because I was so young'

"For the first 16 years it was on and off and I'd have flare-ups.

"I didn't know anyone else with arthritis when I was growing up. When I went for hydrotherapy, it was always only older people in the session.

"But I didn't personally see my arthritis as a weird thing because it's always been there. Someone who gets it late in childhood might find that quite difficult.

"One of the main things is to let young people with arthritis know that, while it's a bit different, they're not alone."


One of the main problems Clare experienced growing up was a lack of understanding that young people can have arthritis.

Clare said: "As a child, I didn't have a lot of movement. Some teachers were good because my mum went in and spoke with them. But some weren't so good.

"I struggled with PE and some teachers said: 'Come on, you're fine'."


Clare Crabb in SydneyAfter university, Clare decided to spread her wings and travelled Australia for a year.

"I was going to be in the outback for six months. I had to make sure I had enough medication so I could deal with any potential flare-ups before I could get to a doctor.

"The main consideration was researching where I was going to find out where the nearest medical facilities were and how I'd get help if I needed it.

"My arthritis wasn't too bad and I didn't have a flare-up when I was away, so I only took anti-inflammatories. The warm weather helped. I did cleaning jobs and some fruit picking."

Clare would encourage people looking to travel to be prepared and research restrictions in different countries. She said: "I'm on methotrexate now. If I went to Australia again, I'd have to be more prepared.

"When I went to New York, I needed a doctor's note to say I needed to carry my medication with me, because of the extra security measures."

Read more of Clare's tips for travelling

Talking to employers

Back in the UK, Clare unfortunately suffered a nasty flare-up in 2012. She'd recently moved house and her new doctor didn't know her history. It took six months to get appropriate treatment.

Flare-ups can understandably affect Clare's mood. She said: "When it was getting bad, it was making me depressed.'It forced me to talk about it at work. They were really supportive.'

"It forced me to talk about it at work. They were really supportive. They did anything they could to make it comfortable."

Talking about your condition with employers is something Clare recommends.

She said: "There have been jobs where I suffered in silence. Then as soon as I told my employers about the issues, they helped me, for example, with a leg rest, regular breaks and being able to get up and go for walks."

Happy ending

Clare works in London on the South Bank of the River Thames in a university.

This spring, Clare got married to Paul in a beautiful ceremony in Staffordshire where she grew up, and the happy newly-weds then enjoyed a fantastic honeymoon in Bali.

Clare Crabb on her travels


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