Former midwife from Newcastle to receive £1,500 per month from Seven Families project
Melanie Knights is 40 years old and lives in Newcastle with her three children, husband, and spaniel dog called Oscar. Until illness struck Melanie had previously worked as a midwife until 2014, but due to prolonged absence from work, primarily caused by arthritis she lost her job.
Melanie explained how her symptoms started: “I got up one day and the pain was so unbearable I literally couldn’t move. I had scans, x-rays and various tests before they eventually diagnosed degenerative disc disease. I’ve had a hip replacement since and have also been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a disorder of the connective tissue affecting the movement of my joints” said Melanie.
Melanie continued: “I have a 2.8cm leg difference making it hard for me to walk which results in me getting intense back pain. My joints also move around which makes me unstable on my feet and sometimes I’m embarrassed to go out. I thought things like this only happened to older people”.
Arthritis Research UK figures show about 8.75m people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis while musculoskeletal conditions account for 42% of reported workplace sickness. Melanie explained how her illness has impacted on her employment and daily life: “I worked for the NHS as a midwife until 2013 but since losing my job last year I’ve lost my independence, my social life, my financial stability and life is unrecognisable from what it was a few years ago. I have inflammatory arthritis as well as osteoarthritis and its feels like I’ve had a million hospital appointments.”
“There has been a significant impact on my family too and the support from my husband Jason and the family has been very important. He is now the main breadwinner and I need a wheelchair to walk distances and often use crutches.”
The Knights family will receive £1,500 per month from Seven Families project, as well as advice to help improve her home life, aid rehabilitation and if possible support a return to work.
“The Seven Families project will help with day-to-day life and the counselling and rehabilitation may prove to be just as important as the money.”