Visiting Wimbledon with Rheumatoid Arthritis

My sister and I decided to visit Wimbledon at the last minute. The prospect of a long queue combined with baking hot sun, chronic fatigue and pain didn’t appeal. So we arrived about 4.40pm and luckily the queue moved much faster than expected. Soon after 5pm we were in! Wimbledon doesn’t give reduced entry fees for people with disabilities unless they are wheelchair users. I did show my Freedom Pass and explained that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoporosis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, but that is their policy. I wasn’t in the mood to explain how Rheumatoid Arthritis/Disease affects my mobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome makes my limbs wobbly and pop, making it hard to stand for long periods of time. We were just relieved not to spend ages queuing.

We managed to find a court in the shade (as I’m on anti-TNF medication – Enbrel – I’ve been told to avoid the sun as much as possible) and caught the end of a Girls’ Doubles match. We saw Priscilla Hon and Jil Belen Teichmann win confidently, defeating Anna Bondar and Jelena Ostapenko. It was thrilling and amazing to be sitting so close to the tennis (a few rows back). Then we joined another court to see Andrew Castle and Mikael Pernfors in an entertaining Senior Invitation Doubles match where they beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd. Luckily we had seats for the whole match. I started to get quite tired at this stage but the excitement of being at Wimbledon kept me going.

Finally, we found our way to the famous ‘Henman Hill’, also called ‘Murray Mound’, and sat down on the grass. It was uncomfortable because thanks to muscle wastage my bones are not supported as well as they used to be. However, I was distracted by the great atmosphere and tennis on the giant screen. My sister had to give me a hand getting up as stiffness is a real problem. When we left, lots of people were still hanging around the courts but I’d rather enjoy several hours of high quality tennis than totally exhaust myself and not have the energy to do anything the next day.

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