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10 Jul 2015

Ariana Tauroa was diagnosed with early onset osteoarthritis in her hip at just 33 years old and now, four years later, she finally feels like she’s got her life back on track.

Rare to develop at such a young age, Ariana’s osteoarthritis was inherited from her father who was diagnosed at 40 years old. Now in his late 60s, he has had two hip replacements. With two older siblings who have not been affected, Ariana drew the short straw.

After four years of denial, medication and constant pain, Ariana is now feeling positive about the healthy lifestyle she’s recently adopted after she was brave enough to seek help from Sport Waikato who referred her to UniRec’s MediFit program.

Meeting Kristina Jessup, the in-house exercise physiologist who has prescribed an individualised exercise programme, has brought Ariana incredible comfort in being able to exercise safely – something she could only dream about after her diagnosis and has been pivotal in getting life back on track. 

“I’ve grown up in a sporty family and used to lead a really active lifestyle; playing netball, volleyball, doing body attack classes, walking two hours every day and completing a half marathon. After being diagnosed I was angry and depressed.

“My whole lifestyle changed. I had a sense of failure which affected my social life because my friends are all quite sporty. I had to accept I could no longer walk every day, my options were limited to swimming as I had no cartilage on the right side,” Ariana says.

The turning point was in December last year when Ariana flew to Australia to visit her sister, “something just clicked and I stopped feeling angry, instead I became driven to do something about how I was feeling.”

Returning home, visiting Sport Waikato and meeting UniRec’s exercise physiologist Kristina Jessup, Ariana says she hasn’t looked back since.

“I’m here every day and work independently with my programme and I’m looking forward to joining the MediFit group classes soon.

“It’s given me a whole new lease on life. I can’t do everything I would normally do at the gym but to be active is enough. I’m not sad every day,” Ariana says.

Getting the heart rate up, gaining flexibility, strength and losing more than 5kgs over the past three months has meant Ariana has had a confidence boost and a happier outlook on life. This has not gone unnoticed by her 11 year old son Kane who says he’s happy she’s happy.

Ariana says she is thankful to Kristina and the UniRec’s MediFit programme.

“I’m so grateful I’m on it. I feel so much better when I come here, physically and mentally. I have a clear head when I walk out the door. It’s been hugely motivating in other areas of my life too. I have a new found passion for cooking, which I do with my son,” Ariana says.

Currently on the waiting list for surgery at Waikato Hospital, Ariana has been told it will be approximately three years before she’ll be able to have her hip replaced, because even though she is in her 30s, there is no fast-tracking the procedure.

Click here for more information on UniRec’s MediFit programme


News Stories July2