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chapelhillmagazine.com

May/June 2019

The pain it produces can be constant and even debilitating. And the supersized stadiums that now host NCAA Final Fours – and their supersized staircases, Lennie says – are not built for those managing OA. “To be honest with you, when you get into one of these real big gyms, superdomes or whatever, if you have to go to the restroom, that’s a lot of stairs,” Lennie says. “At [the 2016 Final Four in] Houston, we were in the second row. We had great seats! But you turn around to go up, and you didn’t see the exit.” Lennie’s wife, Dianne Rosenbluth, also has OA in her hips and knees, so it was a serendipitous encounter in 2016 when the couple met Leigh Callahan, the associate director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, at a basketball-related breakfast hosted by Roy Williams. Leigh asked Lennie and Dianne if they would consider being co-chairs of the center’s Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, the center’s arm for public outreach and education. Both Lennie and Dianne spent full careers as teachers, so the offer to help educate the public on the center’s work felt like a perfect fit. “We talk about when you get older, if you have bad knees, you should try to do whatever you can do,” Lennie says. “Don’t just sit at home – get up and walk, and don’t let it stop you from doing things you used to do.” OA affects almost 30 million adults, most older than 60, and as baby boomers age and obesity rates climb across all populations, that number is expected to surge. By far the most effective treatment, for both prevention and relief, is exercise, which the Alliance promotes through two programs: StandUp2OA and Walk With Ease. StandUp2OA promotes advocacy and awareness, encouraging weight management and physical activity. Walk With Ease is a walking initiative designed for people who have arthritis and are not getting the recommended amount of exercise. The program includes online tracking tools for taking low-impact walks and help finding local walking groups. After two hip replacements and walking on what she calls “half a knee,” Dianne says her OA hits hardest when she wakes up. “It hurts like the devil first thing in the morning,” she says. But she’s learned a trick to make sure pain doesn’t derail her day before it starts. “I put my clothes [out] the night before,” she says. “When you get up, they are looking at you, saying, ‘You need to get yourself up and out.’” After she’s up, Dianne says, she walks their dog, Luke, 1½ miles. She’s also joined UNC’s Walk With a Doc at the UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont, a program where a group of walkers can stroll with a physician over a 1-mile course, asking questions about arthritis and health. “People talk to one another, and it goes in no time,” Dianne says. “One morning I found myself walking with a woman I didn’t even know, and we did [the course] again because we enjoyed it!” And Lennie and Dianne still make regular dates to Chapel Hill landmarks.

Profile for Shannon Media

Chapel Hilll Magazine May/June 2019  

THE WOMEN’S ISSUE

Chapel Hilll Magazine May/June 2019  

THE WOMEN’S ISSUE