• U.S.

Letters: Dec. 30, 2002

9 minute read

The Coming Epidemic of Arthritis

“My advice for all us aging baby boomers is, Move it or lose it! We need to take care of our bodies while we can.” CATHY LAPLANTE Williamsburg, Va.

Thank you for your story on arthritis [HEALTH, Dec. 9]. I was a very active child, always participating in sports throughout school. In my late teens, I discovered the runner’s high and never looked back–until one morning I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. I thought it was Lyme disease, but instead I got the news that it was rheumatoid arthritis. I was 26, and I felt as if my life had been taken away from me–I would never run again. But I found a great doctor who prescribed a life-changing drug and yoga. I still don’t know which remedy works best, but I am definitely a much stronger person inside and out. And I have an excuse not to wear high heels. TANYA KELLER New York City

Arthritis is not a silent disease. It growls and roars at its victims. It is easy to understand why they seek any help or relief they can find. The treatments are better than ever before, however, and there are many new strategies on the horizon. As America grays, more people will have arthritis, but physicians will have better and better treatments to offer. MALIN PRUPAS, M.D. Reno, Nev.

The form of exercise that has given this arthritis sufferer the greatest relief is yoga. I’m in my 60s and only regret that I didn’t discover yoga 30 years ago. A good teacher can help develop a program that alleviates pain, increases flexibility and balance and, best of all, encourages you to keep moving! BARBARA GOSE Riverton, Wyo.

An underlying cause of arthritis is posture, which determines how joints align. Chronic postural misalignments cause chronic wear and tear. A hundred years ago, people stood and sat with an erect spine. Now fashion seems to favor a curved, slouched spine, which has severe health consequences. Posture is learned and is a changing cultural phenomenon. Curved posture is the source of so much misery. JEAN COUCH Palo Alto, Calif.

I am a 45-year-old screenwriter who has battled a severe form of arthritis for more than 10 years. I get suspicious looks from strangers when I park in a handicapped space, even with my blue placard in full view. The glares stop when they see me emerge from my car, struggle to stand and hobble off to my destination. Perhaps your article will help people realize that arthritis is not a disease that afflicts just our grandparents. It is a terrible illness that children and young people get as well. DIANE WEIS Orlando, Fla.

You noted that sports like football, soccer, tennis and basketball can damage knees and hips. All these games have been around for a century or more. You also mention running, which has been a competitive sport since at least the time of ancient Greece. I doubt that the average 21st century person truly stands a greater chance of being disabled by arthritis than the dawn-to-dusk laborer of past generations. MARK STUART ELLISON New York City

At age 57, I’ve had mild arthritis and fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain) for more than five years. I do yoga and watch my diet and manage to keep the arthritis in check without drugs. I’ve learned that keeping joints and muscles warm lessens pain and stiffness. When I go to bed, I put elastic warming wraps on my elbows and knees; otherwise my joints are stiff in the morning. I go to bed bundled up as if I’m going ice skating. It’s not an attractive sight, but it’s worth it to be able to function in the mornings. MARJORIE MCLAREN Palo Alto, Calif.

Going After Saddam

Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction are a mere pretext that Bush is using to start an uncalled-for war in the fragile Middle East, which has immense oil reserves [WORLD, Dec. 2]. Saddam is a pain in the neck for the Bush Administration. But after Saddam’s exit, who will fill the vacuum and control the subsequent chaos? The Iraqi exile community is a joke. Let Saddam’s own people decide his fate. Dictators do not last forever. Instead of wasting billions of dollars to wage a stupid personal war against Iraq, President Bush should use the money to boost the U.S. economy. SYED RASHID ALI SHAH Vroomshop, the Netherlands

Never has there been a better moment for the plowshare to supersede the sword. If George Bush and Tony Blair would stay their hand against Iraq, that would give the people in the region the opportunity to solve the problem of Saddam and al-Qaeda. A single shot need not be fired. MAURICE CLYDE Silves, Portugal

Shania Twain Rules!

As much as I enjoy Shania Twain, I find her desire for privacy somewhat curious [MUSIC, Dec. 9]. One of the differences between country and rock singers is that country singers are far more approachable. Most country singers regularly make themselves available for interviews on syndicated radio programs and television. I fear that Shania’s quest for privacy, including her move to Switzerland, may alienate some country-music fans. I also don’t understand why her husband and record producer Mutt Lange feels that he needs to be out of the limelight. Celine Dion’s husband Rene Angelil certainly has no problem appearing in public with his wife. And if it weren’t for Rene, I suspect that Celine would not have the career she enjoys. Even without Lange, Shania would probably be a Nashville star. She might not, however, be the country and pop superstar she is. Lange ought to get off his high horse and enjoy the fame. KENT FREDERICK Downers Grove, Ill.

Twain has chosen commercial success over artistic success because art comes from our hearts and souls, and it is obvious Shania has no soul. If she did, it would come through in her music. Lange and Shania have capitalized on her looks and body. Shania continues to insist that what she does has something to do with music. What a joke! MAGGIE JORDAN St. Louis, Mo.

Some people may think of Twain as a weird robot, but after watching her on a television interview, I felt that, along with being self-disciplined, she is refreshingly grounded and even happy. I applaud her for keeping her personal life private and separate from her career. KIM REMPEL Grimsby, Ont.

Am I the only one on this planet who thinks that Shania’s music is bland and generic? I haven’t been inclined to buy her CDs, and it pleases me to know that I have not helped fill her husband Lange’s already fat wallet. A colleague of his says he wants to have the top-selling album of all time. That speaks volumes about his love of music: it’s just business as usual. I feel sorry that Shania isn’t having fun, and I suspect this is because she’s not doing the kind of music she would love to do. It’s difficult to believe that a world-famous singer with so much talent cannot call the shots about her own career. My wish is that she will be able to free herself, become the real artist who’s buried deep inside and have fun doing it! LOUISE FONTAINE St. Lambert, Que.

Why Take a Chance?

Even though Michael Jackson loves his baby son and had no intention of dropping the child when he dangled him over the side of the balcony [People, Dec. 2], it was appalling to see that Jackson did not remember that things can interfere with the best intentions. Would sudden heart failure or a fainting spell have left Jackson with time enough to put the baby in a safe place? What about a sniper’s firing from a nearby roof? Even the unlikeliest possibilities are always heeded by mature parents. ODE LAFORGE Fontenilles, France

The Saudi Connection?

Your report on the Bush administration’s efforts to make Saudi Arabia increase its antiterrorism efforts stated that some officials believe that Saudi Arabia has furnished al-Qaeda with money and recruits [World, Dec. 9]. If that is the case, then the innocent Saudi people are incapable of subduing the rotten ones or unwilling to do so. Congress’s idea of reducing aid and denying visas to Saudis is the least the U.S. should do. Bush needs to focus on Saudi Arabia, a country that is already killing us. DONALD KARDOS Hoboken, N.J.

Saudi Arabia has oil. So does Iraq. Iraq’s terrorism connections are questionable. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is a prime pool for al-Qaeda funding and recruitment. Iraq has the armed strength to affect the region, including the potential for weapons of mass destruction. The Saudi military is negligible. The U.S. wants oil, and it is still livid about Sept. 11. Powerful allies of convenience are useful. Let’s hook up with Saddam Hussein, and together we can achieve a regime change in terrorist-coddling Saudi Arabia. TOM LANE Chicago

Filming the Jury

A solid reason to bar cameras from all jury deliberations [Society, Dec. 9] is the penchant of some media voices to treat the news as theater. Remember the stir over the hairdos of prosecutor Marcia Clark in the O.J. Simpson trial? Style and entertainment value can too readily top substance in some news coverage, particularly on television, and public understanding suffers as a result. If the camera caught a juror in a slumping posture, would there then be media “analysis” on clearheadedness? If cameras routinely appeared in the jury room, would sober, sensitive and sensible individuals come to regard jury duty as taking part in a show of cheapened justice? LARRY MORRISON Sturbridge, Mass.

Bill Takes a Hit

You published an unflattering picture of Bill Clinton getting a body blow while playing football with other Americans during a visit to Oxford University [People, Dec. 9]. It was the kind of picture one would expect to find in one of those trashy newspapers sold at supermarkets. I’m sure it was enjoyed by the Clinton haters, but I can assure you that those who like the former President found it offensive. If this were a picture of my father or mother, I certainly wouldn’t want it published. RALPH HENDEL Philadelphia

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com