Q&A With Jeremy Hotz On Osteoarthritis, Gout, And Anxiety
Education and Advocacy Canadian comedian, Jeremy Hotz, offers comedic relief on osteoarthritis, gout, and anxiety, in his exclusive interview with The Arthritis Society.
Question: When did you find out you had osteoarthritis?
Answer: I had an injury in my wrist and they had to put my finger back in place. I had an operation and they had to reattach the tendons so I could use my fingers again. Of course, it’s riddled with arthritis. For my knee, sports really accelerated the process. Who knew my dad taking me to hockey practice at 5 a.m. four times a week was going to lead to osteoarthritis?
Q: How has osteoarthritis affected your daily life?
Answer: I can’t eat luncheon meat. Oh wait —that’s my gout. I have osteoarthritis in the left knee. When I’m in Los Angeles, my knee doesn’t bother me that much — although I for sure know when it’s going to rain (which isn’t very often in L.A.). But, being back on tour — oh geeze.
"During my shows, the mind is working very hard. There’s not a lot of time to think about the things that give me anxiety or the arthritic pain I feel in my knee or hand, but on stage — it magically goes away."
On flights the change in air pressure can set the osteoarthritis in my knee off, so I try to take an Advil before I get on the plane as a preventative thing, but it still hurts — it still hurts anyway. My tour manager will say it’s time to walk around a bit to keep me moving.
Signing autographs is difficult. Thank God we type now. I can’t really hold a pen very long. Signing autographs can sometimes take up to two hours and my hand aches.
Q: How do you cope with chronic pain and other symptoms?
Answer: With arthritis, I find that the adrenaline I get when on stage will take away the pain completely, but when I get off stage — that’s a different story. During my shows, the mind is working very hard. There’s not a lot of time to think about the things that give me anxiety or the arthritic pain I feel in my knee or hand, but on stage — it magically goes away. I’m more comfortable in front of 2,000 people than one-on-one with strangers off stage. If the anxiety came and attacked me while I was on stage — I wouldn’t be able to perform.
I’ve been told to stay away from fried food, but I’m eating chicken wings — they’re my comfort food.
I dropped 15 or 20 pounds before the tour because I knew that it was going to be demanding, so I really leaned on the treadmill. After all the TV interviews are done, I eat whatever I want again.
Q: How do you help others to understand your diseases?
"Face what you have instead of fearing it because if you fear it you’ll never go outside."
Answer: I’m actually a weird sort of doctor. I make people laugh. For most, laughter is healing. I’ve incorporated my anxiety into my performance to try to explain how I really am to people. The number of people that come up to me after the show and say, “hey, I have it too” is mind-boggling. Talking about anxiety, gout, and osteoarthritis is really good. I’ve actually written a lot of jokes about my anxiety. I’m glad I can stand on stage and show the humour in it and how funny it can be. The anxiety and the way that I live my life have led to me becoming this performer that is different than anyone else. When I was a kid, they said I was eating too much ketchup and it was weird. Thank God my parents didn’t listen to these crazy doctors back then. Now, I can be accepted for being different.
Q: What advice would you give to others?
Answer: Something that you’re experiencing can really disrupt your life, but can be totally invisible to people outside of you. You’re the only one that knows what you’re feeling, you know the levels of pain you have, so do what makes you feel good all of the time. You can’t succumb to peer pressure. However, don’t fear ‘What if?’, you know? Face what you have instead of fearing it because if you fear it you’ll never go outside.
Q: What’s next for Jeremy Hotz?
Answer: The tour has just wrapped. We’ve taped all of the shows and if you go to JeremyHotz.com and sign up for my VIP list, you’ll be able to get links where you can download the audio from the different shows we’ve done across the tour — it’s the first time we’ve done that.