Hi, Everyone, I've been reading your posts for a couple of weeks since I was diagnosed with RA and having just read Lucy's post thought that I would jump in.. Although I have only just been diagnosed I have had pain in my joints for the past 20 years, sometimes taking myself to the GP and being told that I have to learn to live with it (but never actually getting a diagnosis for "it") but most of the time just getting on with it. Anyway, I now live in the Middle East for some of the year and when I saw my doctor here and told him about the sometimes excruciating pain in my feet, I was at last taken seriously even though the considered diagnosis was something completely different (which as a former nurse, I agreed with). But when I had an MRI this showed something different to what we were expecting and that was when I was sent off for blood tests. Two weeks later I was told that I had RA. I think that I have been in shock for two weeks and am just now dealing with it. I have started taking Hydroxychloroquine which of course takes time to work so have yet to see any improvement.
Here in the Middle East at least I don't have to wait for weeks or months to see a Rheumatologist but there are other challenges! Although most of the doctors speak very good English, women are considered to be very much third class citizens with most being accompanied by the man in charge of their life. The doctors are used to talking to the man rather than the patient, making it very difficult to question them. So the Internet is my new best friend at the moment although I have a very good English doctor who has helped me to see things a bit more calmly.
So that's me up to date more or less. I hope that I haven't bored you all too much and perhaps my experiences here in another culture may be of interest to others.