Im a new member on this site , but felt it was the right time to share my experience of being diagnosed with RA over thirteen years ago.
My initial symptoms were about 14 years ago and seemed to come out of the blue and were very extreme at the time and had a massive impact on my life prior to be diagnosed , I would suddenly feel really unwell like I was going to get a really bad flu then a couple of hours later my hands and feet would swell up making everyday tasks impossible, in the end it effected just about every joint in my body, I had the usual battles with the GP I had at the time and unfortunatley it took them about a year to eventually get me refered to my local rheumatology department by which time Id suffered a fair bit of damage to my hands and feet.
After being told I definatley had RA I had a fair bit of contact with my local RA clinic and had an amazing doctor who really did me a lot of good he was very honest with me which was great, he told me RA was a very nasty condition that had many forms and had many unpleasant side effects , he did also say with the right attitude , good treatment and a healthy lifestyle I could hope to lead a resonably normal healthy life and enjoy most things that we all sometimes take for granted.
Im pleased to say for over ten years Ive been very lucky and most of the time managed my RA reasonably well and think that was a combination of the meds and my addiction to my fitness and running
Im now 45 and and earlier in the year had my life turned upside down after a combination of a fairly serious accident at work and my RA re appearing in many different forms following the trauma of my accident.
I went from being able to run 3 miles a day and a 2 hour gym routine to being able to do nothing , I ruptured my achillies tendon and had surgery and had been at home in a leg cast and on crutches for a few months but I started to feel really unwell just like I did 13 years ago when I was first diagnosed with RA , I have to say it came like a bolt of lightning out of the blue and it really knocked me , I live on my own and didnt really notice how ill I was getting and mistakenly thought I could cope with it on my own, after much presure from family and friends I went to hosptal and was quite shocked with what they told me , they told me Id been foolish ignoring all the symtoms and feeling unwell and I was now seriously ill and for some reason Id lost the circulation in my toes with no detectable pulse in my foot (Ive since found out I have vasculitis and also have chronic raynards sydrome both of which are linked rheumatological conditions , and I had suffered a DVT in my foot) I spent a long time in hospital and was very poorly, but Im really pleased to say that despite being told I would loose my toes 3 months later Ive still got them. :-)))
Daily visits to hosptal now for past few months and Im on high dose of warfarin to prevent a future DVT for a while and many visits to rheumatology and physio therapy , been told my RA is now chronic and Ive got badly damaged joints in my hands and feet but Ive made the same decission I made 13 years ago when I was 1st diagnosed that Im not going to let RA take over my life and I have every intention of going back to work in the near future and hope to start being able to return to my training eventually, all be it in a different form as I'll be unable to walk without crutches for quite some time to come yet , but def wont let this stop me only this time Im not going to be so proud that I feel I can't ask for help !
Reading the blogs on this site has empowerd me and made me release that its a stronger person that can ask for help when needed , and have I found the posts concerning methotrexate very inmfomative, as the tablet form has made me feel really nauseous , Im due to start self injecting in the next few weeks along with sulfasalazine and lots of ibuprofen retard and stomach protectors.
I owe my frinds, family and work colleagues a big thank you along with my employers who have been great despite RA being a very difficult condition for people to understand due to the fact that I can seem to be very healthy and physically fit one minute to being very ill within hours.
God bless the NHS , despite their faults we really are very lucky to have such an amazing instituation.
Stay safe and with the right attitude , treatment and help from others we will togehter give this RA thing a good run for its money :-))