This is my first blog, so bear with me! I think I must be one of the 'lucky' people with RA, because, from what I have read, I have had an aggressive treatment regime right from the start.
I ran my second London Marathon a month before I came to live in France in May 2007. In 2008 I was diagnosed with RA - I had achy hands with a mildly inflamed thumb plus I hobbled around for the first 30 minutes after getting up. My french GP immediately sent me for X-rays and blood tests which indicated the possibility of RA. He then referred me to a rheumatologist in the nearest city (1.5 hours away because I live in the foothills of the pyrenees).
The rheumatologist confirmed that I had RA and explained that because I had no joint deformities and was relatively young (47 at the time) he wanted to treat me aggressively so I commenced on MTX (thankfully with no side effects) orally initially and then by injection (not sure why). A year later I had a joint in my foot which was becoming slightly contracted so he commenced me on a cycle of Mabthera. Since then I have had 2 further cycles (last one in April 2011). I am now in remission but have weekly physio treatments to keep my joints supple and only take the odd paracetamol if needed but no anti-inflammatories. I am working 3/4 full time as a qualified nurse in an old people's home and although the work is tough, I don't suffer anymore than the next person.
So although the Mabthera and physio sessions are costly, I think it is cost effective because I am working and so therefore not receiving benefits (cheaper for the state) and I am practically 'deformity' free which is a good thing for me at the moment because I can do most things (unfortunately I have had to give up running, so my dog and I now go for long walks in the mountains) and it also good for the long term, potentially less hospital stays and ops. However, the down side to the french system is that they don't have rheumatolgy nurse specialists for advice etc hence I have joined Health unlocked to keep myself up to date.