So this is my first post. I am somewhat hesitant about opening a window on my life, but having spent some time reading the posts over a few weeks, and discovering the real sense of community on this blog, I thought I would share my story with you, having found comfort that I am far from alone in my diagnosis. I was diagnosed at the beginning of December last year, after the pain and swelling became so debilitating I was struggling to walk, or pick up my six month old baby. I knew something was more seriously wrong than the aches and pains I would usually pick up whilst doing sport. I have always been very active, but was finding it harder to regain full strength, having put exercise on the back burner as I became pregnant with my 2nd child, giving birth in March last year. I started to try to return to my usual fitness regime, but discovered it was much more difficult. I put it down to age and pregnancy.
When I could no longer walk or even get my shoes on I went to the Dr, I went for blood tests, and x-rays, three weeks later I got a call from my GP, my x-rays and bloods were within normal range, including my ESR and CRP. No follow up, nothing, except I still couldn’t walk.
Another week passed and I was surprised to receive another call from my GP. One test had taken longer for the results to come in. My Rheumatoid Factor was over 1500 and I had tested positive for Anti-CCP Antibodies. I was told there was no doubt, I had RA. Shocked and saddened, I felt lucky to have at least got a diagnosis, and knew that whilst I had no control over the fact I had this disease, I could at least take control over my response to it, and so my journey began to educate myself about steps I could take to ensure that this illness does not define me. The road will last a life time, but I am learning to live with the ghost that hides in my body.
I have read lots of book and have asked lots of questions, and whilst I am still a novice with regard to RA, I know my own body better than anyone, and I know when I am well and when I am not, and I am learning what I can do for myself that will help influence a state of wellbeing. I have found that there are sadly no hard and fast rules for diet. When I showed my consultant the pile of supplements I had started to take, she smiled and said, by all means take them, but they won’t do anything to help your RA. I didn’t agree with her, and continued to seek out other answers. So I thought I would share one thing I have learnt, and most importantly was told by an American Consultant Rheumatologist.
“The human body makes, from consumed fatty acids, chemicals called prostaglandins. Some of the prostaglandins are inflammatory and others decrease inflammation. The only foods containing fatty acids that are metabolised into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins are those that contain the omega 3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and a-linolenic acid. Some sources of these fatty acids include fish oils, algal oil, and some plant oils such as flaxseed oil. These can be used as dietary supplements. Conversely diets that include other types of fatty acids (such as those found in red meats) that are made into inflammatory prostaglandins may worsen inflammation.”
I inject my methotrexate once a week, I take the sulphasalazine, hydroxychloroquine and steroids daily, as prescribed, but I also take 2000mg of omega 3 oil, and avoid red meat. I swim 1.5 km 5 times a week. I am not yet in remission, but one day I will be, and my ghost will be my friend as it has made me learn to be grateful to be able to do my own buttons up and tie my own shoe laces, and look at the world in a different way. I may not always be able to do things in the way I want, but I will still do them, I may just have to approach it differently.
As you all already know, everyday is a challenge, but then, I've always enjoyed a challenge.