I’ve never had, nor do I have, a fear of doctors or hospitals or anything like that. Even throughout my many visits in the lead up to my diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis I wasn’t phased by my visits to the doctor nurse or hospital. It’s a bit like some people are scared of the dentist but again I aren’t. But today I see the doctor and for the first time I am very nervous.
If you follow me on Instagram then I am sure you will know that I’ve been having some issues with my knee and that as a keen runner it has been a frustrating time for me. Running for me is a such a release and helps keep my head in order that without it I have been lost and my mood has suffered. I’ve been irritable and my tempter has shortened significantly, plus I’ve felt my waist becoming a less comfortable fit in my jeans too. I know I should be able to deal with this but that what running did and I haven’t found a replacement.
I don’t think I will get any answers tonight from my GP, in fact I am sure of it. My worry is that the pain in my knee is related to the arthritis – there’s no swelling and I’m not in the midst of a flare but there could potentially be damage in there as a result of running with the condition. My biggest fear is that this is the beginning of the end for my running life.
I’ve talked a lot about running and what it does for me but this is different. My wife tells me to think positive and don’t assume this is the end – but I’ve always know the end will come with this condition. My physical abilities will one day succumb to this degenerative autoimmune disease. For so long I have felt like on of the lucky ones; it was caught early and the start medication worked for me straight away and I never felt anything other than fit and well. But now every ache or pain makes me wonder if this is the start of a flare up or someone linked to RA.
Not Just the Hands
Many people think that RA only affects certain joints whereas in actual fact it can affect any joint or soft tissue. It does tend to be more common in the hands and feet but I take that as no consolation. My hands swelling up like large sausages was the final piece of the jigsaw for my GP prior to my early diagnosis, but since my initial course of steroids and subsequent weekly methotrexate routine this has never been an issue. But I have been getting pains in some knuckles recently and combined with this persistent knee pain my mind has been on overdrive in the worry department.
My ability to run or not is not the be all and end all, I know that. But, I’m just 37 years old and I want to be a full on and active in life as I can be and do activities with the kids. If and when grandchildren come along then I want to be active with them too. This is why I am taking what is essentially a poison every Tuesday in an effort to stay healthy – a poison that may now be damaging my liver. And there in lies another worry. At my last hospital check-up with the rheumatologist she casually mentioned my liver function results were increased on my blood test. I have bloods done every two months so I was a little disturbed to hear this news and especially as my GP hadn’t informed me of it. She tried to reassure me that it wasn’t anything to worry about – oh how little she knows me!
A Change in Diet
Because of the worry around the long-term effects of the medication I have recently been looking more closely at my diet. There are lots of success stories our there within the RA world of people changing their diet, particularly to vegetarian or even vegan. This would be a HUGE challenge for me and would be something that would impact on the whole family. But I have been researching and after watching the documovie What The Health on Netflix recently I have considered eating less meat and dairy. I already knew meat, dairy and eggs were an inflammatory trigger in the body so now I’ve stopped using cows milk and replaced that in breakfasts with Oat Milk, it’s unnoticeable and actually I replaced the cows milk in the girls porridge for a week and they didn’t notice! Cheese is a tough one – I’ve cut down, I’ll start with that. As for meat, we don’t eat lots really and for me it would be in one meal each day I am introducing more vegetarian meals so as to cut down the meat intake.
Whilst I am primarily concerned with my own diet and having always been an advocate of balance this has made me realise that reducing meat and dairy for all of the family would likely be a positive thing. I would never wish to force vegetarianism or veganism on to them, that’s a personal choice to make, but switching things up is perfectly okay and if done subtly I doubt they will notice.
Where my RA journey takes me nobody knows. I accepted very early the fact it is incurable but though management I could be good for many years. It’s harder to accept the inevitable physical damage it will eventually do and even more difficult to accept that as the biggest cause of disability it receives much less government funding for research as cancer. I’d love to see scientific breakthroughs in the mainstream media about RA, maybe one day I will and hopefully not too late for me.
So tonight I see my GP and I don’t know what he is going to say but you can be assured I will be back with another post about this soon.
Thanks for reading.