This first post is more a kind of baseline of reasons, rather than specific stuff that’s happening now. So here’s ten reasons for me to remain up-beat in spite of my (very) recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
- I was born in 1968 and not 1948. Had I been born twenty years earlier and developed the disease at the same age things would be a lot grimmer; because
- the drugs available and methods of treatment have improved enormously in the last twenty years or so.
- I had an early diagnosis – apparently the current treatments work much better on patients who are diagnosed early. Because I was worried I had a repetitive strain injury and wouldn’t be able to carry on working I saw the doctor quite quickly, and;
- my rheumatoid factor test was positive. That seems a funny thing to be positive about, in itself, but it helped to lead to the early diagnosis.
- I have wonderfully supportive friends and family. OK, sometimes they say the dumbest things (sorry guys, but you do) and if I followed all the advice they gave me I’d have to cut myself into several pieces, as so much of it is conflicting, but it’s great to have them around!
- I work for myself. That’s a biggie! It’s not so great in that if I ‘take a sickie’ I’m simply not going to earn any money, but on the plus side, I can work the hours that suit me so long as I get the work done, and the only person I have to answer to is me … well, and my employees and my clients and anyone I owe money to, but I still would never trade it in for being employed if I could possibly help it!
- What I’ve seen of our local rheumatology department so far has really impressed me. I was rather dreading what it might be like having had prior experiences in this and other hospitals, either for myself or visiting friends, which to say the least didn’t impress me. One particular incident many years ago involved a four hour wait in the hospital pharmacy! For my last rheumatology appointment I had a consultant’s appointment, x-rays, blood tests and picked up a prescription at the hospital pharmacy in less than two hours.
- And the last medical thing for this list … nobody said, ‘It’s all in your head.’ I knew very well that it wasn’t, but that doesn’t stop people trying to suggest it sometimes.
- My hubby already does all the housework, so I don’t have to do any eyelash fluttering and saying ‘Darling, could you just … ‘ when I can’t lift up the Hoover or turn the tap on. (I do the cooking (most of the time), he does the housework (all of the time) … doesn’t sound like a fair division of labour to me but he says he doesn’t mind!)
- I have what a friend of mine has described as ‘the best EVER excuse to eat fatty and sugary food.’ She adds that, ‘as a supportive friend I feel I should help you out with it too!’
Let me just explain that last one. There are suggestions that fatty and sugary food make RA worse, that red meat makes RA worse, that coffee (heck!) makes RA worse … Now I can’t just cut them out because that’s not scientific – if it gets better it might have done so anyway. What I need to do, I reckon, is to have a super healthy diet for a couple of weeks and then to pig out on all the nice stuff that I probably shouldn’t be eating for a day or two. Then a further two ‘good’ weeks or so, then some more ‘naughty but nice’. During this ‘experiment’ I have to keep a diary of how good or bad I’m feeling, RA-symptom-wise. It’s no good just eating some cake and then saying, ‘I feel great’ or ‘I feel awful’ because if there is an effect it might be delayed … hence the absolute requirement* to eat lots of ‘bad for me’ stuff to see what happens.
*(A note of caution here – as one friend ‘helpfully’ pointed out, RA is not necessarily confined to ones joints – it can lead to coronary problems, so I won’t be going completely overboard on ‘silly’ food!)