On the Third Day Before Christmas…

December 23, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 10 Comments
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On the third day ‘fore Christmas my Arthur gave to me, a bad pain in my left knee.

On the second day ‘fore Christmas my Arthur gave to me, two swollen ankles, and a bad pain in my left knee.

Actually, to be strictly accurate, yesterday it was a bad right ankle, but that didn’t scan! Today’s verse is completely accurate, unfortunately. I had recovered nicely from the last flare after a few days, only to go down with a short, sharp and rather nasty stomach upset that put me in bed for a couple of days. This week I’ve been mostly OK, if a little stressed at work, and then suddenly on Wednesday everything at work went right, and I was unexpectedly able to finish for Christmas that afternoon – so hubby and I had a day out at Wells-Next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast. It was a glorious, sunny day – if rather cold – and we had a lovely time, except that as we were walking down the high street, suddenly I wasn’t … walking that is … or having a lovely time for that matter. I had a sudden and completely out of nowhere pain in my right ankle.

‘It’ll go in a minute,’ I said cheerful. ‘These sudden ankle pains always do. Let’s pop into this bookshop and get out of the cold while it gets better.’ Several minutes later and £20 lighter, the ankle hadn’t got better … although I had gained a rather fun read and got a little pressie for hubby too. So we walked (I hobbled, hubby walked) down to the harbour and had fish and chips while we waited for the ankle to mend … and it did … or so I thought. We had a lovely walk down the harbour wall but decided not to risk going the whole way (it’s a mile each way) in case the ankle went again. The sun shone, the lapwings called, the gulls squawked, the starlings sang beautifully in the hopes we’d feed them chips, and all was delightful.

Then when I got home the ankle started to twinge again. ‘It’ll be fine by the morning,’ I said confidently. (I don’t learn, do I?!) This morning it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t good. This afternoon I decided to have a bath and see if that helped. It didn’t. By the time I got out of the bath BOTH ankles were flaring and I had knee pain too. And that’s where I’m at now.

On the bright side, I finished a felt picture I’ve been working on for a while and the hair dresser is coming soon so I can look slightly nicer than usual (not hard) for the first day of Hanukkah and then Christmas Day (aka 2nd day of Hanukkah this year), so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Happy Holidays everybody!


The new vision for the surgery’s journey

December 11, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
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I do hope you enjoyed my buzzword-generated title for this post.

My local doctor’s surgery is ‘forming an alliance’ with two other surgeries in a town about 25 minutes’ drive way (when there’s no significant traffic build-up). This is, so they tell me, to help them recruit more staff so that in future they can offer new services to their patients which will help them avoid becoming ill in the first place. It will also mean that staff from the town B surgeries (obviously the town with me in it is town A <grin>) will work sometimes in our surgery and staff from our surgery will work in town B.

Well OK – I’m sure the staff won’t be thrilled about that, but I imagine they’ll live with it, and from a patient point of view all that sounds fine and dandy. So… why does it not fill me with seasonal comfort and joy? Well … if you’ve read any of my other posts about the surgery you’ll have an inkling already.

They welcome patient feedback and ideas, so here’s the letter I want to write them, but won’t.

Dear Surgery,

Thank you so much for your letter, sent to all patients registered in the surgery, outlining your new plans and apparently welcoming patient feedback. From past experience I am completely confident that you don’t welcome feedback at all but you know that if you don’t have a ‘consultation’ you won’t be allowed to proceed. However, since you have to ask for feedback, you might as well have some.

Any services offered to help patients stay well, as an additional benefit to what is already offered, will of course be welcomed. What will not be welcomed, and what again past experience suggests will probably be your next move, is being told in a few weeks, months or years’ time that ‘All patients with diabetes from here and town B will now have their monthly checks in town A’ and ‘All rheumatoid arthritis patients in both towns will now have their monthly blood tests in town B’, for example. This is of course something your letter is very careful not to state, noting instead that staff from town B will sometimes work in town A and vice versa.

Maybe you have no intention of forcing the mostly elderly and frequently infirm and, to put it politely, non-wealth patients from each town to go to the expense (often considerable since many don’t drive or can’t afford to run a car) of travelling to the other surgery for routine appointments once a month or even more often. If that’s the case that’s simply spiffing, splendid and super. I just have a feeling … Please tell me I’m wrong!

I still remember Mrs Practice Manager saying to me once how ridiculous it was that people objected to having to go into Norwich for the open clinic if they needed to see someone quickly. Well … yes, of course they do … given the local demographic, the fact it’s about a 40 minute drive (if you have a car and someone to drive you or you’re able to drive), the taxi return cost is about £55 and the demographic above, I’m not bloomin’ surprised!

Peace and good will to you and all men, women, children, penguin, cats and other animals,



Pilates and a flare – hopefully coincidental!

December 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 7 Comments

Yesterday I had my first ever Pilates experience – not sure what to call it other than an experience; not a class, not a treatment, I suppose a one-to-one session is the best way to put it. I did an hour of totally personalized exercises on weird bits of equipment – and it was great! The instructor was extremely encouraging and also had a sense of humour that fitted well with mine. She’d tell me exactly what to do, for instance, ‘Lie on your back, make sure you’re straight, as we practiced before, grip the bar with your hands, keep the elbows into your body, relax your shoulders and pull steadily down.’ I’d do that (or so I’d think) and she’d say, ‘Well done, really well done! Now, once more … ‘ and then dryly, ‘This time with the elbows in and relaxed shoulders’ and we’d both get the giggles slightly.

The other good thing was that if anything hurt AT ALL she would stop me from doing the exercise and either suggest something else or find another way to do it that didn’t hurt. She was very responsive and got by my over eager-to-please not going to admit it hurts attitude by keeping an eye on my face!

I felt as though I’d been stretched on a rack at the end of it … but in a good way!

Luckily for me my lovely hubby happened to have the day off and drove me in to Norwich and back. I think he was worried I’d come out completely crippled and unable to drive, and certainly while the first part wasn’t the case, I was very grateful I didn’t have to drive home after that first effort. Next time I will though!

Other than a slight feeling of stretchedness I felt fine – full of energy in fact. I did expect to be stiff as a board the next morning though – not so much joints, although of course they’re always a concern, but muscles I’d used in the session that I didn’t even know I had. For anyone that’s read Dune (or rather read Dune and actually remembers the beginning of it) I felt a bit like Paul Atreides being taught muscle training by his (not so) lovely mother! (Only my Pilates instructor really was lovely!)

I wasn’t even stiff as a board this morning – or even particularly stiff at all. But this afternoon all of a sudden I’m having a bit of a flare (or at very least a bad flare-ette). Given that I was fine this morning and that the weather’s taken a slight turn for the worse, I’m hoping it has nothing to do with the Pilates at all. Time will tell. Next appointment in January and if I have a flare straight after that one I’ll start to worry.




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