Blinking knee again!

July 26, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 6 Comments
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Sorry – not my most inspirational blog post title, but I’m not feeling very inspired!

My knee has been playing up for a couple of weeks now – mostly the left one, as usual, with the occasional twinge in the right. At first I thought it had nothing to do with RA because the pain was in a different place – behind the knee, not to the front-right as ‘normal’, and there wasn’t much swelling … but over a couple of weeks the swelling has increased a lot (in its usual place) although the pain remained mostly behind the knee. My Pilates teacher (still loving the Pilates by the way) suggested it might be a pain caused by hyper-extending the knee, which I am prone to do, so  I spent a week very consciously NOT hyper-extending the knee and then realised that, given it was always significantly worse in the morning, and that it now involved significant swelling and  greatly reduced mobility, it was probably just good old RA again. So, today I plucked up the courage to phone the doctor. (It takes courage these days, believe me!)

It seems that the receptionists have now become triage nurses! I was not impressed. We used to get ‘Can you give me some indication of the problem if it’s not personal, so I can let the doctor know’ which was a reasonable request in my view. Today I got, ‘Can you give me a brief account of the problem please.’ Well it wasn’t personal so I said, ‘Yes, rheumatoid arthritis.’

‘Oh, you want pain relief then?’

‘No, it’s a bit more than that, I’m having an RA flare.’

‘Have you seen a physio? Do you think that might help?’

‘No, I don’t think so. I’m having a rheumatoid arthritis flare and I need to speak to a doctor.’

‘Oh … OK then …’

I actually wrote to the surgery via their contact form and told them what had happened and asked what training the receptionists, being non-medical staff, had if they were now supposed to be triaging to this extent. I said that I felt it was inappropriate and that the comments suggested a lack of understanding of the difference between RA and OA. I haven’t had a reply and I don’t expect one.

The doctor eventually phoned back at 11:30, meaning it was too late to go for the blood test that I should have gone for today, because you have to be there before 11! I explained the problem with my knee and he asked how long this flare had lasted. I explained that it’d been a while because I hadn’t twigged it was RA at first due to the pain being in a different place.

Now … this my American friends may find hard to swallow, but here goes … he asked about pain relief and I told him I was alternating paracetamol (Tylenol) and ibuprofen and it wasn’t cutting the mustard. He wondered about codeine and I said no (for stomach reasons). I asked about steroids and he said no, not yet, because ‘they can be problematic’ and then prescribed me a great big box of opioid pain relief tablets (meptazinol), 60 of the things! He said to try them out because if they helped it would be useful to know there was something else in my arsenal, which is true … and if they didn’t work, to come back next week and they would have me in for an examination and consider steroids … because all this was done over the phone.

So while you guys in the US can’t get an opioid for love or money now, or not without jumping through a million hoops, I just get handed 60 over the phone with a comment on the lines of ‘Don’t use them all at once. They’re only short term.’

He told me that the prescription would be with the pharmacy ‘in five minutes’. Luckily I took this with the pinch of salt it deserved because when I went to the pharmacy 1.5 hours later it had only just arrived!

Now he was probably, very sensibly, thinking ‘She’s had this two weeks, her flares rarely last even this long, it’ll probably be over in a few days and the pain relief will provide just that, relief, while it’s on its way out.’ And if he was thinking that, full marks to him because he’s probably right.

However, there’s a nasty, suspicious part of me that thinks even though the surgery says any comments and complaints won’t prejudice your treatment, he’s seen the comment I sent in and is thinking, ‘If I give her pain relief first, it makes what the receptionist originally said right …’ That’s probably nonsense – I’m prepared to admit to a tendency to be paranoid… but with the world going to pot in the way it seems to be at the moment, who knows!

I do have some comfort in the fact he’s a doctor I’ve seen before (actually face to face seen, a miracle these days) and do actually have some respect for, partly because I felt that he treated me as an intelligent person … so it’s far more likely he’s just easing me out of a flare with much reduced pain – and it IS much reduced. Of course it’s done nothing at all for the swelling or the lack of mobility in the joint, but it’s great to be relatively pain free and we’ll see how things go in the next few days.

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6 Comments »

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  1. First of all, I hate that you’re having new RA symptoms because my experience tells me these become “regular” RA symptoms along with all the old ones. And while I do hope the pain meds bring relief (although I’d really like you to get some tests done and see the doctor), you’re exactly right that those of us on this side of the pond are chucking rotten eggs in your direction because of the ease at which they were prescribed and filled. I’m still amazed that during one of my last trips over I was able to walk into the local pharmacy and buy pain meds WITH CODEINE off the shelf. Do get better. I’ll be over soon and you need to find us a new spot that serves Sticky Toffee Pudding. (I might just skip the lunch and go straight for the pudding!) Sending hugs. Hope your flippers are better soon!

  2. Hi Carla, thank you…but not for the rotten eggs!! On the bright side, it’s a new symptom but not a new joint, thank heavens. The pain killers certainly are easing the pain! No difference as yet to the mobility or swelling though. Lol re pudding, more likely to find STP than rum Ba-Ba!! 😊

  3. Oh, I hate it when I get a flash of new (or old pain). Heck, we in the US can get all the pain meds we need. Of course, we have ot buy it at the street corner. Oh well, trade offs.

    I hope you get recovered sooner than later.

  4. Lol! One of my clients came out with the unlikely stat that 60% of US prisoners were in for opioid related issues. Keep saying things like that and it might become true! 😨 Thanks for the good wishes though! 😃

  5. Sorry for the flare up. Do you take anything for the inflammation? I don’t recall from past posts if you do. As for the pain meds, I’m still fortunate that my rheumy will prescribe them to me and I got 60 at a recent visit. i used a few, but have been able to get by with only half a tablet some nights when I ache. I hope that the knee resolves itself soon and you’re back in action

  6. Hi, i just take ibruprofen when I need it for the inflammation. Glad u can get opioids and you’re not pelting me with rotten apples to go with Carla’s eggs! Knee is getting better. I’ve come of the opioids and it’s just sore if I walk much…which is maddening as you know, but better than before!


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