Knee flare over!

July 6, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Posted in arthrits, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 9 Comments
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Hurrah – I finished my week’s worth of prednisolone last night and I’m glad to say the knee is better! Oh … and the helpline phoned me back … on Monday … so five days after I phoned them. Yeah, like I said, they really are NOT for emergencies! I didn’t actually get to speak to her as she phoned on the home number even though I’d requested they try me at work. ‘If you didn’t manage to speak to the doctor or need some advice, do call us back.’ I did see the doctor and didn’t need advice, so I haven’t called back.

I’m still getting a bit of pain in that knee on and off, but then I usually do; I’ve got full ‘bendability’ in it and most of the time it’s not hurting, so I’m quite content … although I do feel as though I’ve just run a marathon, having been cheering on Andy Murray as I watched him (on the telly) fighting his way to the semifinals at Wimbledon!

The frustrations of not having a relationship with your doctor

June 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 7 Comments
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Thanks to the state of the NHS today (which, if you read this blog often you will know I harp on about endlessly) it is simply not possible to have a relationship with your GP these days (unless you’re incredibly lucky or live on some tiny island that actually has its own GP or something!) My GP practice has around 10 GPs plus locums. It’s pot luck who you get to speak to when you call and they phone you back, and then if they decide you should be seen you won’t see the person you spoke to that morning.

It also seems that they don’t have much of a relationship with the hospital and seem to have some sort of mythic belief in the power of the rheumatology helpline, as I’ve also mentioned before.

The myth

The patient calls the GP because they have an RA flare. This is a shocking waste of the GP’s time because these lucky, .lucky patients have an RA helpline that they can call and that will solve all their problems. They can speak to a lovely nurse* straight away and the nurse will wave her magic wand, waggle her magic pixie ears and solve the patient’s problem.

* Actually that’s the only true bit – the one we have at the moment IS a lovely nurse!

The facts

The lovely nurse, or even a secretary or receptionist, never EVER answers the helpline. It is an answerphone. That’s the way it’s set up. It’s not an answerphone on odd occasions when they’re exceptionally busy, it’s ALWAYS an answerphone. The message on the helpline says something like: ‘If you’re calling about a non-RA related problem, please call your GP. If you’re calling to change an appointment, please call reception. If you’re calling about an urgent need, please call your GP. If you’re calling to buy fish, please contact your fish monger. If you’re calling to moan about Brexit, please contact your MP. If you’re calling because you’re a moron, voted ‘Leave’ and can’t work out what a helpline is for, please call someone else and bother them. Now, if you really, really want to leave a message, we suppose you can. Give us your hospital number and name and telephone number and we’ll try to call you back in 24 hours – but no promises mind.’

I don’t know about you (actually I probably do, if you have RA) but I consider a flare pretty urgent.

While in an ideal world I would sit back on a couch, watch the telly and let my servants feed me grapes while I rested my knee and waited to see if it would clear up on its own, I do actually have a life (and no servants, and hubby is great but also has a life, and the cat just ain’t interested in helping), so I can’t just sit about and rest it. On that basis I can’t wait potentially 48 hours or more for the helpline to phone, and the nurse say, ‘Call your GP and get some prednisolone’ because then I can’t call the GP until Monday  as 48 hours is Friday morning and by the time I’ve heard back from the helpline the GP has run out of appointments. By that time I will have been flaring for over a week!

What Polly did Next

So … I went to the appointment grudgingly granted me by the grumpy GP. (Ooh, nice alteration that penguin!) Fortunately it’s with a much more pleasant locum GP than the one I spoke to on the phone. Unfortunately of course she doesn’t know me from Adam (or strictly speaking, as a doctor, she can probably spot I’m not Adam from the wobbly bits, so I should say she doesn’t know me from Eve). This means that she doesn’t know if I’m a moron or not, and therefore has to assume I am, as we always have to cater for the lowest common denominator.

‘How can I help you?’

‘I’m having an RA flare in my knees, as usually particularly in my left knee. It’s stiff, not very flexible and painful at times.’

‘Have you called the helpline, because really -‘

‘Yes.’

‘Oh, and what did they say?’

‘I said I’d called them, not that I’d spoken to them!’ I then explained, gently, ’cause she was a locum and therefore wouldn’t necessarily know any better, the realities of the helpline. (I didn’t mention Brexit or fish mongers.)

‘Hmm, you had a blood test only yesterday and your bloods were hardly elevated at all.’

‘They never are.’ The mere fact that my bloods are even a smidge elevated is a pretty strong indication of a flare with me. Sometimes I flare and there’es no indication whatsoever in the bloods. Now this is where a doctor relationship would come in handy. If she’d actually known me, known that I’ve had RA for nearly ten years, known that I’ve had umpteen flares in my left knee, known that blood tests are not a helpful indicator with me, known that I have a brain, we could have skipped the pointless bits, more of which are coming up.

‘Ah, well let’s have a look.’ Prod, poke.

‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!’

‘Did that hurt when I pressed there?’

‘No, I just thought I’d make screamy gurgling noises for fun.’ (Nope, I didn’t really say that either, I just said yes.)

‘Can you bend it?’

‘This much.’ Demonstrated a very slight bend.

‘Ah. Have you tried pain killers… like paracetamol?’

I’m afraid I just looked at her and laughed, finally managing to choke out a ‘yes’, followed by ‘interspersed with ibuprofen.’ She looked amazed that I’d been able to think of painkillers all by myself.

‘Well I’ll prescribe a course of steroids. Now if they don’t work, we’ll have to consider other possibilities like osteoarthritis, as they should work for RA.’

‘Well, they’ve worked every other time I’ve had them, so touch wood that they will this time too.’

‘Oh … right.’ Look of mild astonishment, either that I’d had them before (it’s in the notes dear) or that I actually knew that I’d had them before, who knows.

So I thanked her very nicely, ’cause I’m a well brung-up penguin … and I might run into her again, and off I went to the chemist to get my steroids.

Again, after nearly ten years of RA, I think I recognise an RA flare when I see one … I really hope I’m not proved wrong and that the steroids do work again this time and it doesn’t turn out to be OA. That would be sooooo embarrassing after this post!

Baby Doc Shock!

May 18, 2016 at 10:04 am | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments
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I hope those of you in the UK appreciate the Sun style headline! All will become clear shortly, but let’s start with a once upon a time, like all good stories. Once upon a time, two weeks ago in fact, I had ear ache pretty badly … I called the doc, saw the nurse practitioner, got antibiotics for an ear infection, was told not take my methotrexate that week so it didn’t fight the antibiotics (so to speak),  took the antibiotics, got better (but not 100%) and that should have been the end of that … only it wasn’t.

Guess who forgot NOT to take the methotrexate? Bad Polly Penguin!

So anyway, Monday night the ear was niggling quite badly again (and I’d been off the antibiotics for a few days) so I thought, right, I’d better call the doc tomorrow and not take the MTX. Of course yesterday morning the ear felt fine. ‘Still call the doc,’ said wise hubby … and I really, really meant to, but we were very busy at work and I completely forgot. The ear was fine all day. So I thought right, better not delay the methotrexate any longer and I took it last night (and had a most appalling stomach upset, incidentally!)

‘Still call the doc about the ear,’ said wise hubby again, ‘you don’t want it flaring over the weekend when you can’t get a doc,’ so I thought I would … and in fact the ear was niggly again last night and this morning, so at least that reminded me.

Got through to the surgery very quickly. The system is normally you speak to the receptionist, they get a doctor to call you back and then, if the doctor feels the need, you go in and see them. In this instance, to my amazement, as soon as I said what the problem was the receptionist said, ‘Can you come in now?’ So I did. Fantastic, I thought – red flagged because of my immunosuppression – I didn’t think they did that.

And now, finally … for anyone patient enough to have read this far, we get to the baby doc shock! I went in and saw the doctor, who I think is a locum (they mostly are as we have terrible recruitment problems – heaven knows why, it’s a lovely part of the world). She must have been just out of training. She was really lovely, hadn’t had the softness knocked out of her yet, excellent bedside manner, sweet as pie (much sweeter than the original ‘Baby Doc’) and very helpful. She checked both ears, checked my temperature, asked about the history of the last couple of weeks … confirmed I actually had some infection in both ears (which was a surprise) and asked me to come back in a week or so just to make sure everything was OK after I’d finished the antibiotics. All well so far.

‘Shall I take my methotrexate next week, while I’m taking the antibiotics?’ I asked. Baby doc looked thunderstruck. Heck! So much for the red flag for immunosuppression – she didn’t even know I was on methotrexate. ‘I’m on methotrexate for RA,’ I elaborated. ‘The nurse practitioner said not to take it last week because of the antibiotics, so should I take it this time or not?’ (I admit I failed to fess up to having taken the MTX last week!)

‘You’ve got RA? How long have you been on the methotrexate?’ she asked.

‘Oh ages,’ I said cheerfully.

‘But you’re so young for RA!’

My turn to be thunderstruck. Yes, I KNOW GPs have to know a smidgen of everything and there’s a heck of a lot of everything out there, so they can’t be expected to be experts on anything; yes, I know that she’s only just out of nappies … sorry, school … sorry, college;  yes, I know it’s a commonly held misconception … but … well, can I just say aaaaaaaaaaargh.

I didn’t say aaaaaargh to her. After all, she’d been very nice and helpful and I didn’t want to antagonize her … but I did point out that RA can hit at any age, and that mine had started nine years ago when I was 39. Unfortunately, perhaps, I didn’t really push the point … maybe I should have done. She’s probably still a ‘GP trainee’ and might have found the information valuable. Thing is, I was kind of in shock that she’d made that comment and I just didn’t react fast enough.

My apologies for the whole ‘RA’ and arthritis ‘community’ – I feel that I’ve let us down!

 

The Great Gluten Free Experiment

March 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Posted in joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 16 Comments
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So, I’ve finally jumped on the band wagon and I’m trying out gluten free. At first I thought, ‘Oh, it’s another fad like the Atkins diet, it’ll soon fade away, just as that did’ – and yes, before I get all the cries of outrage in the comments, I know some people still use it and find it good; I also know much of the ‘science’ behind it was debunked and that, like all fads, there are some people who find it useful but a lot of people just wanted to try out the latest thing, found it didn’t work for them, and it’s quietly disappeared out of the press etc.

I thought the same would happen with gluten free, even though a lot of people whose opinions I respect were trying it out and finding it useful. The tipping point was a couple of extra people I respect really swearing by it and a partial reading of Gut by Giulia Enders, a highly entertaining read (although only in small doses, which is why I’ve not finished it yet) about ‘the body’s most underrated organ’ – yes, it’s more than one organ but we’ll forgive her that as a translation error; the original is in German. She’s a ‘real scientist’ and points out the vital difference between gluten allergy and celiac disease (which are not the same thing, thanks Kate for pointing that out!), which I know I haven’t got, and gluten intolerance, which perhaps I have. She lists the possible symptoms for gluten intolerance: ‘digestive problems’, flatulence, headaches and painful joints. Without going into unnecessary detail, let’s just say I read that and thought ‘box ticked’ about everything there! So I ummed and urred about whether to give it a try and then put lots of unnecessary obstacles in my own way, because I didn’t really want to, and I especially didn’t want to find I actually had gluten intolerance. What?! No more cakes (except brownies of courses – everywhere loves to proudly advertise their gluten free brownies – not  a special effort; the basic brownie recipe has no flour in it!) Also no more bread, crackers, matzo? YIKES!

Then I read what Saint Giulia had to say a bit more carefully. ‘Gluten sensitivity […] is not a sentence to a life of gluten avoidance.’ HURRAH! So I got some excellent advice on what was available from my gluten-free aunt, and gave it a trial run last week. The trial run involved cutting out my beloved daily breakfast bran flakes (yes, I know I’m odd but I actually LOVE bran flakes) and eating as normal apart from that, but noting what foods I normally eat did have gluten in so I could find alternatives and cut them out. (While my aunt’s gluten free breakfast sounded amazing, you’d have to be retired to have time to prepare it!) So breakfast is now simply a gluten-free cereal, nowhere near as tasty as bran flakes IMO but not bad. I hardly ever eat bread anyway although I do enjoy it, so for the gluten free experiment I’m just not eating bread – easy. Same applies to matzo although I normally eat them a tad more often than bread. I’ve replaced noodles with rice noodles (which will take a bit of getting used to on the cooking front – a big, wobbly gelatinous mass for dinner last night. (‘And that was just hubby,’ says hubby!) I’ve replaced our standard (oh God, we’ve gone middle aged and have a standard dinner every week) southern fried chicken, with a non-bread-crumb coated, but just as easy to sling in the oven, chicken thing. Where we used to sometimes have jacket potato with fish cake, which I always thought was a bit of a potato overdose anyway, I will now have jacket potato with tuna; hubby can still have his potato overdose. And finally, pasta bake – happily there is a gluten free pasta made with rice flour – it’s a bit odd but once you throw all the other pasta bake ingredients at it, it’s fine.

So now I’ve been gluten fully gluten free for all of four days – obviously no startling effects yet but I have seen some effects which may or may not be related.

So far no big difference as far as the joint pain goes, and I had a migraine last night so I’m thinking the headaches haven’t dramatically improved yet either (although maybe migraines don’t count as they’re not ordinary headaches), but the stomach-related stuff, again without going into unpleasant detail, is definitely improved. It’s not perfect but there’s a clear improvement. Whether it’s related or not I wouldn’t like to say just yet, but it’s improved.

And another thing that’s improved is not mentioned as a possible symptom of gluten intolerance, although it is listed as a possible intolerance symptom for other things. I’ve suffered from really awful catarrh (post nasal drip) for years and years, and that has dramatically improved too. Coincidence? Perhaps. We’ll have to wait and see.

And the great thing is that if it does make a difference, I don’t have to avoid all those nice gluteny things for ever; I just have to be careful and sparing … and probably stay off those bran flakes!

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

 

Injecting methotrexate

January 19, 2016 at 9:20 am | Posted in arthrits, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 17 Comments
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Hmm, how many times have I read posts about self-injecting drugs and breathed a sigh of relief that I don’t have to do that? Too many to count. Well, that time has ended, my friends – I will be injecting my MTX in three weeks’ time, after my ‘education appointment’ with the hospital. Mind you, I gather from a small amount of on-line research that this is a very easy subcutaneous (under the skin) injection; not the sort of nasty intra-muscular injection that biologics users have to endure. It seems to be a simple (?!) question of using something like an epi-pen to squirt the MTX in with, but I will find out more when I go and get educated. Here’s hoping I get the sweet nurse I’ve been speaking to on the (yes, actually helpful) helpline, and not the bored and horrid nurse I’ve never liked from day one. We shall see. Either way I will endeavour to be a good girl, listen hard, take it all in and get it right first time. (Not getting it right first time could be messy!)

The reason I’m moving to this course is that I sometimes get stomach problems that may or may not be from the MTX and that many people who take the dose orally don’t get the full benefit as some of it is digested, rather than moving on to the bits it needs to go to in order to work. By injecting, I can keep to the same dose, rather than increasing and risking the side effects that go with that, but hopefully get more benefit from the dose as all of it will go straight to where it’s supposed to go. That’s the theory, anyway. Apparently there are no other advantages or disadvantages of injecting – other than the obvious mild unpleasantness I’m assuming for the injecting!

 

I fear that holidays are doomed this year – mine anyway!

June 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Barcelona, Me | 4 Comments
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After the Barcelona fiasco earlier in the year (we were supposed to go and we both went down with something fluey, which I topped up with sinusitis), I’d decided to treat myself to a little break this week – a two-day ‘painting with coloured pencil’ course in Wiltshire. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to it! (Lots!) I set out at a bit after 9 o’clock this morning, and had planned my first stop to be Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. I’d planned in three main stops on the way down – fun places to visit rather than just a roadside café or services, and that was the first. I was only seven minutes away according to the Satnav, at a rather odd road junction where the left-hand lane takes you on to the A11 and the right-hand two lanes remain as the A14. I assume what happened next was that that the lorry I was driving past, me in the middle lane and therefore left-hand lane for the A14, he in the left-hand lane for the A11, suddenly realised that oops, he wanted to be on the A14 … so he pulled over. I couldn’t swear that he actually hit me – I know I saw him coming and panicked and I know I lost control of the car – and I also know that I wasn’t speeding because I’d just checked my speedo. I think he must have actually hit me because there is damage to two sides of the car – the left-hand side, which he presumably scraped and pushed, and the right-hand side where I hit the central reservation. I then spun and bounced back to the left-hand A11 lane where I pulled to a stop and put on my hazard warning lights. After a few minutes I realised that I couldn’t safely pull off the road from this point and I couldn’t easily assess the damage … and cars were having to pull round me causing chaos to all the traffic in the area. So having ascertained that there wasn’t smoke coming out the bonnet I waited for a break in the traffic and pulled out … thumpty-thumpty-bump … OK, this isn’t good! Double flashers back on and drove, so the police told me afterwards, half a mile or so up the road until there was a safe stopping place big enough for me and a breakdown van.

Apart from shaking a lot I thought I was fine so priority number 1 – ring my breakdown cover! That sorted – text hubby. Then phone the police. I was just about to call the police when hubby phoned me and a moment or two after that, having reassured him that I was fine, I said, ‘Got to go! The police have arrived.’

A very nice copper came over and said, ‘Was it you that called to say that you’d hit the central reservation?’ I said it wasn’t – that they’d been next on my list, but that my priority was the RAC! He laughed and said that was probably an indication that I was OK!  He said he’d secure the area and put cones and warning signs out and then come back to find out what had happened. Before he’d finished, a very short time later, and ambulance pulled up. I told them I was fine but of course they had to do their thing, check everything and make sure. They were absolutely lovely! A very different experience to the only other accident I’ve had (other than someone reversing into me a while back – no ambulance needed!)

They checked for neck injuries by the side of the road, although as they agreed, I’d already walked out of the car and waved at them when they arrived, so not a lot of point saying ‘Don’t move your neck!’

Then I got on board and they checked my blood pressure (‘Slightly elevated, love, but better than mine!’) and took a blood test (presumably for alcohol and drug testing). I asked for some water. ‘’cause we can love – or would you prefer vodka.’ I said I would but I thought the police might not be too impressed if they breathalysed me later, so they gave me water. ‘Any illnesses?’ I mentioned the RA. ‘OK, but no strokes or heart attacks?’ ‘No.’ ‘No asthma, diabetes?’ Nope. ‘No amputations?’ ‘Actually this arm’s false’ I said with a grin. ‘Hmm,’ he said, ‘not sure how we’re getting blood pressure from it then!’

Then he checked various things, eyes, movement of limbs etc. to ensure everything was fine. All seemed very thorough – the only thing missing was a nice cup of coffee! (I was mighty grateful for the water though!)

‘Let me be the first to say,’ said the ambulance man, ‘and believe me I won’t be the last, the important thing is that you’re OK. The car is only a lump of metal and it’s done its job in protecting you, and nobody else was involved, so it’s all OK.’

I wanted to say, ‘Of course it’s not all OK! Yes, that’s the most important things, but my holiday’s screwed AGAIN, my car might be a write-off, I’ll have to go back to work tomorrow, I’m going to have to tell everyone endlessly about this, I wanted to go on my painting course and basically I’m FED up,’ but I just agreed pleasantly. He’d been FAR too nice to be grumpy with!

Oh boy was he right though about not being the last person to say it!

They took the various paperwork details they needed and had a general chat, all very relaxed, and then the policeman came and joined us, having closed the lane I was in with cones etc. He was also very relaxed , took some details and asked what had happened, wrote a short ‘statement’ and got me to sign it. ‘At least you’re alright though, that’s the important thing.’ I bit my tongue. Then a colleague of his arrived – knocked on the ambulance door, poked his head round and asked my name. ‘Oh good – it is your car then!’ Then he saw his colleague and they had a bit of a chat and the one in the ambulance got out. Then hubby rang again – nice ambulance men let me sit there and talk to him, and once I’d done that they said they were happy for me to leave, ‘Unless you want to go to hospital. We can take you if you want.’ NO THANKS! I spend enough time there as it is, thank you very much!

Then back out to the road side, by which time MORE police had arrived – first policeman, first policeman’s colleague and now some ‘traffic police’ who probably patrol the A14 as a full-time job as it’s a notorious road for accidents!

Both of the ‘ordinary’ police and one of the traffic policemen commended me on moving the car on from the original accident site – which was lovely because having done it I was thinking, ‘Oh dear! I expect that was a bloody stupid thing to do. I shouldn’t have moved the car.’

One of them came over and said, ‘I’m really embarrassed to have to ask, ‘cause you’ve handled everything brilliantly and you’re clearly completely sober, but I’m afraid I’ve got to ask you to take a breathalyser test.’ I assured him it was no problem … like I had a choice, but of course it was no problem! ‘I have to ask you … have you had an alcoholic drink in the last 20 minutes.’ ‘Not unless what the ambulance men told me was water was actually vodka!’ You always hear people saying, ‘For gawd’s sake don’t try making jokes with the police – it just makes things worse’ etc. but he was laughing too so that was OK! Of course the breathalyser came out with a zero reading. (I should think so too!) ‘May I present you with this tube you just blew into a souvenir of the event?’ I thanked him prettily and said I’d treasure it. Then he said, ‘At least you’re alright though … and no one else is hurt. The car’s …’ etc. etc. My tongue was starting to hurt from all the biting.

They told me there was CCTV on the road … but it wasn’t looking in the right direction at the time – of course!

I couldn’t remember who my insurance company were, having had the fiasco with Churchill last year and changed companies, so the police very kindly looked up all the details for me and gave me the insurance company, the policy number and the number to phone!

Then the traffic police decided that actually they didn’t really need the cones and warning signs as where I’d pulled off was pretty safe, so they took them all down again! Seemed like a bit of a waste of time, but of course the first policeman, when he started securing it all, hadn’t even got the details of where the accident happened so perhaps thought it was there and there could have been stuff in the road. (Actually, given the state of the car – just about every panel damaged plus two completely flat tyres and one more puncture) I suppose there could have been!  Anyway, the traffic police cleared everything away again and said they’d be off – I felt rather lonely, they’d all been good company and the RAC had just rung to say I’d have another hour’s wait. (This had all taken an hour already from when I first phoned them.)

So I decided I might as well use my time sitting by the roadside wisely! I phoned the insurance company. Well, as you can probably imagine if you’ve ever had to notify an insurance company of an accident, that took a good half hour or so – but they were mostly very helpful. When I first phoned he could obviously here all the traffic noise. ‘Good heavens – are you still roadside?!’ I explained I was but might as well speak to them while waiting an hour for the RAC! ‘Are you OK though?’ I explained that the police and ambulance guys had already been and I was fine. ‘Oh well, that’s alright then, that’s the important thing …’ etc. (Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW they’re right, but it’s a surprisingly uncomforting thing to keep hearing!) He took various details and was helpful and sympathetic except for when he wanted to know what the damage to the car was – at this point I guess he was more reading his script than actually thinking! ‘Starting with the passenger side front, can you tell me what damage there is on the car?’  So I told him. ‘And passenger side back?’ So I told him. ‘And driver’s side back?’ ‘Don’t know for sure – there’s damage but I’m not stepping out into the traffic to assess it for you!’ ‘Oh no – of course not. Sorry! What about the undercarriage?’ ‘No idea – and again I’m not going to go crawling around on the ground to find out!’

When I got off the phone to them, there was a voice mail (if one good thing has come of this it’s that I’ve FINALLY learnt how to pick up voice mails on the iPhone!) from the RAC. ‘Just checking that you’ve been picked up. Our recovery contractor says he’s at the scene.’ WHAT? No he flaming well wasn’t! So I phoned them back and she tried to coordinate with him while I was still on the line. Of course I didn’t know exactly where I was. Hubby pointed out later that the SatNav would have given me a precise location if I’d pressed the ‘help’ button, but I didn’t think of that! Anyway, he finally did find me, having driven past and then had to find somewhere to pull off and come back.

Of course he hadn’t actually SAID he was at the scene – it’s a tracker van – i.e. they can check on the map where he is, and they’d seen him go past and their super whizz technology had decided that meant he’d done the pick-up! Anyway, he was a terrific young lad too when he actually did arrive, and he was able to take me into the garage in Norwich that the insurance had allocated, from where Hubby was able to pick up. We chatted all the way there. ‘Oh well, at least YOU’RE alright … that’s the important thing.’ (Bite, ouch.) He was also telling me all about his hobby – ‘Drifting’. This involves driving high-performance cars around proper race tracks, causing the back wheels to spin and then just ‘drifting’ around the track – competitively! ‘The exhilaration of knowing you could hit the crash barriers at eighty miles an hour is just fantastic!’ To which I replied that I had just had the pleasure of hitting the crash barrier at about 70 miles an hour and it wasn’t especially exhilarating. His cheerful response to that putdown – ‘Ah, but you should try it in a high-performance car.’ Boys!!

The garage were great too – very pleasant and sympathetic and FINALLY, five hours after leaving home and about six after my last drink other than the ambulance men’s water, I got a coffee. What a relief that was. ‘What happened? Oh well, at least YOU’RE alright …’

While I was at the garage I phoned the guest house I should have been staying at. They’re absolutely lovely, and they were able to refund my deposit because they were able to let the room to someone else, so that worked out brilliantly too. ‘Well, the important thing is you’re alright. That’s the way to look at it really – I mean it’s a real shame, but that’s the most important thing’ said the lovely Mary, quite correctly! (Ouch – poor tongue.) I definitely want to still go on a painting course and I’ll definitely try to book them again – they’ve been so helpful!

Then hubby kindly picked me up … ‘Oh well, the IMPORTANT thing is that YOU’RE alright.’ Well, yes, and I’d certainly hope that my own beloved hubby would think so, BUT … at this point I was about ready to thump the next person that said it!

When I got home I phoned my friend Gerbil, who had a not dissimilar experience a few months ago. She gained HUGE brownie points by NOT saying that fateful phrase and giving my tongue an opportunity to cover.

Now the biggest worry, ignoring the fact that YET ANOTHER holiday has been ruined, is that the car might or might be a write off – and if it’s a write off it’s going to be expensive and stressful to find another one! Wish me luck on that score!

You know you’re stupidly busy when …

June 9, 2015 at 11:04 am | Posted in arthrits, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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… the only time you can arrange to meet with your mum to give her some important advice about embroidery is at the doctor’s surgery!

In fairness, it’s partly because she’s stupidly busy too and away for the rest of this week!

We both needed a blood test, and we knew there’d be a bit of a wait, so we met, appropriately enough, in the waiting room! You may remember from my last post, things hadn’t exactly gone according to plan with the blood test attempt, but this time it couldn’t have gone better! When I got there, mum was actually having her test, having arrived a little while before me. It couldn’t have worked out better. As I sat down, she came out from the phlebotomist, we had just enough time to go through her needlework problem and I got called in!

I only waited about ten minutes to be seen and I needed that ten minutes to sort mum out!

Hurrah for the surgery – and I don’t often say that! When things run well, they run really well … a pity they don’t run well a little more consistently!

It’s not just chronic disease – it’s just that we have to put up with it more often!

March 24, 2015 at 11:49 am | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me | 1 Comment
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I was chatting in the kitchen at work today with a lass who works in the same building. She had an accident at the weekend and is hobbling around on crutches. As an active, sporty person she’s feeling very frustrated – who wouldn’t be – but I was slightly amused (in a sympathetic way of course) at her frustration with losing her independence. I offered to carry her coffee down the corridor for her and she said no, she’d manage. ‘I hate being a burden’ she said, ‘I’m normally such an independent person and everyone’s being so kind and helpful and I’m having to rely on lifts and things for everything, and of course I’m grateful but  I HATE IT!’ I do so know the feeling – although I’m incredibly lucky with my RA that it comes and goes so must of the time I can remain independent, but when I can’t that continuous feeling of pressure (entirely internal, not from the people around me) to show gratitude, and that feeling of being a burden is just horrible! I don’t think I can explain that feeling to anyone who hasn’t experienced it – but I know many of you reading this will have experienced it too!

Then she said, ‘And everyone’s got an opinion! “Oh, you’ll have to stop doing that now this has happened” and “If you’d been wearing stronger body protection …” and “You shouldn’t have gone out on a day like that” and “If only you’d thought to do this first …”‘ In fact it was one of those unavoidable things – an ‘act of god’ if you like – something spooked her horse and she came off it. It happens. She wears body protection, she was in a lesson and it wasn’t that bad a day or the teacher (and she herself) would have cancelled. But yes, everybody has an opinion!

‘Oh, eat a spoonful of honey a day and your arthritis will disappear’ – ‘Oh, if you lost  weight you’d have no arthritis problems’ – ‘Oh, my mother took a whisky every night and lived till she was 122 without any arthritis symptoms, maybe you should try that’ … Doesn’t that sound familiar? The being a burden thing and the everyone has an opinion thing are two things that I think bloggers on RA and chronic disease blog out rather frequently, but it turns out it’s not just ‘us’.

But at least horse lady will get a full recovery (or I certainly hope so) and no doubt ‘look back on this and laugh’ whereas we folk with chronic disease are a bit more stuck with it! Nevertheless, in true Pollyanna fashion, I’m still grateful (and without that burdensome feeling!) for the fact that my disease is mild and for all the things I can still do … and now I can add to that the fact that I’m very unlikely to be thrown off a spooked horse anytime soon, since I’m very unlikely to be on one!

 

To flare or not to flare – that is the question

March 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Posted in arthrits, arthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pai, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 9 Comments
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I woke up yesterday morning with really bad pain in my hip/lower back, but by lunchtime it had passed off, so I had a lunchtime walk yesterday as usual, and very pleasant it was too, until about half-way round, when I got a very sharp pain in the side of my foot, just behind the little toe. (Same leg as the hip pain.) By the time I got back to work the pain was coming in short, sharp bursts lasting up to about 10 seconds and then was fine in between … but in between wasn’t very long! It was happening at least twice a minute. I took paracetamol and, three hours later, ibuprofen, but to no avail. We had to go shopping that night and I limped around the supermarket and then asked hubby to drive home as I was in too much pain. It wasn’t the worst pain I’d ever experienced but it was BAD. My foot just in that area was bright red and swollen, so that sounds like RA, but the odd coming and going of it doesn’t seem quite right. I THINK it was RA and I’m just a weird patient!

Anyway, of course being Monday last night was m-m-m-methotrexate night. I went to bed still in a LOT of pain, and woke up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘OOOH, my foot hurts’ and then again, some time later in the middle of the night, I think around 3:30, thinking ‘OOOH, my foot DOESN’T HURT!’ And it hasn’t hurt since. I have no idea what’s going on or why, but MAYBE it was lucky that that happened on a Monday and the methotrexate kicked in. I don’t think it’s supposed to work like that though, is it? It’s supposed to be a slow build-up, not a week by week thing. Perhaps it was just a short, sharp flare-ette and just finished then. Perhaps it wasn’t RA at all. They mystery of what is and isn’t RA is certainly … mysterious …

That reminds me of the time a few weeks ago when I was getting sharp pains and bad headaches that felt like they were on the outside of my skull. Not the first time this has happened, you may recall. Oh dear, I thought, I hope this isn’t giant cell arteritis – I think it’s that sort of symptom … and then I realised I was wearing a hair-slide that was being pushed into my head by my transcription headphones! Much relieved that I worked this out by myself and didn’t bother the poor, overworked GP with it!

Anyway, the good news is that the answer seems to be ‘not to flare’ at the moment, but I’m having a day off walks this lunchtime just in case it happens again!

Exercise oops!

February 12, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Posted in arthrits, fibromyalgia, joint pai, Me, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments
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Well, after a food-laden Christmas and New Year, I finally got round to some serious dieting and an exercise plan about three weeks before my (inevitably food-laden) birthday!  Having had a fabulous weekend away in Ely and Cambridge, staying in the delightful  Poet’s House Hotel and eating their delicious dinner and delicious breakfast (scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on brioche, plus fruit juice, coffee, cereal, bits and bobs … no need for lunch then!), I thought I’d have just a nibble at lunch time. We popped into a coffee shop in Cambridge and I chose what I honestly thought was a small, and fruity, cake type thing so I could say ‘well at least it was fruit’ – only it turned out to be cherry crumble and came with ice cream. Oops.

So anyway, the point is that I decided I’d better get straight back on the wagon. No problem with the diet – right back into the healthy food as soon as I got home, helped by my birthday present from my friend Debbie – a healthy food hamper! The exercise was a bit more of a challenge though. I try to get a walk every lunch time but this week I’ve managed it precisely once. OH DEAR! Today my excuse for not going, apart from being incredibly busy at work and it being grey and gloomy and COLD outside, was that I was going to do my 20 minute embarrassing exercise video thing this evening.

Well of course I got home and didn’t want to do the exercises – so I thought ‘JUST GET ON WITH IT! If you stop, you’re done for!’ So I just got on with it. (Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?!) I actually got through my 20 minutes (20 minutes and 40 seconds if you’re counting… I was) and was very pleased with myself that I’d done it, although not at a good, high energy level, BUT … my feet felt like lumps of lead (semi-molten) and my knees felt like lumps of wood and the rest of me felt … well, I’ve felt better. Rather disappointing since the last exercise I did, on Saturday morning, went absolutely fantastically and I felt great afterwards – if a little sweaty!

Now, four hours later, my feet still feel like semi-molten lead and my knees feel like … well, maybe balsa rather than mahogany but still not knees … and I’m thinking ‘OOPS – I think I might be going into a flare’ … in which case forcing myself to exercise probably wasn’t the cleverest thing to do after all … but hey, who knew?! I was fine early today – it’s just sprung itself on me.

Hopefully it’ll be one of my famous ‘flarette’s’ and I’ll be all right after a good night’s sleep. Anyway, having just re-read my last blog, I feel a whole lot better already. Today certainly isn’t as bad as that day was!

As things have been so good over the last few months I’m not taking any anti-inflammatories at the moment (with the blessings of my consultant), but I can always take some if need be (also with blessings of consultant), so that should sort me out if it doesn’t sort out naturally.

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