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.

The Joys of Medication – copycat post!

June 22, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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This post on the ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis and Me’ blog just about says everything I’ve been trying to say regarding my feelings about medication! So instead of saying it, I’ll just post a link. Here it is. Enjoy!

Wheelchairs – the pros and cons

July 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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Well I jumped the big hurdle today – metaphorically of course as I can hardly walk, let alone hurdle – I went out and about in a wheelchair for the first time. I hope it’s also the last, but it’s another psychological barrier crossed anyway!

The cons that I was anticipating mostly didn’t happen – no adverse comments from anyone, not even the woman who looked at me a little oddly when she saw me get out of the chair and walk down some stairs while hubby pushed the chair down a nearby slope. (If he’d tried pushing me down it we’d all have ended up in a heap at the bottom!) I’m sure she was thinking, ‘What a fraud. She doesn’t need a chair. She can walk!’ but at least she didn’t say anything. Hubby bore up manfully under the strain of manhandling the manual wheelchair … and said he rather enjoyed having a chance to push me about as it’s usually the other way around. I can’t think what he means!

Comfort? Well, we were going round a ‘stately home’, Somerleyton in Suffolk, who kindly provide wheelchairs for those that need them – basic models for sure, but considerably more comfortable than trying to walk in the state I was in. Although it didn’t look ‘well sprung’ the chair did go over various large stones and things without jarring much.

The one con that I hadn’t foreseen, which shows considerable stupidity on my part I fear, is how restrictive it was. Even though I was lucky in that I could at least get up and walk down stairs etc. getting in and out of the thing was not easy, so my usual pottering about, taking closeup photos etc. just didn’t happen this time. It was fun getting photos from a slightly different eye-line than normal though! However, I also discovered that without telepathy it’s quite hard to communicate with the person pushing – not easy for him to hear me apart from anything else. So I’d say ‘ooh, can we stop here?’ and by the time he’d said, ‘Sorry? What?’ and I’d said, ‘I was just wondering if we could STOP here?’ we’d gone quite a way further down the path than I’d had in mind and the ‘photo-opportunity’ was missed.

Still, all in all a very positive experience (on my part anyway, although poor hubby is slightly exhausted this evening), and best of all … no one could see the size of my bum.

I’m glad I don’t have to queue for the GP tomorrow – but that’s about all!

July 14, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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I’ve had a frustrating morning – can hardly lift my left leg at the moment and both knees very painful, and so I phoned the rheumatology helpline at the hospital and explained the problem. My nurse actually answered the phone. Oh good, I thought. She didn’t remember me … but I can’t blame her for that as we’ve only met once. It’s still good because if someone else answers they say ‘Oh you need to speak to Jean and she’s in clinic…’ , so at least I jumped that hoop.

Told her the problem. ‘What do we normally do about your knees, Penguin?’ she says. Well that’s helpful.

‘Well since I only got a diagnosis in April and this hasn’t happened before, not a clue!’

‘Oh, well if it’s specific joints we usually inject them with steroids’ …lovely, ‘and local anesthetic’. Presumably to numb the pain from having the injection, rather than the pain I’ve already got. Oh joy!

Hmm, in my naivety I’d been anticipating more of a tea and sympathy approach followed by something like ‘try a support bandage’ or ‘have a hot bath’ … guess I have a lot to learn about RA!

The nurse continued, ‘But you need to see your GP first to confirm it’s to do with the arthritis. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.’

‘I’d be bloody surprised if it wasn’t … what else is it going to be?!’

‘Well quite, but as I can’t see them we do need to get someone to have a look …’

Thinks – I can look, I have a brain too, and guess what, my knees are all swollen and I can lift the left one. But no, that’s not good enough.

‘Well it won’t be today, because if you don’t get in at 8.30am they won’t see you on the day,’ I says.

Oh well she says, full of NHS optimism, ‘Phone and see if they have a cancellation.’

They did – tomorrow. So I’ve taken that.

I suppose I can be glad about the fact I don’t have to queue up at 8.30 tomorrow morning to get an appointment, only to have to come back at 9.30 to have the appointment, considering how ‘interesting’ standing in line is at the moment – almost as much fun as going up stairs.

I didn’t dare ask how many weeks it would be before I got into the day unit even if the GP did confirm it – or how many weeks it would be for the GP to even write a referral letter.

Maybe I just need to burst in to tears at the GP tomorrow to get something done. Shouldn’t be hard the way I’m feeling.

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