Friday, 25 January 2013

An arthritis upgrade...

Hi everyone

So as I mentioned in my last blog, I had a check up with my consultant this week. I first saw her in August 2012 when I was diagnosed with arthritis, click here to read the post about my first meeting with my consultant. The plan was to get started on medication and to come back in three months to see how I was doing... Well five months later I finally got my appointment!

My expectations of how the appointment would go were nothing like what actually happened! After being told by my rheumatology nurse that I was improving nicely and therefore didn't need to see her anymore or have my blood tested as regularly, I expected for the consultant to match this notion. Even though in the back of my mind I felt like I was going downhill again and a lot of my pain had returned, since the nurse was happy with my progress, I assumed that I was just having a bit of a blip because of the snow and cold weather.

FacebookIn actual fact, after being examined by my consultant, she told me that since I still have so much swelling and pain in my joints, this is an indication that my medication (Methotrexate) is not working properly. I was slightly confused by this, as a few weeks ago I felt almost back to normal, but it turns out that my steroids were masking the fact that my medication wasn't working. When I was reducing my steroids, my medication should have stepped in its place, but instead I have just got progressively worse.

The consultant also asked if I had any rashes on my body. I told her about a small rash that had started on my elbow and had appeared up my right forearm over the past week, but it was only minor and I didn’t have it anywhere else. (It turns out that I also had it on my other elbow, but couldn’t see it) My consultant believes that this is the start of psoriasis, and therefore I probably have Psoriatic arthritis.

About 1 in 10 people with psoriasis develops psoriatic arthritis and in most cases, the arthritis develops after the psoriasis. However, in a small number of cases the arthritis develops first, sometimes months or even years before the psoriasis develops. Trust me to be the minority!

This also highlights the fact that my medication isn't working because if it was, it would have stopped the psorasis from a developing. In a way, this is a good thing because it means I can have a firmer diagnosis of the type of rheumatoid arthritis and get the most accurate treatment, but at the same time I'd rather have nice skin. Although, at least I only have very small patches of it at the moment.

So the new plan is I have had my dose of Methotrexate increased to 8 pills, and will continue with this dose for the time being. I will have to go back to see my rheumatologist nurse in 6 weeks to see how I'm doing. If it looks like I'm still not getting better than this means that I am just not absorbing enough of the Methotrexate for it to work and therefore I will have to start injecting myself with it.

So I'm hoping that the increased dose gets to work ASAP!

Friday, 18 January 2013

New Year Update

Hi everyone

Happy new year! This year so far has been a bit of a busy one for me, hence my first post of the month being on the 18th of January!

Before I start, I would just like to acknowledge the late Alice Pyne. It was so sad to hear that she had passed last weekend. She was an inspiration to so many people and she showed that just because you have been diagnosed with an illness that you will have for the rest of your life, doesn't mean that you have to dwell on it. She also showed the power of using your illness to help others, which is what I am trying to do. RIP Alice.

So since my last post, I have reduced my steroids down to 2.5mg (I'm nearly off them!). Although, I have started to get pain back in all of the places I did before, so I am wondering if I will need to go back up to 5mg :( I am at the Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctor (Dr Wood) next week so hopefully she will advise me with what to do next. I've had to start wearing my wrist support occasionally again, I am struggling to get my arm above my head because of the pain in my collar bone, my feet are quite sore when I walk and most annoyingly, my fingers on my right hand are swollen and painful again. It feels like I am taking a step back, but I hope that Dr Wood will be able help me.

My appointment next week is for my 3 month check up from my first appointment... In August!! I was diagnosed at my appointment in August, then Dr Wood gave me a steroid injection that was to last three months and then she would see me again once I had started on my medication. Well, I finally received an appointment in the post in December for January 11th at 12pm, in Kendal! I had to ring up and rearrange for an appointment in Ulverston, otherwise I would have had to take pretty much the whole day off. The problems I have had with getting appointments has been ridiculous!

On a more positive note, I went to my monthly clinic with the Rheumatologist nurse this week. My blood test results showed that during the week that I was ill in December, my inflammation count shot straight back up to when I was first diagnosed with RA, so it was four times higher than the week before. Luckily my next blood test showed that it started to go back down again after that, so it was just down to me being ill. But other than that, my blood results showed promising signs, which means that I have now been passed to my GP and no longer need to go to the monthly clinic. It also means that I only have to get my blood tested once a month now rather than every two weeks which is also great news!

I am still on 6 pills of Methotrexate once a week, which I am pleased to say still aren't causing me too much trouble. I do tend to feel a bit dizzy and sometimes a bit sick on a Wednesday, but nothing too horrendous!