by Cheryl, Brisbane

I am in Brisbane and am 37 years. I was diagnosed just before Christmas last year and I completely lost it. I was the fittest I have been in my life and was enjoying running and attending 4 -5 spin classes a week. I started getting sore feet and the first doctor told me to go home, I had overdone it at the gym and I should use voltaren gel. A few weeks later it hadn’t improved but I wasn’t so concerned. I took a sickie from work one day (I know, a bit naughty) and thought I would go and get a medical certificate from a local doctor I had never been to. I mentioned my sore feet and he asked me if I had stiff fingers. Yes I did! Before I knew it, I was at the rheumatologist being told I had it. I have since learned that she was a terrible rheumy and was not all that helpful. I spent most of this year on Google, finding out about the condition and the medication I am on. When she told me I just needed to accept this pain and stop getting so stressed because it was only making it worse, I decided to change doctors. The new guy seems really nice and has explained so much to me. I have also joined a couple of support groups and have met some really nice people so am feeling much stronger now. At least I have stopped crying!

I adopted 2 basset hounds at the time I was diagnosed and one of them was obese, so I have religiously walked them at least 5 times a week to help her lose weight. Not easy walking to scent hounds, I can tell you, but I do it regardless of the pain. We just take it easy if I am not too good. My husband will come too which is nice. Exercise is very important for my mental health 🙂

I am taking mtx, plaquenil, arava (only just added this one), calcium folinate and folate. They have just taken me off pyralin. I handle the medication quite well from what I understand. A bit of nausea when they add a new drug, but this settles after a few weeks. I had a bit of hair thinning, but this seems to have settled now too.

Most of the time, I have a little pain in my feet and hands and it wasn’t until recently I had my first major flare. I was quite stressed and I got a very bad pain in my ankle. A few days later, it moved to my knee, then it took hold of my shoulders. Oh my god, I never thought this was the pain everyone was talking about. It lasted 8 excruitiating days. At first I thought I had slept funny so did some Yoga to try and stretch it all out. Ouch!! Not a great idea. So, as you can see, I am still learning about this disease and am trying to work out what on earth I should be doing. Thankfully, I have the new rheumy who has given me clear instructions on what to do if/when I have another bad flare. Much more helpful than the other one.