Rheumatoid Awareness Week 2021: Claire's story

Written by Claire Yacoub, 15 September

Claire Yacoub writes about her experience being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the middle of Covid-19 and how her medical team has helped her cope up with it in the middle of this global pandemic.

My diagnosis story

I began displaying symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis whilst living in Canada in 2019, and was diagnosed a few months into the pandemic in 2020. It was terrifying being diagnosed with an immune disease during a global pandemic. I was put on methotrexate, then upped, then switched to injections. I hate it, but it has helped. My initial symptoms was a sharp wrist/thumb pain, but the GP ordered full investigations when it shortly became bilateral. I have since moved back to Northern Ireland, and now I am a patient with rheumatology here. My diagnosis story is then fairly straightforward, thanks to the healthcare team in Canada who acted immediately and thanks to my NHS team who treat me for ongoing care. My arthritis has affected my fingers, wrists, elbows and toes but I am grateful to say it is mostly under control.

How R.A. affects my everyday life

I thought that once my RA was controlled that it wouldn't affect my life anymore, but that's not the truth. Between weekly injections, daily tablets, blood monitoring and hospital appointments, it still affects quite a bit. On top of this, its difficult to function normally during flare ups and even more difficult to explain that to people with little RA knowledge. I am so thankful that my RA hasn't progressed further, and for my medical team. However it is still an ongoing disease that doesn't let you forget it, especially when you're labelled clinically vulnerable during these weird times!

What living with R.A. means to me

Living with RA for me means that I have to accept my own limitations, just like everyone does. I have a class support network, I have a really helpful medical team, and I am glad my disease is under control. I have a lot to work on with figuring it out, as it still feels so new and I can often freak out about it. But with help from the online community alongside my support network, and with learning some self care, I live a beautiful life with RA.

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