Rheumatoid Awareness Week 2021: Sammy's story

Written by Sammy Oliver, 13 September

"I never know what each day is going to bring" is what Sammy Oliver describes as life, living with RA. She writes to us about her journey with RA and what it means to her.

My diagnosis story

Well, I was working in a clothes factory when I started to get a really bad aching feeling in my fingers and wrists at first. The GP kept saying - it must be me working too hard, which made me buy every muscle relieving bath soak there was. Nothing was helping - not even rest, and a whole year went by. Then, I saw a different GP who said to try some stronger pain relief which took the edge of it. It took another 6 months to get to the point where the GP said you are too young to have arthritis but let us do a blood test. The blood test got me answers, but I was still far from any relief.

I met up with a consultant who prescribed methotrexate. I reacted badly to it, so she lowered the dose and then put me on sulfasalazine. I wasn't really responding very well and I was still in a lot of pain, to a point where I was going up and down stairs on my bum as the pain and stiffness was so terrible, it was all over my body. My fingers were swollen, sore and painful. My toes at this point looked like sausages. The consultant passed that pain off as I was overweight and said that the weight is what is causing stress on my joints. I was sent to a psychiatrist as the consultant thought I had developed a disorder where my brain makes me feel like I'm in pain. The psychiatrist did his thing and at the end said that he is sorry that it took him too long to notice my pain.

At this point, I asked my GP for a second opinion from a consultant at the hospital for my arthritis, as I was unable to move, and my life was so painful. It was getting extremely hard to get through a day and to be told its got to be in my head. The next consultant looked through my blood work and she found it hard to see why her colleague couldn't see the inflammation levels in my blood as they were sky high!

Fast forward to this day, I still have that brilliant consultant who looked at my blood work and saw that I wasn't responding to all the pill medications. She put me first on infusions and now I am on home injections. I still have my bad flare days but I'm not always swollen and sore like I was.

How R.A. affects my everyday life

It effects me in a way that now days I have to have everything covered. So, if we are going anywhere, I plan ahead and take the wheel chair just in case as I have to have rest stops. Being on immune suppressant injection, I have to check with friends and family that no ones poorly. It was hard at first to get used to but its an embedded part of my life now, I usually have to take a pair of to slippers most places. Also, I would like to mention the fact that my husband is my carer and he literally does everything I cant and helps me through the things I struggle with. He's a massive support system at home and when we are out.

What living with R.A. means to me

Living with RA means I have to be ready for the unexpected - I may feel pain and can't walk one day, next I could be riding my trike, it means I always live right in the moment, I never know what each day is going to bring, I am grateful for the things I can do and to not feel a burden or left out of the things I cannot do as we all have our limits.

Image source: Towfiqu Barbhuiya, Unsplash

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