Charlotte was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in July 2007. The first time she saw her consultant was as a private patient because on the NHS there was a waiting period of three months. She is on Methotrexate. She feels more tired than before her diagnosis.
Charlotte was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in late 2007. Over a period of several weeks before her diagnosis her feet and hands became very swollen and painful and she felt a throbbing sensation. She also found it very difficult to walk or sleep at night. She went to an NHS drop in centre and was told to go and see her GP. Her GP suspected RA and did a blood test and referred her to a rheumatologist.
The first time she saw her consultant was as a private patient because the NHS had a three month waiting period. She described her consultant as ‘absolutely fantastic’. He examined her and ran some more tests and gave her a steroid injection. Her diagnosis came as a shock because she didn’t think herself to be ill.
Initially she was put on a low dosage of Methotrexate and told that she would have to go for blood tests every two weeks to check her liver function. She was also told that she should not drink alcohol. Charlotte says that her medication is working well but one of the things she has noticed is that she feels more tired than before and needs lots of sleep. She is learning to pace herself and tries not to pack in as many activities as she used to. Her Methotrexate dosage has been increased and she hopes it will help with her fatigue. She found it difficult to stop drinking alcohol altogether and was told by her doctor that she can do so in moderation.
Initially she thought that RA was an old people’s illness and didn’t know much about it. So she was determined to learn as much as she could about the condition and how to take best care of herself. She indicated that the literature she found was mostly American and caters primarily for an American public. She also finds that the literature about diet and exercise offers confusing and contradictory information. The nurse at the hospital gave her some leaflets published by Arthritis Research Care (ARC) that she found useful. Her consultant has also arranged for her to have a three hour meeting with a multi-disciplinary team which includes a practitioner, physiotherapist and occupational therapist. She welcomes the opportunity to discuss her concerns and obtain professional advice and information.
Before her diagnosis she applied and obtained a job in her home city and now lives at home with her parents. She said that her family, boyfriend and friends have all been really supportive. Either her parents or her boyfriend now go with her to her hospital appointments.