Lu has polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis with a positive rheumatoid factor. She experiences a lot of pain and swelling. She is determined to not let the arthritis get in the way of her dreams and has travelled the world and graduated with two university degrees.
Lu is a 26 year old recruitment consultant. When she was 13 years old she was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis with a positive rheumatoid factor. Lu’s problems began after she fell down the stairs. She hurt her fingers in the fall. The swelling did not go down so her parents took her to accident and emergency. An x-ray showed that Lu did not break any bones. The swelling in Lu’s fingers did not go down for a month. Lu’s GP ordered a lot of blood tests to explore what was wrong and one test revealed that she was rheumatoid factor positive. Lu was referred to a consultant rheumatologist at her local hospital. Because the consultant did not work with young people he referred Lu to a children’s hospital in a nearby city.
Lu refused to go into hospital as an in-patient because she was afraid of what was going to happen to her. Not long before she was diagnosed Lu’s granddad died and she was still coming to terms with the loss. Lu also refused to take her medication because she did not want to experience any side effects, which may have included hair loss and sickness. Lu’s condition deteriorated and she became very ill. It was at this point that Lu realised that it was important to take the medication and she started to listen to the doctor’s advice.
As she got older Lu tried different medications to help manage her arthritis and had varying levels of success. She was in a lot of pain during her A-Levels and during her undergraduate degree. However, she was determined not to let the pain get in the way of her achievements and worked hard to achieve high grades and train with her university swim team. By the time she graduated from university her arthritis was sufficiently under control and she was able to travel the world. Her consultant gave her enough medication to last for four months in tablet form. Lu then managed to purchase further medications when she was abroad. She had blood tests abroad and the results were sent home to her consultant.
Lu returned to the UK and studied for a master’s degree. Her arthritis flared up again and she initially struggled to keep up. Her consultant put her on Enbrel (etanercept) injections. These injections worked very well and Lu managed to graduate for a second time with high grades and started working full-time in a competitive job. She also managed to travel to Australia and had her medication stored in a fridge on the plane.