Hi, my name is Alexis, although to my friends I am Lexi. I am from the UK but have lived in New Zealand for the last 4 years.
I was diagnosed with RA in August 2016 although I think there were signs before that if I look back. I had pain and fatigue to the extent I thought it was the flu. My ankle has also given me trouble which later turned out to be Osteoarthritis. When seeing my GP in May, I finally got my appointment with a Rheumatologist scheduled for August 2016.
My Anti-CCP blood test (this is a definitive test for RA) level was 250. To put that in perspective, normal levels are below 20. I left my appointment in shock with a leaflet and prescription for Methotrexate which was also used for cancer patients, but RA patients take a much lower dosage. I used to walk miles but now my feet hurt and I also have problems with my hands, knees, neck, and shoulders with lots of stiffness and fatigue.
My first Rheumatologist was ok, but I did not find him easy to talk to. Luckily, I took a cancellation appointment with another doctor three months later and she was great so now I only see her, who is a joy to talk with. It is worth making sure you have a rapport as a Rheumatologist is your permanent go-to person. At present, I go every three months and have blood checks in between.
Methotrexate has worked reasonably well for now and I am also on Plaquenil and Folic Acid. On my last visit, my inflammation levels were lower so I could not understand why I was still in a lot of pain, with fatigue and stiffness?
Anyway, on Friday 15th December 2017 my Rheumatologist also diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia which is another story. Needless to say, I felt shocked and am now on more medication. I have RA, OA, and Fibromyalgia!
It has been hard and there are going to be harder times in the future and I have my down days.
I found online support Groups good. I have also started a local Support Group which I hope will help people. My appreciation for life has grown and so has my determination – I will not let this beat me. Every day, I wake up to being positive and combating the depression (which is normal) and, ultimately, being grateful for life.