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In my first year of university (2006) i woke up one morning to find that i could hardly move. I could barley lift my head from the pillow. I eventually managed to reach my phone which was at the side of my bed and called my flat mate. With him holding the phone to my face I called the University doctors but as it was the weekend it was shut. I called the NHS helpline. They told me to take Nurofen. I stressed that I could hardly move but they seemed to think I was being a hypochondriac. I asked if they would be able to send a doctor out to me and they refused. I then called my parents who live about an hour away from my University in Nottingham. They came straight away and slowly managed to get me into the car.
I got home and was in terrible pain all over; I also had a couple of little red spots on my fingers. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t even sit up in bed or get to the bathroom on my own. My mum spent ages on the phone to the NHS helpline who advised her this time to call an ambulance. She told mum it looked like meningitis. The ambulance arrived. The paramedic took my temperature and looked at the rash. He said it was a virus and would be gone in a couple of days then left. I was seen by my family doctor on Monday after the symptoms were no better. He examined me and took blood tests. The results showed that I had massive inflammation. The pain stared to settle in three areas. My left hand/wrist, my left foot/ankle and my right shoulder. The doctor said the blood tests showed what looked like arthritis and he wanted to book me into the hospital. I was on a very high dose of steroids which were helping slightly but were never going to be a long term solution. At this point it had been about 6 weeks since the pain started. The Hospital appointment came and they could not see me for another month. I decided to go private.
The doctor saw me a week later. He examined me and found that my heart was beating at around 140 beats per min. he was really concerned by this and wanted me in hospital the next day. At this point I still could not walk or lift anything heavy.
The next day I was admitted into hospital, this was also the day of my 19th birthday. They sent me for an emergency heart echo which showed nothing abnormal, my heart started to slow down a little and they put it down to being under stress and in pain.
I was poked and prodded and tested for every possible thing. After a week I was diagnosed with reactive arthritis and things at last started to become clear. The little symptoms like flaky skin on my hands and feet made sense and the sore eyes.
I saw a physio therapist who taught me exercises and got me taking my first steps in 8 weeks. I felt like Bamby. It was still very painful and the doctors decided to give me steroid injections into my joints.
They said I could go home as soon as I could walk on my own so after 3 days and allot of hard work and tears I was discharged. Being in hospital was having a terrible effect on my mental health. I was becoming increasingly low and my family had begun to worry so being discharged was a great relief.
I planed to be back at university after the 3 week Easter brake. I missed university so much and couldn’t wait to be back. I did everything in my power to get better quicker. I was being weaned off the steroids and I was walking as much as I could every day.
I made it back for the fist day of summer term. Looking back a was still very poorly but very determined. I was walking very slowly and yes it was very painful but as far as I was concerned I was out of a wheel chair and doing it alone. My shoulder was almost totally recovered. It clicked and ached slightly but nothing to complain about. My wrist was still a big problem; I needed help with things like opening jars or tins.
So now its 2008 and it will be two years in February since I was diagnosed. If you met me now you would know I had anything wrong with me but I still have bad days. I ride my bike and my wrist will hurt the next day. I wear heals and I might spend the next day limping. I have managed to get to the point where I can get on my tip toes and my grip in my left hand is ok now. I cant bend my left wrist back very far and I still have some swelling across my left knuckles. The joints which were effected are very clicky and girindy.
I wondered if any one has had a similar experience and how there recovery has ended up. I have come to the grim conclusion that I may always be in some pain. It doesn’t really affect my life that much. I am going travelling around south America next year and I lead quite an active life.
Does anyone have any advice or any stories? I wondered if anyone else took longer than this to heal after an extreme case?
P.S sorry for the length but I wanted to express what a struggle I’ve had so others can maybe take something from it if all seems hopeless. I was at an all time low in my life and I am now at a stage where I can look back and feel I have come out the other side with almost all my health back. Thanks for any responses.
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