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Dear Katrina

Sorry to read about your recent diagnosis. I wish it wasn’t RA but at least it’s not contagious. I worry about my Rebecca because of my RA journey but so far (finger crossed) she shows no signs.

I remember eight years ago waking up in pain much the same as you. It came on suddenly and took about two months before it was confirmed by my specialist. The GP was out of his depth. Are you happy with yours? You know, you can always get your Specialist to refer you to another GP if you are unhappy. I was serious enough to get biologic treatment after about nine months or so. It makes such a difference. You will just have to go through a bag of drugs and see if your body accepts them and if they do you any good in terms of relief. Be careful of that prednisone! A little white tablet with huge long-term unpleasant side effects. It is very effective, but you will pay a long term health price my dear.

How are Pete and Alice? I guess they must be in grades four and six by now. I told the entire family about my diagnosis, the symptoms and the impact of life style from day one. It helped a lot with understanding, but friends don’t see the disease. That is why they call it the invisible disability. In my case, I and my doctors were slow at addressing the constant pain in my hands, shoulders and feet. Sleeping was impossible for months! I became increasingly depressed and was not managing but once the pain was addressed with opioids I was much happier and could function. Not everyone seems to get really bad twisting, scratching pain so if you do dear Katrina, bash on the docs door and get relief. This is really important as the pain and the black dog can ‘sneak’ up over weeks and months before driving you in to a crisis.

It took a while, but I found a silver lining in my RA cloud. If forced me to slow down, to adjust anything physical to what I could reasonable handle. The garden gets much more attention and it shows. I have farewelled tennis and taken up walking - fantastic. I changed my diet completely and eat heaps of berries, nuts and fruit every day. I am more or less a vegetarian these days with the occasional fish. Better avoid mussels and that Asian additive MSG because both make my RA worse and may do the same for you. I actually feel much better with my new diet, lost a couple of kilos but still love my chocolate. I had to give up alcohol and grapefruit as both reacted terribly with my drugs. I’m under control these days but certainly not cured. Stop the drugs and I am in trouble again. Well Katrina, hope you are doing better now.

Give me a bell when you are ready. Take care and lots of love, Anthia