My battle to be diagnosed means my joints were severely damaged by rheumatoid arthritis, explains Anoushka Anand
I was unofficially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2007, while on vacation in India. For the next three years, I experienced painful daily symptoms while fighting an uphill battle with my GP, as he did not believe that I had rheumatoid arthritis and would not run any tests, advising me that what I was suffering from was probably growing pains that would settle with time. Instead, my symptoms worsened.
It was only after I became acutely unwell that I demanded my GP run a full blood test, to rule out any serious illnesses. Upon the return of the blood test results I received a phone call from my GP to tell me that my rheumatoid arthritis factor had come back positive. I was urgently transferred to a specialist hospital where I am receiving very good care.
Unfortunately I had a severe allergic reactions to sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine, the DMARDs I was first prescribed. I was then put on methotrexate, which I took for just over a year before suffering another severe allergic reaction.
I was then started on biologic therapy (etanercept), which eased my symptoms. I could get out more, without really struggling. After 18 months, again I had an allergic reaction so was prescribed a different biologic drug (infliximab), which I was on for a little over two years.
Five months ago I was switched to Remsima, a biosimilar to infliximab. One of the nurse specialists gave me a leaflet to read just before my first dose of Remsima, which provided basic information on the medication.
The switch has been fine; I haven’t experienced any problems. The new drug has kept the swelling of my joints (and therefore my pain levels) down to a minimum so I am still able to get around a lot more.
But due to my late diagnosis and since my diagnosis, I suffered severe damage to some of my joints and have undergone multiple surgeries to remove damaged tissue and cartilage in my joints. I am now under the care of multiple specialist orthopaedic teams, medical teams and am currently on crutches awaiting another surgery on my knee.
Anoushka Anand is a phone line support volunteer for The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and writes for Arthur’s Place, a magazine and social network for young people with arthritis. Visit www.arthursplace.co.uk for more information.
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