Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 22
Simple tasks that became impossible because of rheumatic conditions:
• Doing or undoing a bra
• Holding a cup of tea
• Wearing high heels
At 18 years of age Kelly began to experience pain at a time when she was trying to enjoy her youth, and several years later was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Whilst Kelly looked healthy on the outside she was in severe pain and this has continued, although she has tried to keep doing her normal activities, such as working in catering and playing rugby.
When Kelly was 18 two of her knuckles turned red and sore, and constantly caused her pain, but she was not diagnosed straight away. “After four years of trips to see my GP every few months, they still could not figure out what was wrong with me. My doctor once said “you're too young to have arthritis” so I assumed they never even considered it could be RA. By then the pain was worse and had spread to my hands and feet.”
Kelly was eventually diagnosed. “I finally found a doctor who was determined to find out what was wrong with me. After a simple blood test it showed I had inflammation of the joints so he then referred me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
Living with a rheumatic condition: A constant ruck
Kelly has come to accept her condition, despite on-going symptoms that cause her pain, and struggles with medication which has involved switching from pills to injections. “I still find parts of it hard to live with. I try not to let it get the better of me and control my life. Every few months I have a major flare up in my elbows or shoulders, which can leave me bed bound”.
Continuing at work and sustaining a social life are both important to Kelly, despite difficulties caused by living with rheumatoid arthritis. “I don't use my illness to slack off at work I still push myself to work hard. I still go to the gym to work out. Being young and sociable I enjoy a drink on my nights out. I never thought I would have to worry about drinking until my rheumatologist put me on methotrexate. I now find it hard to go out and party with all my friends.”
Kelly's Window of Opportunity: A tricky conversion
Kelly prides herself in being able to complete tasks that arthritis has made difficult and painful, as well as taking inspiration from others who share the condition as well. “I play for my local rugby club which is its own reward. I even made it to Berkshire County! I once met a woman who was doing an abseil with me for the same charity, NRAS, and she told me her story about how she had hip replacements and had to leave work due to her Rheumatoid Arthritis being so severe. She was the first person I met who has the same condition as me and it inspired me.”
Kelly is sharing her story to help raise awareness of rheumatic conditions because she wants to help people understand that despite looking healthy, RA patients have a lot going on. The condition needs to be made more visible.
The window of opportunity is key in finding the right treatment for millions of people with rheumatic conditions.
If you are inspired by Kelly’s story, visit the "
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