Rheumatoid Arthritis: The patient – physician relationship
Published Dec 24, 2019 • By Louise Bollecker
How do you get your doctor to listen and find the right treatment for you? One of our members living with rheumatoid arthritis tells us about her health journey, the initial symptoms and her diagnosis.
Hello and thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a 66-year-old woman, working as a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst. I had to stop my occupation as an instructor when my illness started.
When did the initial symptoms appear?
In May 2017, I developed cervicobrachial neuralgia on my right side which had been drooping for about 10 years. 3 months later, in August, I was hit with a sudden wave of swelling and inflammation that was so severe I couldn’t even move. My ankles, my knees, my wrists, my hands, my shoulders (especially on the right side) just about all of my joints were swollen and painful.
How were you diagnosed?
I was already seeing a rheumatologist, so I got an appointment with her in September. The diagnosis was clear by mid-September. I was afraid, but I decided to put my trust in the medical system, before unfortunately learning that the treatments available today are very limited. My son supports me, as do my friends.
What treatments were you prescribed?
I was immediately put on 17,5g of Methotrexate and my dosage was slowly upped to 25mg today. I’ve been on Cortisone for 2 years now, but that will soon be finished because I’m taking nearly 1mg a day. Since I still have some pain, I’m probably going to try out other treatments. Alternative medicine is of some help, but when the pain is really bad, it just doesn’t cut it.
How is your relationship with your physicians?
Very good today, but pretty rocky at the beginning because I insisted on getting an explanation – which they couldn’t give me – about what was happening to me. I changed pulmonologists after dealing with a lackadaisical doctor who failed to pick-up the pneumonia I was suffering from. My opinion is respected now, ever since I had a good discussion with my rheumatologist, that is. I see my doctor every 6 weeks, but I call her if I feel another flare up coming on.
How are you doing now?
Just alright. My illness still hasn’t stabilized. The fatigue, pain and the partial loss of mobility are the hardest symptoms to bear.
What advice would you give to someone just diagnosed?
Arm yourself with patience and Eastern philosophy!
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