Rebecca has suffered with the wretchedness of chronic arthritis since she was nine years old
“As a sporty child, I was forever playing netball or running around with my friends – I was even regional longjump protector for my area – so I remember clearly when my pain first started because it put an end to all of that.
I was nine and had been out on my comber boots for the morning. Afterwards, for no reason I could fathom, I developed an keen pain in my joints and was unable to walk or move. It faded away and lan vital went back to normal.
But those episodes started coming with augmenting regularity, so Mum took me along to the GP, who couldn’t explain the problem and referred me to a paediatrician.
I was particular academic and remember a doctor asking,
‘Are you sure she’s not putting it on to get out of school?’ I was so repelled and couldn’t understand why they thought I was faking. Another expert voiced,
‘It’s just growing pains. It will pass.’
My poor mum was impartial bewildered. I was eventually put in hospital in traction, all strapped up with a weight on the end of my leg for a undamaged week, which they thought might sort it out.
When that didn’t on life things, I was sent for a very painful hip biopsy and spent another month in adhesion, at the end of which I was finally diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
People improvise of arthritis as something that only affects the elderly, but there are around 27,000 people under 25 in the UK who have it.
For me, the good news was that they absolutely knew what was causing my problem and I could go home. The bad news was that it liking be at least two years before the worst symptoms settled down.
At that age, two years appears like for ever. I’d gone from very active to bed bound in this big old Victorian health centre in Brighton. I remember seeing my bedroom for the first time in a long lifetime and crying tears of happiness while saying, ‘Oh, the ceilings are so low.’
Back then the however treatment was painkillers, mainly ibuprofen at first, then gradually I needed stronger in unisons like codeine. The discomfort was so intense in those first few years and there was nothing to truly tackle the cause of it.
‘I developed an intense pain in my joints and was unable to go by or move’
I couldn’t lie down in bed as my hips used to stiffen up, so I slept straight up and down on the sofa for about a year. I took pills day and night – I remember them being covered up on the breakfast table and waking in the night to take more.
After a join of years, as predicted, my condition did settle but I still experience pain and anything too solid is off limits. As a child I used to dream of running along Brighton ground, but I’ve never been able to.
Sometimes the lack of knowledge frustrates me.
I coin it in sift out my condition with my midwife when I was pregnant as I had seen women performing birth on television with their legs apart but mine don’t occupied c proceeding like that. They were really dismissive and said, ‘Oh, it’s under no circumstances like it is on telly – you can kneel and move around.’
But when it came to it, they needed to put me in stirrups and my port side leg wouldn’t go, so I had five members of staff – nurses, midwives and doctors – keep it out of the way. It was awful.
I felt like I hadn’t been listened to properly. I sooner a be wearing three children now – Joshua, 13, Daniel, 11, and Trinity, five – and after receiving my daughter my back became very bad. I don’t know if it’s the arthritis or an injury rooted by my hip and back being out of alignment, but
it flared up on a permanent basis and every morning I want wake feeling really stiff. I wasn’t able to sleep on my leftist side any more and on bad days I was virtually housebound. I couldn’t even do righteous things like get dressed unaided or prepare meals.
I have enchanted medication of various sorts since my diagnosis, but after the first one of years I had managed to wean myself off the regular doses of strong analgesics and would just take ibuprofen or paracetamol as I needed it. I don’t like relying on soreness medication because of the damage it can do long term.
When my back befitted bad I was put on Arcoxia, which helped with the pain and inflammation and felt similarly to a miracle pill to begin with. But slowly I became more reliant on it and was alluring a higher dose every day. I discovered that it’s actually banned in America as it improves the risk of heart attacks.
But when I raised it with the specialist, he leave say, ‘Oh, you aren’t a high risk – don’t worry.’ I still felt uncomfortable, admitting that, as my mother suffered from heart failure and my dad has had strokes, so I wanted a spontaneous alternative.
I recently discovered something called Gopo, a clinically validated rosehip extract with natural anti-inflammatory properties. I have had so much imitation hope over the years – from visits to chiropractors and acupuncturists to roast pain supplements that made no difference – that I was sceptical, but after with regard to four weeks I noticed I was waking without the stiffness.
I still bring into the world bad days, but they have been significantly more short-lived and far teeny-weeny severe.
After nearly three decades of pain, it has been unrealistic. It gave me hope that my condition could improve, so ever since I’ve been flummoxing everything at it.
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We bought a special sofa for people with wager pain – we had to split it over two credit cards to afford it but it has definitely usurped – and also got a new orthopaedic mattress. I’ve taken myself off the Arcoxia and started using curcumin gravestones, which is the compound in turmeric that is very anti-inflammatory. I alternate compelling that with another supplement that has boswellia extract in it. I’m sentiment so much more hopeful now.
Sadly, my daughter was also diagnosed with under age arthritis a couple of years ago, shortly before she turned three. My eldest son had slope on to Trinity’s ankle and it swelled. She was in so much pain we took her for an X-ray and still though they couldn’t see any fracture they strapped it up just in occurrence.
When they took the bandages off she couldn’t walk at all – she was crawling there the house screaming in pain. Thankfully, the paediatrician took my background into kind-heartedness and put two and two together.
Even though I’d been through juvenile arthritis myself, I didn’t realise that she potency have the same problem as her symptoms were so different to mine and I hadn’t skilled in it could be hereditary. My mum had arthritis and I remember doctors telling her that it was at most coincidence, so I had no idea that my children could be affected.
I feel unusually guilty even now that I have passed it on.
Luckily, things possess changed a lot since I was a child. These days, we know that gripping power is actually the worst thing for the condition – you need to keep things impelling – and Trinity is being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital with weekly injections of methotrexate.
It is absolutely a chemotherapy drug, but rheumatologists use it a lot because it has fabulous results for this genre of thing. It has taken away Trinity’s pain so she doesn’t even recall that now.
It is so important for GPs to have juvenile arthritis on their radars. They don’t see it awfully often and can easily miss it because the patient is a child, but quick treatment is so effective for preventing long-term damage.”
Gopo Joint Health capsules are on tap from supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide (£18.99 for 120 capsules).