Managing a Flare Up
Fatigue (more so than usual), check.
Right, let’s get this sorted.
As I have lived with JIA for 18 years, I am pretty good at being able to distinguish arthritis pain or muscle pain. It’s difficult to explain but when you live with the condition, you can tell. When I was younger and I’d complain about a pain mom would ask “Arthritis or muscle?” and after a few seconds of focusing on the pain usually titling my head to one side, scrunching my nose and looking at the ceiling, I’d give her the answer. I don’t think the head tilt and scrunched nose really helped in any way but as it made me focus internally, anything was welcome!
Apart from the few aches and pains over the last few months, I’ve been in control of my arthritis. I started to notice a pain in my left knee in mid-January and asked myself “Arthritis or muscle?” I thought I had twisted my knee in a recent DIY task so took paracetamol and shrugged it off.
Blood tests are usually at the top of my list to see if my inflammation markers are up (CRP and ESR). My monitoring is done at my GP and after a new doctor started to oversee the Rheumatology patients, I made an agreement with her that if I felt like I was having a flare; I’d just go straight to the blood clinic. This always sends them into a bit of a panic but when I mention the Drs Name, the forms are magically produced for me! This time the pain was too much, I was driving to work with a hot water bottle on my knee (note to self, maybe an automatic car next time!) and instead of walking round the office, I was rolling around on my office chair instead!
I booked an emergency appointment as I couldn’t be seen for 10 days (!!!) and I’d started to notice inflammation in my left ankle. The doctor examined me and confirmed everything, prescribed me Naproxen, Lansoprazole and Co-Codamol (gosh that stuff is strong!) gave me his best wishes and sent me on my way.
A few days later, not feeling any better, I went to the bloods clinic and then called my nurses at the hospital. We discussed arranging a steroid (Depo-Medrol) and 40 phone calls and 90 hours later it was finally administered.
The steroid worked within 24 hours and I felt a huge relief from the pain. The thing I noticed the most was the lift of the dull ache that is just constant in your body. It’s then that you realise just how bad the pain was. Not everything will work the same for everyone but the most important thing is to keep in contact with your GP and nurses and they will advise you correctly. Don’t give in to the pain, it can be managed!