• Gemma

Life at the Other side of the World

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) at 18 months old. I was treated until I was 17 years old at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) by a fantastic rheumatology team before my care was transferred to the adult rheumatology team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB). I have tried multiple DMARDS and Biologics, but am currently on no treatment (YAY!).

I am an Occupational Therapist, currently working in Mental Health and enjoy an active lifestyle; swimming, rock climbing (indoor and outdoors) and hiking. Arthritis hasn’t stopped me doing anything (well, apart from ballet, but I have two left feet anyway!!) and has probably made me more determined to prove people wrong and show them that I can do it!

Flying the Nest with Arthritis

So I flew the comfort of my parents nest, and by that I mean literally flew! Not only have I moved out of home officially (Uni doesn’t count really) but I have moved to the other side of the world.

Arriving in New Zealand after 38 hours of travelling; stiff, sore, tired and of course a little grumpy! I was picked up by one of my new colleagues and taken to my new home for the next two weeks – a motel.

I spent the next few days keeping moving, meeting new people and trying to combat jetleg! – It’s hard, I managed to fall asleep in a restaurant with my new boss.

I started my new job 2 days after arriving and it’s been pretty full on since. I’ve brought myself a car, found somewhere to live, brought furniture, made friends, seen a couple different places and have started back at my hobbies.

Moving away from home has been a big life lesson for me, although I still call mum for advice (they always know best it turns out!). It’s definitely not been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. The stress from the move has taken it’s toll on my body and I have been in flare on and off since I got here, but I’ve realised that wherever you are, you will always find people who are there to care for you and look after you when you’re not feeling so great.

I have seen a rheumatologist here, got my medications prescribed and know where to go when I need help. I may be half a world away but it turns out, most things are the same.


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