My Arthritis and how I Mastered itby Mrs. Jyoti Shekar Patil
I remember it was Diwali of 2007. I was busy cleaning the house and thinking of preparing sweets, like everyone else. My joints were paining a bit but I ignored the pain, attributing it to the extra efforts and stress I was taking and went on after taking some pain-killers. One night, after preparing Chaklis, pain in my hand increased. The joints which I specifically used rigorously while making Chaklis stiffened and showed redness. Pain worsened. I consulted our family doctor and the medicines he gave relieved me of pain – for a while. Afterwards the cycle of pain-and-relief continued for 2-3 days. After Laxmi Poojan we started off to go to my brother's town for Bhaubeej. While travelling my knees started to stiffen and pain. I told my relatives that something odd was happening but since we were travelling I resorted to painkillers. That night I was feeling cold and feverish. I couldn't turn on my side while sleeping. While talking my jaw developed shooting pain at its joints. The doctor advised blood tests. Next day I had a pain-killing injected and came back home; did all the relevant tests and consulted family doctor again. ESR was up. He gave medicines for 5 days. Generally 5 days are enough for anyone to become fit again but my problems got worse. When I couldn't change my clothes without pain in the joints the family doctor advised to immediately consult a rheumatologist. I went to him and had some more tests done. They showed the increase in ESR, nothing else abnormal. I was asked to do a repeat testing after an interval of 15 days.
I had a fever again after 2-3 days, with the same symptoms. My husband sat with me throuout the night keeping and changing damp stripes of cloth on my forehead but to no avail – the fever continued. In the morning I just couldn't get up, couldn't move my limbs at all. My husband carried me like a kid to the toilet. From that moment he had to handle every household odds – preparing tiffin for our school-going daughter, giving her a bath, making lunch for himself and me. I couldn't bend my fingers and take the food from the plate to my mouth. Our six year old daughter fed me through her hands and I was in tears thinking about the sudden reversal of situation – instead of me helping my baby eat it was her who had to help me! My husband was in a more desparate state but held on and kept encouraging me. We visited the rheumatologist again in the noon hours. He had ANTIBODY CCP test done. We got its report in the next 2-3 days, it was positive. I started on the new medicines prescribed in accordance with the new findings. In those days I just couldn't carry out any of my daily routines – lifting the teacup to my lips, combing hair, folding the clothes…but the new medicine improved the situation in a week.
Fortunately for all of us my husband didn't have to go on a 9-to-5 job, away from home. He runs his own business and his office is in the same building where we reside. Otherwise the situation would have become impossible! My parents were faraway and couldn't come over to help. My husband managed all the household responsibilities alongwith his professional commitments. And here we witnessed the typical traditional family system – many of my in-laws suggested to my husband that instead of him fighting both the fronts I should be sent to my parents' home since they couldn't come over to help! But my loving husband held his ground asking them “Had this happened to me would my wife have left me here? No, she would have stayed and catered to my every need; so that's what I'm doing. Its my home, my wife, my kid and so I shall care for them all. I wish her parents could visit her for extending mental support to her but no, I wouldn't think of sending her off.” I felt so much better when I heard this!! My kiddo learnt to handle all the daily routine which gave me pride and hurt at the same time – pride of the self-sufficiency and sorrow for the situation which made it compulsory for her at such a young age. This generated the classic question in my mind – “Why me? Why all this happened to me only?”
I was tested for the extent of this disease after every 3-4 months. I took my medicines on time. Now it's been almost 9 years and my arthritis is well under control. And I have to mention about the bitter memories of the hardships suffered from some people just because I was severely arthritic and, that too, a female! I had to endure more taunts from females only!! In family gatherings or functions it was nearly impossible for me to sit down on mats or ground. I used to hear whispers from other women present about my physical state and wonderings about my life in coming decades. I was hurt more by their talks than by arthritis! But I thank my rheumatologist for considering the psychology of the patient and encouraging me to ignore opinions from all others, care for yourself & your family and BE HAPPY!!
I have gained reasonable control over my arthritis in the last 7-8 years. Like most patients I also suffered more in winter. In this season of cold my rheumatologist suggested that considering my age I should take one of those 'Biologic' injections, newly introduced here in India. Its human nature not to completely trust anything or anyone! So I searched the internet about the said injection and got really scared after reading its side effects. Considering my present situation to be much better (i.e. without those new medicines and their side effects) I ignored my doctor's advice and didn't go for the Biologics. But then I participated in an awareness program organized by an institute reputed in the field of arthritis and I was told by one and all to “trust your doctor”! So I decided to try the Biologic injection; did the necessary tests and had 2 injections within a span of 15 days. I could feel a complete positive transformation in my disease and I haven't taken a single painkiller in last 2 months! I can also handle my daily routine quite well now. I'd recommend every patient to consult his/her doctor and use Biologic injections.
To sum up, friends, I can only say that this disease is a serious one, yes, but you can live an almost normal life with the cooperation and encouragement of your family & the society. As a female I'd like to address the families of the women suffering from arthritis (and especially the husband) – your love, understanding and encouragement is a far better medicine for an arthritic woman than hundreds of pills she has to take otherwise!
All patients of arthritis should focus on exercising regularly, cultivating their hobbies, listening to music and having positive thoughts instead of the disease itself!