The truth about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The hard choices – pay or wait

I have decided to pay $615 for an MRCP (Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography), an MRI of my liver, rather than wait another week and pay $250.

One company bulk bills, the other does not.  That’s a difference of $365.  That’s about what I need to spend on one of my kids Christmas presents.  That’s a lot of money.

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People who make my illness about them

I have to call someone close to me, and I don’t want to. Because I know the conversation will bring me down.  Why?  Because she makes my illness about her.

Huh?  How in the world?

This.

For a long time I didn’t let on how severe my illness was. I kept it private, hidden.  Eventually, with people to whom you are related, you can’t hide it. You are expected to attend events, and you can’t.  Or you show up and you are so clearly in terrible shape that you have to spill.

And now, lately, this person calls every other day to ask how I am.

I am the same.  Nothing has changed.  No, I am not better.  And no, I don’t want to talk about it every day!  I do my best to put it OUT of my mind, and these calls make me sit down and waste an hour of my day on a very negative conversation.

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What is iritis/anterior uveitis?

What is iritis?

Iritis is inflammation of the iris (the colored part of the eye).  It is a form of uveitis, and is more correctly termed anterior uveitis.  It is a common comorbid condition in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis.

Symptoms of iritis

Iritis usually presents as a red, painful eye.  Sometimes patients experience blurred vision, and sensitivity to light.    The pupil may be constricted.  This all sounds pretty minor, but iritis is serious and can be very painful.

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‘Emergency’ rheumatologist appointment to deal with my unhappy liver and unhappy lungs

Once my rheumatologist finally got the message about my liver enzymes, she was quick to call me in. And the appointment was pretty quick too.  She was very efficient.  She immediately recognised that I’m having rather a big problem, and that was before I told her about my lungs.

On first glance she looked at my lung capacity and said there was nothing to worry about. Then I pointed out the ‘before’ and ‘after’ percentages and she agreed I need a more in depth pulmonary workup. So she wrote me a referral for another four tests – another spirometry test, a gas transfer factor test, a lung volume and Bronchial Provocation test.  I know what the spirometry test is, a repeat of what I did the other day. The other tests, I have no idea.  But she said that would give her a complete picture of my lung function, if its asthma, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), if it’s medication related.  I’m having those tests ASAP, which in the real world means in two weeks.

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