First a little background. I have moderate to severe Rheumatoid Disease. For my European friends who still call it Rheumatoid Arthritis, I am from now on deferring to our American cousins who have got fed up with the word ‘Arthritis’ and people automatically assuming that is all you have. For those new to my Blog, RD is an autoimmune disease that is incurable and affects many organs in your body apart from just joints. The drugs that are available for it have absolutely no effect on ‘arthritis’ and have varying effects on the chronic pain and severe fatigue that come as added extras to Rheumatoid Disease.
Next – I live on the Beara Peninsula in the far SW of Ireland. My nearest neighbour is about quarter of a mile away. We have beautiful mountains around us, clean air and dark skies and are about half a mile from the sea – the Atlantic Ocean, next stop USA ! So, sparsely populated, so much so that I know no-one else who has RD around here. Hence the Blog which has had the marvellous effect of linking me to the rest of the world and thousands of people who also have RD – so I am no longer alone from that point of view. I live here with my retired ex-Drilling Superintendent husband and although it is now two years since my last operation on my right foot, he looked after me wonderfully till 4 week’s ago.

The Beara Peninsula

Crisis time ! He slipped and fell in the garden and broke his ankle, so my first very abrupt job was to drive him to hospital, after not having driven for 2 years ! Worst of all was parking by the hospital in the very busy car parks, but it does come back like riding a bicycle and we did the 160 mile return journey without too many scary moments ! He was plastered and put on crutches and told not to put his foot down for six weeks, so in a trice I became the carer instead of the cared for !
I can only walk about a quarter mile, but we have two dogs who needed walking, so it was out with my Quingo into the pouring rain, which I actually rather enjoyed ! This was after having to wake up in the morning, get tea and let the dogs out and then make breakfast. Help Pat dress and get him to the breakfast table. Anyone who has spent time on two crutches will know that it means you are unable to carry anything, so I became the Fetcher and Carrier. The house had to be cleaned so I dusted off my I-Robot Roomba and put my tired self into cooking lunch mode whilst it zoomed around hoovering the floors. Seeing it whizzing around reminded me that I had a Power Chair in the garage, so my son was called over and he got it working again for his Dad who was delighted at now being able to get around the house without the crutches and, in all fairness this made him very useful for all jobs involving bending from the waist – something that gives me alarming backache ! So he was put in charge of the washing and tumble drying, setting the table and at this very moment is cleaning all the cupboard fronts in our Kitchen that haven’t received such attention in years !! So not all bad.
Afternoons are spent shopping and Pat wants to come, even though he has to sit in the car whilst I shop ! (I did this for eight years during and after various operations). I can push the shopping trolley just fine and put the stuff from the trolley into the car, but getting home is a whole new game! in that I cannot carry anything heavier than a handbag without my wrists collapsing. The remedy for this was first to get Pat safely out the car and into the house, then go back to the car with a barrel trolley that I found in the garden shed and which I can push as far as the kitchen door loaded with the shopping. Then unload it slowly and get Pat to put anything away in places he can reach. I do the rest. Next comes preparing dinner ( how I would love a Cook/Housekeeper right now ! ) I actually love to cook, but when it has to be done every single day, it’s exhausting ! During the years when Pat worked away all over the world, I spent long months on my own pre and post op. I was very careful to only confine myself to a couple of rooms, eat ready prepared meals and sit in my chair and watch telly in the evenings. Now I have to feed dogs and cats, let them in and out the door (how I would love a Doorman too !) cook and serve dinner, clean up, load the dishwasher lock up and sink exhausted into bed. My knees, hips, hands and wrists ache and my walking speed is reduced to a crawl!
On the bright side, he only has two more weeks to go and then back to Cork for walking boots so I am just hoping he gets used to them very very quickly ! Also I have come to realise just exactly how much he was doing for me before the crisis occurred – but I am secretly longing to just be able to throw myself into my bed for an afternoon rest – what luxury that will be !!

YOU ARE WHAT YOU (should not) EAT !!

Over recent months I have found it very interesting reading  your Blogs from all over the world and to compare treatment of RA between countries.  It’s quite amazing how it differs, but our problems all end up with much the same results.  We all have pain to a greater or lesser (for the fortunate ones ) degree which comes with its accompanying sleeplessness. Our hands and feet hurt, we can’t do up our buttons or zips and our bad language expands accordingly !  There was a time when I just used to mutter to myself, but now I find that I can curse and swear like a navvy!
The biggest problem we all seem to have is weight gain – yes I have to admit that in my youth I dieted with the best of them, and really rather hoped for a small wasting disease that would come and go and leave me supple and willowy and beautiful, of course !  Then, of late, I hoped that with advancing years would come a matching weight loss from being ‘older’.  Now I read that people who loose weight in old age are probably in need of a medical check up rather than a new wardrobe !
So what did I get ? I got RA for my sins and 10+ years of being operated on. First my hip replacement in 2005, followed by Costachondritis and a Knee Arthroscopy which, of course, made my knee much worse so that it had to be replaced in 2011.  The in between years were filled with such joys as a Gallbladder operation (when they never considered Costachondritis, despite the fact that I told them repeatedly that I had RA)and several bouts of skin cancer courtesy of the Methotrexate I was on !  My knee operation was botched forcing me, yet again, to take to my wheelchair and when I did eventually stagger up and try and walk in a suave sophisticated manner, my foot broke from the uneven weight put on it.  I kept going to the hospitals and X-ray Units and yes, they told me, its broken – but nobody would touch it.  So for one and a half years I had a broken foot and it took me this length of time to find a brilliant foot specialist who fixed it for me with titanium implants and broke the news to me that the other foot was breaking too.  In between my recovery I tripped over my own feet (foot?) and broke my shoulder and my wrist, had my cataracts removed so I could see where I was not going and then had the second foot done in 2015.  I spent endless hours in bed and in a wheelchair and instead of wasting away, I ‘comfort’ ate anything I could get my greedy hands on!   I also was given a lot of steroids to help the inevitable flare-ups and I found that these gave me a craving for all things sweet, so when the end finally came in sight (with just a wee touch more of skin cancer and a blood clot from sitting down so much), I emerged rather pear-shaped from the whole experience !
Over here in Ireland one only gets steroids if your flare up is massive.  I get Biologics and Methotrexate, plus a load of tablets to stem the side effects from what they first gave you ! I can walk, but not very far and not very fast – so am unlikely to loose weight this way !  I really try to stick to a Mediterranean diet, but can often be found sneaking out to the fridge in the middle of the night for just a square of dark chocolate, which really wont do me any harm, will it ??!
The worst side effect of taking Humira is that it made me dislike wine (tastes funny) and spirits are just a No-No. I have gone off red meat to the point of almost becoming a vegetarian, which has to be good, isn’t it, and I have given all of the above a really good try, especially the wine!  Alas, to no effect – I’m still pear shaped and this year I shall be 71. Is it worth me now becoming lithe and willowy or should I just give in gracefully ?  I leave that conundrum up to you !



I’m not sure if it is pretty standard for every husband of an R.A. sufferer to be constantly issuing words of warning to their wives. Such as ‘don’t walk too far’, ‘be careful with that knife’ and ‘watch that you don’t slip’, etc. etc.  My loved one is always at it or maybe I just need holding back (!), so it was with some touch of glee on my part that he went outside on Wednesday afternoon and fell ass-over-tits in the mud !!
The first I knew about it was a plaintive cry from the kitchen to come and look at his foot, which admittedly did look a bit swollen.  Like every man he refused point blank to go to the doctor, so I put a compression bandage on it and an ice pack and it was agreed that if it was still bad in the morning we would seek medical assistance then.
Morning brought a weary and tetchy husband who had been awake most of the night feeling sore so we set off to drive the 70 mile round trip to Bantry and its new Accident Unit.
I will digress slightly here as you may remember from my last Blog that I had slightly slipped a disc in my back that weekend and was really sore.  Luckily by mid week I was feeling a bit better so it was up to me to drive to Bantry and back.  Me, who hasn’t been allowed to drive more than a couple of miles since my last foot operation two year’s ago ! The road to Bantry from us goes winding up and over 1000 feet through the Healy Pass, plunging down to the sea the other side of the peninsula and eventually links up with a main road from Glengarrif to Bantry and we made it to the hospital with no more exciting events – in fact I think I drove rather well !

The Healy Pass road

The new Accident Unit at the hospital is very nice indeed.  Small but adequate and ultra efficient.  Pat was taken off to Xray upon arriving and the doctor pronounced that he had not one, but two broken bones in his foot and the possibility of a torn ligament.  He expertly put a light plaster on it and made an appointment for Pat to go to the Fracture Clinic at Cork University Hospital this coming Thursday as they have no MRI machine at Bantry.  So he was put in a wheelchair and taken back to the car and home we came again.
So now we were suddenly presented with a whole change of precedents.  The carer had become the patient and the patient had become the carer – and, of course, the cook/housekeeper/dog walker as well.  Luckily I still have my Quingo and can walk the dogs using that. In fact I rather enjoy getting out on it and going to places my useless legs won’t walk to!  Cooking I can manage blindfolded, though I must admit it has been rather nice having someone doing all the cooking for me over the last two years, but housework I find exhausting and am ready to go and lie down after ten minutes of hoovering!
So I’m finding out now just how well Pat has been looking after me and I fear he rather expects me to reciprocate !  On day 2 he was ‘bored’ with sitting around and my offer to let him use my painting gear was met with derision, so how does one entertain a man who is forced to sit still and where do I find the energy from to become Superwoman ??
I am so looking forward to the 180 mile round trip to Cork on Thursday and sitting around in the Fracture Clinic for hours on end – I don’t think !  So I have made myself a hair appointment and shall probably need just a touch of retail therapy to get my legs moving again before the return journey, so maybe all is not lost after all, though I wonder if I too shall resort to words of warning over the next few weeks in my new role as carer !!

View from the Healy Pass


Here I am, two days late at doing my Blog due to a severe pain in my coccyx !  And where is that you may ask ?  Well, its down at the base of my spine and liberally sprinkled with arthritis of some form or other.  On the whole it remains quiet and dormant, but about a week ago it decided to say “hello, I’m still here” – just in case I had forgotten it and slip a disc just a teensy bit to one side.
There is nothing quite like the pain of a slipped disc – it puts all your aches and pains into the shade and what’s worse is knowing that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
The moment I felt it, off I went to my GP and got some super new medicine for sudden severe pain which I was to take twice a day for 10 days and it seemed to work.  ‘Seemed’ being the operative word, because the moment I completed the course, back it came again shouting “Here I am, Fooled You” !! And, of course, my GP is now lying on a beach in the Canaries till 6th March.
I’m OK apart from sitting down and standing up when It feels like someone puts a knife in my back and then wires it to the mains supply and you don’t know whether to go on getting up or collapsing from whence you came.
So I retired to bed with my hot pack in place and decided to stay absolutely still.  This worked fine until I needed to go to the loo which involved getting up off the bed, sitting down, standing up and then going back to bed again – moves which were accompanied by loud shouts of pain as I find that sometimes giving vent to the pain actually helps me ! (A bit like yelling when you have a baby !)  Not my husband however, who came running each time I shouted to see what fresh disaster had happened and then when I actually needed help having knocked my glass of water all over myself, failed to show up as I had cried wolf just that once too often !!
That was two nights ago and I ended up repeatedly throwing up all over Pat who held a bowl in front of me as I couldn’t bend down to be sick in the loo !  That guy deserves a very large and shiny medal.  I know we said ‘in sickness and in health’ all those years ago, but he really is my rock and takes all my RA in his stride.
So last night I actually slept almost through and today the really sharp pain is gone.
My coccyx is still muttering and grumbling, but I am up and walking around again – very carefully so as not to wake the sleeping monster and with any luck I’ll be back to my Sunday Blog as usual.images-1.jpeg