Trying to stay Positive - Any Tips for a new member

green9378 Member Posts: 3
edited 2. Mar 2012, 17:43 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi i am new to the forum and this is my first Post. I am twenty five years old and i am currently in the British Army. I have been in the Army since i was 16 and untill last June time i was very fit and healthy but have had some little problems with me feet. Since June i have gone down hill massively and i have been diagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis in my foot, ankles, knee and just recently i am having alot of pain in my chest.I didnt even think my chest and shoulder could be effected? I currently take 20mg of Methotrexate weekly, Solpadol and Diclofenac dailly. I am finding dealing with the stress of a young family, work and the pain extremely hard, i am often quite angry and feeling pretty down. I have tried mentioning and talking at work but my colleagues and bosses dont seem very understanding, apperantly it is something i shouldnt have as i am too young. I am constantly being pushed to try and run or do other activities but i cant walk normally ever and i can barely walk in the evening unless im walking with my stick. Does anyone do any type of physical job and manage it well or am i living in a dream world of thinking that i will be able to get better and keeping me job? I have until Oct 12 really to pass all mandatory tests or i could get discharged either medically or admin discharged. Likewise i have to be careful how much Methotrexate i take and if that doesnt work what medication i take as it effects my effectiveness in the Army.

I will not see my Specialist until the end of April ut does anyone have any tips on trying to positive or ways of keeping the pain to a minimum as Solpadol doesnt seem to work at all?

Thanks For listening



  • emsjane
    emsjane Member Posts: 351
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie,

    Personally, i would say, as you are so young still but have been diagnosed with RA, that you should consider a less physically demanding job!! I know that is a massive decision to make, but you must consider the fact that you have a long life ahead of you and you will need to manage your RA. If you push your body too much you will end up in lots of pain as you seem to be finding out!!

    Is it possible to stay in the Army but do something different that is less physically demanding?

    You are on quite strong drugs now by the sounds of things and if they arn't really helping you to maintain the level of activity you want, then you do need to consider reducing your activity levels to reach a happy medium!

    I know this isn't probably what you want to hear, but it is important with any sort of arthritis to be realistic about your abilities and limitations! Once you accept that, life becomes much better! :D

    Good luck! :wink:
  • pinkbritishstars
    pinkbritishstars Member Posts: 731
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie

    I agree with Emma you do need a less physically demanding job. Having got arthritis myself, I know the importance of doing a less physically demanding job - you will learn over time what you can and can't do it will take a little while but you will soon feel comfortable about it.

    Please talk to us on here we are here to support you.

    I really hope you do well in your tests and that the army can find you a suitable job.

    Take Care

    Pink x
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Jamie and welcome to the forum but I'm sorry you've had to find us. RA is a tough call. RA at 25 even tougher and having such a physical job - well, I can see why you're feeling so down and so angry and frustrated. And, as arthritis thrives on stress, this is something of a vicious cirle.

    There is, as you have found, a great deal of misunderstanding about arthritis. Sadly, you are not 'too young' (If only!). I have RA too. I was diagnosed at 15 but there are all too many small children who have the disease. I do hope you have the odd person around who does understand because it must be a nightmare trying to live up to other people's unrealistic expectations. How is your rheumatologist? Your GP? Your wife?

    Unfortunately, no-one can tell you how things will progress as we're all different and all react differently to the meds. Some find a med that works excellently for them and they rarely put in an appearance on here. Too busy living their lives and quite rightly so. For others it can be harder to hit on a winning combination. Perseverance is all.

    I don't quite understand why you have to be careful how much meth you take though I can see that strong paindullers, which make you drowsy, wouldn't help in your work.

    I guess what you really want is some reassurance that you will be able to stay in the army doing the work you do and, frankly, I don't think anyone can give you that. It might work out. It might not. What we can offer on here is support and encouragement from people who really do understand how it is. That will always be available.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Numptydumpty
    Numptydumpty Member Posts: 6,417
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie, I have RA also. It aint a lot of fun is it? I have it in multiple joints including my elbows, shoulders and sternum. The worst for me is probably my hands, the weirdest my jaw, the most annoying my feet, knees and hips. I hate not being able to walk without sticks.
    I was diagnosed six years ago when I was fifty. I'm sure it's harder when you are younger with a young family. My disease is so far uncontrolled, but there are a lot of drugs out there. Many people have success with anti TNF. Maybe that will work for you.
    Just try to remain positive. Accept any help offered. Keep posting here, they're a supportive lot!
    You are not alone.
    Wishing you well,
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello, it's lovely to meet you and I am glad that you have found us because we do understand what this malarkey is like.

    Firstly, dare I suggest that positivity is more than likely to be out of reach at the moment? You ARE very new to this, you ARE too young for this (although age is not a factor, it just gets one of my many goats that people far younger than me are dealing with this b*ll*x ) and you ARE facing having to make some major (and unplanned) changes to your life. In your place I'd be down in the dumps, and no way would I be ready to come out of them yet, so hats off to you for wanting to be more positive.

    Arthritis not only affects your joints, it affects your general health, it can affect your mental health, it definitely affects your professional health and it can impact in no uncertain fashion on the health of your various relationships. It takes time to get used to the idea that your life is no longer under your control as such, that you will be reliant on meds to get you through, that there seem to be more bad days than good days and that is all horribly, horribly unfair. Your inner three year-old is, I am sure, alive and kicking - and rightly so.

    Work-wise I think some major changes lie ahead - and maybe a good way to intiate this would be for you to get some info leaflets from Arthritis Care to show to your superior officers. I think they need some basic but but reliable information about RA, its treatments and possible progress. Being forced to exercise as the Army do on painful joints is a) massively unkind (spot the girlie!) and b) could possibly lead to greater joint damage. They wouldn't make you do this on a broken limb would they? Would they? :shock: I am no medic but I think this aspect needs addressing now. My Dad was conscripted in the 2nd WW and, having no taste for war and/or fighting found himself a back-room boy role, lots of typing etc, but without the back-room boys the army then, as now, wouldn't function. Could there be the opportunity of an office-type role or is that too horrendous to consider?

    I have forgotten what youth is like (although I do like admiring it, especially the male versions!) but I do have some experience of arthritis and its - for want of a better word - benefits :roll: as does everyone else on here. We can support and encourage and for the time being I think my only tip to you is to take one day at a time. You also need to find out about better pain relief, Solpadol though good for ordinary folk may not have the cutting edge you need. I wish you well. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • DaveBoynton
    DaveBoynton Member Posts: 20
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie,

    I have had to dramatically change my life as, like you, I was a very physical person doing delivery driving jobs for 9 years and was hit with RA full on 2 years ago just before my 36th birthday ending my employment. I have it in my toes,feet, ankles, knees and mostly my wrists, hands and fingers.

    Alot of these areas have been affected individually over the years from my teens, my knees stopped me joining the army when I was 24. I can totally understand your anger etc as I am still going through this even though being on triple therapy, it has done nothing for the pain and am currently fighting to get the pain sorted to a level I can cope with to do little things like wash the pots, make a drink etc that people, like the ones your having trouble with, who don't suffer with any form of arthritis don't understand how bad it can be.

    Unfortunately you are going to have to change your job but like some people have said on here couldn't you maybe change to an admin type job so it's less stress on your body. I'm having to go to college to do GCSEs and computer stuff to get into an office type job so I can provide for me and my two boys (when they are with me).

    Like I have you will find plenty of support and advice here, it's helped me alot knowing I now have somewhere to come and rant or help.

    I hope you get to find a solution enabling you to stay in the Army.

    Take care,

  • suzygirl
    suzygirl Member Posts: 2,005
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, you have been given good advice already. Are you able to talk to your gp or are you under an army gp? Or your rheumy nurse? You need advice as to what is practical for you to do when your joints are flaring. Although exercise is good, too much will aggravate and possibly damage your joints further.

    I used to be active before arfur came along, and I had to learn to adjust and for a while I was very angry and bitter. My life changed and I have come to appreciate the change and be thankful for all I have. I know that sounds a little pollyanna, but it does happen for a lot of us.

    The other thing to consider is that once the meds are working for you, you may be able to live a near normal life. I just wonder if taking some sick leave may give your body time to recover and get the right mix of meds for you, then re start work, maybe in another capacity. I learned the hard way, you cannot just 'push' through this.

    Do you have an occupational health dept? The NRAS is very good at advice on working matters, you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act if you have trouble.

    You are young and it is tough having RA, but by being relaistic and making adjustments it can get better.

    Take care
  • valval
    valval Member Posts: 14,911
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    hi welcome you have had some excellent advice it does take time to find the right meds and getting your head around it is well so hard even when you feel it all under control something happens to upset the bucket but you have loads of good people on here who do understand and will help you all we can good luck . employers have a responsibility for making sure your welfare is looked after val
  • Nixxy
    Nixxy Member Posts: 23
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie,

    Welcome and hello! I'm so sorry to hear that you are also experiencing the hideousness of RA as a young person. I was diagnosed at 22 (am 32 now) and was bitter and angry for many years about the compromises I have had to make. I still get angry and frustrated but it does get easier.

    You've had some great advice so I wont repeat it all but I will echo what DD says about allowing yourself sometime to feel rubbish. A diagnosis like this is life changing in every way and I believe is much like a cycle of grief. You need to mourn the life before and contemplate the life ahead. You will feel a range of emotions and whilst positivity must be your eventual goal don't cut short the other necessary emotions you must also feel.

    I will also say that it's important to stay focused on your perspective of this and the initial journey through the trials and tribulations of an RA diagnosis must include you coming to terms with the here and now and also the future and an inevitable shift in your abilities and experiences. However, the Army as your employer, also has obligations to you and is a key part of this same journey. I'm not sure how the Army works (excuse my ignorance) but is there an occupational health unit? If so ensure you are referred immediately. You may also want to contact Access to Work to get a further assessment of your needs at work and what reasonable adjustments could be made, you can self-refer and the details are online if you google it. May just help you understand better what your limitations are even if the solutions arent practical in an Army setting. Do also remember that you are covered under the Equality Act 2010, your employer has a legal obligation to support you and not disciminate against you. May be worth a google too.

    Whilst this journey is ultimately a personal one please know you have the support of all of us, many of whom have been through the same things in terms of age, diagnosis, stress and adaptations. Do keep checking in and good luck!!
    There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.
    Orison Swett Marden
  • tjt6768
    tjt6768 Member Posts: 12,170
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Blimey. I think it's all been said, so I will just say welcome to the forum, I really hope today is a good day for you and hope you know we are asl around for support and advice..
    Take it easy and I hope you find this place as helpful as we all do rkid..
    n035.gifRa-1996 -2013 RIP...
    Cleo - 1996 to 2011. RIP
  • tkachev
    tkachev Member Posts: 8,332
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Welcome Jamie,

    It is early days. Pain and inflammation can be more aggressive at the start. When you get to see your specialist he will assess you and advise on medication. Hopefully it will get under control.

    Best wishes
    Never be bullied into silence.
    Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
    Accept no ones definition of your life

    Define yourself........

    Harvey Fierstein
  • dachshund
    dachshund Member Posts: 8,961
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie.
    i'm glad you found us the lovely people on here are kind and helpfull just ask anything you want and i'm sure some one will have the answer.
    i was taking solpadol what strengh are you on i was on 15m
    then i went to 30m.
    i now have morphine i have oa.
    take care.
    joan xx
    take care
    joan xx
  • tillytop
    tillytop Member Posts: 3,460
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Jamie and welcome from me too.

    I am so sorry that you are struggling so much and that things are so difficult for you.

    You have been given some really good advice already and I can't think of anything to add. But, although our circumstances may be different, your worries are familiar to many, if not most of us here so please do continue to post - we are very good listeners and I know that, from my own perspective, joining the forum has helped me to feel much less on my own with my RA.

    Thinking of you.

  • Stayfocused
    Stayfocused Member Posts: 28
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jamie,

    I'll tell you a bit about myself first (it's not to hide your problems, but to share my story with you, give you some insight to let you know your not alone, even though we often feel very alone)!!

    It's been a while since I've been on here. Like a previous post stated-I've been getting on with my life because I was managing really well!

    Things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse and if I'm honest with you, all of you, I'm lost, scared, in severe pain but mainly ANGRY!!!

    I found out something was wrong in December 2005, i was 27, something still is wrong but to this day I've never been given a diagnosis. Well not a concrete one anyway. My consultant has, for the last 7 years, said I've got 'inflammatory arthritis' I'm on methotrexate, sulfasalozine, cocodomol 30/500 and until two wks ago naproxen. (Had to come off naproxen because it's caused stomach ulcers -great)!! Major flare up with nothing
    given to replace it :-(

    Since last January I've had increasing hip pain which I informed my consultant about. He examined me said my movements were good and that was all. Six months later even more hip pain and additional back pain, I saw him again, your hip movements are good there is nothing much I can do. I asked for an xray-it came back normal. He left me another 6 months (during which time I was on and off crutches, had no life in emmense pain and kept being ignored by my consultant (rheumatology nurses tried to intervene but nothing came from this).
    Just before Christmas last year, I came down with pneumonia and was Ill for 10 wks, I was on crutches in agony with hip pain (both hips now) back pain and really depressed. I put my other hip and back pain down to compensating for my right hip! I rang the rheumy nurses in floods of tears explaining my situation, they managed to bring my appointment forward and I have since seen a physiotherapist for hydrotherapy, I was in that much pain on my first session I couldn't get in the pool. The physio, who is a gem wrote to my consultant explicitly explaining her findings and requested that an MRI scan may prove beneficial, something which I asked for approx 13 months ago-it's not warranted he answered when I initially asked. Within a week I had seen him and within a few days of this an urgent MRI was done. The findings (which I think is why I'm so lost, scared and angry) were moderate degenerative changes in my original painful hip, mod degenerative changes in my good hip (I thought) and mod degenerative changes in my lumber region. I've only just stopped crying, my scan was on Monday and I still can't grasp the findings.

    Why did he not listen to me when I first complained of some discomfort in my hip?? Why did he leave me in pain for 14 months??
    I started to think I was imagining it all before these results came though. Bitter doesn't quite cover how I feel.

    Jamie. Sorry for waffling x

    I'm ex-navy, I was fit as a fiddle, I cycled or ran everywhere I went. I left in 1999. I still was really sporty, I ran, I did off road cycling, I rock climbed, swam and did snowdon etc with my old faithful Labrador, Sadie!!!

    I can barely walk today :-(

    But there is something that I've learnt along the way (and it's not been easy to accept)!! yeah my old life has gone and for years after I
    became ill I pushed myself to the limits physically and mentally with
    everything I did. I seriously suffered the following days with pain and reduced mobility. As much as I enjoyed my sporty life and as much as I wish I could walk the local reservoir, the main thing I wish I hadn't done was carry on when I knew deep down inside I should stop - a little nagging voice telling me to stop/slow down or don't do it. I wish with all my heart I'd listened! I wish I'd listened to my family and friends saying "take it
    easy" rest up a bit.

    What I'm trying to say is take hold of your life and think things through seriously. Change your way of life now before u do serious damage. Talk to people, like this forum. It really helps. Your work mates don't understand-not fully-the only people who understand are the people who have and are experience/ing it and live with it everyday. Talk to your partner, don't hide things away, dont try to deal with this alone. Push for answers, dont put up with things your not happy with. Get 2nd or 3rd opinions. If you feel like crying, cry. It's helped me so much.

    I've talked enough. I hope Ive not bored you or scared you to bits. I just wanted to show u that your not alone. Take care.

    Stayfocused xxxx
  • Colin1
    Colin1 Member Posts: 1,769
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Green Kingo here
    Mate I’m gutted for you, apart from the MO I don’t think anyone will really understand how your feeling trying to cope with the loss, family and your feelings. Let alone the pain and anguish your going through. Problem for you is that with RA you can look well so people think you are well. Have you been to see Rheumatologist yet.
    You have had some great advice here but you need to find out all you can before you make any decisions. We are now covered by the equalities Act and the disability act but you should talk on the QT to your Association Regimental Secretary he should be able to find out all the information you need or as Del says write to the VA but you should get the info from your Reg Sec. People think you don’t bother with them until you finish service but they are there to help serving soldiers too. Saffa will also help you find info and advice.
    Keep in touch and let me know how you get on Don’t feel alone and isolated there are lots of people in place in the forces nowerdays that can help, If you get stuck let me know and ill see if I can help in any way.
  • green9378
    green9378 Member Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank You all for your helpful advice, It is very much appreciated. I thought i would answer some of the questions asked. I have seen my Rheumatologist, i saw him in Sept and that was when i was given Methotrexate. My next appointment is in the middle of April. Since i have seen him i have lost my job as an Instructor at Pirbright and we have been moved to Telford where i work in a office. The Problem i have found was in my last job they saw the full effects where as the new place doesnt see it the same way as from the outside i suppose i do look healthy untill i move and begin to walk.

    Unfortunately i know that the majority of you are right and i am going to have to change my job as it does me no good and neither am i any good to the Army. However i am trying to hold on as their are different discharge systems in the Army now and i dont want to leave without it being granted 'Medical Discharge' which the process will begin after October.

    Ihave found that waiting from Sept untill April quite a long time to see my specialist, is this the normal away from the Army, do you have to wait 7-8 months to see your specialist each time?
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I see where you’re coming from with the Medical Discharge thing. I’m not sure there’s a ‘normal’ waiting time for rheumatologists. Mine varies between 3, 6 and 12 months depending on how I am. (Usually 6. Sometimes it runs over a bit.) If I ever feel the meds aren’t controlling my RA, I usually ring the rheumatology helpline. The nurses there will consult with the rheumatologist and usually offer a steroid jab to tide me over, though an earlier appointment is possible. My GP would also be able to arrange an earlier appointment if he felt I needed one. I think this is a fairly standard modus operandi in civvy life.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Stayfocused
    Stayfocused Member Posts: 28
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry to hear about your job Jamie.
    I agree with sticky wicket, there is no specific time between consultation periods. Mine range from 2, 3 or 6 months. If I'm not coping on meds I ring rheumy nurses and the appointment is either brought forward or they consult with rheumy dr and get back to me.

    Keep smiling x