Good morning all.
In a few more months I will no longer fit the bill for this section of the forum, I will turn 25 years old.
When I had just turned 20 years old and finished my second year of Computer Science at University with flying colours - I knew I had to see a doctor.
I had been struggling to walk to class most days and noticed a sharp excruciating pain each time, I thought it was my lower back. I spoke with my GP a few times and had some deep tissue massages to try to help. Nothing would work and my GP came to the conclusion I needed to have a specialist look at my back.
Fast forward a few months I walked into a back specialists office - the first thing she said to me was "There is nothing wrong with your back". I was shocked and felt offended as if I had been lying about pain, but worse news was to come. She looked at the x-rays I had before seeing her and said my back was perfectly fine...but down in the bottom corner of the x-ray she noticed a severe shortage of space around my hip. Then she told me I had arthritis of the hip. Those are the last words I remember her say. I zoned out, I remember her handing me painkillers and I remember walking out to my car in shock. Then the tears came.
As a 20 year old young man with a budding career in MMA (mixed martial arts/cage fighting), an extremely promising academic life, dreams of a massively successful career and active social life - I was crushed. It was all gone.
About 6 months later I spoke to a consultant in a specialist orthopaedic hospital - got formally diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and informed I would urgently need a total left hip replacement. I hadn't even turned 21 yet and I was getting told this - another meltdown. I missed a lot of University, still passed every exam but I missed 90% of a group project and they decided to kick me out. Devastation ensued. To try to keep this story short my condition deteriorated massively over the next year, I couldn't stand up straight, I couldn't stand for long, I struggled terribly while walking, my confidence and self esteem was out the window. I didn't want to do anything, I was working 60+ hours a week and sleeping - that was it.
Fast forward a few more months and I got the letter - I was receiving the surgery in just a few weeks. By this time I was excited and scared, anxious but relieved. The hospital told me I would be staying for at least a week, maybe two (to recover). I took to social media to let my friends and colleagues know the time was approaching, and I stated that I would smash the average recovery time.
I came out of a successful (albeit complicated) surgery at approximately 04:00pm. There I was, a 21 year old man with a new hip and surrounded by men thrice my age. They all looked at me like I had 4 heads. I felt great - I had been on the operating table before (broken arm, plate and 9 screws, nerve damage - was told I would never use my arm again but defied the odds to prove them all wrong) but this time I felt fine. I had something to eat and spoke with my parents for the evening before going to sleep.
The next morning I took my first steps with the new joint, spoke with the physio. Walked up and down the steps, walked the length of the ward - terrified I was going to break my shiny new hip. Then she told me - "OK! hometime for you, you've recovered spectacularly! You can stay for a few more days if you want"
So, as I had stated - I smashed the recovery time. 24 hours after I woke from surgery I was at home in my bed eating a takeout watching some old MMA fights on TV. Happy as ever.
Now 4 years later - I have changed job twice, moved towns twice, been with my partner for 3.5 years. I never went back to University but I had propelled myself up the career ladder and now working in a key role within a successful global company. BUT - my other hip is now giving me a lot of trouble. My knees are swollen like balloons, my jaws are in pain. My neck is sore, my back is extremely painful - hands, wrists, feet, ankles. I feel like arthritis is surrounding me trying to wear me down.
I felt very depressed all of the last few weeks - run down by this disease. But I am standing up again - I am fighting yet again. If I need more surgery, I'll be home even sooner this time. I am young, I am struggling - but I am Versus Arthritis.
I could write a book on my journey so far - but I think this post is already long enough. Share your stories too.