Between the ages of 15 and 19 my knees were the joints worst affected by inflammation, pain and stiffness; they would swell up to the size of a small melon, red and hot, and because of the fluid surrounding the joint cavity I wasn’t able to bend them. My rheumatologist at the time would drain this thick yellow fluid each time, before injecting the joint with cortisone – an uncomfortable procedure for anybody. It wasn’t long before I was having this repeated in both knees every 4-5 weeks, (more than advised) and over the years doctors suggested that I would probably need the joints replacing before the age of 25.
Luckily for me, after four years of this I had to switch to my current Rheumatologist, who managed to get things under control quite quickly and from the age of 19 I didn’t have any trouble with my knees, apart from being unable to bend them fully or kneel down – but you learn to adapt to these restrictions until you barely notice them. At least I avoided the surgeon’s knife for a while.
So when the right knee started to swell and stiffen up again a few months ago, it seemed an obvious sign that things weren’t too good on the joints front. I had the knee injected before my break in New York, as I didn’t fancy hobbling along the busy streets and struggling with all those stairs, but less than a month later it was starting to swell again and has remained swollen ever since. It is painful but the worst part is not being able to manage stairs normally; instead, leading with my other leg on every step and pulling the wonky one up behind – a slow process that I’m worried will leave me with a massive, muscley left leg!
I did have a couple of days relief about two weeks after my first Tocilizumab infusion, when the swelling and stiffness went away on its own, but this was only temporary and it soon returned. On Thursday, when I went for my second infusion, things had become so bad again that I felt I needed another steroid injection in the joint but – sod’s law – my rheumy wasn’t there to do it! I’m sure if I rang and told him how things were he’d fit me in to one of his clinics, but I’m wondering whether it would be better to give the Tocilizumab a chance to do its stuff?
But Santa, if you’re reading – for Christmas, I’d like some new knees please….
…and an elbow
…oh and one shoulder too 🙂