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Posts Tagged ‘Still’s Flare’

After two weeks in hospital, and one of my scariest flare ups, I finally came home today. It was a slightly confusing turn of events, as on Thursday they were talking about me going to a mobility rehabilitation centre for a time and then suddenly the arrangements were being made for me to go home, even though everyone seemed to have different ideas about whether I was ready for this. After a lot of discussion, I made the decision that I would rather be at home to continue my recovery as I didn’t really see what more could be done for me as an inpatient, now my pain was controlled and I’d had all the relevent procedures. I’m lucky to have good support and facilities at home, plus they have arranged for me to have home physio and an assessment by the Occupational therapists to see if there is anything more I would benefit from.

My elbow had been the main factor holding me back once my hips were sorted, as it became swollen, restricted and very painful – especially when needing to bear weight through it to use the walker/crutches. My Rheumy came to examine it and found more inflammation and fluid around the joint, so I had this injected with cortisone too, which should settle it down and give me more movement and use of that left arm. I tried the stairs with crutches for the first time and although it was hard going, I think I can manage doing it once a day until I’m strong enough to try more. One important factor that has been reinstilled with me during my hospital stay is just how important it is to keep moving, even through pain and inflammation, and this is something I will be posting about once I catch up on everything.

The past two weeks have been a real eye opener for me in many different ways, so I have lots to post about. The wordpress format seems to have changed while I was away, but I’m hoping that once I figure it out I will be able to backdate posts relating to my stay, while updating with current issues as before. The reason I feel the need to backdate is that this blog also forms a record of my disease activity, which is useful for myself (and hopefully others) to look back on. I was making notes on paper during my stay, so hopefully will be able to keep it accurate.

It feels really good to be home and I’m confident that it will speed up my recovery; little things like needing to use steps to visit my little furbaby Jasper will encourage me to do so daily and even trips to the toilet provide more exercise than having a toilet in my room. I just have to remember to go as soon as I need to as it takes me about 15 minutes to get there with my walker and I’ve had a few close calls already!

Finally, thank you to everybody who visited, sent cards and messages of support to me while I was away. It makes all the difference in the world to dealing with all this and I count myself very lucky to have you all.

Take care all,

L

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I wish that for once I could just feel better.

It’s a week since I had the cortisone injections and a few joints have improved; I was pleased to be walking better than I was previously, although I still don’t know how much better I’ll be at walking distances as I haven’t been anywhere! I also began to wake a bit earlier each morning, which I took as another good sign, and I’m no longer feeling low.

At the same time though, I am having more temperatures and rashes on a daily basis, I’ve been feeling queasy and last night I was finally sick. I don’t know if this is Still’s related, mediation related or just a bug that I’ve picked up. I don’t remember if I had any side effects the last time I stopped Methotrexate as it was over ten years ago and I was very ill in hospital at the time. It seems unlikely I’d feel the effects only two days after being due a dose though. I also can’t remember having any side effects from the Ciclosporin in the past, so I’ll just have to see how I go.

Joints-wise, the hip pain is still prominent and I keep getting twinges in my neck again, so I’m back to the exercises and minimising time spent at my computer, reading, etc… anything to prevent me needing to go on the Diazepam again. I’ll give the hip until Tuesday and let my rheumy know how things stand (or sit as the case may be).

So I’m a bit all over the place – neither here nor there.

Here’s another rash photo for those interested – it tends to be red and patchy on my face, neck and chest and gets more ‘speckled’ on my abdomen and arms, particularly on the back of my hands.

Rash starts to spread during a high temp.

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Needless to say, after being off work ill since January, my employers are getting impatient and wanting an idea of when/if I’ll be able to return to work. I had my second appointment with their Occupational Health Department last week; once they write a report and my employers have seen it, it will be time for my Stage 2 Capability Hearing, which I’ve been told will be more formal than the previous ones.

The appointment itself went well, to the point that the doctor said that I seemed even worse than in February physically, with more obvious joint involvement at this time. But that is the pattern of Still’s Disease – the fevers, rash and systemic symptoms seem to hit hard initially before making way for the joint problems. He kept a copy of the notes I’d made, outlining what had happened since February and asked how I was ‘mentally’. Why is it that I get the feeling he didn’t believe me when I said ‘fine’? Perhaps it was the questionnaire that he gave me to fill out; the last question being ‘did I ever think I’d be better of dead?’.

Fortunately for me, the answer is no, because I can only imagine how much harder all this would be for someone suffering with depression too.

I do feel anxiety / guilt with regards to work though, because I’m not there and I can’t give them any answers. Most of the time I feel that it would be better if I just resigned so that anxiety wasn’t niggling away at me the whole time. I know jobs are hard to come by and I should be grateful that they have kept my position open for so long, but work just isn’t the most important thing to me – getting myself well and having a life is. There are plenty of options to start afresh, and I think that is ultimately what I need.

For now though, I just have to wait until I hear from work about that next meeting and think how I want to approach it.

L

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I don’t know where this week has gone and can’t believe I’ve neglected the blog for so long, it’s not as if I have nothing to write about.

To update you on the Still’s situation I need to go back to mid-September and my last Orencia infusion, which was quite literally my last.  My blood test results weren’t looking any better at all and the fact that my knees were swelling for the first time in ten years seemed to prove a point; so, both myself and my rheumy came to the conclusion that Orencia wasn’t effective at treating the majority of my symptoms and never would be. Instead, he decided to put things in motion to start Tocilizumab (RoActemra) at my next appointment if the funding application went through fast enough.

I’m pleased to say that he emailed me at the beginning of the week to let me know that my local PCT has agreed to fund the switch to Tocilizumab and I shall be having my first infusion on Thursday 13th October, on the same ward as I’d been going for the Orencia. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this drug and so I’m trying to keep optimistic, although it’s hard to when I haven’t responded typically in the past.

My joints were in a pretty bad state when I saw him in September too, I was finding it difficult to walk/dress etc and needed a few cortisone injections – there were plenty of joints to choose from but in the end I went with my locked left elbow (hoping that some would travel to the shoulder/wrist) and my right knee (hoping it would help the hip too), which I needed to be up to walking the streets of New York. Thankfully, the injections and a short boost in prednisolone did the trick and there was only one time that I struggled on the trip.

Even the time difference didn’t send things flaring, which I had half expected because I know what a major role my sleep pattern plays in keeping me ‘well’. Usually, I only have to go to bed a few hours later and I suffer the next day – I can’t sleep in as that makes me feel rotten, but even if I did I wouldn’t feel any better.  But I managed to say awake for almost 24 hours on both journeys – must have been the steroid rush.

Since being home and reducing my Prednisolone, the aches and pains have slowly started to creep back in but I’m still doing better than I was last month and have been trying to make the most of it by sorting out a few things around the house.  I guess it makes things easier knowing that I’ll be trying a different approach next week.

I’ll leave it there for now and promise not to leave it as long in future – there is so much more I need to write about, not to mention catching up on my articles!

L

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The past couple of days have been quite bad Still’s-wise; today is slightly better but I think that’s down to me switching back to my regular Tramadol rather than the Prolonged Release form I had been trying out.  That didn’t seem to keep the pain away enough at all.

Since waking up on Wednesday, there has been a lot of joint involvement – my left arm joints suddenly felt a lot worse, with the elbow even more restricted than usual, both knees felt painful, tight and stiff as if there was fluid in the joint (there may be, just not as severe as when I was a teenager and they swelled up like footballs), plus my right hip is extremely wince-worthy painful, meaning I can’t lift that leg on its own and have to take stairs etc. one step at a time.

It really isn’t looking promising for the Orencia / Methotrexate combination. I’ve now had two doses of the 15mg Mtx and that is the only thing to have changed – funny then, that I feel worse. Still extremely tired and so I’m giving myself rests in the afternoon and going to bed earlier again; I figured that my body was working over time to heal this open wound after all, so I will listen to it.  Hopefully, after my infusion and Rheumy visit on Thursday (expecting to need some joint injections), I’ll have much more energy for New York. Besides, I’m so excited that I’m sure I will run on adrenaline alone.

I’m no longer too concerned about my wound and travelling.  The nurse was very pleased with the progress it had made and reduced my clinic appointments to twice a week. The rest of the time I am to change the dressings myself and she has given me everything I need to do so. I’m getting used to it now and can even remove and replace the packing myself, it’s not too bad now I know what I’m facing. Plus the wound itself has improved so much that it is no longer the bottomless pit that it seemed at first; it’s amazing how the body works to heal itself.

I’m surprised that it hasn’t ever really been painful – of all the things that are going on with me at the moment, that is the least of my pains.  The Hidradenitis itself is more painful, especially this second site in my left groin. It is nothing to look at really, just two pin-prick sized holes where it has channelled to the surface, but I nearly jumped through the roof when they swabbed it the other day, whereas I haven’t flinched at all with them poking and prodding the open wound.  Obviously I’d love for it to clear up itself, but at the moment I’m okay with the possibility of needing the surgery again, but I would like to get an idea of the scarring first.

Anyway, that’s everything for now. There isn’t much I can do until I see my Rheumy really, except maybe ask the GP about some different painkillers again.  Looks like I’m back to waiting around for things to improve; it just can’t happen fast enough.

L

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Of all the mornings to wake up with the joints flaring, it had to be today, when I had an appointment to see the surgeon for my post-op follow up.  It was such a struggle to get out of bed and ready but I told myself that it would be a quick appointment and that I’d be home resting before long.

Sod’s Law says that I had to be wrong.  We sat in the hospital waiting room for almost an hour and a half, with me so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sit still but struggled to move at the same time.  It took all my effort to stay and not go home; the only reason I did was because I knew that my wound needed redressing and I was hoping to get some feedback.

Again, I was wrong. When I was called in to see the doctor, the nurse said – ‘so you’ve had a little bit of skin removed have you?’  I was a bit confused, since it was more than a ‘bit of skin’ that I’d had removed, but I didn’t want to make too much of it in case they thought I was dramatic. Then the surgeon (not the one that did the actual surgery mind..) asked to see the wound; I made my way over to the bed but he stopped me and signalled for me to just er drop them and show him from where I was sitting.

I tried to explain it had a dressing over the top and he seemed surprised; ‘why are you still using dressings? It should be fine without dressings now’ he said, as the nurse removed them for me, revealing my blood-soaked, packed wound. Needless to say, I was a lot confused!

‘Oh’ he says. ‘That wasn’t what I was expecting’.

Turns out that whatever was written up in my notes, doesn’t quite do justice to my lovely wound and that there was nothing he could tell me for the time being, since it would take a few more weeks to heal properly. Talk about lack of communication!  The whole thing would have been a waste of time if I hadn’t had the second Hidradenitis site to show him, which formed the week prior to my surgery. He took a swab because there was some crepitus (crackling), suggesting an anaerobic infection, and told me that I would probably need the same surgery on that side too. Wonderful.

I have another appointment for a ‘proper’ post-op assessment in six weeks time.

One good thing did come of it though – I was given permission to shower again, woo hoo. I can finally throw the flannels away and have a nice long, hot soak, which I missed greatly!

L

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