Is this really happening

I’m a 20yr old diagnosed with RA beginning of this year. I was always sick with something when I was at college never thought much of it. But when you get shingles at 18, and again at 19, you begin to wonder about your immune system.

When I left college at 19, I joined the British Army. I started in the summer so it was warm and cosy. By September things started to get weird. My feet started turning blue! I got sent to the medical wing where they discovered I had Reynaud’s disease, this broke my heart. Meant I was sent home almost over night my career in the army was over before it started.

I visited my doctor and she confirmed this but after going through my medical records she became suspicious and asked me some questions. She asked about joints and little characteristics of my body. I explained that the army was challenging as I found that I was in pain a lot, but I never thought it was anything serious. She explained that my Reynaud’s is secondary and that something else was the cause. This broke my mums heart, not only did I have to come home and tell my mother I’d been discharged , jobless, I then had to tell her about a disease that came out of nowhere! My mother being an old fashioned ward sister took this hard as she had treated people with the disease I have. When I returned to the doctor for blood results I took my mother with me. When the doctor confirmed I had RA I didn’t really understand what was going off, I took one look at my mum and saw her eyes well up. That’s when I knew it wasn’t something I could just ignore and get by. Leaving the doctors I spoke with my mum who explained in depth what was wrong. So its an immune system failure really.

My doctor prescribed me Nifedipine to help with my circulation. Problem is, I have young organs fighting an older mature disease. I reacted to this medication which caused me to have a close experience to a heart attack. At my age, that’s pretty terrifying! By this point I’d found myself a job and was in full time work. Thankfully I have a wonderful boss and he know all about my problems. I start at ten to help with the stiff slow mornings and I work later as I found I function better once I’ve been awake for a good six hours! Haha. After that horrific experience with that medication I knew I’d be in for a ride of my life! As the weather got warmer I found it a little easier, however I started finding my symptoms getting worse. Id been waiting four months by now for my hospital appointment as I’m not priority, is that even fair to say. Priority. Anyway, back to the doctors again. Literally a month ago I then got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I could’ve cried, why had this been missed for so many years! I’d had so many problems before such as petechia and purpura. Why was this not picked up before, was left until my symptoms where clearly visible, unsure how that works as RA is an invisible illness! I’ve had a frustrating experience with my RA. I’m currently not being treated for RA or Reynaud’s disease as my reaction to the first drugs they gave me have given me a slight issue with my heart. It’s not been the same since. I thought i was young and healthy, was going to start a new life in the army have a trade. Instead I landed three diseases and I work in scrap metal haulage. Mind blowing. I wake up every morning wondering what its like to wake up without pain, what its like to spring out of bed and not cringe and say “oo me knee” I fell old before my time. I have no energy to go clubbing, socialising is difficult when after work all I want to do is sleep. Almost feels unfair, but I remember things happen for a reason. I love my job, I have a clever mother who’s able to translate the doctors for me. Unfortunately my friends are young and don’t understand but I take the stick they give me with a pinch of salt. One day they will fell as old as me and will laugh at the things they tease me with. I know its hard now but once I get the help and treat these diseases maybe I can begin to live a new life. Fighting RA, FMS and Reynauds disease isn’t so bad. Just got to take one day at a time and never accept defeat!

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