Reactive Arthritis: An update

For those that have been reading my blog, you’ll already be aware that I’ve been living with Reactive Arthritis for 6 weeks now. For those that want to catch up, go here.

I thought I would give a quick update on how my Reactive Arthritis is going. As I said in my previous blog, I was (and still am keen) to read real-life experiences that people have had with their Reactive Arthritis, rather than read a bunch of medical stuff that may not relate to me.

Since the end of my previous blog, I have gone back to work on a part-time basis. I may be sore and tired but I’m so glad I was finally able to get back to work this week – even if it has only been a few hours a day. This whole experience has been incredibly challenging and unfortunately, I still have a way to go in terms of getting better. However, for now, I’m enjoying being somewhat useful again. Big ups to my workplace for being so understanding and supportive through this. As ironic as it sounds, I’m quite a lucky gal 💁🏻‍♀️

As stated in my previous blog, I have a rheumatologist appointmnet in a couple of weeks and they will determine whether or not I remain on my current treatment plan or move me over to a more intense plan. Unfortunately, since my last blog, the Reactive Arthritis has spread to my left knee and ankle as well. I went back to hospital for the fourth time to get more tests done and they decided to up my steroids once again and asked that I wait for the rheumatologist appointment before looking at a completely different treatment plan. Having taken bloods during this visit, they informed me that I was positive for the HLA-B27 gene.

Human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27) is a protein located on the surface of your white blood cells and is a genetic marker for autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.

Human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) are proteins commonly found on white blood cells. These antigens help your immune system identify the differences between healthy body tissue and foreign substances that may cause infection. Although most HLAs protect your body from harm, HLA-B27 is a specific type of protein that contributes to immune system dysfunction. The presence of HLA-B27 on your white blood cells can cause your immune system to attack those otherwise healthy cells.

It’s interesting that I wasn’t tested for this earlier, but I’m glad I know now. Regardless of this new information, I still have to wait for the rheumatologist appointment, but having this knowledge on board may or may not affect their decision for my treatment plan.

I am currently living life with less pain, on the whole. The swelling in both knees seems to be very slowly going down and I’m starting to need less pain medication by the day. That doesn’t stop me from needing to walk with assistance (crutches) and I still drip with sweat when I’m up and moving around too much. My body aches, but I no longer cry throughout the night in pain. There is a current heatwave here in NZ, so having inflamed legs doesn’t help with the overheating, but there’s not much we can do about that!

A weird side effect of using crutches is that my hand gets pins and needles in it. My right hand is the one I have been more dependent on over this period of six weeks (as most of the time it has only been my right leg needing the support) and it came as a surprise to me when it started to feel a bit odd. It turns out I’ve been hitting a nerve in my arm that in turn creates pins and needles in my hand, mostly in my pinky. Just a warning in case it’s happening to you – it may be because of your crutches!

Out of curiosity, some things that I am doing to help with my Reactive Arthritis are:

  • Trying to avoid as much sugar, gluten and dairy as possible
  • Eating pineapple (a natural anti-inflammatory)
  • Taking pro-biotic tablets to counteract the antibiotics I am taking
  • Taking turmeric tablets and making pumpkin soup with turmeric powder
  • Sleeping with ice packs under my ankles and damp cloths on my knees to help keep me cool
  • Drinking enough water throughout the day

If you have any questions about how I am going or have any handy tips, feel free to message me! I will update you once I have seen the rheumatologist.

P.S. The blog image is a Tropical Smoothie I made using fresh pineapple, a fair trade Huckleberry banana, some Homegrown orange juice and a tropical Juicie. The straw is from CaliWoods.

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