So, as I mentioned at the end of my last post, after months of waiting for medical help / diagnosis & finding out that it was all linked to having Crohn's Disease anyway, I decided to take matters in to my own hands and do my own research.
I know we are always told not to Google our symptoms, but since diagnosis I always have done and unfortunately have rarely been wrong. The control freak in me needs to know where I stand, all the possibilities and all the details. I have pretty much always been correct in what I think is happening, the treatment I will have or what I think the Drs will say, maybe I missed my calling in life!
After Googling arthritis due to Crohn's Disease & trawling through my trusty Crohn's Forum for advice, a few things stuck out. Lots of people noted that lifestyle and diet had helped their arthritis. Now diet has never been proven to effect/cause/cure Crohn's Disease directly, but many believe diet can effect inflammation. My joints have been inflamed for months & in fact everything "wrong" with me, comes in some form of inflammation; eczema, asthma, Crohn's Disease, arthritis. I am basically just one big inflamed thing. After much advice, positive stories & studies I decided to take on board some suggestions. For two weeks now I have been Gluten free and taking fish oil supplement every day (with bread, pizza & pasta being my favourite things, this hasn't been easy). I am trying to eat a much more Mediterranean / anti inflammatory diet. From what I have read, some have found it changed their lives, others have said it made no difference at all. I have never been one to believe or jump on to every new study/diet/fad but at this point, I haven't got anything to lose...
Amazingly, since I started this revamp two weeks ago, the swelling and consequently stiffness in my knees has gone down by about 90%. I am in a lot less pain & able to actually walk upstairs properly for the first time in a long, long time! Coincidence? After three and half months I would be surprised, although it does feel too good to be true. You might be able to control pain with your mind but you can't make your legs swell up to double their size.
I have also been having Epsom salt baths, massaging both knees, using moist heat with wheat bags & gently trying to get my normal range of movement back. Now the change in my symptoms could be down to any of these things or a combination of a few, I don't know.
What does feel really good is to have a little bit of control back or at least feel as if I do. For eight years I have been at the mercy of the disease, never knowing when I am going to be poorly. For most of this I have also been relying on my Dr's to keep me well, diagnose what is wrong & decide my medication. I am already on two quite harsh drugs and the thought of pumping another medication in to my body doesn't fill me with joy. If lifestyle & food can make enough of a difference to keep me from having to take more tablets, I am all for it. It won't cure me, there is no cure. But it may be able to make things a little bit better & it is something that is 100% down to me.
In the mean time, I finally had my appointment with the Ortho & Trauma Dr who was great. I filled him in on everything & what I thought was going on, after which he agreed with what I had said. I had some bloods taken looking for different things than my usual Crohn's blood tests & have been referred to the Rheumatologist who specialises in arthritis. Now the wait to see him begins which could be anything up to 18 weeks. I have an appointment back with the Ortho man at the end of January, to make sure things are progressing in the right direction, which I guess is a positive and should stop me from falling through the gaps & ending up with no treatment or help. Until then it's a sit and wait situation but at least I am able to get around much more easily, am not in awful pain & can start to work out when I'll be moving to Cardiff & getting my life back to normal!!
The only way is up after all.
*Please note, I am not a Dr & don't advise anyone to do what I do without seeking medical advice or help!