My observations and reflections on my journey with arthritis

Rama Shaktawat
Udaipur, Rajasthan

How it all began

My journey with arthritis began about 35 years ago. As I recall, the knees were the first to get affected, a minor but lingering pain which led me to take painkillers. The dull ache made it extremely difficult to move around and do daily chores. I felt lethargic all the time, with frequent fevers and a decreased will to walk. As the symptoms escalated, my lifestyle became more sedentary. I became emotionally cranky, irritable, short-tempered and anti-social.

Catching and taming the disease

A series of blood tests suggested that I had rheumatoid arthritis and I was advised by the GP to visit a Rheumatologist. That is when, with the treatment, I started feeling better. I was doing well without medications for few years and had a flare again. I contacted my rheumatologist again but by then I had moved to another city and saw a rheumatologist there on my earlier rheumatologist and a friend’s recommendation. The transition from one rheumatologist’s care to other’s was seamless. There was no “system reset” or “format all” done with my treatment as we see many a time. It is since then that my arthritis condition has been under check.

Early recognition and regular treatment are important

Under specialist care I found a huge difference in the way I felt, and my pain started to subside considerably. This led me to realize that any patient suffering from chronic arthritis must visit the doctor as soon as the symptoms set in. It is also imperative that the line of treatment is taken seriously and followed to the hilt, as directed by the doctor. My doctor says that “the patient’s role is the most important, you continue to do well after 35 years because you give importance to your health, follow doctor’s advice, take regular medications and see the doctor on time”.

Expectations from the care givers

According to me, any person suffering from a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis expects their doctor to treat the patient with empathy and calmness. They should listen to the patient’s complaints at length and with a sympathetic ear. They must trust the patient and not think that the pains are imaginary, which happens with many patients and can be mentally and emotionally shattering. They should put effort to assure the patient that it may take time, but they will be relieved of the pain.

Transparent information

It is also important that the doctor maintains complete transparency with his patients about the line of treatment. Sometimes people believe that the doctor will provide instantaneous relief to all their problems. but they fail to understand that once the disease becomes chronic the treatment can go on for years. This is when the doctor needs to inform the patients completely and honestly about the severity of their case and the prognosis of their condition.

Specially for centres seeing patients with arthritis

All such centres (big as well as smaller clinics) should have certain equipment like wheelchairs and a helper who can assist patients who cannot walk easily. This also comes as a huge help for unaccompanied patients or patients accompanied by elderly relatives.

Over these 35 years, I have observed the level of care and medical facilities for arthritis evolve and improve. I wish this fraternity the best!