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Rheumatoid Arthritis

(9 Posts)
Mappcat Mon 22-Feb-16 22:15:53

A friend of mine is utterly convinced that she has rheumatoid arthritis. She is only in her early 30s and has had a heck of a year -- made redundant last summer, her dad committed suicide in November and her mum died at Christmas. She is seeing private doctor after private doctor and all tests are coming back negative although she displays lots of the symptoms. Not only I am hugely worried about her mental health as she is totally obsessed with this (and never mentions her parents deaths) but she feels that if she does have rheumatoid arthritis, that her life will be totally over. She is obviously quite isolated and doesn't seem to be getting much support from her family (she is single). Does anyone have the condition? If so, is it really the end of the world? She is sending me messages saying that she doesn't want to carry on and I am at my wits end now. I don't know any of her family or friends so feel more than a bit responsible. Any advice / suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

BackforGood Mon 22-Feb-16 23:26:46

My Dad was diagnosed when he was 39, back in the 60s. He certainly didn't feel "his life was totally over". As he got older, it did affect him more and more, and there were things that became difficult, but hardly the end of the world.
I only know of my Dad's experience so don't know how 'typical' his development was.

redannie118 Tue 23-Feb-16 16:07:24

I know lots of people who developed ra early on and live perfectly normal lives.Iwill say RA is usually one of the easier auto immunes to detect, so if she has got it I think after extensive tests they would have found it by now. As a lot of the autoimmune diseases have similar symptoms it may work well for gp to maybe consider another condition or send her to a rhuematologist who can give her a more comprehensive overview. I will say I think her symptoms maybe anxiety related considering the awful time she has had lately and maybe that would be a better direction to go in?

ihearttc Tue 23-Feb-16 17:23:53

I have RA and Im 38. I was diagnosed in July last year. I also have Pernicious Anaemia which is another auto immune disease.

To be honest now Ive started treatment it doesn't really affect me at all on a day to day basis but last summer before I began taking my medication I felt awful...completely shattered all the time and could hardly walk.

Mappcat Wed 24-Feb-16 18:34:41

Thanks all so much. She seems a bit better today -- less suicidal at least. She is totally convinced she has it and seems to be chasing after a diagnosis, come hell or high water. Personally, I think I would be relieved to be told that I didn't have a chronic illness. She seems to have lots of the symptoms and is spending her life Googling them ....

affogato Thu 25-Feb-16 12:24:35

Why RA? Why not inflammatory arthritis (where no rheumatoid factor is present?)

Mappcat Fri 26-Feb-16 17:22:58

affogato, no idea. It is what she has diagnosed herself with after relying too much on Dr Google. She went to Mexico last summer and is convinced she picked it up there.

She said yesterday that one of her private doctors (there are many) thinks she may have or had dengue fever.

She has been referred by her GP to a psychiatrist, but that appointment could take a few weeks.

She is totally reluctant to go back to her GP, keeps on saying that she is sure she has RA, doesn't want to live with it.

Considering she has had such an horrific year, I can't help thinking that this is some kind of (understandable) breakdown and she is focusing on potentially having this condition rather than on the fact that she clearly needs some mental health support.

We are not very close, she is an ex-colleague, but for whatever reason she feels she is getting little support from her family and is relying on me. Told her about the views I got on here, that it really the end of the world, but she wasn't interested or convinced.

Thanks again for everyone's responses. It is greatly appreciated.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 26-Feb-16 17:40:48

I have RA and while it isn't a barrel of laughs it doesn't make life impossible. It only developed in my early 40's so compared to some I was lucky. Although I long for a cure this is a neither rare nor untreatable condition.
In my case a particular blood test confirmed it beyond doubt. Looking back I think the warning signs were brewing for at least a year beforehand.

I too wonder why has she fixated on RA, did either of her parents have it? They always say not to self diagnose with Dr Google. Many alternative conditions have symptoms that mimic it.

Mappcat Fri 26-Feb-16 17:48:06

Donkeys, thanks for your reply. I think she has family who have it, but certainly not as close as parents. Her blood tests are coming back negative but she is utterly convinced she has it -- hence her long list of private doctors.

She says that she is losing tissue on her hands and feet, has severe joint pain, wakes up with a fever and is now losing her hair (which I am sure could be stress/anxiety related). I really hope that her appointment with the psychiatrist comes through soon. I am trying to remain sympathetic but it is hard when she is ignoring every piece of advice I give her.

She did however call an RA charity helpline -- she wouldn't say which one. Apparently they said they would call her back, but never did. Are there any services which any of you could recommend for those affected? Maybe they can talk her off of the ledge?

Thanks again, you smashing people.

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