While waiting to leave Cambridge railway station, a woman leant across the aisle to say she could help with my bags when we got to London. I looked at her, bemused. It turned out that she’d overheard me telling railway staff that I had rheumatoid arthritis and asking if my sister could come through the barrier to help carry my bags onto the train. She’d also seen my sister lug the bags onto the train and wave me goodbye. When we got to the other end, true to her word, she carried my backpack to a taxi and I took the other 2 bags. Her boyfriend looked a bit surprised that she was so determined to do this! She didn’t expect anything in return. The taxi driver also gave me a hand with the luggage when we got to the flat. In the old days I would have felt embarrassed but not any more. I’ve accepted that at the moment (but hopefully not forever) some things like carrying heavy bags are more difficult. Today, I asked another stranger to open a water bottle as I’d forgotten my special flower-shaped jar/bottle ‘opener’. She did it straightaway, no questions asked. People don’t usually mind at all when you ask for help, and regularly offer when they see me struggling. It makes city living feel a bit less daunting – especially when negotiating public transport (avoiding rush hour, which is always a stressful experience).
As for Humira, I had my fourth dose today (20mg by injection). I’m going to have 20mg each week for several weeks to ease into it gently. (I had a mild reaction to the first 40mg injection, which was serious enough to end up in A & E yet again). The standard treatment is one 40mg jab once a fortnight. Hours later, I’m feeling slightly groggy, with the usual ‘hungover’ feeling that I tend to have on injection days, but otherwise ok. Fingers crossed that this will be the drug that works for me. I’m very aware that I’m on a ‘sub-optimal’ dose at the moment and am actually keen to get onto the higher dose. It’s amazing how my attitude has changed over the last year. After trying several drugs which didn’t work and gave me terrible side effects, I thought I could get better through diet alone, but developing bone erosions jolted me into realising that drugs were a vital part of tackling this disease, as well as improving my quality of life. At the moment, my health anxiety is so severe that a specialist nurse is administering the injections, but one day I want to have the confidence to self-inject. Here’s hoping that in 2014, I will.