In 2015, while being in nursing school, I started to get the first symptoms of RA.
I had a left swollen knee which was painful to walk on, I thought it was because of the many hours standing up during my internships and it would pass with time.
A few months passed by but the swelling and pain in that knee only got worse.
So I decided to go to my GP, he referred me to a rheumatologist.
After many blood tests, MRI’s and other tests my rheumatologist agreed that I have RA.
At that time I was pretty confident that it was just a case of starting medications and I’ll be able to just continue with my life as I was before..
But things turned out very differently.
In 2016 my symptoms got worse, not only my left knee was swollen but also my right thumb which made it harder for me to write.
Internships were harder and harder for me to do because of the pain, I had a lot of times that I just hid myself in the toilets as I just broke down because of the pain.
It came to the point that I couldn’t finish my last internship, luckily the school I was at was very understanding and let me to graduate and fulfill my ambitions of becoming a nurse.
In the summer of 2016 I got surgery on my left knee as an attempt to reduce the swelling, which unfortunately didn’t help.
We’re 3 years down the line since my diagnosis and we still haven’t found any medications that help me with my RA.
Also to make things worse, at the end of 2016 beginning of 2017 I also got diagnosed with CIDP (Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy)
which causes me to have less strength in my legs, hands and arms, it also causes numbness and loss of my reflexes.
Because of my RA and CIDP my health went downhill quite quickly in 2017 till now. I currently walk with a walking stick but it came to the point that I unfortunately need a wheelchair.
I can’t walk or stand on my legs long anymore without having a lot of pain and my knees really struggle with keeping me upright.
I also need help when I shower/wash my hair/get dressed. I sometimes even need help to get out of bed.
Most of my joints (both knees, both wrists, right thumb, both elbows, both ankles and hips) are always swollen and painful, which makes it very hard and painful to be mobile. My organs, such as my heart, and muscles are slowly but surely getting problems too.
I have luck with the fact the government have agreed with giving me a custom wheelchair for free, which I’m obviously very thankful for.
But it’s impossible for me to push myself because of my lack of strength (due to my CIDP) and because of the swollen and very painful joints in my hands and elbows.
Therefor I need special electric wheels (Wheeldrive, see picture) to put on my manual wheelchair so I don’t need to push myself.
Long story short, I cannot use the wheelchair without those special wheels..
Those wheels cost normally over €6000 but the government pays a part of it which is great but I still need to pay some of it myself, which is why I’m doing this.
Being able to have those wheels means I’ll also be able to study again (as nursing isn’t something I’ll be able to do anymore) and look for a job that suits me.
It’ll also mean I’ll be able to go more outside again and see my friends, go to the zoo, go to the shops… Things which I have struggled with for months as walking is just too painful.
it’ll basically mean I’ll be able to have some of my freedom back.
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