I’m an old patient with several RMDs. No, I’m not old in life years but I have lived many years with reumatoid arthritis. Scoliosis, osetoarthritis and osteoporosis were added diagnosis over time. It all started when I was ten years old, in what can now be called the RMD Stone Age. Or maybe somewhat later, not the Stone Age, more the Middle Ages. The advice to certainly not excercise, to lay still in bed and rest if something hurt had just been declared obsolete. I was stimulated to participate in normal life, to try to play sports. But there was no adequate medication, I was on prednison and the other only thing available was pain medication and some anti-inflammatory medication. So from early on, at a young age, I suffered from deformaties, especially in my hands and feet.
In the present day and age we have biologicals and new and better insights in how to treat RMDs. Patients in wheelchairs have become a rarety. I still have one. It has been sitting in the shed, has been stowed away for years, discarded after my knee replacement operation. I still keep it though, because in the hopefully distant future I do expect to need it again. I’m getting older and my already damaged joints will certainly not get better over the years.
How should I call the present day and age of RMDs? Have we passed Renaissance, time of new insights? Are we already in the Industrial Revolution as far as discoveries are concerned regarding what the mechanics are behind the different kinds of rheumatism and how to treat them? These last few years there have been a lot of scientific breakthroughs but a cure is still not really possible. Nevertheless, the damaging effect of inflammations for instance can now be largely restricted with advanced medication on a cellular level. So are we in the Modern RMD Age already?
With my deformed hands en feet and my many reumatoid arthritis life years behind me, these days I do sometimes feel like a mammoth from the Middle Ages walking around in that Modern RMD Age. Not a historically sound statement but I hope you understand what I mean. I move with the times: I’m fitted with metal parts and use up to date medication. I hope I belong to the last of the mammoths with my rheumatoid arthritis-the-old-way. Our kind, the patient with lots of deformities, with irreversible damage to the body, is still there, but you see us less and less. I’m glad about that. Medical science advances. I walk alongside, artificial knee and all.
(written October 2018, translater May 2019)