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Painful interlude

December 3, 2013

Some years ago my immune system flared … my knee swelled and I was kept in hospital for a few weeks while they drained the synovial fluid from my kneecap and dripped me with painkillers and steroids to bring my troublesome system back into normal service.

When it flared again the same thing happened.

What’s wrong with me doesn’t seem to have a particular name, I have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, of various auto immune disorders but all the blood they’ve taken from me over the years has never pointed to anything specific. My lungs suffer from non specific interstitial lung disease, my joints are affected by a random (thought to be auto immune) disorder which has caused alot of the cartilage to be eaten away by the disruptive synovial fluid, but none of it has a name … Ellie-itis perhaps … it all started about 9 years ago  when my tummy inflated like a balloon for no apparent reason, then my lungs had a bit of a wobbily moment and then my knee joints disintegrated … on the whole I’m fine, not able to limbo dance any more and pretty poor at doing the twist but all in all I am active and mobile and you’d never know that there was anything wrong. It seems my system, from time to time, goes into overdrive and attacks itself … no reason why, it just happens.

I had a baby … thankfully I had no serious trouble from my immune system from conception; apparently it’s often the way that the immune system damps down throughout pregnancy, but flares are expected once the baby has been born. It’s rumbled a couple of times which has made me a little achy or with a little rash on my chin but other than that nothing. This weekend all that changed.

I drove down to Hampshire, on Friday night feeling a little achy but put it down to not having had much exercise this last week due to lots of paperwork, work, poorly short person and just mountains of indoor stuff to accomplish. Saturday morning my right knee was horribly sore but again I figured a good walk would sort it out, it didn’t and by Saturday night I was hunting around my sister in law’s bathroom for knee bandages and support. She dug one out and I lay with my leg in the air with a bag of frozen peas bandaged around the increasingly huge knee joint for a few hours. The next morning it was less swollen but more painful. We had a happy morning and then I rested in the afternoon before heading home, my husband drove and I sat feeling ever more in pain with a throbbing knife stabbing like pain in my knee.

Next morning I headed round to the hospital, they were a little indignant that I’d just walked straight into the clinic but when they saw my knee I was hustled round to a cubicle and a consultant rheumatologist reviewed me.

He then produced a terrifying looking syringe and froze my knee before sticking the syringe in and sucking two bottles of yellow liquid out from behind my kneecap. Apparently you should have around 5mls of synovial fluid in a knee joint … he pulled out 75 mls and left some behind when it became just too painful, no wonder my knee was swollen He injected some steroid directly in to the same area and then stuck a plaster onto my knee.

I was told it would take a while for everything to settle down, bits of cartilage may have floated free and probably scrape the back of the knee joint which will hurt.

Lying here now with a bag of frozen sprouts (didn’t like them anyway) on my elevated and very painful knee I know the worst is over but it did cause me to think. Before I was able to rest, now I have a small person demanding full attention. Last night all I wanted to do was sleep, she slept for a while but then wanted to play after her supper (which her wonderful Granby produced), I explained I wasn’t feeling good, “Mummy poorly sore” she said sympathetically before belting me in a restorative manner about the kneecap and demanding to climb on my lap and bounce around to Horsey Horsey. It took ages to get her to sleep again as we’d had such a deep early evening snooze, but once she was asleep I was able to rest properly with my leg up in the air, my knee all iced up. Would it have been better to be looked after in hospital? Maybe, but I didn’t have that option … or rather I didn’t feel I could leave Hope with Granby for a full night. We’re still breastfeeding, we’ve never had a night apart and so on, so I came home.

Yet another age old dilemma, but one that I’d cheerfully had my head in the sand about. I need to think ahead now and make plans for when and if this happens again. I also need to think about the drugs they suggested I start to take … if I take them two things will happen; one is that I will have to stop breastfeeding and the other is that my eyesight will be affected … the drugs aren’t altogether proven to slow down the progression of my unnamed unclear but seemingly chronic disorder, but they are recognised as a good thing if it is anything like rheumatoid arthritis. Breastfeeding and pregnancy in themselves dampen down the immune system but obviously that effect is fading as I’ve had such a bad flare … but then again I had an even worse flare once before when I was on the drugs …and I don’t want to stop breastfeeding (and seemingly neither does Hope who has taken to pottering around and playing before wandering over and prodding me in the chest and beaming when she demands milky). Hmm sorry for the stream of consciousness …

Ho hum … a lot to think about… but for now, in the short term the problem is under control, and while my right knee feels as if it has a cheese grater behind the kneecap I know that the pain will ease as the steroid takes effect and my joint settles down. Time to look for alternative therapies too and to start eating more sensibly … loosing weight is a good thing when faced with joint issues and while I’m not about to go on a diet, perhaps cutting back on the goats cheese and the chocolate isn’t such a bad idea.

Right then, Hope’s with her wonderful child minder for another hour and I’m heading back to the ice pack and some more paperwork, and maybe a small snooze.



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