I can quite vividly remember the day I fractured my left elbow when I was 4½ years old; I'd just started school, when I caught a cold, my father, who was a shift worker, decided to take me to a park, to get me out of the house, which had a children's play area.. 4½ year olds being what they are, I was climbing up the wrong way on a slide, fell off and that's how I fractured my elbow.
Some 24 years later, at the age of 28, I started having aches and pains in my left elbow, which wasn't much of a surprise since, after a fracture of a joint, osteoarthritis can be expected some 10 years later; following an X-ray, it was confirmed that I had "arthritis" in my elbow.
During my late teens, I developed duodenal ulcers (something I inherited from my father), I ended up going back and fore to my then GPs surgery. Due to a lack of care, I ended up making multiple visits to this surgery in Port Talbot, much to the annoyance of the Doctors Receptionist.
When I was 32/33 I started developing pains in my hips and knees, which was annoying to say the least, the only thing offered to me was paracetamol; around the same time I starting getting pitted nails, which is a classic sign of psoriasis. However, I didn't have a rash anywhere! The pain continued and I gradually had one or two X-rays, at the same time I continued having problems with my stomach, so continued with the anti-ulcer tablets in the forms of Tagamet, Zantac and finally Lansoprazol.
Life continues, no nearer to a diagnoses beyond "Arthritis" ; at the age of 38 I started having issues with a rash on my scalp and the top of the crack of my butt. Went along to see my GP and was given some cream to go home with, very nice of him. The rash waxed and waned and a few more trips to Doctor fuckwit without a diagnosis.
Some 3½ years on, the rash was still waxing and waning, I was with my Brother-in-Law one day and the rash was particularly bad, so since he had psoriasis himself I asked him: "Hey Mark, what do you think this is on my Swede?" the answer came back "Psoriasis" Armed with this new diagnosis from a Greengrocer I decided to go back to Doctor fuckwit: "I've still got this rash on my scalp, could it be Psoriasis?" To which Doctor Fuckwit replies "I'm not sure what it is, but it's definitely not Psoriasis"
A few months later, without a diagnosis from the mediquacks what the rash was, and particularly bad "dandruff" on my shoulder due to the rash. I went one Monday morning, circa 7:30 to be the first one in the queue to see on of Dr Fuckwits minions, with a view to getting to see a Dermatologist. I went in and seen one of the Partners, explained the situation that after 3½ years I hadn't had a diagnosis of the rash; I was promised that he's write a letter to a dermatologist. Two months later I phoned the local hospital, to see where I was on the waiting list, only to find out that I wasn't, the Doctor in the surgery hadn't written to anyone!
At the time I was working for the NHS in an open planned office, full of NHS professionals, I phoned the GPs Surgery to ask what went wrong, a plea of ignorance was given! I then phoned the hospital back and got an appointment with a consultant on a dinnertime for £50 in a few days time..... sounds ideal, however the fly in the ointment was that I required a letter from my GP, when the consultant told me this, I remember saying "Your fucking Joking!" I then called the GPs Surgery back and asked for a letter to see this particular consultant; phoned back to see if the letter had been done, it had, but to a different Consultant! If there was a competition for incompetence, this guy would come second! I blew my top, I think everyone in the open planned office heard the conversation that day.
I eventually got to see a Nurse Practitioner (Dermy), nice woman, totally different ballgame with this professional; she took a look at the rash and diagnosed "Psoriasis" after calling in the Consultant to confirm her diagnosis "I knew it was psoriasis" said the Nurse Practitioner "just from the areas affected in the letter!" So, the question went through my mind, why didn't the GPs in Doctor Fuckwits surgery?
I think anyone with health issues, who has access to the internet decides to plug in a few symptoms or disorders into Google; I was no exception, so I plugged in "psoriasis" and "arthritis" and behold by the power of Google there was page after page on "Psoriatic Arthritis"
Armed with this knowledge, off to see Doctor Fuckwit, "I've recently been diagnosed with Psoriasis on my scalp! I've googled this and arthritis and I've come up with 'psoriatic arthritis', can I see a Rheumatologist please?" to which Doctor Fuckwit replies, "Well, we don't know it's that, but if it is, I can deal with it!"
I returned back to see the Dermy Nurse, explained that I've been having issues with pains in my knees, hips and left elbow and I've done a google search and see that there's something called Psoriatic Arthritis. To which the Dermy Nurse replies, "Do you want me to refer you onto a Rheumatologist? I can do that for you, no problem." What a Eureka moment!
Got to see a Rheumatologist within a few months, thorough examination, and the promise of another appointment in six months time. The next Rheumy appointment came around , discussion with the Rheumy resulted in a comment that "it's likely that you've got psoriatic arthritis" and was handed a leaflet on Methotrexate, I was then told to read this leaflet, and we'll think of putting you on this if you want to go on it. So some 15 years after first having joint pain at the age of 28, I had a diagnosis, and getting on a specific medication for the type of arthritis I was affected by!
Methotrexate has made a real change to my life, a life where previously I was in chronic pain, and walking like an "old man" in my early 40s, to someone who is pretty much pain free. However, about a year after I started taking this drug, I contracted Chickenpox at the tender age of 43. One of the downsides of being on this drug, is that your immunity system is so suppressed you are prone to contracting any bugs that are around. To this day, I'm still on Methotrexate, and fortunately, it's still working well, however I am on a higher dose than what I started with, and having blood tests on a 12 weekly basis, but my life is largely pain free!