Roll up! Roll up! The RA Rollercoaster is in town!

April 2011, I was a 48 year old woman, getting on with everyday life but then it was my turn to get on the ride, and what a ride it is!

Life is painful and scary when you first get on, you have no idea what’s ahead, the twists and turns, highs and lows, ups and downs. You have no idea who will get on with you and of course who will decide to get off. Once on, I realised I could not get off, this is a ride I am on for life.

Two years on, the ride has been a mixture of lows with the occasional high. My RA is not yet fully under control. The inflammation, due to a cocktail of drugs and infusions is better, but as I found out in July, the disease is still very active in my legs. Thank goodness you can sit down on this ride because standing and walking is very painful and difficult at the moment.

My life has changed drastically and the rollercoaster has turned it upside down. But even though there are many times I want my old life back, the ride has brought in, and continues to do so, much good, laughter and love. My body may be failing but my eyes see things in a new, much clearer way. Things and people you thought were important to you no longer are and they can fade away or are left on the sidelines. It’s the people who get on with you and stay on with you all the way who matter – family, friends, doctors, nurses, NRAS and even strangers.

It is for that reason I decided to do something to say thank you and show that you cannot give in to this life changing disease. I had always loved swimming but am no longer the strong swimmer I used to be due to my painful and bent legs. I got off the rollercoaster for one day to swim a mile and raise awareness of RA, as well as funds for NRAS, during their first ever RA Awareness Week. My lovely sisters Allie and Margaret were in the pool with me. Allie swam a mile too and Margaret was there to massage my shoulders and legs to keep me going. Family and friends watched from the sides and in total we raised £1000! Their support was amazing and it was a fantastic although exhausting day … Allie and Boo’s S-Mile for NRAS... we did it!

I am now back on the rollercoaster with new challenges ahead, a new knee, new meds and a new me yet again to face the world. I know there will be many more lows but I also look forward to many more highs and hopefully some settled times in between.

I once read “Step out of the nightmare and pain, wake up and live and love. Start up your heart and living again, it’s all good…”

Thanks again to all who are with me now on my rollercoaster, supporting me. Keep smiling and let’s try to enjoy the ride!

* A special thank you to South Charnwood Leisure Centre for the use of their pool and their support doing our swim.

Autumn 2013 by Julie Black