Young Arthritis Network

Wonkey Chef

Dealing with the cold, christmas and Spain.

Its been almost a year now since i gave everything up and moved to Ireland to be with family. Been my first Christmas at home for a fair few years now, and how i enjoyed it! quiet, peaceful and full of joy. Got some top presents as well (cheers mam). It beat working in a kitchen for 15 hours watching everybody else enjoy there Christmas party's. But boy was it cold, anyone out there who suffers from arthritis will tell you its a trial at the best of times, and winter for most of us is the worst time of year. Extra pain, extra stiffness and i know for me extra bad moods!

A week before Christmas i had one of my visits to see my rhuematologist, got some good news and some bad. My arthritis had calmed down a little since i started my course of methatraxate and my physio told me he didn`t need to see me again till i thought it was necessary. Then came the blood test results, i was told i had developed osteoporosis in my ankle and spine, great! ( please note the hint of sarcasm there ).

Although i enjoyed Christmas, it took its toll on my body. A week before Christmas the heating stopped working, then a few days later the hot water. No baths or showers for about a week, bring on the pain! A bath or a long hot shower is essential for me in the morning to get my joints moving. And with the snow on top of that i was unable to get out and do anything.

Bed for those few weeks was the best part of the day, two duvets and a wealth of warmth came to my body, result. For the new year a whole lot of ideas came to me. Eating healthily has never been one of my fortes but something i really need to start doing, its easy enough, just need to start being more disciplined. I was a chef for almost ten years so coming up with ideas for exciting and tasty dishes comes naturally to me, use what I've learnt to my advantage is my new thinking. Why i never did this before is beyond me!

And finally, Spain. Not my idea this one but still a very good one!! My good friend David suggested to me to maybe think of living in a warmer climate in the long term. Which i am now thinking of. I`ve always found that my joints are more mobile in the summer, so why not extend that to all year round. David has friends who live out there that could help me set the ball rolling which would be a great help.

Comments and ideas would be greatly appreciated on this matter,

Thanks for reading,,

The wonky chef.

well where do i start..
At 13 years old, quiet sort of lad, big into sports, used to love playing football and rugby, socialising with friends, big follower of Wimbledon football club RIP and going to plenty of live games, now it seems all very long time ago when it was still a comfortable experience, I'm now 29.

Fifteen years a go i was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis, one of the first things i remember was the aching pain and extreme stiffness, but only in the middle finger on the left hand and i thought nothing of it, one day i was sat in the living room at home next to my mum and she spotted the state of my finger was in, so straight to the docs it was for me. The GP was not impressed, next stop the hospital for blood tests and a repeat performance a few weeks later for my results. I was diagnosed with a  juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and it didn't stop there, was diagnosed with epilepsy a year later.

Anyway back to the RA, over the next few years it progressed to the elbow on the left arm, left wrist, my neck and also the knee on the left leg. After finding out about the RA school routines changed dramatically, from the off i was wearing a splint for my wrist and wearing a neck brace in class, i was also on doctors orders to spend an hour of the school day in the sick bay with another splint on, this time it was to keep the leg straight whilst i was there.

The pain took some getting used to and still don't think I'm there yet! Found it very difficult to sit out on PE classes and watch all my friends playing sports as i was no longer allowed to participate. Then the bullying started from a certain group of people within my year. Little digs about the way i would walk and how my joints would look ( my left elbow is a little disfigured from RA) and am still very self conscious of that fact to this day. I had some very good friends at school who were very supportive and got me through the tough days, and they are still my best friends today.

I left school at 17 and really didn't have a clue what to do! I managed to a job washing pots in a restaurant and eventually worked my way up to a apprentice position within the kitchen, i avoided college because i was learning more in a week than i would have in two months at college. I worked full on for about the next 4 years working in Michelin starred restaurants in the UK and i was loving it and gradually working my way up through the ranks, by this time my RA had sort of subdued itself. Then when i was 21 i started having a lot more seizures and had to give up working in fine dining kitchens and concentrate on working less hours so i wasn't having as many seizures. My RA started to come on thick and strong about 3 years ago, it had always been there just never as bad. My knee was now in a really bad way to a point where my leg muscles have deteriorated due to the fact that i support most of my body weight on my stronger leg, i had not even realised this till my doctor had spotted this.

His advice to me was give up working in kitchen before i do myself any further damage, gutted!!! Whats next? i have an idea but i will come to that in a while. Until last year i had not confronted my RA and always brushed it off as not important, since school i had never spoken to anyone about it, not my friends, family no one, then boom out of nowhere i had a nervous breakdown, was not expecting that. In a word i had not dealt with it properly, i've come to the conclusion that if i had dealt with it sooner and not ignored it i would be a lot better off now! I am currently seeing a therapist to help me come to terms with RA.

I am currently living in county Offaly after having to give up my house in England after having to give up work, i moved to Ireland in February and have some great support from her and am now actually looking forward to seeing what the future holds! With being a chef out of the equation i currently doing an introduction course in counselling and am looking to do a degree course next year with the aim of becoming a therapist, where i can help counsel children and young adults who have been diagnosed with similar problems like RA.