Rheumatoid Arthritis

A quick update during lockdown – Pollyanna Penguin’s RA Blog

Well, we’re still locked down and I’m just getting used to the various terminologies – I find that I am not ‘self-isolating’ because that’s what people who have symptoms of COVID-19 have to do, but I am vulnerable, although I’m not shielding. ‘Confused? You won’t be, after the next episode of SOAP!’ (Anyone else remember SOAP? I used to love that show.)

Anyway, I’m fine – no darn it, I’m not! I keep telling everyone I’m fine, including my ‘healthcare team’ such as they are and I’m not fine. I had a minor knee flare, which I thought I’d mentioned on here, but now find I didn’t, and I thought it had finally gone – and then it rumbled back again. Interestingly, it came on in the last brief episode of wet weather we had, went away after a few days of dry, and now it’s wet again and it’s back. Coincidence? Quite possibly, because when I did the Cloudy With a Chance of Pain study I didn’t find any link between poor weather and my RA.

We’re still enjoying nice local walks in between flarey bits, I’ve still got work coming in (although Hubby is now mostly not working) and I’m still having my methotrexate monthly blood tests, so given that everyone is locked down, the only difference between me and your average Jo is that I can’t go into the few shops that are open – which given that also means I don’t have to queue, I’m not really complaining about! I’m still working, and managing to deal with the flare with paracetamol and hot and cold packs to the knees (yes, both of them!) so I haven’t needed to bother the medics in this difficult times.

We did, however, have a chance to find out how the surgery is coping with the added COVID-19 pressures today – not for me but for hubby, which is indeed a rare event. In fact I think since he registered with that surgery about 13 years ago, this is the first time he’s had to call them. He’s got shingles … well … probably.

So we phoned the surgery and got a message saying they weren’t taking phone calls unless you couldn’t get on line – so please go on line to the new all singing, all dancing website and put in your query that way if you possibly could. We did – it was pretty straightforward to use too – quite impressive … until … da-da-DAH – the doctor got in touch and said, ‘Could you please send a photo of the rash?’

So we thought ‘sure’, I’d already taken some in anticipation of this. And we looked at the site and it said ‘Please only use plain text in this box’ so we looked for the bit to attach a file or photo … and we looked … and we looked … and we looked … and honestly we’re both pretty tech-savy (especially me ‘-) ) and there was NO OPTION to attach a photograph! So hubby sent a message to the doc saying ‘Could you tell us how to do that as there doesn’t appear to be a way to do it on the site.

After half an hour or so we had no response so hubby phoned reception and waited through the ‘Please use the website’ and got through to someone, who gave him an email to send the photos to. Reader – we sent them. (And we made sure they were not enormous as well, so that they’d go through easily.) Two hours or so after that the doc rang. She said, ‘Could you send through a photograph of the rash?’

Hubby explained he’d sent them two hours before, but they’d apparently not got through. Fortunately his shingles rash is ‘textbook’ and she agreed to provide antivirals on the basis of a verbal description.

Honestly, I’m not criticising the surgery on this one – they’ve pushed this website in double-quick to help them deal with the COVID-19 situation and everybody’s finding their feet. We got a call back the same day and a prescription – it’s fine. Slightly less impressed with the website developers though, for not putting in a photo option, as I’m pretty sure this is an ‘off the shelf’ package for lots of NHS surgeries, and I’m really surprised no one had thought of this!

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