Chronic Mum Club : Rheumatoid Arthritis and me

Chronic Mum Club : Rheumatoid Arthritis and me

August 6, 2018 17 By Shan Ellis Williams

I’m pretty new to the Rheumatoid Arthritis club, and it came on over night, relentlessly, without warning. A week before I was hit with (what I thought at the time anyway) a massive chest infection I was preparing a house to move into. I’d just been on holiday to Spain and was averaging around 150 miles walking per week. I’d almost achieved my goal weight and was in the best shape of my life. So my initiation into the chronic mum club was a short sharp shock.

Chronic illness is the worst stand-up comedian in the world, ever

So, here goes. I’m forty and in the great scheme of things that’s not old. I had a baby at 39, and had the first really easy pregnancy of my life. Everything was fabulous. Even my bump! It was neat, my hips behaved, I didn’t get SPD. I was lighter in labour with my third baby than I was before I got pregnant for the first time. Life seemed to be going fabulously.

Yes I got a bit poorly after having G (I now know that RA goes into remission due to pregnancy!) and I was out for the count for a few weeks. But life was good. We bought a house in August and spent many, many nights over the end of Summer last year getting it ready to live in. As I said we visited Lloret De Mar before moving in. Everything was just gorgeous.

Cue moving in and a month later I was bedbound. Couldn’t move. I thought I had a really bad case of the flu. Shakes, temperature sky-high, all my joints stiff and swollen up. I couldn’t move. Complete agony to stand up. My feel actually felt like they were breaking bones when I placed my weight on them. And RA said hello and HA HA you are not allowed to be hassle free…

The Flu that didn’t get gone

I hate going to the doctor. Really, really hate it. I was married to a hypochondriac for ten years, and he lived down the doctor’s surgery.  But I’ve only ever gone there when there isn’t another choice. I was quite ill during my early thirties and I realised how under pressure the NHS was then, and I don’t want to burden them. But I also have three children who need me to be healthy and functioning, which I was not during this time. I honestly had no clue why I was feeling so pants. I was sore all over,  couldn’t move, my head felt like it was stuck in some cloud, and remembering my own name was becoming a daily issue.

Totally forced myself to get out to work, but getting out of bed took me three-quarters of an hour. My legs wouldn’t work. The joints wouldn’t go, or straighten, dressing was an issue, and my feet were swollen to twice their size. The skin around my joints felt like they were on fire. It could only be one thing in my mind. THE MENOPAUSE. Here it was. I was dying of the MENOPAUSE.

The doctor was as confused as I was too. I’d gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time, I was mostly immobile and bed bound. He took bloods for everything. Taking me seriously as it was then having a profound effect on my mental health too. I hate not being able to do stuff. It’s not in my nature. I tested negative for everything, apart from one thing. Rheumatoid factor.

Welcome to my life chronic illness


Rheumatoid Arthritis is a sneaky beast. It’s not like normal arthritis where your joints are affected by wear and tear. It’s your actual immune system that attacks your own joints like they’re not part of you. Now this can cause lost of things varying from swollen joints, to flu-like symptoms, generally feeling unwell most of the time. It gets worse at certain times we call flare ups. Now I’m lucky, this flare up I had in November was reactionary. I’ve not been as bad since then and don’t wish to be, but it will get worse as I get older. And do you know what? It’s not going to stop me from doing a damn thing because I won’t let it.

Like with most chronic illnesses we have to learn to live with pain. The doctor is always handing me pain killers and anti inflammatory, but I want to find a better more holistic way of dealing with this. I don’t want to be a doped up mum. Neither do I want to be a depressed mum, because it has had a huge impact on my confidence, and my mental health. Because I’ve not been exercising I’ve gained weight. But I’m confident enough in my body to know my capabilities, and I’ve started swimming recently rather than hiking (which I’m getting back to slowly).

It just came on so quickly that I didn’t know how to cope, other than self medicating with food. The doctors didn’t know (and are still umming and ahing because my RA factor is quite low) what to do with me.

Pain and Parenting

Now this is a balancing act. My kids lives have had to change because of this. Their active and fit mummy, is still there, but sometimes I need to rest. My children aren’t used to seeing me sit down on the sofa for long periods of time. They’re quite used to seeing me up a mountain, or trying to climb trees or setting them bad examples by flinging myself into a river or the sea in my clothes.

Some days my feet, and it does tend to be my feet that cause me most problems, will not fit into my shoes. They refuse to have my weight on them. But I get up all the same and face the day with a smile on my face, for them. Even though some days it may have taken a little extra time to get there. But the smile is the important thing. The smile, and it being a proper smile. Because nothing makes me happier in the world than seeing my little three wild beans happy.

The way things are going now I will have lost all the weight I gained before winter kicks in. I’m saving the how for another post! The fitness is getting there and because I’m so bloody stubborn I will not give into anything. Nothing.


Chronic Mum Club

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✖️New blog post ✖️ Link in Bio. I posted recently about the struggles I've been having with my disease. I was surprised at the number of comments and messages I received asking what it was. I thought we'd come a long way over the past few years in terms of raising awareness, but maybe not. That said, I'd never heard of it before being diagnosed myself! I also had people with other conditions reach out to me. So it gave me an idea to start a blog series about mums with chronic illnesses, so the Chronic Mum Club was born. I've already had a huge response of mums wanting to take part which I'm so grateful for. I feel incredibly privileged to have a platform to share my struggles and by doing so helping other mums with a chronic illness realise that you aren't alone. We're in this together. What the hell, let's get a hashtag on the go! #chronicmumclub and help me raise awareness and support each other. . . . #babaandme #ulcerativecolitis #uc #chronicillness #mum #mummy #mummyblogger #momblogger #honestmotherhood #watchmegrow #manchesterblogger #mumtribe #teammum #ukblogger #mblogger #littlefierceones #clickinmoms #pixel_kids #momswithcameras #ThisIsParentingMFM #ChannelMumVillage #discoverunder10k

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So I’m writing this post because I am not the only one. We are legion (haha been wanting to write that for ages!). And we suffer in silence. How many other people are out there chewing their bottom lip and nodding with this post, agreeing that they are in pain and have nowhere to go? You are not alone. In fact I’d love to hear your experiences. Check out our Instagram thread and #Chronicmumclub. We are all together in this and it is a movement of strong women who will not stand for being alone and in pain and suffering in silence.

Join us over on Insta, or blog your own story, be part of something amazing!






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