It was after my second covid vaccine in September 2021 that my immune system went into permanent overdrive, mistakenly attacking my own body which is now incurable and can’t be reversed. I am 24. Aggressive inflammation started in my hands and feet within weeks then spread throughout my whole body and all my joints then three months after the vaccine I couldn’t physically walk or dress myself. The pain was excruciating and unbearable. It felt like I had broken bones everywhere.
I was advised by our own NHS not to wait and get seen privately as I was quoted about a seven months wait time for an urgent referral and it was over a year wait time for routine referral. I was lucky enough to have Bupa insurance through my work but because this is a lifelong disease and the treatment is so expensive the insurance ran out after 3 months and I had to fund £250 a time to be seen and £400 per steroid injection. I had to take a loan out. I simply had no other choice and I was still waiting for NHS to see me. Rheumatologists at spire took MRI scans, x-rays, bloods and a thorough physical examination, after which I was diagnosed with Sero-positive active inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis in January 2022 and they started me on steroids and methotrexate without delay,
My inflammatory markers ESR and CRP went off the scale. I think even the medics were shocked. The MRIs have shown the damage to my bones – erosions and joint deformities which happened so fast
Over the last year they have just been adding more medication into my therapy to try and suppress my immune system and control the inflammation to prevent further damage. A year on and I’m now on ridiculous amounts of medication with awful side effects including: Methotrexate, anti TNF therapy Adilimubab, Hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine and naproxen/diclofenac and cocodomal daily as the pain is still unbearable, weekly hospital trips to monitor bloods and targeted steroid injections in my joints. I can’t work full time because the methotrexate makes me feel physically sick and my work place have been understanding enough to allow me to work from home as I am far too sore to drive in the morning or even physically carry my laptop. I live on my own which is very challenging and my parents are a massive support. The last two weeks I’ve had both wrists, ankles and left elbow injected – the relief from this does not last long Theres no genetic autoimmune in my family and I had no health issues my entire life. After being in some RA support groups and talking about what has triggered these incurable autoimmune diseases, the responses from many have been that theirs started after covid vaccination.