"Looking back, over my shoulder"...but only for a minute!

Here we are, the 31st December and what a year it has been!

Rheum for Improvement was created after my body decided to work against me for a few months (read about it here if you haven’t already), I made a huge career decision to leave Emergency Medicine and work towards the specialty of Radiology (read about that here!) and my personal life has also had many ups with a few downs.


Normally I don’t look back over my year or set new goals for the next one ahead but as so much has happened I feel that it may set me up nicely and focus me for what could be to come.


I don’t like to dwell on negative things that have passed but being unwell was the certain lowlight. Although so much good has come from it – being now the fittest I’ve been in years, meeting lots of people through this wonderful new website and social media, and having a new focus in my career – whilst I was in the situation it was really terrible.

My knees looking better and when I could finally get up and about...still like chunky cauliflowers! 

My knees looking better and when I could finally get up and about...still like chunky cauliflowers! 

I have a newfound understanding for people who struggle with low mood and depression in chronic illness as to be told there was nothing that could be done for me was devastating and combined with not being able to stimulate my brain at work or function at home as a wife, I felt worthless and useless. I’m so lucky that I have had support from my family and been brought up with a strong mind so that I could get mobile again and it was relatively short-lived. I shall always recall that feeling and hope to never experience it again.


Due to being unwell I had some time off work then worked in a non-clinical setting. This came after finding out I had not got a job that I’d applied for and both those things combined really knocked my confidence in my own abilities. It took me a long time to come back from it all and I still don’t feel like I used to, but everyone in my derpatment was wonderful and I could not have asked for better colleagues to push me through and continue encouraging me despite all of them dealing with their own issues regarding the event and aftermath of the Manchester bombing.


Thankfully, there have been so many more positives this year that I shall mention some briefly. The first that comes to mind is the strengthening of some friendships with amazing people; one went from being a colleague to now knowing all my secrets, she makes me laugh until I cry and I am glad to have been able to support her through an extremely difficult year. The other friend came out of the blue but is such a brave and beautiful soul who also happened to give birth to a delicious looking baby this year who I love as if she were my own!


This year I witnessed the first ‘adult’ fall out between friends and it has reinforced to me the importance of and ideas around friendship. I may write about it in the new year as it really, deeply saddened me and I think about it most days. To have friends that you love and love you back is a very special thing and the two girls I mention are two of a fantastic network of people that I cherish…and you know who you are!

We celebrated 1 year of marriage and remembered this perfect day! 

We celebrated 1 year of marriage and remembered this perfect day! 

There were weddings of the most special couples, our own first wedding anniversary, pregnancy announcements and the birth of my friend’s baby Lyla. Both of my sisters bought houses, we stayed in the same one for more than 12 months for the first time in our relationship and my parents finally got the chance to do a bit of work on theirs. Chris and I made some lovely new memories in the South of France, I began cycling and now am weight training and I made the bold decision to work as a locum for twelve months; as much as I want and when I want.

A new photo from an old camera film - My wonderful parents in their little and beautiful garden. 

A new photo from an old camera film - My wonderful parents in their little and beautiful garden. 

Looking towards 2018 fills me with so much excitement. There are many posts lined up for Rheum for Improvement including more evidence-based information, book reviews and I’m lining up some brilliant ‘local’ posts about independent businesses around my area. I would love to make a part of the website more useful to children with chronic illness and aim to improve awareness to a wider audience about arthritis and similar invisible illnesses through my website and guest posts elsewhere.


I have an exam, an interview and hopefully a new career starting ahead of me but most of all I would like to continue feeling this well. Today is day 10 of my steroid weaning and it will take me well into next year. If I can continue reducing them and stay as well as I am now with my dairy-free, low alcohol and high exercise lifestyle then I will be ecstatic.


There have been struggles outside of what I write but I don’t need to mention some things that take away from these mentioned above. I hope that for whatever reason you visit my website you have your own goals for 2018 and can continue finding advice or guidance from Rheum for Improvement to help you on your course.


To anyone going out tonight, be safe. To everyone else staying in, don’t leave the host with all the clearing up! I shall no doubt be asleep at midnight, gearing up to start January with a good old day of revision.


Happy New Year you lovely lot. Here is to you all enjoying what is to come both in your life and on this website!


Harriet, x