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Hockey and RA

Alice Dyson-Jones describes how her life changed in the 8 years since her diagnosis, from being unable to pick up her 6-month-old daughter, to following her passion for hockey to the England Hockey Masters. 

“You probably need to slow down a bit, you had a sinus operation last month, and your back and shoulders are the stiffest I’ve ever seen them. You need to give your immune system a chance to do what it’s meant to do, and you should see your rheumatologist, your meds may need adjusting…good news though, your tennis elbow is much better, I’m signing you off ”

Alice Dyson-Jones - Rheumatoid Arthritis Story (NRAS)

My physiotherapist had just delivered good news, but it still feels like a killer blow, my joints are sore, and I’m stiff all over, I feel like I’m 100 years old today. I need my meds to work for me; I don’t want to hear they may not be doing the job as well as I expect. 

What about yoga, would that help?” she smiles. “What about sports massage?” she sighs. 

You’re the highest level athlete I see at this clinic; your body needs to catch up with you, congratulations once again.” I leave the clinic to go to work pondering a new plan. 

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis on 1st December 2011 at 9 am. It was -2, and I was wearing a pair of flip flops, the only shoes my poor feet could bear…rain, shine or even snow. I’d shuffled around for the past three months, unable to do my trousers up, fasten my bra, pick up my 6 month-old daughter. It felt like someone had injected crushed glass into my blood and stolen my life. 

 The consult explained, I’d had some blood tests… my rheumatoid factor was over 1000, over 15 is considered elevated. I had also tested seropositive. It was undisputedly rheumatoid arthritis. 

 “What about hockey I said…I play hockey.” She looked at me, slightly surprised that this was my first pressing question. 

 “Do you play for England?” 

I wish,” I replied. 

 “We need to concentrate on getting you better first.” 

“Will I be able to play again?” she smiled and gave me a steroid injection in my left buttock. 

As I left the clinic, I made a mental note; I had just fast-tracked this consultant to ‘very important person in my life’ status. She had a treatment plan for me, and I’m a girl who loves a plan. 

In 8 years, a lot has happened. I’ve been pumped full of more medicine than I care to think about, I’ve nearly died from neutropenic sepsis, I’ve had over 30 antibiotic prescriptions, and now I’m sitting at my desk, downloading the app ‘TEAMO’. For the uninformed Teamo is ‘The all-in-one online management platform & mobile app for sports teams & clubs.’ The ENGLAND MASTERS Hockey logo appears in view…I catch my breath, it looks like I did make it into the England Masters Hockey team after all. I smile and want to cry at the same time. I must remember to drop my consultant an email; I know she’ll be thrilled. 

Alice Dyson-Jones