Biologics gave Laily a new lease of life and today she is more active than ever before; dancing her heart away in Zumba class, Piloxing (a combination of pilates and boxing) and indulging in her love of wearing super high heels!
Zaharatul Laily Shazi Binti Shaarani, 35 had a very busy and exciting life as a human resources specialist. All was well in her world as long as she could indulge in her love of wearing super-high heels! Only in mid-2014 she began noticing some nagging pain on her left foot. As her level of pain-tolerance was very high, she didn’t pay it much attention. But, ignore it as she would, the pain just wouldn’t go away. In fact, it got worse, to the point where she had to stop wearing her beloved high heels. Says Laily, “the pain was present while sitting, standing, walking or lying down! I couldn’t even sleep properly because of the pain”. She went to see her doctor who recommended an MRI. When the results came out, he recommended that she see a rheumatologist and that’s how she frst started seeing consultant rheumatologist Dr. Amir Azlan Zain. He then put her on additional blood tests and confrmed that she had arthritis. Recalls Laily, “I had never even heard of a disease called arthritis that afected the joints and that it could be so severe and painful. I didn’t even know there were rheumatologists; doctors who specialized in joint problems! I was so unaware of what had hit me! A whole new world had just opened in front of me and I was overwhelmed. But I am very grateful that my doctor was very supportive. He gave me information to read up and always encouraged me to seek information as well so that I could be empowered to handle my disease better”.
The Biologics Journey
But it took a while to come to terms with having arthritis and realizing the seriousness of it. Says Laily, “Dr. Amir had started me on steroids and Methotrexate (MTX), which did help to a certain extent but it didn’t take away the pain completely. I was still frustrated as I felt my life had become very limited as I was unable to even walk much because of the pain, never mind other activities. As the pain became bearable, I was not very disciplined about taking my medication regularly. It had grave consequences and I ended up in hospital with severe knee pain, unable to walk. Dr. Amir came to the rescue again and he suggested getting treated with biologics. I was so desperate because of the severity of the pain that I agreed to go with it.This was October 2015. Looking back, it was the best thing that happened to me as from the very first infusion, I hae improved tremendously. I am still on MTX and folic acid. The goal, set with my doctor, was to live life as normally as possible and biologics helped me to achieve that. The MTX gives me some nausea but I can honestly say that I have not experienced any negative side-effect from thebiologics. Only my life had gotten fuller, richer and more active”.
Laily’s learning through this whole experience:
- Don’t take your life anD health for granteD. Don’t ignore seemingly small symptoms because we never know what they are indicative of. Get it checked out by a doctor and listen to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment helps stem the progression of the disease not to mention saves loads of pain, money, frustration and tears!
- Stay poSitive. Though it affected me so young, I always seek the silver liningin situations. I remind myself that it’s not terminal, that I am in the very good hands of my doctor and that the treatment is working.
- Do the right thingS. I value my health so much more today. I make a conscious effort to stay as active and fit as possible. I readp when possible to stay informed and empowered about arthritis.
- appreciate your life. I live alone and I was in a situation where I could not walk, where cooking a meal was tough and getting to the washroom was a challenge. It was the most frustrating, challenging and despairing time in my life. So today, just being able to do all these things that we take for granted, has given me a renewed sense of appreciation of my life. I believe that God gives us only what we can handle so I am happy that I have found the strength and the resources to cope with my condition.