WHEN Kelly Fryer was left virtually crippled by severe rheumatoid arthritis at just 21, she feared her life was over.
But thanks to the quick actions of her GP and consultants, Kelly has been able to turn her life back to something resembling normality.
And as a thank you, she has raised hundreds of pounds for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and the rheumatology department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth.
Kelly, of Clover Close in Locks Heath, said: ‘It started in the middle of last year – I noticed when I got up in the morning my joints were a bit stiff and I had difficulty walking downstairs.
‘Towards the end of August it was happening more and more so I went to my GP who immediately insisted on running some blood tests.
‘He referred me to a consultant at QA straight away who only took one look at me to know what it was.’
Kelly, 22, who had been working as a mental health nurse, had to take extended leave from her job and move back to her parents’ home.
She said: ‘I couldn’t do anything for myself. It was a struggle to get up and get dressed. At one point just doing that was taking me up to four hours. Even walking was getting difficult and opening doors was a nightmare.
‘I couldn’t pick anything up because I had no strength in my hands, and I couldn’t wash myself properly.’
The first two drugs Kelly tried made no difference, but a new drug Cimzia, has seen her turn a corner.
‘When I was off work for six weeks I was really low and was thinking “what’s the point?” But then I began thinking about doing something positive like a raffle.’
She spoke to her brother, a manager at the Beefeater in North Harbour, and they agreed to donate a prize.
‘It just went from there,’ she added. ‘I was absolutely overwhelmed with the response I got.’
The prize raffle, performed by rheumatology consultant Dr Ernest Wong, raised £640.
Kelly said: ‘Most people associate this condition with old people, and my situation is unusual, but I wanted to raise awareness of it as well.
‘I won’t ever fully recover but I can go into remission, however, there’s every chance I can go into a relapse.
‘Everyone has been absolutely brilliant, my doctors, work, my family and my friends – they’ve all been very supportive of me.’