Phil decided he wasn’t going to let arthritis steal his life. Mindful of the restrictions a flare up of the condition could cause, he made changes every day to defy the condition and retain as much independence as possible.
Overcoming baby blues to become a fully engaged dad
When Phil and his wife decided they wanted to start a family, he was taking Methotrexate, a drug that suppresses the immune system and can reduce the potential for joint damage as well as reducing evidence of arthritis. The medication has a number of side effects, and is not recommended for individuals who are trying to conceive. But having a family was important and becoming a parent was not something that Phil was prepared to miss out on, so he temporarily paused taking the medication.
When Phil’s first child arrived, the pain in Phil’s shoulders was significant and meant it was difficult sharing parenting duties. While most new fathers are able to be fully involved in caring for a new baby, Phil was unable to hold his son, much less feed him or look after the baby’s essential physical needs.
Phil is open about expressing the impact this distance had on his feelings as a new father. “It’s important to be able to bond with your child. Not being able to even pick him up had a huge effect.”
With time and by continuing with his treatment, Phil has been able to regain and maintain his sense of self: physically, emotionally and as a parent. His second child was born three years later. Now Phil is a football dad, does the school run and plays sport with his children.
Living well one day at a time
In the UK, 400,000 people have rheumatoid arthritis. Some, like Phil are younger men who are managing busy lives, and some are dealing with a new diagnosis. They may be asking themselves all the questions about what happens next that Phil had to face and eventually found answers for.
He is clear in sharing with anyone with a recent arthritis diagnosis that everyone is different, and handles change and challenges according their individual situation.