Rheumatoid arthritis - Paul's story 

'Dancing got me through the roughest times' 

Arthritis: Paul's story

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation of the joints and bones. Paul Casimir has been living with arthritis for half his life, but he doesn't let it stop him doing the things he enjoys.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

Paul Casimir has been living with arthritis for half his life, but he doesn’t let it stop him doing the things he enjoys.

Paul Casimir was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 20. He was a fast runner throughout his teens, but at 19 his body started to stiffen up.

“I had been feeling a little bit strange for about a year before I was diagnosed with arthritis,” says Paul. “I just seemed to move at the pace of a distracted goat. I didn’t really know what was going on. I was at drama school at the time and I kept getting cast as old people.”

One day, after finishing a play, he collapsed into bed completely exhausted. When he woke up, his knees had swollen and he had to stay in bed for four days. His doctor was puzzled.

“It then went away for a while, but returned with a vengeance a couple of months later,” says Paul. "I was referred to a rheumatologist, who diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. It was something I’d never heard of and I didn’t know why it was happening to me. I felt tears in my eyes when she told me.“   

Paul managed his condition with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication for the next few years. It was difficult for him to move properly. "Dancing was what got me through the roughest times," he says."Even when I could barely move, I could still dance. Standing still was excruciating, but transferring my weight from one leg to the other was bearable."

One day, he decided to see how he would get on without medication. He has never looked back.

“I didn’t really notice much of a difference with the medication,” he said. “People diagnosed now would be offered different kinds of medication, such as disease modifying medication, but that wasn’t around when I was diagnosed.

“After a while it became really important to me to start challenging the condition, to take back control of my life.”

He started swimming and going out dancing, and stopped worrying about what other people thought. It's been five years since the last big flare-up.

“I just learned to get on with life," he says. "It’s easy to dwell on the pain and misfortune and think, ‘Why me?’ But, in the end, that's just futile. What’s important is to focus on all the things you enjoy. I swim regularly and enjoy a ramble in the woods, whereas 20 years ago I'd have thought going for a walk was the most ridiculous suggestion someone could make. The richer your experiences are in life, the more you're distracted from the pain.

"And I still look good on the dance floor, dancing like a robot from 1984!” 

Page last reviewed: 04/08/2014

Next review due: 04/08/2016


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Aunty Arthritis said on 26 May 2012

Hi all. I am having tests for RA, swelling in finger and neck pains etc.
I think by sharing our individual experiences in when pain and swelling gets better or worse could be helpful in diagnosing.
Why is the body attacking itself? Thats what I want to know!
So when people drink alcahol it helps?

My cousin told me that when our Grandmother went demented, lost her mind, her RA symptons disappeared at the age of 83! She was young and just remembers her mother saying that Nanna's RA pain and symptons seem to have gone!
What I am saying, question, and I do think out of the box, is part of RA a "state of mind" Is it part of our genetics but can it also be triggered or made worse by our feelings of ourselfs. I am 50 and have been having feelings of getting old for the past two years. Everytime i got a pain, it was oh God I am getting old, I'm disentergrating blah blah. Thats when everything got worse for me or it could of been just coincidental! I hated looking in the mirror and this old person was appearing in front of me and I hated it! I looked at myself in disjust!
I know that the mind and the body are one so if we could look at our feelings and try and get them in check with trying to be lighter with our load it may help. Like the dancing guy! He's got something, maybe we could all find our something!

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