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Carlyle Atkinson, living with rheumatoid arthritis

"It's been very challenging, I've tried to make the best with what I've been dealt," says Carlyle Atkinson of his life with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for the past 25 years.

Over that time, there's been a significant evolution in treatments for RA, and Carlyle wonders what might have been if current medications had been available when he was first diagnosed. "I might not have suffered the damage to my body that I have over the years – the worn out tendons in my shoulders and hands that severely limit their use, the destruction of muscles, maybe also my heart problems of the past five years."

“Get ahead of the disease, treat it. You can live well with RA.”

Rheumatoid arthritis affects every aspect of Carlyle's life and he's had to stop many of the things he liked, such as skiing, playing squash and playing musical instruments. However, his disease is now stable enough that he can enjoy skating three times a week and he is hoping to get back to golfing again, even though his right hand and shoulders are very weak.

To someone recently diagnosed with RA, his advice would be to treat it early and aggressively, now that treatments can be much more effective than 25 years ago. "When I was treated more aggressively by my rheumatologist, my life improved," he says. "If you are diagnosed with RA, don't sit back. Get ahead of the disease, treat it. You can live well with RA."

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