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My Story

Margaret E

I am a 67 year old widow living in Co Durham with my cat 'Daisy'

I try to keep myself active. I read a lot, surf the net researching and studying, and I garden. I’m a volunteer worker for an organisation called “Skills for Care North East” and sit on the Regional Advisory Group for the organisation and I’m also a volunteer "Care Ambassador"

My diagnosis.

I was aware of something being wrong with my distance vision when I had a routine retinopathy examination in early May 2009. It took me a few days to recover from the eye dilation given at the time. That was on the Monday, by Friday I had developed a background headache and on the Saturday morning at 3am I woke with a violent head pain. I thought I had a bad migraine attack and the pain continued for the rest of that day and the Sunday. On Monday I developed massive pain over my eyes and sinus area so I diagnosed myself with sinusitis – maybe. On the Tues had a dental appointment as I had developed a tooth abscess. The dentist wanted to give me an antibiotic but was reluctant to do so as she felt I was going down with an infection of some sort and urged me to go and see my GP.

Not being able to get an appointment with my usual GP I accepted one with a trainee doctor at the surgery. Thank goodness I did. She spotted the problem straight away and called her mentor in for confirmation. He agreed with her and steroid treatment was started directly that day. Two days later the confirmation blood test was back, with the diagnosis of Giant Cell Arteritis! 

I am getting some of the classic symptoms, with head pain, eye pain and crushing jaw pain on eating. The inflammation that was high is receding with the intake of steroids.

One of my main problems is the increase in my blood sugar levels which have gone sky high. My insulin intake is now 5 times what it was before.

I think I have been so very lucky as the inflammation showed I was on the verge of maybe having a stroke. The trainee Doctor was excellent with her quick diagnosis and treatment was started quickly.

I know I’m at the start of a new journey of discovery, but I feel I have a positive attitude and the support I have received so far from the support group has helped me to accept the condition and the information they gave sent to me has been of great help.

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