West Ham MP Lyn Brown has personal experience of the importance of medical research
PUBLISHED: 10:40 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:41 26 October 2016
In 2014 I went to the doctor. I thought I'd injured my knee whilst exercising and spent weeks icing and elevating the leg, as instructed, in the hope of improvement.
Months later the other knee showed similar symptoms. The likely cause, they said, was walking with a stick, and leaning too heavily to one side.
My dad had just died and I really didn’t have the emotional energy to question the diagnosis.
By March 2015, I was utterly drained. Walking was painfully slow. It took enormous effort to drag myself upstairs using the bannister. The general election campaign had begun and I was unable to stand at street stalls for any length of time, or go canvassing. My only contact with voters was by phone, or at meetings where I could sit down. I felt embarrassed and foolish. On the worst days, I struggled to stay awake for more than six hours. I had no idea what the cause was.
When they finally diagnosed inflammatory arthritis, I was astonished. That fatigue, I now know, resulted from chemicals in the inflamed tissues.
They put me on medication which controls the condition’s aggressive nature and I’ve had good treatment, advice and support. I thank my doctors from the bottom of my heart. Nowadays I feel fit and revitalise myself taking Cara for long walks again.
Last week was National Arthritis Week. Ten million people in the UK suffer from arthritis. Like most patients, I had to wait a year to get ground-breaking biologic treatments, which transformed my condition. They should be prescribed quicker and be more widely available, to ensure people with arthritis remain active and in employment.
These biological treatments were developed here, in the UK. I am proud our medical research sector leads the world; but, like much scientific and medical research, it relies on European Union funding.
I want the government to ensure the UK remains a world leader in medical research, so that we continue to pioneer treatments for arthritis and other ailments. We have the ability, skills and knowledge in our scientific sector. Let’s not squander them. More from Lyn