Sunday 23 April 2017

The Full Time Job of Symptom Management. Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease. Nicola Whitehill

The Full Time Job of Symptom Management 
Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease. 

#SclerodermaFreeWorld  #RaynaudsFreeWorld  


Every scleroderma patient presents with differing symptoms.  

No two patients present with the exact same identical set of symptoms.

Diffuse / systemic scleroderma affects the entire body, making for a multi-disciplinary medical team paramount, for best patient optimum care. 

Attending and preparing for medical appointments, is a full time job, even when the symptoms have stabalised.

Over here in the UK, we are blessed with an extremely committed and dedicated NHS scleroderma medical team. 

I wrote about my ‘scleroderma medical dream team’, here

I wrote about my annual monitoring tests, here

Not only does a scleroderma diagnosis bring a change in the body’s capacity to function, but also, a drastic change in lifestyle, by way of no longer being physically able to participate in tasks and hobbies which were once, a source of joy and remuneration.

On a personal level, there is not a day which goes by where I do not think of my ‘old life’ as a practising barrister, appearing at various crown and county courts, representing and advising clients.

However, being realistic, I must respect my symptoms, in an attempt to minimise their severity. 

This includes my daily skincare routine, which has contributed to my recent medical breakthrough ‘my skin is cured from scleroderma’, as well as, my daily juice smoothies and strict diet, Click here 


On Dec 8th 2016, I was live on the Scleroderma News facebook page, talking about my recent skin reversal, as well as, I shared some of my scleroderma survival tips. 

This was my live debut, and although my phone signal brought about an earlier finish than planned, I very much enjoyed the experience, and I was delighted with the fantastic audience who joined me live.   THANK YOU 

Here is a recording     


My sensitivity to the slightest change in temperature with my Raynaud's symptoms, makes me very much under house arrest, in an attempt to prevent a Raynaud's attack. I wrote about this, here

Having been a scleroderma patient for 19 years now, it is my view, further to my own personal experience, combined with my observations of the global scleroderma community, that, Scleroderma turns ‘social butterflies’ and the ‘life and soul of parties’ into shadows of their former, older self.

This is not just exclusive to scleroderma, this is a reality of the chronic illness patient and any patient, whether it be flu or any other transitory ailment, whilst the body recovers.

Sadly, for some scleroderma patients, the disease process is too aggressive for their body to recover from irreversible damage which then becomes life threatening. 

This is why, an early diagnosis is essential for a more favourable outcome to the scleroderma patient. I wrote more about this, here

On October 31st 2016, the UK Government published an open consultation on ‘Work, health and disability green paper: improving lives’.

A ‘green paper’ is a preliminary report of government proposals that is published in order to provoke discussion. 

The Government is inviting comment on its Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, which,

‘outlines how disability or a health condition should not dictate the
path a person is able to take in life – or in the workplace.

What should count is a person’s talents
and their determination and aspiration to succeed’.

This runs until 17th February 2017.  

I would urge every UK patient and non-patient alike, to add their view to this consultation.

Read more, here   

For most scleroderma patients, the physical disability aspect of their diagnosis is one of many challenges which their daily reality poses. 

The hidden, sometimes invisible, challenges include chronic fatigue and pain. 

Both, can not be underestimated with the devastation that they can bring, alone or combined, on a day to day basis, to the scleroderma patient.   

I wrote about FATIGUE, here, PAIN and HAIR LOSS, here   

Since it is the holiday time season, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy festive time, feeling good. 

Unfortunately, the full time job of being a scleroderma patient does not allow for annual leave or a ‘holiday’ from the symptoms, yet. 

Investment in medical research combined with patient interaction by way of spreading awareness and involvement is key for a permanent scleroderma holiday of the future.

My Christmas wish is that 2017 will bring about the reality of #SclerodermaFreeWorld #RaynaudsFreeWorld.

Dreaming big, with my job today ‘to simply get better’… 

Living the dream, scleroderma style.  

An edited version of this article was published here, in my Column with Scleroderma News. 
December 2016.  


Scleroderma Family Day 2020

25th Anniversary Meeting

The Atrium, Royal Free Hospital, London, NW3 2QG

Chair: Professor Chris Denton


09.30 – 10.00           Registration and Coffee

10.00 – 10.20           Welcome                                                   Dame Carol Black
                                                                Prof Chris Denton & David Abraham

10.20 – 10.40           What is a Biopsy?                                    Dr Kristina Clark

10.40 – 11.05           Dental aspects of Scleroderma            Prof Stephen Porter

11.05 – 11.25           Gastrointestinal problems –                       Dr Fiza Ahmed
shedding new light on old problems 

11.25 – 11.50           Pulmonary hypertension and the heart Dr Gerry Coghlan

11.50 – 12.15           Scleroderma cohort studies –                  Dr Francesco 
                                 ‘Learning from our patients’                     del Galdo

12.15 – 14.15           LUNCH BREAK – see below  

14.15 – 14.45           25 years of progress –                          Prof Chris Denton
from ‘black box’ to ‘positive trials’

14.45 – 15.15           International speaker –                            Dr Madelon Vonk
                                 Scleroderma Management in Netherlands

15.30                        Raffle

Lunchtime Discussions Groups / Demonstrations include:

Clinical Trials                                                                  Rachel Ochiel and team
National Institute of Health Research                            Christine Menzies
Drug Information / monitoring                                        Pharmacy
Massage                                                                         Keith Hunt MBE
Pulmonary Hypertension Education / nursing            Sally Reddecliffe/Adele Dawson
Rheumatology Laboratory                                          Research Laboratory Staff
Scleroderma Education / Nursing                          Louise Parker/ Joseph Cainap
Thermography                                                                Dr Kevin Howell
SRUK                                                                             Ollie Scott
Sjogren’s syndrome                                                       British Sjogren’s Society 

To Read My Articles:  

Gift in My Will, Click here 

Planning for the Future, Click here  


Rare Disease Day:   

Rare Disease Day 2020:  


Listen to my interview with John Smeeton, (Silver Fox), from the Royal Free Radio, here  


Raise awareness and donate to medical research, order your #SclerodermaFreeWorld #RaynaudsFreeWorld tshirt  here   

Rare Disease Day 2020: NIHR 'Research gives hope to Rare Disease patients', Click here  


Rare Disease Day 2019: Leaving a Legacy Gift, Click here       

Rare Disease Day 2019: 11am 97.4RockFM headlines, NO CURE, Click here  

Rare Disease Day 2018 – Research, Taking Part in Clinical Trials. Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease, Click here     

2017 Rare Disease Day Medical Research  

2016 Rare Disease Day Patient Voice   

2016 Rare Disease UK Parliamentary Reception       


Rare Disease Day is a fantastic opportunity for the entire rare disease community to shine a spotlight on their reality, combining as one unified voice. Where, at least one commonality presides –  
Medical Research
provides the brightest light,
for the illumination of 
the rare disease patients’ plight.

To read about medical research at the scleroderma unit, Click here   

Although rare disease patients are few in number, eg. 2.5 million scleroderma patients worldwide, (the World Scleroderma Foundation), the commonalities and golden hallmark for each rare disease patient are the same overall. 

For optimum patient care, 3 hallmarks preside:

supported by a medicaldream team’ 
(expert specialist as the clinical lead).


To read my articles:  

Celebrating 20 years of being a patient at the Scleroderma Unit, Click here

2019 New Challenges, Click here
NIHR Video: 'My Experience of Clinical Trials', Click here 

If we only had more RESEARCH investment for Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease, Click here   

The Importance of Medical Research and Awareness to the Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease patient, Click here  

2018 Scleroderma Awareness Raising and Medical Research, Click here    


Importance of an early diagnosis, Click here   
Taking Part in Clinical Research Trials, Click here     

The Importance of a Multi Disciplinary Medical ‘Dream Team’, Click here    

Expert Specialist Centres, Click here      
My Skin is Cured from Scleroderma, Click here   
UK Guidelines for Managing and Treating Scleroderma, Click here        

Fatigue, Click here         

Mobility, Click here      

Diet and nutrition, Click here      

Raynaud's- How to Diagnose, Click here        

'All you need to know', 2016 Awareness Video, Click here    

Global Patient Profiles 2018 Video, Click here    

Unmet Medical Needs, Click here     

Calcinosis Video, Click here    

The scleroderma tooth fairy, Click here     

Skin Cancer and scleroderma, Click here   


Sept 2017

Prof Chris Denton and I, Sept 2017

June 2019

This year, 2020, I am celebrating 22 years of being a patient at the Scleroderma Unit, The Royal Free Hospital - a world leading expert specialist, research centre.  

Read more, here.    

I am eternally grateful to the global scleroderma trail blazers Dame Prof Black and Prof Chris Denton, whose commitment and dedication to unlocking the scleroderma enigma, is nothing other than, superhuman. Along with the Raynaud's world trail blazer, Dr Kevin Howell.  

I am truly humbled and inspired by their work ethic and commitment to their patients.  

I am wholly appreciative for Prof Denton’s continued medical expertise and support, especially during my barrister qualifying years, 1997 - 2004. 
1st March 2004, I qualified as a self employed practising barrister. Further to having been told in 1997, by my original diagnosing doctor, that I was looking at a 15month prognosis. 


Chat Magazine May 2019

I very much hope to utilise my professional skills and qualifications along with my patient experience, to help achieve the #SclerodermaFreeWorld dream, hoping to improve understanding and best practice, in the meantime. Read more, here    


World Scleroderma Day 2018, Click here  

World Scleroderma Day 2017, 29th June, Click here    

World Scleroderma Day 2016, 29th June. Origins of the date, Click here   

World Scleroderma Day 2015, 29th June.  

James Carver, myself, Prof Chris Denton

I had the pleasure of being a presenter and part of the European co-hort who gave a presentation at the European Parliament, Brussels, in honour of World Scleroderma Day 2015.  

I am immensely grateful to James Carver, former MEP, for organizing this event in memory of his late wife Carmen, who sadly passed from Scleroderma.  

To view the presentation, Click here 


Raynaud's, Click here  
To view the UK treatment guidelines for Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Click here   

To view the EULAR treatment guidelines, Click here   

To view Thermograph Video, Click here    

To view Thermograph image, Click here    

My Raynaud’s reality, Click here     

The global Raynaud's trailblazer - Dr Howell and I, Sept 2017

To view Nailfold Capillaroscopy equipment (used to identify possible blood vessel damage), Click here   

Invisible Disability Awareness Video, Click here

To read My ‘Invisible Disability’ experience, Click here   

50 Shades of Blue, Click here


For latest updates follow / subscribe:  



Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, YouTube, Facebook Page:

#SclerodermaFreeWorld           #RaynaudsFreeWorld    #Research  

Please DONATE to help fund medical research at The Scleroderma Unit,The Royal Free Hospital, London.  

Alternatively, to make a direct donation to fund medical research via the Royal Free Charity, Scleroderma Unit, Click here    

100% of your monies will be used for medical research purposes only. NO wages or admin costs. Thank You. 


Last Update: Feb 2020.       

The Full Time Job of Symptom Management 
Scleroderma, Raynaud's, Autoimmune Rare Disease. 

#SclerodermaFreeWorld  #RaynaudsFreeWorld  

No comments:

Post a Comment