ARRIVING home from Indonesia with Bali belly is not unusual for holiday-makers, however what it triggered for a Busselton resident was life changing.
Karen Smith was diagnosed with reactive arthritis which doctors say was triggered by her bout of Bali belly.
Ms Smith said she wanted to use this experience to help others and approached Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA to enquire about setting up a support group.
The Busselton Arthritis Social Group has since formed with the aim to give people with arthritis the space to talk and share experiences.
Ms Smith said she knew something was not right after she spent her journey home from Bali in a terrible state; freezing, nauseous and dehydrated.
In the following week she was hospitalised as the symptoms persisted with the addition of nerve pain, back pain and blurred vision.
After being tested for multiple illnesses including dengue fever and hepatitis, Ms Smith was diagnosed with reactive arthritis which doctors say was triggered by Bali belly.
Reactive Arthritis often follows on from a bacterial infection and symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness in joints, muscle aches and pain, inflammation of tendons, red and painful eyes and rashes on the hands and feet.
Ms Smith described the first few months as “doom and gloom” as she was put on a string of strong medication for the pain and lost her independence.
She also had her thyroid removed as a small cancer was found there during the tests, which she said was a blessing in disguise.
Ms Smith said whilst she still has her bad days, her mindset is positive and wants to use her experience to help support others.
The group will meet at the Goose Beach Bar and Kitchen on the first Tuesday of each month at 10.30am.
For more information on the group or Arthritis call 9388 2199 or visit our Calendar & Events page