A WEYMOUTH author who overcame the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis to publish her second book has described medical staff who treated her as ‘miracle workers’.
Mother of two Laura James was diagnosed with the condition when she was 18 and it has steadily worsened over the years.
But thanks to successful surgery at Dorset County Hospital she has been able to retain mobility in her hands and pursue her dream of writing.
She has now published two romantic novels and is working on a third.
Laura’s firs book – called Truth or Dare? – was published as an e-book last year and she has now signed a deal with independent publisher Choc Lit for her second novel - Follow Me, Follow You.
The book will come out as a paperback in September and is set around Weymouth and Portland.
Laura praised the treatment she had received from Dorset County Hospital’s consultant orthopaedic surgeon Sean Walsh to help her deal with the effect of her rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
She said: “The RA affects many of my joints but my hands have suffered the most. “Thankfully I was referred to Mr Walsh who with his wonderful team has taken care of my hand function.
“Without the constant care of Mr Walsh and his amazing team I might not have achieved my dream of publication.”
Laura added: “My first book was written by hand and now I type. “I’ve been advised to use voice recognition software to save my fingers and save the pain but I love to write.
“I love to hold a pen and make it glide across the page.
“I like to sit at my desk, tap away at the ergonomic keyboard and pause to create imaginary worlds, invent complex characters and devise romantic conflicts and resolutions.
“I need time to think, and that would translate into dead air on a dictaphone.
“I am both thankful and grateful to the orthopaedic and rheumatology teams at Dorset County Hospital who keep the tools of my trade in working condition.
“They are miracle workers.”
Mr Walsh said the key to treating people with RA was an early diagnosis and urged anyone with symptoms to seek help as soon as possible.
He said Laura had undergone more than ten separate operations on her hands and wrists over the last 16 years including joint replacements and joint fusions.
Mr Walsh said the aim of surgery was to reduce pain and maintain or improve hand and wrist function.
It is often undertaken in conjunction with the rheumatology team and hand therapy is essential for rehabilitation.
Mr Walsh said: “Mrs James has been an excellent patient to treat.
“She has always maintained a very positive attitude and has worked very hard with the rehabilitation after all of her surgeries - I am thrilled that she has achieved her dream to become an author.”