South Tyneside’s very own Bionic Woman is preparing to undergo even more surgery as she continues to fight a daily battle with pain.
Eileen Brown has had all but two of her major joints replaced with metal due to suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
However, surgery for the 58-year-old, from Arnold Street in Boldon Colliery, is far from over.
The grandmother is preparing to undergo an operation to replace her heels in a bid to make life a little more easier and less painful, with the grandmother of seven now wearing a ‘moon boot’ after she was injured after slipping on a step at home.
Since her diagnosis, made when she first began to suffer pain in her finger, the former flat machinist says the condition has had a huge impact on her life.
Holidays have been cancelled, she has had to endure the side effects of taking steroids and is unable to do things she once took for granted.
In the past 30 years she has undergone more than 20 operations to have her shoulders, elbows, knees and hips replaced with metal.
She has had both shoulder joints removed, which means she cannot lift her arms, her big toes have been pinned to help keep her stable on her feet and she has had both hips replaced.
At one point, she contracted deadly infections and was even read her Last Rites, but she refuses to give in.
She has suffered allergic reactions to several of the medications doctors have tried to bring her relief, with one putting her in hospital for eight weeks when her skin reacted so badly it looked like she had sustained burns.
Now she has been left with one drug, leflunomide, and has been told that is the last one she can be given.
But while, she says it has had a devastating effect on her life, she says as long as she wakes up on a morning and has her family around her, she continues to smile through the pain and keep going.
Eileen, who is married to Brian, 60, a construction site manager, is mum to Vicky, 30, who is her carer, Thomas, 31, and Fiona Matthews, 38, who along with her husband Chris, 39, is doing this summer’s Great North Run in aid of an rheumatoid arthritis charity.
She said: “I would be lost without my husband. I get very frustrated, really I could scream and cry, but I do get help.
“I’m very independent, but sometimes when I can’t do something I get mad.
“I’ve been on a lot of medication, but there’s now seven different ones that I’m allergic to.
“But there will never be a cure for it. It’s horrible. Every day is so painful.
“I can still get out as I am able to drive an automatic car - but it has had such an impact on my life.
“I’ve always been an independent person and to some extent I still am - so lying in hospital after undergoing all these operations has been hard for me.
“But I have my family and my grandchildren and they help keep me going.
“As long as I wake up on a morning, I will continue to smile through the pain and keep going.”
Since her story broke 10 years ago, she has received messages of support from countries from as far afield as the US, Canada and Mexico.