Wednesday, November 27, 2013
And then there were three
A few years ago I started to notice some things about myself. I was turning pretty white when it got cold, I would get random pains bad enough that I almost drove us off the road a few times, and chronic fatigue. The fatigue was bad, really bad. I didn't have time to deal with it, so I pretty much just ignored it for a while. Until my shoulder decided to rebel. And then my knee stopped working for a few days. Then my hips started popping every day, and aching often. And my ankles started to feel like glass shattering when I would stand up. Eventually I brought it up to my doctor. He quickly dismissed me. He did a fast strength test on my hands and decided I was fine. After all, I was too young for Rheumatoid Arthritis, despite having two children with Juvenile Arthritis. Since it really took a lot for me to say anything at all, and my symptoms weren't bad, I didn't really argue. I told him that I was pretty used to being invincible but something was starting to happen to me. I told him I felt like we had to catch it before it got bad because I don't have time to be sick. He nodded politely and sent me on my way.
Eventually I gave up. He wasn't listening. By this time I had new stuff- my right hand was going numb every single morning, and my right foot would go numb when I was about due for my vitamin B shot. Eventually I noticed it would still go numb after my shot. Then my hands started "cramping". That started to affect my work and my schooling. I knew it was time to move. I finally got myself a new primary care doctor, with a little urging from several JA friends. I guess at this point you could say that I wanted to be tested but I didn't really believe I had anything serious going on. I mentioned my kids' illnesses to the new doctor, but I didn't tell her I suspected RA for me. When I started telling her about my hands she immediately asked if I had been tested for it. I explained that our old doctor didn't feel it was possible. She actually listened. I felt totally comfortable with her. It was nice!
Even though she felt that I probably had the start of it, I still dragged my feet on seeing a rheumatologist. My labs weren't pointing clearly to anything in any direction, and I still didn't feel like I was bad. I finally made myself go two weeks ago. My rheumatologist was hoping that steroids would do the trick and it would disappear. He said that he sees about one person a week that has such a mild case that steroids alone kick it out and they never come back. I hoped I would be that case! Nope. My shoulder is about 50% improved, but my wrists tonight are aching enough to keep me up. My knee is still not happy. So, they also ran additional labs. They ran a few that I hadn't seen before. I didn't really have time to look at the prescription, but we talked about it Monday. I tested positive for both Sjogren's tests. And suddenly it all makes sense. The neuropathy, the lighting bolts I sometimes feel shooting down my arm, my anemia, and even my thyroid are likely all related to it. And then there is the leaky eye that I thought was a blocked tear duct. That is most annoying. I have made my peace with it over the past 24 hours. At least I have some answers. We are going to try Plaquenil to see if it helps. It may take 4-6 months to kick in, but if it helps to keep me from getting really sick it is worth a shot. The PA said that because I don't have high inflammation counts I will not likely see deformities or even a lot of degeneration of the joints. I guess if I have to have RA, this would be the way to go. I'm a little sad, but I am determined to stay on top of it and beat it. My kids have been such examples for me. I have to be strong for them.
I still have like the best family ever. That really helps to keep me sane. My kiddo's are all amazing in their own way, and I cannot even believe how much I love and like my husband. I still consider myself blessed. Just burdened. :p
I am spending the next two days cooking! I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Take care & God bless!