The Onset of Rheumatoid Disease & How I Cope
**This post is a part of the first annual RA Blog Week, spurred on by RADiabetes. For more information and the full list of prompts, click here.
RA Blog Week Day 6 Prompt: "tell us your stories about your diagnosis, what were you thinking, feeling or when did you first know something was wrong?"
|Oh, college days of yore...|
A funny thing happened in the coming days. Not only was the medicine not helping my finger, but the pain had switched hands! It was now a different finger on my right hand that hurt. Whoa, that was weird. Was I going crazy? It was originally my left hand that hurt, wasn’t it? Surely I hadn’t inadvertently, without realizing it, injured another, different finger? I knew something was up. I didn’t have tendinitis. When I reported back to the hand specialist what had happened, he immediately referred me to a rheumatologist. I had several appointments with the rheumatologist, during which he examined me and took blood tests. Meanwhile, I was shocked one day to realize while babysitting that my feet were hurting me. It couldn’t be that the same thing causing pain in my hands could also cause pain in my feet -- could it?
My blood tests revealed a positive anti-CCP antibody and the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) -- and probably several other things that I didn’t pay attention to -- and the rheumatologist eventually diagnosed me with Rheumatoid Arthritis. He explained that this differed from osteoarthritis (though, at the time, I didn’t fully understand that difference), and told my mom and I that this was something that needed to be treated aggressively so that we could try to prevent the disease from doing any permanent damage to my body.
I think I was in shock. I always HATED being sick. I know nobody likes it, but just the thought of being sick when I was a kid made me sad, frustrated and depressed. I didn’t like anything that limited me from playing and being active. Now I had a disease that was not going to go away, and was getting worse. I broke down one day after babysitting and just cried. I didn’t want to let this disease slowly destroy my body and take away my life.
|And fast-forward to apartment life in West Michigan|
At first, the methotrexate didn’t seem to be helping. The pain continued to spread. It sometimes kept me awake at night. I began to walk with a limp. I tried hard not to, and not to let anybody see that I was in pain, and even tried to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad. I worked one job for a couple months, without any problems, and school was going fine -- except for the buildings that had stairs leading up to them--I had to walk stairs slowly, using the railing and putting both feet on each stair. Of course, it didn’t make matters easier that I lived in a 3rd story apartment!
I had one more appointment at the rheumatologist, and he decided to up my dose of methotrexate. I wasn’t convinced that it was doing anything -- until that point. Once the drugs were in my system for a while and the proper dosage was determined, I started to see major improvements very quickly. I no longer walked with a limp. I could hold a pen and write without problems. I wasn’t being awakened in the middle of the night with the deep sharp pain in my bones. I still hand some symptoms: I had a lot of morning stiffness; I had one finger that still wouldn’t bend right; my wrists were very weak and oftentimes sore. I was better, but I wasn't cured.
|I made it through our wedding day mostly pain-free!|
Best day of my life: marrying my best friend.
|Beauty can be found, even amidst the thorns|
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”–2 Corinthians 12:9
|Yeah...you could describe me as goofy.|
Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Happy Gilmore. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!