Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis
People say, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.." What do you do when life gives you Rheumatoid? I don't think lemonade is the regular treatment or protocol for this. Hmmm, just a thought; it would be nice if the Doctor says, "Oh, you just have Rheumatoid; drink lemonade twice a day and once before bed and you should be good to go!"
That's not what the Doctor said though. I remember after going through a battery of testing, x-rays, questions; family history and physical exams, my Doctor still looking at me with a question mark above her head; okay-only I could see the question mark; but you know exactly what I'm saying right. That look like; by now, we should know what the heck is wrong with you. My normal Doctor was out of the office, but I knew I was in great hands as I had been a part of that physician's practice since my teen years. You know that your doctor wants to figure out what is wrong with you so that they can start treatment. It's like Bingo, a series of random numbers until someone hollers Bingo! Well, no one was hollering?! She assured me she would figure it out, and went on to study test results and to schedule me to come back to see her for follow up.
So how did I get here? How was my life going so great then all of a sudden I am walking hunched over; all of my joints hurt; my vision is a little spotty, I have a rash like a butterfly on my face, and my hands hurt too. A girl I worked with gave me the weird unwanted comment, "you look great with your recent weight loss even though you look like your in a lot of pain being bent over like that." Uhh-Thanks? Yeah, I new something was wrong. She even came to me and said, "My mother has RA". I was like, what is that? Maybe a cheer? Gimme a "R" and the crown says "RRR" gimme an "A", the crowd says "AAA", what does it spell? RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS! Well; someone forgot to put all the letters in the middle; but you know what I mean. She was right, at the time, I did not know the difference, I knew there were many different kinds of Arthritis, but I knew nothing of this beast.
Before I go to my next appointment; I get a call from the Doctor. "Do you think you can come see me today?". I knew that meant something wasn't right. My mind was off and running. What is it? How is she going to tell me--just blurt it out, tell me it's okay we will figure it out? Or will there still be no answers? I called my Husband, no answer; so I just stuck my chest out and went. I thought, the faster I get there; the faster she can give me some pain medicine or whatever special antibiotic sauce that would make it go away. So let's do this!
The wait in the waiting room was terrible; I thought; you called me so there should be some type of red carpet entry for my diagnosis day, I am sure that the wait was only fifteen minutes, but as I watch every piece of dust fall through the air and heard every conversation around me about how long that older gentleman has been dealing with hemorrhoids and how the cream doesn't work for him any more; I just wanted to get on to my own problem; those waiting room stories were too graphic and too detailed and I don't need to hear about that part of your body specifically.
Finally! I have been put in the room with they young friendly medical assistant that has the lovely smile and tells me my blood pressure is good today. I wanted her to just tell me what the Doctor was going to say, she just said, " the Doctor will be in shortly." Dang it! Just tell me already! As my Doctor comes in with a smile on her face, my shoulders drop at the look of happiness in her eyes! I was confused? What are you smiling about? I swear I did not say that out loud ; however; she answered the exact question in my head! Jean, I am smiling because we finally figured out what is giving you this trouble! I wanted to smile with her, but at this point; unless my x-ray showed a solid gold watch worth a million dollars I may have swallowed and all I have to do is let it "re surface" and cash it in...I am not really certain this is a smiling moment.
The doctor said, well; I thought based on your symptoms; maybe you have Lupus; but you do not have Lupus, so that is good. Okay, so can I go? No. "Jean, you have Rheumatoid Arthritis; also known as RA." OH-WHEW! "I thought I had something bad the way you called me, I am so relieved that it is just RA!" I reflected on what my friend at work told me, didn't sound so bad, not that I was really listening to her. My Doctor was still talking though. I am going to start you on prednisone to relieve some of your symptoms, this will be a band aid until we get you to a specialist. Wait? A Specialist for what? She went on to explain to me the factors, and the history and the prognosis for rheumatoid, it all sounded pretty scary. I have heard of people having Arthritis before and I thought you just take pain medicine for your knees and stuff like that. At that point, she really jumped in on educating me and helping me educate myself on my new diagnosis.
I have currently lived with the diagnosis of RA for greater that 17 years. I was very limited in my thinking on treatment. I learned over that week as the diagnosis settled in my brain that this was a huge game changer. I had just started working in the Medical Community and quickly noticed how when speaking to Doctors or Nurses, if I would say that I have Rheumatoid, they would give me that, "Oh, I'm so sorry" look.
Here are of symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis in some people, we all are different. The classic symptoms are: swollen joints, joint stiffness in the mornings, and fatigue. If you are someone like me, I had very few of the classic symptoms that is because I lived with it long before my official diagnosis. Usually they say that rheumatoid mirrors both sides of the body, mine did not. When I was in my late teens, I used to get these horrible rashes on my face and hands but I had no idea what it was, I thought it was a reaction to wearing make up but it was a form of psoriatic arthritis, of course I did not know this until the Doctor did that deep dive into my history trying to find the diagnosis. I went to the dermatologist who gave me steroid injections over the course of several years to keep me cleared up. It kept the symptoms away, but boy did I sausage up on the scale, wow; I went from just "nice thick" size to "full tilt four alarm fire" in no time!
Go to your doctor or get a consult at your local clinic when you have symptoms that do not clear up in a matter of days. Any condition can go from "minor and treatable" to "what the heck is that!?" in a matter of days. With RA my doctor ran a series of blood test that do not come up in your regular blood test. She also did a series of x-rays and scans and looked more into my background and medical history along with a physical exam and constantly reviewing my symptoms.
RA is in a group of auto immune diseases that we will discuss and educate ourselves on as I continue to post on this blog about my dance with the RA beast. I say my "dance" because it is a flowing series of movements that you need to keep yourself going. The diagnosis and prognosis for RA can be quite scary as there is no cure for it. It is your body orchestrating a war against itself. Rheumatoid affects so many parts of your body, from your joints, to your eyes, lungs, skin, heart, kidneys, blood vessels even your nerve tissue and bone marrow. So you can see those are non-joint parts. RA takes up a lot of body real estate and tries to put an end to YOU. Yes, I said it, END. People with RA can have a shortened life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.
You do not have to accept the prognosis for RA, you do not have to be concerned or worried. What you have to do is be properly diagnosed, you have to stay active and educate yourself. Visit the website for the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org). Read arthritis magazines. Constantly educate yourself about your condition. Stay with me on my blog as we will explore a healthy diet for people with rheumatoid, and exercises and proper rest and motivation so you can bounce back and continue to enjoy your life as I do.
Don't let rheumatoid be the manipulator or the teacher or give it power over you. Take your power back, you are not at the finish line you are at the starting line and we can work together to skip to the loo of life! We can dance with whoever we want and we most certainly can be happy with Rheumatoid. How do I know? Because I am happy with RA, which means I will be a happy person and not give the control to the condition! Smile! I will be back soon with more RA stories and how to conquer the condition!
Jeanius Motivation CEO